a half-year gone
welcome to the back half of 2023!
I know it’s cliche to ask “where has the time gone” but… where has the time gone? Ten minutes ago it was March, and I was bemoaning that it would never be summer again. Now it’s nearly July and I have the AC on eco-saver mode every waking minute that I’m home.
Instead of lamenting the time that’s passed, I’d like to highlight a few favorites from the year so far and list a few things that Im’ looking forward to in the latter half of 2023. I hope you’ll share yours in the comments or as replies to the email!
Favorite Reads So Far
I’ve read exactly 26 books so far this year, give or take a KU romance that I may have forgotten, and there have been some real standouts. Finishing Naomi Novik’s Scholomance trilogy ranks high on the list of this year’s good literary times. I wrote about the trilogy back in January (again, incomprehensible that it’s July already). I find myself coming back to the themes of the series often—how much is safety worth? What would you sacrifice to achieve it, The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas-style? Would it be absolutely bitchin’ to kill a monster with your bare hands? (Yes! Yes it would!) Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, the Flesh, and LA was also a great read—if you haven’t discovered the joys of Eve Babitz yet, do yourself a favor. (I Used To Be Charming is a great place to start.) I have to say that besides Avid Reader, which I wrote about last week, my favorite read of the first half of 2023 is also my current read: Emily Tesh’s scifi masterwork Some Desperate Glory. I read nearly 250 pages of it one go, it’s that tightly knit and fast-paced. The protagonist, Kyr, is a genetically engineered daughter of Gaea, which is the last human settlement in the universe (or is it?) The deeply militaristic residents of Gaea have one goal: exact revenge for Earth’s destruction. Kyr is a very unpleasant person: self-righteous, jingoistic, possessed of manic blind faith that Gaea’s leaders (including her uncle) are waging a righteous war. Of course her illusions begin to unravel, of course she learns that there is more to be dreamt of etc. etc. Tesh is a wizard, and the book is SO GOOD. I’ve actually put it aside to finish after my coffee shop shift tomorrow, because I know there won’t be any interruptions and I can just finish it in one fell swoop.
Favorite TV Shows
Beyond Tale of the Nine-Tailed 1938, which I wrote about earlier in the month, it’s been a great year for K-drama viewing. I especially enjoyed Crash Course in Romance, about a celebrity math tutor (yes, you read that correctly) and the banchan shop owner who comes to love him. Another favorite was yet another Lee Dongwook joint: Bad and Crazy, where he plays a corrupt cop whose guilty conscience manifests itself in the form of an anarchic, violent figure who forces him—often at gunpoint—to do the right thing. That this figure is played by Squid Game’s Wi Ha-Joon and is a figment of his imagination just makes it even funnier. My sister and I also watched all nine seasons of the gentle New Zealand mystery show Brokenwood, about a bucolic town where everyone is either a vintner, farmer, or pubkeeper (and somehow there are like four murders per episode.) There are some dramas I started and haven’t continued with but plan to, including Itaewon Class and the C-drama Love Between Fairy and Devil.
The final two volumes of the mammoth English translation of Heaven Official’s Blessing come out later this year, and I’m looking forward to snagging them so I can finally reread the ones I already have and remind myself of what the hell happened. Likewise the fourth book in the Locked Tomb series, Alecto the Ninth. I’m also looking forward to S.L. Huang’s xianxia epic The Water Outlaws, as well as He Who Drowned The World by Shelley Parker-Chan, her sequel to She Who Became the Sun.
Another one that has been a long time coming: Bethany Jacobs’ debut These Burning Stars, a gay space heist that I have been dying to read ever since Bridget described the plot to me. Also coming out later this year is Let the Dead Bury the Dead by Allison Epstein, who wrote the marvelous A Tip for the Hangman. Let the Dead Bury the Dead is an alternate history of Russia after Napoleon’s failed invasion, and looks moody and intriguing—can’t wait to check it out.
… And Beyond
I’m going to see Barbie and Oppenheimer in July—on the same weekend, not the same day. Dune 2 comes out this year, as does a new series of Foundation. I’m looking forward to the new Witcher that starts streaming today, as well.
Beyond books, tv, and movies, I think I’m most excited about writing. I’m making good progress on the second romance novel, and finishing up revisions on the fantasy novel I’ve been working on for what feels like all of time. I’d love to get that queried sometime in this century. It’s hard to resist the siren song of this time of year—second only to September in the “itch to buy a new planner” department. This afternoon some friends are going to come over and we are going to be extremely touchy-feely about our goals and aspirations for the future. I hope you can take some time for yourselves to do the same as we move into a new month!
WHAT I’M READING
I finished Witch King and pals, I didn’t like it. I didn’t dislike it or hate it—it just really didn’t do anything for me. There was a lot of sizzle but very little steak, and the whole thing felt like setup for a story I might care about—but I don’t know if I’ll read it when it comes around. Instead I started Some Desperate Glory, as I pointed out above, and Up In the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell, for near-perfect train reading.
My first novel, Marrying In, is available for purchase on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, and is coming soon to iBooks. If you’ve read it, consider leaving a review—that helps me and the book in the long run!
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