TTT – Holiday Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is Holiday Reads. My Holiday Reads TEND to be anything I’m reading at the Holidays – similar to my issues with “Beach Reads” but I don’t think that’s what the topic is actually looking for. So. Books based around the holidays, I suppose?

krampus yule lord
Well the obvious first one is Krampus the Yule Lord. Written and illustrated by Brom, it’s a dark, fantastical tale of a small village’s brush with Krampus.

spinning silver
Next up I’m going to go with Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik, another wintry fairy tale.

In a similar vein to Spinning Silver, we have the trilogy that begins with The Bear and the Nightingale, a lush story based in Russian folklore. (The other two books are The Girl in the Tower and The Winter of the Witch.)

Girls Made of Snow and Glass (a feminist Snow White) is the last of the already-read books I’m putting on this list. From here we’ll be getting into books I want to read that seem holiday-themed to me!

eight kinky nights
Eight Kinky Nights is a Hanukkah-themed f/f polyamorous romance with fat, queer, disabled, autistic characters. I’ve already pre-ordered the Kindle version, and I can’t wait for the 16th so I can read it!

You know, I thought I’d be able to come up with three more holiday books, but these seven are all I can think of. So I think I’m wrapping up here!


TTT – Worst Bookmarks

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is Bookmarks, but, well. I don’t -use- bookmarks. I either read a book the entire way through, or remember the page number, or just flip the book upside down on my chair or headboard. Sooooooo, inspired by X on Twitter, this week’s post is my Top Ten Bad Bookmarks. (No books were harmed in the making of this post, though I debated it!)

So. Ten Things You Should NOT Use As Bookmarks! (Starring, my To Be Read list.) In no particular order:


  1. The Cat.


Rating: 2/10. Would Not Recommend. Unpredictable. Prone to getting up and walking away, leaving book un-bookmarked. If cat is still ON book when you want to retrieve it, injury may result. Cat may decide you are done reading before you do. (Book: Waking The Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter A Levine.)


2. Wine.


Rating: 3/10. Would Not Recommend. Useful for drinking WITH some books, but tricky to balance inside book. A nudge would send it rolling away, resulting in an un-bookmarked book and possibly a mess. (Book: Docile by K. M. Szpara.)


3. Fall.


Rating: 5/10. Possible. Only useful a few months out of the year. Careful to find dry leaves. Or, if you’re like me and a windstorm recently TOOK all of your leaves, use fake. Which potentially makes this usable outside of Autumn, but strange. (Book: Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade.)


4. Minecraft.


Rating: 6/10. Obscures view of game, but effective bookmark. Probably not Best Game Ever, but game that holds my attention. (Book: Best Game Ever by RR Angell.)


5. Car.


Rating: 3/10. Effective, but requires keys. Exposes book to weather. Neighbors look at you weird. Only useful while spouse is home. (Book: A Song For A New Day by Sarah Pinsker.)


6. My (Physical) TBR.


Rating: 2/10. On par with cat. Lengthy bookmarking process, followed by period of angst while looking at gigantic pile of books to read. Do Not Recommend. (Book: America: the Beautiful cookbook.)


7. Curtains.


Rating: 1/10. Requires magic to keep in place. Do Not Recommend. Also inaccurate. This is our first house. (Book: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo.)


8. Orc.


Rating: 8/10. Best so far. Tricky to find right angle to stand up. Looks like he’s screaming at you for not finishing your book. Recommended. (Book: Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier.)


9. Leftover Halloween Candy.


Rating: 7/10. Built-in snacks. Effective until spouse wanders by and eats your bookmark. Recommended if living alone. (Book: The Dragon With a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis.)


10. Spouse.


Rating: 9/10. Best Bookmark on the list. Responds audibly when wondering where you left your book. Reminds you to get back to reading. Not prone to walking away without notice. Marks off for looking at you weird when asked to put book on head, but ultimately pleased to have Hat. (Book: Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys)

TTT – Top Ten Highlights from the Baltimore Book Festival

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is Books That Give Off Autumn Vibes, but I’ve been utterly lost as to what to list for it, so I am going TOTALLY off-script to give you my top ten highlights from the Baltimore Book Festival last weekend! I talked a little bit about this on Sunday, but I didn’t cover anything that actually HAPPENED on Sunday, and I just – have more to say, LOL. I should have thought to take pictures of the panels, but I will embed tweets of people who did!

