Have I read my most anticipated releases of 2020?

Every year I round up my reading – amongst other things I look if I have gotten around to the books I was most excited about. To be fair, mostly I only read about half of the books I mentioned in my various lists (you can find my post from last year here)- and let’s see if I even did that this year. I only posted one list of books this year (here) because the second half got away from me.

Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey: I did not read this one because the early reviews were kind of atrocious – and especially because Rachel did not like this (review) and we often agree on this kind of book.

The Island Child by Molly Aitken: I also did not get to this one – even though I got an ARC. I was just never in the mood for this. I really should remedy that.

Verge by Lidia Yuknavitch: I read but didn’t love this. This is probably my most disappointing read of the year because I was looking forward to a collection of short stories by one of my favourite authors for a while.

The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams: I DNFed this – I just did not get on with this one at all and other reviews (mostly Rachel’s again) convinced me that this would not change.

Daughter from the Dark by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko: I cannot believe I did not get to this yet – I adored the other book by the Dyachenko that was translated into English so much. I really need to by this one soon.

And I Do Not Forgive You: Stories and Other Revenges by Amber Sparks: I read and enjoyed this. I don’t think Sparks can even write a short story collection that I would not like.

The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates #1) by A. K. Larkwood: I loved this; my favourite epic fantasy novel of the year.

So We Can Glow: Stories by Leesa Cross-Smith: I am upset I did not get to this because I am still convinced I would love it.

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin: This is the main victim of my weird reading year. I started this the moment it arrived, having pre-ordered it ages ago, and then somehow did not manage to finish it. I have been reading this for months – something about it hits a bit too close and it is also my least favourite of her books so far. I am determined to finish it before the year ends though!

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby: Loved it, will read everything Samantha Irby ever writes.

Godshot by Chelsea Bieker: Another victim of my only reading e-books; the cover is so stunning I would want to own a paperback copy.

Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell: I own a copy, but haven’t read this.

I Hold A Wolf by the Ears by Laura van den Berg: Read and loved it. Made me want to read every short story collection Laura van den Berg has ever written.

Mini-Reviews to catch up: Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Samantha Irby, André Leon Talley

I fell out of my reviewing groove some time last year and am only now starting to get back into things. This does mean that I have pending reviews for books that I read nearly a year ago – and I am not good at writing reviews if I leave them too long. Therefore I decided to write mini-reviews to finally catch up and start with afresh, hoping that I will not leave books unreviewed for this long.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

36510722Published by Quercus Books, July 23rd 2019

This book combines very many things I adore in books: whimsical writing in fantasy books for adults, a female main character I could not help but adore, ruminations on godhood and what makes humans human, as well as a mythology that I am not familiar with. I already knew that I would like Moreno-Garcia’s writing, as her short stories are consistently amongst my favourites in anthologies. I did ultimately enjoy this but did not love it. The aloof tone was something I appreciated but which kept me from adoring this. I am still excited about quite a few of Moreno-Garcia’s books though.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

47169050Published by Faber & Faber, April 2nd 2020

I adore Samantha Irby. Her humour and the way she structures her essays in a way that seems effortless but surely isn’t make her books a joy to read. Her third collection of essays is as good as the ones that came before and it came to me at just the right moment. It got me reading in the middle of a pandemic induced reading slump and made me happy. Irby writes about growing older, body positivity, the internet, imposter syndrome, and many things more in a way that makes these topics approachable and so funny. I hope she keeps on writing these books because I love them.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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

