The main reason I started this blog last year was to write more creative nonfiction. Unsurprisingly, 2020 threw a wrench into that. I haven’t done much of that at all this year. Instead, I’ve been reading a ton, and re-reading old favorites (a new feature in these 2020 roundups).
I’m trying to remember that I only need to create what brings me joy/comfort, and not what I feel obligated to (often by capitalism). So I’m trying not to stress about this aim of this blog shifting. Thanks to Asali Earthwork for that reminder via a tarot pull on Asali’s Patreon.
Here’s what brought me joy and pleasure in July.
Of Dragons, Feasts, and Murders by Aliette de Bodard (Dominion of the Fallen #3.5)
Murder and intrigue ensue when dragon prince Thuan brings his fallen angel husband home for Lunar New Year.
De Bodard’s been on my radar for awhile, but I didn’t like In the Vanisher’s Palace, so I wasn’t sure what else to try from her. As de Bodard mentions, these characters are a “do-gooder bi dragon prince and his husband, best described as lawful evil with ground rules and no scruples,” so I gave this a whirl.
I liked this so much I went and started the original books. (It was the power play undertones that sold me, lol.) I binge-read books 1 and 2 (The House of Shattered Wings and The House of Binding Thorns), and am waiting for my hold to come in on The House of Sundering Flames. On paper, this trilogy isn’t in my wheelhouse, but I got sucked into Shattered Wings in the first two chapters.
De Bodard’s Patreon here.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert (Brown Sisters #2)
After asking Oshun for a fuck buddy, Dani Brown gets more than she bargained for when she winds up fake dating Zafir, the security guard in her building.
Perfect. I have no complaints about this novel. A Black feminist studies heroine and a hero who loves romance novel? Say no more! I especially appreciate it’s the heroine who has to make the Grand Gesture. (Also her anniversary present is A+)
Aster and the Accidental Magic by T. Pico and Karensac
Aster moves to the countryside with her parents. Magic adventures ensue.
This was just really fun. Highly looking forward to the next volume. I’m also really curious to learn more about the world-building.
From Lukov With Love by Mariana Zapata
Jasmine Santos’ whole life is pairs figure skating, but she can’t compete without a partner. Enter Ivan Lukov, prodigy and her nemesis, who’s her best chance at competing again.
Loved the banter and the slow reveal that Lukov has a marshmallow heart. I was also really invested in Jasmine’s success as a skater. Lukov’s a solid dude, so this is very much Jasmine’s emotional journey/growth. The family dinner scenes are hilarious too.
Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels #5.5)
I’m currently reading the Julie serial they’re posting on their website, and wanted to revisit the Kate Daniels universe without reading the whole series again. Enter Andrea’s stand-alone novel! I love the boudas.
Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews (Iron Covenant #1)
I somehow forgot to mention this in last month’s post! A spin-off from their Kate Daniels universe. I am forever upset/delighted they redeemed Hugh, who was a villain in the original series.
Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole (Reluctant Royals #2.5)
The premise of this is ridiculous and I love it. The anime subplot made my heart extra smushy this time around. Cole mentioned she’d love to actually make it a manga, and sign me up when it happens.
A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole (Reluctant Royals #3)
A heroine ready to step into the spotlight and the prince in the limelight who’s never looked her way… or so she thinks. Fake dating! Only one bed! Hero who sleeps with a teddy bear!
The fairy tale frame at the end (and Johan’s grovel) gets me every time. This time, I realized Johan’s “Comme tu wilst” is a retool of Westley’s “As you wish” and move over Westley. Also, don’t miss the short story from the teddy bear’s POV! (Spoilers though)
Hold Me by Courtney Milan (Cyclone #2)
They hate each other in real life, but they’re also the pen pals who’re falling in love with each other on an end-of-the-world blog.
I guess I’ve been on an enemies to lovers streak lately, lol. I forgot what an asshole Jaye is to Maria initially. I love that Maria is trans and Jaye bi, and those are important parts of their identity, but it’s not the crux of the story.
