Women of Color & Horror: 10 On My TBR

Women of Color & Horror: 10 On My TBR

woc horror blog pic final

It’s September and for me finally the beginning of the creepy season, huzzah! I’ll just ignore that last small heat wave this week, go away please summer, I have my tea and candles and creepy reads ready! I have a lot of books on my tbr that fall under speculative, horror and mystery, but I’m also working towards seeking out and supporting more women writers of Color. I’ve chosen horror because it’s a genre I’ve been wanting to explore more and because, like science-fiction and fantasy,  horror can offer women of Color a space in which to disturb social conventions and transgress boundaries.

This here is a list of 10 works by WoC writers that can be considered horror (often also fantasy) and some of which may be new to you as well. Let’s start with a better known one:

white-is-for-witching

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi gr-pic

Haunted house story and a reworking of the gothic trope, Oyeyemi’s work is a psychological fest around trauma, racism and a sentient house set in Dover, England. I hope I’ll get to read it finally for RIPXI.

fabulous beasts

Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma gr-pic

This is a novelette or short story about two sisters or cousins and childhood abuse set in gritty Liverpool. Apparently it’s super disturbing and comes with trigger warnings for abuse, rape and incest, yikes! It’s published by TOR though.

alyssa wong

Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong gr-pic

Silicon recommended Alyssa Wong’s stories to me and I’ll definitely read at least one this fall since her recs are always on point. This story has also received the Nebula Award for Best Short Fiction. It’s got a vampire and is about dating and relationships!

rena mason

The Evolutionist by Rena Mason gr-pic

Set in the suburbs of Las Vegas, Stacy keeps dreaming about killing and dismembering people. She feels she’s just a normal person having very vivid nightmares and so Stacy goes to see a psychiatrist, he turns out to be not quite so normal.

unhallowed graves

Unhallowed Graves by Nuzo Onoh gr-pic

“Oja-ale is the night market run by the dead. Everything can be bought for a deadly price. Alan Pearson is a sceptical British diplomat, contemptuous and dismissive of native superstitions…Until the day he receives a terrifying purchase from the Night Market, which defies Western science and logic.” (GR) Onoh is “queen of African horror.”

solitude

Solitude by Sumiko Saulson gr-pic

“Solitude is the riveting tale of diverse individuals isolated in a San Francisco seemingly void of all other human life. In the absence of others, each journeys into personal web of beliefs and perceptions as they try to determine what happened to them, and the world around them.” (GR) Saulson also curates a Black women in horror list here.

crescendo

Crescendo by L. Marie Woods gr-pic

 James’ comfortable life changes when he begins having nightmares after his lover’s death. A family curse, can he do anything or is this his destiny? Everyone in his family has secrets. Set in tranquil Rockland County, New York.

kristine ong muslim

Age of Blight by Kristine Ong Muslim gr-pic

“What if the end of man is not caused by some cataclysmic event, but by the nature of humans themselves? In Age of Blight, a young scientist’s harsh and unnecessary experiments on monkeys are recorded for posterity; children are replaced by their doppelgangers, which emerge like flowers in their backyards; and two men standing on opposing cliff faces bear witness to each other’s terrifying ends.” (GR) A collection of short stories with illustrations.

linda ddison

How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend by Linda Addison gr-pic

“From the first African-American to receive the HWA Bram Stoker award, this collection of both horror and science fiction short stories and poetry reveals demons in the most likely people (like a jealous ghost across the street) or in unlikely places (like the dimension-shifting dreams of an American Indian). Recognition is the first step, what you do with your friends/demons after that is up to you.” (GR)

due-soul to keep

My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due gr-pic

And of course one of my favorite writers! Last year I read Due’s The Good House and it was wonderfully atmospheric and I will make to read this one in broad daylight.

“When Jessica marries David, he is everything she wants in a family man: brilliant, attentive, ever youthful. Yet she still feels something about him is just out of reach. Soon, as people close to Jessica begin to meet violent, mysterious deaths, David makes an unimaginable confession: More than 400 years ago, he and other members of an Ethiopian sect traded their humanity so they would never die, a secret he must protect at any cost. Now, his immortal brethren have decided David must return and leave his family in Miami.” (GR)

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And a great opportunity to read horror and more with other book bloggers is Carl’s wonderful yearly challenge, R.I.P. – Readers Imbibing Peril, going on right now! It’s a book blogging institution and now in its 11th year. The challenge takes place from September 1st, 2016 through October 31st, 2016 and offers many different levels and genres, there’s something for everyone in it. Sign up here. I’ll be doing Peril the Second, but I hope I’ll read much more than two creepy reads.

