Wrap Up August 2020

I cannot remember the last time I had a reading month this good. It seems like my choice to finally finish reading some of the books I had started months ago was a very good thing indeed. I have also finally gotten back into the groove of reading and reviewing ARCs – I do hope I can keep the momentum going. Especially because Rachel and I are planning on doing our two-person-ARC-readathon again at the end of September, this time without me being pregnant and not reading. (You are all invited to participate! But it’s super low-key and I am famously bad at reading plans.)

Books I read in August:

  1. Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh: 3.5 out of 5 stars (review)
  2. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell: 4 out of 5 stars
  3. Alpha Night by Nalini Singh: 4 out of 5 stars
  4. The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates #1) by A. K. Larkwood: 4.5 out of 5 stars (review)
  5. Sisters by Daisy Johnson: 4 out of 5 stars (review)
  6. Luster by Raven Leilani: 3.5 out of 5 stars (review)
  7. Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy #3.5) by Ilona Andrews: 4 out of 5 stars
  8. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel: 5 out of 5 stars (review)
  9. Saphire Flames (Hidden Legacy #4, Catalina Baylor Trilogy #1) by Ilona Andrews: 5 out of 5 stars
  10. Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy #5, Catalina Baylor Trilogy #2) by Ilona Andrews: 4 out of 5 stars

I also started and DNFed The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix. E. Harrow.

Favourite of the Month:

Quality-wise, The Glass Hotel, hands down. I knew I would love it but also was scared of not being able to properly appreciate it during the pandemic and kept putting it off – I am so glad to have finally read it, it’s as good as I hoped it would be. But my proper favourite is probably Saphire Flames which I kept putting off because I know how addictive Ilona Andrews’ writing is. It’s so good! I had such a blast!

Stats(ish):

I read ten books, seven of which were written by women and the other three by a husband and wife team. Five books can broadly be categorized as literary fiction, one is a fantasy-scifi hybrid and four are some form of romantic fantasy.

Currently Reading:

Wrap Up July 2020

Books I read in July:

  1. The Harpy by Megan Hunter: 3 out of 5 stars (review)
  2. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson: 3 out of 5 stars
  3. I Hold A Wolf By The Ears by Laura van den Berg: 4 out of 5 stars (review)
  4. Constellations by Sinéad Gleeson: 5 out of 5 stars
  5. The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I also DNFed Beach Read by Emily Henry. I might come back at another time but for now the book was just not what I expected and was in the mood for.

Favourite of the Month:

Constellations by Sinéad Gleeson is as incredible as everybody said. I cannot recommend it highly enough – I listened to the audiobook and just love the way Gleeson narrates her essays.

Stats(ish):

I read five books this month. Of these books four were written by women. I read two non-fiction books, one thriller, one short story collection, and one literary fiction novel.

Currently Reading:

Still too many books. Whenever I am reading more than four books it really messes with my reading mojo, so I am currently trying to finish as many books as possible before starting new ones. Ideally I would get it down to zero because I love being able to choose all new books but we’ll have to wait and see if that will happen.

Wrap Up June 2020 or Reading Whatever Works

I have stopped pretending that I will be back to my pre-pregnancy reading pace any time soon and am now just taking the months as they come. Having said that, this was still a surprisingly good month quantitiy wise, especially given that my daughter apparently decided that sleeping anywhere that isn’t her father’s or my body is unacceptable, at least during the day. Which is lovely! But also kind of exhausting. Also, I have not managed to drink my one tea a day while it was still hot for what feels like ages.

I have also stopped pretending that I can adhere to any sort of TBR or reading challenge and will now just read whatever I can manage. I have been saying that for ages and still held out hope.

Books I read in June:

  1. The Chiffon Trenches by André Leon Talley: 3 out of 5 stars
  2. Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons: 3 out of 5 stars (mini-review)
  3. Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall: 4 out of 5 stars
  4. Archangel’s Heart (Guild Hunter #9) by Nalini Singh: 4 out of 5 stars
  5. Daddy by Emma Cline: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Favourite of the Month:

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall is all kinds of brilliant. I listened to the audiobook read by the author herself and really appreciated it.