The Chiffon Trenches by André Leon Talley

51794442._sx318_sy475_Published by 4th Estate, May 19th 2020

This book mostly made me sad. André Leon Talley has written a book supposedly telling it all – and he does tell a lot of things about the inner workings of Vogue, of the micro-aggressions he endured as one of the very few black people in the fashion world and as a black gay man in particular. Weirdly enough I never got a concrete understanding how much of the awful treatment he received was due to his identity and how much was just the way the fashion world worked, and it made me so very sad for him. I enjoyed being able to glimpse behind the curtain and I enjoyed how petty André Leon Talley allowed himself to be. I do think the book promises something in the introduction it then never delivers on: Talley does not spend a lot of time ruminating on the role of race in his trajectory, but rather tells of his life as he experienced it – and apparently he experienced it mainly as a means to wear extravagant clothes which he describes in minute detail, from the way things looked to where he got them to who complimented him on them – and that part of the book I was not that keen on. Reading between the lines, Talley seems profoundly lonely and I sometimes wished he would be more honest about that – but then again, he can choose to tell his story in any way he wishes.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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

Wrap Up March 2020 or it’s Women’s Prize Season!

March was weird, I am sure everybody will agree. And I am not sure April will be any less weird but maybe I will be more used to the weirdness by then? In positive news, the longlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction was announced and I have started making my way through it – and for the most part I have enjoyed the books so far, although I am weary if that’ll stay that way.

Books I read in March:

  1. Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey: 2 out of 5 stars
  2. A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes: 4 out of 5 stars (review)
  3. Weather by Jenny Offil: 4 out of 5 stars (review)
  4. Actress by Anne Enright: 4.5 out of 5 stars (review)
  5. Verge by Lidia Yuknavitch: 3 out of 5 stars
  6. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett: 1.5 out of 5 stars (review)
  7. Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby: 4 out of 5 stars
  8. Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie: 2 out of  5 stars

Favourite of the Month:

Actress. I did not think I would like this book and was then very happy when I did. It is so far my favourite of the longlisted books.

Stats(ish):

I finished eight books in March, all of them written by women. Of these books five were on the Women’s Prize longlist and thus fiction. I also read one romance novel, one short story collection, and one memoir. I also spent a lot of my time re-reading parts of the Psy-Changeling series because those books always make me happy. I did not completely read any of those books though.

Currently Reading:

Books I should get to soon:

I am still kind of planning to finish the Women’s Prize longlist (except for the Mantel) before the shortlist is announced on the 22nd. I am unsure whether that is at all doable but I am still going to try my best.

Women’s Prize coverage by other bloggers:

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

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”

Review: Meaty by Samantha Irby

35952943Verdict: I just love Samantha Irby’s writing.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, April 3rd 2018

Genre: Memoir; Essay Collection

Find it on Goodreads.

The widely beloved, uproarious, first essay collection and the basis for the upcoming FX Studios series from smart, edgy, hilarious, and unabashedly raunchy Samantha Irby.

Samantha Irby exploded onto the printed page with this debut collection of essays about trying to laugh her way through failed relationships, taco feasts, bouts with Crohn’s disease, and more. Every essay is crafted with the same scathing wit and poignant candor thousands of loyal readers have come to expect from visiting her notoriously hilarious blog, bitchesgottaeat.com.

I love Samantha Irby. I adored her second essay collection, I find her funny and relatable, and I enjoyed this collection (her first now republished with a beautiful cover) a whole lot as well. I have been reading mostly heavy memoirs and this was the perfect antidote to those. While there is obvious darkness here, there is also light and humour. I absolutely sped through this and it made me happy while doing so.

I adore her language and her honesty. I love how honest she talks about her body and Krohn’s disease. I love how she structures her essays and her thoughts. I do not mind her vulgarity at all and in fact appreciated its freshness.

As most of you will know, I adore memoirs written by women funnier than me and Samantha Irby is among the funniest. I do think her second collection is the stronger of the two which only makes me more excited to see whatever she does next. Also, this book is being made into a TV series and I cannot tell you how excited I am.

I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

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?

TBR: ARC-Round Up 2018-II

I want to start something new: I will update on the ARCs I received, link to the reviews of the ones I have already read and generally talk about how excited I am. I also hope this will keep me organized. I don’t know how often I will need to post such lists because I seem to be seriously lacking in self-control when it comes to books I want to read and review. (Seriously, do you remember my bookish resolutions? I apparently don’t.)

