Category Archives: Reading Recaps

July Reading Wrap-Up

I had an absolutely wonderful reading month in July. I’m so glad about this, because July is my birthday month, and to celebrate I took myself on a vacation and was able to get some lovely beach reading done during that time. Beyond that, I gave myself a lot of room to mood-read in July, and because of that I ended up finding a lot of fun and enjoyable books. Here are my stats:

Number of books read: 13

#readmyowndamnbooks: 8

When did I buy the books I read? March 2017 (Borderline), April 2017 (Bloodchild), May 2017 (ACOWAR), June 2017 (Everything Belongs to the Future, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, A Million Junes), July 2017 (The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Phantom Pains)

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge tasks completed:

✓ 14. Read a book about war.
A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3) by Sarah J. Maas A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

✓ 15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2) by Seanan McGuire Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

White Hot by Ilona AndrewsOne Fell Sweep by Ilona AndrewsA Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. MaasEverything Belongs to the Future by Laurie PennyDown Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuireBorderline by Mishell BakerDear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieA Million JunesEleanor & ParkThe Dream-Quest of Vellitt BoeTalking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in BetweenBloodchild and Other StoriesPhantom Pains (The Arcadia Project, #2)

 

White Hot by Ilona Andrews (4 stars) – I think I liked this second book in the Hidden Legacy series even better than the first; honestly, I think I’d like just about anything that Ilona Andrews comes out with. This series is technically paranormal romance, as opposed to her Kate Daniels series which is more urban fantasy, but the world-building doesn’t suffer at all. This series is fun, smart, and has characters you can’t help but root for in this battle between magical dynasties in Houston.

One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews (4 stars) – Again, I think I liked this book even better than the previous ones in the series; this is technically the third in Andrews’ Innkeeper Chronicles, which is about an intergalactic inn in small-town Texas that hosts members of different alien species and attempts to hide their existence from the rest of humankind.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (4.25 stars) – this series isn’t perfect, but I’ve enjoyed the crap out of reading it. I’m so glad to hear that the author is planning on further books starring side characters!

Everything Belongs to the Future by Laurie Penny (4 stars) – This science fiction novella packs a lot into 120-ish pages. I picked this up after reading about it on Tor.com; Tor is really the only publisher that I actively follow and if they publish a book, it makes me instantly more interested. Without giving too much away, this novella focuses on a future where anti-aging medication has been developed that allows people to delay aging by decades, even a century or two–but costs are so prohibitive that only the ultra-rich and privileged are given access to the drug. Needless to say, this causes a lot of social upheaval, and the book focuses on a group of artists gradually becoming immersed in social activism against this new source of division in society. It’s beautifully written and well-structured; I think it could also have been a great full-length novel, but then again, I tend to think that about any shorter work that I like. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys plausible, near-future science fiction focused on social issues.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (4 stars) – I love the concept that Seanan McGuire set up in Every Heart a Doorway so much, but it does mean that you essentially know all of the major plot points in this one before they happen. That being said, I still love her worldbuilding, and the world of the Moors that the twins enter into is fascinating. I did have issues with the pacing of this novella; I understand that the backstory had to be set up, but then it felt like we dwelt on their early childhood for too long and then glossed over a lot of what happened once they got settled in their new world, which was frustrating. Overall, this was a fast, absorbing read with memorable characters, and I’m looking forward to the next book in this series.

Borderline by Mishell Baker (4 stars) – This was a great, unique, fast-paced UF read with a memorable and well-developed main character. Millie has Borderline Personality Disorder and became a double amputee after a suicide attempt; she leaves the mental health facility she’s staying at after she receives a job offer from the enigmatic Arcadia Project. A former filmmaker, Millie is easily able to adapt and confront the new world that the Project introduces to her–a world that encompasses not only humans but also the fey, who live among us and inspire creativity. The Arcadia Project exists to police the boundaries between the human and fey worlds and regulate travel between the two, as the fey can also be very dangerous to humans if they want to be. Millie quickly gets drawn into investigating the disappearance of a fey nobleman in L.A. while interacting with an intriguing cast of characters that I quickly got invested in. I’d say that this is UF that can work for people who aren’t even UF fans; it did a great job of addressing mental illness and depicting Millie’s struggles and persistence. It’s also a really quick read; I’m not sure when the last time was that I tore through a 400-page novel in a few days.

