All posts by jaleenajo

November Reading Wrap-Up!

I participated in NaNoWriMo (for the first time!) this November, so I went into the month not expecting to get much reading done. I thought that setting aside time to write every day would cut into a lot of the time I normally spend reading, but I was really pleasantly surprised at how much I was able to read while getting a large chunk of writing done. Most excitingly, I read TWO five-star reads this month! I’m so picky that this is almost unheard-of for me, especially for a relatively lower-reading month. Don’t get me wrong, I’m impressed with how much I read this month, but it wasn’t quite as many books as I hit in a typical month. But TWO FIVE-STAR READS! Dang. I feel like a big part of the reason for that was that I didn’t set a big solid TBR for the month; I feel like maybe I read better books when I mood-read and don’t plan in advance. I’m going to be doing more of that going forward, although I did make a list of ten books I really want to get to this winter.

Number of books read: 6

#readmyowndamnbooks: 4

When did I acquire the books I read? March 2017 (Crosstalk), June 2017 (Norse Mythology), August 2017 (The Stone Sky), November 2017 (The Refrigerator Monologues)

CrosstalkThe Awakened Kingdom (Inheritance, #3.5)Norse MythologyThe Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3)Girls Will Be Girls: Dressing Up, Playing Parts and Daring to Act DifferentlyThe Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente

The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente (5 stars) – This book could not be more incisive or more timely. I don’t understand why it’s not more popular. Essentially, this book takes on sexism in the world of superheroes, by highlighting women whose lives (and deaths) have been used solely as plot devices to motivate the male main characters. If, like me, you really enjoy superhero movies and are also a feminist, this book will resonate with you. You don’t have to have extensive comics knowledge to enjoy this book or to get most of the references (I certainly don’t); I’m not familiar with every character they referenced, but enough of it is mainstream, like riffs on Batman and Harley Quinn, that you’ll get it regardless. The book’s premise is that in the afterlife, here called Deadtown and expressed as this gorgeously banal yet macabre city, women who have been involved with superheroes gather as what they call the Hell Hath Club and tell their stories one by one. These stories are interspersed with life in Deadtown, which on its own would make a great book. I really wasn’t expecting to love this as much as I did. I both laughed and cried while reading this, and it’s very short. Highly, highly recommend. I need to read more from Valente, stat.

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin (5 stars) – I definitely don’t want to give away anything about the plot of this book, since it would spoil the first two in the trilogy, but this was a very well-done and fitting end to the series. The world-building was incredible, and I was tearing up at the end.

Crosstalk by Connie Willis (4 stars) – this is a cute, funny, fast-paced, highly entertaining SF rom-com. It was a lot of fun to read; the dialogue is great, and you really end up loving the main characters. This was my third Connie Willis book, and my second of her “lighter” books; I have two others on my physical TBR shelf and a bunch more on my hypothetical one.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (4 stars) – I’ve always loved reading about mythology, although Greek mythology has always been my favorite, and this book was no exception. It was well-done and Gaiman also gave a great introduction talking about his connection to Norse myths. The parts about Ragnarok were particularly well-done.

The Awakened Kingdom by N.K. Jemisin (3 stars) – this novella takes place after the Inheritance trilogy, and the entire plot is a huge spoiler. It was cute and fun to read, but it wasn’t as awesome as most of Jemisin’s work tends to be.

 

And here are the books I acquired in November:

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Most Anticipated 2018 Book Releases!

There’s only about a month until the end of the year?! What?!

As 2017 winds down and new releases become fewer, I’ve started looking ahead to the books I’m most excited about for 2018. My picks only cover the first half of the year, because not everything has been announced yet, and they include sequels and also books from authors I’m not yet familiar with. I’ve included links to all of their Goodreads pages in case you want to check them out. This list is not at all exhaustive–it’s just a few titles that I’m particularly psyched about. Let me know in the comments what new releases you’re looking forward to in 2018!

 

Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children, #3)

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (release date January 9th) – the third installment in the Wayward Children series comes out really soon; this series is a great look at (and commentary on) portal fantasy from an author I really like. And this cover is amazing. I’ll be pre-ordering this one for sure.

The Night Masquerade (Binti, #3)

The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor (release date January 16th) – this is the third (and final, I think) novella in Okorafor’s Binti series, which is YA science fiction dealing with culture clashes and a young woman eager to learn and explore while still holding onto family and tradition.

Red Clocks

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas (release date January 16th, also) – I’m always on board for Handmaid’s Tale-esque dystopias, and I’m hearing good things from early reviews of this book. From the Goodreads synopsis: “In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom.

Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories

Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill (release date February 20th) – I have a good feeling about this short story collection. Fantastical short stories written by women are very much in my wheelhouse, and Goodread is calling this “a stunning collection of stories, teeming with uncanny characters whose lives unfold in worlds at once strikingly human and eerily original.” Sounds right up my alley. Also, the cover is quite pretty. Black and gold is my favorite book cover color combination.

Restore Me (Shatter Me, #4)

Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi (release date March 6th) – it’s sort of weird to include this book on here since I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. Mafi’s Shatter Me series holds a really special place in my heart; I read the books during graduate school when I was studying for a series of really intense exams, and they were such a stress reliever for me. I’ve since reread them several times and they haven’t lost their magic. So I’m nervous to see what’s going to happen in this second trilogy set in the same world–I honestly just can’t stand to see anything bad happen to these characters. But at the same time, I can’t not read them. Right? I don’t know. I wish she was writing a different series instead, or even focusing on side characters as the main characters in this new trilogy, but I don’t make the rules. Again, that cover. Love.

Obsidio (The Illuminae Files, #3)

Obsidio by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (release date March 13th) – again with the black & gold cover! Yesss. So this is the third book in the Illuminae Files series, which is YA science fiction told in unconventional formats, and I love them. Both of the previous books were so fast-paced, addicting, and fun, and I’m very interested to see how things wrap up. Pre-ordering the crap out of this one.

Impostor Syndrome (The Arcadia Project, #3)

Imposter Syndrome by Mishell Baker (release date March 18th) – another third book in a series! Why are there so many of these this year? Anyways, this is book 3 in the Arcadia Project series, which is UF and deals strongly with mental health issues. Our main character, Millie, has Borderline Personality Disorder, and has gotten dragged into the world of the Fae and the humans who help to police the boundaries between our world and theirs. I think in this book they go from L.A., where the first two are set, to London, which could be interesting. I love this series; it’s got dark humor and substance while still being very fast reads.

The Queens of Innis Lear

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton (release date March 27th) – this is a fantasy retelling of King Lear from Tor, one of my favorite publishers. I don’t know tons about it, so here’s the summary from Goodreads: “The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes. The king’s three daughters—battle-hungry Gaela, master manipulator Reagan, and restrained, starblessed Elia—know the realm’s only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign, proving a strong hand can resurrect magic and defend itself. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted. Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war—but regardless of who wins the crown, the shores of Innis will weep the blood of a house divided.” Female-driven high fantasy based on Shakespeare? Sounds cool.

A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.5)

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas (release date May 1st) – so this book is sort of random, because it’s a short novel that is intended to bridge the gap between the original ACOTAR trilogy and the new side characters-centric trilogy that is now going to exist. This is my favorite guilty pleasure romance/fantasy series, so I’m down for any new books. I believe this one is told from both Feyre and Rhysand’s POVs.

Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels, #10)

Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews (release date May 8th) – this is a bittersweet one, because it’s the tenth and final book in my favorite UF series. I really, really hope that none of my faves die. I love Ilona Andrews, and even though I’m really sad that the Kate Daniels series is ending, they are very prolific writers, so I can be confident that they’ll be releasing many more awesome books in the future.

Rage (Stormheart, #2)

Rage by Cora Carmack (release date June 5th) – I found a new fun YA romantic fantasy series in 2017, and that is the Stormheart series by Cora Carmack. This series involves people with the magic to control storms, which is cool, and I’m thinking the second book will also be more love-triangle-y as well as more action-packed, which I’m always down for. Is this the most amazing series in the universe? No, but it’s fun for sure.

Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers, #3)

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (release date June 14th) – I am just beyond excited for the third installment of Chambers’ Wayfarers series. (another third book in a series? wtf) If you like character-focused science fiction, you need to get on board with these books. I have no doubt that this one will be excellent.

Winter Reading Ideas

It’s Thanksgiving, which means I’m already starting to look ahead to the holidays and all of the Chrismakkuh fun (we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in my family). And with that, I’m also starting to look ahead to the books I want to pick up during the winter.

In general, I do like to read somewhat seasonally; some books seem to have a winter vibe to them. My picks for possible winter reads include a lot of fantasy; winter seems like the perfect time to dive into a cozy fantasy. I also have a few longer books, since cold weather and cozy nights mean I’m more in the mood to pick up a 500+ page book. I haven’t been in the mood lately to set firm TBRs as I feel like I find better books to read when I let myself mood-read, but these ten books are what I’m hoping to get to during the holidays and this next season!

The Bear and the NightingaleThe WanderersThe Bone ClocksFates and FuriesThe Lonely Hearts HotelThe Impossible Fairy TaleThe Starlit Wood: New Fairy TalesThe House of Shattered Wings (Dominion of the Fallen, #1)A Little LifeYou Too Can Have a Body Like Mine

 

Have you thought about what you might want to read this winter? Let me know in the comments!

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!

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.