Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist: Reaction

The longlist is finally here! I am beyond excited and a bit baffled because of the depth excitement. I stayed up yesterday to hear the announcement the moment it went live, something I have never done for a longlist announcement.

My longlist predictions were so wrong, it’s not even funny; I only correctly predicted two books. Of the 16 books on the longlist I have read three, am currently reading one, and three I had never heard of before yesterday. This means that I have an awful lot of reading to do (according to the Goodreads page counts it’s 4023 pages). I will really try to read the longlist but I will definitely DNF the books that don’t work for me.

Without much further ado, here is the longlist in all its glory:

The Silence of the Girls Pat Barker
Remembered Yvonne Battle-Felton
My Sister, the Serial Killer Oyinkan Braithwaite
The Pisces Melissa Broder
Milkman Anna Burns
Freshwater Akwaeke Emezi
Ordinary People Diana Evans
Swan Song Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
An American Marriage Tayari Jones
Number One Chinese Restaurant Lillian Li
Bottled Goods Sophie van Llewyn
Lost Children Archive Valeria Luiselli
Praise Song for the Butterflies Bernice L. McFadden
Circe Madeline Miller
Ghost Wall Sarah Moss
Normal People by Sally Rooney

My thoughts:

Read: I am beyond thrilled The Pisces by Melissa Broder made the list; it was by far my favourite book of last year and I want more people to read it. In case you need convincing, here is my gushing review for it. I am also happy to see Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi on the list, which I also adored (my review). I was a bit worried that Emezi wouldn’t want to be included as they are non-binary but they are pleased so I am pleased. I am keeping my fingers crossed that people will try to make an effort to use the correct pronouns though (the first glimpse on twitter makes that seem unlikely). The only other book I have read is Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss, where I seem to be the only person online to not have enjoyed it all that much (my review) – but others really do, so I am glad for its inclusion.

Currently reading: I have started Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli a while ago and really enjoyed the first few pages but found the prose very wordy – I am excited to see it on the list though because that means there is at least one book I don’t need to hunt down.

Well pleased: I am super excited to get to Normal People by Sally Rooney; I finished Conversations With Friends yesterday and I am so very much in love with it that I will read everything Rooney ever publishes (I spent yesterday periodically exclaiming “What a book!”) – and Normal People sounds brilliant. I am also happy to see both Circe by Madeline Miller and The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker on the list; I adore feminist myth retellings and I have heard great things about both books. I did not think both would make it but I am glad for it. I am also really excited to have an excuse to finally take the plunge and read Milkman by Anna Burns, a book that scares me but also sounds really great. I opted for the audiobook version of this as I have heard listening to the prose makes the book more accessible. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite is another one of the books I did want to read at some point anyways and this is a welcome excuse to prioritize it.

Cautiously optimistic: I requested a review copy of Ordinary People by Diana Evans last year and didn’t get approved but it does sound like a book I could really enjoy. Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott isn’t quite a book I would have picked up on my own but I have heard great things about it. I am not good with books that deal with injustice, but again I have heard brilliant things about An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, so hopefully I will enjoyed it. I hadn’t heard of Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn but it is a short book that actually sounds like it could be my cup of tea.

Slightly pessimistic: While Number One Chinese Restaurant Lillian Li sounds interesting, I have read rather negative reviews of it – however, sometimes my taste is different to Goodreads’ average and I might enjoy this more (after all, The Pisces has a dreadfully low rating as well and that book is perfection). Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton could be great but it is also really outside my wheelhouse.

Really dreading: Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden does not sound like my type of book at all – and the blurb includes this: “educational, eye-opening account of the practice of ritual servitude in West Africa.” and I do not really appreciate books that are meant to be educational. I am hoping to be proved wrong.

Overall I am mostly pleased (The Pisces!!!) but also sad for a few notable exclusions. I was really hoping for both My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh and Motherhood by Sheila Heti because I really, really want to read these books. I was also hoping for Women Talking by Miriam Toews because it sounds intriguing but I don’t know whether I’ll get to it without the added push. I also thought there would be more overlap with the Man Booker longlist and would have really liked The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh and Everything Under by Daisy Johnson to get a shout out because I really liked both books and think the authors are awesome.

What are your thoughts? Are you still planning on reading the longlist?

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?

Review: Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

38922230Verdict: This was a mixed bag.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Literary Fiction

Published by Granta, September 20th 2018

Find it on Goodreads.

