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monthly book list

May 2021 Reading Review

Hello, friends! It’s been forever, but I’m currently on a break from grad school before my last two classes (!!) and guess what? It turns out that without a huge time/energy burden, I actually sometimes read books! Wild. 

Also, a brief housekeeping note: I’m planning to take a look at my archives and do some cleanup there. It’s been 15 years since I started By Singing Light (ahaha, wow) and a lot has changed personally & in the world since then. I may also refresh the site design a bit since I haven’t touched it for probably 10ish years. In any case, things may look different around in the next couple of months. 

So, on to the books! 

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson (adult science fiction, 2020) has a relatively simple premise: there are many worlds and each of them has a slightly different version of the same people. Some of those people can walk between worlds, thanks to a technological innovation developed by a visionary scientist. But Johnson doesn’t stop there. The inequalities that riddle the world are part of what make this process possible, as the people who walk between worlds are the ones whose counterparts have died, usually young and violently. The system chews people up and spits them out, and the main character of the book exists uneasily betwixt and between the literal and metaphorical worlds. 

The Space Between Worlds is Johnson’s first published novel, and it’s a very solid debut. While I have some slight quibbles (the imagery is sometimes a little on the nose, and the ending seemed rushed), the meat of the story is complex and thoughtful. It’s possible to draw some analogies to current day people and concerns, but the world of the story feels fully realized on its own. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what comes next. 

The Fire Never Goes Out by Noelle Stevenson (adult/teen memoir, 2020) popped up on my radar because I’ve been a fan of Stevenson’s work since Nimona was a webcomic. It was interesting, and sometimes sad, to see how Stevenson experienced that moment in her own life. The Fire Never Goes Out is a thoughtful exploration of identity, sexuality, and the pressures of fame at a young age. I’m glad to have read it. 

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell (juvenile fantasy, 2017) is one that I read because it’s still relatively popular at my library and I wanted to be able to do some readers advisory for it. Cowell wrote and illustrated this one and the illustrations are really striking: jagged and dark, with an underlying eeriness. As an adult reader it wasn’t my favorite, but I can see the appeal. It’s also a relatively quick read, making it a good title to hand to reluctant readers or kids who aren’t quite ready for the denser fantasy books. 

Peaces (adult surreal fantasy, 2021) is Helen Oyeyemi’s latest book and it’s quite a wild ride (heheh). Full of Oyeyemi’s typical absolutely bonkers situations, this one follows Otto Shin, embarking on a magical train journey for a not-honeymoon honeymoon with his spouse, Xavier. Also, there’s a hereditary mongoose, and secrets, and the distinct possibility that Otto is constantly lying to everyone around him–including the reader. 

Do you ever read a book and just marvel at the brain that produced it? How, Helen Oyeyemi? What is it like inside your mind?? (Frances Hardinge is also in this category for me.) Personally, Peaces doesn’t rank amongst my favorite Oyeyemi titles (White is For Witching and Mr. Fox) but even a not-quite-favorite Oyeyemi is still very good indeed. 

For whatever reason, I sometimes love Aliette de Bodard’s work and sometimes bounce off of it really hard. Fortunately, Fireheart Tiger (adult fantasy, 2021) was in the love category for me, although it’s slight enough that I was left wanting more. The story unfolds in a really interesting way, weaving backwards and forward across the timeline. The shifting loyalties and relationships mean that the reader is trying to understand the full extent of what’s happening just as Thanh herself does. I also really loved the descriptions of the magic, wild and beautiful and dangerous all at once. 

Micah: The Good Girl by Ashley Woodfolk (YA realistic fiction, 2020) is one that I’m sure I put on hold on a whim after having read one of Woodfolk’s earlier books. I’m glad I did, as Woodfolk weaves together grief, friendship, and first love in a very thoughtful and effective story. Micah is nearing the one year anniversary of her brother’s death, and the way Woodfolk portrays her grief felt very understandable and real. It reminded me a bit of The Valley and the Flood by Rebecca Mahoney, which I read last month, although that story has a mythic fantasy element to it. However, both deal with the aftermath of losing someone close to you, and what it means to come to terms with that. 

I didn’t realize that this is actually the second in a series, but I suspect they stand alone relatively well and now I’m interested in going back to read the others. 