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (4 stars) – Like We Should All Be Feminists, this is a concise, effective, clear feminist message that everyone should be reading and internalizing.

A Million Junes by Emily Henry (4 stars) – this magical realism YA novel isn’t my typical cup of tea, but I found it really atmospheric and enjoyable.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (2.5 stars) – This was probably my least favorite of Rowell’s books, and I sort of expected that, which is why I left it until last to read. I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary romance unless it’s really unique, and I just wasn’t wowed by this book. I felt incredibly sympathetic toward Eleanor’s situation, and that’s the part of the book that really stuck with me, rather than the romance, which is what seems to get emphasized mainly in most reviews I’ve read.

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson (4 stars) – So, I have to admit that I’ve never read anything by Lovecraft, so I’m sure that I missed all sorts of references and commentary in this novella. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it; I thought Vellitt was a great, mature main character, and I admired her determination throughout her quest. It was very well-written and I absolutely loved the ending.

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham (3 stars) – this was a cute, quick memoir that I listened to on audio.

Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia Butler (5 stars) – this short story collection was absolutely incredible. Everything Butler writes absolutely blows me away, and this was no exception. In addition to short stories, Butler also provides commentary on her inspiration and meaning, and includes two essays, one of which made me cry through basically the whole thing.

Phantom Pains by Mishell Baker (4 stars) – this sequel to Borderline was just as fun, and I loved getting more insight into Caryl, who is one of my favorite characters.

I also purchased a bunch of books this month, of course, due to my lack of book-buying self-control:

(Belated) June Reading Wrap-Up

As far as reading months go, I think June was the best I’ve had all year.

I don’t know what it was! I think it was a combination of letting my mood reading tendencies take over and the fact that I went on a long road trip, which meant lots of audiobook listening. Basically, though, I read a whole bunch of really wonderful, enjoyable books, and only a few disappointing ones. (And yes, this wrap-up is super late–I’ve been out of town a lot and totally lost track of the fact that we’re already well into July!)

Here are my stats:

Number of books read: 10

#readmyowndamnbooks: 7

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 2

✓ 7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.
Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

✓ 20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel (From Sarah MacLean, author of ten bestselling historical romance novels)
The Seafarer's Kiss by Julia Ember The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

When did I buy the books I read? March 2016 (North and South), February 2017 (Smoke Gets in Your Eyes), April 2017 (Marlena), May 2017 (Roar, The Seafarer’s Kiss), June 2017 (Herland)

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond FearRoar by Cora CarmackMarlena by Julie BuntinNorth and SouthHow to Be a WomanThe Seafarer's KissSmoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin DoughtyHerlandThe Hate U Give by Angie ThomasHunger by Roxane Gay

So, here’s what I read in June! I didn’t rank them from least to most awesome like usual; instead, here they are in the order I read them:

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (3 stars) – this was a very quick, inspirational audiobook listen. I’ve never read Eat, Pray, Love and am not interested in doing so, but I did really enjoy how passionate Gilbert is about integrating creativity into your life.

Roar by Cora Carmack (4 stars) – if you like romantic YA fantasy (meaning YA with a romantic emphasis, like Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series), you really need to read this book. It centers on Aurora (Roar), a princess who’s never developed the storm-harnessing powers that those in her world depend on their rulers for. Her world is one ruled by powerful natural disasters, and those without the ability to harness these storms are forced to live and die at their mercy–or integrate themselves into one of the powerful kingdoms. Promised in an arranged marriage to an intimidating prince from another kingdom, Aurora instead runs away to learn about obtaining power from storms in a different way by joining a band of mercenary storm hunters. It’s fast-paced and fun with interesting world-building (I happen to love weather-related magic systems) and a romance of course develops between Roar and one of the storm hunters.

