Yeah, no. July was a bust. We shall pretend July did not exist.
I Want to Read:
Screaming Down Splitsville by Kayla Bashe
Resistance by Amy Rae Durreson
I Want to Write:
All the fiction. As much fiction as possible. Sort the fiction.
But, hey, while I failed at pretty much everything, I did manage to get my reading goals completed! And I did actually work on fiction! Just… I edited and caught typos rather than actual writing.
Yes, this is genuinely all I have to say about this month. I did get a few of the non-fiction posts I was aiming to get done this summer, though. I’m down to one more left to go! Provided that I don’t end up throwing in more posts because wow do I have too many non-fiction projects crowding my head.
On the plus side, all of the non-fiction projects I have crowding in my head are big, long term projects and… I think they may actually help me get comfortable with scaling my blogging down to something less frequent. We’ll see. I’d like to think that less frequent blogging will be useful and encouraging. I’ve also taken the plunge to get a desktop of my own again. I haven’t owned a desktop in years, but as this summer amply proved, there is no area I can find that does not see me wilt in warm weather. And that is when it’s just the weather with a nice breeze! (I don’t deal with heat well, I know. I don’t deal with cold well either, if you’re curious.)
So… We’ll have to see if I can make that a good thing. And if it helps me get the hang of planning. This month has been hell on the planning.
Like a lot of people, I fell into the hype that is Pokémon Go. It is a lot of fun (to me) and I’ve been enjoying it a lot. I couldn’t dedicate a lot of play time to it when I first got it since I was still working for the majority of the day, but once the holidays began I could settle down into dedicating some quality time to playing it and I found that I enjoyed it a lot. I’m not much of a multiplayer person, so I was a little worried when all the stories of Pokémon Go players meeting up (or, worse, getting mugged) started to show up. I wasn’t sure how playable it would be for a fairly antisocial gamer like myself, but it’s surprisingly easy to play without engaging with anyone. It may not be as much fun as playing with friends, but it’s still good fun.
And then I thought that I could record some of my own experiences with the game and the things that I’d learned about it and share! I know some of my friends are also playing the game and so might be interested and there are some things that I’ve noticed that are true for me and that I haven’t really seen discussed.
Yep! You read that right. I actually have collected my Sailor Moon Crystal reaction posts into handy-dandy ebook format. They’re available in both epub and mobi/kindle formats. You can download them here. They’re free (obviously?), so if you wanted to enjoy my rambling on and reactions to the show offline and without any kind of hassle to get them available offline… Now you can! Huzzah!
Or, you know, not huzzah if you were hoping for me to complete another project asap. (If you were, so was I. But here we are all the same. I hope you’ll enjoy them anyhow. ^_^)
So… Let’s see… I had a very bad set of days recently. I know these were really bad because I bingewatched Puella Magi Madoka Magica in two days. I pretty much only bingewatch when I’m not doing very well, and it… would probably have been a one-day bingewatch if I hadn’t started it quite as late as I had. Anyway! At least something good came out of those days because I’ve now actually seen Puella Magi Madoka Magica!
Because I had, somehow, managed to miss Puella Magi Madoka Magica when it first came out. I hadn’t managed to miss all of the commentary and reactions to it, though, so I had some idea of what I was getting into. (This is when everyone tells me that, no, no actually that’s a wholly different show, Lynn, isn’t it? Anyway!)
Here’s a brief summary of what it’s about in case, like me, you weren’t too well-versed in what the show is about:
Madoka Kaname is an eighth-grader who leads a peaceful, fun-filled life as a student, surrounded by her beloved family and her best friends. One day, a transfer student named Homura Akemi arrives in Madoka’s class. She is a dark-haired beauty with a somewhat mysterious disposition. Soon after meeting Madoka for the first time, Homura goes on to issue Madoka a strange warning. Madoka also meets Kyubey, a mysterious looking white creature. He says, “Make a contract with me and become a magical girl!” To make any wish come true – Madoka didn’t know the meaning of this miracle nor what its cost may prove to be. An impending loss triggers a drastic change in her destiny…
And there you are. That’s what the show is about. It’s 12 episodes long, and has, as far as I know, three films. The first two are recap adaptations of the anime series with redrawn scenes, but the third is a sequel. (And possibly my favourite of the lot because it follows along the idea of a magical girl series most closely?)
