I just read a very funny fic (really it's hilarious even if I do disagree with a few characterizations) and the concept is *chef's kiss* but god it's Painfully American™ and ruins the vibe
Disability Pride Month
Did you know July is actually Disability Pride? And did yall know I'm Disabled? I have multiple Invisible Disabilities. Meaning that if you met me in real life on any regular day, there is a good chance you would have no idea that I can't remember the last time I wasn't in pain. How we probably have very different definitions of the word exhausted. So I hope everyone will take the chance to just do a little something for the month of July to increase your own awareness. Especially if you are able-bodied. Look into ablism, learn about the Spoon Theory if you don't already know it. (Highly recommend that one! Would be willing to talk about it with yall if you have any questions!) Try to be a little more conscious of how you never know what someone is dealing with and don't judge someone for using mobility aids, even if it doesn't look like they should need it. Or "you don't look sick." Or for someone who parks in a handicap spot but isn't in a wheel chair. And for anyone else who is disabled here, I hope you take pride in who you are this month too. Every part of you! And I'm willing to talk about it if anyone wants to 😊💜
And on that note! I'm actually here to celebrate just a bit with yall in my usual way when I make posts not about BTS. By sharing books!! So here are some books that I've throughly enjoyed that have Disability Representation in them!!
1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Fantasy thieving crew heist novel. Rep includes Chronic Pain, Mobility Aid Use (cane), PTSD, Dyslexia and Addiction. It also is now a Netflix show! You should read the books though!
2. Sick Kids In Love by Hannah Moskowitz
YA Contemporary Romance novel. Rep includes Rheumatoid Arthritis and Gaucher disease. (Made me cry in a good way!)
3. One For All By Lillie Lainoff
Historical gender bent three musketeers Retelling. Rep for POTS.
4. Get a Life Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Romance fiction, rep for fibromyalgia
5. All the Right Reasons by Bethany Mangle
YA Contemporary Romance. Rep includes EDS. (Haven't read this one yet, but on my TBR!)
6. The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd Jones
YA Horror Paranormal Fantasy with Zombies. Rep for Chronic Pain
7. Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy as a Mecha Retelling of the rise of the Chinese Empress Wu Zetian. Rep includes Cane and Wheelchair usage.
Thanks for letting me share! Happy July Everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! And if you have any good recs for me, please feel free to share them as well!
Hello! I love your art, especially your sapphic pieces and the underrated wlw series. I have a question. Since you really like depicting flora, fungi etc and read fantasy, do you know of any fantasy/horror/gothic books along the lines of Wilder Girls where there is plant magic, gothic elements (bones, creepers and flowers etc, maybe body horror) etc? I really like that type of aesthetic but don't know which books to read. Any gothic / flora+fungi heavy books will do!
Thank you so much!! and omg yes my fav thing (well, I'm more of a fantasy reader than gothic/horror, admittedly). Here's a few I can think of, I'm sure there's some I'm missing!
I'm only mentioning the relevant aspects here, so make sure you look up what they're actually about, CWs, etc. adult unless I've marked them YA. *asterix means sapphic since that might also be of interest haha
Sorrowland* (gothic horror/sff - plant/bone/fungi body horror)
Mexican Gothic (fungi, gothic horror)
House of Hollow* (YA gothic planty horror (bi mc, m/f))
Yellow Jessamine* (gothic, plants & poisons)
Annihilation (scifi planty horror - you may have seen the movie)
more sf/fantasy than horror:
The Dawnhounds* (dark urban/high fantasy, city made of fungi)
The Annual Migration of Clouds (more hopepunk/scifi - has an alien fungus infecting people)
The Jasmine Throne* (high fantasy, has a plant disease that infects people)
This Poison Heart* (YA contemporary fantasy - MC inherits a poisonous plant garden so it vaguely has the vibes. not really horror tho.)
A Dark and Starless Forest (YA, this has plant magic, and horror (paranormal) aspects)
These I remember having a moment or two of fungi horror or magic but it's not necessarily a major theme:
Rules For Vanishing* (YA horror)
Undead Girl Gang (YA horror)
The River Has Teeth* (YA witchy fantasy/horror)
Books I have not read:
The Girl With All The Gifts (YA, fungi zombies)
Where Darkness Blooms* (YA, unreleased, i'm making assumptions from the cover)
Tripping Arcadia* (gothic, I know the MC is a botanist, not sure on actual plant horror themes)
Ambergris (fungi, horror)
The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley (fungi, horror)
The Bone Houses (YA, plants, maybe fungi? unsure)
What Moves the Dead (horror, fungi - I think possibly a few of T. Kingfisher's books have this vibe? haven't read any)
Hi, can you recommend any wlw books, series? Cause I noticed I only read mlm ones and would love to read something sapphic, and mostly I read what you rec or mention on here. If the story would get place in crime or crimesolving setting it would be great but not necessary. Thank you, have an amazing day!
Hi there! I also tend to read a lot of m|m books but here's some w|w series and stand alones that I really enjoyed!
Kate Kane series by Alexis Hall - While it's not an all time fave, it IS all about a hard-boiled detective solving crimes and conspiracies in London. It's urban fantasy and our leading lady, Kate Kane, is half fae and can do all sorts of cool magicky things. Very spicy, adult only. If you've read any Alexis Hall, expect humor, banter, and hookups gone awry!
Queen's Ransom by Layla Reyne - I'm not sure if you can fully appreciate this book without reading the rest of the Fog City series, but I do rec the series as a whole!! This one is assassin x mechanic. The two women come from very different worlds and backgrounds, but their lives become enmeshed when (spoiler) their brothers get married. Romantic suspense, action, spicy.
Proper English by KJ Charles - book 1 of the England World series. I actually read book 2 (Think of England) first - it's m|m with mystery and intrigue and blackmail! Proper English has murder at an English manor and two ladies meeting and falling for each other while trying to solve the crime.
Girls of Paper and Fire series by Natasha Ngan - YA but honestly it gets dark so I'd say older teens rating. Fantasy, action, intrigue. I just finished book 2 and I'm eager to see how the series concludes.
Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta - YA, sci-fi, mechas, action, some truly unhinged characters. As I listened to it I thought "this is like taking AFTG problem children and dropping them in a world that's a mashup of Pacific Rim meets Mortal Engines." I need to finish the duology!
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston - YA contemporary set during the end of senior year. I love that the setting is small town Alabama because it feels very similar to my experiences. I love all the characters, the rivalry, and the mystery of where Shara Wheeler went and what she's up to. Feel good, summery, cute.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston - Loner moves in with a diverse group of friends in NYC, gets wrapped up in the mystery of a dazzling woman who's been trapped in the subway system/time loop since the 70s. Also with a bit of cold case mystery on the side.
The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth - YA, set in Ireland. Girl with deep distrust of relationships/fear of being forgotten meets a girl who is a romantic at heart. They set about reenacting famous scenes from romcoms over a summer.
The Midnight Girls by Alicia Jasinska - YA, and they were rival witches. I love the setting and magic and the rivalry that builds to something more.
Plain Bad Heroines by Emily Danforth - 3 women, one film, a series of Very Unfortunate Events. This has the perfect blend of unsettling, creepy horror that I like without being too much. It weaves various storylines together and kept me guessing.
The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke - YA, teen witches, conspiracy, horror, magic book entity. Usually I don't do horror, but this one got me.
Delilah Greene Doesn't Care by Ashley Herring Blake - Successful photographer returns to her hometown to photograph her stepsister's wedding and starts a fling with her stepsister's best friend. I loved this one! It dug deep into the characters and really made me feel all the feels. (FYI: there will be another book in the series!)
Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar - YA, set in Ireland. Two girls - who are barely acquaintances - start fake dating to prove different things to their classmates but end up dating for real. This digs into a lot of issues (racism, family, religion, friendship, etc) while still having a sweet love story at the core.
She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen - YA, set in Georgia (my state)! This has fake dating, enemies to lovers, rivalry. I enjoyed the heck out of it!
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson - YA, Girl joins the homecoming court to win and secure a scholarship. Her crush also joins, leading to lots of bonding and fun. There's a lot going on in this book and it's not a fluff fest, which I liked.
Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers - I'll be honest my brain is like "what happened in this book" even though I have such intensely fond feelings for it. Highlights: the MC gets drunk married in Vegas to a beautiful stranger. Later, when her life crumbles, she travels to her wife and tries to pick up the pieces while falling for the woman she married. Ughhh it's so good!!!
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus - YA, very emotional and beautifully written. Girl moves from Trinidad to Minnesota when her mom finds out she's gay. She's adjusting to a wildly different life in the states with her estranged dad and becomes friends with the daughter of her dad's best friend. So much happens and it really moved me.
The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez - Vampires but not like your typical vampires. Benign vampires, if you will. This book spans centuries and it's gorgeously written.
This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Rival operatives in the time war leave each other messages throughout the time stream and begin to fall for each other. Unlike anything I've read. An amazing concept and the writing is like poetry.
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli - YA, book 2 of the Simonverse. I really enjoy Becky Albertalli's writing and this series, especially as it's set in Georgia. Leah's POV is so feisty and cutting and I loved getting into her brain. I can't remember a lot of the details but I'm still like heck yeah, Leah is awesome!
Hope this helps! I have several series marked as to read that would probably be a better fit (with the crimesolving) so I'll try to get to them soon!
Recent books, fiction -
K-Ming Chang, Bestiary - a coming-of-age story about a Taiwanese-American girl contending with legacies of intergenerational trauma within a web of Taiwanese folklore. I wanted to love this but ultimately didn't - I found it extremely overwritten, not controlled or deliberate enough in its structure or use of imagery, and far too enamored with its own engagement with the grotesque. There was a lot that was interesting here, but I found it unfortunately nearly unreadable. It seems to be part of a definite trend I've noticed of new novels by authors with a knack for vivid and memorable imagery but who seem to string those images together one upon another rather than giving any attention to sentence-by-sentence construction of prose. I think most of you reading this can probably recognize the style I'm trying to describe here; it's getting increasingly common in contemporary fiction, and I have noticed my own tolerance for it waning significantly. This has been frustrating.
Hannah Chapin, Foul is Fair - YA Macbeth as a rape-revenge story. Very very bad on every level. Skip this.
Kristen Arnett, With Teeth - claustrophobic study of parenthood and unreliable pov characters, following Sammie, a lesbian mother struggling to parent her son and maintain her relationship with her wife over the course of a decade in her life. This was tight and enthralling, but a deeply unpleasant reading experience; Sammie's inability to see the people close to her as full people made me chafe to get out of living inside her head, but it held my attention all the way through. Kept coming to the edges of saying something sharper about parents' denial of their own capacity for violence, but didn't quite go there. I'll be thinking about this for a while, but not sure how much I actually liked it.
Allison Saft, Down Comes the Night - YA fantasy; a disgraced healer gets involved in sinister political magicians to make it up to her aunt, the queen. Solid but unexceptional YA fantasy, enlivened by some gothic tropes it never fully committed to.
Emily Layden, All Girls - panoramic study of the impact of a sexual assault scandal in a girls boarding school. This should have been trite, but was in fact sharply observed, insightful and unsentimental about teenage girlhood. The world of fancy boarding schools is quite foreign to me (though the milieu inhabited by the pre-professional dancer character was not, and Layden draws that with unerring accuracy), but Layden brings that world to life vividly. Likewise, the structural device of writing each chapter from the point of view of a different student could have become irritating but somehow never did. I was pleasantly surprised by this.
Catriona Silvey, Meet Me In Another Life - time loop novel about two people who keep finding each other in different versions of reality. At times touching, but didn't quite land for me; I found something about its focus on questions about determinism versus free will a bit alienating.
Kiersten White, Slayer - I keep reading White's books hoping to enjoy them as much I as I did her girl!Vlad Tepes trilogy, but I haven't yet. This one is published (official? canonized?) Buffy fan fiction, about two sisters born into a family of Watchers after the events of the tv series. It was fine, but didn't draw me in, and I know my lack of familiarity with Buffy canon outside of the show itself put me at a disadvantage.
