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)

Wrap Up: February 2019 or I keep forgetting how short this month is.

My life is still too much and I am still not reading anything complicated or challenging. But the coming month will be Women’s Prize month and hopefully this will change my reading habits back to something normal.

Books I read in February:

  1. Kiss of Snow (Psy-Changeling #10) by Nalini Singh: 4 out of 5 stars
  2. Tangle of Need (Psy-Changeling #11) by Nalini Singh: 4 out of 5 stars
  3. Almost Love by Louise O’Neill: 4 out of 5 stars (review)
  4. Archangel’s Storm (Guild Hunter #6) by Nalini Singh: 2,5 out of 5 stars
  5. Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff: 4,5 out of 5 stars (review)
  6. Mother Winter by Sophia Shalmiyev: 2 out of 5 stars (review)
  7. Written in Red (The Others #1) by Anne Bishop: 3,5 out of 5 stars
  8. Murder of Crows (The Others #2) by Anne Bishop: 2 out of 5 stars
  9. Vicious (Sinners of Saint #1) by L.J. Shen: 2 out of 5 stars

Favourite of the Month:

My favourite book of the month was Stacy Schiff’s incredible biography of Cleopatra. I listened to the audiobook and enjoyed every minute of it, while learning a whole lot of things I did not know and improving my knowledge of things I did know.

Continue reading “Wrap Up: February 2019 or I keep forgetting how short this month is.”

Review: Mother Winter by Sophia Shalmiyev

40539185Verdict: I don’t even know.

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Genre: Memoir, Creative Non-Fiction

Published by Simon & Schuster, February 12th 2019

Find it on Goodreads.

An arresting memoir equal parts refugee-coming-of-age story, feminist manifesto, and meditation on motherhood, displacement, gender politics, and art that follows award-winning writer Sophia Shalmiyev’s flight from the Soviet Union, where she was forced to abandon her estranged mother, and her subsequent quest to find her.

Born to a Russian mother and an Azerbaijani father, Shalmiyev was raised in the stark oppressiveness of 1980s Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). An imbalance of power and the prevalence of antisemitism in her homeland led her father to steal Shalmiyev away, emigrating to America, abandoning her estranged mother, Elena. At age eleven, Shalmiyev found herself on a plane headed west, motherless and terrified of the new world unfolding before her.

Now a mother herself, in Mother Winter Shalmiyev depicts in urgent vignettes her emotional journeys as an immigrant, an artist, and a woman raised without her mother. She tells of her early days in St. Petersburg, a land unkind to women, wayward or otherwise; her tumultuous pit-stop in Italy as a refugee on her way to America; the life she built for herself in the Pacific Northwest, raising two children of her own; and ultimately, her cathartic voyage back to Russia as an adult, where she searched endlessly for the alcoholic mother she never knew. Braided into her physical journey is a metaphorical exploration of the many surrogate mothers Shalmiyev sought out in place of her own—whether in books, art, lovers, or other lost souls banded together by their misfortunes.

By all accounts, I should have loved this book as it ticks all my boxes; I generally enjoy memoirs written by women and those that focus a mother-daughter relationship particularly, I love memoirs that are told mostly unchronologically and academically, hell, I adored the first sentences (“Russian sentences begin backwards. When I learned English well enough to love it, I realized my inner tongue was running in the wrong direction.”) but somehow this did not translate into me getting on with the book.

Sophia Shalmiyev tells of her relationship with her mother, or rather of her relationship of the hole that her mother left in her life. Drawing on literature and theory and many things in between she attempts to paint a picture of that fundamental loss in her life. Born in Soviet era Leningrad to an abusive father and alcoholic mother, Sophia struggles with the sense of loss incurred by her father kicking out her mother and then later emigrating to the US without her.

I did find her language clumsy but not in a way that improved my reading experience (which odd sentence structure sometimes can do for me as it makes me read slowly and carefully); now, I am not a native speaker so this might very well be a fault with me rather than with the book. For a book this abstract and intensely introspective, I would have liked the language to be sharper and more precise though (something that Maggie Nelson – whose work this has been compared to – does without a fail). There was also an abundance of metaphors here that did not work for me at all and usually took me out of the reading flow (for example: “The decade is a bronze disease patina – the green paste – on a doorbell that rings when you show up, and you do not show up very often.”). In the end, while I am not usually somebody who judges books on a sentence to sentence basis, I seem to have done so with this book, which lost me early with its vagueness in prose and never recaptured my interest.

I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

 

Wrap Up: January 2019 or I am bingereading.