My Number One Top Highlight from the Festival was the Disability Panel. “Blind Swordfighters and Wheelchairs on Spaceships: Making Space for Disability” was an INCREDIBLE panel with INCREDIBLE panelists. The panelists ranged from blind to deaf-blind to chronic illness to cerebral palsy. Some had adaptive devices, some had service dogs, some did not. It was a glorious range of experiences talking about disability in spec fic and they were FIRE. They discussed some of the difficulties with writing books starring disabled characters – how you can be held up as “THE book” about a disability, when really it’s only representative of how one person experiences that disability. (This came up in the Queerer Worlds panel too, but more on that later.) They ripped apart this idea that disabled people wouldn’t survive in space, or in post-apocalyptic worlds. I really loved the discussion about if you have a village in a fantasy world that is constantly attacked by orcs, you HAVE to have disabled people. They’re going to have PTSD and anxiety. People are going to have disabling injuries. It’s not believable that there aren’t any disabilities in these worlds! It was a fantastic panel, and the authors and editors on it are all amazing.
Panelists: Elsa Sjunesson-Henry, Sunny Moraine, Victoria Lee, A.T. Greenblatt, Day Al-Mohamed.

My Second Highlight (and I’m having trouble ranking these!) was the Queerer Worlds Panel. This panel closed out the weekend, and I’m glad it did, because that meant they could go over their allotted time. There were a lot of shared themes with the Disability Panel; queer people exist and should be in spec fic worlds. Victoria Lee actually took this a step further and informed the audience that in her current books, The Fever King and The Electric Heir, there ARE no cishet people. They’re ALL queer. I had not realized that from reading The Fever King, but looking back on it, it’s only because that’s assumed to be the default if not explicitly stated otherwise. I’m reading The Electric Heir with an entirely different viewpoint and I love it. (Yes, I’m currently reading The Electric Heir, I’ll get back to that!) Everyone on this panel was an absolute DELIGHT. We’d (my spouse attended Saturday and Sunday with me) met several of the panelists earlier in the weekend, so it was very fun to banter with them a little during the panel. They reiterated the Wonder Woman problem – when there is so little representation, you can be expected to be representative of the entire range of an identity, and that’s just not the way it works. Nibedita Sen ultimately summed up the entire panel in one sentence: “MAKE IT GAY YOU COWARDS!” (Other suggestions included “I LOVE GAY SHIT” and “BE GAY DO CRIMES”)
Panelists: Alison Wilgus, K.M. Szpara, Nibedita Sen, Victoria Lee.

My third highlight happened at the very end of the Queerer Worlds panel. I….may have fangirled a bit, but my spouse says it was adorable, so hopefully Victoria Lee thought so too! I finished The Fever King Thursday night, just before the Book Festival kicked off on Friday. So after spending the entire weekend drooling at the ARC of The Electric Heir that Victoria Lee had in front of her at panels, I told her after the Queerer Worlds panel that I’d been daydreaming about snagging it off the table and just – running, LOL. She grinned, said she didn’t want to take it home, and would I like it? My brain just shorted out and all I could say was YES. While I was clutching the book, she then asked if I’d like her to sign it, which, um, ALSO YES. I don’t think I said anything but OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH  MY GOD the whole walk out to the car. I HAVE AN ARC OF THE ELECTRIC HEIR. I’m mostly over the incoherent screaming, but I still look over at it and squee.

My fourth highlight is similar, but it BEGAN the Festival. I follow K.M. Szpara on Twitter, so I knew he had ARCs of his upcoming debut novel, Docile, to give out at the festival. He was sitting at the SFF table when I arrived early for the first panel on Friday, and we got to chat for a while (he’s AWESOME) and when I asked if I could buy his book somewhere (I was under the mistaken impression it was out already!) he offered me an ARC instead. I honestly don’t know why I thought it was out when I knew he had ARCs – that’s kind of an indication it’s NOT out – durrr, Crystal, wtf – BUT I have a signed ARC of Docile now. So I began and ended the festival by getting two signed ARCs of books I am REALLY excited about. It absolutely made my weekend.

My fifth highlight is the diversity of the panelists. The team planning the panels for the SFF stage (I know part of the team is Sarah Pinsker and K.M. Szpara, so they get some of the credit, I’m not sure who else shares in it) is amazing. Almost every single panel we went to had more than one gender present, people of color, multiple sexualities, AND people with disabilities. There were a few that had no people of color; in one case, while everyone was white, one of them was a Russian immigrant woman. But over three days of panels, to only be able to think of one specific panel that didn’t have people of color? I didn’t attend EVERY panel at the SFF stage, but I was there A LOT. Absolutely A+ programming.

