WHY I’VE STARTED WRITING MY OWN RECAPS FOR COMPLEX SERIES

Micky here. As a blogger and bookstagrammer, one of the best things is getting to read ARCS of new series but what that does mean is that I read a lot of series as they release with the inevitable wait for the next book. What I’ve found with SFF in particular (but really any complex series) is that when I come to the next book, I have gaps about what happened. I don’t have the time to re-read and searching for someone else’s recap often doesn’t work out unless it’s really popular.

What’s the answer to this problem? I started writing my own recap of the book I’ve just read, so that when I come to pick up the next book in a year’s time, I have the plot points that I think were important and any little nuggets that will prompt my mind about exactly what happened. My recaps aren’t lengthy, they’re shorthand and bullet pointed, sometime a who’s who, how they’re related to another character and the key things that happened in the story.

At first, I put these in my note app on my phone until I chatted to Hollis who suggested the private notes area on the review for the book. I’ve added a screenshot below of where I mean (the black scribbles cover some of my recap). So now I’ve transfered my recaps here. This means that no-one else can see it, you’re not spoiling anyone and it’s easily accessible. I can’t wait to be Micky next year, going to find my own recap and being ready to launch into my next read more informed!

Would you do this? Do you use recap sites or are you a re-read before the next book kind of person?


FIVE ON OUR TBRS

We’ve found that breaking down our TBRs can be something that inspires us to pick up hidden or briefly forgotten reads. ‘Five on my TBR’ is something that we have done a few times on bookstagram but it originated with someone else, though, eek, we’ve no idea who (if you’re the creator of this, please let us know and we will credit you!).

We always have the best intention to include updates in this TBR series more often than we do but, as always, it’s been longer than we thought since the last post. Nonetheless, here we are showing what’s risen to the top of our TBRs and/or what has us buzzed.

Micky’s five


Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
The Dark Lady by Akala
Venom & Vulture by Bex Hogan
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

So, what the hell Micky with King of Scars, it’s still lingering, nevermind the sequel. The Dark Lady is a middle grade from an activist I admire massively. I’ve read the first book in the Isles of Storm & Sorrow, so I want to push myself to finish Venom & Vulture as they’re all published. Do we share any excitables?


Hollis’ five (four? six?)

Neon Gods by Katee Robert
House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland
Mister Impossible by Stiefvater
The Inheritance Trilogy by NK Jemisin

Instead of having the same two books on this TBR list reappear once again, I’ve ditched them for now (Seven Devils, because the sequel is no longer out in August but pushed to January, and The First Sister, because it’s a trilogy, not a duology, and I’ll be waiting to read until fall of 2022 because I’m just like that). But otherwise? This series has been pretty successful so far! Here’s hoping it continues.

Also, I realize there are only four listings up there but the Jemisin is actually a three book omnibus so it’s technically a total of six books I’m holding myself accountable (ish) for completing. As for the rest, the Stiefvater is an embarrassment, I can’t believe I still haven’t read it, the Sutherland because fall is coming and I think that book is supposed to be spoopy, and the Robert, well. That’s hype train, baby.


Tell us the top five books on your TBR! Do any of ours make your lists?

A MINI PRIDE BLOG FESTIVAL

Hi friends! We wanted to celebrate this special month and value, respect, recommend, and celebrate our LGBTQIAP+ friends, readers, and authors. Both of us read a diet of LGBTQIAP+ reads year round but it’s a nice time to celebrate! We wanted to tell you about some of our favourite reads (some of which need more love!) in a variety of genres and then tell you about some of the reads on our TBR. We have linked the books suggested to the relevant GoodReads page.


YA Contemporary


Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia & Anna-Marie McLemore
Perfect On Paper by Sophie Gonzales


Contemporary Romance


Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
Bad Judgment by Sidney Bell
An Exaltation of Larks (and book two!) by Suanne Laqueur


Historical


The Turners series by Cat Sebastian
Band Sinister by KJ Charles
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid


Fantasy (YA & Adult)


The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
Big Bad Wolf series by Charlie Adhara
The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski


Sci-Fi


The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis
To Be Taught If Fortunate by Becky Chambers
The Locked Tomb series by Tamsyn Muir
The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson


And now for the TBR portion..

The top five LGBTQIAP+ books on Micky’s TBR are:


Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
The Second Rebel by Linden A Lewis
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M Johnson
The Split by Laura Kay
Afterlove by Tanya Byrne


The top five LGBTQIAP+ books on Hollis’ TBR are :


Pumpkin by Julie Murphy
The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis
Seven Devils by Laura Lam & Elizabth May
Lore & Lust by Karla Nikole
The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson


What are some of the top LGBTQIAP+ books on your TBR? Any of our recommendations new to you? Let us know!

