Wrap Up August 2020

I cannot remember the last time I had a reading month this good. It seems like my choice to finally finish reading some of the books I had started months ago was a very good thing indeed. I have also finally gotten back into the groove of reading and reviewing ARCs – I do hope I can keep the momentum going. Especially because Rachel and I are planning on doing our two-person-ARC-readathon again at the end of September, this time without me being pregnant and not reading. (You are all invited to participate! But it’s super low-key and I am famously bad at reading plans.)

Books I read in August:

  1. Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh: 3.5 out of 5 stars (review)
  2. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell: 4 out of 5 stars
  3. Alpha Night by Nalini Singh: 4 out of 5 stars
  4. The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates #1) by A. K. Larkwood: 4.5 out of 5 stars (review)
  5. Sisters by Daisy Johnson: 4 out of 5 stars (review)
  6. Luster by Raven Leilani: 3.5 out of 5 stars (review)
  7. Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy #3.5) by Ilona Andrews: 4 out of 5 stars
  8. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel: 5 out of 5 stars (review)
  9. Saphire Flames (Hidden Legacy #4, Catalina Baylor Trilogy #1) by Ilona Andrews: 5 out of 5 stars
  10. Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy #5, Catalina Baylor Trilogy #2) by Ilona Andrews: 4 out of 5 stars

I also started and DNFed The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix. E. Harrow.

Favourite of the Month:

Quality-wise, The Glass Hotel, hands down. I knew I would love it but also was scared of not being able to properly appreciate it during the pandemic and kept putting it off – I am so glad to have finally read it, it’s as good as I hoped it would be. But my proper favourite is probably Saphire Flames which I kept putting off because I know how addictive Ilona Andrews’ writing is. It’s so good! I had such a blast!

Stats(ish):

I read ten books, seven of which were written by women and the other three by a husband and wife team. Five books can broadly be categorized as literary fiction, one is a fantasy-scifi hybrid and four are some form of romantic fantasy.

Currently Reading:

Review: Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh

47545450._sy475_Verdict: Uneven but in parts brilliant.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Literary Fiction / Dystopia

Published by Hamish Hamilton, August 27th 2020

Find it on Goodreads.

Calla knows how the lottery works. Everyone does. On the day of your first bleed, you report to the station to learn what kind of woman you will be. A white ticket grants you children. A blue ticket grants you freedom. You are relieved of the terrible burden of choice. And, once you’ve taken your ticket, there is no going back.

But what if the life you’re given is the wrong one?

Blue Ticket is a devastating enquiry into free will and the fraught space of motherhood. Bold and chilling, it pushes beneath the skin of female identity and patriarchal violence, to the point where human longing meets our animal bodies.

First things first: Mackintosh’s prose has gotten even better since her debut, which I already enjoyed a lot. There is something mesmerizing about the way she constructs her sentences and I am always in love with her metaphors and allusions. On a sentence-by-sentence level, this is excellent and cemented what I said after reading her debut: I will always be reading what she writes even if this reading experience was uneven for me.

Her depiction of female longing and female friendship worked exceedingly well for me – and I would indeed argue that this is what she is interested in because where this book falters is in its dystopian elements. Calla’s close first person narration is our entry point into the world Mackintosh has created here and as she knows very little about her society, it remains vague and what we learn makes very little sense. While this is arguably true for her debut as well, there I thought the vagueness worked because it was never quite clear if what the protagonists knew was true at all. This time around, this is very obviously a dystopian society and even if Calla does not know why things came about, the consequences are very true for her life. Again, I do not think the dystopian part is Mackintosh’s strength or even what she really set out to write about. Whenever the story focussed on what Calla experienced and on her inner life and struggles, the book shone and I wish that part had been more prevalent throughout. I knew going in that I probably should not expect the dystopia to be ground-breaking in its political machinations, so the book did overall work for me but I can see where other readers might struggle. In the end, I am such a huge fan of Mackintosh’s prose that even as parts did not work for me, overall I did appreciate the book a lot (and it made me cry).

Content warning: pregnancy, vomit, stillbirth, consumation of alcohol and cigarettes while pregnant, rape, sexual assault, assault (and another very spoilery trigger warning that you can find under the spoiler tag on my goodreads review)

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

Wrap Up July 2020

Books I read in July:

  1. The Harpy by Megan Hunter: 3 out of 5 stars (review)
  2. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson: 3 out of 5 stars
  3. I Hold A Wolf By The Ears by Laura van den Berg: 4 out of 5 stars (review)
  4. Constellations by Sinéad Gleeson: 5 out of 5 stars
  5. The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I also DNFed Beach Read by Emily Henry. I might come back at another time but for now the book was just not what I expected and was in the mood for.

