Reading Challenge: Read Harder 2019

I've basically quit doing reading challenges since I wasn't actually challenging myself in my reading, just trying to tick off boxes for what I was picking up. But I want to change things up in 2019 since I did what I wanted in 2018 and I didn't blow myself away with my reading. (Although I read far more authors of color than in other years, which was an intentional choice I intend to continue.)

Book Riot's Read Harder challenge intrigues me -- but also daunts me.

The categories always include options I've zero interest in, but I'm going to attempt to hit each one this year!

To help me out, I might populate this with ideas as I hit them -- so if you've any recommendations for me, please share!

Read Harder 2019

An epistolary novel or collection of lettersA Tale for the Time BeingAn alternate history novelQuicksilverFarthing A book by a woman and/or AOC (Author of Color) that won a literary award in 2018Home FireA humor bookA book by a journalist or about jour…

Wordless Wednesday (isn't wordless, as usual)

As usual, I can't make my Wordless Wednesday post truly wordless. Somehow, whenever I feel an itch to update my blog, it's on a Wednesday -- so ... apologies for co-opting this meme for my purposes!

Life has just been bananas hectic for us the last three months or so. My wife broke her ankle. We decided to move to the country. (!) Unabridged Kid turned four. We move next week, so it's been cardboard box city at our house the last few weeks, and I'm just not someone with grit or resilience. When faced with stress, I kind of just turn to mush. So it's been lots of games on my phone and zoning out to Netflix. (Although I did manage about 13K words for NaNoWriMo, so I am pleased about that.)

I hope I get back into reading once we're moved and settled. I'll have a new, longer commute once we move, which will allow a good stretch of reading time twice a day -- I'm really looking forward to that.

I've got something like nine books I'm in the middle o…

Book Review: The Changeling by Victor LaValle

First line: This fairy tale begins in 1968 during a garbage strike.

Holy expletive, this book was intense!

A quarter of the way in, I told my wife this was American Gods by way of Laura Lippman, and now that I've finished, I stand by that description. This is a family mystery, a domestic thriller, a supernatural mindfuck.

Perfect for Halloween and the creepy autumn days around it.

This was my book club's October read, and I inhaled it in about three days. All of us who read it loved it, although pretty much none of us expected some of the elements -- although it varied which plot point or character surprised us.

Apollo Kagwa loves books and stories; his parents' courtship, which opens the novel, has the magic of a fairy tale. His own marriage seems similarly fantastic, from his unusual courtship to his mesmerising wife Emma. But the pressure of a new baby takes a toll on all of them, especially when Emma becomes convinced their baby isn't really their baby. The famili…

Weekend reads, and living in interesting times...

Things are so complicated in my life right now, I couldn't even get my weekend reads post ready until Friday night.

We're hopefully moving -- beginning of December -- out to the country, of sorts. It'll mean an easier commute for my wife and a different kind of living for our whole family. It'll be a real adjustment for me but I'm excited.

But just to make things a little more hairy, my wife slipped last week and broke her ankle. She'll have to be off her foot for at least four weeks, so ... I'll be trying to figure out how to pack and move and keep house and keep my sanity so think good thoughts for me!

I'm between books again and feeling a bit too frazzled to read -- but I've been doing crazy prep for NaNoWriMo and I'm excited to get started.

What are you reading right now?

Book Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

First line: The day I came squealing and squalling into the world was the first time someone tried to kill me.

First, this cover. LOVE IT.

Second, this premise. LOVE IT.

In brief: the dead rose after the battle of Gettysburg, and the formerly enslaved are freed -- but only to kill the undead.

Our heroine, Jane McKeen, is rich, complicated character. Born on a failing plantation to a white mother, she ends up in Philadelphia at Miss Preston's School of Combat for Negro Girls, training to be a white woman's bodyguard. But she chafes at the rules, frustrated she can clear out cities she'll never truly be welcome in, and she struggles to balance work with the passions of personal life.

From the start, Ireland's novel makes the point that whatever the era, were there a zombie outbreak, white supremacy culture would have demanded that people of color be the ones combating it. I love speculative fiction for imagining what could be, and that's what is so chilling abou…

Reading Challenge: RIP 13

Belatedly, here's my commitment post for Readers Imbibing Peril XIII, or RIP 13, the reading challenge of creepy, scary, and chilling reads.

I'm a total puss and yet I love me some creepy books. Reading ghost stories in October is just a tradition for me (honestly, Halloween might be my favorite holiday) so gathering up spooky books is catnip.

My queue, unsurprisingly, is massive. Good luck to me. My list includes two beloved rereads (Rebecca and Jane Steele) (if you haven't read either of these books read them immediately!) as well as some new items. I'm particularly excited for the issue of Nightmare magazine, as it's focused on authors of color and includes some thoughts on Lovecraft. Mmmm.

Agatha Christine, Ordeal by Innocence
Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca
Lyndsay Faye, Jane Steele
H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories
(Daniel) Mallory Ortberg, The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror
Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Nightmare Magazine 49: October …

Book Review: Whereas by Layli Long Soldier

First line: Now
make room in the mouth
for grassesgrassesgrasses

Another find I have to credit wholly to my fellow book bloggers; in this case, Carolyn of Rosemary and Reading Glasses. Her review of this volume of poetry made me put this book on my TBR immediately, and it felt pretty urgent I read it.

I'm so conflicted about how to review this book. I struggled with almost the entirety of Part I but Part II, her long form exploration of Congress' throwaway apology to Native Americans, was captivating and brilliant. But every piece in this book, whether I "got" it or not, hit me hard, and I can't dismiss anything in this volume.