Definitely take a look at Sharlene’s wonderful recs for a more diverse R.I.P here, she has great recommendation for all RIP genres, I know I’ll be reading The Hunter.

Lastly, check out my Queer Horror post for some creepy reading with LGBTQIA+ themes.

What are you all reading this creepy season? Let me know in the comments!

Book Haul: London + #VersoBooks Sale

haul post pic

What’s a vacation without splurging on books? Exactly, that’s why I love city trips and especially the wonderful bookstores and charity shops in London. The only downside of my trip was that I could only take 10kg. I’m pretty sure security had a blast at my bookshelf in a bag, but what can you do. Here’s what I got in London (all links to goodreads):

jane And Prudence

Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym

This one was dirt cheap in a charity shop, so with my library not carrying any of her books, buying it used was actually the cheapest option. Life is weird!

rupi kaur

Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur

Have loved so many poems by Rupi Kaur, I wanted to take a look at the whole collection.

rosemary and rue

Rosemary & Rue by Seanan McGuire

Also dirt cheap and I enjoyed this one. Now that I’v read more by McGuire I want to go back and see if the reading experience is different.

obelisk gate

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin

I just had to get Jemisin’s new book while I had a book budget or I’d have gone green with envy!

depicting the veil

Depicting the Veil by Robin Lee Riley

A bit unsure about this one. It’s written by a white academic feminist, so we’ll see, though I do think it’s an important topic especially for feminists who are white to tackle and work through.

safe house

Safe House edited by Ellah Wakatama Allfrey

This one I had to get cause Whitney made it sound amazing. It’s creative non-fiction by writers from Africa, can’t wait to explore!

3body problem

The Three-Body Problem Cixin Liu, transl. by Ken Liu

Read this one already via Scribd, but it was really good and thought I’d get it for the shelves and a reread.

phoenix

The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor

Wanted to get Who Fears Death but they didn’t have it. Shame on you UK bookstores for not carrying more books by Okorafor.

let the right one in

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Queer horror for creepy season and also maybe a good read for the R.I.P. challenge.

decolonizing methodologies

Decolonizing Methodologies by Linda Tuhiwai Smith

This is a book I’ve been eyeing for quite a while and I just couldn’t resist any longer. It’s also a keeper for the library I’m trying to build.

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And then Verso Books had a flash sale of their e-books for 90% off, how to resist!? I got some works I’d wanted to try for a while and some I wasn’t sure enough about to buy a hardcopy of.

VersoHaul

Dominating Others: Feminism and Terror After the War On Terror by Christine Delphy

More adventures in exploring how feminists who are white take on Islamophobia and the war on terror. We’ll see how that goes, can’t say I’m a fan of the cover.

Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Long Sixties by Karen Ishizuka

This one I’m very excited about, it discusses the radical Asian American movement of the 60s.

The Muslims Are Coming!: Islamophobia, Extremism, And the Domestic War On Terror by Arun Kundnani

This one looks at the intersection of Islamophobia, policing and surveillance in the US while the war on terror supposedly only happened somewhere else.

Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter by Jordan T. Camp and Christina Heatheron, eds.

Very timely publication and I wanted to review this but with graduation I didn’t manage to finish before it archived on NetGalley. Well looks like I’ll get to finish the book finally, but less enthusiastic about NetGalley now.

Letters to Palestine: Writers Respond to War and Occupation by Vijay Prashad, ed.

This collection looks really great, it brings together voices Remi Kanazi, Robin D.G. Kelley, Teju Cole and Junot Díaz who discuss a growing awareness in the US of the sufferings of people in Gaza.

Traces of History: Elementary Structures of Race by Patrick Wolfe

This work examines regimes of race brought by colonizers and is written by an Australian academic who does settler colonial studies, so I’m hoping it doesn’t disappoint. Guess there’s a theme here of looking at what potential allies are writing.