Sophie Macintosh, The Water Cure - three girls raised in seclusion by parents who taught them to engage in painful and humiliating rituals have to make sense of the world after their father's death. I am always interested in these kinds of narratives and there were parts of what Macintosh was doing that I found moving and elegant, but I didn't find this psychologically plausible. It treads an uncomfortable line between hazy allegory and psychological realism, and I don't think it succeeds. I think Dogtooth did this a lot better.
Do you have any recommendations for books with positive representation of fat characters? I like SFF and queer characters, though neither of those are requirements
Hi! Sadly, most of the positive fat rep I know about is YA contemporary, not SFF. Followers, if you know more SFF/adult books, shout them out please! I too would be interested.
Julie Murphy's trilogy Dumplin', Puddin', Pumpkin covers various issues that fat teens have to deal with (beauty standards, career expectations, etc.) along with more universal teen things like dating, friendship, grief, parents who try to be supportive but don't get it, making bad choices and paying for them, and finding one's identity. Pumpkin itself is about a gay boy who gets nominated for prom queen as a gag and decides to own it.
I also really enjoyed Fat Girl on a Plane by Kelly Devos, which goes a step further than Dumplin' in discussing fat, identity, diet culture, and beauty standards. It's about the daughter of a model, who's always been interested in fashion and who decides to lose her "extra" weight in order to get ahead as a fashion blogger. Half of it is her before the weight loss, half of it's her after it, and there's a lot in that second part about how she's not actually happier or better off for having gone on the diet.
As for SFF, Maskerade and Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett feature a fat witch who's very believable (body image issues, trying to make herself smaller to please people until she sees that doesn't work) and a badass heroine in her own right.
I think the best rep I've seem in SFF has been in the Wayward Children books. There's a fat (sapphic) love interest in Down Among the Sticks and Bones and Come Tumbling Down and then there's Cora, who appears as a side character in Beneath a Sugar Sky and Come Tumbling Down before getting her own book in Where the Drowned Girls Go. Her perspective can get kind of grim and painful at times—she didn't have a happy childhood, her weight played into that, she's still dealing with the fallout—but weight isn't her problem now, she's athletic and smart and heroic, and you can tell it's #ownvoices representation, if that makes sense.
And then we have … One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston, which barely mentions the MC's weight at all. I'm not going to pitch this because I think Booklr's talked it up enough. (For adult romances, I've also read One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London, which I thought was all right but nothing special. It's about a fashion blogger becoming the latest Bachelorette and all the stuff she contends with as she moves through the season.)
I'm sure I'm forgetting some book or other, though. I'm probably going to go "Ah yes, of course!" to the first person to add a rec. 😅
I've been thinking about this because of the shitty ads for contemporary YA romance going around and the way books are marketed using an extreme amount of fanfiction tropes and almost nothing else. Like yes tropes ARE a part of literature and can be used to help catalogue books and movies in archives and such but they aren't supposed to be supplements for summaries and plot.
Like if you tell me something is contemporary YA which follows a businesswoman struggling at her job and trying to figure out why she's unhappy slowly getting closer to the local cafe barista when she stops in over the course of the novel and she goes on a journey of self discovery and etc etc that would at least tell me what the book is about. I probably wouldn't read it or like it if I read it because I don't like contemporary YA romance but I at least know what it's about and would be able to recommend it to someone if they were looking for something similar.
But if you took that same book and ONLY told me it was contemporary YA romance, slowburn, and coffee shop, that doesn't really tell me anything about the characters or why I should care. These are original characters I can't just look at ao3 tags and be like "oh yeah I like these characters already I want to see them in this specific scenario" these are original characters and you have to give me a reason to care. When I'm looking for a book to read I'm looking for a book, not a fanfiction for something I already like. If I wanted to read fanfiction I would read it. Publishing fanfiction doesn't not make it fanfiction and describing books exclusively in fanfiction tropes and nothing else does not a good book advertisement make. They are not a replacement for an actual summary, they are a tool that can help quickly identify books in a catalogue or archive if someone is looking for something to read.
This isn't to dunk on fanfiction! I write and read fanfic but it's more akin to the junk food of the literature world. It's good and yummy and can fill in a specific niche in internet communities, but it shouldn't make up your entire literature consumption, yknow?
Also for fucks sake, stop describing classical literature with fanfiction tropes you are doing a severe disservice to them and completely missing the point of literally all those books. If I have to see one more person describe Pride and Prejudice as "enemies to lovers" I will scream.
Hello!!! I love your blog. I am curious as to how you form such interesting thoughts about literature. Does part of it come from your lit major? (Hopefully this question is good, I have trouble thinking of interesting questions to ask).
Reading, reading a lot and then reading some more. I don't read only what I feel comfortable about and I don't restrict myself to YA and booktok romances. I read classics, and contemporary, memoirs and nonfiction, poetry and history. Being a lit major has definitely helped with forming coherent critical analyses, but the base must also be strong- you should always try your level best to understand the substance of your reading and allow yourself to ask questions. I like to read scholarly essays, reviews, follow contemporary literary discourse and bookstagrammers who share wonderful recommendations (not the "aesthetic" ones, the ones who actually give solid reviews and curate well). And I come from a family (esp. my father and my late grandfather) where literary debate is very important, which has also helped in making me passionate about these things since early childhood.
2. book you’ve reread the most times? 3. what is your favourite genre? 4. what sections of a bookstore do you browse? 12. did you enjoy any compulsory high school readings?
Thank you so much for the ask!! I loved answering them so much and you actually picked my favourites questions, you know me well 💜
2. book you’ve reread the most times?
Oof, that's a hard one because I don't reread books usually? But I think it must be Le Jobard by Michel Piquemal. I fell in love with this book when I was 7yo and now I reread it from times to times, usually when I need hurt/comfort ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
3. what is your favourite genre?
Fantasy, and especially high epic fantasy à la Lord of the Rings or The Priory of the Orange tree! So much so that I almost only read that and when I did my internship at the bookshop last year, my "homework" was to specifically read something that wasn't fantasy and YA to have something to recommend in the adult general section lmao
4. what sections of a bookstore do you browse?
