September Book Haul, Part 2

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Yes, lots of book buying went down in September. And I don’t regret it for a second, because these books all look awesome. I’m looking forward to a super bookish fall and winter curled up with a hot drink and a good book.

So here’s the second half of my book haul:

The Vegetarian by Han Kang – I had no idea this book was so short (less than 200 pages!) and I have a feeling I’m really going to like it. It’s supposedly dark, surreal, and told from multiple perspectives–all things I enjoy in a book.

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi – I mean, I’m not NOT going to buy a new Tahereh Mafi book. That’s just how it is. Although I do hope she returns to YA soon, and the brief hint that she posted on Twitter about her newest project sounds AMAZING.

Gutshot by Amelia Gray – this is a dark short story collection that I know very little about; I think the stories have a lot of grotesque/horror elements, and I’ve heard it’s a bit disturbing. It’s a very short collection, and I’m wondering if I might be in the right mood for it in October.

A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel – another short story collection with an awesome cover. I read some extremely positive reviews about this themed collection, which is, according to Goodreads, “organized around the stages of life—love, conception, gestation, birth—and the transformations that happen as people experience deeply altering life events, falling in love, becoming parents, looking toward the end of life.”

The Last Illusion by Porochista Khakpour – I remembered reading about this book on The Millions’ anticipated books list one year, but I haven’t seen it much on any blogs or on Bookstagram. It’s about an albino Iranian boy who is kept in a cage by his mother for most of his childhood and communicates  like a bird. He’s later released and brought to New York City but has difficulty adapting to living as a human; it’s supposed to be good but very, very sad.

What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi – I’ve previously read Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi, and I thought that her writing style was really incredible. I’ve only heard good things about her short story collection, which focuses on the concept of keys. Plus, I just love short stories.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell – I think I’m going to really, really enjoy this one, especially since I love reading really long books in the winter. I thought that Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas was intricate and well-thought-out, and that his writing strength was really proven by inhabiting so many very disparate characters in different places and times. I believe that this one has a similar style, but I’ve been trying not to read too much about the plot, since I feel like this kind of book is best if you know very little going in.

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips – this author is getting comparisons to Haruki Murakami and Margaret Atwood (!) for this short novel about a woman inputting numbers into a database at her job for an unknown purpose; apparently it gets much weirder from there.

Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews – this is the penultimate book in the Kate Daniels series, which is by far the best UF series I have encountered and has some of the most lovable and memorable characters from any series I’ve ever read. And I’ll freak out if anything bad happens to them in this book. I’m telling you right now, if anyone dies I’m just going to pretend it didn’t happen. Honestly, I’m sort of nervous to read this one–it might be all buildup to the final showdown that I think we all know is coming in the final volume. Or it could be great! In either case, it’s going to seem make the wait for book 10 seem unbearable.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo – AHHHH FINALLY. I don’t even want to read this because it’s only a duology and after I finish, this series will be over.

And apparently I forgot The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin in my last book haul! My review for that book will be up in my September reading wrap-up post (hopefully tomorrow).

 

What books did you all pick up in September? Which of these should I pick up first? Let me know!

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September Book Haul, Part 1

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So, I had a rough month at work with lots of stress (fun times!) which, for me, translates into lots of book buying. Consequently, I am getting super excited about my fall and winter reading as my TBR shelf continues to shape up.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber – this is a literary scifi book (my favorite kind!) about a man who travels to a distance planet to act as a missionary, and is separated by galaxies from his wife, who is encountering all sorts of issues on Earth. I’ve seen some very positive and very negative reviews of this one; it wasn’t previously very high on my TBR list, but I saw it was on sale at Barnes & Noble and had to scoop it up. I know a lot of people also really loved Faber’s previous book The Crimson Petal and the White, but the synopsis of that one doesn’t grab me at all.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers – I FINALLY got this book from Book Depository after ordering it over a month ago. It’s about a space voyage and focuses on a small crew and their interactions; it seems like it’s universally loved and I’m very excited for it. My favorite kind of science fiction is character-driven and/or focused on the sociology of alien peoples, so this should be right up my alley.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – I actually checked this out of the library twice to re-read it before ACOMAF came out, which was how I knew I should probably just go ahead and buy it. I’m not a fan of Feyre’s relationship with Tamlin, but I do enjoy aspects of this story and it’s one I’d definitely revisit in the future. I’d also like to own this entire series once the other books are released, so there’s that.

