Favourite Book Covers of 2018

I want to talk about so many of my bookish thoughts of this nearly finished year that I figured I might as well start early. Because while I think my favourite books my still change (there are over two weeks left yet), I don’t think my favourite covers will. I will be concentrating of the covers of the books I have actually read because otherwise we might be here forever.

Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko

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The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

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I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

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Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot

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The Pisces by Melissa Broder

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And finally my absolute favourite cover of the year, even if the book has been published for a while:

A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel

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The Naughty or Nice Book Tag

This tag was originally created by Jenniely and I’m was tagged by Rachel. This tag is so much fun!

Received an ARC and not reviewed it

I am doing my best to not do this but sometimes it cannot be avoided. I have received NetGalley ARCs that were so badly formatted as to be unreadable and in those cases I just give up. I also write short DNF-reviews for ARCs that I just cannot get into.

Have less than 60% feedback rating on Netgalley

It took me forever to get my feedback ratio to a reasonable number. Before the change to the US version of NetGalley it was near impossible for me to know in advance how my chances were for any given ARC and I went through a phase of requesting too many and then being surprised when I actually got approved. But now I have the very impressive feedback ratio of 88% and once you’re over the magical 80% mark it gets much easier keeping it that way. (for the record I currently have 15 books awaiting reviews)

Rated a book on goodreads and promised a full review was to come on your blog (and never did)

I have a few of those pending reviews, yes. I do still plan on going back and writing reviews but in the case of the Kate Daniel’s books for example, I want to write mini-reviews and post the second half of my series wrap-up but for that I still need to read the last book in the series.

Folded down the page of a book

Absolutely yes. I don’t mind my books looking read and while I usually try to use bookmarks, there are not always any handy.

Accidentally spilled on a book

Yes. Again, I am not too fussed about this so I am not absolutely heartbroken when it happens.

DNF a book this year

So, so many. Reading books I that bore me put me off reading – and I have to read so many boring things for my job that I want my fun reading to be exactly that – fun. I am in awe of those of you with the willpower to stick with books to the end though. Your negative reviews are earned and some of my favourite posts to read.

Bought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it

Nope. I do love pretty books, obviously, but I also want to want to read the books I buy.

Read whilst you were meant to be doing something else (like homework)

Who hasn’t?

Skim read a book

Oh, absolutely. Sometimes, when I am too far into a book to DNF without it feeling like a total waste of time, I skim-read the rest. Or I just jump to the ending and see whether reading the rest will be worth my time.

Completely missed your Goodreads goal

No. I have been reading a bit over 100 books a year since I started using Goodreads – the average length might vary (this year I read many short books) but this seems to be the pace I am most comfortable with.

Borrowed a book and not returned it

Not that I recall.

Broke a book buying ban

Only this year, before there was no need to set myself any bans but this year my buying got out of control. I just love books!

Started a review, left it for ages then forgot what the book was about

This didn’t use to happen to me – but recently it happens more and more often. Especially if it’s a book I don’t have all that much to say about to begin with.

Wrote in a book you were reading

I haven’t done to fiction that since I stopped reading those academically. I do write in the books I buy for my thesis though – and I cannot imagine not doing that. It helps so much!

Finished a book and not added it to your Goodreads

No. Why would I do that? I mean, sometimes I do hate how god-awful the UF books I have been inhaling this year are but they give me joy.

I am tagging everybody who wants to do this. Please do let me know if you decide to give it a whirl!

Mini-DNF reviews #4: Gods of Howl Mountain by Taylor Brown and Look What You Made Me Do by Helen Walmsley-Johnson

I haven’t done one of those posts in nearly half a year and with 2019 being closer than ever, I figured it was time to have a look at my NetGalley shelves again and being honest with myself about those books I have started but won’t be finishing.

Gods of Howl Mountain by Taylor Brown

34964885I requested this based on the serious buzz it received from my Goodreads friends – and pretty much immediately regretted this. It is just not my type of book at all. I made it a fair amount of pages in, but it just did not grab my interest. I struggle with historical novels at the best of times and this year more than ever. I do think I will just have to be honest with myself and finally realize that the genre does not work for me. The book is wonderfully written though and for a different reader I am sure it would work much better than for me.

Look What You Made Me Do by Helen Walmsley-Johnson

38917101This book sounds like it would be perfect for me. Helen Walmsley-Johnson tells of her emotionally abusive relationship and chronicles how this happened to her. I enjoy memoirs written by women and I am always interested in feminist issues told from a personal perspective. But for some reason this did not work for me at all. I did not enjoy the writing style and while I thought for the majority of the year that I would pick this back up and finish it at some point, I have not so in the many months since I put it down.

Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

40820097Verdict: My heart hurts.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: YA Thriller

Published by MacMillan Audio, October 2018

Find it on Goodreads.

A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

This book broke my heart. I listened to the ending of this walking to the garage to pick up my car. And I had to wait around a corner from it to gather my feelings and stop crying. Now, I am famously easy to cry but I don’t usually do it outside, so this really does speak to how hard this book hit me.

This book follows two perspectives, that of Sadie whose sister has been killed and who is single-minded in her pursuit of the murderer, and that of the podcast The Girls, where West McCray is trying to figure out what exactly happened to Sadie after she went missing. These dual perspectives are the book biggest strength and listening to the audio version of this is something I highly, highly recommend. It is produced with a full-cast and impeccably done so. As a result, for me the podcast element worked exceedingly well and I always wanted to follow this part of the narrative. Sadie’s narration is brittle and broken and full of spiteful strength, which I appreciated but also made for a stressful listening experience (and I don’t always deal well with stressful). Her life is on a collision course with something awful, you can just tell, and the loss of her sister is only the newest of a whole string of horrible events.