Marlena by Julie Buntin (4 stars) – if you like books for adults with teenage narrators, or stories about female friendships, I’d definitely recommend this one. It’s set in poverty-stricken Northern Michigan, with meth labs and a sinister air pervading every chapter, and partially told in flashbacks by a teenager and partially in present-day New York where she works for the library system. The book centers on the friend that our narrator makes when she and her family relocate to this desolate town, Marlena, an enigmatic girl forced to grow up too soon and who the narrators sees succumb more and more to the atmosphere around her. It’s dark, evocative, and engrossing.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (4 stars) – this is the book that officially broke me out of my long classics slump! I’d actually watched the BBC miniseries a few years ago and loved it, and had been meaning to read the book ever since. It’s about Margaret, a strong-willed and intelligent but naive girl from the South of England whose family relocates to the manufacturing-centered North and is forced to confront her worldview and prejudices.

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran (2.5 stars) – I laughed out loud several times while listening to this memoir, but I wasn’t overly impressed by the writing. It’s definitely funny and a quick audiobook listen, but it doesn’t achieve a lot of depth.

The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember (4 stars) – I’m one of those people who has loved the ocean and mermaids since childhood, so when I saw this mermaid-themed book at BookCon, I had to pick it up. The Seafarer’s Kiss is a retelling of the Little Mermaid myth centered on Ersel, a mermaid aching to break free of her patriarchal, childbearing-focused iceberg kingdom. She’s not quite sure how she can find the courage to leave her community and see the world until she meets Ragna, a shipwrecked badass Viking girl and ends up making a deal with Loki, god of lies, to help her. As we all know, this sort of thing never goes exactly as you’d expect, and all sorts of issues develop from there. I loved the way this book combined fairytale elements and Norse mythology, and I loved the romance between Ersel and Ragna.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty (3 stars) – Unfortunately, this memoir ended up being somewhat of a disappointment for me. It’s not that it wasn’t good, but I have just read so many glowing reviews that I was expecting something amazing, while what it actually was was just interesting. It’s the memoir of a young woman who starts working as an assistant in a crematorium/funeral home in her early twenties and begins to develop different ideas of how she feels death should be handled based on her experiences; it definitely gives a lot of behind-the-scenes insight into funeral homes and what happens to bodies after death, but I wasn’t impressed by the writing or the structure of the book.

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (2 stars) – I gave this book a very low rating, but I’m still glad I read it, since it’s an early feminist classic. Basically, it’s about three men, all sexist but in different ways, who “discover” a civilization comprised entirely of women, and attempt to learn about and from this new world, with varying degrees of success. It’s an interesting premise, but I just…didn’t like it very much.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (4 stars) – this is one of those books that I’m really grateful that the Bookternet has been promoting all over the place, because as someone who almost never reads YA contemporary, I don’t know that I would have picked it up otherwise. It’s powerful and yet accessible, and I’m so glad that it’s being so widely read.

Hunger by Roxane Gay (5 stars, or more like 10 stars) – I have no idea how Roxane Gay had the courage and the ability to write this book and to write it the way she did. She is incredible. I cannot recommend this highly enough. It’s essentially a memoir, but I guarantee it’s more powerful and honest than any memoir you’ve ever read. Roxane Gay discusses her body and also how society views bodies like hers in a way that will absolutely gut you. Just read this book. Trust me.

May Reading Wrap-Up

It’s the end of May! What is even happening???

Seriously, it’s actually summer now.

Anyways, I had a great reading month in May. I FINALLY got out of my 5-star book slump by reading what has only been my second 5-star read of the entire year; I managed to catch up a bit on my Book of the Month Club picks by reading two of my previous selections; and I read some intensely weird fiction, which I always enjoy. Let’s break it down!