Favourite of the Month:

Constellations by Sinéad Gleeson is as incredible as everybody said. I cannot recommend it highly enough – I listened to the audiobook and just love the way Gleeson narrates her essays.

Stats(ish):

I read five books this month. Of these books four were written by women. I read two non-fiction books, one thriller, one short story collection, and one literary fiction novel.

Currently Reading:

Still too many books. Whenever I am reading more than four books it really messes with my reading mojo, so I am currently trying to finish as many books as possible before starting new ones. Ideally I would get it down to zero because I love being able to choose all new books but we’ll have to wait and see if that will happen.

Wrap Up June 2020 or Reading Whatever Works

I have stopped pretending that I will be back to my pre-pregnancy reading pace any time soon and am now just taking the months as they come. Having said that, this was still a surprisingly good month quantitiy wise, especially given that my daughter apparently decided that sleeping anywhere that isn’t her father’s or my body is unacceptable, at least during the day. Which is lovely! But also kind of exhausting. Also, I have not managed to drink my one tea a day while it was still hot for what feels like ages.

I have also stopped pretending that I can adhere to any sort of TBR or reading challenge and will now just read whatever I can manage. I have been saying that for ages and still held out hope.

Books I read in June:

  1. The Chiffon Trenches by André Leon Talley: 3 out of 5 stars
  2. Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons: 3 out of 5 stars (mini-review)
  3. Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall: 4 out of 5 stars
  4. Archangel’s Heart (Guild Hunter #9) by Nalini Singh: 4 out of 5 stars
  5. Daddy by Emma Cline: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Favourite of the Month:

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall is all kinds of brilliant. I listened to the audiobook read by the author herself and really appreciated it.

Stats(ish):

I read 5 books, 4 of which were written by women and one by a man. I read two short story collections (none of which blew me away), one paranormal romance, one memoir, and one essay collection. Three of those books were ARCs. I am not doing well with reviews but I am trying my best.

Currently Reading:

 

Wrap Up May 2020 or the world is burning

May was even weirder than the months before. The world isburning and everything is kind of awful (to be clear: racism sucks, Black lives matter, property destruction is a great way to protest. I have no idea how to properly address what is going on but I wanted to be clear where I stand ideologically.) but at the same time I gave birth and so everything is also kind of wonderful. I have no idea how my blogging will look like from now on, but I am determined to at least post sometimes. Currently my daughter is happiest sleeping on top of me – so writing anything even slightly long is difficult.

Books I read in May:

  1. Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island by Nibedita Sen: 4 out of 5 stars
  2. Home Remedies by Juliana Xuan Wang: 4 out of 5 stars
  3. Archangel’s Legion (Guild Hunter #6) by Nalini Singh: 3 out of 5 stars
  4. Archangel’s Shadows (Guild Hunter #7) by Nalini Singh: 3 out of 5 stars
  5. Archangel’s Enigma (Guild Hunter #8) by Nalini Singh: 4 out of 5 stars

Favourite of the Month:

I had a pretty mediocre reading month – but Archangel’s Enigma was my favourite of the Guild Hunter series so far. I am still vastly prefering Singh’s Psy-Changeling series but I as always appreciate her world building.

Stats(ish):

I read four books and one short story (I was planning on reading the Nebula and Hugo nominated short stories but as I said, I usually have a child on top of me which means all my reading will be done on my kindle from now on apparently). Three of those books were paranormal romance and one short story collection. Everything I read this month was written by authors of colour.

Currently Reading:

 

I am reading way too many books – and have the attention span for literally half of them maybe. I am trying to give myself the room to just pick up whatever I feel like because I do not want reading to feel like a chore.

 

Wrap Up April 2020 or the world is weird.

April was still weird but maybe a bit more bearable? I don’t even know. The world is weird. Being pregnant is weird. Everything is weird.

Books I read in April:

  1. The Dom Who Loved Me (Masters and Mercenaries #1) by Lexi Blake: 2 out of 5 stars
  2. How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa: 4 out of 5 stars
  3. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson: 3 out of 5 stars (review)
  4. Girl by Edna O’Brien: 1 out of 5 stars (review)
  5. Mr Salary by Sally Rooney: 5 out of 5 stars
  6. White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2) by Ilona Andrews: 5 out of 5 stars (reread)
  7. Wildfire (Hidden Legacy #3) by Ilona Andrews: 5 out of 5 stars (reread)
  8. By a Thread by Lucy Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Favourite of the Month:

My favourites were my rereads: the second and third book in Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy series are as brilliant as I remembered them. I am really looking forward to finally continuing with the series in preparation for the next book coming out.

