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We're half way through the year and I have reviewed precisely two books here at Lady Business (along with a handful elsewhere). I guess that means it's time for a mid-year roundup of my bookish favs and fails, with bonus stats, to get somewhere approaching up to date. Thankfully I did the maths and this year has contained 100% less bookish fail than previous years so no need to break out gifs of horror.

Oh alright then, just the one. For fun.

Kirsten Stewart saying 'Suck It'


But really, it's been a very good year.


Books, Books, Books


Favourites So Far


Moonshine & Wicked City by Alaya Johnson: WILL THERE EVER BE MORE OF THESE BOOKS?! I must know! Wicked City ends on a major romantic cliffhanger which suggests Johnson wanted to write more in the series. However, it was published in 2012 and she's published two standalone books since then, which might mean she's abandoned this series. Anyway, whether the series will be completed or not, I think you want to read these books. They're vampire stories set in the 1920s, the heroine is a serious force for social justice (for humans and vampires), and the supporting cast of female friends, murderous child vampires and family are so interesting. They're a ton of fun and probably perfect for Gail Carriger fans (one day I'll read her books, I promise).

The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley: Well, duh. Everyone and their dog has already told you how good this novel is and you better believe them. I find it easier to handle SFF on a less epic scale so Hurley's Bel Dame Apocraphya series is still my fav of her work so far. Still, I enjoyed getting to know the vast cast of characters in this new world and puzzling out how everything worked.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson: Loved. It. The sibling relationship between Noah and Jude was perfectly laced with compassion, jealousy, angst and anxiety. I liked this story's focus on how difficult all kinds of relationships can be, from family relationships to romantic ones. And I thought both sibling's processes for making art were smartly described. I reviewed this at Shiny New Books so pop over there if you want to see me use all the words to gush about it.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black: Again I reviewed this for Shiny New Books so you can find my longer thoughts there. I liked this almost as much as The Coldest Girl in Coldtown but not quite as much, and I think my reaction to the brother sister pair suffered from having just read I'll Give You the Sun. Otherwise, a clear favourite because Black's world, and her understanding of how human emotions work, is astoundingly lush and satisfying.

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey: I'm reviewing this in the next issue of Shiny New Books. For now suffice it to say that I'm mildly obsessed with everyone in this book (except Rowan). I can't believe I have to wait until next year for the second book.

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamoki: A lovely graphic novel (drawn entirely in shades of blue and indigo) about friendship and unwise young romance. After reading Skim I take it that these subjects are Tamaki and Tamoki's recurring preoccupations and I can't wait to see how they'll examine them next.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandell: So good I read it twice in one year. There's just something magical about this book's prose, pace and tone. Maybe part of its appeal is that it's interesting to read a dystopian novel that doesn't shove you through it's pages? I wrote an essay about this and Antonia Honeywell's The Ship which I'm planning to post soon. To be honest, I'll probably end up reading this book for a third time quite soon.

The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie: A most decadent comic full of blood, music and idol-worship. I am all in for the artwork, Laura and Lucy (clearly the best god).

Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams Garcia: It was great to have the chance to revisit the world of the Gaither sisters and see how they were getting on. Ana and I are busy planning a co-review about this final installment in the Gaither Sisters trilogy, so expect to hear more about this book soon. For now I'll say I found the appearance of the girl's mother especially moving, and that Ana and I are both a little baffled about why this has to be the final book starring these characters.

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake: I'm not sure I critically recommend Blake's novels (the Anna Dressed in Blood series had some issues) but I really like reading them. This new fun, high-action series is all about the death of Gods and Greek heroes reincarnated as modern teens. I adore the Greek myths and will read any kind of retelling or related story, especially stories set in the modern day. A good pick if you enjoyed Marie Philips' God's Behaving Badly.

Honourable Mentions


Pleasantville by Attica Locke: I'm so pleased to see Locke's book on the longlist for the Goldsboro Gold Dagger Award. This follow on to her first novel, Black Water Rising is much tighter and handles its plotting far better than her first, while still delivering the close personal detailing that made her hero, Jay, so interesting to follow around in Black Water Rising. I loved learning more about his relationship with his kids, being taken into the black political world of Pleasantville and meeting intrepid lesbian reporter Lonnie again. Make this into a film and I'll give it all my money. I'm now looking forward to picking up Locke's second book, The Cutting Season - a standalone crime novel about a body found near a plantation house.

Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More by Kelly Sue Deconnick & David Lopez: It took me a few issues to get into this collection (probably because the art kept changing) but once Carol started meeting cool female characters I was in. I really want to revisit some of the comics collections I read at the start of the year and post about them, this one included.

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew: Such an interesting project. Yang and Liew create an origin story for a Golden Age comic book hero who was possibly Asian (they explain the backstory of The Green Turtle at the end of their book). It's funny, smart, and of course the art is great as you'd expect from Gene Luen Yang. Again, I want to revisit it and write more about the story at some point.

