January Wrap-Up & February Reading Plans

I’m done with college, yaaaay!

I validated all the credits I needed (and more) and with good grades (despite playing the Sims and binging TV shows during finals week) so, I’m now free! Well, kind of. I still need to pass my internship defense next September for the internship that I will be starting in March but I will think about that later. At least, I’m done with zoom lectures! πŸ˜€

I read quite a bit in January: 8 novels, 2 novellas and 6 short fiction magazine issues. I gave up on one book, Tau Zero by Poul Anderson, but apart from this one I enjoyed everything I read. My average rating this month is 4 stars which is higher than usual!

BOOKS READ

Novels & Novellas

I read a bit of everything in January with a mix of science-fiction, fantasy, horror and literary fiction. I also read four titles featured in my list of books to read in 2021, I’m off to a good start!

  • State Tectonics by Malka Older β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Doors of Sleep by Tim Pratt β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜… 1/2
  • When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Kim Jiyoung, born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Winter’s Orbit by Evelina Maxwell β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Luster by Raven Leilani β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Short Fiction Magazines

I am subscribed to four short fiction magazines: Interzone, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld and Apex. I’m always behind on reading issues as they come out so this year, I’m going to do my best to catch-up and read a lot of backlist issues.

I read 38 short stories in January and I will review my favorite stories in an upcoming Short Fiction Sunday post!

  • Interzone #280 edited by Andy Cox β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Apex Magazine #118 edited by Jason Sizemore β˜…β˜…β˜… 1/2
  • Lightspeed Magazine #121 edited by John Joseph Adams β˜…β˜…β˜… 1/2
  • Clarkesworld #166 edited by Neil Clarke β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Interzone #281 edited by Andy Cox β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • Fiyah Magazine issue 1: Rebirth edited by Justina Ireland & Troy L. Wiggins β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

FAVORITE BOOKS OF January

I read a lot of very good books this month but the highlight of January for me was the Singing Hills Cycle, a duology of fantasy novellas by Nghi Vo. I’m going to review The Empress of Salt and Fortune and When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain so, I am not going to gush about them too much now but, I loved them both!

Each novella in this series is gorgeouslywritten, imaginative and beautiful. I don’t know how Vo managed to pack so many ideas in so few pages but I had a great time with both stories. I hope she will revisit this world in the future but, even if she doesn’t, I just want to read everything she is going to write!

TV SHOWS

I didn’t have the best time with TV shows this month so this is going to be shorter than usual.

I finished watching the second season of Star Trek TOS, I have already talked about my thoughts and feelings about this season but the short version is that I had a good time with this second season though I won’t watch the third one immediately!

I also watched the second season of You, a Netflix series about a stalker trying to find the love of his life. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first season because the main actress couldn’t act for shit and I was hesitant to watch the second one. However, one of my friends told me it was better than the first and she was right! I loved it and I watched it in three days. πŸ˜‚ I still can’t believe I was rooting for the stalker during the entire time but I definitely was! Victoria Pedretti, the actress who plays the main female character in this season, is awesome! She definitely knows how to act which is a very good change compared to Elizabeth Lail.

On a completely different note, I watched 13 episodes of True Beauty, a K-drama about a teenage girl who is bullied in high school because of the way she looks. This drama is inspired by the webtoon of the same name and while I like the webtoon, the drama is so much better! The actors are amazing, the pacing and the plot are also way better. It’s a heartwarming show even if it deals with harder topics such as defying social expectations, bullying and suicide. Since I only have three episodes left to watch, I am hopeful the writers are not going to mess it up!

I also started Tale of the Nine Tailed, another K-drama following a gumiho (a nine tailed fox) who is waiting for the reincarnation of the love of his life that he may or may not have murdered centuries ago to protect the world. I have watched 7 episodes but I am going to give up on this one. The actors and the OST are amazing but the story is going in a direction that isn’t working for me and it’s to melodramatic.

As for what I am currently watching, I have just started The Untamed, a Chinese wuxia series about two men fighting off monsters and evil spirits. It’s 50 episodes long so I will probably finish this one in March or April… πŸ˜‚ Finally, I’m two episodes into Solar Opposites, an animated sitcom produced by one of the co-creators of Rick & Morty. I really like Rick & Morty so I’m curious about this one. It follows aliens who crashed on Earth and they are not huge fans of humans. The episodes I watched were funny but it’s not on the level of Rick & Morty.

POST RECAP

I have posted 15 posts in January and half of them had something to do with Vintage Science Fiction Month. I’m happy with the number of reviews I posted but, my favorite post this month was my discussion post about the SF Canon. I can’t believe it took me 5 years to post a discussion post on my blog, I know it’s because I’m always afraid that 1) no one is going to give a damn about my opinion and 2) that I am just going to ramble and say nothing but, I’m happy with how the post turned out and reading the comments on this post was great! πŸ˜€

February READING PLANS

February is Black History Month so I would like to read more books by black authors this month. Of course, it’s important to read stories by black voices all year round but in February I really want to focus on that!

My TBR is quite ambitious but a lot of the books I want to read are on the shorter side and there are a number of novellas and novelettes on the list. If I don’t read every story mentioned, it’s okay but still, I want to try my best to read as many of them as possible! πŸ˜€

How was your month of January? Any plans for February?