Other things that you probably want to know are that it’s a magical girl show and spoilers will actually lessen a very good chunk of the impact the first time around even if the spoilers are very mild. So if you’re like me and haven’t really heard much of the show before, try to view it as unspoilered as possible and let it blow you away entirely.
And obviously this means that there are spoilers below this cut!
Mute from birth, Emma-Rose grew up half-wild in the Southern backwoods- until strangers discovered her magical powers and imprisoned her in a laboratory of torture. Her one salvation was the woman in the next cell, Strawberry Auden. Now Strawberry's returned, and according to her, they'll both make it to safety. But Emma's plans have failed so many times that she has no hope left to lose.
As the two women seek to evade their pursuers, their friendship rekindles, and they are forced to confront both enemies and insecurities.
A while ago, Kayla Bashe asked me whether I’d be interested in reviewing Screaming Down Splitsville, and I said yes. I’d been curious about Bashe’s work for a while, but hadn’t yet got around to reading anything by her. This was a terrific opportunity! So I… kind of jumped on it?
This novella was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to the author!
Overthrowing the Shadow that ruled Tiallat was only the first step. For rebel leader Iskandir, rebuilding his shattered country is an even greater challenge. A poor harvest, religious conflict, and years of tyrannical governance combine with the challenge of getting the soldiers of the Shadow’s army home and rehousing the exiled who are flooding back into free Tiallat.
Then people begin to get sick.
A thousand years ago, after the Shadow’s first defeat, a blight fell upon the north: a disease that killed more than the war itself. Now, as this plague returns, Iskandir must look north again to the newly awakened dragon Halsarr, a learned doctor and professor who wants no part in a new war. Even if Halsarr agrees to come to their aid, Iskandir is afraid of the truth he will expose. For the dragon Halsarr once loved a bold and reckless steppes elemental who later transformed into the lonely and powerful Dual God of Tiallat, the two-faced Lord who has been missing since the Shadow entered the country.
I have finally got around to reading Amy’s latest novel, Resistance. Finally. I am a terrible friend. *hangs head* But I have read it and now I am here to tell you all about it! So firstly, standard disclaimers: Amy is a good friend of mine and she writes erotica. I have done my best to be as impartial as I can be.
Also, while you can read Resistance as a standalone novel (while new set of protagonists), it builds on the events of Reawakening and you’ll get more out of some of the background if you’ve read that book first.
As you all may recall (or not), I kicked off 2016 with a specific reading goal in mind. A goal in which I was going to spend a year reading international authors instead of predominantly US authors. Over the years, I’ve gone from being relatively widely read in terms of where authors are from to reading almost exclusively from the US with the occasional foray into the UK or Canada. With luck, there’d be Ireland, Australia and New Zealand as well. But that’s pretty much it for diversity.
I didn’t notice.
I didn’t notice until the Hugos last year were swept away by authors who weren’t from the US and I looked at the percentages of the Hugo nominations in terms of author locale. I knew a lot of those names. Had been reading a lot of those names. But I couldn’t add anything new. Didn’t know what other (translated) fiction I could have nominated had I bought a membership because I wasn’t reading them.
So, 2016 was going to be a year of trying to change that. It was scary. It was daunting. I could easily fill the year with nothing but authors from other English-language regions, but that would defeat the point. I spent the rest of 2015 compiling a list of all the non-US authors in genre fiction that I could find. If you’re looking for international SFF(H) fiction here’s a completely unordered list to get you started. I also spent the rest of 2015 collecting as many non-US authored books as I could and reading no non-US authors for the last quarter of the year so that I’d be certain I’d have enough books to last me half a year.
Because I wasn’t certain that I could find enough books to last me a whole year. It’s partially a financial thing, but largely it’s just that even having compiled a list of authors to get me started, I wasn’t sure whether I’d find enough books to last the year. Also some of my favourite US-based authors are marginalised and I wasn’t okay with cutting them out of my reading for a whole year. (Also I’m not American, so technically they should have qualified.) Anyway, so I set myself an official goal of half a year with no US authors on my TBR pile whatsoever and an allowance to gradually add marginalised US authors back to my TBR pile.
