This February we’re doing a readalong for Joyce Chng’s The Tale of Yin, a duology of two novellas. I’m a little early with the announcement, as you’ll see from the schedule, but all the more chance for you to join us!
(I’m not as awesome at making readalong banners as Anya. *hangs head*)
The duology of Oysters, Pearls & Magic and The Path of Kindness sees the stories of Mirra and her daughter, Kindness, as they struggle to find their identities and selves on the planet they have called home. A feminist YA novella, the Tale of Yin looks at magic, privilege, the landscape and compassion.
Doesn’t that sound awesome? You can buy the ebook from Amazon, Smashwords and presumably everywhere Smashwords ships. You can also read the webserial version online here. The stories themselves are both novellas and the edition we’re reading also includes a few bonus stories (and recipes)!
Week 1: February 15th, Book 1: A Sea Of Waves, hosted by Lynn from Little Lion Lynnet’s (that’s me)
Week 2: February 22nd, Book 2: A Tree of Branches, hosted by Imyril from x+1
Week 3: February 29th, Sea Tales, hosted by Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow
Week 4: March 7th, Ships’ Tales, hosted by Lynn from Little Lion Lynnet’s (me again!)
If you’d like to join us, you’ve got plenty of time before the first week’s worth of questions start and I hope you’ll enjoy the stories a lot! ^_^ If you don’t have a blog, you can join us at our GoodReads group or on Twitter.
January was, uh, a month. My months seem to be like that at the moment, but more on that during the discussion. As you can see, I’m changing things up a little this year and I’m splitting my goals into separate posts. Hopefully that will encourage rambling about them.
I Want to Read:
I Want to Write:
1 essay/article on demisexuality in fiction
I have failed miserably on the essay-writing front. I’d like to discuss why, but my brain is this gloopy thing that mixes everything up and I don’t rightly know what happened. No, wait. I’d like to say that it was “I have no time!” that meant I didn’t write the essay rather than discuss why I didn’t. (See what I mean about my brain being gloopy?)
Anyway! I did, actually, have time to write things in, but I generally found much of that time eaten up by other important things. Where writing is concerned that generally meant spending what energy I had on fiction writing. As I write this, I’m so close to finishing something and I just. do. not. have. the. energy. to. finish. it. now. It’s frustrating and demoralising and no amount of going “But look at the numbers” is helping in any way.
I’m tracking my reading slightly differently this year. This year, rather than trying to track everything all by myself in a boring half-hearted spreadsheet designed to just give me the general gist of my numbers, I’m using this spreadsheet graciously shared by Hillary Depiano. It makes me want to keep track of my writing statistics. It tracks a bajillion things and has all sorts of pretty colours and makes it really easy for me to see my overall yearly count and the way that it divides between fiction and non-fiction.
Despite not writing on what I wanted to write initially, I wrote a fair amount more than I thought I would. This is largely thanks to the fact that the winter holidays ran into the first week of January and I managed to polish off a few relatively long posts for the blog as well as a good chunk of fiction. (More on that in a few days. It’ll be a surprise! Maybe.)
And… yes. January wasn’t the best of months since I spent most all of it keeling over with exhaustion rather than getting anything I’d wanted and planned to get done done.
Reading probably took the biggest hit. I’ve managed to read 4 books in January. In the 7 years I’ve been tracking my reading, I’ve averaged about 13 books in January. So… That’s a pretty big drop. I just haven’t been able to concentrate on long form fiction particularly well and when I have I mostly spent that time working on my own stories and non-fiction posts. They need doing too!
I wasn’t expecting January to be this tough. I know I have fatigue issues, but I was kind of hoping that, by January, I would have adjusted to some of the changes in my life better. Looks like I really didn’t. Despite the fact that my word count is more than I’d initially wanted (and a decent chunk of it is fiction), I feel really discouraged and deflated because I know how much more I could have done.
On the potential plus side, I have thinky thoughts about fatigue and writing? More than I had before, that is. One day perhaps I will translate the thinky thoughts into actual blog post words, but right now that hits all of my imposter syndrome buttons. (Who am I to speak on what fatigue is like, etc, etc.)
