What do you want to see more of from me in 2020? Writing wise or subject matter wise or what have you. I’m honestly curious, so feel free to comment below!
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Book Reviews: 1/3-1/27
The Mermaid’s Voice Returns In This One by amanda lovelace
This was a good return to her poetry when I finally checked it out from the library. I like her style, and the way she uses the typesetting inher poems.
An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten
I really enjoyed these stories. They’re darker than what I think a lot of people would want, but they’re very humorous nonetheless. It’s a quick read and a very enjoyable one.
To Drink Coffee With a Ghost by amanda lovelace
This one made me cry, because it made me think of losing my mom, and that’s like my number one fear in life.
Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman by Marc Tyler Nobleman
This iskind of a children’s book explaining how Superman was created,but my favorite part was the back matter,where it told about DC basically cheating them out of their creation because it pulled no punches.
How Not to Give a Fuck at Christmas by Sarah Knight
Good advice for those who do the huge family Christmas parties every year.
1,227 Quite Interesting Facts to Blow Your Socks Off by John Lloyd
I just…I just fucking love trivia.
The Way of the Househusband Vol 1 & 2 by Kousuke Oono
Omg, this series is hilarious. I super love the main character’s intensity with everything he does, and it’s so serious it’s super funny.
Effin’ Birds by Aaron Reynolds
I follow this Twitter account, so of course I had to buy his book. Not only is it hilarious, but it’s also perfect for reaction/response pics.
First Books of the Year: 2020
Fuck No by Sarah Knight
Surprisingly, this one didn’t resonate with me as much as I thought it would, and yet, kinda did?
Perhaps my biggest problem connecting with the book was that I have found I don’t have too much trouble saying no to things I don’t want to do. On the other hand, I do have a lot of trouble saying no to things I want to do, but don’t have time for. That’s where my learning process is at.
Overall, I still super recommend this book to anyone who’s an overachiever or people-pleaser, because you’ll get a lot out of it.
Notre-Dame by Ken Follett
This is a very brief essay about the major history of the cathedral Notre-Dame, written after the fire that nearly destroyed it. It’s very moving and surprisingly informative for being so short. All the proceeds go to a charity trying to rebuild Notre-Dame, so I recommend buying it if it interests you. I really enjoyed it.
2019: A Year In Review
I won’t lie: I got a job, and everything else fell by the wayside, including and especially reading.
I had set a goal of 100 books, which seemed reasonable on January 1st, 2019. I was unemployed and had no real goals except writing 150,000 words and reading.
And then in June, I was hired.
Working full time has cut down on my free time by a huge amount, but god, has my life improved with structure and money.
Health stuff hasn’t been as good, seeing as I lost my insurance in October, postponing two rather important appointments and one incredibly important medication that I’m 100% going to run out of before it’s renewed.
I don’t remember much of the first half of the year, but the second half has been very full.
Reviews: December 31, 2019
It’s the end of the decade, I’m just gonna bullet-point this.
Five Midnights by Ann Davila Cardinal
- Good book
- I liked the supernatural stuff here
- Definitely had nightmares about El Cucuy
The Shallows by Matt Goldman
- Again, great sequel
- Really enjoyed this one
- IIRC, nobody I liked died
Strange Planet by Nathan Pyle
- Best comic ever
- Immensely quotable
Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac
- Scary af
- Middle grade is my jam
The Return of Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac
- HE’S BACK
- Good scary
Night Wings by Joseph Bruchac
- Beautiful tales
- Love this guy
Little Tales of Misogyny by Patricia Highsmith
- Odd collection
- Very tongue-in-cheek
The Third QI Book of General Ignorance by Various
- I just love trivia
- So interesting
Tomorrow I’ll do a year in review, but for now, I’m heading to bed.
Reviews: June 20
Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia by Sabrina Strings
This was a little more on the academic side in terms of readability, but it really showed the change in ideas of fatness from being healthy and a beauty ideal to becoming associated with Blackness (and all the negative things that went along with that for white Europeans) and suddenly becoming something hated and shamed. As Whiteness became opposed to Blackness, so white Europeans/Americans started getting thinner as an opposite to what they deemed as the “lesser” races.
I really encourage anyone who’s interested in the intersection of race and fatphobia to check this book out.