Have you read any of these books? Let me know about new books on your shelves or your library stack!!

Thoughts: Malice in Ovenland Vol.1

Thoughts: Malice in Ovenland Vol.1

Malice

In middle school, I was one of those kids going through all the adventure books the library had to offer. From the The Famous Five to kid detectives to opening that wardrobe, I loved it all and then had fun with my friends digging holes, running away from imaginary bad guys and hidden doorways. After that, a lot of “grown-up” books were a disappointment to me at first until I learned to embrace speculative fiction and started to consider other topics exciting as well. But this is a very long-winded way of saying that I still am that kid looking for adventure stories and when I heard about Malice in Ovenland, I knew I had to give it a go. And yes, middle-grade books still deliver the same fun and no, I did not try to explore behind my kitchen oven, cause that would be weird. (it was very dusty!)

Malice in Ovenland is a middle-grade comic by Micheline Hess and published by Rosarium. The first volume introduces fierce young, Black Lilly Brown, who does not get to spend her summer at camp like her friends but instead has to take care of her mother’s organic garden and a list of other chores. Already, and with adult eyes, I find this positioning important: Lilly lives with her mom and loves fast food but her mother has chosen to grow organic food to take care of her daughter and herself and Lilly also has responsibilities that she might not enjoy but takes care of nonetheless. This is not your spoiled middle-class kid and I love this glimpse of Lilly’s mother. And then, when Lilly attempts to clean the oven she tumbles into Ovenland, like Alice once fell into Wonderland.

malice1

How fantastic are those colors and especially that last panel!?  I love all the details like the cracked glasses and the horribly-green Bleh! Now in Ovenland, Lilly is locked into the dungeon, meets a queen and finds a kingdom in crisis over the lack of incoming grease. Yup people, if you’re going organic, make sure you’re not cutting off the kingdom behind your oven!

Lilly is everything I’ve always wanted from a heroine in an adventure story and I was in turns delighted and grossed out with her. There is a lot of monologuing going on initially but keep on reading it’ll get better and I did not find the message overly preachy, so hopefully middle-graders won’t either. I think there is a lot of potential in this story and I look forward to future volumes and Micheline Hess’ next project. I wish I’d had more female characters of color to look up to when I was younger, especially ones so visually present as in comics, and Malice in Ovenland totally delivers. It makes me want to get some kids from somewhere just to push this comic on them. And since I don’t have and don’t want kids, this is high praise indeed.

Malice in Ovenland Vol.1 will be out August 31, get it for your kids and your inner child! Also make sure to check out Rosarium Publishing here, they specialize in multicultural speculative fiction, comics, and a touch of crime fiction.

Disclaimer: I received an egalley of this book from the publisher. But never fear, I remain my opinionated self!

5 On a Theme: Chican@ & Latino/a Speculative Fiction

spec fiction photo

This was a difficult one! But since Chicana and diverse SF were requested, here’s my attempt to combine them. A note on terminology: I’ve included writers that I have seen included in Latino/a or have seen identify themselves as such. Some but not all also identify with the sometimes overlapping but radical Chican@, let me know if I got something wrong! Also, the @ is for inclusion of all gender identities but since Latin@ is something else, please excuse my binaries.

I think the difficulty in finding Chican@ and Latino/a science-fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction, without going in the direction of Latin America and magical realism, just goes to show that we need to promote these stories better and let authors and publishers know that we will greet these books enthusiastically. From what I can tell, writers and artists are doing amazing things in the borderlands as Vourvoulias uses the term for that grey queer space of non-/indie-/self publishing. They should be getting lots of acknowledgement and recognition in the limelight too. These stories are what I want to see when I enter a bookstore!

