January 2022 TBR: Buffy-themed Readathon

Hi! I’d say I’m back but let’s be real, I make no promises. I want to write a blog post today, so that’s what I’m doing. If writing blog posts keeps being a thing I want to do, maybe (hopefully) you’ll see more of these in the near future.

This month, I decided I want to participate in the PopCulture Readathon. It is running for the entire month, and this round the theme is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

There are 27 challenges. You can see them in the themed bingo boards (below) or in the Storygraph reading challenge. I’m planning to use eleven books to hit them all (fingers so very crossed). For some of the books, I’m kind of guessing that they’ll fit the prompt, but the prompts are broad enough that I’m pretty hopeful about that.

For anyone curious, Storygraph is a website and app that provides an alternative to the Amazon-owned Goodreads. I started using it towards the end of 2021 and have decided to use it exclusively in 2022. Feel free to come follow me or be my friend! My username is seeowlread.

(This isn’t sponsored or anything. I just really like Storygraph and really don’t like Amazon.)

Anyway, onto the challenges!

The books I plan to read for these challenges are as follows:

  • Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
    • I first read Raybearer… last year, I think? Storygraph says yes. I remember I loved reading it and felt super impatient for the sequel, but I’ve had a lot of trouble holding onto anticipation lately so when Redemptor came out I sort of just… didn’t care. In rereading Raybearer I’m hoping to regain the excitement I felt after finishing it last time and then I’ll finally get to the sequel.
      This book is YA high fantasy. The main character, Tarisai, was raised in isolation and told she would eventually become part of the Crown Prince’s inner council and ultimately murder him. When she finally meets the Crown Prince and begins making connections of her own, the simple mission she was raised for becomes a lot more complicated. There’s magic and found family and a whole bunch of other things I love in fantasy.
    • Challenges
      • “Hey, I’ve died twice.”: book with a hard-to-kill character
      • “In every generation…”: the Chosen One trope
      • Xander: book with a loyal best friend
        • (I have some feelings about Xander’s prompt being about loyal best friends because I think he treated Buffy pretty horribly quite a few times, but that’s a whole other blog post worth of thoughts.)
  • Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton
    • This will be another reread for me. I consider Strange Grace to be on my longlist of favorite books, but I’ve only read it once back in 2018. I’ve wanted to reread it periodically since then and just never did, so I’ve decided now’s the time.
      This book is YA fantasy. I’ve been told it’s similar to the movie The Village. Our main characters live in a prosperous town that borders a forest. They sacrifice their best boy to the forest every seven years to maintain that prosperity. It’s only been three years, though, and the forest is demanding a new sacrifice. I loved this book for its magic, its exploration of gender, and its polyamorous rep in YA. I hope all these hold up in my reread.
    • Challenges
      • Angel: book with a brooding main character
      • “If the apocalypse comes, beep me.”: a dystopian novel
      • Spike: book with a loveable bad boy
  • Clap Back by Nalo Hopkinson
    • This novella is part of a Kindle/Audible collection of adult sci-fi novellas written by Black authors. I know nothing about it, but I’ve enjoyed previous sci-fi novellas Amazon has published so I’m happy to give this one a go.
    • Challenges:
      • Buffy: a kick-ass main character
      • Kendra: book by a Caribbean author
  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
    • This high fantasy adult romance is also a reread as well as one of my favorite books of all time. Something I’m super drawn to in fiction is depictions of recovery from trauma, and that’s something I feel this book does well. It’s the second book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, and to be honest I’ll likely read the next one as well (A Court of Wings and Ruin).
    • Challenges
      • Faith: character with a redemption arc
      • Cordelia: book with major character growth
      • Riley: book with a jilted lover
  • Fair Game by Patricia Briggs
    • This adult urban fantasy is the last reread in my readathon TBR. It’s the third book in the Alpha and Omega series, which is a spinoff of the Mercy Thompson series. The Mercy-verse is one of my favorite series and I periodically reread chunks of it. This particular installment involves two werewolves working with the FBI to find a serial killer.
    • Challenges
      • Giles: father figure character
      • Movie Buffy: book in a spinoff series
      • Joyce: mother figure character
      • Oz: shifter romance
      • The Hellmouth: paranormal/urban fantasy
  • Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
    • I’ve wanted to read Iron Widow since it came out, so I wanted to prioritize it this month. It’s a YA fantasy with polyamorous rep. I don’t know much more about it (a quick look at the summary comps it to A Handmaid’s Tale and Pacific Rim), but the cover is gorgeous and I’m excited for more polyam rep in YA. Also, I don’t feel like I need to know more about it; I hear “YA fantasy with polyamorous rep” and I’m pretty confident I’ll enjoy it.
    • Challenge
      • The Scooby Gang: book with a crew of characters
  • House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas
    • I haven’t started the Crescent City series yet, in part because the audiobook is Audible Only and I still read pretty exclusively via audiobooks. One of my friends just reread this in preparation for the next one coming out and she’s got me hyped, though, so I think I’m going to cave and buy it this month. Once again, I know very little about it. It’s an adult urban fantasy romance by an author I’ve enjoyed in the past, and that’s all I need to know to at least try it.
    • Challenges
      • Dawn: key on the cover or in the title
      • The Mayer: book with a reptile on the cover
  • When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
    • The first book on this list that isn’t SFF! (What can I say, I’m in a mood.) This is another one I’ve wanted to read since it came out, and January just feels like a good month to start working on those. Alyssa Cole has written two of my favorite books of all time (A Duke by Default and Can’t Escape Love), so I’m very excited to try a thriller by her. I know this is an adult book and features gentrification and… that’s about it. Look, I don’t retain details well, just that I want to read it.
    • Challenges
      • Anya: book with a revenge plot
      • Dark Willow: book with a power-hungry character
      • Angelus: psychological thriller
  • A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair
    • This is one of the few books that wasn’t already on my TBR and I discovered because of this readathon. That said, I’m excited to be reading it. It’s an adult romance between Persephone and Hades, which sounds like a lot of fun.
    • Challenge
      • Glory: book featuring a goddess
  • A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
    • This is a YA urban fantasy. It’s been out for a while and I’ve checked it out a few times but never gotten around to it. The main character is a Black siren, but she has to keep her siren powers hidden. Then there’s a murder trial involving sirens that garners national attention and things start to feel even less safe in her life. If I’m remembering/understanding correctly, this book is an exploration of racism in the United States through a fantasy lens. I’m worried it’s going to be heavier than I’ve felt like reading lately, but I also think it’s about time I at least try it.
    • Challenges
      • Principal Snyder: book set in high school
      • She-Mantis: book featuring sirens