Six is just that the Book Festival fanned the flames of my love of reading. I won’t say it reignited it, because I wasn’t exactly in a reading slump, but I was slowing down. It is back to a raging thirst to devour novels, though, after talking about what makes spec fic great and where it needs to grow. I have a list of new authors and new content to track down, and I can’t wait to get started. Too bad daily life like laundry, feeding my family, and writing blog entries is taking me away from reading!

Seven is the conversations sparked between my spouse and I after attending panels. They’re about….70% of the book nerd that I am. Which is still pretty high! They didn’t make to Friday’s panels because they had to work, but they came with me Saturday and Sunday, and we’ve been talking about topics raised by the panelists ever since. We were using our constantly open text message conversation to write down titles and authors we need to look up, and I need to get that written down elsewhere so I don’t have to keep scrolling up to find things! I’ve learned a lot about what they like and don’t like in things like dystopias (I love them, they mostly dislike them, but there are exceptions) and romance. (GTFO HETERONORMATIVITY)

Eight was when my spouse and I stepped out of the News Media in SFF panel, because we needed to stretch our legs before the Queerer Worlds panel, and stumbled upon K.M. Szpara, Sarah Pinsker, and Bob Proehl doing SCIENCE! This was HILARIOUS, and I’m so glad we were there to see it in person.

Nine are the book and short story recommendations we received. I’m probably going to be subscribing to Uncanny Magazine soon, but I bought the two issues starring disabled authors, Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction! (edited by Elsa Sjunesson-Henry) and Disabled People Destroy Fantasy! and I’m really looking forward to reading those. The comics and graphic novel panel gave us such fun recommendations as The Invitation (lovecraftian horror with LOTS of sex), Filthy Figments, “irreverent humorous pornographic stories” (requires a subscription though), O Human Star, about a trio of robots and robotics scientists, and Moonshadow, a “fairytale for adults.” (Also the only non-webcomic of the four I wrote down.)

Sunny Moraine, from the Disability panel, has two short stories on the internet dealing with different aspects of mental health; Shape Without Form, Shade Without Color and Singing With All My Skin And Bone. Another short story recommended on Friday is Things With Beards by Sam J. Miller, described as a fanfic sequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing. There were many other things recommended that I simply added to my Goodreads To-Read list – far too many to fully list here, but I’ll give you some highlights. The Grace of Kings starts a trilogy by Ken Liu, who translated the Three-Body Problem and was the editor of Broken Stars, a collection of translated Chinese SFF I was reading before running into the library due date! Rhetorics of Fantasy is a nonfiction book that might help me to get deeper into my reviews.

Ten are ALL THE AUTHORS WE MET. I’m going to link to their Twitters here, because I’ve followed A TON of them.
Heading the list are K.M. Szpara and Sarah Pinsker, who are, to my knowledge, largely responsible for the SFF programming. They were both quite wonderful to talk to, and I’m thinking of asking them how I could get involved next year, because I think it would be a lot of fun. I’m not a member of SFWA, though, and I’m not really a writer, just a blogger, so I don’t know if I can be a part of it? Anyway. I bought Sarah’s book, A Song For A New Day, and have the ARC of K.M.’s debut, Docile. (He also wrote the fantastic short story, Small Changes Over Long Periods Of Time.)

I added two romance authors to my Twitter, and one of them is romance/SFF, so the one solely romance author is Robin Covington. She was one of the bright spots of the few Romance panels I went to. I was otherwise largely unimpressed with the Romance programming. The other romance and SFF author is R.R. Angell, a charming older queer gentleman who writes queer SFF romance. I bought his book Best Game Ever and had him sign it. I appreciated that he made a point of announcing his pronouns on every panel he was on.

Victoria Lee was AMAZING and I already loved The Fever King but I will now read everything she writes. She struggles with chronic illness too, and I will always support my people!

Saturday night I was looking up who was on the Queerer Worlds panel, and realized I knew who everyone was except Alison Wilgus; when I googled them I realized we’d been talking to them the day before and really enjoyed it! So we were pretty excited to hear what she had to say. And she’s awesome.

Day Al-Mohamed, Sunny Moraine, and Elsa Sjunesson-Henry, all from the Disability panel, are all great. Erin Roberts was on the Monarchy panel, and I wish she’d had more time to talk, because I wanted to hear more from her specifically. Ruthanna Emrys was on several panels, and writes eldritch horror; I picked up her first book this weekend. Lesley Penelope was also on several panels, and I want to read her books as well. Lara Elena Donnelly, author of The Amberlough Dossier, was also on several panels, and I could have listened to her talk for MUCH longer.