All of them ! Except maybe the self-help section. But usually, a trip with Pia in a bookstore includes, in that order, the YA section, the fantasy/sci-fi section (because they're always together, which is stupid imo), the non-fiction/political/essay section, the contemporary/general literature and if I feel like it, the polar/thriller section ^^
12. did you enjoy any compulsory high school readings?
With me it's actually more "what compulsory high-school reading didn't you like?" because I can count them on one hand and I liked almost every book we had to read! But, if I had to choose my favourites, I'd say Antigone by Jean Anouilh (technically it was in troisième but it counts because I think it's the equivalent of high school freshman), La Joie de vivre by Emile Zola and Incendie by Wadji Mouawad. They all fucked me up and shaped me in very different way and I love them with all my heart <3
end of the year reading tag
@bulletnotestudies created this end of the year reading tag, and I thought it was super nice so, hi, hello I am doing this to pass some time
Did you reach your reading goal for the year (if you had one)?
I did! I had a goal of reading 50 books, and I read over 100 books, which is crazy for me. I had never read this much in a year, and I am a pretty slow reader, so I have no idea how I managed.
What are your top 3 books you read this year?
I am working on a pretty long post on some of the best books I read this year, which I will post in a few days. But generally 3 of my favourites were: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, The Book Of Lost Things by John Connolly and Art matters by Neil Gaiman. I don't know if these are actually my top 3 books, but stay tuned for that post.
What's a book that you didn't expect to enjoy quite so much going in?
The Shining by Stephen King. I had very low expectations, because I thought it was a over-hyped book. I ended up loving it so much, I got into the story very quickly, and it kept my attention high until the very end.
Were there any books that didn't live up to your expectations?
Many actually, The Midnight LIbrary by Matt Haig is probably on the top of the list. It wasn't a bad book, but since it was very hyped, and most importantly Matt Haig is the author of one of my all time favourite books, I was expecting a life changing novel. As I said in my review, my expectations way were too high for it. I also read two books by Wulf Dorn, a psychological thriller author, who I used to love, and both books let me down pretty badly. (The books are Gli Eredi and Follia Profonda. these are the Italian titles, cause I cannot find the English translations).
Did you reread any old faves? If so, which one was your favourite?
I did! This year I have actually re read 3 of my all time favourite novels: Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, The Humans by Matt Haig, and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I cannot choose between these, because as I said these are, and will always be, my favourite novels.
Did you dnf any books?
I DNFed so many books. I haven't given up on all of them, mostly I have realized that I have started reading them in a bad moment, and I will get back to them in the future. One of them is Memoirs of Hadrian by M. Yourcenar, it put me in a reading slump, and I am so sad about it. I really want to read this book, and enjoy it, but it's very dense, and I started reading it while studying for exams, so not the smartes choice.
Did you read any books outside your usual preferred genre(s)?
I have, I read Defenceless by Giulia Vola. A recently self published YA romance novel, by my dear friend @occhicerchiati. I don't normally read YA, and I do not read romance at all, but I really enjoyed her book!
What was your predominant format this year?
Physical, although this was the year in which audiobooks revolutionized my life, so it's worth a mention.
What's the longest book you read this year?
I'm not sure, but probably Racisms by F. Bethencourt, a non fiction book about the history of racisim, which I had to study for my contemporary history exam. It's 667 pages long.
What are your top 3 anticipated 2022 releases?
I don't have the habit of looking for the new releases, so I have no idea what is going to be published next year.
What books from your tbr did you not get to this year, but are excited to read in 2022?
The Secret Life Of Trees by P. Wohlleben, and Pirates by Peter Lehr are on top of the list. I also plan on continuing The Witcher series and The Sandman series.
This was very fun! And it made me reflect a bit on my year of reading, which is always interesting. I tag @peregrination-studies, @contre-qui, @sage-studies and @serendistudy (no pressure of course).
Ciao! Do you have any book recommendations for intermediate Italian learners?
Ciao! Off the top of my head:
As far as "classics" go, your safest bet is probably something by Italo Calvino. By no means easy, but some of his work is definitely approachable for intermediate readers. A lot of people recommend learners start with Marcovaldo; you could also give a try to his famous trilogy, I nostri antenati, but don't be discouraged if you find it's a little too advanced a read. I haven't seen Cesare Pavese being recommended often, but judging from what I've read of his a very determined reader might like the challenge and have a good chance to come out victorious :P
Contemporary authors: I have a feeling that not everyone will agree on this, but imho the world-famous Elena Ferrante is actually a good choice for learners. Her books are a great mix of effective storytelling, smooth style and clear language, and (upper) intermediate learners might really love them. You can start from L'Amica geniale and go from there!
I haven't read much of his work, but Alessandro Baricco is widely considered to be a solid author to enjoy when you haven't quite reached an advanced level yet. Check out Novecento (originally a monologue) to see whether you like his style! Niccolò Ammaniti's Io non ho paura is also very popular among learners.
I have half a mind to recommend something by Jhumpa Lahiri, an author whose English-language work I really love, but I haven't read her Italian stories and books, so I don't know for sure if they're suitable for your level. I would, however, strongly suggest that anyone who has an interest in Italian fiction check out The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories that she edited a while ago (an Italian version is also available for the bravest among you!). Also by Penguin (and edited by Nick Roberts) -- Short Stories in Italian: New Penguin Parallel Text. Parallel text doesn't suit everybody, but I for one am a huge fan of it when I'm still familiarizing with the language and trying to learn some vocabulary.
YA books & fantasy: I might be the farthest thing there is from an expert in the field, unfortunately. I've heard that Licia Troisi is great, however, and you probably can't go wrong with her books.
If you're open to children's books, do have a look at Bianca Pitzorno's novels; while meant for a younger audience, some of them are immensely enjoyable for adults as well, with their witty irony and a Roal Dahl-esque feel to them. Most readers (myself included) agree in citing Ascolta il mio cuore as her masterpiece.
