Wrap Up November 2020

The first half of this reading month was rough – I only finished one book in the first two weeks and really, really hated it. Afterwards I tried to give myself leeway to just read whatever I want – but a rising number of Covid 19 cases made reading not as easy as it sometimes it. Thankfully the last few days of the month I kind of got back into reading. Lets hope this will keep up in December.

Books I read in October:

  1. Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam: 1.5 out of 5 stars (review)
  2. A Touch of Snow and Stone (A Gathering of Dragons #2): 4 out of 5 stars
  3. Kink: Stories edited by Garth Greenwell and R. O. Kwon: 4 out of 5 stars
  4. A Mind Spread out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott: 4.5 out of 5 stars
  5. Pew by Catherine Lacey: 3.5 out of 5 stars
  6. Archangel’s Viper (Guild Hunter #10) by Nalini Singh: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I also DNFed Naked in Death (In Death #1) by J. D. Robb which was fine but not my kind of book.

Favourite of the Month:

I absolutely adored A Mind Spread out on the Ground – I was sure I would and it exceeded my high expectations.

Stats(ish):

I finished six book, four of which were written by women, one by a man, and the last one was an anthology by various authors. Two books were speculative romance, one was a horror/ satire hybrid, one literary fiction, one an essay collection, and finally one short story anthology.

Currently Reading:

Wrap Up October 2020

I jinxed it. I had such good readings months and started to feel complacent. This was not a good reading month at all for me.

Books I read in October:

  1. Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab: 3 out of 5 stars (review)
  2. Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels #5.5) by Ilona Andrews: 3 out of 5 stars
  3. The Shapeless Unease by Samantha Harvey: 2 out of 5 stars (review)
  4. Magic Gifts (Kate Daniels #5.4) by Ilona Andrews: 4 out of 5 stars
  5. Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz: 4 out of 5 stars
  6. Milk Fed by Melissa Broder: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Favourite of the Month:

None of the books I read this month worked perfectly for me, even the four star reads were low four star reads. But I did enjoy spending time in the Kate Daniels’ universe again and am considering rereading the full-length novels soon.

Stats(ish):

I finished six books, of these books four were written by women and two by a husband and wife team. I finished one short story collection, one non-fiction book, one literary fiction novel, and three books that are broadly speculative in nature with a romantic focus.

Currently Reading:

Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

“The darkness claimed he’d given her freedom, but really, there is no such thing for a woman, not in a world where they are bound up inside their clothes, and sealed inside their homes, a world where only men are given leave to roam.”

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – published by Titan Books, October 6th 2020

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever-and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore, and he remembers her name.

In the vein of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Life After Life, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab’s #1 New York Times Bestselling Author genre-defying tour de force.

Find it on Goodreads.

Verdict: Surprisingly slow-paced, with neither prose nor characters strong enough to off-set.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I am obviously in the minority here, as every single one of my bookish friends has adored this – but I did not. I found it perfectly alright, but never compulsive enough for me to neccessitate the book’s length. It took me a lot longer to read it than I had anticipated (I usually find Schwab’s books fast-paced and unputdownable).

Schwab tells her story of a girl who made a pact with a devil and got something in return she did not anticipate (as is usually the case with deals with devils): she becomes immortal and able to see more of the world than her birth town but at the same time she loses the ability to be remembered. Told in two time lines (past and present), Schwab chose a languid, description heavy approach that worked beautifully for other readers – I, however, vastly prefered the present time line without much direct interference of the devil, who was, ad nauseum, described in the past. I enjoyed the gradual unveiling of the limits of Addie’s pact and the way it influenced her over the centuries.

Addie is a typical Schwab heroine – and as such I often found her a bit difficult to root for. Especially in the past, she is incredibly dismissive of women who choose other paths in life – she seems to grow out of this tendency over the span of her long (long) life, but her air of “not like other girls” never lets up. Henry, on the other hand, I adored. I found his backstory incredibly moving and effective – I wish the book had focussed more on him and the present day timeline. Schwab’s obvious favourite character is Luc (the devil) who is vividly described and always the focus of the chapters he appears him. I found him neither convincing as a otherwordly character nor believable as a love interest. I often adore stories featuring gods, but I do like them to be more other and thought this was a missed opportunity for Schwab to use her imagination.

