May 2021 TBR: It’s Wyrd and Wonder!

IMAGE CREDITS: images by Svetlana Alyuk on 123RF.com

May is Wyrd and Wonder month – and I have at least tried to participate for the last three years and I am very excited to be part of it again. Wyrd and Wonder is a month long fantasy readathon hosted by Lisa of Dear Geek Place, imyril of There’s Always Room for One More, and Jorie of Jorie Loves a Story. I particularly like the sense of community this event gives me and that I find new people to follow every year.

I am famously not great at following TBRs and my mood reading often leads me down different paths than I anticipated but I am very excited about fantasy at the moment and hope this’ll keep for this month at least. I have some super exciting books I could potentially read and I genuinely hope to be more active this year. My daughter will maybe start day care soon (depending on how the covid cases in my hometown develop), so I might be able to sit down and blog at least a few times this month. I might also be able to read an actual physical book with pages and everything.

I am currently in the middle of three fantasy books which I am going to prioritize. I am enjoying all three of them but especially For The Wolf which is just as good as the blurb made it sound and at the moment on track to be a five star read for me. Dead Witch Walking is fun and the first in a long series – and I would love to get stuck in a longer series again, filling the Kate Daniels and Psy-Changeling shaped holes in my heart. Big Bad Wolf is a lot darker than I anticipated but I am loving the world building if sadly not the romance.

Below is an additional list of books I am excited about that I could potentially read this month. Looking at these books makes me wonder why I ever read anything else but fantasy. I will probably prioritize The Bone Shard Daughther by Andrea Stewart as it is the group read and Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse – have no excuse to not have already read that and I am certain I will adore it.

2020 releases that I really should have gotten to

I am sure I am not the only one who had a weird year. My reading certainly mirrored that. I read less books (between living in a literal global pandemic and having a child, my focus just wasn’t there) and I also read nearly exclusively on my kindle – which means that I did not get to the books I pre-ordered. When I wrote my wrap-up post for my most anticipated 2020 releases it became obvious just how many books I did not get to, added to this are the books that came out during the second half of the year that I really wanted to read but didn’t. I am limiting myself here to books I already own (or nearly own) as I do want to try and actually get to these soon rather than buying even more books that I then not read.

Real Life by Brandon Taylor
Maybe the one I am most upset at myself for not reading – I am sure I will love this once I finally get to it. Everything about this Booker shortlisted book appeals to me, people whose taste aligns with my adored this, and what I have read of Taylor’s writing, I loved.

Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell
Mitchell is one of my very favourite authors whose books I have been rationing to not be without any to read, so obviously I pre-ordered it even thought that meant getting the weird huge paperback size that UK publishing insists on. Its huge size is also the reason I didn’t read this – I rarely have two hands free long enough to pick up a book.

Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky) by Rebecca Roanhorse
Another of my favourite writers, my most anticipated release of the second half of the year, another huge book that I somehow did not pick up. I love Roanhorse’s writing and I am very excited to see what she does in a mor epic fantasy setting.

The Death of Vivik Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
I adored Emezi’s debut and was over the moon when I managed to snag a Netgalley ARC for this – and then somehow didn’t get to it. I am slightly mad at myself for not reading this yet (the reviews I’ve seen from people I trust are all very positive) and want to remedy this as soon as possible.

Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang
My colleagues got me a copy of this book when I went on maternity leave and I have been excited about it since – but I rarely read hardback books as I said, so I haven’t been able to pick this up. It sounds absolutely incredible though and I want to prioritize it sooner rather than later.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
I adored Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and had been waiting for another novel by Susanna Clarke for what feels like ages – and then never got around to buying this. My brother got me this for Christmas (I think, we haven’t actually seen each other since) and I am very excited. Everybody seems to really love this and I am hoping I will too.

Have you read any of these books and want to shout at me for not getting to them yet? Do you have any 2020 releases you cannot believe you haven’t gotten to?