Origins of the Specious by Patricia O’Conner
This was a fun book on language that I picked up that de-myth-ifies so many of English language myths. Everything from “posh” to “GI” is included, along with the change British English made from basing their roots on Saxon words to trying to force it to be like Latin and French. I definitely recommend this if you’re a linguistics nut like me (but especially if you’re a descriptivist and love how language has evolved).
Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story by Angela Saini
Not really the prequel to Superior, but more the spiritual ancestor to it, Inferior covers the sexism in biological determinism science. The idea that there’s something fundamentally different between sexes is an outdated, yet still widely held belief, and some scientists (lbr, mostly men) are still desperate to prove it. But like in Superior, Saini presents the science that’s happening and shows those scientists who are happily disproving the old sexist assumptions.
Becoming a Private Investigator by Howie Kahn
This book, while interesting in showing how long some cases might go, wasn’t really what I thought it was considering the category it’s in. It’s supposed to be along the lines of teaching one how to become whatever job is being written about (also in the series, yoga teacher and venture capitalist), but it didn’t really do that. I did get something useful out of it for my novel (which is what I checked it out for), but not as much as I’d hoped. Still, if you want to hear about some real cases being done, check this out. It’s only about 130+ pages.
The Elementals by Michael McDowell
This was spooky. With sand getting into places it shouldn’t to sand-filled creatures, this haunted house style horror made my skin crawl. Which is exactly what I wanted, so yay for that! I definitely recommend this to fellow horror fans.
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
This is a book about racism geared toward white people written by a white person. But don’t let that turn you off! It’s actually an incredibly well-written book about the white tendency to shy away or defend oneself from accusations of racism, even (and sometimes especially) when they’re justified. Racism is more than just Trump and his cronies; it’s everyday microaggressions that bog down the people who hear them.
I super recommend this book to any and all white people who are trying to unlearn their internalized racism and be a better person and friend to people of color. Challenging racism is our duty, especially because we have all the power in the relationship.
Has the Gay Movement Failed? by Martin Duberman
I checked out this book because, I mean, what a title, but also because I wanted to learn more about where we’d come from as a queer movement. After reading this, not only am I 100% more radical, but I’m ready to fight about it. In terms of what GLF (Gay Liberation Front) stood for, we’re so far behind where we need to be. They were anti-nuclear family, anti-heteronormative, and anti-war. We’ve assimilated into the institution of marriage and made it so queers can join in to kill people in unjust wars. Instead of trying to tear down these systems, we’ve joined them. And then stopped.
There’s also a well-needed, if scathing, retort to HRC (Human Rights Campaign) and its goal of trying to mostly make queer people fit into heteronormative society instead of helping us tear it down and rebuild it. We can’t just gain marriage rights and then wash our hands and say we’re done. We have to keep fighting for our trans siblings, our siblings of color, our disabled siblings, and more. We’re supposed to be working to dismantle the racist, sexist, ableist, heteronormative society we’re stuck in, not try and cut ourselves to fit into its boxes.
Definitely read this book, especially if, like me, you’re more of the “Queer as in fuck you” crowd.
Childfree by Choice by Dr. Amy Blackstone
This was a really interesting and affirming book from a leading childfree specialist. Not only does she include her own research into this book, but she takes research all the way back from the 1970s when feminism improved the visibility of childfree people. While she mostly talks to heterosexual childfree couples, she does mention queer folk in there, too, mostly to point out that our societal idea of what makes a family is not the only one there is.
As someone who is avidly (some might say rabidly) childfree, this was super affirming to read, because not only did it show that there really is a community out there of people like me, but it also gives science-based evidence to rebut so many of the claims that “you’ll be lonely” and “you’ll change your mind” and “who will take care of you in your old age?” and “you’re being selfish”. (Quick answers: That’s what cats are for; No, I really fucking won’t; that’s what I’ll have money for; and I’m no more selfish for not wanting kids than you are for wanting them.)
Reviews: June 1
The Pandora Room by Christopher Golden
Ever since I read Ararat, I’ve been waiting for another Golden novel like it, and the fact that this is kind of a sequel to it with the same main characters made me like it even more. I read this really quickly. It just grabs you and doesn’t let go.
The Department of Sensitive Crimes by Alexander McCall Smith
This was a change from The Pandora Room because this one is a little bit slower-paced, but still definitely enjoyable. There’s a little bit of romance that’s handled in a very adult way (read: mature), but it would’ve done fine without it, imo.