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April 2019 reading

Tender by Sofia Samatar [review]
A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland [review]
The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
A Life of My Own by Claire Tomalin [review]
Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks [review coming tomorrow]
The Hidden Witch by Molly Knox Ostertag
Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill
A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine [review coming Friday]
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke: listened to the audiobook again
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas [review coming Monday]
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon [review coming Monday]
Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw [review coming Monday]
Attucks! by Phillip Hoose [review coming Monday]
Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff

Totals:

  • Books read: 14
  • rereads: 1 (Jonathan Strange)

Favorites:

  • Tender
  • A Conspiracy of Truths
  • A Memory Called Empire
  • On the Come Up
  • Attucks!
  • Maresi

Other posts:

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March 2019 reading

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie
Two Naomis by Audrey Vernick and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Always Coming Home by Ursula K Le Guin
Ammonite by Nicola Griffith
In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard
The Infinite Blacktop by Sara Gran
Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott
Salt by Hannah Moskowitz
The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Total books read: 9

Favorite books:

  • The Raven Tower
  • Always Coming Home
  • Salt

I’ll be honest, February and March have been really disappointing reading months. I keep trying to tell myself that I was DNFing a ton of books and catching up on the books I didn’t get to last year. And that’s true. But it’s also just frustrating to have a run of less-than-satisfying reading experiences. Really, really hoping April goes a little better! (I’ve already finished two books and am close to finishing a third so….maybe?)

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February 2019 reading

February was not my month in a lot of ways, including reading. But there were some big things I’ve been thinking about and planning for in my personal life and I think that took up a lot of time and energy. Here’s hoping March is a bit smoother!

 

 

The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark
Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri {review}
Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee {review}
European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss {review}
Here to Stay by Sara Farizan {review}

Total books read: 5

Favorite books:

  • Dragon Pearl
  • Empire of Sand
  • Here to Stay
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January 2019 reading

I did not read as much as I wanted to this month, but I read some really awesome books. A few of these I suspect will end up on my end-of-year favorites list! As I mentioned the other day, I’m trying out a new system for my active TBR, and I’m hoping it will result in getting more books either read or passed on.

The Winged Histories –  Sofia Samatar [review]
Sawkill Girls  – Claire Legrand [review]
The Prince & the Dressmaker – Jen Wang
Nate Expectations – Tim Federle
I, Claudia – Mary McCoy [review]
Frederica – Georgette Heyer
Begone the Raggedy Witches – Celine Kiernan [review]
Merci Suarez Changes Gears – Meg Medina
The Dinosaur Artist – Paige Williams
Sanity and Tallulah – Molly Brooks
A Spark of White Fire – Sangu Mandanna [review]
The Girl with the Dragon Heart – Stephanie Burgis

Total books read: 12

Total rereads: 2

Favorites:

  • The Winged Histories
  • I, Claudia
  • Begone the Raggedy Witches
  • Merci Suarez Changes Gears
  • Sanity & Tallulah
  • A Spark of White Fire
  • The Girl with the Dragon Heart

Other posts:

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bookish posts monthly book list

December 2018 reading

I was in the middle of a reading slump for most of December, so I really didn’t get as many books finished as I wanted. But I did go out with some pretty strong titles!

Also, some of you know that I had surgery last December–I finally wrote up everything that happened and shared it. If you’d like to learn more, that document is here.

Mistletoe and Murder Robin Stevens 12.27 175

Arabella Georgette Heyer 12.25 174

For a Muse of Fire Heidi Heilig 12.24 173

The Song of Achilles Madeleine Miller 12.22 172

Cousin Kate Georgette Heyer 12.18 171

The Word for World is Forest Ursula K Le Guin 12.18 170

Keeper of the Isis Light Monica Hughes 12.12 169

The House on Chicken Legs Sophie Anderson 12.11 168

When You Reach Me Rebecca Stead 12.7 167

Lumberjanes v. 7 12.6  164-166

Lumberjanes v. 8

Lumberjanes v. 9

 

Total books read: 12

Total rereads: 3 (When You Reach Me; Cousin Kate; Arabella)

Favorites:

  • For a Muse of Fire
  • The Song of Achilles
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November 2018 books

The Death of Mrs Westaway Ruth Ware 11.29

This was on the NPR Book Concierge and it sounded like the kind of mystery I’d like. It was! I’m always a sucker for the “assuming someone’s identity” trope, and Ware plays nicely with that here. I also liked Harriet a lot. It feels very old-fashioned on several levels, I think intentionally, and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about that aspect.