Content warnings: dubious consent, death of loved ones, assault, prostitution (half involuntary)

I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The quotations are taken from an unfinished copy and are subject to change.

Wrap Up September 2020

I had a fairly good reading month, not as great as August though – which is probably due to my daughter sleeping a lot less and being a lot more active. I am still making my way though my ARC-backlist in the hopes of some day maybe catching up (one can dream).

Books I read in September:

  1. In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado: 5 out of 5 stars
  2. You Will Never Be Forgotten by Mary South: 2 out of 5 stars (review)
  3. Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford: 3.5 out of 5 stars
  4. Magic Mourns (Kate Daniels #3.5) by Ilona Andrews: 3 out of 5 stars
  5. Machine by Susan Steinberg: 4 out of 5 stars (review)
  6. Pain Studies by Lisa Olstein: 3.5 out of 5 stars
  7. The Cool Aunt (Hidden Legacy #5.1) by Ilona Andrews

Favourite of the Month:

In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado was every bit as brilliant as I expected it to be. I haven’t written a review yet because I want to pair the review with one for No Visible Bruises, a non fiction book about domestic violence that I am currently reading. That one, however, has the tiniest font and I can only read it during the day time hours (I feel old).

Stats(ish):

I read 7(ish) books this month. Of these books, five were written by women and two were written by a husband and wife team. I read two non fiction books, two literary fiction novels, one short story collection, and two Urban Fantasy books.

Currently Reading:

I am, again, reading too many books at once. Four really is my sweet spot, everything more messes with my reading mojo. I am hoping to finish a few of these books over the next week or so (both the Schwab and the Alam are published in early October and I would love to have my reviews up before that – this is probably too ambitious).

Rachel and I have too many ARCs – another try at an emergency readathon (2020 edition)

Last year around this time, Rachel and I created a two-person-readathon to get our amount of unread ARCs under something resembling control. Ask me how that went! (Not great. Not great at all. I was newly pregnant and feeling pretty awful) But, it was fun! So we are doing it again the last two weeks of September and hopefully this time around I will actually make a dent into my (even bigger) mountain of unread ARCs. You are all absolutely invited to join but we don’t have any prompts, we won’t be doing anything fancy like reading sprints, but it is fun all the same!

Most of my ARCs are overdue and I do not even know how this will ever change – but I really am trying to at least get my number of unreviewed ARCs down significantly over the next few months.

I am currently in the middle of two ARCs – these will obviously my priority:

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

Published by Titan Books, October 6th 2020

I did not expect to be approved for this – it is Schwab after all and people have been looking forward to this book for years, but I did and I am so glad. I was super in the mood for her kind of writing and prefer reading on my kindle to reading physical books lately.

Crooked Halleluja by Kelli Jo Ford

Published by Grove Atlantic, July 14th 2020

I am absolutely loving this – but it is also a difficult read due to its content. I am super enjoying Ford’s characterization and her prose. If this keeps up, it will surely be one of my favourites of the year.

I usually read a few books at the same time but try to read different genres. Once I finish Crooked Hallelujah, I will pick one of my more literary fiction ARCs, and once I finish Addie LaRue, I will choose another speculative novel.

Literary Fiction

Machine by Susan Steinberg (published by Pushkin Press, August 6th 2020)

The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld (published by Knopf Doubleday, September 1st 2020)

Pew by Catherine Lacey (published by Granta, May 14th 2020)

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi (published by Faber & Faber, August 20th 2020)

Of those four I am most excited about Emezi’s second novel – I adored Freshwater and have high hopes that this will also be a favourite.

