2019 – What I’ve Read & Loved (Part 2)

How is it December?? I’ve been wanting to add this second post for *weeks*. The first half of the post, from November is here.

Part of how is that I’m teaching two courses and finished a book and sold a couple stories, so I’m going to give myself a break. Another part of *how* is :: gestures at state of the world.:: Lastly, another *how* is that people are still publishing all the way up through December and I wanted to try to read as much as I could.

And I did want to get the second part of this list out before the holiday, because awards consideration season and who doesn’t need great things to read when hiding from relatives.

I’ve said before and I’ll say it again awards consideration lists are a great way to get to know new writers, but not the only way. I tend to pile a bit of everything in these lists, basically stacking up what I’ve loved all year. I keep a more monthly-ish list on my Patreon.  I’d love to hear what you’re reading in the comments.

SO, ready? Here are more things to read (though not all because I miss things, and you should look at these lists too)  — maybe they’ll help warm the darkness a bit.

Novels (Adult, kidlit, graphic novels): 

Star Daughter – Shveta Thakrar (2020) – this is a preorder, but it’s lush and glittery and gorgeous YA with loyal friendships and family. You should order your own copy now because I’m treasuring mine!

Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo – deep-dive in to academic necromancy and magical malfeasance and I am 100% here for it. My favorite Bardugo so far.

** In the How-The-Heck do I keep missing this special section** (spoilers– it’s because I read it & blurbed it last year): Wanderers – Chuck Wendig’s wonderful apocalyptic road quest.

Brightfall – Jaime Lee Moyer – a really great read – and that cover is so gorgeous.

Red Skies Falling — the sequel to Alexander’s Black Wings Beating YA novel is just as lush and gorgeous and filled with complex family and murderbirds as the first.

My Favorite Thing I love is Monsters — (cw: abuse, Nazis,  bullying) Using this in my genre fiction class (it was the student’s choice, and I’m so glad!). It’s stunning.

Cog – Greg Van Eekhout’s middle grade robots are wonderful, adorable, and they’re on a mission.

Gods of Jade and Shadow – Silvia Moreno Garcia. The Mayan god of death sends Cassiopea Tun on a quest of revenge and power in 1920s Jazz-age Mexico.

There’s a much bigger list of novels over here in the first part of this post.

Short stories:

Caroline Yoachim’s “The Archonology of Love” (novelette, Lightspeed) Saki Jones leaned into the viewport window until her nose nearly touched the glass, staring at the colony planet below. New Mars. From this distance, she could pretend that things were going according to plan—that M.J. was waiting for her in one of the domed cities. A shuttle would take her down to the surface and she and her lifelove would pursue their dream of studying a grand alien civilization. / It had been such a beautiful plan. 

Two flash stories from Nature – John Wiswell’s “The Tentacle and You” and Jo Miles’ “Your Guide to the Ever-Shrinking Solitude On Planet Earth” caught my eye.

The Deep– Rivers Solomon (Saga, novella) – this one comes with its own free soundtrack and its depiction of the water-breathing descendants of slaves thrown overboard will take your breath away.

“Once, Future” – the new novella in Kat Howard’s Cathedral of Myth and Bone is vast in scope, and turns familiar legends on their head. (“Breaking the Frame” and “A Life in Pictures” also got me, as well as the titular “Cathedral…” which is why I’m listing the collection below.)

Four more from Uncanny Magazine:
Compassionate Simulation” (cw – domestic abuse) by P.H. Lee and Rachel Swirsky is a powerful, lyrical story at Uncanny Magazine.  “Poems Written While,” by Natalia Theodoridou — also mighty and lyrical. I believe in stars. I may be alone, my body a minefield and my life a fucking farce, but at least I have that. A Sharp Breath of Birds,” by Tina Connolly – You are two on the day you see your first personal bird. It is the sort of thing you barely remember later, at six, seven, twenty. And yet you cling to it as your first memory: a sleek black penguin waddling through your nursery, it in black, you in white lace, mended and re-mended because you will not stop pulling off the threads to suck. Nice Things” a novelette by Ellen Klages (This one comes with its own ghost and is super creepy and sad and good.)

There are a ton more short stories listed (and linked) for you to read at SFWA’s Nebula consideration list. 

Collections, Memoir, Essays & Anthologies:

A Cathedral of Myth and Bone – Kat Howard (Saga, 2019). This collection came out in early 2019 and it is among the books I’m gifting this year because it’s filled with wonder and whimsy and heart. Particular stories and novelettes include:

Make it Scream, Make it Burn – Leslie Jameson. Essays — the first half of which deal with something so close to my brain I kept taking notes and cross-referencing: the impact of the observer on the observed, and vice versa. Fantastic.

Robots vs. Fairies — we used this as a textbook in my short forms class this fall and it’s wonderful for the variety but also the structure. Beautifully done, so I’m listing it again.

We Know So Little – Pigeonholes. Short, illustrated, essays by Robert James Russell that say a whole lot.

The Silence of Witches– Paris Review. This one sent me down a rabbit hole at the end, which you can possibly find on twitter. The essay by Sabrina Orah Mark is gorgeous and twists like a knife.

Science and the Fantastic – Kelly Lagor at tor.com. This entire series is pure brainfood, on rocket fuel.

Poetry:

God’s Will for Monsters – Rachelle Cruz – I already read and loved this collection, which lets its monsters and gods reveal things about themselves, the world, and us, through beautiful language, but when I heard Rachelle tell the story of how a poetry teacher mis-pronounced the monster-word ‘aswang’ on purpose during critique I vowed to read and re-read it and share the volume around out of fury and spite as well as pure admiration for what’s inside this book.

Elegy for Self as Villeneuve’s Beast,” Brandon O’Brien, Uncanny. Just read it. Let it sit. Then maybe read it again.

That’s all for now — ICYMI, the first part of this “Things I Read and Loved (and wrote) 2019″ is here. There are also entries for 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012, here.  

Happy reading!

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