The Strange Case of the Moderate Extremists by Alexander McCall Smith
This is a short story in the same universe as the book above. It’s a quick read and had the same level of soft humor that made up the book.
Story Genius by Lisa Cron
This is probably the best book on writing I’ve ever read, and I’m extremely picky. This really takes you through the process of coming up with your main character and their motivation to lead you through your novel blueprint. I’ve been using it for a novel of mine, and it’s been amazing.
Queer X Design by Andy Campbell
This was a history of queer icons and signs through the years, from the bars, clubs, and magazines of the early 1900s to the signs and posters and zines of the post-Stonewall world all the way up through today. It was a really good history and laid out well. The only problem I had was that the text size is ridiculously small and sometimes was on full pages of saturated hues.
Superior: The Return of Race Science by Angela Saini
Read this, everyone. If you only read one book I’ve ever recommended, let it be this one. It will enrage you, baffle you, and motivate you to do some activism wherever you can. This book is about basically what it says on the tin, the return of race science, which should really be called racist science. Basically, it’s people trying to show there are biological differences between races, especially in terms of intelligence.
The book is an incredibly easy read and a quick read (I finished it in about two days). The ideas are presented in a very readable fashion. It’ll have you incredulous and suspicious of science, but also more capable of recognizing bad science.
Such a Perfect Wife by Kate White
So, this is the next in the Bailey Weggins series, the last of which I read on my way to Vegas last year. This one, I read in the span of a few hours at home, but it was totally worth doing nothing else. The murder was twisty in the best way possible, with all the clues needed to solve the mystery there in front of you to find them.
Batman & Robin Vol. 1-3 by Grant Morrison
So, I finally read Dick’s run as Batman with Damian as research for a fanfic I wrote recently. Grant Morrison still has the worst mommy issues I’ve ever seen among writers and clearly loves nothing more than making Damian his little self-insert, but Damian is still a good boy and I love him.
Reviews: March—May 3
I’ve been reading, I swear, but things have gotten busy and reviews have fallen by the wayside. But! I have books to review so here we go.
Sissy by Jacob Tobia
This…I really thought I’d written a review for this, but I guess I didn’t. This was a great gender book, especially for those of us who are non-binary. There are a lot of trans narratives out there, but few for non-binary people. I really want to find one from a FTM point of view. But this is a great book to explain basic gender stuff and not-so-basic gender stuff.
The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths
This was a great mystery that I hope starts a series. It’s a solid one-and-done, a good mystery with a twist that feels satisfying. It also stars a queer WOC as the main detective and she’s great. I definitely recommend.
Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G. S. Denning
This is a great combination of mystery, fantasy, and humor. Warlock Holmes is no detective. Instead, he gets his information from the demons he controls. John Watson has to do much of the detecting on these cases. I read the first book and had to buy the next three, including pre-ordering the next book.
They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall
This is an American version of And Then There Were None and it’s perfect. Everyone is flawed and every murder leads to another so smoothly. I finished this book in one sitting and you probably will too.
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Vol. 1-3
This actually exceeded my expectations because they did Helena a solid. That’s it, that’s my review.
I love Lex’s internal monologue and I want more of it. Also, Lex and Bizarro 5ever.
I’ve also read some other comics but they’re both collections of various comics, so….
Anyway! Hopefully I’ll be back sooner with new books!
The Plotters by Un-Su Kim
This was a great slow-burn Korean crime fiction. It’s a character study with some interesting action. I really loved this one and pan to buy it one day. I’m definitely interested in more by this author.
The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson
This is the sequel and second book in the Truly Devious trilogy. I think I enjoyed this as much as the first book. I was bored by the romantic subplot, but I’m pretty much always bored with them, so. Still, I’m gonna read the last book when it comes out.
Elevate by Joseph Deitch
An interesting self-help type book that’s mostly about how one can elevate their life and relationships and businesses. Although it was definitely very obviously written by a rich white man, there were some good points about opening yourself to yourself.
Hong Kong Noir by Various Authors
This was an outstanding collection of short stories set in Hong Kong. Not only were they all very entertaining (and sometimes spooky), but they were also very informative. I definitely recommend this one to anyone who likes short stories, learning about different cultures, or ghosts.
