Have I read my most anticipated releases of 2018?

I have written about my most anticipated releases twice this year, for the first and for the second half of the year. Let’s see how many of those I have actually read (and which I have enjoyed).

In my first post, I named 13 books that I was super excited to get to.

  1. Brave by Rose McGowan. I have neither read nor bought this book because before I could, she started showing TERFy tendencies, which I just cannot support. I have since seen some reviews that make me think not reading this was the right decision.
  2. Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot. I loved this book so very much.
  3. Folk by Zoe Gilbert. I read this before it came out and it was ok. And now I cannot really remember much of it, to be perfectly honest.
  4. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. Again, I loved this book. I knew from the very first chapter that I was in for something extraordinary.
  5. The Sea Beast Takes A Lover by Michael Andreasen. This collection of short stories did not quite work for me, but I did enjoy some stories.
  6. Not That Bad ed. by Roxane Gay. Of course I loved this.
  7. The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh. This has possibly my favourite cover of the year and I really enjoyed this interesting book.
  8. Florida by Lauren Groff. She is becoming one of my favourite authors and this collections was no exception.
  9. Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch. I have not yet read it but will definitely do so before the end of the year. I have waited too long for this book to not pick it up soon.
  10. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. I loved this just as much as I thought I would. Slow-paced, wintery fairy-tales are my jam.
  11. Sick by Porochista Khakpour. Biggest disappointment of my reading year.
  12. The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden. The release date was moved to January but I have an ARC and want to get lost in this wonderful world, possibly during my (short) winter break.
  13. Vengeful by V. E. Schwab. I had so much fun reading this and it made me excited again for Schwab’s writing in a way I hadn’t been in a while.

I actually did okay here. There are only three books I haven’t read yet (and one of those is no longer on my TBR), I also enjoyed the majority of the books on my list, with four of them getting five stars.

Let’s take a look at my second list, with only eight titles on it.

  1. Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennet. I enjoyed this a lot but it did not reach the heights of his Divine Cities trilogy yet. Still, I am excited to see where he takes the story next.
  2. Heavy by Kiese Laymon. I am embarrassingly enough still reading this. I started it at a really bad moment and while I think it is brilliant, it also deeply sad and I cannot quite get myself to pick it up.
  3. All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung. I am still super excited about this but the book is only out in hardback and still very expensive. It will be one of the next books I buy though.
  4. Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. Another book that isn’t out in paperback yet and a bit too expensive.
  5. Rosewater by Tade Thompson. I really enjoyed this even if it confused me.
  6. Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss. I did not love this and I am unsure whether Moss’ writing is quite for me.
  7. Trail of Lightening by Rebecca Roanhorse. I loved this and it started my binge-reading of Urban Fantasy. I cannot wait for the next one!
  8. Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri. I got an ARC of this the day it released and I am super excited still. But I am also drowning in arcs at the moment. Hopefully I’ll get to it before the end of the year though.

Again, around three books I have not got to which isn’t too bad considering how absolutely abysmal I am at setting myself TBRs.

How did you do with your most anticipated releases of this year? Did you manage to get to them?

Wrap Up: March 2018 or I don’t really read all that much on holiday.

I planned to write this wrap up while still on holiday; that didn’t happen. I underestimated how bad the WiFi was going to be and also how much I did not feel like blogging. Because New Zealand was just so very stunning. I had so much fun on this holiday and I cannot believe I am already back (and back at work…). I have some catching up to do now though blogging wise.

My reading month on the other hand was just alright.

Books read in March:

  1. The Sea Beast Takes a Lover by Michael Andreasen: 3 out of 5 stars.
  2. From A Low And Quiet Sea by Ryan Donal: 4 out of 5 stars.
  3. The Gender Games by Juno Dawson: 4 out of 5 stars.
  4. To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo: 4 out of 5 stars.
  5. Ayiti by Roxane Gay: 4 out of 5 stars.
  6. Happiness by Aminatta Forna: 3 out of 5 stars.
  7. The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate #1) by JY Yang: 4 out of 5 stars.

I also finally DNFed How I Lose You. I just could not get into it and decided that enough is enough.

Favourite of the Month:

The Gender Games. I just needed something this positive and fun and important. Listening to this was an excellent choice.

Stats (ish):

I finished seven books totalling 2044 pages. Of these seven books there were two short story collections, one memoir, one literary fiction, two definite fantasy and one weirdly unclassifiable book, so overall a total mix of genres. Two of those books were written by men, four by women and one by a person identifying as gender-nonconforming. Four books were written by white people and three by people of colour.

