A whole month of shelter-in-place. Reading remains my comfort and my joy, so I’ve been reading voraciously. Shoutout to City of Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco for having such deep ebook collections.
One of the things I noticed during this wild period, is I’ve been revisiting series I’ve enjoyed from my childhood. So, they get a special section this time.
Stay safe and seize your joy, comfort, and pleasure where you can friends.
Swordheart by T. Kingfisher
The widow Halla winds up on a road trip with a magic sword haunted by a ghost, and a nonbinary lawyer-priest to get her inheritance back from her evil in-laws.
First of all, this book is hilarious. Never have I laughed so much. There’s also a lovely romance between Halla and the man trapped in the sword. I also appreciate how Halla utilizes the sexist notion women are dumb to get out of situations without bloodshed, and often hilarity.
I’ve read Kingfisher’s fairy tale retellings, but this is a totally different tone and style, and I am now a die-hard fan. I already have Paladin’s Grace, set in the same universe, on hold, and am eagerly awaiting the other two books in this series.
Kingfisher (aka Ursual Vernon)’s Patreon.
I Choose Elena by Lucia Osborne-Crowley
A memoir recounting trauma, chronic illness, recovery, and moving from shame and invisibility to being seen.
Asjk;lf Absolutely gut-wrenching in the tradition of Roxane Gay’s Hunger and Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries. It’s also a short read.
The Chai Factor by Farah Heron
Amira goes home to get some peace and quiet to finish her Master’s in Engineering. Unfortunately, a barbershop quartet has just moved in. Sparks fly between her and one of the singers.
Sexually dominant heroine! Sexy without any explicit sex scenes! Use of The Princess Bride’s farm boy. Also Amira is an angry woman, allowed to be angry, and to also learn to be angry in ways that don’t harm others. Love the secondary queer characters too. Great romance book for beginners, showing the genre can delve into issues of homophobia, Islamophobia, sexism, along with sex and love.
Honorable Mentions Books
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
I Hope We Choose Love by Kai Cheng Thom
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal (Sands of Arawiya #1)
Zafira disguises herself as a man when she hunts in the haunted woods to feed her village. But this brings her to the attention of the Silver Witch, who sends her to a cursed island to bring magic back into the world. But Zafira is not the only person on this quest; she join a group of others, all with their own reasons for coming to the island.
This was really fucking good, and I will absolutely be following Faizal’s work from now on. I will also die if she writes an adult fantasy series. The UST *chef’s kiss *
Revisiting old friends
The Shadow Queen & Shalador’s Lady by Anne Bishop (Black Jewels)
Dena Nehele is recovering from the events of the initial trilogy’s world-shaking events. With so many corrupt Queens dead, they need a new one. Cassidy is a Queen without a Court. The two are put together, in hopes something can grow.
After reading The Queen’s Bargain last month, I picked these up. While the initial trilogy is epic fantasy in the sense there’re high-end-of-the-world stakes, this is very much about rebuilding the world and is domestic in scope. It’s about building a home and family. The Black Jewels encompasses multiple mini-series, and these two books are a self-contained arc.
The Laughing Corpse & Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton (Anita Blake #2 & 3)
I pitched this series to friends as “hard-boiled lady detective solves supernatural crimes, but turns into paranormal polyamorous soap opera.”
I’m still on the early books where things are more hard-boiled than erotica. I just want to get to Nathaniel and Micah!! But I also hate Richard, lmao.
Shades in Shadow by N.K. Jemisin (Inheritance Trilogy)
A trio of short stories set in Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy world.
It was such a pleasure to revisit this world again. I forgot how much I loved the world-building with the gods and their nature. So it was a blast to hang out with Nahadoth’s old host and Shine.
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
A baker is kidnapped to be food for a starving vampire, but they become unexpected allies.
Reminds me of Vivian Vande Velde’s Companions of the Night.
Fruits Basket (2019)
Tohru Honda stumbles upon her classmate’s secret: his family embodies the Thirteen (yes, thirteen!) animals of the Zodiac and are cursed to turn into their animal whenever they’re hugged by members of another gender. Found family ensues.
The original anime from 2001 was something I would watch whenever I was sick. On watching this reiteration, I’m really struck by how much this series is about trauma, creating a family, and how healing love can be.
Sub and dub available on Crunchyroll.
Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
After committing the ultimate taboo of alchemy and losing parts of their bodies as a result, brothers Edward and Alphonse join the military alchemists in hopes of regaining their bodies. Alas, things are not exactly as they seem with the military or the country of Armestris…
I know I’m 10 years behind, but I finally watched this! Also, you can tell the series was well-plotted from the get-go. Also also I am 1000% here for Olivia Armstrong. Available on Netflix.
Ocean Eyes by Scary Pocket ft. Laura Mace
I Felt Something by Lohai (Live)
Utada Hikaru’s Laughter in the Dark 2018 concert
I am two years late to the fact, but this whole concert is on Netflix. I’ve been watching fan camera footage all this time! *facepalm* I actually prefer a number of these live version to the album ones. Also, I’m listening to Road, traveling, and COLORS tracks nonstop.
Hyena, text Mollena Williams-Haas, music Georg Frederich Haas
A performance piece featuring Molleena’s words and Georg’s music. When Molleena returns from detox, a hyena named Bubbles comes with her.
You can hear what could be considered an epilogue here, Mollena asks “What do you want from me?” and the hyena’s answer haunts me to this day.
Podcasts featuring short interviews with writers. It’s fun, breezy, and I like the light-hearted hosting style. Plus, I’ll listen to any interview Alexander Chee does.