Reading more books by Indigenous authors – a sort of TBR

November is Native American Heritage Month in the US – and one of the things I planned on doing this year was to read more books by Indigenous authors. Both because they are underrepresented in publishing and also because so far I have not read one book by a Native author I did not like. So this seems like the perfect opportunity to get to a few more books before the year’s end.

I sat with the idea to do something for Native American Heritage Menth for quite some time and thought long and hard whether I really wanted to do a proper TBR post for this vague idea I have. On the one hand, TBR posts are fun! I like putting them together and this seems like a good way to shine some light on what I am planning. On the other hand, I seriously suck at following TBRs – and if I don’t have some follow through here, this will look (and honestly be) performative and also fairly problematic. So finally I decided on this: here is a list of books on my radar written by Indigenous authors and I hope to get to at least three of those over the month of November.

I already own two of the three books I want to read in November.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
This is one of my most anticipated books of the year and I am glad I finally have a copy in my hands. I need to finish one of the other physical books I am currently reading and then will dive into this. I am very excited for Roanhorse’s take on epic fantasy; her post-apocalyptic series is a favourite of mine. I have heard incredible things so far.

As You Were by David Tromblay (published February 21st, 2021)
I was contacted by the publisher (Dzanc Books) if I was interested in reviewing this. This is a memoir and sounds absolutely harrowing but also really interesting. Tromblay writes about his difficult childhood, intergenerational trauma, and identity; all things I am interested in. Tromblay names Lidia Yuknavitch as an influence which is always a plus for me.

I also want to get to one of these three non-fiction titles (I mean, it is also Non-Fiction November), probably on audiobook.

Abandon Me: Memoirs by Melissa Febos
I have wanted to read this book since it came out in 2017 – everything about this sounds like my kind of book. It apparently focusses identity and love, Febos was partly raised by a sea captain, the language is described as visceral, and the blurb promises thatg she mixes the personal with the theoretical which is my favourite kind of non-fiction writing.

Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo
This has also been on my TBR for what feels like forever. I found this on one of those “best memoirs”-type lists and the audiobook especially sounds really good as it features poetry and music.


A Mind Spread Out On The Ground by Alicia Elliott
I have heard nothing but brilliant things about this memoir dealing with intergenerational trauma, legacy, and addiction. The reviews I have seen are overwhelmingly positive and especially the audiobook has gotten a lot of praise.

Finally there are two books that sounds super intriguing but might be too scary for me.
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones and Empire of the Wild by Cherie Dimaline both sound INCREDIBLE. But I scare easily and I recently gravitate more towards books that do not stress me out too badly.

Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts? Are there other books you think should be on my radar? I am particularly interested in speculative works written by Indigenous authors.

PS: There is also a Readathon that takes place in November focussing on Indigenous authors. I am never good at actually participating but thought I should shout it out for others anyways. You can find information and reading prompts on their twitter account.

The Mid Year Freak Out Book Tag 2020

I cannot believe the year is halfway over. Being perfectly honest, I haven’t so far had the best of reading years. I was considering not doing this tag for the first time since I have my blog but that felt too sad.

Question 1 – The best book you’ve read so far in 2020

I am trying to rank all the books I am reading this year (surprisingly hard!) and one of the things that I am struggling with is my top spot. At the moment it is between The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy and Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe. I cannot yet say which one will ultimately win out but I can say now that both of these books are incredible in their own way.

Continue reading “The Mid Year Freak Out Book Tag 2020”

Have I read my most anticipated releases of 2019?

Twice a year I post lists of books I am super excited about reading – and I wanted to see whether I have actually read those books and whether I liked them or not. My reading was fairly odd last year, so I am assuming I won’t have done as well as I did in 2018.

For the first half of the year I featured ten books I could not wait to get to.