Stats(ish):

I read 5 books, 4 of which were written by women and one by a man. I read two short story collections (none of which blew me away), one paranormal romance, one memoir, and one essay collection. Three of those books were ARCs. I am not doing well with reviews but I am trying my best.

Currently Reading:

 

Wrap Up May 2020 or the world is burning

May was even weirder than the months before. The world isburning and everything is kind of awful (to be clear: racism sucks, Black lives matter, property destruction is a great way to protest. I have no idea how to properly address what is going on but I wanted to be clear where I stand ideologically.) but at the same time I gave birth and so everything is also kind of wonderful. I have no idea how my blogging will look like from now on, but I am determined to at least post sometimes. Currently my daughter is happiest sleeping on top of me – so writing anything even slightly long is difficult.

Books I read in May:

  1. Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island by Nibedita Sen: 4 out of 5 stars
  2. Home Remedies by Juliana Xuan Wang: 4 out of 5 stars
  3. Archangel’s Legion (Guild Hunter #6) by Nalini Singh: 3 out of 5 stars
  4. Archangel’s Shadows (Guild Hunter #7) by Nalini Singh: 3 out of 5 stars
  5. Archangel’s Enigma (Guild Hunter #8) by Nalini Singh: 4 out of 5 stars

Favourite of the Month:

I had a pretty mediocre reading month – but Archangel’s Enigma was my favourite of the Guild Hunter series so far. I am still vastly prefering Singh’s Psy-Changeling series but I as always appreciate her world building.

Stats(ish):

I read four books and one short story (I was planning on reading the Nebula and Hugo nominated short stories but as I said, I usually have a child on top of me which means all my reading will be done on my kindle from now on apparently). Three of those books were paranormal romance and one short story collection. Everything I read this month was written by authors of colour.

Currently Reading:

 

I am reading way too many books – and have the attention span for literally half of them maybe. I am trying to give myself the room to just pick up whatever I feel like because I do not want reading to feel like a chore.

 

Wrap Up April 2020 or the world is weird.

April was still weird but maybe a bit more bearable? I don’t even know. The world is weird. Being pregnant is weird. Everything is weird.

Books I read in April:

  1. The Dom Who Loved Me (Masters and Mercenaries #1) by Lexi Blake: 2 out of 5 stars
  2. How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa: 4 out of 5 stars
  3. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson: 3 out of 5 stars (review)
  4. Girl by Edna O’Brien: 1 out of 5 stars (review)
  5. Mr Salary by Sally Rooney: 5 out of 5 stars
  6. White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2) by Ilona Andrews: 5 out of 5 stars (reread)
  7. Wildfire (Hidden Legacy #3) by Ilona Andrews: 5 out of 5 stars (reread)
  8. By a Thread by Lucy Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Favourite of the Month:

My favourites were my rereads: the second and third book in Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy series are as brilliant as I remembered them. I am really looking forward to finally continuing with the series in preparation for the next book coming out.

Stats(ish):

I read 8(ish) books, all of which were written by women. I read two romance novels, two urban fantasy books, one short story collection and one short story, and two literary fiction novels nominated for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Currently Reading:

Books I should get to soon:

I have for now given up on the Women’s Prize longlist and will instead be focussing on whatever strikes my fancy and hopefully a lot of fantasy reads. Given that I am currently always tired and napping all the time, I am unsure how much reading I will be doing at all, if I am being honest.

Women’s Prize coverage by other bloggers:

Rachel, Callum, Naty, Marija, Emily, Gilana, Laura

Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020: Shortlist reaction and reading plans

I was unsure whether I wanted to write a reaction post at all, given how weirdly over this whole process I am feeling but as I do not know if I can do any proper blog coverage next year (and even next month if I am perfectly honest), I figured I should be getting the most of it now while I still have time for blogging.