Many of the poems are about language and identity; Long Soldier wrestles with definitions and grammatical rules to make a point about the rules Native Americans face. She details the appalling microaggressions she experienced (like a white woman saying she'd never thought American Indians had feelings until seeing a woman sob on a news…

Weekend reads and returning to booktube?

Almost one year after I made my first few tepid attempts, I'm once more returning to book vids. Unabridged Kid and I made a brief video (I just learned how to edit!) of our weekend reads: his, Duck, Duck, Moose by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen; and mine, The Parting Gift by Evan Fallenberg. Unabridged Kid even offers a brief reading.

What are you reading this weekend?

Book Review: Kitchen Table Tarot by Melissa Cynova

This book reignited my love for tarot.

I bought my first tarot deck at 16 or so, and have been passionate about tarot since then. But after twenty years of reading (and heavily collecting), I found I wasn't turning to my cards as much. Partially it was being pregnant, and then having a kid -- many, many things in my life slowed down -- but a good deal of it was feeling in a rut and at a dead end. I 'knew' the cards, as much as I could, but I wasn't using my decks regularly or reading for anyone -- including myself.

On a whim, I requested this book via NetGalley, and to my surprise, actually read the e-book galley cover to cover -- yes, including every page for every card. Cynova -- popularly known online as Little Fox Tarot -- has a wonderfully down-to-earth and accessible attitude that immediately drew me in, and her every thought on tarot and reading (or card slinging) is approachable, welcoming, and realistic.

From the first page, Cynova's personality comes thr…

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, August 20

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date.

I've picked up The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter again, after ignoring it so I could finish Mishell Baker's Arcadia Project trilogy. Then I wallowed for a while in a book hangover.

As usual, I've got about eight books in various states of read-ness -- this one, which I'm about halfway through -- and Whereas, a slim volume of poetry that I am working through very, very slowly. (It is intense.) The rest are my throwing-spaghetti-at-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks attempts and frankly, I'm not grabbed.

It doesn't help that a wicked summer cold swept through the house this weekend, leaving all of us exhausted and snotty. I've made good progress on my knitting project, however!

What are you reading today?

Book Review: Borderline by Mishell Baker

First line: It was midmorning on a Monday when magic walked into my life wearing a beige Ann Taylor suit and sensible flats.

I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to adequately write about this book because it's quickly become one of those reads that has merged a little with my DNA. How do you reasonably talk about a book like that?

An inventive urban fantasy, this novel features a heroine who has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and is a double amputee. Languishing in a psychiatric center after a failed suicide attempt, Millie -- once a promising film director --is invited to join the Arcadia Project, a mysterious organization that manages relationships between this world and the fey. 

Baker's writing is wonderful: with the Los Angeles setting and our cast of misfits, there's a noir-y feel to this urban fantasy that makes it read fresh and fast.  Baker manages to do some incredible world-building in a deft, readable manner; even though our heroine was new to t…

Book Review: Passing by Nella Larsen

First line: It was the last letter in Irene Redfield's little pile of morning mail.

This slender novel reveals a deep, rich, emotional story as well as a snapshot of life in 1929 Harlem. Through the awkward reunion of Irene and Clare, we're also offered a glimpse into the complicated world of identity and colorism and the soul-crushing pain of being othered.

Undoubtedly a timely read no matter when, this book felt especially important to me in this time of Black Lives Matter and the importance of skin tone in film casting. (And speaking of casting, the upcoming film version of this book has been cast and I'm so excited!)

There's nothing oblique or obfuscated in this story (other than Clare's behavior, of course). Irene and Clare are young black women, married with children. But Irene is proud of her identity and her family and to her surprise, gorgeous Clare has passed herself as white, and is married to a very racist white man. The bulk of the story is about how I…

Weekend reads and struggling to be present...

This weekend I'm hoping to finish Theodora Goss' The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter which is so ridiculously fun, I can't even deal. It's about the daughters of famous Victorian scientists and their struggle to deal with the legacy of their fathers. If you love Victorian and Gothic lit, this will be catnip for you!

I just got a new tarot deck, The British Gothic Tarot, which I am also loving; and it's a fab overlap with my current read. (It's making me consider more book and tarot pairings!)

Musing a bit on what to do with this blog (yet again) since I'm finding it hard to keep up here and be present (and active) with the other blogs I enjoy. How do you all do it?

And of course -- what are you reading this weekend?

#24in48 Readathon: 20 Minutes to Start...

I'm absurdly excited for this year's 24in48 Readathon -- I've got a big ole stack of books prepped, some audiobooks in the queue (Welcome to Lagos as well as another non-fiction book about the Civil War as background research for my novel), plus a knitting project I'm dying to start. Iced coffee, dark chocolate, and three sleepy cats. I'm determined to clock in 24 hours this year, too.

Are you participating? What are you planning on reading if so?

July 2018 #24in48 Readathon Commitment Post!

I love readathons and I occasionally sign up and I almost never, EVER, never hit any goals (other than, like, an hour of reading and two or three hours of cheering). But much like NaNoWriMo, I can't stop trying.

So here I am, once again, signing up for the #24in48 Readathon! It's a simple premise -- try to read for 24 hours in a 48 hour period. For this month, it'll be July 21-22, and even though I've got a busy Sunday, I'm still going to try. Who knows, maybe I'll make 12 hours of reading happen!

Will you be participating? If so, share a link where I can check in on you and cheer you along! I'll most likely be updating on Twitter, Instagram, and Litsy (@unabridgedchick).