January was tough, work wise. I had a ridiculous amount of stuff to do – and I did not feel like reading anything that challenged me in my free time. What also suffered from my month of hell was blogging in general – I have neither written very many blog posts nor have I read very many of other people’s (which is something I am truly sorry for but which cannot be helped at the moment. I really am drowning in work.).

Books I read in January:

 

  1. The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy #3) by Katherine Arden: 5 out of 5 stars (Review)
  2. Visions of Heat (Psy-Changeling #2) by Nalini Singh: 2 out of 5 stars
  3. Caressed by Ice (Psy-Changeling #3) by Nalini Singh: 3,5 out of 5 stars
  4. Mine to Possess (Psy-Changeling #4) by Nalini Singh: 3 out of 5 stars
  5. Hostage to Pleasure (Psy-Changeling #5) by Nalini Singh: 2,5 out of 5 stars
  6. Branded by Fire (Psy-Changeling #6) by Nalini Singh: 4 out of 5 stars
  7. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: 4 out of 5 stars (Review)
  8. Blaze of Memory (Psy-Changeling #7) by Nalini Singh: 2 out of 5 stars
  9. Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom: 4 out of 5 stars (Mini-Review)
  10. 300 Arguments by Sarah Manguso: 3 out of 5 stars (Mini-Review)
  11. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: 4 out of 5 stars
  12. Bonds of Justice (Psy-Changeling #8): 3 out of 5 stars
  13. Play of Passion (Psy-Changeling #9): 4 out of 5 stars

Favourite of the Month:

The Winter of the Witch was an absolutely stunning conclusion to a series I have loved immensely. I cannot wait to read everything Katherine Arden comes up with next.

I also really enjoyed binge-reading the a large chunk of Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series. There is something about her writing and her world-building that I particularly enjoy. The whole is also better than the sum of its parts and I don’t see myself stopping reading this series anytime soon.

Continue reading “Wrap Up: January 2019 or I am bingereading.”

Most anticipated releases of 2019 (first half)

This year I started paying way more attention to new releases than I have ever done before; bookblogging does that for you. As I have done quite well with actually reading the books I am excited about (you can see my blogpost about that here) I wanted to write about some of the books I am most excited about in 2019.

40121993The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

Graywolf Press, February 4th 2019

I have been excited about this memoir for months now. It’s about the author’s struggle with chronic illness and mental health and I need more of these kinds of books in my life.

37534907The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders

Tor Books, February 12th 2019

I adore adore Charlie Jane Anders – and her first novel is one of my all-time favourite books. “Excited” does not even cover it – I am ecstatic beyond measure to get a new book by her.

40539185Mother Winter by Sophia Shalmiyev

Simon & Schuster, February 12th 2019

There are few things I adore more than unconventionally written memoirs by women and this one sounds right up my alley.

 

40123339Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Hamish Hamilton, February 28th 2019

I have been excited about this book for so very long. I thankfully got an ARC for this book and should have read this by the end of the year. This sounds like everything I could ever want – literary fantasy is one of my favourite things.

34763824Long Live The Tribe Of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden

Bloomsbury Publishing, March 19th 2019

The title alone would have me hooked – and the following part of the blurb makes it impossible for me to not pick this up: With unflinching honesty and lyrical prose, spanning from 1960s Hawai’i to the present-day struggle of a young woman mourning the loss of a father while unearthing truths that reframe her reality, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls is equal parts eulogy and love letter. It’s a story about trauma and forgiveness, about families of blood and affinity, both lost and found, unmade and rebuilt, crooked and beautiful.”

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

Saga Press, April 23rd 2019

I seriously adored the first book in the series and it ended in such a way that I am dying to know what happens next.

 

42201997What My Mother And I Don’t About ed. by Michele Filgate

Simon & Schuster, April 30th 2019

This essay collection sounds incredible – it features essay written by Lidia Yuknavitch (my hero), Kiese Laymon, Carmen Mario Machado, and many other incredible writers. I cannot wait to get my hands on this.

38362811The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West

Hachette Books, May 7th 2019

I seriously adored Lindy West’s Shrill and might have squealed a little when I realized the had a new book coming out next year. Her voice is something extraordinary.

40653143No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by Rachel Louise Snyder

Bloomsbury Publishing, May 14th 2019

This books sets out to give a comprehensive overview on domestic violence. While this is a topic I have been interested in for some time, I haven’t read a non-fiction book that grapples with the topic broadly and I think it is much needed.

41118857The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang

Harper Voyager, August 6th 2019

The first book the series surprised me in how much I adored it and the ending scares me very much for what is still to come in this duology. Still, I cannot wait to read it.

What are your most anticipated books on the coming year?