FIVE ON OUR TBRS

We meant to do this a few times a year but it’s been longer than we thought since the last post, so here we are showing what’s risen to the top of our TBRs and has us buzzed.

We’ve found that breaking down our TBRs can be something that inspires us to pick up reads hidden or briefly forgotten. ‘Five on my TBR’ is something that we have done a few times on bookstagram and we got it from someone else, but eeek, we’ve no idea who. We thought it’d be nice to have a running occasional feature where we pick five on our TBRs and you tell us yours.. and no doubt that will cause some adding to tbrs!

Micky’s five


A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas
The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
The Split by Laura Kay
Viper by Bex Hogan
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo


So, what the hell Micky with King of Scars? My excuse is Rule of Wolves is out now and I can binge the two. ACOSF is waiting for hype to die along with my arc list so I can finally get to it. As you can see I have a mix of newer and older releases which I’m happy about, we all have a backlog after all. Do we share any excitables?


Hollis’ five

The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis
Seven Devils by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May
The Ippos King by Grace Draven
How To Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams
Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson

This blog series has been really successful for me! For someone who does not follow TBRs.. I’m, well, surprised. Once again, I’ve kept two from the last post, which seems to be a trend for me, as I absolutely intend to get to the Lewis and the Lam & May.. when the sequels release in August. Yes, surprising no one, I’ll be bingeing! The Draven is overdue but after my buddy’s lacklustre experience with this hugely anticipated release, well, I’ve put it off. But it has to happen. We’ve waited too long for that book to drag it out any further. The Williams is a recommendation from my buddy, see her review here, and the Pearson is a spinoff from a series I’ve just recently completed as part of my five series to finish in 2021 goal!


Tell us the top five books on your TBR! Do any of ours make your lists?

AUTHORS NEED TO STOP MAKING CHEAP JOKES/OR POOR REP OF MEDICAL CONDITIONS

Hi Micky here – first off, can I ask you to just spend some time reading this post, it matters such a lot to me. Trigger warnings for hurtful jokey descriptions related to asthma, diabetes, spinal deformities, cleft lip and palate. Please take care of yourself and consider whether this will hurt you to read the post. If so, please close the post and know I am advocating on behalf of these issues.

This blog post has been about a year in the making, and I have been collecting screenshots/photos along the way. I want to emphasise that it has been more than a year I’ve been thinking about it, but one instance was the final straw and I started planning. Yesterday, a friend had an experience and I thought, I have to write this now.

The problem that I’m talking about is when authors want to make a quippy, jokey statement, have banter-ish dialogue or describe the condition badly for maximum effect and use people’s medical vulnerabilities to do this. I’ll tell you my personal experience and then I’ll share other people’s experiences. What I can tell you is that this hurts. This isn’t about being ‘butt hurt’, I actually think this is gross writing behaviour and perhaps a little lazy in the humour department. Again, I reiterate, this hurts. It hurts people with these medical conditions and what I learnt from my friends on bookstagram that I discussed this with, is that it hurts parents of children with some of these medical conditions. Suddenly, my experience fades and I feel horrified for parents reading these things about their children. Please, I ask, just think about that from a parental perspective for a minute.

I am not tagging authors in this blog post or anywhere that I share it to but neither am I hiding the books that contain instances of this. I’m not about cancelling any author but I won’t recommend particular books that I consider to have harmful representation. I can tell you that myself and few other individuals have contacted authors and publishers about some examples and had good responses. I’ll share that too. After all, this blog post is ultimately about sharing in the hope of reeducating and encouraging change. We need editors to be highly aware of these issues, so that these problems can be removed before publication too. Publishers also have a responsibility here in my opinion.


First up we have Code of Conduct by April White. I have severe asthma, and thanks to a combo of asthma and COVID at the end of last year, I nearly died. I read this before (or DNF shall we say) and showed it to my husband. His words to me were that actually it didn’t make him ‘horny’ when I sit upright in bed overnight trying to breathe, taking inhaler after inhaler; he actually feels scared. Funny that. I do think this author could have made a joke here without using asthma, it was just a lazy way to make the point of humour. What I do want to tell you is that I contacted April White and told her how I felt about this and you know what, her reply was almost ideal. She apologised first of all and she said she would totally take this on board in her writing in future. I would have liked this line revmoving from the ebook, especially considering it’s indie published, but you can’t have everything, I guess.


Next up, I shrink in horror the amount of times I’ve recommended this book and I have two booksta friends who were/would be horrified by this. I have loved this author’s work and so the churned up stomach feeling I have now, has been difficult. I feel guilt over recommending this book to a friend who it directly hurt. That’s on me for missing this when I read it years ago. I’m so sorry for that.

I can attest to the beautiful faces I think of so fondly, of children I have looked after with cleft lip and palate who grow up to be beautiful adults (children’s nurse and academic here). That’s not a throw away comment, they really do have gorgeous faces. In addition, the reference to a spinal deformity in that way is awful.