I haven’t read very many young adult novels this year but this one I can wholeheartedly recommend. It is compulsively readable, incredibly heartbreaking, and important. Courtney Summers manages to tell a great story while also keeping her eyes on the climate that makes these crimes against girls possible. She shows great restraint in never letting the political core overshadow the storytelling, but the core makes her book all that more impressive.

Review: Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko

38633526Verdict: Just incredible.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy

Published by HarperVoyager, November 1st, 2018

Find it on Goodreads.

Our life is brief . . .

While on holiday at the beach with her mother, Sasha Samokhina meets the mysterious Farit Kozhennikov under the most peculiar circumstances. The teenage girl is powerless to refuse when this strange and unusual man with a sinister air directs her to perform strange and uncomfortable tasks. He rewards her efforts with a strange golden coin.

As the days progress, Sasha carries out other acts for which she receives more coins from Kozhennikov. As summer ends, her new domineering mentor directs her to move to a remote village and use her gold to enter the Institute of Special Technologies. Though she does not want to go to this unknown town or university, she also feels that somehow it’s the only place she should be. Against her mother’s wishes, Sasha leaves behind all that is familiar and begins her education.

As she quickly discovers, the institute’s ‘special technologies’ are unlike anything she has ever encountered. The books are impossible to read, the lessons maddeningly obscure, and the work refuses memorization. Using terror and coercion to keep the students in line, the school does not punish them for their transgressions and failures; instead, their families pay a terrible price.

Yet despite her fear, Sasha undergoes changes that defy the dictates of matter and time; experiences which are nothing she has ever dreamed of… and suddenly all she could ever want.

Sometimes a book is so custom-made for me that I am unsure whether I can reasonably recommend it to anyone or if the reading experience was incredible just because the book hit all my favourite things. This is one of those times. Combining some of my greatest loves in fiction: dark fantasy, inspired by Russian literature, set in the middle of nowhere with plenty of snow, combining boarding school tropes with unconventional storytelling, this book was everything to me.

This book follows Sasha, whose life is changed forever when she is approached by an otherworldly man who tells her she is stuck in a time-loop and the only way to change this is to get up at four in the morning (never missing a day) and nakedly swimming in the ocean. She does so every day, vomiting up weird gold coins afterwards. Returning home and to what she thinks will be normalcy, she is approached again, having to follow new sets of rules, always throwing up gold coins afterwards. She does not feel she has a choice when the man tells her she will be attending a rural university instead of the one she had planned for all her life.

This book is a wild ride, and for the vast majority of its duration it stays opaque and the reader is left in the dark just as much as Sasha is. I did not mind this one bit and I loved this introspective, weird book a whole lot. There is a menacing undercurrent here that is made even more spell-binding as we closely follow Sasha and her fears without ever really being in her head at all. I found the use of third-person narration worked really well here and made the book all that more compulsive for me.

While Sasha is definitely the heart of this book and I adored her prickliness and her focus and her love for her family, I have to admit my favourite characters were the two main teachers and her mentor, the latter one being so very fascinating and awful and just everything I wanted him to be.

I do want everybody to read this, for one thing because it is brilliant and one of the highlights of my reading but also for another, totally selfish reason, I want it to be successful enough that the second book gets translated as soon as possible. I want to spend more time in this world and with this characters and I have very many theories where this might go next.

I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and HarperVoyager in exchange for an honest review.

TBR: December 2018

I had given up on setting myself TBRs a few months ago as I never actually read the books I was “supposed to”. But this month there are a few books that I really should get to. I am behind on my ARCs for one thing but more importantly, next year I am planning on only reading books written by female and non-binary authors (more on that soon). This does mean that there are a few books I do need to get to this month or they will have to wait for over a year; an idea I am not too fond of.

So without much further ado, here are the books I want to read this December, starting with the books I am currently reading.

Currently reading

 

To be Read

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James (ARC)

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri (ARC)

Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch

Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom (ARC)

The Winter and The Witch by Katherine Arden (ARC)

To Be Read if time allows

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley

Do you have some books you want to read before the end of the year? Do let me know!

Wrap Up: November 2018 or Genre Fiction is the best

I had a pretty horrific month, personally. But my reading recovered from the abysmal month that was October, which is at least something; within 10 days I had read as much as I had read in the whole month before.

Books I read in November:

  1. The Outcast Hour ed. by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin: 3 out of 5 stars
  2. Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson: 4 out of 5 stars
  3. Vengeful (Villains #2) by V. E. Schwab: 4 out of 5 stars
  4. Binti (Binti #1) by Nnedi Okorafor: 2 out of 5 stars
  5. Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy #1) by Ilona Andrews: 4 out of 5 stars
  6. White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2) by Ilona Andrews: 4,5 out of 5 stars
  7. Wild Fire (Hidden Legacy #3) by Ilona Andrews: 4 out of 5 stars
  8. Broken Magic (Chronicles of Amicae #1) by Mirah Bolender: 3 out of 5 stars
  9. The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein: 4 out of 5 stars
  10. Be With Me Always by Randon Billings Noble: 3,5 out of 5 stars
  11. Sadie by Courtney Summers: 4 out of 5 stars

Favourite of the Month:

Continue reading “Wrap Up: November 2018 or Genre Fiction is the best”