The Hole by Hye-Young Pyun
This is a kind of wild ride. There’s not much that happens, yet so much happens! I definitely recommend this if you like psychological thrillers that are slow-burns and character driven.
Review: The Silent Patient
The Silent Patient started out amazingly. We have a very violent murder, a woman who won’t (or can’t) speak, and a therapist who is dying to find out what happened, to make Alicia talk. Where the book fails for me is in its twist.
We’re told things aren’t as they appear from the start, and the promotional copy makes sure we know there is a “most shocking, mind-blowing twist”. Unfortunately, for the genre-savvy reader, this twist is easy to predict. In fact, it was such an obvious twist, it made reading the rest of the book almost dull.
The writing is sound, and the author does manage to make his main character feel like the type of person you can’t always trust. I’m just not sure the writing is strong enough to hold out for as long as the book is. Still, it’s a fairly original idea and maybe if it’s the first mystery you’ve picked up in a while, you’re probably good to go.
The Culture of Fear by Barry Glassner
This was an interesting book, written about 20 years ago, updated after 9/11, which is the edition I read. It covers the fears that society had through the ’90s, including teen pregnancies, cybercrime, gangs, plane wrecks, and other things. His theory is that the media plays up smaller threats to distract from larger, more uncomfortable threats like poverty, racism, sexism.
It was the last book I read in January. I definitely recommend it.
Calm the Fuck Down by Sarah Knight
This book is a sort of self-help guide for anxiety that occurs around everyday life. It’s a testament to her previous books and my own mental state that I didn’t need these lessons right off the bat. It was definitely a worthy read and I recommend it to anyone who goes through anxiety about anything.
Secret Hero Society: Fort Solitude by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs
This book was super cute. I loved the first one, and I’m always a sucker for a good “heroes are kids” story. The art was perfect, of course, with Dustin drawing it, and the story was fun. I loved seeing Clark come into his own.
Secret Hero Society: Detention of Doom by same above
The third (and maybe last?? *sobs*) installment, had our heroes visit the Phantom Detention Zone. This was just as fun as the others, with our heroes able to see each other’s powers and abilities.
Health At Every Size by Linda Bacon
This should be required reading for everyone. In this fatphobic culture we live in, there’s nothing more insidious than the constant messages about losing weight. But this doesn’t do that. This book is about learning how to tune out society’s messages that you’re worthless if you weigh “too much” and learning to be healthy and love the body you have, without the goal of losing weight. It’s important and necessary for everyone.
Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen McManus
This was a very solid mystery, with a good few twists that never felt out of place. The pace was just right (I read it in one sitting), the writing was good, and this second novel by McManus didn’t disappoint.
My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
This was another one I devoured in one sitting. The chapters are short and the writing is great. I definitely look forward to more from Braithwaite. There’s a level of dark humor running through this that’s genuinely fun.
Body Respect by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor
This should also be required reading. This goes more into depth about the falseness of the obesity myth that fat is harmful and shameful. Through loving your body for what it does for you now, you can shake off the negative messages from society that you’re not good enough because you’re not thin (and there is never a “thin enough’).
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
I listened to the audiobook of this and it was very inspiring. I’ve been tidying my room since listening to this and it’s been a very rewarding experience. She gives you plenty of advice and relates her own experiences to what she tells you. I definitely like her methods.
1342 Quite Interesting Facts by John Lloyd
This was a collection of, as it says on the tin, facts about all kinds of things. If you love trivia, definitely check this out. It’s Britain-focused, but it’s still interesting.
The Obesity Myth by Paul Campos
This should be required reading for everyone. I mean it. These three books I’ve mentioned are ideal starting points on the road to fat acceptance. This gives you so much information about the so-called “obesity epidemic” and how, not only is it false and fear-mongering, it is also entirely made up of bad science and outright lies.
The Body in the Library
This isn’t the first Agatha Christie I’ve read, or the first Miss Marple story, but it was crucial to me writing a fic this past year, so I thank it very much for that. The Body in the Library is a great example of a classic mystery that I definitely recommend to Christie fans who haven’t read Marple yet.
The Pun Also Rises
This was a very interesting book about puns, where they come from, what their history is, and why we make them. Though they’ve still not been studied with the depth of so many other things, they seem to be part of our language makeup no matter what language you speak. I’d definitely give this one a read if you love puns, and if you don’t, maybe you should read this too, and gain an appreciation for them.