And we’re now at the end of the second quarter and the official end of my year, so…
How have things been going?
Well, life continued to be ridiculous because 2016 is apparently the year in which nothing goes right? So the second quarter did not go quite as well as the first. I also caved and read one of my favourite (US) authors because new book release and no more self-control and patience. I’ve had a really rough second quarter if not whole of 2016, I indulged. I also didn’t read nearly as much it feels like, so there was that too.
Still. I never intended to drop everything and return to my US-dominant ways after this half-year was up. Just to try and gain a little more balance. So what have I learned from this second quarter? That I still find it infinitely easier to find books by American authors than I do by anyone else and that Canadian authors are actually probably a relatively close second. The best way to find non-US authors is, I think, to surround yourself with non-US authors to a far greater extent than the US authors.
It’ll be very interesting to see what happens to my reading now that I’m not deliberately putting the US authors aside, especially since this summer will also see me pick up my “Read all the demisexual books” project again and most of the authors I have are US authors. That will end up skewing my numbers too. (Yay for my planning skills?)
If you’re interested in where the authors are from, not counting anyone read in the Apex Book of World SF 4:
England (Becca Lusher, Terry Pratchett, China Miéville, Helen Hollick, Amy Rae Durreson, Emma Newman)
Ireland (Padraic Colum)
Australia (Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff, Amal Awad, Randa Abdel-Fattah)
France (Aliette de Bodard, Roxane Dambre)
Singapore (Joyce Chng)
India (Aniesha Brahma)
Jamaica (Nalo Hopkinson)
Italy (Samuel Marolla)
Finland (Emmi Itäranta)
The Netherlands (Tonke Dragt, Corinne Duyvis, Hella S. Haasse)
Germany (Marcus Heitz)
Argentina (Angélica Gorodischer)
Malaysia (Zen Cho)
Norway (Ingelin Røssland)
Japan (Naoko Takeuchi, Kazuko Okakura)
USA (M.C.A. Hogarth)
As you can see, the numbers for my second quarter are pretty abysmal. I only read about 13 new authors, and that’s when I cheat and count Any whose book I only finished, um, this month, and include the US author that I read last month. For this month, so far I’ve managed to read one UK and one US author.
To be fair on me, both US authors do fit into the criteria I set in that any US authors I read this year had to be diverse authors. Given how, ah, well this second quarter went, I’ve made very few changes to my TBR pile. About all I’ve done is add the books with demisexual characters to my immediate TBR pile. I foresee myself veering a little more towards US authors in the coming months, but ideally I want to see a more significant change to this list. I have plenty of non-US authors and books left to read, after all!
I may allow myself a little more flexibility in this quarter in terms of what I’m reading. I have few short releases by US authors (such as Octavia Butler) that I’m probably bumping up the list over the summer. I could do with some quick, short reads right about now. Fluffy would be better, but I have no clue what on my TBR pile is in any way fluffy.
And hopefully I will spend the next quarter feeling something other than… whatever this quarter has been. It can only get better, right? Here’s to things going and getting better over the summer!
June, oh June, oh June. If it’s all the same to everyone, I’m just going to pretend that June did not exist. So far it’s been the worst year of 2016 for me and the first half of the year has been so ridiculously terrible that I’m not entirely sure how it managed to accomplish this. (Oh, wait. No. I do know. I was a complete idiot and also Brexit.)
Amulet Rampant by M.C.A. Hogarth: My thoughts are here. Look! I finally managed to actually review a book in this series! Yay! This is… not going to be everyone’s kind of read and, admittedly, I’m one of those people. I just spent so much time wanting to throw pillows at Lisinthir for being infuriatingly… him. (He’s awesome, though.) Anyway, very happy to have read this and not put it off for longer. Definitely a needed read this month.
Any Other Name by Emma Newman: My thoughts are here. I am… very conflicted on this book. Well, this series. I’m really enjoying the readalong and discussing the books with everyone, but the book itself? Despite having a depiction of the fae that I really appreciate it’s… lacking in the emotional connection I need when I’m reading a series. (I don’t have to like characters, but I do have to want to read about them.) So I’m very conflicted. It’s a fast, fun read with a nice episodic book structure with intriguing world-building, but it’s just… not for me. T_T
Blazing Dawn by Becca Lusher: A betaread. So looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you all when it’s available. I had a wonderful time betaing this.