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld – another book I’ve already read, this was a 5-star book for me a few years back. The writing is beautiful but discusses such horrific things; it’s a short book but done so, so well. The Enchanted focuses on death row inmates and an investigator working to gather information for the inmates’ defense; it’s brutal and real, but told in this sort of strange, detached way with fairy tale elements introduced throughout the book. If you haven’t read it already I highly recommend it.

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi – this is the last book in one of my absolute favorite YA series, and I’ve been wanting physical copies of these books for awhile. Now all I’m missing is the second book, Unravel Me; I’m just waiting for it to pop up on Book Outlet.

Speak by Louisa Hall – this was a total impulse purchase on Book Outlet, and it sounds fantastic. Seriously, here’s the synopsis from Goodreads: “A thoughtful, poignant novel that explores the creation of Artificial Intelligence — illuminating the very human need for communication, connection, and understanding. In a narrative that spans geography and time, from the Atlantic Ocean in the seventeenth century, to a correctional institute in Texas in the near future, and told from the perspectives of five very different characters, Speak considers what it means to be human, and what it means to be less than fully alive.” This one is moving to the top of my TBR list.

The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan – this is about a girl struggling with schizophrenia and attempting to determine what is real in her world as she starts to encounter elements of fantasy. This was nominated for a ton of awards in 2012 and won both the Bram Stoker Award and the James Tiptree Jr. Award.

Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen – reading Second Star by Alyssa Sheinmel last month (a YA retelling of Peter Pan set in Southern California) put me in the mood for more Peter Pan retellings. I prefer retellings where Peter is cast as the villain, as I’ve never liked him; he has always seemed very creepy to me. This is an adult version of the tale that focuses on Captain Hook as the protagonist, and how an adult woman appearing in Neverland throws a wrench into the story.

 

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I also hit up a really great library book sale earlier this month and picked up 11 (!) books (at $1 each, this was definitely a steal). This particular book sale seemed to have a lot of classics/modern classics and not a ton of contemporary fiction that I was interested in. I seem to be having this problem lately where I really just have not been reading classics at all, despite continuously setting goals to do so; I read a ton of classics in my late teens but have tended to read more contemporary works in recent years. The problem is that I buy a ton of classics and they are sort of sitting on my shelf judging me. The reason I keep buying them is that I know I’ll get to them at some point in my life; I may drift in and out of classic-type moods through the years. Who knows!

Anyways, the book I’m most interested in from this haul is Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, which is written in an experimental format that seems to divide readers between love and hate. I also am interested to see if Susanna Clarke’s short story collection The Ladies of Grace Adieu is as wonderful as I found Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

 

There’ll be one more book haul post this month, as I am suffering from a severe BookOutlet addiction. Has anyone read any of these? Which should I pick up sooner rather than later?

 

WWW Wednesday: The Obelisk Gate is amazing so far

img_2112WWW Wednesday is a weekly book feature hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

Since last week, I managed to finish 3 of the 6 books I was in the middle of (yay!), started another book to bring the currently reading total back up to 4 (oops), and am getting way too excited to start Halloween-ish reading in October.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Story of the Lost Child (The Neapolitan Novels, #4)Luckiest Girl AliveThe Circle

After what feels like forever, I finally finished Elena Ferrante’s quartet of Neapolitan novels! I meant to finish the entire series this summer but fell just short of my goal. Overall, I really loved this series–Ferrante’s descriptions are so evocative and the story completely sucks you in. However, the first book (My Brilliant Friend) remains my favorite, and after the entire long journey with Lena and Lila, the ending of The Story of the Lost Child felt anticlimactic.