This is just a quick overview covering the basics (and people are, of course, welcome to throw their two cents in). If there's any genre in particular you'd like to explore, please tell me and I'll come up with a more specific list to the best of my abilities! ^^
Let’s Be Suns Tonight - WIP Intro
[Image Description: A silhouette of two boys walking on the road projected against a car's beam at night. The path is aligned by lights on both sides. In the center, in a creme and white serif font reads let's be suns tonight and ann lilly jose./ End ID]
Hey y'all! I have a new book. I know I have way too many WIPs but, I can't help it. So basically, here's what happened:
I was doing camp nanowrimo for dairy whiskey, my liftic novella
I wrote 1.2k of it in a day and realized that literally everything was going wrong (pov, tense, story opening, etc.)
I put off writing for two whole weeks and kept telling myself I'll write dairy whiskey when I feel like it (was still pretty sure I'd somehow win camp with my 10k goal, like no honey you need to stop being stupid)
Random thought at 2 am: Noah Anderson deserves a better story
Levi Shires. Girl. He needs a story of his own.
You're gay. Write gay.
Tries to put the project off for later and not write gay
Writes gay anyway
Let's talk about the specifics before rambling about the process. I promise, there's a lot (a LOT by my standards) of it.
Disclaimer: This is my original work. Please do not plagiarize in any way.
Genre: YA Contemporary
Setting: Not really sure, but it's an average small town
POV and Tense: First person present tense, dual POV. Possible ghost narratives.
Playlist: Let's Be Suns Tonight (Updating)
Logline: Two boys who want to live life differently meet at a cafe and end up discovering secrets about each other, and about themselves too. (I'm pantsing this so things can change. I have no idea what's in store for the boys)
Is questioning his sexuality
His full name is Levi John Antonio Shires
Is a pop singer
Just came home from his first ever world tour
Struggling with everything
Feels like something is wrong with him but doesn't know what
Face Claim: Troye Sivan
Aesthetics: music, guitars, posters, live shows, interviews, journalling at 3 am, obsessing over poetry even when you don't understand a thing except that it's beautiful, crying about being a crybaby, late night walks, questioning sexuality
Bisexual in denial
Had tons of friends but is scared of it now
Wants to buy shirts with flower patterns but doesn't
Obsessed with Levi's music
Aesthetics: house parties, plaid shirts, trying to cry but cannot, laying on the floor, listening to the same song on repeat for hours, late night drives, night clubs
If you didn't already know who Noah and Levi are, here's the story. Noah is a character I created when I was in ninth grade (so that's like over three years back what) during a very angsty conversation with @jenetmoses. I drafted around 16k of his story in tenth grade and it was so much fun, but I never completed it. I then tried to fit him into so many stories but none seemed to work. Finally I decided to put him in Intersecting Parallels (another one of my WIPs I'm not sure if I'll ever even start writing) as a side character. Levi Shires is a character I created for the same project. But I fell in love with him instantly and now he's one of my favourite characters. It's almost like his existence gave Noah a story that he deserved.
A few days back I felt like I should write a story for my darlings and now here we are. This is officially Ann stepping into gay waters (I'm biro ace btw) with her stories and honestly, this is so much fun. It took me a few days to actually make an intro post because I was scared that maybe this, like many of my other projects, will have a WIP intro and no updates because I. Just. Don't. Write. Anything. So I waited until I had sufficient content to share and had a feeling that this thing can work. Well, guess what. It definitely can and it definitely will.
I'm currently at about 1.2k words and writing this has been such a delight? I hope it stays the same for a long time because I haven't felt like this in over two years and now it feels heavenly. I had to go to a relative's house last week and I wrote a vignette before going. All the time I was there, I just wanted to get home and edit it (I edit as I write because it works best for me). When I came home, I spent an hour and a half editing it and it was for the first time in so long that I was longing to work on a project? Allow me to be emotional over this please thank you.
I have completed three vignettes now. None of them have titles yet, and I'm not sure if I'll title them. I know there'll be so many and I'm not sure if it's possible to come up with titles for so many vignettes, so for now it's just vignette 1, vignette 2, and vignette 3 (not fun at all i know). I'm also so happy that I can share a lot of stuff here because this, my loves, is a practice project. So here we go!
Vignette 01, Noah
I sit at a table for two, alone, raindrops bokehing the window I lean my head on. Outside the filmed glass, a litter of dogs fight for leftover meat from a barbecue joint across the street, a street light flickering above them until it dies out. The interior is all about pretence - Pinterest art printed on a large canvas hung up on the creme walls, plastic flowers hanging from fancy plastic pots, baristas speaking in an accent too thick for their age. LED bulbs coated in lime-tinted glass paper light up the cafe. They almost look like incandescent bulbs. Almost.
So, that's the opening. Not much to say about it, but I really wanted to set this story's beginning in a cafe so there it is.
Here's another excerpt from the same vignette. Noah being 1) attached to his father and 2) extremely angsty and pretentious.
The barista slides a ceramic cup towards me, smiling faintly with the corners of his eyes. The kohl on his lower waterline has smudged and darkened his under eyes. My latte stirs itself, the marbling on the froth a bit distorted now, the cream heart melting away, burnt and sacred. Papa told me that the heart is where life is. One evening after our family prayers, he pointed at a portrait of Jesus and said, "It is where love begins, and that's why love is what makes life worthwhile. Do all things with love, Noah."
Tonight, I want to feel capable of having a heart.
Tonight, I shall drink from the grail of life.
I'm sitting here like, boy, it's not that deep. It's just a latte. But then again, is coffee ever just coffee?
Well, let's not get into that because it deserves a whole post for itself. Moving to the next vignette now!
Vignette 02, Levi
Tonight’s weather slips chills into my faux leather jacket, yet my insides burn, like a star at the verge of dying out. That’s what they call me - a star, pop sensation, a child prodigy. Another lucky teenager whose YouTube covers blew up, landing them a record deal with a big label. Another wannabe Gen-Z musician, a clueless kid whose success in the industry is solely because of his social media following. Another wave that will die down faster than it rose, a whirlpool sucking in teenagers from across the world, just another boy who has girls swooning over him for his jawline, his height, his lips. But for my fans - Leviathans - my music is everything. That's what they say when I meet them before shows. That's what they post on their social media. That's what the tell newspapers and magazines and TV shows when they're asked about me.