Lunar Braceros

1) Lunar Braceros by Rosaura Sánchez and Beatrice Pita

This science fiction novella is set in a dystopian 22nd century in which the US does not exist anymore and different territories have emerged. The new order connects to the history of oppression suffered in the Americas and is written with an explicit social justice approach which is what drew me to the book in the first place. I loaned this one from a friend who warned me that the ideas and politics were amazing but that the style was more lecture than dialogue. I’m glad I knew this beforehand and got so much out of it, such an amazing work, I would’ve gladly read more!

high aztec

2) High Aztec by Ernest Hogan

Techno Aztec/h city Tenochtitlan formerly known as Mexico city has stainless steel pyramids and lots of immigrant (I’m only using this term instead of refugee etc cause things are turned on its head with US citizens as those fleeing) influx from the declining US and Christian and Aztec beliefs clashing. There’s another problem though: Zapata! He’s a cartoonist carrying a virus and everyone is after him. Hogan has written genre fiction and I mean this in the nicest way possible. This is so cool and has been under my radar for far too long!

ink

3) Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias

Dystopian fiction taking the anti-immigration rhetoric and politics of the US to its logical conclusion. People with such a history, Latino/as have to wear biometric tattoos and they are known as inks. We follow different narrators over several years and see them caught between these violent conditions, belonging, magicks and making connections. The four narrators made the book’s structure a bit chaotic but I loved it nonetheless! Also how awesome is this cover!

the assimilated guide

4) The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria by Carlos Hernandez

This is a new short story collection published by amazing RosariumPub. Hernandez writes strange, intriguing stories from a Cuban-American perspective. Expect everything from sexy robot pandas to quantum mechanics bringing along unicorns to illegal aliens! This is on my tbr.

Latino.a rising art

5) Latino/a Rising Anthology

I know, this one won’t be out till next year but I’ve been following their campaign and it’s so amazing to see there was enough support to get it done! The anthology will be published in 2017 by Wings Press. Vourvoulias will also apparently contribute a story and check out the line-up here!

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There’s also an amazing article by Vourvoulias, where you can find Latino/a speculative short story recommendations and this list of Latino/a genre writers. Another great source is La Bloga’s Latino Speculative Literature Directory.

Do you read diverse science fiction and speculative literature? How do you come across them? Also: Do please leave me your faves in the comments!

10 Novellas for Readathons

10 novellas for readathons

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is next Saturday! Who’s excited!? I’m still fiddling with my readathon stack, I never manage to read that much, but I like to have a good selection. It’s always motivating if you manage to finish a few things and so comics and novellas are really ideal reading material if like me, you are not one of those amazing speed readers. So, if you’re still looking for readthon books or you just love shorter works, here are 10 novellas you should put on your tbr:

Binti-Nnedi-Okorafor

1.Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

I read this last readathon and fell utterly in love with Okorafor’s imaginative writing. Binti is the first of her people to attend Oomza University, but to go there she has to leave behind her community and be among strangers with different customs and an ongoing war with the Meduse.

wildeeps

2.The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson

More TOR, I’m a huge fan of their novellas. This one is on my readathon stack even if it’s apparently tragic and a romance. Caravan brothers, Black demigod love story, lots of play on language

every heart a doorway

3.Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire

McGuire’s newest work just so happens to be a novella and deals with a home for children who have been returned from magical lands and only wish to return. Which is just such a cool turn on the usual entering other worlds things.

red station

4.On A Red Station Drifting by Aliette De Bodard

Okay, half of this list is fro my tbr 🙂 Prosper Space Station is at a crossroads with its AI’s mind ravaged by disease and many of its people called to the long war against the Dai Viet Empire.

redemption

5.Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

Leaving her fool of  husband, Paama is given the Chaos stick by the djombi. Unfortunately one djombi with indigo skin wants the stick for himself. A trickster tale, a modern fairy tale, a Senegalese folk story. This promises to be epic and sounds like a great Once Upon a Time read, too.

cisneros

6.The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Cisneros’ story of Esperanza and growing up poor Mexican in Chicago is always good for a reread. This is basically a collection of vignettes but oh so readable.

we_have_always_lived_in_the_castle_cover

7.We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson

No list without one of my favorites 🙂 Creepy thriller, plot twist included, you won’t be sorry to try Jackson’s story about sisters Merricat and Constance Blackwood after the deaths of most of their family.

emperors soul

8.The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

Shai the forger is the empire’s only hope. Sentenced to death for trying to steal the emperor’s sceptor, she is given the chance to redeem herself by copying the emperor’s soul. Sanderson has been on my list for ages, a novella seems like a great way to start.

ghost summer

9.Gost Summer by Tananarive Due

Yes, this is a short story collection, but the titular story Ghost Summer is actually a novella. Don’t read this late at night, Due is brilliant at scary horror, I learned this the hard way!

reluctant

10.The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

Hamid’s now probably classic story of the young Pakistani-American Muslim Changez, identity, belonging and fundamentalism in the wake of 9/11. Always good for a reread, too, to evaluate how far things have gone since then.