I also finished 2 audiobooks, both of which I also own physical copies of. Does anyone else do this–listen to the audiobook when you own the actual book as well? I usually start listening to the audio thinking I’ll end up switching back and forth between audio and text, but I never end up doing that and listen to the entire thing on audio. It’s becoming a weird habit. Anyways, I found both Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll and The Circle by Dave Eggers to be really easy to listen to, breaking my streak of nonfiction-only audiobooks. Between the two, I preferred the near-future The Circle–the audiobook narrator was amazing (Dion Graham, whose work I want to look out for in the future). The author, Dave Eggers, is coming to speak in my city next year, and I’d like to pick up at least one other of his books before that. Probably A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which has been on my TBR for eternity.

What are you currently reading?

FurthermoreThe Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2)

Over the weekend, I started Tahereh Mafi’s Furthermore, which is a middle-grade fantasy.  I read the first fifty pages or so then decided to pause; I love Tahereh Mafi’s writing, and I think the worldbuilding is really creative and interesting, but I can’t help wishing that it was YA! (And that Warner was in it. If you’ve read the Shatter Me series, tell me you don’t agree.) I’ll definitely finish it, but I don’t think I’m in the right mood at the moment.

Right now all I can think about is N.K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate. I technically started this book last weekend, but only got to the second chapter before I realized I desperately needed to re-read parts of The Fifth Season to refresh my memory on what was going down in the world of the Stillness. I sort of skimmed back over the majority of the first book and then restarted The Obelisk Gate, which is GREAT. The worldbuilding in these books is so intricate and layered; every chapter we learn more and more about living in a world predicated on preparing for and surviving every type of cataclysmic event. Things keep getting more and more complex, which I love, and reading this book makes me genuinely wonder why more books can’t be as good as this one. I feel like I might be hit by a serious book hangover when I finish.

What are you planning to read next?

The Vegetarian

I’m not sure exactly what’s up next for me, since I’m trying to be more chill about my TBR and go with my mood, but Han Kang’s The Vegetarian is definitely coming up soon. I need to finish a few more currently reading titles, and then it’s dark fantasy/horror all the way for Halloween-type reading this October.

 

What is everyone reading right now? Feel free to link me to your WWW Wednesday post!

All photos are mine. All images are linked to the book’s Goodreads page.

WWW Wednesday & September TBR

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

What did you recently finish reading?

It’s been awhile since I’ve finished a book. My reading in August was pretty mediocre, unfortunately, but I’m really hoping that will change this month.

What are you currently reading?

The answer is everything, basically. See picture below.

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The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante – I feel like I’ve been reading this book for years, but it’s only been 2 months or so. Since this is the last book of Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, I expected to be blown away and for this to be a solid 5-star read; the fact that it hasn’t seemed that way is what’s causing me to read so slowly and start other books in the meantime.

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll – I’ve been listening to this audiobook for awhile and liking it, but this weekend I went on a road trip for a friend’s bachelorette weekend and listened to this on the way down. Without giving away any spoilers, I reached a point in the book where this big twist comes out and I got completely hooked on the story; I’m still reeling whenever I think of certain scenes. The only problem was that I got to my destination about 3/4 done with the book, and my library checkout expired before my return trip home! I was super disappointed because all of the copies were checked out and I had to put another hold on it.

The Circle by Dave Eggers – faced with the prospect of a 5-hour drive back home after my weekend away and no audiobook, I sort of randomly decided to give The Circle a try. I wanted something really absorbing and I definitely got that, and then some. I really, really like this book; it’s sort of very near-future scifi, focusing on a twentysomething who starts work at the world’s most famous tech company and gets sucked into company life, which seems like it aims to absorb you fully through social media. A big part of why I like this book so much is due to the narrator, Dion Graham, who is absolutely fantastic. He has a great voice and does a wonderful job with each new character, and his enthusiasm keeps you listening. He’s the first audiobook narrator that I looked up thinking that I’d listen to other books just because of his narration; I found out that he also narrates (among others) A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (one of Dave Eggers’s other books) as well as Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed (and he’s won several awards for his narration).