Teenage Silvie is living in a remote Northumberland camp as an exercise in experimental archaeology. Her father is an abusive man, obsessed with recreating the discomfort, brutality and harshness of Iron Age life. Behind and ahead of Silvie’s narrative is the story of a bog girl, a sacrifice, a woman killed by those closest to her, and as the hot summer builds to a terrifying climax, Silvie and the Bog girl are in ever more terrifying proximity.

Sarah Moss is one of those authors I have wanted to get to for what feels like ages because I had this feeling that I would adore her work. But sometimes that feeling of a potential favourite author makes me to anxious to actually pick up a book (this is irrational, I know), so I finally jumped at the chance to read and review her newest novel, because it sounds brilliant and it is quite short (I love short books). And I still think that Sarah Moss might be a potential favourite author, even if this book did not quite blow me away.

This book is set over a period of a couple of days, days Silvie and her family are spending in a experimental archeological setting, together with a professor and a few of his students. While the students can sleep in tents, Silvie’s controlling and obsessive father forces his family to sleep in what he deems “authentic” huts. Silvie latches onto the sole female student, while trying not to make her father angry (and obviously failing, because he always finds something to be angry about). Moss uses this setting to showcast a variety of awful things: abuse and dysfunctional family dynamics, misogyny and sexism, classism and racism. She does so adeptly and impressively, but it does make for a rather grim reading experience.

The setting and the atmosphere are the biggest strength of this book. Told in long, run-on sentences (a style I particularly enjoy), Sarah Moss plays with the limited variation of their everyday life. The atmosphere becomes ever more oppressive and instilled with a sense of foreboding that made me very scared for Silvie. Moss is in perfect command of her language in a way that made me savour the words and excited for more of her books.

In the end, this book is more a collection of clever observations and vivid scenes than a cohesive whole – it is extremely well-done but did not always work for me. It felt longer than its less than 200 pages because spending time in Silvie’s life is suffocating and repetitive, and while I know that this was on purpose and done exceedingly well, I did not always enjoy my reading experience.

I received an arc of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Granta in exchange for an honest review.

Wrap Up: July 2018 or that was a binge read.

As you can see below I went a bit over-board with the Kate Daniels books but I could NOT stop reading them. For most of the month I was more or less up to date with my ARCs and as such could just read what I want to read and apparently I wanted to read pretty much a whole series in a month. And then I went on a requesting spree on NetGalley (so my reading will be a bit more balanced next month).

Books read in July:

  1. Magic Burns (Kate Daniels #2) by Ilona Andrews: 4 out of 5 stars
  2. Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels #3) by Ilona Andrews: 4,5 out of 5 stars
  3. Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels #4) by Ilona Andrews: 4,5 out of 5 stars
  4. Swimmer Among the Stars by Kanishk Tharoor: 3 out of 5 stars
  5. Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5) by Ilona Andrews: 4 out of 5 stars
  6. Suicide Club by Rachel Heng: 2 out of 5 stars
  7. Delicate Edible Birds by Lauren Groff: 4,5 out of 5 stars
  8. Magic Rises (Kate Daniels #6) by Ilona Andrews: 3 out of 5 stars
  9. Magic Breaks (Kate Daniel #7) by Ilona Andrews: 4 out of 5 stars
  10. Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels #8) by Ilona Andrews: 4 out of 5 stars
  11. Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires: 4 out of 5 stars
  12. Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss: 3 out of 5 stars
  13. Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race: 3 out of 5 stars

Favourite of the month:

I mean, the obvious answer is all the Kate Daniels books. I had so much fun reading them and I cannot wait to finish the series. It might not be the best thing to have ever been written but I am enjoying it so much and I am so very invested in everybody’s journey. (My mini-reviews for the first five books can be found here.)

I also really enjoyed Lauren Groff’s Delicate Edible Birds; her stories are intricately structured and wonderfully human. I now own all her books and will have to get to her two remaining novels soon.

Stats(ish):

I have read the ridiculous amount of 13 books (with 3916) pages this month, which is the most I have read in I don’t even know how long. Of these 13 books, one was written by a man, five were written by women, and seven were written by a husband and wife team. I read seven fantasy books, three short story collections, one essay collection, one dystopian novel, and one literary fiction novel.

Currently reading:

Books I should get to next:

I have a few ARCs I want to get to this month, most importantly City of Lies by Sam Hawke and Can You Tolerate This? by Ashleigh Young. I also hope to read Everything Under as soon as I finish The Mars Room. I also finally caved and bought myself a copy of Red Sister by Mark Lawrence and won’t be able to hold off reading for much longer. The rave reviews for this one are serious.

(Some of the) blog posts I loved:

I adored Teagan and Jess’ review for Dragon Actually.

Zuky’s list of authors whose next book she is impatiently awaiting is a topic I will have to steal – I love it.