First things first, here is the shortlist:

  • Dominicana by Angie Cruz
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
  • A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
  • The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
  • Hamnet by Maggie O’ Farrell
  • Weather by Jenny Offill

I am actually not mad at this? I got four books right and while I would have loved to see Anne Enright’s wonderful Actress here, I at least got my wish and Girl, Women, Other by Bernardine Evaristo made it. I am officially #TeamEvaristo now. Of the other books, I have read A Thousand Ships and thought it was a lot better than I expected it to be and Weather which I expectedly loved. I am currently in the middle of Hamnet which I am super enjoying and I have read a bit of Dominicana which I am expecting to mostly enjoy but not find very impressive. I am still not going to read The Mirror and the Light because the idea of reading three huge historical fiction novels gives me dread to no end.

None of the books I have read and actively disliked made the list which I am so glad about. I was ready to be disgruntled but now I am mostly relieved that this (imagined!) pressure of reading the longlisted books instead of what I actually want to read (fantasy!) is off my back. I will try to finish the two books I have started before the winner is announced, and given that I have nearly 5 months to accomplish that task, I should be fine. I am a bit worried that by the time the winner announcement comes around, I will have stopped being emotionally involved; which would be a shame! I love the Women’s Prize! On the other hand, I have already started looking at what could be eligible next year and there is every chance that in 2021 we will have an incredibly strong list of contenders. This seems to indicate that I am indeed still absolutely in the Prize’s thrall and shouldn’t worry so much.

I would have loved this list to be a bit more international but I also admit that I thought that the British/ Irish books on the longlist were indeed on average better. I think it will ultimately come down those three authors: Evaristo, Mantel, or O’Farrell. I am ultimately glad that none of the family sagas made the list and that there are a few books I would be happy to see win.

Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020: Longlist Reaction

It’s finally here!

I have waited for this day for literal months and I am so glad the longlist is finally here and we can all start reading and discussing it. My predictions were actually ok this time around: I correctly guessed six and had two more on my maybe pile that made the list, so I am feeling sufficiently smug. It also seems to be a longlist not many people have read many books of yet, so that is exciting! I have only read one book so far and have to admit that quite a few are not books I was particularly thrilled about before their inclusion – but maybe this means I will find many gems I might otherwise have missed. Continue reading “Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020: Longlist Reaction”

Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020: Longlist predictions

It’s my favourite bookish time of the year! I have been looking forward to Women’s Prize season pretty much since last summer – and I have, again, spent a ridiculous amount of time thinking about the possible longlist. Last year, I correctly predicted two books on the longlist, so it can probably only get better from here.

I am attempting to read the longlist (something I did not completely manage last year) with my wonderful group chat (of those lovely people, Emily is the only one to have posted a prediction post already). I do hope to have better luck than last year where I did not love nearly as many of the longlisted books as I hoped (and where my two favourite books were ones I had read before). But even if I end up hating most books, I am still beyond thrilled to be doing this again. This time I am aiming to finish the longlist before the short list is announced; I’ll be on leave from work from the middle of April onwards and I have the week of the longlist announcement off, so chances are actually decent that I manage this (she says, having finished two books in February so far). Continue reading “Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020: Longlist predictions”

Wrap Up: February 2018 or I read so very many memoirs

I had an okay to good reading month. I read some absolutely brilliant books, finished a few meh books, and have also been stuck on some books for longer than I would like to admit (How I Lose You is taking me forever). I did read a lot of books though.

These are the books I read this month:

  1. I Am I Am I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell: 4 out of 5 stars
  2. The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale: 2 out of 5 stars
  3. Mean by Myriam Gurba: 4,5 out of 5 stars
  4. Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey: 3 out of 5 stars
  5. Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot: 5 out of 5 stars
  6. All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells: 4 out of 5 stars.
  7. The Rending and the Nest by Kaethe Schwehn: 3 out of 5 stars.
  8. This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins: 4 out of 5 stars.
  9. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie: left unrated.
  10. Meaty: Essays by Samantha Irby: 4 out of 5 stars.