The last two challenges are Willow+Tara: book with sapphic rep and Drusilla: a vampire book. I really want to read The Coldest Touch by Isabel Sterling for those. I hadn’t heard of it until a recent BookTube video from Cece (ProblemsofaBookNerd) and she sold me on it. It’s a YA urban fantasy that involves a vampire tutoring a psychic on how to be paranormal… or something like that. And then there’s a murder mystery except the murder hasn’t actually happened yet and there’s queer girls so there’s a lot to be excited about. The downside is that I’m having some trouble getting access to it. I have a hold on my library’s e-audiobook, but the wait time is something like two months. I’m hoping maybe a couple folks will read and return it quickly, but I also realize that’s unlikely so if we get towards the end of the month and my hold still hasn’t come up I’ll either buy it or I’ll find something else for these prompts. (Something other than Carmilla, in case anyone was considering suggesting it. While that’s a particularly astute suggestion and fills both prompts, I don’t particularly enjoy the original or the adaptation of the webseries, even if I love the webseries itself.)

There’s some other books I may read this month outside the above list. These are books I have checked out from the library and books I’ve been thinking about reading that didn’t fit into any of the Buffy readathon challenges. I am participating in a year-long readathon (Buzzwordathon), and some of these books do fit prompts for that. I’m doing Buzzwordathon in my own way, so I’ll do a whole separate post for that later.

My maybe books for the month are:

  • Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko
    • This is the sequel to Raybearer. Raybearer will be a reread for me, and in case I want to dive into Redemptor immediately I’ve checked out the audiobook.
  • Those Who Wait by Haley Cass
    • This is a queer ladies romance my wife has checked out from the library that I may read before it returns. The only thing I know about it is that it’s a very long romance book (21 hours!) so I may or may not get to it this month. It will likely depend on my need for fluff.
  • How Y’all Doing? by Leslie Jordan
    • This is the type of nonfiction I tend to like: it’s relatively short (~4 hours), it’s narrated by the author, it’s funny, and it’s gay. It’s a collection of the author’s experiences and it seems like a good fluffy read.
    • Buzzwordathon challenge: “all” in the title
  • Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski
    • This is the other type of nonfiction I tend to enjoy: educational on a topic I find interesting. I’ve experienced chronic pelvic pain throughout my life, and in the last year I’ve taking a lot of steps towards treating it. My physical therapist recommended this book as one way to help me understand, accept, and reclaim my body, and I’m more than willing to give it a try.
    • Buzzwordathon challenge: pronoun in the title
  • Wisdom From a Humble Jellyfish by Rani Shah
    • Hey look! It’s a short (~2 hours) nonfiction offering information about topics I’m interested in (self-care and marine biology). Again, this seems like it will be a really great, feel-good read I can listen to while out walking the dogs. If I don’t get to it this month I’ll probably read it soon thereafter.
    • Buzzwordathon challenge: a creature in the title

Alright! There’s my TBR for this month (a lot wordier than I expected, but I’ll take it!). If you want to chat about it feel free to comment below or come poke me on social media.

Author: SeeOwlRead

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

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