Total number of books read: 8

#readmyowndamnbooks: 6

When did I buy the books I read? December 2016 (Pull Me Under), February 2017 (Perfect Little World), March 2017 (The Beauty), April 2017 (Difficult Women, Windwitch), May 2017 (Borne)

Famous in Love by Rebecca SerlePerfect Little World by Kevin WilsonDifficult WomenPull Me UnderThe BeautyTrainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear... and WhyWindwitch (The Witchlands, #2)Borne

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 2

✓ 11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location.
Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce

✓ 13. Read a nonfiction book about technology.
Trainwreck The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear... and Why by Sady Doyle Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… and Why by Sady Doyle

 

And now, ranked from most to least awesome, here are my May reads:

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay (5 stars)  – This is, by far, the best book I have read so far this year. I picked it up when I went to an event where Roxane Gay was speaking a few weeks ago (she was AMAZING); I’ve previously only read her nonfiction (Bad Feminist was one of my favorite reads of 2016) so this was my first real exposure to her fiction writing. And wow. This book is devastating and will absolutely crush you, but it is completely worth it. The stories vary from realistic fiction to magical realism, and Gay’s style is sparse and completely entrancing.

Borne by Jeff Vandermeer (4.25 stars) – After I read the Southern Reach trilogy a few years ago, Vandermeer became one of my favorite weird fiction writers. This book definitely does not disappoint on the weirdness scale; I also really love how Vandermeer creates strong, multidimensional female protagonists. Borne is complex, haunting, and a must-read for weird fiction fans.

The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley (4 stars) – Super weird, disturbing, and very well-written. This book unfolds in a small, isolated community after a pandemic has killed all of the world’s women and the men are left to determine how to live out their lives in the aftermath. One day, Nate, the community’s young storyteller, finds that mushrooms are growing from the bodies of the dead women, and things start to get crazier and crazier from there. This is an unsettling story that packs a lot of plot and meaning into 99 pages. Definitely recommend for weird fiction fans.

Trainwreck by Sady Doyle (4 stars) – I listened to this book on audio and I thought it was a really fascinating cultural critique about how society tears down some female celebrities. There are plenty of great examples from both history and modern times, and I was very interested in the fascinating backstories of Charlotte Bronte and Mary Wollstonecraft in particular.

Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce (3 stars) – Very interesting premise and I enjoyed learning more about Japanese culture, but for me this fell short with character development.

Windwitch by Susan Dennard (3 stars) – a fun return to the world of the Witchlands and the wonderful friendship between Safi and Iseult. Unfortunately, the girls are separated for a lot of this book, but there’s still a lot of awesomeness, particularly in the interactions between Iseult and Aeduan.

Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson (2 stars) – Unfortunately, this was a disappointment. Interesting premise, but not well-executed, and the ending felt extremely anticlimactic and predictable.

Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle (1.5 stars) – I mean, this book was pretty terrible. I only read it because earlier this month I binge-watched the new show Famous in Love on Hulu. If you haven’t watched it yet, it’s a great guilty pleasure show about Paige, who is an aspiring unknown actress cast as the lead in a Twilight-esque franchise and all of the ensuing Hollywood drama. I definitely recommend the TV show to anyone who enjoys a good YA love triangle every now and then; the book, not so much. The book is actually way more simplistic than the show and none of the characters have any depth; the show gives all of the characters much more personality and backstory so that you actually care about all of them.

 

What did you read in May? Let me know in the comments!

April Reading Wrap-Up

Here’s my (belated) reading wrap-up for April!

I was actually really impressed with the amount I read during April. I feel like as it keeps getting warmer, hopefully I’ll be reading more and more since I love to read outside. This month, I participated in two readathons, Tome Topple and Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, and both were really wonderful experiences; I’m looking forward to the next Tome Topple sometime this fall and the next round of Dewey’s in October.

Here are my stats:

Number of books read: 7

#readmyowndamnbooks: 6

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: I think zero 😦

When did I buy the books I read? April 2016 (The Age of Miracles), July 2016 (Sweetbitter), December 2016 (The Queen of the Night), January 2017 (The Grownup), February 2017 (Truthwitch), April 2017 (Replica)

So here’s what I read:

 

Sweetbitter by Stephanie DanlerTruthwitch by Susan DennardThe Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson WalkerThe Queen of the Night by Alexander CheeThe Grownup by Gillian FlynnReplica by Lauren OliverSaga, Vol. 7 by Brian K. Vaughan

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler (4.25 stars) – I loved this, I really did. For me this was one of a very few books that was really enhanced by listening to it on audio; the narrator’s husky voice and perfect accents really made the characters come alive. But beyond that, I loved the rich language and immersion in Tess’s world. There were a few points where the writing missed the mark for me, and I didn’t love how certain things were handled towards the end, but otherwise this was such a great reading experience and one I’d definitely recommend.