I had SUCH an amazing weekend. The Baltimore Book Festival is always a highlight of my year, and it coinciding with Daylight Savings Time (so I got an extra hour of sleep Saturday night!) was a godsend. I have so much reading to do now!


Top Ten Tuesday – Spooky Settings

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is a Halloween Freebie, and I’ve chosen books with spooky settings.

jane eyre
Topping my list is Jane Eyre. I should probably read it again, as I haven’t read it since high school, but I adored Jane’s story, and Rochester’s mansion was definitely read as haunted until she discovered the secret in the attic!

Next is Gideon the Ninth, one of my favorite books of the year. The manor the group works in is absolutely haunted, and discovering how and why is core to the book. Similarly, figuring out what and why the mansion is haunted is also core to Meddling Kids, a grown-up, horror-filled Cthulhu-esque take on the Scooby gang. I haven’t reviewed it here yet, but it was… slightly too spooky for my normal reading! I wound up only reading it during the day when someone else was home! I’ll get that review up soon. Probably Thursday, on actual Halloween!

Other spooky reads from this year include Anna Dressed In Blood, about a ghost haunting an old Victorian, and The Suffering, set in Japan’s Aokigahara forest.

Number six is Mira Grant’s Into The Drowning Deep, with a sidenote of its novella predecessor, Rolling In The Deep. Both books are set over the Marianas Trench, one of the most mysterious places in the ocean.

Seven is The Good Demon, a haunting southern gothic story about a girl and her demon. Eight is House of Salt and Sorrows, another very gothic story, this one a take on the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale.

And eight is all I can come up with! I don’t read a whole lot of horror; I always push myself a little bit in October to read some spooky stories, but even the spookiest of what I read isn’t that bad. (I would call Meddling Kids the spookiest of these.) But all of these have a very haunting, doom-filled sense of place.

I hope you have a Happy Halloween!


TTT – Extraordinary Book Titles

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is books with extraordinary titles. I’m sure this is going to a hugely varied week; everyone’s definition of extraordinary is going to be different. For me, these are titles that made me sit up and take notice; They’re long, or strange sounding, or alliterative, or a little shocking.

First off, in the slightly shocking category, we have You Have The Right To Remain Fat and Headscarves and Hymens: Why The Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution. Two nonfiction books about civil rights, sexual discrimination, and body positivity.

Next up are three young adult books: The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic, The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) and The Astonishing Color of After. All three are excellent books.

The next three don’t fit neatly into a category; The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics is a sapphic Regency romance, And The Ocean Was Our Sky is 1/3 picture book, 2/3 text from the viewpoint of whales, and How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? is a fantastic short story collection from N. K. Jemisin.

The last two are from my TBR – The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water comes out in 2020, and European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman is the sequel to The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter. I want to read that entire series!

I can’t wait to see what everyone else picks this week; a good title can land a book on my radar faster than just about anything else.

TTT – Books With Numbers in Their Titles

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is books with numbers in their titles.

First I want to mention Gideon the Ninth, which I read recently and WOW. Amazing. Fantastic adult SFF with lesbians and necromancy and – just wow. Right up there with it is Six of Crows, which I’m sure will be on plenty of lists this week because it’s SO. GOOD. I’d better find The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms on plenty of lists, too, because N.K. Jemisin is amazing.

Number One Chinese Restaurant was a surprisingly charming contemporary fiction book that captured food service perfectly. A Thousand Beginnings And Endings was a gorgeous anthology of short stories based on Asian mythology. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is a retelling of Snow White told through an Asian lens, and is equally gorgeous.

One Person, No Vote was a horrifying nonfiction book on voter suppression in the US. On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century was another horrifying nonfiction book of essays about recognizing fascism. Dear Fahrenheit 451 is a series of letters from a library to various books, and was a delight to read. Period: Twelve Voices Tell The Bloody Truth rounds out my nonfiction picks this week, and was a beautifully diverse look at menstruation. (Fahrenheit 451 should probably get an honorable mention, though I haven’t read it since high school and so don’t have a review on this blog for it. I should perhaps remedy at least the first part of that.)

This was a surprisingly hard post to write! I’m glad I have everything logged on Goodreads, because I was able to skim through my reading history for books with numbers in the titles. My memory was DEFINITELY not up to this task!