It’s our first Watcha Reading of the year! I hope you’re all excited to talk about books!
Tara: I’m reading Polaris Rising because Amanda said on the podcast that it’s amazing and, well, it’s definitely amazing.
I’m also listening to 30 Dates in 30 Days by Elle Spencer, ( A | BN | K | AB )which is a pretty cute f/f romance. It has a lawyer who wants to find love and is reluctantly talked into going on (you guessed it) 30 dates in 30 days, and ends up most attracted to the bartender, who’s declared she doesn’t do relationships. They’re currently in denial about their feelings and I’m looking forward to seeing how it resolves.
Catherine: I’ve just finished reading Artistic License by Elle Pierson (Lucy Parker’s first pseudonym). It’s sweet and funny and comforting, but I can really see how she has developed since then.
And I’m alternating fiction reading with reading my way through Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat, which is not so much a cookbook as a masterclass in the fundamentals of flavour. I’m really enjoying her writing style, which is lively and friendly and personal, as well as the little bits of food science and the experiments she encourages you to undertake to demonstrate her principles.A | BN | K | AB ) It’s the second thriller in a series and the first, The Lost Ones, was one of my favorite non-romance reads last year. I love a bitter, angry heroine. CW: assault backstory.
Maya: Ohhhhhhh I loved the Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat Netflix show and the book!! The illustrations in the book are so evocative of Nosrat’s relationship with food. Like you can feel the joy coming off the pages.
Catherine: The illustrations are gorgeous – so colourful and full of life! And I love her rationale for including illustrations rather than photos – that she doesn’t want people to look at a photo of a dish and think that this is the one true way to do it, she wants people to be inspired by food. It’s a lovely, lovely book.
Shana: This all makes me want to read Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. My hold on it finally came in last week but I’ve been waiting to pick it up.
Catherine: Do it do it do it!!! I mean, if you need more of perspective on this, I have So. Many. Cookbooks. I have recently acknowledged that I need to do a giant cull of my cookbooks, because I have two bookcases worth of cookbooks piled in and around one bookcase. And I still had to buy this one. (Which, on reflection, may be less of a recommendation of this book than an it is an admission of my raging addiction to cookbooks.) But still. It really is a unique and very useful book, and well worth trying to jam into an already overfull bookcase.
Carrie: I’m reading Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley. ( A | BN | K | AB ) It’s a biography of Austen and it’s wonderful. Planning to review it, but short version – it manages to be academic and chatty at the same time – quite a feat.
Claudia: My winter break brought about an embarrassment of riches and after some dithering I decided to go for a couple of books and novellas I had been “saving” forever: Band Sinister ( A | BN | K | G | AB ) and The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh, ( A | BN | K | AB ) book and novella by KJ Charles, and Your Wicked Heart, a novella by Meredith Duran ( A | BN | K | G | AB ). I often do that: Save that last unread book from a favorite author for, I don’t know, some type of special occasion. In the Duran novella’s case I think it has been at least four years. I’m also the person who keeps the “good” china in the cupboard, so there.
Ellen: I just read the Beast of Beswick and I did love the dialogue although I agreed with a lot of the points in Catherine’s review. Currently reading A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers which comes out soon and oooooh boy do I have THOUGHTS which will be in my review. Nonfiction-wise I am reading Hexing the Patriarchy by Ariel Gore ( A | BN | K | AB ) and I’m enjoying it a lot! I’m really interested in the idea of crafting my own rituals as a component of ritual practice and i LOVE this new strain of social justice witch books we are getting!
Romance-wise, I’m reading A Sweet Mess by Jayci Lee. ( A | BN | K | AB ) I just got to the point where things are about to take off, but I’d made several notes about how much of a dick dingle the hero is since chapter 2, and I’m only partway through chapter 5. Redemption arcs can be pretty catnippy for me, not to mention the heroine is great and there’s cake, so I’ll keep reading, but HE’S SUCH A SHIT DINGLE RIGHT NOW!!!!
Sarah: In a complete departure from most things I am reading Howl’s Moving Castle, which I have never read before.
Tara: Ooh yeah, I totally recommend that Vivek Shraya book. I’m still reading it because I’m just savouring her prose, even though she’s talking about some of the difficulties of living as a trans woman.
Oh damn, Howl’s Moving Castle is great!
Sneezy: AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! SARAH, I’M SO EXCITED FOR YOU!
And Tara, thank you again for recommending it!! I fucking LOVE IT!!
Catherine: Just popping up again to second all the squeeing about Howl’s Moving Castle! Such a joy to read!
Ellen: Also obsessed with book and movie versions of Howl’s Moving Castle!! Movie Howl is my personal #1 style icon.
Aarya: I’m in the early stages of two books: 1) Anna-Marie McLemore’s Dark and Deepest Red ( A | BN | K | AB ) and 2) Yaffa S. Santos’s A Taste of Sage. The former is a LGBTQIA+ retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Red Shoes; the writing is beautiful but I’m not yet invested in the characters. The latter’s premise is fun and I hope the execution carries though. I like the enemies-to-lovers vibe between the chef protagonists and the delicious descriptions of Dominican cuisine. It’s too early to tell how the reads will be, so fingers crossed for the best.
Maya: I DNF Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey. The trope of off-limits little sister + brother’s best friend is so extremely patriarchal at its core since the little sister is effectively stripped of all of her (sexual) agency and the way that it was handled in the book just really didn’t work for me. The final conflict at the end really ramped up how controlling that idea is and if it wasn’t an audiobook, it would have certainly been thrown at the wall. Which all bums me out because I am generally a fan of Tessa Bailey and enjoyed the set up of the book until the menfolk started actively controlling and restricting the lives of the women within their ambit.
To recover from all of that yuck, I’m reading Lowriders to the Center of the Earth by Cathy Camper and illustrated by Raul the Third. A friend of mine took me to our local library branch and just started pulling graphic novels off the shelves for me to read and this was one of them! It’s about three friends who own their own garage and one day their cat gets catnapped by the Aztec god of the Underworld. The art is wonderful and the dialogue has a good mix of English with Spanish thrown in (with translations in the margins), so it’s both accessible to folks that do not speak Spanish, but with tons of puns in both English and Spanish it still would be a joy for folks who just might want to see their native language (and Latinx characters) represented in a fun graphic novel!
Kiki: I’m reading Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson, ( A | BN | K | AB ) which, as you can imagine, is exactly as much fun as it sounds! In all seriousness it’s actually really affirming and has only made me cry on public transportation once!
I’m not sure what I’m reading next in terms of romance because I’ve been having a hard time really falling into anything and am slightly overwhelmed by just how much I have available right now (I got a bit one-click happy towards the end of the year). But book club is reading Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster and I received it in our book exchange so I might be headed in that direction.
Susan: Sarah, I’m so excited for you to be reading Howl’s Moving Castle! It’s my favourite Diana Wynne Jones book!
I’ve just started Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey, ( A | BN | K | AB ) which I think is librarians carrying books all across an sf future version of the Old West. It’s already made me tear up on the tram because the bigotry of her hometown has torn the protagonist up inside, but it’s good so far! Hopefully it’s going to be unpacking queer tragedy as a narrative, but as a fair warning there is homophobia, transphobia, and queer tragedy in backstory.
I’m also reading RePlay by Saki Tsukihara, about two best friends who quit baseball to focus on their college entrance exams and have to work out what their relationship is going to be without sports to hold them together. So far it’s pretty cute, and there’s pining, which is always what I’m after!
Which books have you finished so far?
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