  1. The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang. I LOVED this.
  2. The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders. Sadly I could not get into this book. I am fairly sure that had more to do with my wonky reading mood during 2019 and I will try to read this again at some other point because I do love Anders’ writing.
  3. Mother Winter by Sophia Shalmiyev. This seemed custom-made for me but somehow did not quite work for me.
  4. Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James. I hyped this up so much in my head and ended up bouncing off it, hard. I hated the casual violence too much to keep reading it.
  5. Long Live The Tribe Of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden. This is SUCH a good memoir that I cannot recommend highly enough.
  6. Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse. I loved this even more than I loved the first book in the series and will from now on read every adult book Roanhorse publishes. She is just brilliant.
  7. What My Mother And I Don’t Talk About ed. by Michele Filgate. I realized after adding this book to my list that the contributors include men – so I did not get to it yet but I am planning on buying it soon.
  8. The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West. The publication date kept being pushed back but I now own this and will hopefully get to it soon.
  9. No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by Rachel Louise Snyder. I would like to listen to the audiobook of this but haven’t yet found it.
  10. The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang. I tried reading this for months but I was just not in the mental headspace to deal with its relentless bleakness and the brutality of the storyline. I am unsure whether I will ever be back in the reading mood for this.

I only read four of these books and DNFed an additional two. This is depressing.

For the second half of the year I named ten books I was super excited about.

  1. Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. I have not gotten around to this book yet but I am still super excited about it.
  2. The Need by Helen Phillips. Again, I did not get to this. I am currently trying not to buy too many books and also maybe a horror novel about pregnancy/ children is not the best idea at the moment. I still want to get to it at some point!
  3. I’m Telling the Truth But I’m Lying by Bassey Ikpi. I sadly did not love this. I found te reading experience difficult even if I can appreciate what Ikpi does on an intellectual level.
  4. Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino. I thought this was absolutely brilliant. I listened to the audiobook which is my favourite way of consuming non-fiction.
  5. Shelf Life by Livia Franchini. I read but didn’t love this.
  6. Pet by Akwaeke Emezi. I haven’t even bought this one yet. Middle Grade is just never the age range I get excited about.
  7. In the Dream House my Carmen Maria Machado. I am still waiting for the audiobook to make it to Audible Germany. I prefer listening to memoirs on audio.
  8. How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones. I can now read this! Once I buy it, that is.
  9. Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Diaz. Another one that I am beyond excited about that I did not even purchase yet.
  10. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. I cannot believe I haven’t gotten around to buying this yet.

I only read three of these books and loved only one. This is even more depressing than the first part of this post. I really did not do too brilliantly on this – which was kind of to be expected, given how weird my reading year went. I hope this year will go better, most anticipated releases wise. (you can find my first post for 2019 here)

Favourite Books of 2019

I had a weird reading year – I mostly read romance novels which while they were just what I needed also don’t tend to stick in my brain for any length of time and I read very few SFF novels which usually comprise the majority of my reading. Thus compilling this list turned out to be a lot more difficult than usual – because I did not read that many absolute stand-outs.

Honorable Mentions:

Baiting the Maid of Honor by Tessa Bailey (my favourite of the many books of hers I read this year), A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride (read with the best reading group), Almost Love by Louise O’Neill (too harrowingly close to my own experiences to be something I enjoyed while reading but too brilliant to ignore), the complete Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh (the stand-out reading experience of my year)

Top 10:

2575054610) Act Like It by Lucy Parker (review)

My absolute favourite romance novel of the year, this combines many things I love in the genre: snarky enemies-to-lovers, fake dating, hilarious banter, wonderful secondary relationships. I have since then read every single book in this series and I will do so until Lucy Parker stops writing them. Did I mention it is set in London’s West End?

40236964._sy475_09) Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

I did not read nearly enough short story collections last year (something I will try to remedy in 2020) but of those ones I read, this was hands-down my favourite. While I normally gravitate towards the more weird end of the spectrum, these hyper-realistic stories focussing on familial relationships worked incredibly well for me.

2977402608) The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (review)

I loved this – even though I rarely think any book needs to be longer than 400 pages, this 800 page tome captured not only my attention but also my heart. This is a love letter to women – in the best possible way in that the women in here are allowed to be flawed and different and absolutely wonderful.

3839105907) The Winter of the Witch (Winternight #3) by Katherine Arden (review)

My love for this series is well-documented and this final installment was no different. There is just something about Arden’s writing that makes me happy – her distinct sentence structure combined with her literary and real world influences make this series just custom-made for me.