What are your favorite novellas? And are joining the readathon next Saturday?

Weekend Reads

weekend reads

It’s Friday! And thus usually the time I get most of my reading done. I’m a bit more flexible about my hours during the week at the moment but it’s still the weekends where I often save a book I’m really excited about for some serious reading time. Sometimes I make plans to read a specific book or reread an old favorite and close the door on the hectic world. So I expect weekend reads to be epic adventures, new worlds to explore or a mystery to figure out. If you want to loose yourself in a book this weekend, let me recommend some weekend reads to you:

tooth and claw

1. Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton

Family drama and money intrigue, Victorian era, Pride and Prejudice with dragons!, social commentary, dragons!

fingersmith

2. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Victorian London, Dickens with lesbians, super twisty, class, thievery

niko

3. Niko by Kayti Nika Raet

Please don’t judge the book by its cover, post-apocalyptic wasteland, this is how you do diversity, body horror, kick-ass heroine

the between

4.The Between by Tananarive Due

Floridian horror or is it a mystery or a thriller, Black family history, what is going on, warning for Due always delivers on the creepiness

sorcerer to the crown

5. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Ye stuffy olde England now upgraded with magic, familiars, diverse characters, and the best heroine ever. You can read this in a day and then lament the wait for the sequel.

Do you make reading plans on some weekends? What are your favorite weekend reads?

 

 

Once Upon a Time X

once upon a time x

It’s that time of the year again: Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting his Once Upon a Time challenge for the 10th time! It’s probably fair to say at this point, that the event has become an institution. Kudos! Here’s what the challenge involves in Carl’s own words:

“Monday, March 21st (my wife Mary’s birthday) marks the official start date of the tenth annual Once Upon a Time Challenge. This is a reading and viewing and gaming event that encompasses four broad categories: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology, including the seemingly countless sub-genres and blending of genres that fall within this spectrum. The challenge continues through June 21st and allows for very minor (1 book only) participation as well as more immersion depending on your reading/viewing/gaming whims.”

I’ve decided to go for more books but less restriction on categories and thus the Quest the First category: “Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time categories. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.”

quest the first

Making a list for a reading challenge is all kinds of fun in itself, so here’s a number of books I’m very excited about and which are probably heavy on the fantasy, but combine other elements as well:

kynship chronicles

The Way of Thorn and Thunder (Kynship Chronicles) by Daniel Heath Justice

This is a trilogy of epic indigenous fantasy set in the Old World during the 18th century, about the Kyn of the Everland and their detructive encounter with humanity. Drawing on traditions of high fantasy and indigenous mythology, Cherokee author Daniel Heath Justice creates a founding tale of non-European fantasy that bends gender, genre and sexuality. I can’t wait for my copy to arrive!

olondria

A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

This one’s been on my list for ages and it fits the challenge perfectly. Merchant son Jevick has been raised on stories of Olondria, a land where books are common. When he gets the chance to make a trip to Olondria, his dreams seem to come true. But once there he is haunted by the ghost of an illiterate young girl. And there’s now a second story about Olondria, Samatar’s The Winged Histories.

who fears death

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

I picked this up recently, read a few pages and only then noticed it wasn’t The Book of Phoenix, which I thought I was reading. But, this is quite convenient as I will just read this one for the challenge now. Who Fears Death is the story of a child born of rape in post-apocalyptic Africa, who discovers her magical abilities and seeks to end the genocide of her people.

princeless

Princeless by Jeremy Whitley

I absolutely adored the first issue of this one and with Scribd changing its policy, I wanted to get some more comics in. This is for the fairy tale category and it brilliantly subverts gender and racial stereotypes. The author is white but has thought of these stories for his Black daughter, so that she can see herself represented in non-oppressive stories.

midnight robber

Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson

I loved Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring and just cannot resist this one either. This one is fantasy/sf with lots of Caribbean folklore. Set on the Caribbean-colonized planet Toussaint and Tan-Tan must become the Robber Queen to save herself from folklore creatures.