How did I do with my TBR:

Actually surprisingly ok (compared to last month): I read three of the books on my TBR and I am slowly making my way through the arcs I have.

Currently Reading:

(Some of the) Blog posts I loved:

I loved Steph’s review of If We Were Villains – a book that has been on my TBR since well before it was published and I still haven’t read.

I love lists, especially those recommending female authors. So check Uwadis’ wonderful post.

Musings on Motherhood and Fiction: Sign me right up.

Elle has a lot of thoughts on the Women’s Prize for Fiction Long List.

I loved Clare’s predictions for the Man Booker International Longlist.

Rachel’s reviews are always worth checking out, but her nuanced review of Madeline Miller’s Circe even more so.

TBR: ARCs still to be published

I am trying to catch up to all the ARCs I still have to read and review. When I saw Rachel’s post on her ARCs on her shelves, I figured this is as good a time as any to talk about the ARCs I have with publication dates still to come. (I have a few more whose publication dates came and went and I will have to read and review those soonish as well, but currently I am concentrating on the ones I am not late for yet.) Hopefully this list will keep me accountable.

I have three reviews for upcoming releases already written and scheduled:

 

  1. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi: Stunning, brilliant, mean, challenging.
  2. Folk by Zoe Gilbert: Not quite as brilliant as I’d hoped.
  3. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton: Described as Groundhog Day meets Agatha Christie, I absolutely sped through it.

Currently Reading:

34846987The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale.

Publication Date: February 8th, 2018

Publisher: Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing

Blurb (from Goodreads): Do you remember when you believed in magic?

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…

Why I requested this: It has been described as for fans of The Night Circus, which I absolutely adored, and the idea of a magic toyshop really intrigued me. I am not loving it as much as I thought though which is why I have been reading this for over a month now.

 

37881415How I Lose You by Kate McNaughton.

Publication Date: March 8th, 2018

Publisher: Random House UK, Transworld Publisher

Blurb (from Goodreads): When Eva wakes up one morning to discover that her husband has died in his sleep, she is overwhelmed: with anger, with disbelief, with fear. For Adam was only thirty-one, a brilliant doctor with no health issues. They were supposed to grow old together. In the aftermath, attempting to confront the agony of her loss, Eva starts to uncover the story of her marriage, delving into those parts of her husband’s life to which she never before had access. But the secrets she finds are not what she expected.

Why I requested this: Because the tagline is: “This is the story of Eva and Adam. It ends on page 12.”

 

Also on my (digital) shelves:

35297400Up Up, Down Down by Cheston Knapp.

Publication Date: February 6th

Publisher: Scribner

Blurb (from Goodreads): For fans of John Jeremiah Sullivan and Wells Tower, a “glittering,” (Leslie Jamison), “always smart, often hilarious, and ultimately transcendent” (Anthony Doerr) linked essay collection from the managing editor of Tin House that brilliantly explores the nature of identity.

Daring and wise, hilarious and tender, Cheston Knapp’s exhilarating collection of seven linked essays, Up Up, Down Down, tackles the Big Questions through seemingly unlikely avenues. In his dexterous hands, an examination of a local professional wrestling promotion becomes a meditation on pain and his relationship with his father. A profile of UFO enthusiasts ends up probing his history in the church and, more broadly, the nature and limits of faith itself. Attending an adult skateboarding camp launches him into a virtuosic analysis of nostalgia. And the shocking murder of a neighbor expands into an interrogation of our culture’s prevailing ideas about community and the way we tell the stories of our lives. Even more remarkable, perhaps, is the way he manages to find humanity in a damp basement full of frat boys.

Taken together, the essays in Up Up, Down Down amount to a chronicle of Knapp’s coming-of-age, a young man’s journey into adulthood, late-onset as it might appear. He presents us with formative experiences from his childhood to marriage that echo throughout the collection, and ultimately tilts at what may be the Biggest Q of them all: what are the hazards of becoming who you are?

With “an ordnance of wit” (Wells Tower) and “a prose style that feels both extravagant and exact, and a big, booming heart” (Maggie Nelson), Up Up, Down Down signals the arrival of a truly one-of-a-kind voice.

Why I requested this: I love essay collections and thought I should read one written by a man for a change.