44543851._sx318_06) Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden (review)

This is such a cleverly constructed memoir that came together with the final essay in a way that I found beyond impressive. While I did not love every single chapter, the overall book is near perfect.

3792049005) Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse (review)

My favourite fantasy book of the year, I loved this enough that I am seriously  considering reading Roanhorse’s middle grade release from the Riordan imprint. I adore this post-apocalyptic urban fantasy grounded in Native American mythology more than I can say. This year will hopefully bring the first book in another UF fantasy series by Roanhorse and maybe if I am very lucky the third part of this series.

4012199304) The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang (review)

Hands-down my favourite non-fiction book in a year where I did not read enough non-fiction by a long-shot. This book is impeccably structured and unbelievably needed. Wang’s way of talking about her struggle with Schizoaffective Disorder is brilliant – and I not only felt like I learned a lot, I also really enjoyed my experience listening to this book.

3633213603) The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley (review)

I loved this so. I love her wonderfully flawed and actually quite awful women, I love the way Headley plays with language and perspective, I love the way she modernizes Beowolf and made it feel both modern and universal.

3847022902) The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (review)

This was my favourite from last year’s Women’s Prize shortlist by far and the one book that single-handedly made me excited about the list again after I spent a lot of time being rather underwhelmed. It’s another mythological retelling, this time a lot closer to the original myth but brilliant nonetheless.

3613638601) Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney (review)

No contest. I love this a nearly unhealthy amount. Everything about this book worked for me. I have listened to the audiobook twice this year and I will forever read everything Rooney writes.

 

Most anticipated books of the first half of 2020

There will be so many incredible sounding books released next year that I have been thinking about this post for weeks. As usual, I will for now concentrate on the first half of the year and hopefully write another post some time around June when more books will have been announced. I have tried to no go totally over-board and only include books I am sure I want to get to. You can find more books on my radar on my Goodreads.

I will mostly focus on books that aren’t part of ongoing series but there are plenty of those I am excited about; for example: Headliners (London Celebrities #5) by Lucy Parker, Dirty Martini Running Club #2 by Claire Kingsley, Shorefall (Founder #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett, Alpha Night (Psy-Changeling Trinity #4) by Nalini Singh (hands down my most anticipated release of the entire year).

Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey (Knopf/ January 7th, 2020)

45754997Miranda Popkey’s first novel is about desire, disgust, motherhood, loneliness, art, pain, feminism, anger, envy, guilt–written in language that sizzles with intelligence and eroticism. The novel is composed almost exclusively of conversations between women–the stories they tell each other, and the stories they tell themselves, about shame and love, infidelity and self-sabotage–and careens through twenty years in the life of an unnamed narrator hungry for experience and bent on upending her life. Edgy, wry, shot through with rage and despair, Topics of Conversation introduces an audacious and immensely gifted new novelist.

Everything about that blurb appeals to me – that it has been praised as similar to Sally Rooney alone would have been enough to make me excited though. Continue reading “Most anticipated books of the first half of 2020”

Best Books of 2019 (at the halfway point)

I wasn’t going to do a post like this because I thought my reading year hadn’t been that great – turns out, I actually read quite a few books I loved and really felt like sharing those. I gave seven books 5 stars so far or 10% of my reading – which is pretty normal for me but still surprised me because my reading year has been feeling distinctly mediocre for some reason. I could only narrow it down to six books for this list though (I would have prefered a list of five but just could not do it). Below are the books in order of when I read them (I couldn’t rank them just yet but will do so when my end of the year wrap ups come around).

36332136The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley

I adored this. Everything about this retelling of Beowolf set in suburbia really worked for me. Maria Dahvana Headley has a wonderful way with words, the rhythm of her language enthralled me, her flawed and kind of awful female characters excited me, but it is her play with different perspectives (mixing first person with third person and complimenting this with a chorus-like first person plural) that made this an instant favourite for me. I am nothing if not predictable. (Review)

36136386Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

I am sorry if I have become a Sally Rooney fan blog. But she really is just that brilliant.