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (3.5 stars) – I was really pleasantly surprised by this YA fantasy. I went in with low expectations and ended up really enjoying the strong female friendship at the heart of this story. I also really liked three of the four main characters; the fourth had these disturbingly sexist moments with abusive overtones that really bugged me

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (2.75 stars) -I thought the premise of this book, that the Earth begins to slow its rotation which has devastating consequences for life on the planet, was really interesting, but I wish it had been told from a different perspective.

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee (3.75 stars) – this is sort of a hard book to rate. I absolutely loved the first half of the book and was completely immersed in late 1800’s France; the second half, unfortunately, had some plot twists that I really disliked and things started to drag somewhat there. The writing, however, was gorgeous and the historical period was obviously meticulously researched.

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn (4 stars) – a perfect twisty, absorbing short read. I’m hoping that Flynn will have another novel out soon since I do like her writing style.

Replica by Lauren Oliver (3 stars) – this was a fun, fast-paced YA read with an unconventional format; however, it wasn’t great.

Saga, Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples (3 stars) – at this point, this is the only graphic novel series that I’m following, and it’s still consistently good–although I didn’t think this one was quite as good as some of the earlier volumes.

March Reading Wrap-Up & Book Reviews

March was a really enjoyable reading month for me. I may not have had any 5-star reads, but my 4-star reads were all wonderful and I had a bunch of them this month. In terms of my reading goals, I actually did a good job of reading the books on my physical TBR shelf (almost all of my reads this month came from there) and I did manage to read another short story collection, which means that I’m 2 for 2 with my new goal of reading one of those each month in 2017.

Number of books read: 8

#readmyowndamnbooks: 6

Audiobooks: 1

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge Tasks Completed: 2

✓ 8. Read a travel memoir.
Wild From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

✓ 5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

When did I buy the books I read? October (The Regional Office is Under Attack!), February (The Possessions, There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself, Wild), March (The Princess Saves Herself in this One, Exit West)

So here’s what I read in March:

Giant Days, Vol. 3 by John AllisonThe Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda LovelaceLab Girl by Hope JahrenThe Possessions by Sara Flannery MurphyThere Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and... by Ludmilla PetrushevskayaWild by Cheryl StrayedThe Regional Office Is Under Attack! by Manuel GonzalesExit West by Mohsin Hamid

Giant Days, Vol 3 by John Allison, Max Sarin, Whitney Cogar, Jim Campbell, and Lissa Treiman (2 stars) – unfortunately, I think I’m done with this series. This latest issue and the previous one were both disappointments, and I’m just not interested enough in the story anymore to keep on going.

The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace (2.5 stars) – another disappointment, unfortunately. I had heard this was similar to Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey, which I loved, but the writing was much less impactful in this book and I felt that the poems were overly simplistic with not enough craft.

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (4 stars) – fantastic nonfiction audiobook. I loved hearing about the dedication and obsession of this female scientist who was coming into her own in a time when female scientists were very rare; her story is inspiring and fascinating.

The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy (4 stars) – So this was my Book of the Month Club pick for February, and I really enjoyed it–but at the same time, I can totally see that a lot of people probably won’t like it. It’s sort of a mishmash of genres (mystery, ghost story, fantasy, thriller) that never fully inhabits any genre. The main character is really vaguely drawn and we never feel like we really know her all that well; the plot does tend to stagnate and it’s heavier on ambiance than twists. But I was really into all of that, fortunately, and it really worked for me. The book’s premise is that there are pills that allow people to channel the spirits of the deceased, and the main character works at an agency that helps people contact their departed loved ones in an attempt to gain some closure. The intrigue starts when the lines begin to be blurred between the rigid structure of contacting the dead at this company versus what happens when our main character starts to fall for a client and discovers more about the darker side of this phenomenon.