 

35909363Starlings by Jo Walton

Publication Date: February 13th, 2018

Publisher: Tachyon Publications.

Blurb (from Goodreads): An intimate first flight of short fiction from award-winning novelist Jo Walton (Among Others, The King’s Peace).

A strange Eritrean coin travels from lovers to thieves, gathering stories before meeting its match. Google becomes sentient and proceeds toward an existential crisis. An idealistic dancer on a generation ship makes an impassioned plea for creativity and survival. Three Irish siblings embark on an unlikely quest, stealing enchanted items via bad poetry, trickery, and an assist from the Queen of Cats.

With these captivating initial glimpses into her storytelling psyche, Jo Walton shines through subtle myths and wholly reinvented realities. Through eclectic stories, subtle vignettes, inspired poetry, and more, Walton soars with humans, machines, and magic—rising from the everyday into the universe itself.

Why I requested it: Jo Walton is an author I have been meaning to get to. Plus it’s fantastical short stories.

 

37769536To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo.

Publication Date: March 6th, 2018

Publisher: Hot Key Books.

Blurb (from Goodreads): Dark and romantic YA fantasy for fans of Sarah J Maas – about the siren with a taste for royal blood and the prince who has sworn to destroy her.

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most – a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavoury hobby – it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good. But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Why I requested it: Absolutely a mood decision. It looked great, it sounded cool, I wanted it. (I mean, I did say I would not read Young Adult without it being recommended… So I guess it took me less than two weeks to break one of my resolutions.)

 

36262478The Sea Beast Takes A Lover by Michael Andreasen.

Publication Date: March 8th, 2018

Publisher: Head of Zeus.

Blurb (from Goodreads): Bewitching and playful, with its feet only slightly tethered to the world we know, The Sea Beast Takes a Lover explores hope, love, and loss across a series of surreal landscapes and wild metamorphoses. Just because Jenny was born without a head doesn’t mean she isn’t still annoying to her older brother, and just because the Man of the Future’s carefully planned extramarital affair ends in alien abduction and network fame doesn’t mean he can’t still pine for his absent wife. Romping through the fantastic with big-hearted ease, these stories cut to the core of what it means to navigate family, faith, and longing, whether in the form of a lovesick kraken slowly dragging a ship of sailors into the sea, a small town euthanizing its grandfathers in a time-honored ritual, or a third-grade field trip learning that time travel is even more wondrous–and more perilous–than they might imagine.

Andreasen’s stories are simultaneously daring and deeply familiar, unfolding in wildly inventive worlds that convey our common yearning for connection and understanding. With a captivating new voice from an incredible author, The Sea Beast Takes a Lover uses the supernatural and extraordinary to expose us at our most human.

Why I requested it: It just sounds so much up my alley, it’s a bit ridiculous. Since I have requested it, it has been blurbed by authors whose work I enjoy, which is always a plus. The publisher has requested the reviews to only be posted 10 days before publication which is the only reason I haven’t read it yet.

 

35524642A Guide for Murdered Children by Sarah Sparrow.

Publication Date: March 20th, 2018

Publisher: Penguin Group, Blue Rider Press

Blurb (from Goodreads): We all say there is no justice in this world. But what if there really was? What if the souls of murdered children were able to return briefly to this world, inhabit adult bodies and wreak ultimate revenge on the monsters who had killed them, stolen their lives?

Such is the unfathomable mystery confronting ex-NYPD detective Willow Wylde, fresh out of rehab and finally able to find a job running a Cold Case squad in suburban Detroit. When the two rookie cops assigned to him take an obsessive interest in a decades old disappearance of a brother and sister, Willow begins to suspect something out of the ordinary is afoot. And when he uncovers a series of church basement AA-type meetings made up of the slain innocents, a new way of looking at life, death, murder and missed opportunities is revealed to him.

Mystical, harrowing and ultimately tremendously moving, A Guide for Murdered Children is a genre-busting, mind-bending twist on the fine line between the ordinary and the extraordinary.

Why I requested this: The title. (I have since grown apprehensive because the reviews are less than favourable so far. But god, that title is brilliant.)

 

 

34964885Gods Of Howl Mountain by Taylor Brown.

Publication Date: March 20th, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press.

Blurb (from Goodreads): In Gods of Howl Mountain, award-winning author Taylor Brown explores a world of folk healers, whiskey-runners, and dark family secrets in the high country of 1950s North Carolina.