On the other plus side, I am still getting things done. Just… very, very slowly. I’m trying to be good, though, and take things at a sustainable pace. I’ll have to work hard to make the rest of the year better than the start of it was, so I’ll just do my best and we will see what we will see. ^_^
I hope everyone else’s January plans worked out well and that life is treating you all kindly!
Plot Recap: Usagi and Mamoru are dating! Beryl is upset about this. Nephrite has decided to stuff it all. And Ami and Rei were caught outside in the middle of the night and now their pesky parents want to throw their lives around.
I never thought that one of the first non-fiction posts I would make this year would be one on workshops. But here we are. Apparently that’s what I’m doing. Yesterday, I dove head-first into work and emerged to find that my Twitter timeline had exploded. It took me a while to catch up on what, exactly, had happened.
Briefly: Neil Gaiman made a promotional tweet for the Clarion workshop and a lot of people were hurt by his phrasing. He’s since clarified that it was hyperbole, but to a lot people it was yet another case of (micro)aggression and people spoke out. If you want to see an eloquent and thoughtful discussion on why people were upset, I recommend India Valentin’s response on Tumblr.
In the discussion that ensued on Twitter (and elsewhere, I’m sure, but I saw it solely on Twitter), I saw a handful of people mentioning the existence of a non-American perspective, but I saw very little discussion of what that perspective might actually look like. I know some of my readers might be interested in hearing my thoughts, so… I’ve done my best to sort them out into something at least somewhat coherent. (tl;dr version: if you’ve been following the discussions, I think it’s pretty similar to what other people have been saying but with a slightly different angle.)
Below the cut, then, lie those thoughts. Bear in mind that I’m coming at this discussion from the perspective of a white non-American who has never yet set foot in the US. I have never attended any prestigious workshops and will likely never be able to afford the prestigious ones anyway.
As said, they may be rambly and a smidge incoherent, but I hope not.
Plot Recap: Mamoru has sneakily returned to Japan without telling anyone and makes all his friends worry for him by not telling them he’s back. He’s also decided that he won’t destroy the world a second time because he loves Usagi and the two lovers are reunited at last!
Also, Mio is in league with the Dark Kingdom and Kamekichi’s living arrangements are unknown at this time.
I’ve also included links to my thoughts on individual works where available and tidied up the GDocs spreadsheet to hopefully make it easier to read. Rows have now been colour-coded! (And if someone knows how to make Gdocs do that automatically I’d be really grateful if they could explain to me how to make it do that. <3)
You may also note that I’ve shifted the page around to have an embedded GDocs spreadsheet rather than a HTML table. This will make it much easier for me to maintain. I really hope it won’t cause anyone any problems, so let me know if it does, thank you!
Hopefully the changes will mean the page and the spreadsheet are more useful to people now!
Note the Second
Elizabeth Barrette is looking for ideas on future fishbowl prompt call sessions. Chime in with suggestions on Dreamwidth or on Livejournal! Spreading the word reveals more verses in the linkback perk The Tornado Blew Away if you let Ysabet know you’ve done so!
Plot Recap: Mamoru magically finds himself in the Dark Kingdom. Kunzite is not happy about this. Also Jupiter has awakened her powers and broke up with Motoki before they’d even got together properly. Minako decided to join them to fight these youma for some reason and apparently Metallia is summoning monsters on earth now. (Except only in Tokyo.)
Kamekichi still lives in the tiny terrarium and Motoki has apparently moved out to live on his own. I FEAR FOR KAMEKICHI’S LIVING ARRANGEMENTS.
I wasn’t sure whether I was going to do a ‘favourites of’ list this year. Largely because I was looking at my To-Do list wondering how on Earth I was going to get everything on it done. Turns out I was actually doing better with it than I was, so then here we go. I shall find the time to slot this into my schedule since people like them and I know at least several of my friends and readers are interested in the final list.
Some of these books won’t surprise you, I’m sure, if you look through the list of books I read this year. Others… Well, perhaps others will. I have but one or small notes to leave on the topic of favourites and that’s that I’m not counting rereads and I’ll only list one book per author. This is a list of books I read for the first time in 2015. They may have been published in 2015. They may not. But I did find them the most enjoyable reads of the year.