One Who Saw
A. M. Burrage
This was a very short ghost story that I read on Christmas Eve (as was the old custom). It’s short, but it packs a wonderful little punch. I recommend it to anyone who likes old school spooky stories.
I have some mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it’s written by a Gen-Xer who doesn’t understand Millennial humor. On the other, it’s a good history of modern comedy and how the comedy culture has changed itself and mainstream culture.
Oh my god, this book is everything. As one reviewer on Goodreads said, it’s not set in Hong Kong, it IS Hong Kong. Ostensibly, the stories here are about a particular policeman, but overall, they’re stories about Hong Kong during some of its most formative and important years. The mysteries are clever, the writing is brilliant, and the way the story is told (backwards in time) reveals some very interesting things in our characters’ lives.
I highly recommend this to anyone who loves mysteries. I’m buying this for my collection as soon as I’m able.
Blood Water Paint
This was an interesting novel in verse that told the story of Artemisia Gentileschi, an Italian painter. It gets very heavy, dealing with her rape and the trial that follows it, but in the end it’s a story of resilience. Throughout her story, the stories of Susanna and Judith from the Bible, the subjects of two of Artemisia’s most famous paintings, and spiritual guides who help her carry on through the trial and its aftermath. It’s a very strong read, but a good one, and I definitely recommend it, especially if you’re trying verse for the first time.
Finding Baba Yaga
This was another story told in verse, albeit much shorter than the one above. It’s about a modern girl who runs away from home only to find Baba Yaga in the forest. She makes her home with Baba Yaga, promising to become a Yaga after her. During this time, she meets another girl who eventually leaves off with a prince. It’s a very fast read, which was nice for me at the end of the year, but it was solid.
Go to My Grave
This was a wild ride. Though I figured out the mystery well before the end (not sure if it was meant to be that way, or I’m just really that attuned to mysteries; I do read a lot of them, so twists don’t usually surprise me), the writing was strong enough to keep me interested in the Why of the crime, even if I already knew the Who. The dialogue was very strong, very naturalistic, with people talking over and sideways around each other. It can be a little difficult to get used to, with the large cast (once again, I find I have trouble distinguishing white men apart, even in book form), but overall it’s a good effect. I really enjoyed this one and sped through it in two days, so I definitely recommend it.
This was a good art book, especially if you’re interested in sketch art and process work. There are some beautiful sketches in there that aren’t just Kingdom Come. It’s definitely worth a look if you like Alex Ross’ art.
This was a showcase of Adam Hughes’ covers. A big interest for me was his Catwoman covers, because his face reference for her is Audrey Hepburn. I have to admit, I’m not really a big Hughes fan. I find his art a little too cheesecakey for my tastes. There’s one Catwoman cover he did that I swear I’ve seen in porn fanart done better. Still, it was an interesting look through.
In the House in the Dark of the Woods
This book is like having someone tell you a dream that they had. Like, it’s interesting in a sort of WTF way, but at the same time, trying to follow along with it is like being on a winding path in the fog. You never learn the name of the main character you follow. But you follow her through getting lost in the woods, meeting the inhabitants of the woods, and watching a cycle go on that apparently goes on forever.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
I desperately need every one of you to read this, because this is the most fascinating book I’ve read in a long time. A Wall Street Journalist’s investigation of the sham company Theranos (which you might remember being big news in the last years of the Obama presidency), this book delves deep into the corruption, mismanagement, and outright lies the company spread in its quest to raise money for a non-functional blood testing machine.
Run by a college dropout whose life goal was to be a billionaire, Theranos claimed it was going to take the medical field by storm with its new single-drop finger-pricking blood tests. None of its machines worked, none of them even reached past raw prototype stage (certainly none of them were functional enough to work without crashing, breaking, or malfunctioning), and even though they had no product, they managed to get the non-functional machines into a few Walgreens and almost into Safeway.
This book reads like a novel. It’s fast-paced, invigorating, and desperately makes you want to learn what’s going to happen next. Watching Theranos rise and fall is especially interesting if you even vaguely followed it in the news in 2015-2017. The leaders of Theranos are now facing criminal charges, as well as a host of lawsuits.