Bootlegger Rory Docherty has returned home to the fabled mountain of his childhood – a misty wilderness that holds its secrets close and keeps the outside world at gunpoint. Slowed by a wooden leg and haunted by memories of the Korean War, Rory runs bootleg whiskey for a powerful mountain clan in a retro-fitted ’40 Ford coupe. Between deliveries to roadhouses, brothels, and private clients, he lives with his formidable grandmother, evades federal agents, and stokes the wrath of a rival runner.

In the mill town at the foot of the mountains – a hotbed of violence, moonshine, and the burgeoning sport of stock-car racing – Rory is bewitched by the mysterious daughter of a snake-handling preacher. His grandmother, Maybelline “Granny May” Docherty, opposes this match for her own reasons, believing that “some things are best left buried.” A folk healer whose powers are rumored to rival those of a wood witch, she concocts potions and cures for the people of the mountains while harboring an explosive secret about Rory’s mother – the truth behind her long confinement in a mental hospital, during which time she has not spoken one word. When Rory’s life is threatened, Granny must decide whether to reveal what she knows…or protect her only grandson from the past.

With gritty and atmospheric prose, Taylor Brown brings to life a perilous mountain and the family who rules it.

Why I requested this: The reviews I have seen have all been brilliant, the cover is stunning and this sounds like something I might really love (or it will bore me to tears, stay tuned!).

 

35448496The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

Publication Date: May 24th, 2018

Publisher: Penguin Books (UK).

Blurb (from Goodreads): Imagine a world very close to our own: where women are not safe in their bodies, where desperate measures are required to raise a daughter. This is the story of Grace, Lia and Sky, kept apart from the world for their own good and taught the terrible things that every woman must learn about love. And it is the story of the men who come to find them – three strangers washed up by the sea, their gazes hungry and insistent, trailing desire and destruction in their wake.

Hypnotic and compulsive, The Water Cure is a fever dream, a blazing vision of suffering, sisterhood and transformation.

Why I requested this: I am SO excited about this. It made my Most Anticipated Reads list and might actually top it. I couldn’t not request it. It sounds so absolutely brilliant in all the vagueness of the blurb.

 

36098092Florida by Lauren Groff.

Publication Date: June 5th, 2018

Publisher: Random House UK, Cornerstone

Blurb (from Goodreads): Lauren Groff’s next book, FLORIDA, a collection of stories, will be published next year by Riverhead. The New Yorker has a story, Dogs Go Wolf, that will appear in that collection. She says in an interview: “The collection is a portrait of my own incredible ambivalence about the state where I’ve lived for twelve years. My feelings for Florida are immoderate, and I love the disappearing natural world, the sunshine, the extraordinary and astonishing beauty of the place as passionately as I hate the heat and moisture and backward politics and the million creatures whose only wish is to kill you. I wrote this collection very slowly and was surprised when it came together to find that the stories built into a ferocious protracted argument.”

Why I requested it: I adored Fates and Furies. I love short story collections. I squealed when I was accepted.

What are your thoughts? Have you read any of these books or do you wish to do so? If you decide to do a similar post, please let me know. I am always eager to know what other people read.

Most Anticipated Books of 2018 (so far)

I have seen a couple of blogposts and Youtube videos floating around where people talk about their Most Anticipated Books of 2018. This coming year feels like the first year where I actually have a few books I am looking forward to reading. Normally I have maybe a handful books I know will come out soonish but currently I spend so much time looking at books that I have a proper list to share. The list is ordered by publication date and I have tried to write one or two sentences explaining why I want to read each book. The links lead to the goodreads pages.

McGOWAN_BRAVE_HC_TEST2.inddBRAVE by Rose McGowan

January 30th, HarperOne

There is no way I am not reading this. I love memoirs written by women and this sounds timely and important.

 

35840657Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot

February 6th, Counterpoint Press

A memoir? Written by a woman? Who grew up on a Native American Reservation? Blurbed by Lidia Yuknavitch and Roxane Gay? There is no way I am not reading this.

35892355Folk by Zoe Gilbert

February 8th, Bloomsbury Press

These interconnected short stories set on an island and playing with myth and fairy tales sound right up my alley. The cover is also absolutely stunning.

35412372Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

February 13th, Grove Press

I am currently reading this and it is blowing my mind (which is why I am including this). This heartbreaking story of mental illness is approached differently to what I have read before and I have already so many thoughts.