What is everything? I don't know.
He's just so confused? So affected by what others say about him? Conflicted by varying opinions of media? Also let's ignore the fact that I named his fandom Leviathans. I have no braincells for more. Please leave me alone. Okay? Deal? Great!
And then this is how the vignette ends.
This is my hometown, so nobody squeals. Nobody points their fingers at me. Nobody hides behind trash cans to click my pictures. Because before I went on a hundred day tour, before open stages and live shows and official merch, before albums and debut single and record deal with Quercitron Labels, before YouTube fame and my cover of The Night We Met by Lord Huron, I was just another boy.
Some days, I want to be him.
Yep, so that's what's up with Levi. He craves for some normalcy in his life. I feel so bad for him.
Vignette 03, Noah
This is quite short, so I think I'll add the whole thing here.
A group of teenagers - two boys and three girls, all about sixteen years old - walk into the cafe. The taller boy has a dense voice. He's still going through puberty. He shaves his face every morning hoping he'll grow a beard by the end of term. He wears tight-fitted shirts to school, leaving the top two buttons undone, a silver chain dainty between his collarbones. He wears a cross on it, or an angel. Or maybe just the wings. The short boy is dating the black-haired girl. They're new at it, and it'll last a few months. But before it ends, they'll go on drives around the city wearing matching outfits they'd picked at the mall. She will sneak out with him in the middle of the night to drink wine in the front seat of his car. She'll take her first puff from his lit cigarette and will hate how it chokes her. She'll have a lot more firsts with him. They'll bunk classes and go for movies and neither will remember what happened on screen. They'll wish to dance in the rain and kiss in the pub, but they won't. Instead, they'll fight on sidewalks about college and long-distance and other friends. Eventually, they'll both acknowledge that they aren't working. The girl wearing dramatic makeup has a crush on him. She'll never confess, but the first girl will notice. Eventually. That'll spoil their friendship. The last girl is the third in the trio - the one that tags along, goes unnoticed because she takes up so little space and never talks. She wishes she were home. She's the kind that drinks black coffee and embroiders pillow cases at two a.m. so that she doesn't eat herself up.
They're a group of friends, the kind that thinks they'll last forever, but won't.
Four years back, I was the second boy. I hope four years later, he doesn't become me.
So, that's it for this intro. It's the longest post I've ever made (so far). Wow! I'm clearly so so so excited about this and I'll hopefully be able to share more stuff soon. Huge thanks to @showgirlcurio for pumping me up with this one! Tons of love <3
Thanks for reading so far. Please take care of yourself!
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@maxgraybooks @shaonharryandpannisim @heartfullkings @bookdragonfanish @vnsmiles @dallonswords @wannabeauthorzofija @sienna-writes @violetpeso @flip-phones @avakrahn @ambidextrousarcher @showgirlcurio @jenetmoses @17nim
Hey storm! I hope your day is going great.
Actually you have written in your bio that you are an avid reader and nowadays I am trying my best to become one hehe because I remember being one back in elementary/middle school and then high school happened and I had no time to read anything which was not curriculum books so i stopped reading altogether and after graduating from highschool in 2020 yes the covid batch :( I started reading again and fell in love all over again with it so I was wondering what kind of books do you read I am more into books which are motivational, inspiring and insightful ones and a huge fan of elif shafak, Stephen Covey and Jeff keller. Who your favourite write?
Also sorry this is not related to jikook I just read you are an avid reader and wrote this. Feel free to not answer or maybe late answer
Hello! I don't mind questions about things that aren't Jikook related at all 😊
So after looking into the authors you said you liked, I do think we have fairly different reading tastes. But I absolutely loved Born a Crime by Trevor Noah which fits the type of book you are looking for I think, if you haven't read this one yet. Another in this same vein would be #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women. These are 2 that I've read this year and loved both of them.
If you want to try branching out into other types of genres, more fiction and fantasy type reads, I could give you a billion recommendations. But books that are fiction that I found motivational, inspiring and insightful would be some of these that I have read and loved:
All For The Game Series by Nora Sakavic. PLEASE look up and read trigger warnings or DM me though for those trigger warnings before reading this trilogy. There is ALOT of potential triggering things that happen in this book that can be hard to read. It's very character driven, it deals with a lot of mental health issues and has an incredible found family trope going on that I love. It is also mlm with the romance (which doesn't really happen until book 3 anyway). It's a contemporary sports/mafia wars fiction novel. It's a mess and I loved every second of it. Lol
Another one that I'll recommend is Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, who is probably my ultimate favorite author. Mistborn was the first book I read by him. It's a heist crew type of novel, with found family, overthrowing the hierarchy kind of book, but with magic. Really cool and unique magic too. Metal magic would be the simplest way to describe it without spoilers. Sanderson wrote this book based off the idea "What if the dark lord won?" And the events that would have transpired after that. It is incredible, in my opinion. And full of incredibly inspiring moments and tidbits of motivation.
Thought provoking takes on where our society is headed while still being fun and incredibly well written and easy to read would be the YA post-dystopian trilogy Scythe by Neil Shusterman. Really just a fascinating and entertaining read.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, if you haven't read that one. Motivational, inspirational, incredibly emotional. Highly highly recommend.
So that is 6 book recs to start out with from me! Definitely check these out and see if any catch your interest! Feel free to reach out if you ever want to have a conversation about it! Good luck with your reading journey 💜💜
Recent books, fiction -
- Meryem Alaoui, Straight from the Horse's Mouth (trans. Emma Ramadan) - novel about a sex worker in contemporary Casablanca, written in rambling and irreverent first person. This was engaging at first but I lost the thread midway through when it went off in a very different direction than I expected and the relationships between the protagonist and her fellow sex workers, which were central to the first section of the book, became secondary to a plot line about the protagonist unexpectedly starring in a film. Interesting and worth reading, but not in my opinion wholly successful.
