October Reading Wrap-Up

That’s a wrap on October 2017!

Overall, October was a really great and reading-filled month. I participated in two readathons this month: Dewey’s 24-hour readathon and Spookathon. Technically, I was also still participating in the R.i.P. XII reading challenge that encompasses both September and October as well, so there was a lot of themed reading as well as many books in a short period of time. Looking over what I read this month, I did give middling ratings to a bunch of books, but I did have a lot of fun with my reading overall and the books that were good, were very good. Unfortunately, I will be unhauling two of the books I read this month because I just really wasn’t a fan and don’t want them on my shelf. But overall, a good reading month! You can’t expect to love everything you read.

SourdoughNight FilmFever DreamFinal GirlsBelzharAgents of DreamlandThat Inevitable Victorian ThingLast Call at the Nightshade LoungeEnvy of Angels (Sin du Jour, #1)The Red Tree

Number of books read: 10

#readmyowndamnbooks: 9 (!)

When did I acquire the books I read? June 2017 (Night Film), July 2017 (Final Girls), August 2017 (Fever Dream, Belzhar), September 2017 (Sourdough, Agents of Dreamland, The Red Tree), October 2017 (That Inevitable Victorian Thing, Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge)

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (5 stars) – stellar short novel about a woman lying in a hospital being questioned by a young boy. During the course of the novel, you figure out why. This book is creepy, unique, and ambiguously magical. Highly recommend.

The Red Tree by Caitlin R. Kiernan (4 stars) – I really got into Caitlin R. Kiernan this month; I wish I’d read her earlier and am glad that she has a lot of backlist titles that I can get to. This book was about an author who moves into an isolated house in Rhode Island which she discovers has a mysterious past; instead of trying to write a book, which she’s supposed to be doing, she obsesses in her journal about her ex-girlfriend and about the artist who comes to live at the house with her. She finds a manuscript from the house’s previous tenant, who killed himself, and the book includes excerpts of this manuscript as well as her diary. It’s atmospheric, creepy, and well-written; it was really the perfect October book.

Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin R. Kiernan (4 stars) – this was a Tor novella (I love Tor novellas!) about special agents investigating a cult mass suicide in the desert, that ends up being about a lot more than what it seems to be. I don’t want to give away anything more about the story, but there’s a lot packed into a very short book, and the writing is great.

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston (4 stars) – this was a very nice alternate-history SF book about a world in which the British Empire never fell but instead strengthened itself through diversity and apologizing for its past mistakes and colonization. It delves into some interesting concepts while remaining very grounded in its three main characters. I found it really enjoyable and not at all dark, so if  you’re looking for a YA that fits those categories, I’d recommend this.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl (3.75 stars) – Night Film has a very cool premise–it’s about the mystery surrounding a famously reclusive horror movie director, Stanislas Cordova, after his daughter commits suicide. Our main character, Scott McGrath, is an investigative reporter who lost most of his credibility after publicly going after Cordova due to suspicions of criminality and then getting slapped with a lawsuit, after which the story he’s investigating completely falls apart. When Scott hears about Cordova’s daughter’s suicide, however, he’s drawn back into the dark and scary world surrounding Cordova, whose movies are so disturbing that the last few have been banned from distribution. As Scott delves deeper into the world surrounding Cordova, things get stranger and stranger and the lines between fantasy and reality seem to blur.

I’d say that I really, really enjoyed the first 2/3 of this book. The writing is solid (although WAY too many italics are used), and the author uses an unconventional format where she sprinkles in documents, photos, and newspaper articles along with the book’s regular text.

But.

I really did not like how the mystery wrapped up. Endings are crucial, and the ending of Night Film significantly reduced my rating. The writing in general seemed to get weaker towards the end as well.

So. I’d recommend this; I know that it’s a widely loved book, but personally, I was disappointed with how it ended. After the intriguing premise and great setup, the lackluster conclusion was a huge letdown.

Sourdough by Robin Sloan (3 stars) – this book was cute and fun, but not impactful. Nothing at all bad happens, and I liked the focus on the culinary scene in San Francisco, but it wasn’t a wow.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger (3 stars) – fun, fast-paced UF read about bartenders with magical powers from alcoholic drinks battling demons in Chicago.

Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace (2.75 stars) – I got this ebook free for subscribing to the Tor.com newsletter, and it’s something that I had wanted to read for awhile. It’s a fun, fast story about chefs who cook for the world’s secret supernatural elements, and I liked it, but not enough to probably ever continue with the series.

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer (2.5 stars) – I expected a completely different thing from this book than what it actually was. That’s not the book’s fault–I really didn’t closely read the synopsis–but what the book actually was was not anything special. I did finish it rather than DNFing which I do with a lot of YA, but this isn’t a book that I’d really recommend to anyone, and it made me sad, but not in a good, Fault in Our Stars-ish way.

