Series I Want to Finish By 2022

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The Last Hours (#2): Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare

Sequel Release: March 2022

Interestingly enough, I wasn’t a major fan of the The Mortal Instruments or The Infernal Devices. Yet something about the Shadowhunter world makes me want to come back for more. I think I found my place in the fandom with The Last Hours. I absolutely devoured Chain of Gold and I’m fairly certain this may become one of my favorite YA series.

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The Locked Tomb Trilogy by Tamsyn Muir

Sequel release:  Summer or Fall 2022

I planned to reread Gideon on the Ninth before reading the sequel but if I’m being honest, I didn’t vibe with the writing style or plot. However, I loved Gideon and Harrow’s dynamic and that ending left me SHOOK. I think I’ll just look up a book recap before continuing on to the next book.

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Red Rising (#5): Dark Age by Pierce Brown

Sequel Release: Unknown

I have a confession to make. Even though I’m a die-hard Red Rising fan, I don’t know if I want to finish the spin-off series. The new series is way more depressing and I may have stumbled upon a MAJOR Dark Age spoiler, which makes me reluctant to continue. Not to mention, the final book remains to be announced so I’m in no real rush here.

The Poppy War series: The Dragon Republic (#2) & The Burning God (#3) by R.F. Kuang 

Sequel Release: Series is complete.

The Poppy War was so gut-wrenching and I still haven’t recovered. I don’t know when I’ll be mentally prepared to dive back into this series. I’m hoping I will SOON because R.F. Kuang’s new book, Babel, comes out next year.


Series I Need to Start

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Crescent City duology by Sarah J. Maas

Sequel release: February 2022

I feel I grew out of Sarah J. Maas as a writer. I enjoyed the Throne of Glass series and even ACOTAR, but I feel like her high fantasy romance book began to pivot toward a more smutty fan fiction style. I want to give the Crescent City duology a chance because I absolutely enjoy the author’s imagination overall.

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Alex Stern duology by Leigh Bardugo

Sequel release: Fall 2022

I was SUPER hyped for Ninth House when it was announced but some people on Twitter decided to try to cancel this book. How people handled the content the author decided to include put a bad taste in my mouth and I knew I couldn’t read the story without thinking about my frustration with the book community. I could rant for days on how the expectation for content warnings fell on a female author but no male author has ever been met with the same uproar (Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Mark Lawrence, etc). There’s just so much double-standards when it comes to female authors who write grimdark and horror versus the same male authors who have been writing it for decades. 

My End of Year TBR

Here are all the books I plan to read by the end of the year. I need to read at least 5 books a month to reach my end of year reading goals.  For some of you, that may be the norm but lately, I’ve only average 2-3 books a month. The books I haven’t listed on here are a few series I wanted to catch up on before next year but I’m unsure on whether that’s likely. Since I’m a mood reader, I decided to go through my list and pick a different book as I go rather than set a monthly TBR. I’m super excited for all my picks since the first half of my reading year was a flop. Enjoy!

Literary

  • My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Contemporary Romance

  • Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
  • Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
  • Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert (New Release)

Thriller

  • Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
  • Survive the Night by Riley Sager (New Release)
  • For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing (New Release)
  • All’s Well by Mona Awad (New Release)

Sci-Fi & Fantasy

  • The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
  • The Atlas Six by Olivia Blake
  • A Touch of Ruin by Scarlett St. Clair
  • From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • The House on the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (New Release)
  • Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff (New Release)

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Novellas

  • This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
  • Exit Strategy by Martha Wells
  • Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark
  • Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire
  • A Dowry of Blood by S. T. Gibson (New Release)

Young Adult & MG

  • Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman
  • The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare
  • Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare (New Release)
  • Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (New Release)
  • Bridge of Souls by Victoria Schwab (New Release)
  • (Backlist books by Victoria Schwab)

Let’s Talk Escapism, SFF, and the Book Community

Update // I was planning to relaunch my new website here and ran into some hiccups. I decided to purchase a separate domain and will continue to ramble here until I set up my professional website set up. 

The 2020 reading year was especially challenging for me for obvious reasons. The struggle continued well into 2021. I wasn’t exactly in a reading slump last year but I steered away from any book that was dystopia, grimdark, or science fiction. At that point, the themes in those books weren’t about escapism anymore—it was my life. At least, that’s what it felt like.

The first third of this year, I was in a massive reading slump so trying to pick up SFF felt nearly impossible. I’ve been jumping from book to book not fully enjoying the reading experience like I once had. I began to worry about whether or not reading was my favorite thing to do anymore. I hope that isn’t true. Books used to make me cry, make me laugh, and make me scream and gasp with shock. I haven’t felt that way lately. Either because I pick up whatever mundane book I have to pass the time or the past year and a half has done a number on me.