Let’s get to it! These are all in relatively random order. I have way too much trouble picking books as it is. I’m not about to add numbering them to my troubles.
Thief of Songs by M.C.A. Hogarth
The lowland conquerers have taken everything from him, or so the composer Amet Emendexte-ilye was taught: prestige, autonomy, wealth, and most importantly, magic. But when one of them steals his fiancee, Amet avenges himself on them all by writing music and giving it away in defiance of the lowland laws. It is a very satisfactory vengeance, or so he thinks, until he discovers the kingdom’s royal composer is planning to debut Amet’s work—as folk music!
So he’s riding east to set the record straight. But he has no idea how compelling a decadent lowland hermaphrodite can be. And before it’s over, this thief of songs may be stealing more than his music….
A lyrical romance, set in a second world fantasy. Leave the world behind today!
If you’ve been reading this blog for, um, any length of time in the past couple of years, you’ll probably have noticed that I’m a big M.C.A. Hogarth fan, so having one of her books in my favourites is really a bit of a no-brainer. So why Thief of Songs and not any of the other books I read this year? Because this is the one that made me happiest. They’re all good, but Thief of Songs is the one that left me bouncy with glee and keep me reading with squee. It’s a story that lifted my heart and that I think back on particularly warmly, so it gets the honour of first spot. (Also, I think it’s perhaps a slightly better introduction to her work in general? I could be wrong.)
I seem to have failed to discuss my thoughts on the book in more detail when I read it (whaaaaat?!) so I’m afraid I don’t have a more detailed review to link you to. How very odd. I make it a point to review Hogarth’s work!
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.
Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.
Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend… and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne–or his life.
Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor is an exciting fantasy novel, set against the pageantry and color of a fascinating, unique world, is a memorable debut for a great new talent.
We know, of course, that this isn’t actually a debut, but hey. If it helps sell books. I’ve been a bit resistant to reading The Goblin Emperor, largely because… Well, I don’t do all that well with modern hyped books. I always want to love and adore them and rarely ever do. This one, though? Blew me away. It was gentle and warm and hopeful and sweet and yet still had all the political intrigue and danger than I’d come to expect of my books. It was a delightful mix and I hope to see more books like it in the future. I really enjoyed this.
I talked about the book in more detail here if you’re curious to see what I thought of it at the time I read it.
The Case of the Little Bloody Slipper by Carlie St George
It was half past eleven when I saw her. She was standing at the top of the staircase, with restless fingers and defiant eyes, wrapped in blue silk that clung to her hips.
Jimmy Prince is a private detective with a tendency to make bad decisions, take on hopeless cases, and ask too many questions. But no one is answering his inquiries about Ella, the mysterious dame who slipped into the Prince family gala, stayed for a dance, then disappeared at midnight leaving just a single bloody glass slipper behind. With the help of his trusty assistant Jack (a street-savvy teen runaway who is as tough as she is resourceful), Jimmy finally catches a break when one of Spindle City’s most powerful players, the Godmother, lets slip that Ella is part of a much larger conspiracy and not at all who she seems. With every new clue, Jimmy finds himself a step farther down a path that threatens to uncover some of the city’s best kept, and most deadly, secrets.
In Spindle City, all kinds of tales get told… for a price. Asking the wrong question is a guaranteed one-way ticket to the long and silent ever after.
Taking on this new case might just be Jimmy Prince’s biggest mistake yet.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a big fan of fairytale retellings. This retelling of Cinderella is no exception whatsoever. It’s a noir detective, no-magic retelling and I loved it. I loved the way the story incorporated fairytale elements whilst tellings it own tale. It’s very recognisably a fairytale and at the same time it’s absolutely anything but a fairytale. It’s also gritty and grimy and a whole lot of fun. Er, presuming you like noir detectives, otherwise you might not like this quite so much. I also really liked the inclusion of female characters. Most major players in the story are female.
This is the first is a set of novellas, so if you like this one you should be sure to pick up the other two as well. You can read my thoughts on the whole set here.
Sisters of Icarus by Becca Lusher
Once there was an island, and on that island there lived a boy, but before that boy there was another child. And before that child there were three sisters.
Those sisters had a brother.
