renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
Earlier this week I looked at my challenge goal which predictably fell apart in April, after my ~whirlwind~ summer began. As pals have told me, my 100 unique women writers project was...optimistic...and 36/100 is pretty darn good. Then I realized I've read 36 new women authors and/or artists (because I count artists and colorists who are integral parts of the emotional of a narrative since I do what I want). That's great! And because I've read those authors now recommendation algorithms spit out drastically different suggestions. It's been excellent; highly recommended project. Maybe set a lower goal, though. LEARN FROM MY ERRORS. Because it turns out the more authors you read the more favorite authors you discover. Back lists are great, but time-consuming!

I haven't quite managed to get back on track everywhere. In fact, I'm going to be surprised if I make it to the end of this column! I have less to review than I otherwise would because I can write reviews of comics and graphic novels but I can't quite bring myself to post them due to Extreme Fear and Anxiety re: the comics community/being yelled at. However, it's not like you're missing much with the absence of my Hot Takes on Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Vol. 1: BFF, Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening, or The Vision, Vol. 1: Little Worse Than A Man. I'll just say: give them a try because all are good, one is excellent, and the other made me throttle the universe for not giving me the next issue yet.

Recent Reading


book adventures! )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
There are sixty-two books that have debuted in 2016 so far that I would like to read, but unfortunately I'm not a speed-reader. Sixty-two potentially amazing books...and the best I've ever been able to do book wise in years before is put away 100-120 books in any one 365 day period. In light of that depressing fact, I thought, "Let's go think about all the books I'm looking forward to in the second half of 2016 instead!"

GREAT IDEA. Read more... )

Okay, so that was a lot of books. I'm sure there are tons I'm missing that I will eventually want to read when I find them. If there's something coming out that you know of that's in my wheelhouse, share immediately, please!
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
To say my reading goals were high for 2016 understates the case. I refuse to say they were unrealistic. They were simply not quite doable for someone who has varied interests and also has trouble focusing for long periods of time on one task (in this instance, reading) due to Anxiety Brain and depression. I adjusted a bit in May, toned down some goals, and started tracking them differently. It's been a big help! Read more... )

That's been my literary 2016 so far. What have you loved?
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
How you react to the first chapter of Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee is a good indicator of your reaction to all the other wild things you'll see in later chapters. (My reaction throughout: "WTF is that? WTF is this? WTF IS HAPPENING???" You start with calendrical rot and end up in a battle sequence that uses a system of loyalty to create defenses known as formations that are then used to fight bad guys and resist weapons. But don't worry: there are robots (called servitors), so at least one thing will be familiar.

It took me a solid four or five chapters to feel comfortable in this world, and that's only because I started assuming the calendar was a form of time manipulation and pushed it aside until I had more world building in my toolkit, because I never understand time travel, anyway.

Approaching sans worry about what I was missing helped because this novel isn't pulling punches or providing tons of context clues to hold your hand. It wants you to work for the world building and the characterization and the visualization, and it's like this book knew that was my weakness. "CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, BOOK!", I said in Chapter 3, "I'LL REVEAL ALL YOUR SECRETS!". By the end I was grateful because figuring out how all the pieces fit together was fun and also gut-wrenchingly painful because a deep dive results in lots of empathy pain, ha ha ha. But take some advice from an extremely visual reader: if you give this novel a try, give yourself the benefit of the doubt. ♥ Read more... )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
I've been sick for two full months and am halfway into a third. I'm finally pulling myself out of the pool of lack of productivity. \o/ The less said about my reading goals (heck, all my goals, from exercise to promised favors for friends to OTW work to sorting out socks with holes from my drawers) the better. Doreen's gone on a small vacation, but she'll be back soon.

(Also, I am bad at resting and not working which probably did not help me recover. DON'T BE ME.)

I'm still boggling over our recent addition as a Hugo finalist, too. I keep stopping to check the website, going "Is this real?" I guess it's hard for me to believe because I struggle constantly with the idea that any writing I do or any editorial influence I have is only passable (especially because I am a loudmouth critic who is still learning). And the Hugo is a small award, but it's very important to the people who give it their time, money, and energy, so I can't really sit and go, "Well, they're gonna figure out I'm faking eventually and I'm not that great." because that's insulting. My therapist and I have talked a lot about not robbing people of their feelings to force my own insecurities and anxieties on them. Let people have their opinions, Anxiety Brain! You aren't the boss of them!