Race and Popular Fantasy Literature

 Race and Popular Fantasy Literature: Habits of Whiteness by Helen Young

And as a sort of non-fiction compendium, I want to take a look at this one. I’m lacking the sort of context and background that comes with reading a lot of fantasy for years, so I want to catch up but also do this through an critical race studies lens.

Are you joining us in the Once Upon a Time challenge? Or maybe you have some folklore and fairy tale suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

Most Exciting Releases of 2016

Watch out 2015, 2016 is gonna be awesome, too! The beginning of the new year is always exciting, because of wonderful book releases to look forward to. I read mostly contemporary literature, but rarely just-released books. I still love to browse websites and publishers catalogues, noting down the most exciting titles in my journal. Even if it takes me a while to read recent works, there’s always a few that I won’t wait long for. That’s usually sequels of a favorite series or a new work by a favorite author.

2016 book releases

Fiction:

The Hanging Tree (Ben Aaronovitch) – June 16th

Murder and fantastical mayhem in Mayfair’s villas. This is book 6 in the Rivers of London series about police officer/magician’s apprentice Peter Grant. Highly recommend the audiobooks read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith!

What is yours is not yours (Helen Oyeyemi) – March 8th

A collection of intertwining short stories centering around real and metaphorical keys. Oyeyemi has been on my list for ages, maybe I’ll start with this one.

Blackass (A. Igoni Barrett) – July 9th

One day Furo Wariboko wakes up white. Except for his ass that is. The book follows the changes and privileges of his new life as a white man in Nigeria.

This Census-Taker (China Miéville)– January 12th

New Miéville out this year. This novella is about a boy living with his increasingly deranged parents, when a stranger knocks at the door. I’m sure it’ll be all kinds of weird.

The Obelisk Gate (N. K. Jemisin) – August 16th

Sequel to The Fifth Season will be out this year, hurrah!!! That was really quick and the wait is somewhat bearable.

The Winged Histories (Sofia Samatar) – March 15th

A new book by the author of A Stranger in Olondria! Which I still have to read. However this one sounds amazing: Four women- from soldier to poet- are caught on different sides when war breaks out. I think this is set in the same world as A Stranger, but it doesn’t appear to be a sequel. Correct me if I’m wrong.

The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home (Catherynne M. Valente) – March 1st

This is the fifth book in the fairyland series, I should start with book 1, but it’s always nice to see that when I do start I can just spend the next month in one world and don’t have to wait! This book is about September inheriting the Kingdom.

Indexing: Reflections ( Seanan McGuire) – January 12th

Book 2 of the Indexing series, where fairytale stories become real – with often disastrous results – and the ATI Management Bureau steps in. Still have to read book 1 (notice a theme?), but I might want to cuddle up with both for a long weekend as I loved her October Daye book and really like urban fantasy.

Non-Fiction:

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (Roxane Gay) – supposedly June 14th

Gay’s not-a-weightloss-memoir about food, weight, shaming and taking care of yourself. It’s Roxane Gay, and also a very important addition to current weight and health debates.

Black Dove (Ana Castillo) – May 10th

Memoir of brilliant Chicana activist and writer Ana Castillo about social injustices through the lens of race, gender and family.

The Feminist Bookstore Movement (Kristen Hogan) – sometime 2016

About the feminist bookstore movement in the 1970s to 1990s and its lesbian, feminist, and antiracist networks. Feminism + bookstores = awesomeness

Blood Sugar: Racial Pharmacology and Food Justice in Black America (Anthony Ryan Hatch) – sometime 2016

“How contemporary biomedicine has shaped race and racism as America’s health disparities increase” (Minnesota UP). This sounds right up my street!

What releases are you looking forward to this year? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Thoughts: Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

lagoon

Lagoon is my second book by Nnedi Okorafor and one I chose for Sci-Fi Month. I didn’t manage to post this short review last month, but having really gotten into science-fiction and fantasy this year I feel that every month should be sci-fi month 🙂

Lagoon is the extremely imaginative story of a first contact, where an unidentified object crashes into the ocean in Lagos, Nigeria. Three people are at Bar Beach when the crash occurs and become embroiled in saving Lagos: Adaora is a marine biologist, Anthony is a rapper from Ghana and Abu a soldier. The three are asked for help by the alien ambassador Ayodele. Of course, word gets out that aliens are about and chaos breaks out in Lagos. The aliens calling themselves – and claiming to seek change, inspire everything from war and scamming to LGBTIQ adoration (Ayodele can shift genders amongst other things).