36262478The Sea Beast Takes a Lover by Michael Andreasen

March 8th, Head of Zeus

Fantastical short stories that play on fairy tales – yes, still exactly my cuppa. In fact I have included this in my five star prediction post.

 

35068524Not that bad edited by Roxane Gay

May 1st, Harper Perennial

It is no secret how much I admire Roxane Gay and her thoughts. While this anthology of first person essays written about rape and rape culture will for sure make me angry and sad, it sounds important.

35448496The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

May 31st, Hamish Hamilton

The blurb is vague but sounded intriguing and the cover is just absolutely stunning. This sounds like an introspective, feminist work with maybe a speculative element and I am so here for that.

Florida 36098092by Lauren Groff

June 5th, Riverhead

I adored Fates and Furies, and I love short story collections, this was a no brainer, really.

 

Lies Sleeping (Peter Grant #7) by Ben Aaronovitch

June, Gollancz

This is one of the very few series I keep up with. I just love Ben Aaronovitch’s brand of urban fantasy and I cannot wait for this.

36896898Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

July 10th, Del Rey

I really enjoyed Uprooted and this sounds similar (in a good way). I like fairy tale retellings so very much and Naomi Novik manages to hit the language just perfectly.

32600407Sick by Porochista Khakpour

August 8th, Harper Perennial

This memoir about Porochista Khakpour’s struggle with illness sounds right up my alley. I am very much in the mood for non fiction lately and I wish I could read this already.

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

August 14th, Del Rey

It is the last part of the brilliant Winternight trilogy. Do I really have to say more?

Vengeful (Villains #2) by V. E. Schwab

September 25th, Tor

Vicious is my favourite of V. E. Schwab’s books. I just adored it so much and I just cannot wait to read the next book in a series that I did not know would be a series.

 

 

What are your most anticipated books for the upcoming months? Let me know because obviously my TBR is not big enough already.

5 star prediction tag

Mercedes over at my favourite booktube channel MercysBookishMusings recently did a thing where she predicted five books she thought she would adore so much she would give them five stars; later she then had a look at how that went. I think this is a brilliant idea and I am eager to see if I am any good at predicting which books I will adore.  You’d think, having read as many books in my life a I have, that I’d have a pretty good grasp at what will be a five star read for me, however ever since I started writing reviews I have come to realize that this is often not the case (exhibit a, exhibit b).

Five star reads for me are a combination of many things:

  • vivid language,
  • brilliant characters,
  • innovative story telling,
  • emotional response (helpful but not necessary).

For this list I went through my Goodreads to read shelf and then went with how I felt. Let’s see how this approach pays off.

975186

number9dream – David Mitchell

At first glance this seems a sure in; it is David Mitchell doing what David Mitchell does best. I gave two of his books five stars and three four stars. He is one of my favourite authors. But on the other hand, some people I trust think this is by far his weakest work. But I do trust David Mitchell. So I guess, I’ll have to read and see.

28172483

Human Acts – Han Kang

Again, I am going with a book by an author whose work I have previously enjoyed. The Vegetarian is one of my favourite books of the last few years and one with imagery that stayed with me. I have been waiting to be in the right mood for this because this seems like it’s very very grim.

33864360The Magic Toyshop – Angela Carter

This just seems like a book I will adore. I have been wanting to get to Angela Carter sooner rather than later. Everything I heard of her sounds just so brilliant and I don’t even know why I haven’t read anything of hers. The edition I own looks so beyond beautiful and just like a me-book.

28601847

 

Snow in May – Kseniya Melnik

Short stories? Short stories set in snowy locations? Interconnected, bleak short stories set in the snowy North of Russia? Sign me right up. This sounds so much up my alley it is a bit ridiculous. Also, every time I look up this book, I wonder why I have not already read it. Because, see above. How can I not love this?

36262478

 

The Sea Beast Takes a Lover: Stories – Michael Andreasen

First off, I love that title. Second: Bewitching and playful, with its feet only slightly tethered to the world we know, The Sea Beast Takes a Lover explores hope, love, and loss across a series of surreal landscapes and wild metamorphoses.” (From the blurb) Need I say more?

 

I will try and get to these books sooner rather than later – but I am a fickle reader and there is not telling if I will feel like reading any of them soon. Which is stupid now that I think about it.

Can you usually tell if a book will be a five star read for you? Also, you should all join in this prediction tag, so that I have somebody to laugh with when inevitably I am dead wrong about at least half these books.