So, to the people who nominated Lady Business, even if nothing I did influenced your decision (I mean, I do have great co-editors who are super rad)...

Thanks. :)

Recent Reading

Read more... )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
Hello, friends! April was super busy: my partner and I took a trip to Portland, Oregon, to scope it out as a possible option for moving to so he can make more money as a programmer. Or, in other words, how scary would I find the city? How scary is driving there? How terrifying is it to ride trains and be around a lot of strangers? He'll survive just fine, but will my anxiety be cranked into overdrive? Turns out these are all not a problem. In fact, driving on highways there is like the traffic control people went, "How can we help people with driving anxiety? HOW ABOUT TRAFFIC LIGHTS FOR ON RAMPS?" It was magical. I'm still in awe. Plus, the trains are cool! Everything is labeled! There are helpful announcements! You can buy tickets without interacting with anyone!

Plus, there are bookstores and comic shops and I can get to them WITHOUT A CAR.

I'M SOLD.Read more... )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
Hello, friends! I took last week off to catch up with paid work and to recover from getting socked in the sinuses by allergies. But I've been making excellent headway on reading and getting awesome books in the mail. >D

cover for Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott


CHALLENGE: 100 Unique Women Writers

You know that feeling when you realize you've undertaken a massive reading project and were over-confident, but are now too stubborn to give up? I am that feeling, made sentient, with no one around me strong enough to take me aside and say, "Renay, NO." :D

Books for Week 12 and 13: Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey and Act of God by Jill Ciment.

Doreen is back! )

I've never read Anne McCaffrey, in yet another stunning display of Established Canon Failure due to lack of robust a library system. I have Act of God out from the library already so yay! Meanwhile, I finished some books!

Reading Adventures! )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
I have a cold. I'm blaming climate change and El Niño for screwing up winter; Arkansas practically had no winter at all and there were mosquitos out in January and I'm considering bug spray for my walks in the morning already. I've had a sore throat since March 3, I'm grumpy because of the time change, and I'm behind on everything it's possible to be behind on (especially laundry).

Last week I felt like sludge scooped out of the gutter, microwaved, stirred into some sawdust, and then poured into a human skin. But it turns out I'm not contagious and I don't have an infection; my allergies are making me feel like a sentient, oozing blob which is unreal because at one point last week I couldn't swallow without feeling like I had tilted a barrel of radioactive acid down my throat. I'm behind. I'm going to stay behind for awhile. Learn to live with the disappointments of your super organic and fallible meat suit, Renay!

CHALLENGE: 100 Unique Women Writers )

I finished Illuminae and then got over-excited when I hit the library to pick up Legend:

I couldn't resist, but my allergies may get the last word on finishing this glut of books this considering I have the mental fortitude of an anesthetized toad. I remain glad I wrote up most of my comic book commentary before I got ill.



Recent reading! )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
February is over! I'm sure I will regret my (lack) of reading this month in September but for now I'm pretty happy with it. I'm not going to finish any books before February ends abruptly like it always does, so I will celebrate my stats now!
  • Sophia McDougall (Mars Evacuees)
  • Karina Sumner-Smith (Radiant)
  • Hiromu Arakawa (Fullmetal Alchemist 1)

I'm blaming February for being short and weird and busy. I'm excited because I liked all these books and all of them are parts of a series so there's more to read. :D I'm at 12/100 — probably time to start some of the novelettes and novellas I've been saving. :)

CHALLENGE: 100 Unique Women Writers

Week 8: I chose Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 1 by Hiromu Arakawa, which I chose to interpret as the universe giving me a break. It was cute! I also finished a book from a previous week, Radiant. Downbelow Station: still in progress. Possibly I should have chosen an easier Cherryh to start with but I'm over halfway through so there's no turning back now. :D

When I pulled the title for Week 9, I laughed out loud because so many people have been on me to read this book. Congratulations, friends! This week's book, presented by Doreen, is A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab.

Green dinosaur holding red slip of paper reading A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab


I'm also reading Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, which is aces so far. Ana is enjoying this week, as I read all the things she's been waving at me for months. :D



Reading for last week! )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
I'm starting to discover I may have gotten a little over-excited when making my reading challenge this year given all the other projects I have in the fire.

No, saying "in the fire" alone is not a good metaphor because that suggests a controlled fire, in a nice circle of rocks that you could roast marshmallows in. In fact, I do not have a fire like that. The number of projects I have right now is like a continental forest fire which you can see with the naked eye from space.

