Monthly Reads: January & February
As a symptom of owning a bookstore, I get asked often about what I’m currently reading. As a response to that, I thought I’d start a bimonthly blog post listing the books I’ve read in the past month and brief thoughts/reviews on each one. These are by no means in-depth reviews; however, if you’re curious as to what I’m reading, it will alleviate that curiosity 🙂
About two years ago, I made a vow to myself to be conscious of the books I was consuming and to read more from authors who are women, people of color, disabled, transgender, and/or who fit any category that I do not. This vow has drastically changed my reading habits, and I’ve honestly been enjoying books a lot more now than I did before. This isn’t to say that I *don’t* read books by cis, straight, white men (Neil Gaiman is still one of my favorite authors); it’s only to say that I want to be more conscious of supporting people whose voices have been traditionally marginalized, especially in the science fiction & fantasy book realm. I mention this vow I made to myself, as it affects what I read.
Another note: I do include graphic novels. Some people think that’s cheating, but I say a book is a book.
As you read my lists, I truly hope you’re introduced to something new that you love.
For more suggestions and book lists, check out our 2018 Get Lit Reading Challenge.
I read 5 books in January, averaging about one book per week! This included three novels, one graphic novel, and one short story collection.
The Xenogenesis Series by Octavia Butler (Omnibus now called Lilith’s Brood) **SFF BOOK CLUB PICK**
ISBN: 9780446676106 *IN STOCK AS OF THIS POSTING*
We read the first book in the series, Dawn, for our SFF book club back in November, so of course, I had to finish the series. In January, I read the second two books in the series, beginning with Adulthood Rites.
Adulthood Rites is the story of Akin (pronounced ah-KEEN), the first male human/Oankali (the alien race) hybrid. His journey is interesting, and his struggle with his human side vs. his alien side is compelling and realistic. After reading the entire series, this remains my favorite book within it.
Imago is told from the point of view of the first human/ooloi (one of the alien genders) construct. This is the only novel in the series told from the first person point of view, which makes sense since the main character is neither male nor female. This story addresses the true hold the aliens have on the humans and whether or not this union can survive. I liked this one better than Dawn, but not as much as Adulthood Rites.
As a whole, this series is mindblowing. The structure, the themes, the explorations of what it truly means to be human – these are the things Butler does best.
Paper Girls, vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan **GRAPHIC NOVEL BOOK CLUB PICK**
OK, so Brian K. Vaughan is totally a cis, straight, white dude. But the main characters of this comic are a diverse group of young women, and they ride around on bikes in the 1980s and fight creatures from the future (and the past) and other weird stuff. If you love Stranger Things, you will also love Paper Girls. The first three volumes suffer from what I call the “Lost conundrum”: a bunch of weird stuff happens, and you still don’t know what’s going on. But it’s awesome, so you keep reading it. Hopefully something pays off soon, though.
The Power by Naomi Alderman **SFF BOOK CLUB PICK**
ISBN: 9780316547611 *IN STOCK AS OF THIS POSTING*
In this popular book, women everywhere suddenly get the ability to conduct electricity (like electric eels). It imagines what the world would be like if current power structures were obliterated, and it’s not exactly what you think. It will challenge how you view gender, and it drives home that things aren’t black and white – they’re much more complicated than that. The Power is well written with good characters and a plot that kept me reading. I liked it for the same reason some people don’t – it doesn’t always paint women in a positive light.
six months, three days, five others by Charlie Jane Anders
I mentioned that Anders is one of my new favorite authors in the Best Books of 2017 post. She’s been writing short stories for years, and this is a new collection. She does something more with her stories, and this collection of six stories presents life lessons on love, death, family, wishing, and friendship. Plus, I finally got to see what happened to Patricia’s cat (from All the Birds in the Sky)! I chose this book as the February Book of the Month on our podcast and gave it a full review there.
February was a short month, and I still managed to read EIGHT books! Mostly graphic novels, but as I said, a book is a book, right? My February reads included three novels and five graphic novels.
Monstress, volumes 1 & 2 by Marjorie Liu **GRAPHIC NOVEL MARCH BOOK CLUB PICK**
Vol. 1 ISBN: 9781632157096 *IN STOCK AS OF THIS POSTING*
Vol. 2 ISBN: 9781534300415 *IN STOCK AS OF THIS POSTING*
This graphic novel is gorgeously illustrated by Sana Takeda, and it’s about humans, “others,” the monsters inside us all, and hope. A story full of strong women, fierce magical cats, and engaging plotlines, this is one of my favorite comics. Pro Tip: It’s MUCH better on a binge read than it was issue-by-issue.
Fledgling by Octavia Butler
ISBN: 9780446696166 *IN STOCK AS OF THIS POSTING*
After reading the Xenogenesis series, I was SUPER curious as to how Butler would portray vampires. Only she can use a vampire story to approach race, family, bigotry, and free will. Her character building of the Ina (her vampire species) is truly amazing. Plus, it has a page-turning plot with tons of action and a compelling central mystery. Trigger Warning: The main character is a 50-year-old vampire who dwells inside a 10-year-old’s body, so the sex scenes and erotic biting scenes are a bit disturbing.
Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen
ISBN: 9781449489786 *AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER*
I was lucky enough to receive an advanced review copy of this new collection of Sarah’s Scribbles comics ahead of its March 27th release date. Every single comic included perfectly describes my life, and I wanted to share all of them with my friends and say, “Look! It me!” (and I did). If you’re an anxious, introverted nerd like me, I highly recommend.
Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur, vol. 1 by Amy Reeder
ISBN: 9781302900052 *IN STOCK AS OF THIS POSTING*
This comic follows a middle grade black girl science genius, and volume 1 introduces how she meets her pet dino, Devil Dinosaur. I’m really happy this comic exists, & I’m excited to see where it goes!
Paper Girls, vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughan
ISBN: 9781534305106 *AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER*
Again, I was able to get my hands on an advanced review copy of the new volume, which hits the shelves April 10th. I read volume 3 last month, and I talked about the “Lost conundrum” and how many weird things are happening with no real explanation. Well, in volume 4, you’ll finally get one. It’s not a *full* explanation, but you get enough background as to what’s happening to fulfill your need. The creators are doing a great job of giving you just the right amount of info, right when you need it.
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
This is a YA novel that takes place during desegregation and follows two teen girls on opposite sides of the fight: one white and one black. The young women discover they have feelings for each other and work through paving their own way. This book is a well done, different type of coming-of-age story with compelling characters and filled with themes on race, sexuality, gender, and growing up “different.”
Tarnished City by Vic James **YA MARCH BOOK CLUB PICK**
ISBN: 9780425284124 *IN STOCK AS OF THIS POSTING*
This is the second book in the Dark Gifts series, the follow-up to Gilded Cage. In my opinion, the second book was a lot better than the first. You get a ton more intrigue, good plotting and character arcs, major character deaths, AND you find out more about Crovan, the Ramsay Bolton of this universe, and what’s really going on at his creepy castle. This series won’t blow your mind, but it’s a fun, quick, escapist read.
And those were my reads for January and February! Stay tuned every other month as I post what I’m reading. Follow the bookstore on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more content and thoughts on books.
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