I have last posted in the middle of January talking about the ARCs I still needed to read. You can find that post here. Since that post I have received 9 eArcs from NetGalley. The books are in no particular order below.

Still to be read:

37807353Happiness by Aminatta Forna

Publication Date: April 3rd

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Blurb (from Goodreads): London. A fox makes its way across Waterloo Bridge. The distraction causes two pedestrians to collide–Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes, and Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist there to deliver a keynote speech. From this chance encounter, Aminatta Forna’s unerring powers of observation show how in the midst of the rush of a great city lie numerous moments of connection.

Attila has arrived in London with two tasks: to deliver a keynote speech on trauma, as he has done many times before; and to contact the daughter of friends, his “niece” who hasn’t called home in a while. Ama has been swept up in an immigration crackdown, and now her young son Tano is missing.

When, by chance, Attila runs into Jean again, she mobilizes the network of rubbish men she uses as volunteer fox spotters. Security guards, hotel doormen, traffic wardens–mainly West African immigrants who work the myriad streets of London–come together to help. As the search for Tano continues, a deepening friendship between Attila and Jean unfolds.

Meanwhile a consulting case causes Attila to question the impact of his own ideas on trauma, the values of the society he finds himself in, and a grief of his own. In this delicate tale of love and loss, of cruelty and kindness, Forna asks us to consider the interconnectedness of lives, our co-existence with one another and all living creatures, and the true nature of happiness.

Why I requested it: This has been compared to KazuoIshiguro’s The Remains Of The Day, which I loved. The author was born in Glasgow and raised in Sierra Leone. Plus, the blurb sounds fantastic.

Continue reading “TBR: ARC-Round Up 2018-II”

Thoughts (and Recommendations): Memoirs Written by Women

In 2015 (I think) I decided I wanted to read more non-fiction. So, I pre-ordered a bunch of books that had recently made various “best of non-fiction” lists and read through them. I had to start somewhere – and non-fiction is a varied genre and I did not know what I would like best. I have found out three things:

  1. I LOVE non-fiction,
  2. I prefer memoirs to other forms of non-fiction,
  3. Especially memoirs written by women.

Recently I have read a few blog posts by young bloggers complaining about the lack of books mirroring their experiences with being a young adult and navigating this weird world; Young Adult novels are usually for younger readers, New Adult novels often focus on relationships (steamy ones from what I can gather – it’s a genre I haven’t read much of) and General Fiction does not quite fit either. But, and this is how this fits into this post: there ARE books that deal with this experience in varied and wonderful ways: memoirs. I think this is one of the reasons why I enjoy them so: I can read about lives similar to mine and lives very different and I can see many things I deal with and how others dealt with them, it puts my (very privileged life) into perspective and simultaneously shows me that I am not alone. Also, with a memoir you can be reasonably sure that the person made it out whatever situation she found herself in, at least enough to be able to write about the experience. There is something soothing in that.

This year, three of my favourite books were memoirs:

 

All three of them deal with growing up, with loss, with finding themselves, and with the ultimate power of art. Megan Stielstra writes about academia and fear and having children and buying and losing houses; Roxane Gay talks about her body and rape culture and finding herself; Lidia Yuknavitch writes about loss and trauma and art. All three books are honest and raw and unbelievably beautifully written.

Here are some other memoirs I have enjoyed, in no particular order (I have linked my reviews whenever possible; clicking on the covers will lead to the Goodreads pages):

34496930Nine Continents by Xiaolu Guo about growing up in China, family and family issues, art and cinema, moving abroad and feeling like an outsider.

 

12262741Wild by Cheryl Strayed about fucking up and losing her mother, about finding herself and about healing.

 

23848559Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson about mental illness and chronic pain, about finding your place, about being different and being ok with it.

 

33381433We are never meeting in real life by Samantha Irby about being queer and black and introverted.

 

Do you read memoirs at all? I sometimes feel like this is genre many neglect (maybe it’s uncool? I don’t know what’s cool).

Do you have any recommendations for me? I would love to read even more memoirs in 2018.