- John le Carre, Silverview - I am really not very familiar with spy fiction, but I've been very gradually exploring le Carre; this is my third, and probably not the best choice to read so early in my exploration of his work, but it was at the library and so I went for it. This is le Carre's final, posthumously published novel, and it has an interesting, circling plot structure which reminded me, peculiarly enough, of Iris Murdoch. I didn't enjoy it very much while reading it, but it's growing up on me with contemplation. I'll keep exploring, maybe come back to this when I have more context.
- J. Anderson Coats, Spindle and Dagger - a book for me!!! Someone here recommended it to me, though I can't rightly remember whether it was @amending-death or @pearlsthatwereeyes. Either way, it was a fantastic recommendation. It's basically like a slightly more conventionally written Napoli novel, all about #concubine problems (sorry, I know no one but me actually finds that joke funny).
Elen is a young woman in medieval Wales whose family home was sacked by a war band a few years before the time of the novel. She was raped, and her sisters killed; she herself has survived by convincing the leader of the war band that she has the blessing of a saint, and that keeping her close will earn him that saint's favor. The book follows Elen's efforts to make sense of her experiences and choices, especially as she sees another woman experiencing a similar fate. It's an empathetic, thoughtful, and ultimately quite gentle book, even as it deals with trauma with honesty and clarity. I liked it a great deal, and found it to be a very meaningful depiction of the struggle to find choices within captivity.
- Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half - estranged Black twin sisters follow different paths, with one of them choosing to pass as white and the other returning to the community in which they grew up. This is not quite just "Nella Larsen's Passing without the homoeroticism" because it's a generational novel, following the two sisters' daughters as well. It had some interesting things to say about race and identity, but each of the characters is too flat for the whole to hold together as a novel, and it lacks the caustic sharpness that makes Passing so memorable. A lot of the themes also hinge on a really facile analogy between passing in a racial sense and what passing means for trans people, which I thought was insufficiently thought-through and so landed rather sourly.
- Pam C. Zhang, How Much of These Hills Is Gold - the orphaned daughters (well, it's not quite clear how one of them identifies gender-wise) of a Chinese gold prospector roam through the western U.S. This was stylistically quite interesting, but had some significant structural problems. It was also extremely bleak, but because of the structural problems it was hard to sink into that experientially and let myself react to the bleakness in the way that the narrative should have warranted. It's a debut novel; I'll definitely read more by Zhang, as the things I felt didn't work could easily be first novel issues.
- Laurel Flores Fantauzzo, My Heart Underwater - YA; Cori, a first generation Filipino-American girl is sent to stay with relatives in the Philippines after her relationship with her high school history teacher is discovered. I liked this, though I don't think it totally worked. The book is trying to walk a delicate line depicting Cori's relationship with her teacher, showing the naturalness of her crush and lack of outlets as a young lesbian, while also making it clear that her teacher's reciprocation was unacceptable. I think in general Fantauzzo does this pretty well; there are some conversations late in the book between Cori and her peers that fall just on the right side of preachy in a way that works, but there's something that feels overly sanitized about the whole thing, even as I largely appreciate the relationships between Cori and her relatives, which were believably warm and nuanced.
I see that some readers take issue with Fantauzzo's representation of the Philippines, which they found stereotyped and offensive, but I don't have enough context to assess this. This is the second YA book I've read in the past few months which involved a teenager learning things about themselves through visiting family in the Philippines, which does feel oddly specific in terms of my reading habits.
- C. L. Polk, The Midnight Bargain - fantasy of manners; a young sorceress tries to find a way to escape marriage in a version of Georgian England in which women are cut off from their magic as a condition of marriage. I felt this worked in a way that most fantasy of manners doesn't, which I am still pondering; this felt like it successfully indulged the longing for "period details + magic" which fuels most readers' interest in fantasies of manners, while not turning it all into fluff or erasing everything that was actually oppressive about the eras in question. It also had a rather pleasant romance plot line while gave the heroine's dilemmas some actual teeth. Not life-changing, but quite pleasant.
- Heather O'Neil, When We Lost Our Heads - okay. So this was a retelling of some of the events of the French Revolution but reset in 19th century Canada amongst a bunch of psychosexually entangled young women? It was really, really weird. Interesting, but weird. I don't know what O'Neil's point was, and I don't know whether or not I can recommend it.
FORCE MAJEURE: NOVEL INTRO
[this is my original work, do not use / repurpose / plagiarise in any form]
GENRE: literary fiction.
SETTING: south india, early 2010s.
POV & TENSE: dual pov; present tense + third person limited.
STAGE: prepping for camp nano [my current goal for camp is 10k!]
THEMES + AESTHETICS: fatalism, chance and luck, the duality of everything, corruption, chaos vs order, manipulation, power, sacrifice, loneliness, free will, love vs obsession. the sound of waves crashing against rocks, sitting in an empty house and watching a watery dawn, saltwater seeping into your pores as you swim deeper and deeper underwater; driving through neon cities under a full moon, laughter mixing with the bright sounds of people, the buzz of contact in a room full of strangers.
CONTENT WARNINGS: cults and religious trauma, implications + discussions of emotional abuse, terrible parents, manipulation, gaslighting. [note: this wip is very new so more content warnings may be added as i go]
when twins ananya and naveen get separated while escaping their home, they find themselves in completely different places—one stumbling onto a hidden commune by the beach, the other pulled into a group of thieves in the city. this story is a dark coming-of-age where the twins must confront their obsessions with things they can’t control and what they’re willing to do to belong.
aka “i know everything happens for a reason but what the fuck”
omg my children <3 [all picrew credits to @/sagravi’s picrew!]