Sadly, staying on the theme of cleft lip or cleft lip & palate (it can happen together or separately). Another friend shared her experience of reading in horror at the misrepresentation of cleft lip in a child when her child had this too. I can only imagine how this must have felt.

I can tell you that my friend saw ‘monster face’ and that hurt her in respect of her child. I can also tell you from an accuracy perspective that babies and children with a range of cleft lip abnormalities can 100% smile….beautifully. Now you can argue that this was conveying a reaction in the story, I would argue back that this phrasing was unnecessary and highly insensitive.


Now we move onto how diabetes is sometimes flippantly represented in literature, this time in YA. Diabetes may be one of the more common long term conditions the public know about, but did you know that 500 people die prematurely from diabetes every week in the UK (Diabetes UK, 2018)? That really is no joke and yet here we have an awful example but with a really good outcome. Authors and publishers take note, this was the ideal response.

My friend’s child has diabetes and has had some very scary episodes with her child. When she read this flippant comment (that was totally unnecessary), it hurt her so much. She wrote to the publisher who responded by contacting the author, then removing it immediately from the ebook and stating it would be removed from any future print copies. What I can tell you is that there were other asthma jokes in this book too though, that I don’t think were removed.


If you’ve stayed with me this long, thank you. I had four further examples that I haven’t used just because I think this blog post would be too long but in the space of a year, this is what I’ve come across myself or though conversation with friends. That indicates to me that there’s probably a lot of examples, probably other medical conditions too in other books that we know nothing about.

What can we do about this? Both myself and my friend who have contacted authors or publishers have had good responses, so I think that says that readers will be listened to on this. We can only tackle these issues by using our voices as readers and challenging this.

Thank you to my amazing booksta friends who let me use their experiences in this post, I admire you so much.

FIVE SERIES TO FINISH IN 2021

Hi, Hollis here! A few years ago I bemoaned all my started-but-unfinished series and went to some painstaking effort to shelve them on GR to keep track. I quickly discontinued that effort but the fact remains that we as readers, and us here at A Take from Two Cities, start so many series and only manage to finish some. Whether that’s because said series are yet to be completed, delayed, or just forgotten about amidst all the other new releases, who can say. But to keep us accountable, I want to start a blog series not unlike our Five On Our TBRs but where we try to complete (at least!) five series a year.

Topping my list for series I’d like to complete in 2021 are :

Libba Bray’s The Diviners series. This will necessitate a reread of book one but considering how long ago I read that? It’s needed.

Sabaa Tahir’s The Ember in the Ashes series. This will also require a book one reread but now that the final book is out (!), there’s no time like.. well, 2021.

Mary E. Pearson’s The Remnant Chronicles has been on both my finish series list, my reread list, and my physical TBR list. If I can smash these out? Hoo boy, success. For this one, at least, I had read books one AND two. But I’ll reread both before embarking on the finale.

Emma Chase’s Royally series. This was one I was all excitement about after finishing book one and then I never picked up anything else. Whoops. This should be a fun easy contemporary series to smash through though to break up all these fantasy reads.

And lastly, for this round up, Alwyn Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands series. I really enjoyed book one, back in 2016, and then never continued. Shame gif.


Are there any series you’re prioritizing this year? We’d love to know!

TOP TEN READS OF 2020

It is with much angst and wringing of hands that we present our Top Ten reads of 2020.

For clarity, these are books we read in 2020, not necessary books published in 2020, and presented in no particular order.


Micky’s Top Ten of 2020

My absolute top read of the year was To Sleep In A Sea Of Stars by Christopher Paolini. I believe it took years to write and it felt like sci-fi perfection to me. It truly was a series in a book and months later I remember so much detail and most of the intricate story line. I loved it truly!


And here are the rest…

Paper Avalanche by Lisa Williamson
The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
And The Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando
Thorn by Intisar Khanani
Goldilocks by Laura Lam
The Court Of Miracles by Kester Grant
Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez
Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
To Sleep In A Sea Of Stars by Christopher Paolini


Hollis’ Top Ten of 2020

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
Love at First by Kate Clayborn (review pending for January)
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter
You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
This Is Not The End by Sidney Bell (review pending for January)
Wire Wings by Wren Handman
Beach Read by Emily Henry
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charles Mackesy
The Book of Orlando by Laura Lascarso

While I did enjoy quite a few reads this year I found putting a “top” list together really hard. Whereas last year there was, indeed, hand wringing to narrow down my five stars, this year it was more, “what books do I still think of, regardless of top marks”. A big tell is the fact that two of these aren’t even out yet! But regardless, all of these books helped to make 2020 a little more bearable.


Have you made a top ten, top three or top fifty? Let us know some of your favourties.

