Gross and Unlikeable (and also a book about witchcraft)

About a million years ago (by which I mean 2-3 years ago) I bought a copy of Black Candies’ Gross and Unlikeable, an anthology of short horror stories by women.  I made it part of my AWP haul that year a) because my friend/MFA cohort member Kayla Miller is a contributor, and b) because I like horror in general. Despite these two incentives to dive in, it took me a long time to read this book—and once I finally did start, it took me a long time to finish as well. I almost always find short story collections to be hit or miss, but unfortunately I found this one to be mostly miss—though there were a few hits, to be sure!  Continue reading


The Incendiaries

For once in my life I wanted to read THE “IT” BOOK OF THE YEAR at the same time everyone else was reading THE “IT” BOOK OF THE YEAR, so I went to see R.O. Kwon read at Women and Children First and picked up a copy of her debut novel The Incendiaries. And I can understand why it has reached THE “IT” BOOK OF THE YEAR status! There’s not as much plot as you’d expect, but it gives readers a lot to think about—so much, in fact, that I had to read it twice in a row. It’s a good thing I did—somehow my bookmark got jostled and I missed two chapters the first time around. Continue reading

Two books about young women and loss

Two exciting things have happened in my life lately:

  1. I got a literary agent!
  2. I got a Chicago Public Library card!

Both things have increased my to-be-read pile. My wonderful agent sent me a stack of books from authors she represents, and while I figured the library card would provide me with a slow-and-steady stream of digital copies of stuff I’ve been meaning to read, it instead decided to send me two of my holds at the same time. I’ve been busy!

This post covers one book from each source: The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair by Amy Makechnie (agent) and The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (library). Continue reading

The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic

Back in June I grabbed a copy of The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic at Printers Row Lit Fest—partially because I love Jamila Woods, one of the editors of the anthology, and partially because the list of poets in the TOC was on fire: Eve L. Ewing, Safia Elhillo, Noname, Morgan Parker, and more. I read a few poems every night before bed, until I finished it last weekend.  Continue reading

Two Books that Reimagine the Future and the Past

How did I spend my weekend, you ask? On Saturday I sprawled on the couch and read the majority of Naomi Alderman’s novel The Power (which I’d started earlier in the week), and on Sunday I sprawled on the couch and read the entirety of Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation.

It was glorious.

Though the novels are fairly different in terms of style and genre, they’re similar in their vivid reimaginings of human life in the past and in the future. Continue reading

Faillir être flingué

Every once in a while I like to read a book in French to keep up my skills—but this one was quite a slog! It’s never easy reading a language in which you aren’t perfectly fluent, but Faillir être flingué was especially difficult because it’s an American Western. This is, of course, what intrigued me in the first place—a Western written by a French woman—but there was also a lot of special terminology related to the genre. Sure, I know what “rifles” and “shamans” are, but those aren’t words you normally learn in French class. (“Fusils” and “chamans,” for the record.) I had to rely heavily on my French-English dictionary.  Continue reading

Night at the Fiestas

I started reading Kirstin Valdez Quade’s Night at the Fiestas a few years ago, when she came to my MFA program at UNLV for the Emerging Writers Series. But I set it down after the first few stories, simply because grad school doesn’t allow much time for recreational reading. Still, she gave one of the most useful craft talks I’ve ever attended, so I knew I had to pick her book back up at some point. The women-authors-only book club I currently attend gave me the perfect opportunity. Continue reading