His name was Icarus.
Britain 163 BC
On a small island just off the south coast, three sisters are determined to survive against nature’s unmerciful odds, but their brother is mad, everyone thinks they are strange and old voices cry on the wind.
Battling against love, grief, selkies and ghosts, middle sister Raccanta will face many tests of her strength if she intends to keep her sisters safe – and her promises intact. For on the mainland there lives a man who walks the woods and shows Raccanta a world that could tempt her far away.
Except the island keeps what it takes and it has no intentions of letting any of its sisters go.
Becca’s historical fantasy at its best. That creepy island is still creepy and if you’ve been aching to spend more time on it (why?) now’s your chance! Though, actually, you spend a good chunk of the novel exploring the mainland instead, so… You know. There’s less of the island than you might think. It’s STILL creepy.
Anyway! This is, mostly, a romance novel. I say ‘mostly’ only because the romance takes a pretty long time to get going. It’s very much Cana’s story more than anything else, but all the sisters have their narrative. And now I’m making it sound like the balance is off, but it really isn’t! Becca’s lush descriptions blew me away (as always).
You can read more about my thoughts right after reading the book here, so if you’re curious about those go at it! I’ll be reading the second book in the trilogy very shortly.
Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
A god has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.
Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.
Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help: Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.
When Tara and Abelard discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for the truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and Alt
Coulumb’s slim hope of survival.
Set in a phenomenally built world in which justice is a collective force bestowed on a few, craftsmen fly on lightning bolts, and gargoyles can rule cities, Three Parts Dead introduces readers to an ethical landscape in which the line between right and wrong blurs.
This was the first time I participated in a readalong! I had a complete and utter blast reading this book and discussing it with everyone else. (Still sad I didn’t make it for Last First Snow. Booo.) But anyway I wasn’t sure what to expect of Three Parts Dead. I certainly wasn’t expecting to be blown away by it. Again that thing with the hype and I not really getting along that well, so I was actually really scared of participating with the readalong. What if I didn’t like it to the point where I really wanted to abandon it?! But I didn’t abandon it and I did like it because it was fantastic. I really loved the freshness of the setting and the differences in the magic system.
I’m not sure whether it’s my favourite of the three (I think it isn’t), but it’s a good introduction to the world as a whole and while you can read the books in order you might be best off starting with this particular one.
My thoughts on the book can be found here, but they’re written a bit after the fact. If you want really fresh thoughts, you want the readalong posts: week 1, week 2, week 3.
And… Actually, that’s it. I liked a lot of the books that I read this year, but I’m not going to be able to narrow it down to a top ten. These are the five stand-out books of the year. Any more and I’d have to list, um, most of what I read this year, so I’ll pass on that one.
In any case, I hope you’ll check any of these books out if they sound like they might be your thing. I’ve really enjoyed them and would happily recommend them.
As you may recall, I joined a number of readalongs for Max Gladstone’s books last year. This year, I’m continuing to join in with the SFF Readalongs when I can (as well as hosting some as I can)!
So, it being the beginning of the year, I thought it was a good idea to let you all know the schedule we’ve got going (so far) this year. You can join us at the GoodReads group, but we’re also blog-based and the group has its own Twitter account as well.
January:Kushiel’s Scion by Jacqueline Carey. The first week’s discusion post goes live tomorrow and covers the prologue to chapter 11.
January:Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire. The first week’s discussion post goes live on January 9th and covers chapters 1-6.
February:The Tale of Yin by Joyce Chng. The first week’s discussion post goes live on February 15th and covers the first book. (I’m the first host for this one, so expect a more detailed schedule post soon.)
May:Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman. The first week’s discussion post is projected to go live on May 9th, covering chapters 1-9.
Come join us for any of these readalongs and chat about the book! As you can see we’ve got plenty of room left for readalongs this year, so why not come join us and suggest books of your own as well? (I think we’re planning a readalong for all of Emma Newman’s books in honour of the August release of her latest?)
The readalongs are always a lot of fun and the company is terrific! You don’t need a blog to join us either. If you’re more of a tweeter or a GoodReads user, join us there. We’d love to have you along. The more people to chat about these shiny books, the merrier!