Favourite of the Month

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot was just so unbelievably stunning that I still don’t really have the words to talk about it. It is hypnotic and mesmerizing, honest and raw, and most of all poetically beautiful. And also the opposite of cathartic.

Mean by Myriam Gurba is another memoir that I can only recommend.

Stats (ish)

My reading month was dominated by memoirs and genre fiction. More than half of the books I read were memoirs or essay collections or something in between. This has never happened but I am loving every second of it.

I finished 2929 pages worth of books. Of these ten books I read six memoirs, two science fiction books (one of those was a novella), one post-apocalyptic book, and one fantasy book. Three books were written by men, seven by women. six books were written by people of colour (so at least I seem to be succeeding with parts of my resolutions).

How did I do with my TBR:

This month I set myself a TBR; I don’t usually do this but I had so much fun thinking about the books I might read this month. I think I will keep doing this, if only for the fun. Because sticking to a TBR? Not that much my thing. I read a lot more non-fiction than I thought I would this month. But memoirs seem to be the kind of books I gravitate to right now. I will take that into account for my TBR next month.

I read two books of my TBR… Oops.

Currently Reading:

The Gender Games by Juno Dawson: I am absolutely loving this. I am listening to the audio book of this and Juno Dawson is hilarious.

The Sea Beast takes a Lover by Michael Andreasen: I am nearly finished with this and have a few thoughts that I still need to organize in my head.

How I Lose You by Kate McNaughton: This is taking me forever. While I enjoy parts of it, others drag. I will finish this though, hopefully before the release date on the 8th.

(Some of the) Blog posts I loved:

I wasn’t very good at remembering to bookmark the posts I loved this month. So this list is “slightly” shorter this month.

I loved Paula’s review of a book I had never heard of before.

I am glad I am not the only one with way too many unfinished series. Also Jeroen agrees with my assessment of The Name Of The Wind.

And finally, Sarah compiled a brilliant list of upcoming SFF-releases.

How was your reading month? What was the best book you read?

Review: I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death – Maggie O’Farrell

34666764Verdict: Maybe I was too excited. But still good.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Published by Tinder Press, August 2017

Find it on goodreads.

I AM, I AM, I AM is a memoir with a difference – the unputdownable story of an extraordinary woman’s life in near-death experiences. Intelligent, insightful, inspirational, it is a book to be read at a sitting, a story you finish newly conscious of life’s fragility, determined to make every heartbeat count.

A childhood illness she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. A terrifying encounter on a remote path. A mismanaged labour in an understaffed hospital. Shocking, electric, unforgettable, this is the extraordinary memoir from Costa Novel-Award winner and Sunday Times bestselling author Maggie O’Farrell.
It is a book to make you question yourself. What would you do if your life was in danger, and what would you stand to lose?

I might have been too excited about this. I have been looking forward to this memoir ever since I first saw this stunning cover. I finally caved in and bought myself a copy and started it the moment it arrived. And I enjoyed this. But it wasn’t quite the revelation I was maybe expecting.

I love the framing of this memoir: Maggie O’Farrell tells her story as a series of essays, each concentrating on a near death experience. I do like memoirs that play with format and I enjoyed the unchronological way this book is structured a whole lot. Especially the four essays bookending this memoir were absolutely incredible. The first essay sets the tone and shows the danger of being a woman on her own, while the last two essays change the way I understood this work and this woman. I love that in books.

The structure, while one of the biggest advantages of this, also works against the reading flow in parts. While I was fine with the last essays changing a lot of what came before, in parts the essays don’t feel quite complete without the recontextualization the ending offers.

This is very readable, easy to dip in and out. It just is not the best memoir I have read this year (and I thought it would be a contender). I do read an awful lot of memoirs though, so your milage might vary.

Also, one final comment: I love, love, love the cover. The whole book is just ridiculously stunning.

First sentence: “On the path ahead, stepping out fom behind a boulder, a man appears.”