Dishonourable Mentions


Bird, Boy, Snow by Helen Oyemi: As well-written as all of Helen Oyeyemi's books are, but delivers three brutally transphobic last chapters. When I read them I felt like I was being punched in the stomach so I can only imagine what transgender readers would have felt. The rest of this book is a complex and windy tale about race, stepmothers and fairytales, but those final chapters blot everything. They're just a horrendous example of an author erasing transgender identity and framing a transgender character as tragic and misguided.

The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda: The only other terrible book I've read was this shocker of a vampire novel. I'll never understand how the author of The Crossing went on to produce such awful prose.

I've also read read two 'meh' books - In Real Life which had fun art but a white saviour storyline, and Cat out of Hell which just wasn't as fun as it's premise promised.


Stats


This year I'm tracking the gender and race of authors whose books I've read. Since, as I said above, I've only reviewed two books here in 2015 I'm not going to present any review stats at this mid-way point. At the end of 2015, I'll see whether I've reviewed enough novels to make it worth doing review stats.

However, as I'm writing regularly about short fiction, my goal for next month is to examine the gender and race stats for my reviews of short fiction and see how those numbers shape up so far. My prediction is that I'll have reviewed more stories by female authors than by male authors but less stories by chromatic authors than by white authors. I'm not sure what my reading numbers will look like. Once I know what the numbers are like I'll be taking action to work on them.

Gender


27 books by women
3 books by men
4 books by collaborative teams of writers/illustrators that feature team members of different genders
0 books by non-binary authors

A couple of method notes before we get going. I read Station Eleven twice this year and I counted it twice in these stats. When I present my end of year stats, I'll count each instance of me reading a book as a separate result even if I'm rereading a book. If a book was written by a collaborative team and all members of that team were the same gender or race it gets counted once in the appropriate section of these stats. If a book was written by a collaborative team and that team includes a mix of genders that book gets counted once in the appropriate section of these stats (books by collaborative teams of writers/illustrators that feature team members of different genders). The same goes if a book is written by a collaborative team that features white and chromatic team members. I'm counting books not authors so this way of counting seems to make sense.

I'm pretty happy with the gender portion of these stats as they show my reading tastes remain firmly swung around to female authors. I would like to read more books by non-binary authors but have so far found it easier to find short fiction by non-binary authors. Novel recs welcome!

Race


13 books by chromatic authors
20 books by white authors
1 book by a collaborative team of writers/illustrators that features team members of different races

My aim is to get the number of books I read by chromatic authors and white authors level this year (and not cock up the maths like last year). Next up on my TBR is Amitav Ghosh's Ibis trilogy, Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee and Meatspace by Nikesh Shukla.

Format


16 novels
6 comic collections/graphic novels
2 novellas (hard copy)

Novels win and absolutely nobody is surprised by that. However, this year saw me read a much higher number of comic collections and graphic novels. So, watch out novels - you're being caught up! Just, very slowly. I also only counted novellas I read in hard copy here (because I need to sort out what I read in electronic format as part of looking at my short fiction stats). I think if I included novellas read online then novels might be running scared from novellas too. Don't worry, novels - just squish them with your greater bulk

So, tell me - how has your reading year been so far? Are you breaking out the horrified gifs or petting a clutch of bookish favs? Take the comments to let me know :)

Date: 2015-07-08 12:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] readingtheend.pip.verisignlabs.com
I shake my head sadly at Boy Snow Bird (agaaaaaain). I want to take Helen Oyeyemi aside and say "Here, dear, these are some resources for you to read and learn about why this was such a terrible thing to do." And then in my imagination because I am optimistic about people's basic goodness, she would read the things and be super sorry and make a nice new edition with a totally different ending.

Date: 2015-07-08 03:43 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] jinian
Thanks for the list! I actually hated The Mirror Empire, but it wasn't for lack of being feminist or well written, I just wasn't so much up for pointless gore and misery.

(Minor correction: Jillian and Mariko Tamaki are cousins with the same last name.)

Date: 2015-07-08 06:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] susanhatedliterature.net
I loved The Mirror Empire and I'll give you the sun as well. I've actally just finished The Sky is Everywhere which was Nelson's first book. Really enjoyed it too, deals with some of the same issues, grief, love, teenagers. Maybe not quite as good as Sun, but still well worth a read if you haven't read it yet.

Date: 2015-07-11 07:47 am (UTC)
janesgravity: (Default)
From: [personal profile] janesgravity
STATION ELEVEN



/slinks back into the night

Date: 2015-07-12 07:13 pm (UTC)
litomnivore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] litomnivore
I just got my hands on a copy of This One Summer, so I'm pleased to hear that you adored it.

My year has been good; while I do need to sit down and crunch the numbers, I feel like my gender parity is heavily skewed towards ladies, which was the goal of the first half of this year. The second half? Focusing on chromatic authors.

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