DISAPPOINTING BOOKS OF 2020

Hollis here. Despite the title, this isn’t a post where we plan to poo-poo on authors who have disapponted us. It’s more to be reflective on the books we were initially anticipating or desperate for.. and how they fared in execution vs expectation. Also please know that if any of these books, or authors, are your favourites, that’s great! Every reading experience is different.

Worth noting is some of these books might have been three stars. But if we expected it to be a five, it’s kind of disappointing to only like, not love, it. Please bear that in mind. Disappointment doesn’t mean hate; but there might be some on those in this list, too. And so with that disclaimer out of the way..

In order of publication, here are the books that disappointed us in 2020 :

Infinity Son by Adam Silvera — January 14, 2020
Only Most Devastated by Sophie Gonzales — March 3, 2020 (Hollis only)
Docile by K.M. Szpara — March 3, 2020
The Rich Boy by Kylie Scott — March 9, 2020
A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourne — March 10, 2020
The Honey-Don’t List by Christin Lauren — March 24, 2020 (Hollis only)
The Switch by Beth O’Leary — April 16, 2020
The Girl And The Stars by Mark Lawrence — April 30, 2020
Q by Christina Dalcher — May 4, 2020
Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn — May 5, 2020
The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper — May 14, 2020
Conventionally Yours by Annabeth Albert — June 2, 2020
Again Again by E. Lockhart — June 2, 2020
Dragon Unleashed by Grace Draven — June 9, 2020
The Dare by Elle Kennedy — June 16, 2020
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall — July 7, 2020 (Hollis only)
The Damned by Renée Ahdieh — July 7, 2020 (Hollis only)
Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston — August 4, 2020 (Hollis only)
You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daris — August 4, 2020
Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar — August 11, 2020
Here Is The Beehive by Sarah Crossan – August 20, 2020
Better Than People by Roan Parrish — August 25, 2020
A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dumore — September 1, 2020 (Hollis only)
Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin — September 1, 2020
The Roommate by Rosie Danan — September 15, 2020
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke — September 15, 2020
Well Played by Jen DeLuca — September 22, 2020
All This Time by Mikki Daughtrey & Rachel Lippincott — September 29, 2020
In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren — October 6, 2020
Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer — November 3, 2020

While this looks fairly intense when you pit it against our total books read for the year — for Micky (232) and Hollis (235) — it’s not actually that bad! Do you have a list of any disappointments, say top five? Let us know in the comments!

5, 4, 3, 2, 1..

We are (depending on your timezone) mere hours away from the New Year and we don’t know about you — though we kinda do.. — but here at A Take From Two Cities we are hoping for a much better year than the one we’ve all (barely) survived.

Whether you’re having a quiet celebration with your household, hanging out on your own, or virtually with a big group, we are raising a glass to you and hoping you are all safe, well, and content (we almost said “happy” but the bar is low..).

Here’s to not only a fresh start in 2021 but also a ton of great books, maybe a little less need for social distancing (if we are lucky!), and a lot more laughs.

From us to you,

Hollis and Micky x

TOP TEN MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASES OF 2021

As we are seconds away from closing the door on 2020 (which was officially The Worst), we got to thinking about all the books set to release next year that we know of (which, admittedly, at this point only really spans the January to June-ish portion of 2021, as usual). There are so many! And so many still yet to be announced. So while we know we will have a few of these anticipated release posts throughout the year, Hollis thought to be a little.. mean.

I’m challenging myself, and my blog buddy, to narrow down an anticipated list of only ten titles. Yes. Ten. That’s not even one title per month. Ten. Dix. Dieci. Diez. T e n.

I’ll start.



Hollis’ Top Ten (ONCE AGAIN WITH REGRETS) Anticipated Releases of 2021 (in order of publication) :

Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews | January 12, 2021
Cry Wolf by Charlie Adhara | January 18, 2021
Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert | March 9, 2021
Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle | April 6, 2021
Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne | April 13, 2021
Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells | April 27, 2021
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston | May 6, 2021
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry | May 11, 2021
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang | August 17, 2021
Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune | September 21, 2021

honourable mention to (aka cheating) :
Go Marching In by Tamsyn Muir | date TBA


Micky’s Top Ten (showing we are sometimes similar) Anticipated Releases of 2021 (in order of publication) .

Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews | January 12, 2021
A Court Of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Mass | February 16, 2021
Namesake by Adrienne Young | March 16, 2021
Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne | April 13, 2021
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir | May 4, 2021
Destination Anywhere by Sara Barnard | May 6, 2021
Heartstopper Volume Four by Alice Oseman | May 14, 2021
The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik | July 6 2021
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang | August 17, 2021
Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff |September 16, 2021



We’d love to know what you want to read next year. It is so hard to narrow it down, we know.

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started