I don’t think I need to talk about this book anymore. I have been shouting its praise from the rooftops for months and I recently finished my reread of it. Everything about this works for me. (Review)

38470229The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

This was my favourite of the Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlisted books – and I was just so very pleased to have finally loved a book (I was a bit of the grinch of our Women’s Prize group chat and I love loving books much more than snarking about them). Parker’s retelling of the Illiad from Briseis’ perspective broke my heart and excited me. I found Briseis’ endlessly fascinating and loved how Barker constructed a character that was allowed to be flawed and surprising while remaining true to the heart of the myth. Her take on Achilles also really worked for me. (Review)

29774026The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

I loved Shannon’s female centric take on a classic epic fantasy novel. I am usually of the opinion that no book needs to be longer than 400 pages but I was hooked for all 800 pages of this. Shannon carefully puts her pieces into place and builds towards a wonderful whole; her characters are wonderful: all are flawed, some are better humans than others, all are compelling. In books with many perspectives there are usually a few that don’t work as well for me but here I wanted to spend time with every single one on them and needed to know what happens next. (Review)

37920490Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse

The first book in the series reignited my love for urban fantasy – and the sequel was even more incredible. I just love Roanhorse’s worldbuilding, and her prickly main character, and her language, and her imagination, and basically everything about this. I did the thing again, where I read the book as soon as it came out and now I have to wait for who knows how long until I can read the next book in the series. (Review)

38391059The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy #3) by Katherine Arden

I love this series with all my heart – and I have a particular soft spot for it because it is the first series where I got all books as review copies while they were coming out. Katherine Arden has a very particular style of sentence structure that just makes me happy; it is recognizably hers while mirroring traditional fairy tales in the best possible way. I cannot wait for her next adult series – I will be reading whatever she decides to do next.

What was your favourite of the year so far?

Wrap Up: May 2019 or this was Wyrd and Wonder

First things first, as a housekeeping note: I’ll be trying to include trigger warnings in my reviews from now on. (I read two books at the same time that really knocked me sideways and while I know this is a weirdly self-involved reason to start including trigger warnings, it has given me the incentive to finally take the plunge, something I have thought about doing for a while) If I get anything wrong or forget to include something, please let me know.

Except for this unfortunate being knocked sideways and the resulting abandonment of any book even remotely challenging (and the resulting binge-reading of romance novels which soothed me), I had a pretty damn brilliant reading month. I rated three books five stars! That never happens!

I had so much fun with Wyrd and Wonder – a month-long celebration of the fantastic hosted by imyril @ There’s Always Room for One More, Lisa @ Dear Geek Place and Jorie @ Jorie Loves a Story, even if I didn’t end up posting a whole lot but I am so glad to have participated. Thank you so much for hosting and for the fun and the new people I followed!

Books I read in May:

  1. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite: 4 out of 5 stars (review)
  2. Silver Silence (Psy-Changeling Trinity #1) by Nalini Singh: 3 out of 5 stars
  3. Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse: 5 out of 5 stars (review)
  4. Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) by Patricia Briggs: 3 out of 5 stars
  5. Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson #2) by Patricia Briggs: 3 out of 5 stars
  6. Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4) by Patricia Briggs: 2,5 out of 5 stars
  7. Act Like It (London Celebrities #1) by Lucy Parker: 4 out of 5 stars
  8. Pretty Face (London Celebrities #2) by Lucy Parker: 4 out of 5 stars
  9. Making Up (London Celebrities #3) by Lucy Parker: 3,5 out of 5 stars
  10. Disorderly Conduct (The Academy #1) by Tessa Bailey: 3 out of 5 stars
  11. Disturbing His Peace (The Academy #3) by Tessa Bailey: 4 out of 5 stars
  12. Indecent Exposure (The Academy #2) by Tessa Bailey: 4 out of 5 stars
  13. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon: 5 out of 5 stars (review)
  14. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker: 5 out of 5 stars

Favourite of the Month:

Continue reading “Wrap Up: May 2019 or this was Wyrd and Wonder”