Only the Open by M.C.A. Hogarth: My thoughts are here. So very very glad that I opted to dive into Amulet Rampant so I could read this pretty much on release. I love these characters, this world and Hogarth’s writing. Again, this is a book that’s not for everyone because the series isn’t, but it is absolutely for me. I love this. <3
Secondhand Memories by Takatsu: I don’t really know what to say about this story? It’s a ‘cell phone novel’, or a novel with such short chapters the whole of it fits onto a smartphone screen at once, so it’s basically almost a free verse novel. I hated the formatting of it and I wasn’t enamoured with the inconsistent way in which the story used Japanese words or added explanations for them because those kept throwing me out of the story. I also wasn’t enamoured with the resolution which kind of… came out of the blue for me and lacked build-up. But, that all said, it’s a bittersweet story about growing up and the ways in which love is complicated. If you’re looking for a sweet, quick read with a bit of intrigue and bite to it, give this a try.
Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard: My thoughts are here. De Bodard is a fantastic and talented writer and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book to people, but I never really connected to it emotionally the way that I’d wanted it to. Still, the setting is rich and well worth checking out if you’re looking for something different from the usual fare.
Resistance by Amy Rae Durreson: I’m so glad to finally be reading this! I don’t really know why I’ve waited so long. So far it looks to be a book that stands on its own well, but you’ll get more out of the beginning if you’ve read the first book, well, first. I do so love Amy’s prose. My brain just hasn’t been in a reading mood at all lately. T_T
Wingborn by Becca Lusher: We’re slowly running out of serial. T_T Things are still relatively slow as we’re starting to settle into the routine of learning Rider life at Aquila. I suspect they won’t stay quiet for long.
Torment: Tides of Numenera (Beta): I am intrigued! I’ve only played a very little bit of this since they opened up the beta process to everyone to get a feel of the game and whether I did indeed want to play it through. So far, yes! It feels familiar and at the same time completely different from the games I normally play. :O
Game of Thrones S6: O_O That finale. O_O I’m… terrible at the memory thing, so most of this season is a blur by now, but is it me or did the show dial back the graphicness of the violence a bit? And… nope. I’ve got nothing, sorry. I’ll be curious to see where everything is going, though. So… We’ll see. The liking of the problematic thing continues!
Puella Magi Madoka Magica: OMG! This was… wow. This was… something. I really enjoyed it! Admittedly, I’m not a fan of the art style, but the story and the characters. I loved them and the implications of it all. I’m quite glad I didn’t watch this when it came out because it hit hard enough knowing to expect things to go seriously, badly wrong.
Sailor Moon Crystal S3: Nooooooooooo!!!! The season is over!!!!! *wails despairingly* And as of this writing, there has yet to be conclusive confirmation of the Dream arc. (We all know we’re going to get it; I wish they wouldn’t play coy about it.) This season was… everything I wanted from Sailor Moon Crystal. I loved it so much. In a cruddy year, it’s definitely been one of the highlights of my week every week. I don’t have overall thoughts, but here’s the landing page for all the react posts to the Infinity arc.
Actually,I think I’m going back to taking it slow. That seems to be a lot better for my productivity at present. Also, since July means the beginning of summer, I’ll be going on a posting hiatus. Of sorts.
Regular features will continue to be posted, so the monthly plans and the culture consumption will go up as usual. The serialisation for Sea Foam and Silence will continue without a break. I have one review I’ll be posting in July for sure and some posts I’m aiming to share in August, maybe? I may move them to September. After that… I’d like to finally do the last SFS Design Adventures posts and wrap up the posts for that particular book. (So that’s the cover and the last pass.)
And after that we’ll see where the month goes. Hopefully it goes better places than the rest of the year so far.
I Want to Read:
Screaming Down Splitsville by Kayla Bashe
Resistance by Amy Rae Durreson
I Want to Write:
All the fiction. As much fiction as possible. Sort the fiction.
Yep. That’s it. This is all I’m focusing on in July. Maybe it will prod me into proving I’m actually productive. Instead of moping. I’ve spent too much time moping.