First March 2019 Weekly Update

It’s been a weird month so far. The first two books in this post I actually finished on February 28th, but after I’d put up my update. Then I didn’t finish anything until March 10th. It’s been a slow start.

Previously I was putting these up on Wednesday because 1) that’s the day everyone else does their WWW Wednesday posts and 2) I have a time block on Wednesday evenings that I can dedicate to writing updates. However, considering my time block is pretty late on Wednesday and I can’t always finish the post then, it makes sense to plan for my updates to go up on Thursdays. So that’s the plan, at least for a while.

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’m temporarily pausing in Once and Future because I want to love it, I know I will, but damn is visual reading kicking my ass and I don’t want this reading experience to be tainted by my weird slumpy mood. I’m just at the beginning of The Last 8 by Laura Pohl… hopefully I’ll finish that this month. 🤞🏻

What have I finished reading since my last update?

*Books I read as ARC copies that I received at ALA.

*Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars. REP: One narrator is Mexican American and bisexual and the other is gay and it’s implied he has anxiety/depression. A prominent side character is also bi and in my headcanon she is aro. I also got aroace vibes from another side character, but I need to reread before I really solidify my headcanon. Other characters are POC, trans, and I’m pretty sure I remember a hijabi character but I didn’t write it down so cannot confirm 100%. CW: panic attacks, depression spirals, loss of a parent, homophobia from strangers and family, “but her emails”, constant threat of being outed and that having repercussions because people suck. This story really is adorable. It is also definitely not YA; these characters are all in their twenties and dealing with related issues (college, careers, etc.). For anyone wondering about the level of steam, I’d say it’s mature but not explicit (based on Ao3’s rating system). The fear and need to stay closeted were a little rough for me, and there were times I sort of wanted to bop Henry or Alex on the head, but I highly recommend this to folks looking for a romantic dramedy.

His Cocky Valet by Cole McCade. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3.5 stars. REP: One narrator is gay and the other is British American and attracted to men, also possibly bi/pan and maybe demi (I have so many headcanons in this post). CW: ill parent, consensual codependent dom/sub dynamics; its not my kink but overall I thought it was well done, though I would have also liked them to talk about boundaries a bit more. This is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin: a kinky m/m romance. I didn’t know this particular subkink existed within dom/sub and at first that threw me because it really didn’t go how I was expecting, but everything is consensual and at a couple different points there is kink negotiation, which was nice.

*The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars. REP: One narrator is bi. Another is missing a hand. An important secondary character is also bi and I headcanon another as aro. There are also other queer characters. CW: body horror, grief, death of family member; one character has lost an arm and we see that occur in flashbacks. As an able-bodied person I cannot speak to the disabled rep but I was a little uncomfortable with how much focus in this character’s narration was on her lost arm. Also maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention but this story seemed really white. Those last two are what pushed this to a 4 instead of a 4.5 for me. Otherwise I loved the story. It really is a mashup of The Raven Boys and Stranger Things; it also feels like a contemporary version of Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton, which I absolutely loved.

The Afterward by E. K. Johnston. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4.5 stars. REP: One narrator is bisexual and a WOC, and the other is attracted exclusively to women. Rep in secondary characters includes disability/chronic illness, aroace spec, and lots more POC. CW: A side character experiences debilitating injury; there is violence you would expect from a fantasy adventure (lots of swords and axes). A huge plus this book had going for it is when they describe bisexuality, they describe it as attraction to all genders. Unfortunately, a lot of the other language is binary (men and women, both genders, etc.) which I think I noticed so much because at one point they do make the effort to get it right. I listened to the audiobook and I had a small hang up with how some of the narration was done; there’s two POVs and two timelines, and it sounded to me like there’s a narrator who does both POVs in the Before and another who does both POVs in the After, but then at the end it credits one person for doing one narrator and another person for the other, so now I don’t even know what I heard. With all of that being said, I really loved reading this book. It felt inclusive and welcoming. There was a lot of focus on character development, especially in the Before, which I absolutely loved. If you like fantasy adventures, you should definitely check this out.

A small note about my headcanons: None of these are hills I would die on and they won’t be until I reread, which I likely will for both ARCs.

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

Whatever I feel in the moment. In March I’m going to try very hard to not push or prioritize any reads in the hopes that I’ll stop feeling the lack of motivation I’ve had lately. That probably means I won’t be using this section much unless I’m neck-deep in something that I plan to finish ASAP.

… actually, though, there is something I should put here this week. I organize a book club with other grad students and post docs we know, and this month we’re reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I haven’t started it yet and I only have a week left on my audiobook from the library, so by this time next week I really hope I’ve finished that. ^_^

Alright, March, let’s do this.

Have you read any of these? Any thoughts on what I should read soon? Let me know in the comments!

Author: SeeOwlRead

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

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