Pride Ibi Zoboi 11.29  (review tomorrow)

Girl at the Grave Teri Bailey Black 11.25 [review]

Darius the Great is Not Okay Adib Khorram 11.17  [review]

The Language of Power Rosemary Kirstein 11.16  [review]

Mariam Sharma Hits the Road Sheba Karim 11.14  [review]

Making Friends Kristen Gudsnuk 11. 9  

The Witch Boy Molly Knox Ostertag 11.8 

The Proposal Jasmine Guillory 11.9  [review]

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster Deborah Hopkinson 11.7  [review]

 

Total books read: 10

Total rereads: 0

Favorites:

  • Darius the Great is Not Okay
  • Pride
  • Witch Boy

Weekly reading roundups:

I kind of stopped doing the weekly roundups towards the end of this month, but I could be persuaded to try them again if anyone is interested!

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bookish posts monthly book list reviews

October 2018 books

A Scholar of Magics Caroline Stevermer 10.31

Fake Blood Whitney Gardner 10.28

Border Kapka Kassapova 10.27 [review]

Exit Strategy Martha Wells 10.26

Jade City Fonda Lee 10.23 [review]

Summer Bird Blue Akemi Dawn Bowman 10.21 [review]

Capsized! Patricia Sutton 10.18 [review]

Monstrous Regiment of Women Laurie Russell King 10.17

Drum Roll Please Lisa Jenn Bigelow 10.14

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice Laurie Russell King 10.13

The Wild Dead Carrie Vaughn

Midnight Robber Nalo Hopkinson 10.12

Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea Lynn Rae Perkins 10.12

Spinning Silver Naomi Novik 10.9

She Loves You (Yeah Yeah Yeah) Ann Hood 10.9

The Lost Scroll: The Book of Kings Sarah Prineas 10.4

 

Total books read: 16

Total rereads: 1

Favorites:

  • Spinning Silver
  • Midnight Robber
  • Drum Roll Please
  • Border
  • Exit Strategy

Weekly reading roundups:

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September 2018 reading

The Likeness Tana French 9.30
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss 9.29
A Festival of Ghosts by William Alexander 9.28
Point of Dreams Melissa Scott & Lisa Barnett 9.27
Sadie Courtney Summers 9.24
Winter Tide Ruthanna Emrys 9.23
Blood Oath Amanda McCrina 9.22
Bannerless Carrie Vaughn 9.15
Sick Porochista Kakhpour 9.13
Zahrah the Windseeker Nnedi Okorafor 9.8
Confessions of the Fox Jordy Rosenberg 9.6
The Summer of Jordi Perez Amy Spalding 9.4
Dear Mrs Bird AJ Pearce 9.1

Total books read: 13

Total rereads: 0

Favorites:

  • The Summer of Jordi Perez
  • Blood Oath
  • Bannerless
  • The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter
  • Confessions of the Fox

Weekly reading roundups:

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August 2018 books

This was a pretty good month for books! I didn’t love everything equally, but I did have a couple of really strong reads and that’s always nice. I’m hoping to finish up the Steerswoman series in September and keep reading the Astreiant books. Just as a reminder, I always post each book I finish on Instagram, so if you’d like to stay up to date on what I’m most currently reading, head over there.

Summer of Salt Katrina Leno 8.31

Point of Hopes Melissa Scott and Lisa Barnett 8.29

The Bookshop on the Corner Jenny Colgan 8.27

Sideways Stories from Wayside School Louis Sachar 8.26

The Lost Steersman Rosemary Kirstein 8.25

A College of Magics Caroline Stevermer (reread) 8.20

The Kiss Quotient Helen Hoang 8.18 [review]

Monday’s Not Coming Tiffany Jackson 8.18

Last Shot DJ Older 8.18 [review]

Recipes for Love and Murder Sally Andrews 8.17

Where the Watermelons Grow Cindy Baldwin 8.13 [review]

Black Panther Long Live the King 8.13

Rogue Protocol Martha Wells 8.10

Cafe by the Sea Jenny Colgan 8.9

Starless Jacqueline Carey 8.7 [review]

Valley Girls Sarah Nicole Lemon 8.1 [review]

 

Total books read: 15

Total rereads: 1

 

Favorites:

  • Valley Girls
  • Cafe by the Sea
  • Rogue Protocol
  • Monday’s Not Coming
  • Point of Hopes
  • Summer of Salt