Smack and Gabi reconvene in the new year to catch-up on the final quarter of 2021 starting with a review of their experiences at Sirens, a conference dedicated to examining gender and fantasy literature. In this episode, they itemize their very reasonable book hauls (Gabi walked away from the auction with a tote bag stuffed full of books, while Smack scored some long-anticipated novels at the Sirens bookstore), chat about their favorite conference sessions, and celebrate Gabi’s murder mystery win, all while taking only a minor detour to rant about a recent read.
Smack and Gabi continue with their Sirens (a conference dedicated to examining gender and fantasy literature) catch-up by playing a tier-ranking of the 2021 Sirens Reading Challenge. The Reading Challenge last year consisted of 25 main books which could be replaced by a selection from a supplemental list of 25 if any of the main books had been read in advance of the challenge. Both full lists can be found at: https://www.sirensconference.org/connect/readingchallenge.html And our custom tier-ranking game (filled only with selections which at least one of us read) can be found at: https://tiermaker.com/create/sirens-reading-challenge-2021-1334416.
- Episode 9: Book Haulidays Part I—Eat Your Nemesis
Smack and Gabi ring out 2021 with a round-up of their Book Hols from the end of the year and set some 2022 goals. Gabi did a not insignificant amount of stress-shopping while Smack (somehow?!) didn’t receive a single book during the holidays. We celebrate the accomplishment of our 2021 book/page count goals and review the highs and lows throughout the year. For 2022, we decide to skip insane book/page count goals in favor of making it the Year of Indulgences and Rereads. Gabi’s supplemental goal is to get through her Smack Shelf, while Smack’s supplemental goal is to keep Gabi from accomplishing that goal. We also start discussing our recent reads (to be continued!).
- Bonus Episode 1: Green Creek Part 1–Tragedy and Gay Werewolves
In our first bonus episode, Gabi goes off on an incredible tangent in which she narrates to a very patient Smack the happenings of the first three Greek Creek books by TJ Klune, which she purchased during the Book Haulidays described in the previous full episode.
- Episode 10: Book Haulidays Part II—On a Hunting Trip and Haven’t Been Home in a Few Days
Smack and Gabi continue their recap of their Book Hols with the rest of their recent reads and coverage of their (first) Barnes & Noble Pre-Order Sale Extravaganza. Gabi belatedly learns a well-known Supernatural trope and bemoans a missed opportunity for a character’s Enemies-to-BFFs relationship with a big bad evil serpent. Smack explains the best friend prop and describes how to get good translator recommendations when reading classics. Both reiterate their goal to make 2022 the Year of Indulgences and Rereads.
- Bonus Episode 2: Green Creek Part II—Everything Exists in Werewolf Fiction
In our second bonus episode, Smack and Gabi continue their discussion surrounding the Green Creek saga by TJ Klune. Topics include some hot tea re: the publishing industry, some common werewolf tropes that were not adequately explained during Gabi’s insane Green Creek tangent of the previous bonus episode, a recap of Brothersong (the final book in the quartet), and a couple of essential plot points that Gabi remembers very suddenly mid-sentence. We’re also not 100% sure what year it is. Other werewolf books of note mentioned in passing that we think everyone should read include Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones and The Devourers by Indra Das.
- Episode 11: Post-Apocalyptic Futuristic Science Fiction Dragons with Spirits and a Cat
Smack and Gabi cover a lot of reading ground from March and April. Smack gives a teaser about her faves (further discussion pending Gabi catching up…some day); Gabi waxes poetic about feathered dragons, Faustian bargains, violin prodigies, and donut-selling aliens; and we both gush about a gross and incredible werewolf horror novel. Smack’s been listening to a lot of popcorn audiobooks while Gabi pre-gamed for Book Crawl. We finish by reminiscing about nice dragons – one of our all-time favorites!
- Episode 12: We Are the Ultimate Book Crawlers
Smack and Gabi review their San Diego Independent Bookstore Day Book Crawl a.k.a. Book Crawl a.k.a. Book Crawlidays adventure. They recount their experiences and book hauls from each of the eleven(!!) participating independent bookstores in San Diego, noting their faves and their…not-so-faves, as well as the sweet swag accumulated along the way. They are also gearing up for the 2022 Mysterious Galaxy Summer Bingo and celebrating ITBR’s first birthday! Happy Birthday to Us!!
- Bonus Episode 3: Genre Stigma—Don’t Make Fun of Me, You D***
In this bonus episode, Smack and Gabi discuss genre stigma. We review general trends and discuss our personal experiences encountering it in the wild as readers, writers, and academics. We also discuss strategies for overcoming stigma in ourselves (an ongoing process) and how best to encourage others to do so (the power of friendship!).
- Episode 13: No One Will Ever Be As Entertained By Us As Us
Smack and Gabi are celebrating ITBR’s Anni-birthday by inviting you (our precious listeners) to email (email@example.com) or follow & tweet @infinitetbr with your favorite book of this year OR the name of a book that we recommended that you enjoyed. One lucky participant will be chosen to receive a $20 gift card to the independent bookstore of their choice. We went on to answer selections (requested by our #1 fan) from the Mid-Year Book Freak Out tag, complete with copious tangents and unrepentant cheating when it came to answering prompts.
- Episode 14: That’s Fun
Smack and Gabi announce the winner of ITBR’s Annibirthday drawing and touch base on our Mysterious Galaxy Summer Bingo progress, for which Gabi has been tricked into reading a trilogy of three chonkers. We then catch up on some recent reads we’ve had in common. Gabi rage-quit a trilogy over a dead beloved character and Smack is still soaking in a book of incredible writing with a bizarre world of violin prodigies, deals with the devil, and refugees from another galaxy who sell donuts. We compare notes on frustrating worldbuilding and how to nip fascism in the bud, and conclude by yet again trying to remember what year it is. At least we’re consistent.
- Episode 15: It’s So Good and It’s Not Even Animorphs
Smack and Gabi continue their discussion from the previous episode by swapping opinions about recent reads, a surprising number of which we had in common. Smack soaks in the nostalgia of a formative book of tactile fairy tale retellings that took her on a profound journey of self-discovery. Gabi delights in a cozy speculative historical haunted house mystery/romance about a scandalous widow and a sweet family of mad scientists. We talk about our individual challenges and approaches to reading on planes and stress out about (or are pleasantly surprised by) contemporary romances. Along the way we learn the difference between blackmail and extortion, celebrate delightful surprise glow-in-the-dark covers (with whales!), and covet cat-sized pet dragons (who wouldn’t?).
- Episode 16: Second Annual Mysterious Galaxy Summer Bingo Throwdown Showdown One-on-One PvP Fights—Part I
Who’s gonna win?? It’s time for ITBR’s Second Annual Mysterious Galaxy Summer Bingo… thing! Smack and Gabi go head-to-head to find out who had a better reading experience during our favorite bookstore’s summer bingo event by selecting titles at random and defending our own books until a champion for each pair (or a tie) is declared. The one with the most champions at the end of… three or four??… episodes will win a steak prepared by the loser!! Or they might, if either of us liked steak.
- Episode 17: Second Annual Mysterious Galaxy Summer Bingo Throwdown Showdown One-on-One PvP Fights—Part II
The stakes are high!! In part two of a yet-to-be-determined number of parts, Smack and Gabi are at it again, going toe-to-toe to see who had the better reading experience during this year’s Mysterious Galaxy Summer Bingo. By the end of this episode there are some tough calls and a surprising number of ties, but one of us has pulled ahead at the halfway mark (you’ll have to listen to find out who!). Will our friendship survive another twelve PvP fights?? Only time will tell…