I took a little break from the regular updates last week because I wanted to publish a post boosting Black voices in Sci-Fi and Fantasy that I’ve been thinking about for months. Of course it took time to compile, so now I’ve got some catching up to do on the regular reading. Also, it’s occurred to me that I started numbering these posts as like the first week of 2020 or whatever, but I’ve skipped some weeks and now the numbering is all janky and probably incorrect. I tried to tie it to the actual week and not the number of the update, but it’s TWENTY TWENTY for heaven’s sake- EVERYTHING is janky and wrong. I don’t even know what day it is half the time, let alone what week of the year. But I’ve gone too far to stop now, so we’re sticking with my crappy naming convention. ONWARD!
In “I personally find this interesting even though you probably don’t” news, we just transitioned Sammers from his crib to a toddler bed. What can I say? The crib was working for us and he wasn’t climbing out so I saw no reason to change things. He had recently begun starting to swing his leg up like he was going to parkour his way out of that thing, though, and he’s turning 3 on Saturday, so it was time. But, folks, I gotta tell you. This child does NOT do change well. Ask me how long I was up last night rocking, soothing, and attempting to sleep lying on the floor next to the toddler bed holding a tiny hand. Actually, don’t ask me, I’m still really tired. That was only night ONE. Let’s hope this sorts itself out quickly, for everyone’s sanity. Let’s talk about books and not my parenting woes, shall we?
An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole- I LOVE THIS BOOK. It’s the third in a series focusing on a Black spy ring working for the Union during the Civil War. We’ve met our hero Daniel briefly in both preceding books, and it was about dang time for this poor tortured soul to be healed with the help of some sweet, sweet loving. But Daniel can’t just pick an uncomplicated partner. Nooooo, he has to go and fall for Janeta, who, though she’s of Afro-Cuban heritage, is spying for the Confederacy. Janeta’s journey is everything. She grew up the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner. Her mother, in fact, was once one of her father’s slaves (he later married her after his first wife died.) Her mother was extremely careful to teach Janeta the importance of keeping her distance from the other Black people in and around her home, and she is raised as any white daughter of a plantation owner would be. Talk about cognitive dissonance, right? The few times Janeta points out that she looks just like the folks working in the fields, she’s quickly admonished and assured that she is inherently different somehow. As Janeta attempts to infiltrate the Loyal League, she slowly comes to realize that everything she’s been taught is a big fat lie and that her father is actually a pretty bad dude. Poor Janeta: it’s a tough pill to swallow, but it feels especially timely for this moment. When you’re confronted with these kind of truths, you can either dig your heels in or accept that what you were taught was wrong. Spoiler alert (it’s a romance novel, for heaven’s sake, this is hardly a spoiler) Janeta realizes she’s trying to help the wrong side and changes course. And it’s not only because she’s besotted with Daniel, though, that certainly doesn’t hurt.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A Brown– Holy guacamole this book was a RIDE. It’s been a while since I read such an intensely immersive work of fantasy. Malik is a refugee trying to find safe harbor in the city of Ziran, despite its hatred of his people. When an otherworldly being abducts his little sister, Malik is forced into a terrible bargain. In order to save his sister, he must kill Princess Karina. Karina isn’t interested in the life set before her. She doesn’t want to be a monarch- she wants to travel and play music and pursue a life on her own terms. Forces far beyond her control soon make that an impossibility when her mother, the Sultana, is brutally murdered on the eve of Ziran’s most sacred festival, Solstasia. I don’t know how much more I ought to describe this book without getting really spoilery and/or mentioning world building aspects that are too complicated for this format. It’s a fantastic ride, BUT both Karina and Malik have significant trauma to grapple with. At the outset of the book, the author lists content warnings for readers who may be sensitive to some of the subject matter. I can’t recall all of them, but self harm, suicidal ideation, and the deaths of family members are among them. Remember to be gentle with yourselves, friends. No book, however magical, is worth your mental health. Kudos to Roseanne A Brown for recognizing that and giving readers a head’s up!
A Cowboy to Remember by Rebekah Weatherspoon– Evie Buchanan is an up and coming chef- she’s currently starring on a hot daytime show and has plenty of opportunities at her fingertips. Until, that is, a nasty former reality show co-star decides to push her down a flight of stairs at an industry party leaving Evie with a traumatic brain injury and amnesia. (Seriously, what a bitch.) Zach Pleasant is quick to respond to the distress call his brother Jesse receives regarding Evie. It’s been a decade since she called their little corner of California home, but there’s no better place for her to convalesce than the luxury dude ranch from whence she came. Zach and Evie’s history is messy, but since she has no memory of it, the two are given something of a second chance. Weatherspoon has some serious romance range, I tell you what. This book was surprisingly chaste. I mean, it wasn’t completely chaste by any means but compared to the other two Weatherspoon books I’ve read, it was downright wholesome. I was certainly expecting more of the fast paced courtship and, uh, eye popping love scenes I read in RAFE and XENI. I’ll admit, this wasn’t my favorite- cowboys in general aren’t really my jam, but that won’t stop be from reading more of her work. Heck, I’ll happily read Jesse’s story when his turn comes despite my indifference to cowboys. I find Jesse Pleasant fascinating and I want to know more.
As to what I’m currently reading? Harrow the Ninth! I’m listening to the audio because Gideon the Ninth‘s audio was so great, but that means Mr. No Nap needs to COOPERATE. Sigh. To be honest, I have absolutely no idea what is going on with Harrow right now, and I’m a quarter of the way through. Jenny at Reading the End warned me that this would be the case, though, and is responding to my out-of-context commentary with SUCH enthusiasm. I so treasure my internet book friends! I’ve also started Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean because it’s been a while since I went the Regency romance route. So far, so charming. What are you reading, Bookworms?
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