Nobody is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey – I haven’t picked this book up in awhile, but I think it’s really well-written and I just need to jump back on board. It’s about a woman who runs away from her life in the U.S. and hitchhikes across New Zealand, all in sort of this dreamlike haze of narration.

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link – I’ve read a few of the short stories in this collection, and I may end up putting the rest on pause until October–not because it’s not great, but because Kelly Link’s mix of fantasy/scifi/horror would work well for that month. I do like to do some Halloween-themed reading in October, and my plate for September is pretty darn full right now.

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin – I couldn’t resist the temptation to start this book even though I have so many others going! I’ve been waiting for this book for a year now, and after reading the first few chapters I realized that I really need to go back and re-read some of The Fifth Season (the first book in this series) so that I’m not forgetting any of the events that the characters are referring to. It’s been a full year since I’ve read it, so some refreshing is definitely necessary.

 

What are you planning to read next?

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As I mentioned before, my main goal in September is to finish the plethora of books I’m currently reading. Once that happens (or once I finish a few of them, at least) I’m planning on starting Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi. I love Tahereh Mafi; her Shatter Me series got me through the intense stress of studying for/taking/recovering from my grad school exams, and I’m really interested in this book despite the fact that it’s middle grade, which I never read.

 

What are you guys reading right now? Feel free to link me to your WWW Wednesday!

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XI Sign-Up and TBR

RIP XI

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XI takes place from September 1st, 2016 through October 31st, 2016. It’s a low-key reading challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings focused on completing different tasks (called “perils”) all focused on reading within the following genres:

Mystery
Suspense
Thriller
Gothic
Horror
Dark Fantasy

For more info, check out the link above!

In general, I always like to do some Halloween-themed reading during the fall, which to me usually means horror or dark SFF (last October I read Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, and The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire), so this challenge feels perfect for me. I also have a bunch of books on my TBR that seem like they would fit really well into these categories. I’m planning on participating in two of the perils, but I hope to read even more books in these genres if possible–it’s just more fun to read this type of book in the fall 🙂 This will be my first time participating in the challenge.

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For this peril, you need to read four books from any of the six suggested categories (Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Gothic, Horror, or Dark Fantasy). There are so many awesome-sounding books on my TBR that would work for this peril; the only problem will be picking which ones! Some of these are on my physical TBR shelf and some I might try to get from my library, depending on how things go. I’m probably most excited about finally reading The Vegetarian by Han Kang, which I’ve heard so much talk about, and Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente, an author I’ve yet to try but think I’ll love.

The Daylight GateThe VegetarianIn a Dark, Dark WoodLet the Right One InBird BoxCrooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)OutWhite is for WitchingMiserere: An Autumn TaleCold HillsideDeathless (Leningrad Diptych, #1)Dreams of Shreds and Tatters

 

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For this peril, all you need to do is read a short story that fits one of the above categories. I love short stories, so this peril is perfect for me; Kelly Link’s blend of horror and fantasy in particular fits in really nicely, and I also have Margaret Atwood’s short story collection on my TBR. I also think that Alyssa Wong’s Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers sounds really intriguing after hearing about it on Bina’s blog post about horror and women of color. Sharlene at Real Life Reading also posted a lot of great diverse suggestions for the RIP challenge.

Pretty Monsters: StoriesStone Mattress: Nine Wicked TalesHungry Daughters of Starving Mothers

 

Who else is participating in this challenge? Let me know and feel free to link me to your post!

August Reading Wrap-Up

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So August was…not great. I spent a lot of the month reading a book that I didn’t end up finishing (The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante) and although I did end up with a respectable-sized wrap-up stack, the majority of those were library books and I’d really wanted to #readmyowndamnbooks this month. Also, my August reads overall were a bit disappointing, although all in different ways. I haven’t had a really lackluster reading month in awhile, and I’d started out with such a great TBR that I wasn’t expecting it. Highlights of the month include Bout of Books, a really good audiobook, and the bad guy love interest from Everneath; low points included, oddly, Harry Potter and Pablo Neruda.