Final Girls by Riley Sager (2 stars) – I mean, if you want to read a book that’s supposedly a thriller but is actually really boring and barely anything happens until the very end, then this is for you. This book was coherently written and a few things were interesting (mostly the premise), but it really lacked dramatic tension and I didn’t care about any of the characters. A disappointment.

 

Has anyone read any of these? What did you think? Let me know!

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Dewey’s Readathon Wrap-Up

Closing Survey!

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Hour 1! I woke up so stressed after a really bad night’s sleep and felt like I was starting the readathon off on the wrong foot. Luckily, I was able to snap out of it.

2. Tell us ALLLLL the books you read!

I finished two books: That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston and Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger. I also read bits of two other books, Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill and Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado. That added up to 698 total pages.

3. Which books would you recommend to other Read-a-thoners?

I thought That Inevitable Victorian Thing was a great pick for the readathon; it’s a near-future SF with an alternate history timeline and it’s a mostly light, fun read.

4. What’s a really rad thing we could do during the next Read-a-thon that would make you smile?

Just keep being awesome! The readathon is such a wonderful event.

5. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again?

I will absolutely plan on participating in the next readathon in April 🙂

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon Mid-Event Updates

That Inevitable Victorian ThingLast Call at the Nightshade Lounge

Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now?

I just started Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger; technically I’m also at the beginning parts of both Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill and Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado.

2. How many books have you read so far?

I finished one book (That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston) and have read bits of two others. Technically, I also read the first 1-2 pages of a lot of books since I was having a hard time figuring out what I was in the mood for next.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

I think my main focus with be on Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, although I may mix it up with an audiobook when I get tired.

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

Not really interruptions…I did take a break after finishing That Inevitable Victorian Thing to work out and eat dinner, and I’ve been taking lots of social media breaks as well.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

I’m surprised that I slept so poorly and woke up feeling stressed! Readathons are not supposed to be stressful; even if my stress had nothing to do with the readathon, I’m surprised that reading didn’t relax me more. I’m also surprised that I’ve been having so much trouble deciding what to read, as that’s what TBR piles are for. After I finished my first book, I was kind of at a loss and kept picking things up and realizing I didn’t want to read them.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon Kick-Off Post!

It’s Dewey’s time! Finally!

I ran out of time to post a TBR yesterday as I was at a hockey game after work, so here’s my tentative TBR for the day (VERY subject to change as I’m feeling super mood-reader-y today):

That Inevitable Victorian ThingThe Red TreeOnly Ever YoursSlade HouseHer Body and Other PartiesDusk or Dark or Dawn or Day

 

And here’s the Dewey’s opening survey:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

New York! It’s actually quite nice out for late October. Maybe I’ll take this readathon outside later…

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to finally picking up Seanan McGuire’s novella Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day, which has been on my TBR for awhile but I’ve been saving it for a readathon.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

I’m thinking of treating myself to some Thai takeout later, as I’m not in the mood to cook! And also some delicious hot beverages like maybe a chai latte.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I slept really terribly last night and woke up with this super-stressed feeling which sucks, so I’m trying to get back into relaxation mode for the readathon.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I’ve done several previous readathons (3, I think?) and I actually hope to keep my game plan pretty similar to before.

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Taking on a World of Words. 

I sort of waffled about posting an October TBR this week, but since I already made a TBR post for the R.i.P. XII reading challenge that covers the majority of that TBR, I decided to hold off and post an update instead. Maybe I’ll still end up posting one. I don’t know!

What am I currently reading?

Night Film

At the moment, I’m only reading one book! This is super weird for me, as 2-3 books at a time is my norm (and sometimes there are more).  I’m about halfway done with Night Film by Marisha Pessl, which I put on my October TBR honestly sort of skeptical that I would ever pick it up, but after reading the first page of several TBR books sounded like the most appealing. I’m very much enjoying it so far; it’s fascinating and creepy without being TOO scary (at least so far) and I love that there are newspaper articles and whatnot included along with normal text. This book is over 600 pages long, but it’s flying by so far.

What did I recently finish reading?

Sourdough

This morning, I finished Sourdough by Robin Sloan, which was my Book of the Month Club pick for September. I listened to some of this on audio and read the rest with the actual physical book; it’s a very quick, light read which didn’t blow me away but was a nice contrast to the darker mystery-type reads I had going simultaneously. I’d say that if you are in a mood where you want to read something fluffy and delightful where nothing bad will happen, pick up Sourdough.

What am I planning to read next?