I do like it when people talk about the books that did not quite work for them – if you do as well you should check out Ally’s list of books she thought she would like more than she did.

Laila’s review of The Fire This Time (ed. by Jesmyn Ward) reminded me that I really need to get to this book soon.

Alice wrote a great review of My Brilliant Friend, a book I have been wanting to read for ages, and made me even more excited for it. Talking of which, has anybody read the German translation? Is it wort reading or do I better pick up the English version?

Hadeer’s review of Mr. Darcy, Vampire is just beyond brilliant.

If you are as excited about the Man Booker Prize longlist announcement you should check out Rachel’s and Elle’s thoughts on the list. (PS: If you talked about the Prize somewhere, please do let me know, I want to read everybody’s thoughts!)

 

Most anticipated releases 2018 – mid-year edition

There are way too many brilliant books coming out this year. I keep buying books faster than I can read them and then I keep looking at other books that I want to read. But, just look how brilliant these books all sound! Below is a (probably) incomplete list of books I am excited about, in no particular order.

Foundryside by Robert Bennett Jackson (Published by Crown Publishing, August 21st)

Foundryside RD4 clean flat

I adored Robert Bennett Jackson’s The Divine Cities trilogy so very much when I read it last year and I cannot wait what he comes up with next. (This might be the one I am most excited about)

Find it on Goodreads.

 

Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon (Published by Scribner, October 16th)

29430746This just sounds absolutely brilliant. I do love memoirs that blend the personal and the political, so this sounds right up my alley. That is has been blurbed by Roxane Gay obviously did not hurt my excitement.

Find it on Goodreads.

 

All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir by Nicole Chung (Published by Catapult, Oktober 2nd)

30297153It is no mystery how much I enjoy memoirs written by women and this one focussing on adoption and identity sounds absolutely like my type of book.

Find it on Goodreads.

 

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden (Published by G. P. Putnam’s Group, September 25th)

Small Spaces coverI would read Katherine Arden’s shopping list if she decided to publish it. As The Winter  of the Witch has been delayed until early 2019, this will be my yearly fix of her wonderful writing. I don’t usually read Middle Grade but again, it’s Katherine Arden.

Find it on Goodreads.

Rosewater by Tade Thompson (Published by Orbit, September 18th)

38362809I adored Tade Thompson’s The Murders of Molly Southbourne and cannot wait for this one. I am lucky to have an E-ARC and trying very much to not read this already.

Find it on Goodreads.

 

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss (Published by Granta, September 20th)

38922230I have an ARC for this and I am very excited to get to this. Sarah Moss seems like an author I would adore and I really need to get to her books.

Find it on Goodreads.

 

 

Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse (Published by Saga Press, June 26th)

36373298This just sounds brilliant and kickass and like something that I could love.

Find it on Goodreads.

 

 

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri (Published by Orbit, November 13th)

39714124I don’t know what it is about this book but i just sounds absolutely wonderful. I really have not been reading enough fantasy. Also, yay for adult fantasy written by women.

Find it on Goodreads.

 

Which books are you excited about for the rest of the year? Do tell me!

 

ARC Round Up 2018 Vol. III

It is time again for me to post a round-up of all the ARCs I have received on NetGalley; at least this time it took me three months for such a post to be necessary which I am counting as a win. I really am trying to be a bit more selective when it comes to requesting ARCs. You can find my earlier round ups here and here.

Still to be read:

39899065The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

Publication Date: June 28th, 2018

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Blurb (from Goodreads): A vivid, touching and original debut, following the effects of an extraordinary catastrophe on very ordinary people.

In the middle of a market in India, a man’s shadow disappears. As rolling twenty-four-hour news coverage tries to explain the event, more cases are discovered. The phenomenon spreads like a plague as people learn the true cost of their lost part: their memories.

Two years later, Ory and his wife Max have escaped ‘the Forgetting’ by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods in Virgina. They have settled into their new reality, until Max, too, loses her shadow.

Knowing the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to the person most precious to her, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up what little time they have left before she loses her memory completely, and desperately follows her trail.

On their separate journeys, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a mysterious new force growing in the south that may hold the cure. But neither could have guessed at what you gain when you lose your shadow: the power of magic.

A breathtakingly imaginative, timeless story that explores fundamental questions about memory and love—the price of forgetting, the power of connection, and what it means to be human when your world is turned upside down.

Why I requested it: I have been intrigued about this for what feels like ages. It sounds absolutely magical and I cannot wait to see whether it is.

Continue reading “ARC Round Up 2018 Vol. III”