Here are my stats for August:

Number of books read: 7

#readmyowndamnbooks: 3 (eek, not so good)

Audiobooks: 1

Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 2

✓ 13. Read a book set in the Middle East
The Underground Girls of Kabul In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg

✓ 23. Read a play
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

Also, an update on the 20 books of summer challenge that I signed up for at the beginning of the summer: I ended up reading 29 (!) books this summer, exceeding my goal of 20! I wonder if I’ll be able to read 20 books this fall as well–it seems to be a good seasonal goal number for me.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two (Harry Potter, #8)Vicious (Vicious, #1)Everything Is TeethThe Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in AfghanistanEverneath (Everneath, #1)Everbound (Everneath, #2)Love Poems

So, here’s what I read in August, ranked (as usual) from most awesome to least:

The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg (4 stars) – this was an extremely powerful nonfiction book about the lives of women in Afghanistan, focusing on the intriguing tradition of some young girls dressing as boys. It’s well-researched and detailed, and highlights the lives of several different women that the author interviewed.

Everything is Teeth by Evie Wyld (4 stars) – I thought this was fantastic, although maybe I’m biased because I’ve always been a shark person. This was the first graphic memoir I’ve read, and I thought that Wyld’s story and the illustrations really conveyed both her literal fascination with sharks and her metaphor of sharks as the constant dangers in life lurking beneath the surface.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab (3.5 stars) – I thought the characters were great, and V.E. Schwab does a wonderful job building tension throughout the book; it just wasn’t as original as I had expected. This book gets a ton of hype; for me, I didn’t fully get why.

Everneath and Everbound by Brodi Ashton (2.5 stars each) – I read the first two books of this YA trilogy during Bout of Books; it’s about a girl who has just returned to the real world after living for 100 years in a sort of underworld where her emotions were used to feed an immortal (who happens to be a snarky and very attractive guitar player who used to be a Viking back in the day). She then is allowed to return to her former life for 6 months before being sucked back into the underworld and used as a living battery to feed the immortals there for eternity. It’s a very dark story; the main character’s mother was killed by a drunk driver, and when she returns from the underworld everyone she loves believes she was missing for 6 months and was a drug addict during that time. I liked the dark tone and the concept; I really, really did not like her other love interest (meathead high school quarterback) and didn’t end up wanting to read the last book in the series, although the first two were dramatic and fun.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne (2.5 stars) – this book has already been discussed so much; personally, I found it really disappointing. I’d love to see it as a play; I’m sure it’s better in that format. In general, though, it didn’t feel like a “real” continuation of the story to me.

Love Poems by Pablo Neruda (2 stars) – I actually feel very weird rating this so low; I know that Pablo Neruda is such a highly regarded poet, and there were a few lines in this short volume that I thought were strikingly beautiful. But the majority of it, for me, just did not feel like anything special. It could have been that my expectations were too high and I expected every poem to be brilliant, but I really didn’t end up enjoying this.

 

I hope everyone’s reading month for August went better than mine did!

Bout of Books Days 5, 6, and 7 Updates and Wrap-Up

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Bout of Books is complete, and I am super late with this wrap-up post! Overall, this was such a fun week of reading for me; I always love the bookish community aspects of readathons, and having more of a motivation to devote myself to books really helped with the craziness I’ve been having at work. Here’s how the last 3 days of the challenge went for me:

Day 5

  • Audiobook time: 40 minutes
  • Pages read: 249
  • Books started: none
  • Books finished: Everbound

Day 6

  • Audiobook time:  228 minutes
  • Pages read: 23
  • Books started: none
  • Books finished: none

Day 7

  • Audiobook time: none
  • Pages read: 57
  • Books started: Love Poems
  • Books finished: Love Poems

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And here are my overall totals for Bout of Books!

  • Books read: 5
  • Audiobook time: 586 minutes (about 9.8 hours)
  • Pages read: 958

I’m honestly super impressed with the amount of reading I got done; I’m already looking forward to the next Bout of Books from Jan 2-8. For more info, check out the Bout of Books site: http://boutofbooks.blogspot.com/