Final GirlsFever Dream

Night Film will probably keep me occupied for another few days, but I’ll be looking for an audiobook to pick up soon (I needed a little audiobook break after listening to a few in a row) and Final Girls by Riley Sager just popped up in my library holds list. This was my BOTM pick for July and I do also own the physical copy, so I’ll probably jump between the two. It’s a thriller about survivors of horror-movie-type massacres who are later targeted themselves by an unknown killer; it’s very much in the October reading type vibe. I think I’ll also be in the mood to pick up Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin soon, which is a very short and weird book that was on the Man Booker shortlist and sounds like something I’d be very much into.

 

What are you currently reading? Feel free to link me to your WWW Wednesday post!

September Reading Wrap-Up

So, that’s a wrap on September!

I’m so relieved that I was able to bounce back from my crappy reading month in August to have a great reading month in September. My plan to mood-read rather than giving myself a set TBR definitely paid off; I didn’t put pressure on myself to read certain books and genuinely just went with whatever I was in the mood for. This lead to a great mixture of genres: I bounced between nonfiction, fantasy, near-future SF, and thriller-ish reads. I was able to read three books that count toward the R.i.P. XII readathon, but I’m planning to get to a lot more of those spooky-type reads in October.

Here are my stats:

Number of books read: 9

#readmyowndamnbooks: 8

When did I acquire the books I read? June 2016 (Among Others), July 2016 (The Brides of Rollrock Island), December 2016 (The Glass Castle), February 2017 (The Last One), June 2017 (An Enchantment of Ravens, When She Woke), August 2017 (Blue Nights, All the Missing Girls)

Blue Nights by Joan DidionAn Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret RogersonThe Last OneVampire Girl (Vampire Girl, #1)The Brides of Rollrock IslandThe Glass CastleAmong OthersAll the Missing GirlsWhen She Woke

Among Others by Jo Walton (5 stars) – I fell in love with this book. It’s about a Welsh teenager obsessed with SFF literature who finds herself an outsider in a British boarding school after a family tragedy. Oh, and she can communicate with fairies. It’s a quietly powerful book about reading and growing up and finding your place in the world; I think it’s perfect for SFF fans of all ages.

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan (4.25 stars) – First off, I’d just like to ask everyone to ignore this book cover, even though it’s very pretty, because it’s not at all an accurate representation of this dark little book. I’d also like to say that in my opinion, this book is really miscategorized as YA fantasy; I would call it an adult myth retelling.

The Brides of Rollrock Island is a very dark retelling of the myth of selkies that uses the folktale vehicle to shine a light on a lot of issues that are still so relevant today, including consent and how cultural misogyny can lead to women mistreating other women. It’s told in multiple perspectives, but if the story has one anchor, it’s Misskaela, the so-called witch of the island, who began life as a misfit and mistreated child and grew to embrace the powers that set her apart from others and use them to cause a complete upheaval in the lives of Rollrock’s inhabitants. Lanagan’s prose is atmospheric and skillful; she can go from describing something transcendent to something abhorrent in one sentence and it still seems completely natural. This book both entranced and disturbed me; I’m very much looking forward to reading more from Margo Lanagan, and I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys darker fairytale and myth retellings.

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda (4 stars) – I was not at all expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. It’s a really smart, well-written thriller that’s told backwards over the course of 2 weeks when the main character returns to her small North Carolina town, during which memories of her best friend who went missing 10 years ago resurface and another girls in town also disappears. It was a perfect fall thriller, and now I need to pick up the author’s next thriller too, which just came out this year.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson (4 stars) – I enjoyed this book so much! An Enchantment of Ravens is the story of Isobel, a young human artist whose town’s economy thrives on the Fair Folk’s love of human Craft–essentially any type of artwork or human-made object. In exchange for the items they covet, the fae will gift humans spellwork, which will typically involve some type of trickery on behalf of the fae so that the humans never get what they really desire. Because of this, Isobel has learned to distrust her fae customers, and is able to cleverly manipulate the spellwork she receives in exchange for painting their portraits to be simple and practical enough to benefit without harming her or her family.

Everything changes for Isobel, though, when she meets Rook, the autumn prince of the fae, and in attempting to capture his likeness makes a terrible mistake not only by painting him with human emotions but by falling for him. Rook forces Isobel to follow him to the fae lands to stand trial for what she has done, and the two of them end up meeting with a lot more than they’d bargained for.

An Enchantment of Ravens is a standalone fantasy, which I really liked; I do get tired of everything becoming a series. It’s very well-written and uses a more traditional notion of the Fair Folk as being covetous and deceitful while at the same time distant from mortal emotions. I liked this depiction of faeries, and the writing style played well to this more traditional fairy-tale-esque vibe. I really admired Isobel’s practicality and intelligence; she’s not a heroine who stumbles into problems without thinking, and she always thinks of what’s best not only for herself but for her family before she decides on a course of action.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book, and I’d be very interested to see what Margaret Rogerson comes out with next. I’d recommend An Enchantment of Ravens to fans of fairy tale-ish books and YA fantasy with admirable heroines. (I received an ARC of An Enchantment of Ravens from the publisher at BookCon)

The Last One by Alexandra Oliva (4 stars) – If you’re like me and you like to try to read some books that are sort of horror/suspense/thriller-y as we move into fall, but you have a hard time finding books you really like in those genres, and you’re more into near-future SF and post-apocalyptic type things, you should pick up this book.