Well, if I have nothing else, at least I have ambition.

CHALLENGE: 100 Unique Women Writers

Week 7: now I am reading Downbelow Station and Radiant at the same time, so it's safe to say I'm behind. BUT I'M GONNA MAKE A COMEBACK.

As if the universe recognized my need for a break, for Week 8, the next title selected from The Jar and presented by Doreen, is Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 1 by Hiromu Arakawa. Manga. Thank you, universe, for finding me worthy of this reprieve so I can catch up.

Green dinosaur holding orange slip of paper reading Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa


My reading was book light. There are no books. It was comics city as I played catch up with the stack of comics sitting on my shelf.



Reading for last week! )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
Real talk: my book indecision plague has reached new heights. The stack of books at my fingertips is alarming and I'm about to make my partner choose something from it at random out of panicked desperation.

CHALLENGE: 100 Unique Women Writers

Week 6: still pushing away at Downbelow Station. I'm on page 223 and my plan to take it slowly with two or three chapters a day has taken the pressure off and let me spend time with the details. Things are starting to pick up, even if the politics are a bit confusing. And I kinda slash Josh and Damon...predictably.

My book last week was Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall, and it was great! It's reviewed below.

For Week 7, my next title selected from The Jar and presented by Doreen, is Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith!

Green dinosaur holding orange slip of paper reading Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith


My free choices right now: Lightless by C.A. Higgins, A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (everyone wants me to read this, like, everyone), and City of Pearl by Karen Traviss. I have Cold Iron by Stina Leicht but I should probably wait on that one since it's massive, and I want to read The Labyrinth of Flame by Courtney Schafer first epic fantasy-wise. JUST MAKE A CHOICE, SELF. Be a reader! Read something. Read anyone that's new to you.



Reading for last week! )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
The Book Indecision bug is still hanging around and I went back to therapy this week which was a guarantee I wasn't going to get much reading done. "Fine," I thought. "I'll focus on my last Jar Selection!" Except it turns out C.J. Cherryh was not messing around when she sat down to write her some science fiction and this book is dense. On the plus side, there's been no animals (not counting humans) harmed so far so it does have that going for it. Can't say the same for the other stuff I've been reading.

CHALLENGE: 100 Unique Women Writers

Week 5: slight hiccup. I'm going to have to spend some time with Downbelow Station, but will plug away at it until I finish! For Week 6, my next title selected from The Jar and presented by Doreen, is Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall:

Green dinosaur holding orange slip of paper reading Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall


I also didn't read anything else for free choice because I couldn't make up my mind and the time I did read I worked on Downbelow Station. It only took me a month to get behind! I'll make it up later, though. :D



Reading for last week! )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
It was a slow week because I was sick several days (ugh, bodies) and also have entered every book blogger’s dreaded state: New Year Book Indecision. I am surrounded by so many great books and I can’t decide what to choose. I want to jam everything new in my eyes and also want to reread a bunch of things. Everyone’s so prolific. So I have kind of flopped around uselessly and fallen behind on my reading goal.

CHALLENGE: 100 Unique Women Writers

Week 4: almost complete! I’m finishing the last story in Ghost Summer: Stories by Tananarive Due today (current assessment: I still don’t like prose horror much as I am an Anxious Person and Worry Too Much About The Dark, Serial Killers, and Slime Monsters). For Week 5, my next title selected from The Jar and presented by Doreen, is Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh:

Green dinosaur holding orange slip of paper reading Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh


My free choice book last week was Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes. Not sure what my next free choice will be. Planetfall? Illuminae? Maybe I should give Barrayar another shot? I also have some nonfiction by a few new to me authors on my shelf...too many things!

Since January is over, I looked back to see what my month looked like for authors that were new to me. Per my rules, I did well! 9/100! :D
  • Marguerite Bennett (A-Force Volume 0: Warzones)
  • Rosemary Kirstein (The Steerswoman)
  • Sarah Knight (The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck)
  • Nnedi Okorafor (Binti)
  • Carolyn Ives Gilman (Dark Orbit)
  • Charlie Jane Anders (All the Birds in the Sky)
  • bell hooks (Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood)
  • Shonda Rhimes (Year of Yes)
  • Tananarive Due (Ghost Summer: Stories) — counting here since I only have one story left

Onward to my reading for the week!