ANANYA [pronounced as: uh-nun-yah]
she/they [she’s very non-binary but doesn't have the term for it in the book? so in my head she uses she/they but in the book uses she/her]
looks like she can kill you, will instead make you fall in love and slowly [and unknowingly] break your heart <3
“have you ever seen a woman so beautiful you started crying?”
unintentionally funny. says something mean and people will laugh not realising she actually meant it
carries around a lot of anger about the multiple ways in which people have wronged her and now and then just goes feral [as she should, really]
aroace and has a very longterm, very on screen crisis about it. what i learnt from this is that i cannot write an uplifting aroace story and tbh i don't know what that says about me as someone who’s also aroace.
very emotionally attached to her parents :) very emotionally detached from people in general :) suffering™
does not have a good time
NAVEEN [pronounced as: nuh-veen]
he/him [also very non-binary]
looks baby, is actually very sad
“i do not have a fake social media personality. i am genuinely this mentally ill in real life”
unintentionally unfunny. he cries himself to sleep at night because his puns weren’t well received [me too honestly]
very queer!! he’s mspec but doesn’t label himself, and honestly king <3 he also gets caught in a bisexual love triangle. the way i was anti-love triangles until this guy appeared🧍
was always the twin who was idolised and seen as the family’s future which not only put a lot of pressure on him but also strained his relationship with ananya in unexpected ways which is just :(
does not have a good time
literally i fell in love with the twins so quickly; they are so cool and are most definitely my genvy. their relationship is very central to the story despite them being separated for the most of it [if the story plays out that way]. i’m excited to actually start drafting to learn more about them + their dynamic!!
SO HOW’D THIS HAPPEN?
so a few days ago my brain said “new fun ya contemporary concept about queer twins in high school” and then within five minutes of its existence my brain also said “contemporary ya my ass it’s now adult litfic deal with it” and at this point i’m just like. okay.
this book is my second novel and also my *bangs posts and pans* camp nano wip! [please as if i haven't mentioned this seventy times already] coincidentally my academic year + finals also end on the first of april so this is such a perfect time to start a new project!!
ALSO i’m jumping on the trend of making a temporary taglist for weekly updates like all the cool, sexy writeblrs who are doing it [read as: atlas fam] so!! let me know [dm/ask/reply/mention in reblog] if you want to be added to the camp nano taglist!! if you want to keep up with the wip after camp, you can ask to be added to my general taglist. heads up that i won't be tagging my general taglist for the weekly updates!!
everything about this project is tagged as force majeure and the writing updates as force majeure update. also here’s the link to the very very in-progress playlist. you can send me an ask / message me if you’d like to be added to my taglist or have any questions about the project. and that’s about it for now!!
What is the best Cinderella retelling?
I did this a while ago with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which can be found here, and it went pretty well, so here I am again. This is my ranking of Cinderella retellings, from worst to best.
7th Place: Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Have you seen the movies Starstruck or A Cinderella Story? If you have, congratulations! You don't need to read this book! This book was horrendously predictable, out of touch, and cringey. I will say that the concept was sweet, and the lore is surprisingly in-depth, but that's about where my praise ends. The main character, who loves to disparage other girls for the unforgivable crime of liking a celebrity, verges on not-like-other-girls, and she's a caricature of fandom. Pretty much all the worst parts of 2012 Tumblr wrapped into a person, and this book was published in 2015. Like many YA contemporaries, this book suffers from forced, awkward pop culture references that made it nigh unreadable. Save yourself some time and watch Starstruck.
6th Place: The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey
I quite enjoyed this one; I loved the worldbuilding with all its fairy tale references and rules, and the characters were dynamic and interesting. However, I wouldn't really classify it as a Cinderella retelling. The main character, Elena, is supposed to fit the role of Cinderella before she's recruited as a fairy-godmother-in-training, but that's about where the similarities end. Instead, I would say this is a fantasy romance inspired by fairy tale conventions. (Fair warning: there is some casual homophobia in this book—they mention many times that princesses marrying princesses is out of the question—which is why my personal rating for this book dropped from a 9 to a 7.)
5th Place: The Glass Queen by Gena Showalter
Now, this one is definitely a Cinderella retelling, and it will never let you forget it. In my opinion, a good retelling should be able to stand alone without the fairy tale references. However, this book can't go ten pages without reminding the reader that everything's about Cinderella! Remember it's supposed to be like Cinderella! I found this a decent romance, but it was drug out for way too long. I much prefer its companion, The Evil Queen. Also, this is NOT YA. It is NA romance, and there is a full-on sex scene; I don't know why it's always shelved and sorted as YA.
4th Place: Ash by Malinda Lo
This retelling is unique in that our Cinderella character, Ash, is bisexual. This is done through a love triangle, but I feel like it was handled well with a satisfying ending. I liked the subtle fantasy of the world where fairies do indeed exist but are unknown by the general populace. It was a little slow, especially for someone like me who reads mostly fantasy adventure, but it's also very short at just over 250 pages. I wouldn't really say there's a plot to this book; it is purely romance and character-focused, so if that's something you like, check this one out.
3rd Place: The Blood Spell by C. J. Redwine
I really enjoyed this book. It took the classic elements of Cinderella—the glass slipper, the stepfamily, the ball—and incorporated them into an already great high fantasy plot. Blue was a great protagonist with sympathetic and realistic motivations, and I loved her relationship with Kellan. It fits the trope of childhood-rivals-to-lovers, which I love when I can find it. The antagonist Dinah, was also very well-written; I had my moments when I felt for her, even if I hated her guts. My only complaint is that it gets a little slow in the middle, but otherwise, a great retelling.
2nd Place: Cinder by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles are arguably a YA classic, and I believe they've earned their place. The concept of a sci-fi retelling rather than fantasy or contemporary is rather unique and not done frequently. Still, it fits the premise of the story, and I loved how it was woven in. I still think the glass slipper being Cinder's actual foot is a stroke of genius. I know some people have issues with this series for its lacking or inaccurate representation, but for a book published in 2012, the height of straight, white YA, I don't think it's too bad. In terms of the book itself, I find the plot engaging and the characters easy to empathize with, and I think it fully deserves second place.
1st Place: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
If you've been following me for a while, you'll know there was truly no other choice. Ella Enchanted is the quintessential feminist Cinderella retelling with an amazing female lead, a charming love interest, and a funny, classic fantasy plot. This book was so essential to my childhood, and its message is important for young girls everywhere. Gail Carson Levine is a master of the fairy tale retelling, and it really shows here. I will never stop recommending this book, and I can't imagine putting anything above it.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more retelling rankings!