31 thoughts on “January Wrap-Up & February Reading Plans

    1. I usually read (and post) a lot less during finals but this semester was different because I had a lot of group projects that were due in December and they counted for the majority of my grade. All my group projects went very well even if they were time-consuming but it meant that my final exams were a bit of a formality! πŸ™‚
      (And I also just needed to validate 10 ECTS to graduate which is very little. I took a lot of extra classes at the beginning of my graduate program to be able to go to South Korea so I had basically no pressure at all, which is a nice change for once!!)

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Well done, Maryam! That is a wonderful achievement. And you have also been reading and reviewing books for fun. Very impressive. If you had to choose only one of the magazines you subscribe to, which one would you choose? I’m always tempted to buy a monthly short-story magazine, but I wonder which one to go for. I’ve read issues of Locus, Lightspeed, Uncanny, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies before. But just one issue every now and then. I could try rotating them, I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! πŸ˜€
      It’s hard to choose one magazine because I like them all for different reasons: the two magazines I have been reading the longest are Interzone and Clarkesworld but I think Apex is my favorite because it offers a variety of stories from a lot of diverse voices. Clarkesworld is a bit hit and miss but I like their selection of translated stories (though I don’t care for their non-fiction pieces). Interzone used to be my favorite but now it’s not working as well for me, the stories tend to be very sad and depressing and, especially now, it’s not always the stories I want to read. I don’t know if I will renew my subscription in 2021 or not (but I love their book reviews!)
      As for Lightspeed, I haven’t been reading long enough to have a solid opinion about it, I like that it has both science fiction and fantasy stories and I like their reviews as well but I have to read a few more issues to have a feel for the editorial style.
      I would like to suscribe to other magazines like Nightmare, Fiyah and Beneath the Ceaseless Skies but I know it would be impossible to keep up, I just pick up individual isses here and there if I want to read them (or try other magazines). I like rotating them because each magazine has something different to offer! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ok, that’s good to know. Thanks for your detailed answer πŸ™‚ I’m not familiar with Apex so I’ll have a look online. I saw that Interzone has recently changed publisher, so it will be interesting to see how the next few issues turn out.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations on finishing college, and with outstanding grades! Well done indeed!
    And you also managed to read and watch quite a LOT! πŸ™‚
    Like you, I was a little wary about starting the second season of YOU – although my main reason was that I found the whole concept of the stalker quite unsettling, but since you found it was even better than the first, I will give it a peek…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations Maryam! πŸ₯³πŸ₯³πŸ₯³
    And wow, so many great books both read and to read! On Fragile Waves has been on my radar since I read Yu’s short story about bees and wasps – I’m keen to read more by her. πŸ˜ƒ

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations! You seem to have had a good January. πŸ™‚
    But on another note — you watch Asian Dramas! Yay, I’ve watched several over the past decade. They’re ever reliable sources of entertainment, and now they’re on Netflix, so more’s the fun. True Beauty is great. I thought the premise was unweildy, but the actors and their antics are just too cute.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks!! πŸ˜€
      Yes I do! I watch a ton of k-dramas and I’m slowly trying out Chinese dramas as well (even if I have a preference for K-dramas because they tend to be way shorter and easier to binge watch πŸ˜‚).
      True Beauty is great! The cast is really good and it’s very fun to watch, I have the last two episodes left to watch and I’m going to be very sad to be done with it. What are some of your favorite Asian Dramas? πŸ™‚

      Like

      1. Oh, this can be a never-ending list! But I’m not one to stop raving over Kdramas (and sometimes over Cdramas):

        Kdramas:
        Stranger 1 & 2, Flower of Evil, Signal, I hear your voice — if you like mysteries/ courtroom stuff
        Boys over Flowers, Gangnam Beauty — if you like school dramas like True Beauty
        Mr. Queen, Moon embracing the Sun, Tale of Nokdu — if you like historicals
        Joseon X-Files, Kingdom — if you like scifi dramas

        Cdramas: Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, Pillow Book, Once upon a time in Ling Jian Mountain, and Story of Ming Lan. These are all on YouTube from the official channel, I think.

        … and I could just go on forever. Hope you’ll try and like some of these. Glad to meet another Asian Drama fan!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for the list, I’m always looking for more Kdrama recommendations!! πŸ˜€
        I have seen a few dramas from your list and I loved Kingdom and Tale of Nokdu! I really need to watch Stranger, I have heard so many great things about it. πŸ˜€
        I’m very new to C dramas so I didn’t know any of the ones you mentioned, I’m excited to look into them!

        Yes, I’m always happy to meet Asian Drama fans! We’ll be able to compare notes!! πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I am SO excited for A Desolation Called Peace, it’s on my February list too! I’ve been watching The Untamed for the last few months with my roommate, we love it. We DID end up making a literal hand-written chart to get all the clans and character relationships straight, but that actually made watching more fun, because we had a project to work on with it lol. I’ve really, really enjoyed it – we only have 6 or 7 episodes left!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m also very excited for A Desolation Called Peace! πŸ˜€
      You made a chart of the clans?! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ That’s actually a great idea, they are so many characters and since I haven’t read the novel, I’m a bit confused at times. It’s fun so far (I’m 13 episodes into it!) but it’s too long to binge watch like I usually do with shorter series. πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Those first two episodes especially we were very confused, there were just so many names going by and some of them are so similar! We have a VERY messy diagram with short hand (“rich clan,” “The cool cultivator”) and lines connecting people to remember who is whose brother/lover/wife/bastard child lol. We mostly don’t need it now, but every once in a while a new connection gets dropped and we’re scrambling to find the chart to see what it means for everyone lol.

        Liked by 1 person

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