Contemporary-A-Thon Wrap-up

NOTE: This was supposed to come out on Wednesday the 20th, and the majority of it was written before then. Some of these things aren’t accurate as of the 25th. ^_^

I’m going to do my weekly update a little differently this week. I haven’t finished anything since ContemporaryAThon ended on Sunday, so my “Read” section will be devoted entirely to the challenges and books I read for that.

The template I’m using for these updates is WWW Wednesday, hosted by Taking on a World of Words and recommended to me by Destiny at Howling Libraries.

What am I currently reading?

I tried really hard to read Soft on Soft by Em Ali, but it’s not working for me. I’m not officially DNFing it yet because I want to give it one more try. I’m about 45% of the way through it; I think I’ll give it one more chapter, and if it doesn’t grab me in some way I’m calling it.

I’m also still reading Empire of Light by Alex Harrow. I’m absolutely loving it so far, which is honestly kind of a relief. I was a tiny bit worried that I’d hyped it to myself so much that I would be let down. That’s not the case and at about halfway through it’s shaping up to be a five-star read. If you’re interested in getting your hands on a copy, you can preorder it here (ebook) or here (paperback). You can also read the first chapter for free or sign up for preorder swag on Alex’s website.

(They aren’t paying or even actively encouraging me to promote their book. I just love them and this story a lot. Please consider preordering. ^_^)

Finally, I’m about 9% into the audiobook for Red Planet by Kim Stanley Robinson. I’m reading this for a book club I run at work. It’s going… slowly. I’m going to leave it at that for now.

What have I finished reading since my last update?

I would like to start by saying I kicked ContemporaryAThon’s butt. I went into it with the vague goal to read a book or two that would collectively meet all seven challenges. The excitement of my friends (mostly Madalyn) ended up inspiring me and I read seven books, one for each challenge. *self high-five* It felt really good, which was a relief in a time that hasn’t been feeling great. Also, I ended up finishing four things on one of the days. Admittedly, it was two novellas, a graphic novel, and the last five minutes of a book, but damn it still made me feel really warm and fuzzy.

Two of the books I mentioned last week, so I’ll list them briefly this week and then get into the other five.

  • Emotional/hard-hitting read: To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin
  • Most recently acquired book: A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert
  • Diverse cast: The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars. This was a rough read at parts (definitely check the CWs!). The whole concept is that Rukhsana’s parents find out that she’s a lesbian and their response is to try isolating her from her life and pushing her into an arranged marriage with a man. There were also a lot of littler things. There was a lot of focus on Rukhsana’s girlfriend and how hurt she was by everything from Rukhsana staying closeted to her abrupt isolation. Not saying that her feelings weren’t also valid, but there was so much time put into them that it made her feel self-centered and uncaring. Even though the romance really didn’t work for me, the rest of the story really did, including Rukhsana calling her friends out for their microagressions about her faith/heritage/home life. REP: main character is Bengali American, Muslim, and a lesbian. CW: sexism, especially from parents/family, xenophobia, micro-aggressions related to xenophobia, pressure to come out before you’re safe/ready, homophobia, description of secondary characters’ spousal and parental sexual abuse, murder of a secondary character.
  • Blurple on the cover: Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars. This isn’t my favorite installment in the Reluctant Royals series; that honor goes to A Duke By Default. It was still a five star read. Likotsi is freaking smooth and watching her court Fab was amazing. It was also fun filling in gaps from the first book with flashbacks and I’m excited to see her next novella do the same thing. REP: MC is African and a lesbian. LI is Hatian American and bi.
  • Meant to read in 2018: Marriage of Unconvenience by Chelsea M. Cameron. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3.5 stars. This is my third Chelsea M. Cameron book, and while I didn’t love it as much as Chord it was still cute and fluffy. It read a lot like fanfiction following the fake-dating trope. The story wasn’t too deep or complex and the writing wasn’t amazing, but both made for an enjoyable afternoon. REP: MC is exclusively into women, LI is still figuring things out, including if she wants to use labels.
  • Picture on the spine: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4.5 stars. I read this as an ARC I got at ALA. I also really loved it. It was a really quick read. I didn’t particularly like Freddy but I loved her journey and the journey a lot of the side characters went on. I also feel like this will be relatable af to a lot of young readers and can hopefully help show what an unhealthy relationship could look like. REP: MC is Chinese American and queer. CW: cheating, toxic relationship, discussions of people “needing” to explicitly come out for the sake of the community.
  • Non-traditional format: Coffee Boy by Austin Chant. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars. I read this as an ebook on my phone. If you’re ever looking for a fluffy story with a gay trans man and some steamy sex scenes you should absolutely pick this up. The writing was amazing and it’s convinced me I need to read everything else Austin Chant has written and will write. REP: MC is a trans gay guy. LI is bi. CW: age difference and power imbalance in a relationship, dealing with ignorance towards/regarding trans people and micro-aggressions in daily life.

What do I plan to read between now and my next update?

My attention span is doing a thing lately. It’s a thing where my anxiety/depression get worse so my attention span gives up. It’s meant I have trouble reading visually for more than a few minutes at a time. It’s also made it really difficult to choose a new audiobook to listen to. My current goal is just to avoid a slump, which means I’m going to try reading/listening to things that make me happy in the moment. Cue the Avengers podfics.

So, this has been a week of highs and lows for me. I’m really proud of myself for fulfilling all the ContemporaryAThon challenges and I loved a lot of the reads, but otherwise mental health has made reading a little rough for me lately. If you have any suggestions for dealing with mental health and potential slumps, I’d love to hear them.

Have you read any of these? Did you participate in ContemporaryAThon? Let me know in the comments!

Author: SeeOwlRead

They/She. I’m a queer reviewer and librarian.

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