Read more... )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
Goodreads kept telling me I was behind on my reading challenge which was stressing me out. I could not figure out how I had managed to fall behind in the very first month with such careful planning, but the numbers didn't lie. Then I discovered I had utterly forgotten to add a book.

I'm a genius.

There's less than a week to join up MidAmeriCon II to nominate for the Hugo Awards (unless you have another membership that gives you the right). I have been pretty laid back about it this year. In part because I've made peace with the fact my favorite part is collecting awesome recs and also because I don't want to get my hopes up and have a repeat of last year.

Anyway, it is still my firm belief that Archive of Our Own is eligible in Best Related Work. DO WITH THIS KNOWLEDGE WHAT YOU WILL.

CHALLENGE: 100 Unique Women Writers

Week 3: complete! I read Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood by bell hooks (reviewed below, holy crap). For Week 4, my next title selected from The Jar and presented by Doreen, is Ghost Summer: Stories by Tananarive Due:

Green dinosaur holding orange slip of paper reading Ghost Summer: Stories by Tananarive Due


Books read this week:



Read more... )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
I have a lot of books out from the library that I'm not sure I'm going to have time to read, but I'm going to give it my best shot. Believe in yourself, Renay! DON'T THROW AWAY YOUR SHOT! Who cares if three of them are new books and you only have two weeks with them? You can do it.

CHALLENGE: 100 Unique Women Writers

Week 2 is complete! I read Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman (reviewed below). For Week 3, my next title selected from The Jar and presented by Doreen, is Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood by bell hooks:

Green dinosaur holding orange slip of paper reading Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood by bell hooks


I've never read bell hooks before, but it's on my list because I heard about her nonfiction and all my library had was this memoir and it sounded interesting. That's been a long time, so I'm happy to finally get to it.

Things I read!

  • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor — definitely read this
  • Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman — read this if you keep ending up on the Schrodinger's Cat Wikipedia page
  • All-New All-Different Avengers #3 by Mark Waid, Adam Kubert, & Alex Ross — they probably won't cancel this because of the all-dude creative team so you can wait for a coherent trade
  • A-Force #1 by G. Willow Wilson & Jorge Molina — our new superhero is GREAT!


Read more... )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
It's been a wild time the last month. Not only have I been reading (and more things than appear here), I have:

  1. Started walking every day.
  2. Quit several types of food. Goodbye forever, BEEF.
  3. Taken up a regular sleeping schedule.
  4. Resigned my co-chair in the OTW. I'm staying on the committee which is where my other reading time has gone. I'm reviewing docs to get back into the staff-work swing of things.
  5. Rearranged my office. I added a new bookshelf! By the time I get settled in this as my office we'll be packing for Oregon. OOPS.


CHALLENGE: 100 Unique Women Writers


This was the first week of the challenge. Last week I chose The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein and it's complete! For this week, I chose Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman, as presented by Doreen, my assistant:

Green dinosaur holding orange slip of paper reading Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman


Also, all the books this week came off my shelf and I wasn't even doing the #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge (is that the hashtag? I'm out of touch with the youths again). I'm giving myself five space bees for this accidental accomplishment.

Things I read!



Read more... )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
The holidays are over! *\o/* Now it's back to regular life at least until someone starts Hugo drama. I'm not ready for the drama but I am ready to discuss awesome stories and to start my AO3-for-Best-Related-Work Campaign in earnest. Read more... )
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
Long time no book column! November was a blur of writing and therapy. Turns out therapy is work! It's not the easy kind of work where you can slack off! Because then you end up back in what my therapist calls Default Mode where you feel like all the progress you've made has been lost and actually, you ARE a worthless, slimy, meatsack and your hair looks awful at all times. And you smell but no one cares enough to tell you. Anxiety Brain strikes again! Fistbump to those coping with anxiety and depression as literal darkness seeps into our days at five in the afternoon or earlier.

I didn't read as much as I wanted to (I already know my 2015 racial breakdown is going to be an embarrassment because I scheduled so many of those books to read in November after I noticed in September), but I also wanted to get back on the horse OF LIFE. Or at least my book column. If life were a horse I would manage better, because I learned as a kid, and those had reins and they listened to me when I said, "You know, I'm not really feeling this? Maybe I want to get off now." Well, mostly. There was that one time with that barking dog and the fence. Life's uncontrollable, probably.

This whole entry so far has been 0% about books and 99% hella TMI; you're all welcome. Let's talk about some literature instead.

Read more... )


I also read some individual comics I'm following and some short fiction. Read more... )

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