Even the Clearest Water by Andi C. Buchanan
An unconventional bargain with a water spirit. I need to know what happens next!!
The Necessary Arthur by Garth Nix
Jadslkfj Garth Nix!! I need the whole thing. The myth of King Arthur as some kind of elaborate table top game of the gods, and England gets a shit DM?
A Gift of Ravens by A.J. Hackwith
The ravens give Odin’s Gugnir to a girl. He tries to convince her to give it back. That ending!! I am in my feels. Hackwith’s Patreon here.
The Ransom of Miss Coraline Connelly by Alix E. Harrow
Coraline Connelly is spirited away, but her mom won’t answer the ransom letters for some reason … Oh my heart. Reminds me of Labyrinth in many ways. Heart-warming/melting (the Daniel Tiger bits!!), and I would absolutely love to read more about these characters.
Film: The Old Guard dir. Gina Prince-Bythewood
GUYS. Competence porn, found family, the most heart-melting (gay) couple, fight sequences that are well-shot, lots of heart! Also if you liked Charlize Theron as Furiosa, you’re gonna love her as Andy in this (also so much gay subtext for her). I need the sequel with my girl Quynh now (pls let her be happy with Andy kthnx).
Music: Benedict Cork’s Boys Don’t Cry ft. Hannah Yadi & Million Miles (Live at Fiction Studios)
Music: Cindy Latin
Podcast: Lady Don’t Take No
Alicia Garza has had a podcast since April! Why didn’t y’all tell me? I’ve caught up on all the episodes, and I love how she reps Oakland.
Crafting The Narrative Of Abuse by Corinne Manning
“I don’t know the difference between abuse and care.”
adrienne maree brown on creating the future interview by Alice Grandoit
“movement work is often driven by fear and scarcity. People are coming together just because they’re all terrified of the same thing or they’re coming together because there’s a deep, urgent scarcity. These conditions create burn out”
“one reason for hierarchy is that it’s actually much harder to facilitate direct democracy, direct communication, and relationship building”
“One of my favorite tools for a larger group is this Post-It synthesis process. Everyone writes the conversation they want to have on a Post-It and sticks it on a wall. Right away, similar conversations become one column. Then different conversations each become a new column.
We pair people up and ask them to discuss what the group should talk about for the next four days. What is crucial? Then they team up with another duo and compare notes. Between everyone involved, what are two conversations that would be super satisfying and nourishing to have as a community? This process sharpens as you add more people to it. By the end, you’ve got five, or maybe ten, conversations. When people get to talk about what they actually want to talk about, it’s mind blowing. Suddenly they get creative, generative, brilliant …together.”
The Rape Kit’s Secret History by Pagan Kennedy
Marty Goddard created the rape kit, but never received her due for it.
Mi querida Sanaë by Sanaë Lemoine
“She fed me nutritious meals three times a day, but I still felt starved for her affection”
“it was obvious that we had made each other happy, that we had comforted each other, and although I was shaped by her sadness, I had also taken in her joy. It must have been there all along, lodged within me, radiating warmth throughout the years, teaching me how to soothe myself in the most difficult moments. It made me less afraid to become a mother one day, knowing that our relationship wasn’t defined by her depression but the possibility that I had also inherited her light.”
Language of Appeasement by D-L Stewart
Note the author now goes by D-L. On the difference between diversity/inclusion and equity/justice. The list of examples is great, and includes:
- Diversity asks, “Who’s in the room?” Equity responds: “Who is trying to get in the room but can’t? Whose presence in the room is under constant threat of erasure?”
- Inclusion asks, “Has everyone’s ideas been heard?” Justice responds, “Whose ideas won’t be taken as seriously because they aren’t in the majority?”
- Inclusion asks, “Is this environment safe for everyone to feel like they belong?” Justice challenges, “Whose safety is being sacrificed and minimized to allow others to be comfortable maintaining dehumanizing views?”