Speculative Fiction:

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri (published by Orbit, November 2018)

Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron (published by HarperCollins, September 2019)

The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez (published by Titan Books, August 11th 2020)

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam (published by Bloomsbury, October 6th 2020)

I am most excited about Empire of Sand – but I also never pick it up. I am fairly certain I will love it – many people with similar tastes to mine have already adored it, I love speculative romance, and Suri is a delight on twitter. I really should finally get to this. But I am also intrigued by Alam’s book, who is also a delight on twitter – but I also scare easily, so we will have to see how this horror/ fantasy/ thriller hybrid works for me.

I have also quite a few ARCs I have read parts of but for some reason did not finish. I hope to return to some of these and decide whether I want to keep reading.

This list of ARCs is by far not complete but it is more than enough to keep me occupied for more than the two weeks the readathon runs. And also, who am I kidding, I recently got an ARC of Melissa Broder’s second novel Milk Fed which does not release until next year but which I will probably read before anything else because I am so very excited (and this is how I manage to never ever catch up on my unread ARCs).

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”

A to Z Book Tag – Fantasy Edition

ww-2019-dragon-banner-all-capsI was tagged for this ages ago and cannot even remember by whom (I am SO sorry!), but figured this would be a good way to talk more about fantasy given that I am trying to participate in Wyrd and Wonder, a month long fantasy readalong, this year. You can find the sign-up post with all the necessary information here.

Author you’ve read the most books from

Terry Pratchett for sure. I have read 23 or so books in the DiscWorld  series and plan on reading all of them in my lifetime. I am taking my time because the thought of not having any left to read is making me too sad – I love these books and everything they do.

Best sequel ever

23909755While it might not be THE best sequel ever, I thought the second book in Robert Jackson Bennett’s The Divine Cities trilogy, City of Blades was awesome – and I didn’t even mind (and actually actively enjoyed) the change in main characters, something that hardly ever works for me.

 

 

Currently reading

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I am currently reading Samantha Shannon’s feminist dragon high fantasy novel The Priory of the Orange Tree. I am enjoying it immensely but I also think that maybe it is indeed a bit too long. I am a bit more than one third into the book and it feels surprisingly low stakes for a book featuring the possibility of a world-ending war. But, the worldbuilding is exquisite and the focus on female voices is obviously something I adore. Continue reading “A to Z Book Tag – Fantasy Edition”

May 2019 TBR: It’s Wyrd and Wonder!

ww-2019-dragon-banner-all-capsI am so excited!

Last year I tried to participate in Wyrd and Wonder but got sidetracked, something that is likely to happen again but I still want to try. I have been reading a lot of fantasy and related genres these last months and I am always up for more. You can find the sign-up post here in case you also want to participate in this fantasy goodness.

I am trying to keep my TBR to a manageable size because I still have plenty of Women’s Prize books left to read before the winner is announced (I am determined to make it through the longlist until then!) but I also always get super excited when thinking about books I could potentially read. I had decided to go with one book per medium – and then my copy of Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse arrived and I couldn’t not include this.

Hard Copy: A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab

32200595I am determined to finally finish this series – while I did not love the second book, I do love Schwab herself. She has such a lovely online presence! I also really enjoy her imagination, even if her characters don’t always work for me. Even though this is super long, her writing is readable enough that I should be able to breeze through it, once I get properly started.

Hard Copy: Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse

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I read the first book in this series the moment it came out last year and have been excited for the sequel ever since. It reignited my love for Urban Fantasy which has been dominating my reading this last year. I just adore what Roanhorse is doing with the tropes of the genre and the basis in Native American mythology is breathtakingly done.

 

Audio Book: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

29774026Speaking of long books, the audio book for this is 26 hours long (which always feels like I am really getting something for my money!). I recently moved and now walking to work takes me half an hour, so I get a reasonable amount of reading done this way. Shannon’s feminist dragon fantasy is awesome so far, but also a bit confusing with its big cast of characters – apparently I did not pay proper attention in the beginning because I only remember one of the main characters, so I will have to restart the audiobook.