There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself by Ludmila Petrushevskaya (4 stars) – my short story collection for the month of March. These stories are all set in Russia and all involve families and elements of daily life; there’s an overwhelming sense of oppression and depression but still a strong cord of hope running through them. Petrushevskaya’s writing style was wonderful, and her blend of dark humor and stark realism really worked for me. I definitely will be picking up more of her short fiction in the future.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed (4 stars) – For some reason, I had always had this impression of Wild being a sort of sappy, inspirational self help-y kind of book, and so I avoided reading it for years. After I listened  to Cheryl Strayed’s other nonfiction book (Tiny Beautiful Things) on audio last year, though, I revised my opinion and realized that I probably had the wrong idea about Wild. I ended up listening to this one on audio as well and it’s probably one of my favorite audiobooks so far. This was NOT sappy or self-help-y at all; it’s honest and real and very absorbing.

The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales (3 stars) – this was a fun read that I mainly listened to on audio about superpowered female secret agents and what happens when one contingent attacks another (the Regional Office) and the events leading up to and following said attack. While it was fun, there were a LOT of issues in terms of plot holes and it constantly teetered between science fiction/fantasy elements and more realistic ones in a way that just did not at all come together. It almost seemed like the author just didn’t feel like explaining a lot of the fantastical elements and also occasionally forgot about them.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (4 stars) – This was my Book of the Month Club pick for March, making this the first time I’ve actually read my BOTM pick during the month it was sent to me. It’s a magical realism story that takes place in an unnamed Middle Eastern country on the brink of civil war; at the same time that this is happening, doors start to open up all over the world that allow people to be transported from one disparate place to another. When I started reading this, I really thought that because of the lyrical, gorgeous prose that it would be a 5-star read, but unfortunately I ended up liking the first half much better than the second and it was more of a 4-star read for me in the end.

And here are the books I purchased in March:

February Reading Wrap-Up

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After a weird and lackluster reading month in January, I absolutely crushed it with #readmyowndamnbooks in February. I was able to pick up several books that I’ve been really looking forward to, and genuinely enjoyed all of the physical books I read this month. I didn’t stick to my TBR list very well, but then again, I never do.

Number of books read: 7

#readmyowndamnbooks: 5 (!)

Audiobooks: 1

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 3

✓ 2. Read a debut novel.
Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

✓ 22. Read a collection of stories by a woman. (From Celeste Ng, author Everything I Never Told You and the forthcoming Little Fires Everywhere)
Kissing the Witch Old Tales in New Skins by Emma Donoghue Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins by Emma Donoghue

✓ 12. Read a fantasy novel.
Stiletto (The Checquy Files, #2) by Daniel O'Malley Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley

When did I buy the #readmyowndamnbooks books I read? October (Sleeping Giants), December (Stiletto, Kissing the Witch), January (It’s Kind of a Funny Story, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things) (I decided I’m going to try and keep track of when I read the books I’ve bought so that I can get a better feel for how out of control my book buying has become)

So here’s what I read in February:

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain NeuvelEverything I Never Told You by Celeste NgIt's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned VizziniThe Bone Knife by Intisar KhananiStiletto by Daniel O'MalleyKissing the Witch by Emma DonoghueAll the Ugly and Wonderful Things

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (3.5 stars) – this 2016 new release was the first book I read in February, and it was the perfect way to kick off the month. It’s told in interviews and transcripts, so it’s a very quick read, and the plot is fast -paced as well. It deals with the discovery of alien artifacts on Earth and the scientists and government officials attempting to decipher them. I’m excited to pick up the sequel once I can get my hands on a physical copy.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (2.5 stars) – I listened to this on audio, and unfortunately it was a disappointment for me, especially after hearing so much hype. The book started out strong and I thought the audio narrator did well, but I was really frustrated by the more cliched aspects of the story, and ultimately it was really anticlimactic.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini (3.5 stars) – I did not expect to like this one as much as I did, especially considering that it was an impulse buy for $1 at my library’s book sale. This was a really insightful look into a depressed teenager; you couldn’t help but love and root for Craig though his struggles at an elite school and then in a hospital’s psychiatric ward, and by the end of the book I was crying.