Lagoon has everything: a superhero story, magic, folklore, Nigerian mythology, eco-warriors and Okorafor has a lot of fun imagining fantastical creatures and giving many a voice, too.  The story is chaotic and teeming with ideas and concepts all happening at the same time. There is a wonderful multiplicity of narrative voices. It might take a few chapters to get used to, but this really works in the book’s favor, creating complexity and chaos, while simultaneously connecting different strands, different voices of the city.

While this may seem a fun romp and riff off District 9 (it is! and seeks to break the film’s stereotypical representation of Nigerian villains), Lagoon is rife with weighty issues that pack a punch. Okorafor explores everything from racism and domestic violence to the treatment of the LGBTIQ community. I wish there had been a chance to get to know many of the characters in more depth, as it is the female main characters are wonderfully complex and the other characters remain walking ideas and aspects of Lagos life. But Adaora and Ayodele are amazing characters, I’d love to meet them in other works. As usual, I am left wanting more so I’m glad Okorafor is such a prolific writer. My advice is to take a deep breath and jump, and you’ll love Lagoon!

Have you reviewed this book? Let me know and I’ll add a link!

#AMonthofFaves: Reading Outside My Comfort Zone

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December means it’s time for Tanya’s #AMonthofFaves over at Girlxoxo and this year the event is co-hosted by Estella’s Revenge and Traveling with T.

2015 has been a year where I read from two genres that are somewhat outside my comfort zone. I think I read quite widely, but up to now I have for the most part given two giants in the book world a wide berth: Young Adult and Fantasy literature.

YA scared me off because my impression was that it was inevitably paired with romance. I can stand romance thrown in here and there and make exception for a few books, but yeah not everyone is romantically inclined and the stuff is everywhere. But a few books I enjoyed this year were YA and they convinced me to read more next year.

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

I really liked this one, the atmosphere, the narrative style, the what’s-going-on? I expected a bit more from the hype, but that always builds up expectations way too much, and it’s a really interesting one regardless.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

One the the best books I read this year, beautifully written, and even though it’s a love story there is hardly any romance. I usually make exceptions for diverse books, but this is a YA love story I would have probably also read if it was about a straight couple.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

A fantastic premise and an enjoyable book, though I do wish the author  would have used the setting more. My interest in the love story with the Prince was basically zero, so I skimmed a few pages. But at least Cinder saves herself.

As for fantasy, I was mostly fine with science-fiction, but the images of fantasy lit I had in mind were dwarves, fairies, elves, epic epics that hardly ever end, drawn-out battle scene that make me yawn. I know, I know! But I think some of the older covers are also to blame. I’m still not especially interested in all of that, but thankfully I read some amazing books this year that chipped away at my ignorance. Not sure where they fall in the categories fantasy and speculative fiction, but some had fairies and unicorns, so there.

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

This is the 5th book or so in the series and I enjoyed all of them. They are not perfect, I’m glad we left the friend zone problem in book 1. The characters are wonderfuly diverse, Aaronovitch makes whiteness visible and Peter Grant is one snarky apprentice. Also, in this one there were unicorns. Invisible unicorns. And fairies. And it was grand!

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

This one Eva wrote about and I just had to give it a try. It’s kind of urban fantasy with magical realism and Caribbean folklore. There’s post-apocalyptic Toronto, drug lords, family ties, voodo deities, sketchy organ donation and strong Black women. I’m up for that!

Rosemary and Rue Seanan McGuire

Another recommendation by Eva. Maguire sets up this really cool world of fairies and those unfortunate enough to be born changelings, who will always be outsiders. One changeling, Toby Daye, goes into the PI business and I gave it a try because of the mystery angle. But I really liked the world-building, critique of hierarchies and the PI thing, though things turned much darker than I expected. I think urban fantasy is my comfort zone in fantasy so far 🙂

What did you read outside your comfort zone this year? Any recommendation for YA minus romance and good fantasy reads? I know I’ll want to read more of these genres now!