Kindle Book: The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang

41118857I was lucky to snag my first ever Edelweiss Arc for this one and I cannot even tell you how excited I am to get to it. I really enjoyed the first book in the series and I cannot wait to see where Kuang takes her story next. It will be absolutely brutal, I am sure, but also amazing and I personally am here for it.

 

Graphic Novel: Monstress Vol. 3: Haven by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

41952016I have not been reading graphic novels much lately but I do love the medium. And I particularly love what Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda are doing here. The art is stunning and the world-building intricate and everything about this just works for me. (I have heard people find it very hard to stomach in its graphic depiction of violence so this might not be a series for everybody though)

But who am I kidding; I will probably just keep reading Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling books until I reach the end of the series as published so far.

*Image Credit:  Dragon – by  kasana86.

Tag: Spring Cleaning

I went through my drafts to find a tag I want to do because I have not finished a book in days and I don’t think I will anytime soon. Given that I just moved and therefore organized my shelves and got rid of quite a few books this tag seemed appropriate. I was tagged by Sarah whose wonderful blog you should all check out.

THE STRUGGLE OF GETTING STARTED: A BOOK OR SERIES YOU STRUGGLE TO BEGIN BECAUSE OF ITS SIZE

32200595I am very good at starting series and not good at all at finishing them. The first answer that comes to mind is therefore A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab, not only is it the last book in a series, it is also ridiculously long. I am hoping to finally tackle it in May, when Wyrd and Wonder is taking place.

CLEANING OUT THE CLOSET: A BOOK OR SERIES YOU WANT TO UNHAUL

Honestly? At the moment none. Like I said, I got rid of so many books recently (mostly books I owned for years and that don’t appeal to me anymore) and at the moment I am super pleased with my collection.

OPENING THE WINDOW AND LETTING FRESH AIR IN: A BOOK THAT WAS REFRESHING

36136386I adored Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends enough to be super excited about literary fiction after months of only reading fantasy. Rooney is a genius and everything about her writing excites me.

WASHING OUT THE SHEETS: A SCENE THAT YOU WISH YOU COULD REWRITE

33368868I recently read Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden and while I hated the vast majority of the book, the ending nearly made me throw the book (or my phone). It is a special kind of awful. Rachel’s review is mostly about the ending of that book, if that gives you any indication of just how horrible it was.

THROWING OUT UNNECESSARY KNICK-KNACKS: A BOOK IN A SERIES YOU DIDN’T THINK WAS NECESSARY

Did I mention that I am horrible that finishing series? What I meant is that I often only read the first book. However, I am currently making my way through Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series and that has been a brilliant but sometimes uneven experience. She does a great job at always moving the main story along, but some books are weaker than others (Blaze of Memory for example was boring to no end).

POLISHING DOORKNOBS: A BOOK THAT HAD A CLEAN FINISH

Again, Conversations With Friends is the obvious answer here. The ending is pitch-perfect. Enough so that I have listened to the last chapter twice since finishing the book. Just thinking about it makes me giddy.

REACHING TO DUST THE FAN: A BOOK THAT TRIED TOO HARD TO RELAY A CERTAIN MESSAGE

I don’t usually mind politics in books at all – even if they are included in a way that others perceive as heavy-handed, but I do think that Tolstoy’s books and short stories got weaker the older he got. He argued that only morally worthwhile books can be considered great, which is premise I don’t totally agree with but something that becomes painfully obvious when reading his works in publication order.

THE TIRING YET SATISFYING FINISH: A SERIES THAT WAS TIRING BUT SATISFYING TO GET THROUGH

 

I am not quite sure whether I understand this prompt correctly but the series that came to mind is N. K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy – it becomes painfully obvious early on that the series can only end in heartbreak and I was scared for my heart and for these characters I adored throughout the final book.

I tag Rachel, Naty, Hadeer, Ayunda, and Emily. As well as everybody else who wants to do the tag.

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?