Basically, this book is about a contestant on a survival-themed reality show when the show’s structure appears to start breaking down around her and it becomes clear that there’s something very wrong happening to the world around her, but she can’t tell whether it’s real or just a part of the show. It’s told in first-person from the contestant’s point of view (she’s referred to by the show producers as Zoo because she works at a wildlife preserve), and also in third person descriptions of the early days of the show and her interactions with other contestants. There’s even some bits of internet commentary from the show’s fans.

This book does a great job of building creepy tension, and the reality-show/survival premise gives it some Hunger Games-esque vibes at times, which I loved. It’s definitely well-written, in case you’re also picky about that in your suspense-type reads (I very much am). Overall, definitely would recommend as a fall read. I’ll be interested to see what this author comes out with next.

Blue Nights by Joan Didion (4 stars) – this is the second of Didion’s memoirs focused on grief that I’ve read; her writing is skillful and heartbreaking.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (3.5 stars) – this is a well-written and absorbing memoir, but it’s also really disturbing and I would not recommend it at all if you’re sensitive to reading about child abuse.

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (2.5 stars) – I really don’t recommend this book. It’s just not very well-written, and everything stays very surface-level and obvious with the characters and plot. Things never reach any depth, and the author has not gotten the whole “show don’t tell” memo. This was really a disappointment for me.

Vampire Girl by Karpov Kindrade (1 star) – I hate giving books 1-star ratings. I went into this with low expectations just looking for a fun vampire read, but it was just very poorly written, the plot was rushed and predictable, and it was very cliched, to a degree that really bugged me. On top of that, this is NOT a vampire book! It’s a book that pretends that these demon princes are somehow also vampires.

 

What did you all read in September? What were your faves (or least faves)? Let me know!

 

Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

It’s been forever since I’ve done a Top Ten Tuesday, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my fall TBR, so this came at the perfect time. There are a lot of books that just give off a fall vibe that I’d like to read this season, and of course there are also my anticipated reads for the R.i.P XII readathon, so my fall TBR is sort of a balance between those two categories and new releases that I just absolutely have to pick up ASAP.

Deathless (Leningrad Diptych, #1)ThreatsHaemansBelzhar

These four books are probably at the top of my TBR for the R.i.P XII readathon. I’ve been meaning to read Deathless (and basically all of Catherynne M. Valente’s adult books) for years now, and I’ve decided that this fall is finally the time that I’m going to go for it.

I also have really high expectations for Threats by Amelia Gray; I read her collection of short stories, Gutshot, last year and went to a reading she did in my city. Threats sounds a bit more conventionally structured than Gutshot (pretty much anything is conventional compared to Gutshot) but still with a healthy dose of weirdness.

And then there’s Haemans by Nicoline Evans, which is a book that I bought at the author’s booth BookCon. It sounds dark and vampire-ish and also involves Russian royalty.

For a YA Octoberish read, I also have Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer. I actually don’t know a ton about this one, but it’s very short so I don’t want to know a whole lot. It has mixed reviews on Goodreads, but I tend to have unpopular opinions a lot of the time, so that doesn’t bother me.

SourdoughWhat HappenedOnly Ever YoursThe Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3)

I think ideally I’d like to also get to my most recent Book of the Month Club pick, Sourdough by Robin Sloan, this fall; it’s about bread-baking and foodies and it sounds sort of cozy and fall-ish.

Hillary Clinton is coming to my city for a signing of her new book What Happened, and unfortunately I have to work that day but my friend is going and is hopefully going to get a copy signed for me as well. I’m definitely planning on reading this one as soon as I get the chance, and I’m probably going to cry multiple times while reading it.

For a YA dystopian read, I have Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill, which has been called the YA version of The Handmaid’s Tale and is a possible read for me for Dewey’s 24-hour readathon in October.

Another new release I’d like to get to this fall is The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin. This is the final book in my favorite current fantasy series, so I’m almost hesitant to pick it up because then it will be over 😦

Gather the DaughtersThe Female of the Species

Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed is a book that just sounds like it’s right up my alley. I’ve heard amazing things so far, and all I know is that it’s about young women in a misogynistic cult who attempt to go against its teachings and escape.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis is a YA book that has been on my radar for awhile; I don’t read a ton of contemporary YA, but this is supposed to be very feminist and well-done, so I’m intrigued.

 

What’s on your fall TBR? Feel free to link me to your Top Ten Tuesday post if you’ve done one!

I write about nontraditional beach reads for nontraditional readers