Stats(ish):

I read 8(ish) books, all of which were written by women. I read two romance novels, two urban fantasy books, one short story collection and one short story, and two literary fiction novels nominated for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Currently Reading:

Books I should get to soon:

I have for now given up on the Women’s Prize longlist and will instead be focussing on whatever strikes my fancy and hopefully a lot of fantasy reads. Given that I am currently always tired and napping all the time, I am unsure how much reading I will be doing at all, if I am being honest.

Women’s Prize coverage by other bloggers:

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

TBR: ARCs on my shelves part I (2020)

I have not felt the need to write up a post like this in quite some time – but I have quite a few ARCs now that I am super excited for and want to share that excitement. For many reasons, I am even worse at following TBRs than I used to be but some of these books I am so very much looking forward to that I am hoping to read and review these books before their publication date for a change.

49385085._sy475_The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mantel

Picador, April 30th

Station Eleven by the same author is one of my all-time favourite books, so you can imagine how excited I am that this newest book of hers is getting rave reviews. I need to carve out a day to immerse myself in what is likely to be one of my favourite books of the year.

47545450._sy475_Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh

Hamish Hamilton, May 7th

I really enjoy Mackintosh’s debut novel and am currently loving this one – I am about a quarter of the way through. Her prose is even better than in her first novel and I love the way in which she uses dystopian settings to explore human behaviour. People looking for a more classical dystopian novel are bound to be disappointed – but I get the feeling that this is just not the type of writer Mackintosh is.

44778722._sy475_The Shapeless Unease by Samantha Harvey

Grove Atlantic, May 12th

This is a non-fiction book about the author’s struggle with insomnia. I have read the first few pages and it seems like just my type of book. It is just the right mix of personal and experimental that I really appreciate in creative nonfiction.

52272255._sx318_sy475_Hex by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight

Bloomsbury Publishing, May 14th

A book about a failed PhD student, obsession, and poisonous plants sounds like it could be perfect for me. I am hoping for difficult women and introspective narration.

50186889._sx318_sy475_Sisters by Daisy Johnson

Jonathan Cape, July 2nd

I adored, adored Johnson’s debut and have been looking forward to her next book ever since. Her prose and imagination are just perfect and her brand of magical realism really works for me. I am beyond excited for this one, which focusses two sisters and their complicated relationship.

43301992Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford

Grove Atlantic, July 24th

The cover drew me in and then the blurb featured this brilliant sentence: “Against the vivid backdrop of the Red River, we see their struggle to survive in a world—of unreliable men and near-Biblical natural forces, like wildfires and tornados—intent on stripping away their connections to one another and their very ideas of home.” – and I could not not request this. I love stories about familial relationships and I am interested in the influence religious devotion can have on those.

51541496._sx318_sy475_Luster by Raven Leilani

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, August 4th

Honestly, this novel about a twenty-something woman getting caught up in a couple’s open marriage sounds like it could be similar to The Pisces, which is always enough to convince me to try a book – I have been chasing that high since reading Broder’s magnificent book about a horrible woman.

48637753._sy475_The Harpy by Megan Hunter

Grove Atlantic, August 11th

Again, a book by an author whose debut I really enjoyed, this also has possibly my favourite cover of the year. The premise of a woman whose husband has cheated on her and in return has agreed to be hurt by her three times sounds incredible – coupled with Hunter’s strong prose, this could be a favourite for me.

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”

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: May 2018 or Finally.

I had a really good reading month, especially compared with the last two. I read 10 books which I mostly enjoyed.

Books read in April:

  1. An Abbrevitaed Life by Ariel Leve: 2,5 out of 5 stars
  2. Not That Bad eNotificationsdited by Roxane Gay: 5 out of 5 stars
  3. The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh: 4 out of 5 stars
  4. Florida by Lauren Groff: 4 out of 5 stars
  5. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: 3 out of 5 stars
  6. The White Book by Han Kang: 4 out of 5 stars
  7. Women & Power by Mary Beard: 3 out of 5 stars
  8. Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2) by Martha Wells: 4 out of 5 stars
  9. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferries: 4 out of 5 stars
  10. Caliban’s War (The Expanse #2) by James S. A. Corey: 3 out of 5 stars

Continue reading “Wrap Up: May 2018 or Finally.”