Finding Joy Where You Can

I keep coming across posts from people talking about the struggle of creating right now. In truth, there’s a struggle in any kind of activity or thought right now. We’re in uncertain and uncomfortable times, at best. I could write more on that, I suppose, but instead I’d rather talk about books.

Books bring me joy, and right now I’m trying to stock-pile joy. Don’t worry, I’m not planning to horde it all for myself. That’s one of the things I love about books: you can stockpile them and share them. It really satisfies my inner dragon.

I’d like to be able to say that I’ve read more than I thought I would since I’ve switched to working from home and Washington issued the stay-at-home order. In truth, I’ve read less. I’ve found myself searching through my to-be-read list for heart-warming and happy stories. This might not come as a surprise, but SFF hasn’t been trending toward heart-warming and happy in the last few years, at least not in the young-adult and adult categories. I have some very good books sitting there waiting for me. But I’m not ready for them.

A friend of mine, who is also a writer and avid reader, recently told me that she’s seeking out books that make her feel like ‘at least it’s not that bad’, which I found kind of funny since I’m seeking out the books that make me feel safe and give me a sense of hope. In my hunt for these books, I’ve added more and more upcoming release titles to my list, not many of which fit the criteria for what I want to read right now but they still sound like they’re going to be very good.

So I’m going to share with you one new release and two upcoming April releases from my to-be-read list.

The City We Became – N.K. Jemisin

N.K. Jemisin has a way of putting words on the page that grip me so tightly, there’s nothing I can do but keep reading. I’ve had this book on my list since I first learned about this story of New York City and five New Yorkers fighting against an ancient evil force threatening the city.

I’ve heard excerpts from this book read aloud, and the language was mesmerizing. I once again was sucked into Jemisin’s expertly crafted world, hanging on the way she brings to life a place I haven’t been in an over a decade, a place I’ve never truly known, and made me feel as though I’d lived there my entire life.

Although the premise doesn’t sound like the uplifting read I’m looking for right this moment, I’m still excited to dive into her latest work of fiction. I’ll find comfort in the knowledge that I’m in good hands with this award-winning author.

This book is out now.

A quick aside: might I be able to convince you to pick it up this book, or any book you might be looking to buy, from an independent bookstore? Even bookstores not located in a state with mandatory closures for non-essential businesses are struggling right now. Many independent bookstores have online shopping options. Purchasing through them instead of through Amazon can help keep their doors open and their salaries paid. If you don’t know of an independent bookstore in your area, can help you find one. Alternatively, Powell’s offers free shipping on orders over $25 to anywhere in the U.S.

And now back to the regularly scheduled programming…

Ghost Squad – Claribel A. Ortega

Goodreads describes this middle grade novel as “Coco meets Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters” and that’s how this book wound up on my to-be-read list. Well that description, and the beautiful cover. This story of two best friends trying to reverse a curse to save their hometown sounds like the heart-warming content I’m after. Halloween is my favorite holiday, so that’s a bonus. Plus, there’s a cat named Chunk (and look at that chonkster on in the basket! I’m in love already). I have high-hopes for this debut author.

This book is out April 7, 2020.

A Game of Fox & Squirrels – Jenn Reese

Sam and her sister Caitlin are sent to live in Oregon with their aunt where they’re introduced to a card game called “A Game of Fox & Squirrels” that includes a cast of animal characters. Sam is drawn to the trickster fox Ashander, who shows up one day in her room and offers her whatever she desires if she can find the Golden Acorn.

From the backcopy, there are hints of darkness to this book, with family disputes that might be domestic violence, and the unknown consequence of what happens if Sam doesn’t win the game. But after reading Riverland by Fran Wilde, I’m in the mood for middle grade that tackles harder issues. Plus, I love the idea of characters from a card game coming to life. And, I’ll be honest, the cover drew me in with Sam standing strong front and center with her staff and the trickster Ashander beside her in his dapper coat.

This book is out April 14, 2020.

Seeing how it is the end of the first quarter of the year, and seeing how I’ve been woefully behind on posting, I owe you all my top 3 reads so far this year. I won’t keep you waiting another month for that post. Pinkie-swear it.