Around 75-80% of the books on my TBR are in the speculative fiction category. It requires a lot of my intellectual capacity to consume them meaning I don’t regularly binge-read SFF books. I need to be in the right head space with almost no distractions for me to focus on a book like that. I have neither been in the right head space and I can’t seem to focus no matter what.

It doesn’t help that I’ve felt disconnected from the book community. I deleted my Twitter so I have no one to yell about books to, even if it was mostly me screaming into the void. Instagram isn’t very conducive to meaningful online friendships. The app’s sole goal is promotion, not community.

Book controversy has become book drama, and book drama has become cancel culture. Suffice to say, the book community has sucked the fun out of reading for me. Every time I pick up a book, it seems like the author in question has done something “problematic”. It is my opinion that the majority of author’s deemed problematic are simply flawed and have an ignorant perspective. There are probably less than 5 authors I can name that I would define as truly problematic. No one has even stopped to consider if we, as the book community, are the ones that are problematic. Who holds us accountable for our behavior as readers?

Reading is no longer an escape for me because every time I read I’m forced to criticize whether the story is a perfect depiction of real life. Books set in the future or are make-believe don’t have to be an accurate reflection of real life if it’s neither historical fiction or non-fiction. I’m not offended if a white author accidentally, without malice, puts a single offensive line in several hundred pages of their books. The problem for me is if the issue is consistent throughout (i.e. Eleanor & Park). I will never understand holding one tiny part of a book under a magnifying glass and determining that someone is a racist or a bigot (see: Blood Heir controversy).

We need to allow authors to make mistakes and learn from them. Vilifying them is not the answer. I like problematic books. Why? Because I can’t stand anything wrapped up in a perfect package. Perfect is boring. I’d rather an author write an imperfect, flawed, and honest story than pander to me. Every story I’ve read or every movie I’ve watched where I’m being pandered to felt fake and forced.

That’s why I’ve been less inclined to engage with book discourse. Reading is more about identity politics rather than inclusivity coming from a real or genuine place. I also find it ironic that the book community will put a “problematic” author on blast for a month straight giving them even more attention rather than focus or celebrate their love for diverse stories. The book community has become so negative. Lately, reading puts a bad taste in my mouth. I feel like I have to keep my favorite authors at arms length while reading. It’s almost like there’s an emotional disconnect or a lack of investment due to a fear or anxiety around cancel culture.

I will say the book blogging community has been the one place that hasn’t ruined reading for me. Maybe if I stay off Twitter and most of social media, I can rediscover my love for reading. I want to wander into a bookstore and stumble upon a book I haven’t yet heard of. I want to carve out time to read more fantasy, sci-fi, and horror. I want to dive into a new story and forget the world, not be reminded of how much is sucks.

My 2021 reading year has been a complete flop thus far, but I still have just over five months to redeem myself. Going forward my goals are to 1. Shut out the noise, 2. Step up my reading game with notepads and sticky tabs, and finally, 2. Visit some indie bookstores and pick up anything that catches my interest and stop forcing myself to read my backlist. Hopefully, these few things will help revive my love for reading before the end of the year.

Movie Review | All The Bright Places

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“You’ve got at least a thousand capacities in you.
Even if you don’t think so.”

Content Warning: The movie and book being discussed today handles topics surrounding suicide and depression.

I was aware of all the buzz of the book All the Bright Places shortly after it was published, but then I heard it was “problematic” and romanticized suicide. If that’s true, than the movie went above and beyond to counter that narrative. I, myself, was a suicidal and depressed teen and found Theodore Finch’s thoughts and actions to be completely believable. Sometimes the one helping others needs help the most. There’s a saying that “the therapist friend needs the most therapy”. I think that rings true for Theodore.

While I can’t speak for the book and it’s content, I thought the film was done well. Yes, there’s a romance arc but I didn’t perceive it as toxic, at least not from the movie. People who are sad or depressed fall in love, too. People who are struggling still have love interests. I felt that having a romance threaded into the story was there to either make the topic easier to grasp for teenagers or make the content less heavy. However, from what I do know about All the Bright Places, the writing is a bit John Green-esque in the sense that there are too many metaphors, too many descriptions, and dare I say too many emotions? I’m not sure. I don’t think many people appreciate a dream-like quality to stories about death because it seems like the author isn’t taking the topic seriously, which I understand. But I do think including it helps make the themes feel more accessible to readers. I don’t think this story was meant to be feasible but as a Type 4 who is constantly toeing the line between seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses and having a fatalistic outlook on everything, I found All the Bright Places to be endearing and meaningful as a film. If you must ask, yes, I did cry.

“Finch taught me that there’s beauty in the most unexpected of places. And that there are bright places even in dark times. And that if there isn’t, you can be that bright place… with infinite capacities.”