The Bone Knife by Intisar Khanani (3.5 stars) – this was a free ebook I found awhile ago; it’s actually a prequel short story to an upcoming fantasy book series. Despite the fact that it was really short, it established a well-fleshed-out fantasy world fairly quickly, and I became attached to the characters despite spending only a short time with them. The premise involves a world where fae and humans interact, and humans with magical powers are coveted by the government. I’ll be looking for the first book in the series once it comes out.

Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley (4 stars) – This sequel to The Rook was a fun return to the world of the Checquy, an organization of supernatural secret agents. I thought that I’d be bothered by the fact that there were two new main characters, but it really didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book at all. I partly read this one and partly listened to the audio, which was performed really well. I’d definitely recommend this series to anyone who likes creative, fast-paced fantasy with some humor.

Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue (3.5 stars) – this was the short story collection that I chose to kick off my goal to read one collection per month, and although I did like it, it was a bit of a disappointment. It’s a collection of fairytale retellings that each blend into one another; a character from each story starts telling the subsequent story so that they all end up intertwined. This device makes it easy to read through in one sitting, and I loved the focus on female characters and female-female relationships. I just felt that the writing wasn’t quite as good as I was expecting, and I was hoping for deeper connections in some stories that never quite got there. I would recommend this, though, especially to anyone like me who loves fairytale retellings.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood (4 stars) – this book was, I thought, well-written and also very disturbing. It’s about the relationship between a very young, abused girl and a man in his twenties, and it’s set in this sort of hellish environment of meth dealers and motorcycle gangs in the rural Midwest. It’s an unsettling story, and I thought it was told very well in multiple perspectives, but I didn’t find it to be absolutely amazing like some people apparently did (it was voted Book of the Year for the Book of the Month Club).

 

What did you all read during February? Let me know!

2016 Reading Wrap-up

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I’m way, WAY behind schedule in posting my reading wrap-up for 2016, but here it finally is! Overall, I had a really fantastic reading year–I discovered a bunch of authors that I want to read more and more from; I was able to pick up new books from writers that I already love; I listened to way more audiobooks than I ever thought was possible for me; I expanded the range of genres I tend to read from; and I had a lot of fun, which is the most important part.

Number of books I read in 2016: 95 (!)

Pages read in 2016: 28,877

The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2)BossypantsDeath My Own Way

Longest book I read in 2016: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (1,107 pages)

Most popular book I read this year, according to Goodreads: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Least popular book I read this year, according to Goodreads: Death My Own Way by Michael Graziano

#readmyowndamnbooks: 47 (49%)

Number of live author events attended: 4 (N.K. Jemisin, Marlon James, Alyssa Palumbo, Amelia Gray) (all were awesome) in addition to a wonderful small press book fair

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2)A Brief History of Seven KillingsThe Violinist of Venice: A Story of VivaldiGutshot

Readathons I participated in: Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon (x2), Bout of Books (x2), 24 in 48 (x2)

% of books by female authors: 78.9% – I think I almost always tend to read more female authors than male in a given year, but usually I think I hover around 2/3 female authors. This year, I hit almost 80%!

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% of Adult Books: 80%. I wanted to include this in my stats because I was curious how much YA I was actually reading; sometimes I feel like I’m not reading enough adult literature, but the pie chart doesn’t lie–I’m clearly reading adult books the vast majority of the time.

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Books by format: Print books (75%) still comprise the vast majority of my reading, although I definitely added a lot to my reading totals by getting into audiobooks.

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2016 Reading Challenges:

Book Riot Read Harder 2016 Challenge

✓ 1. Read a horror book
Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
✓ 2. Read a nonfiction book about science
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
✓ 3. Read a collection of essays
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
✓ 4. Read a book out loud to someone else
✓ 5. Read a middle-grade novel
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1) by Catherynne M. Valente The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
✓ 6. Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography)
Notorious RBG The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon
✓ 7. Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel
Enclave (Razorland, #1) by Ann Aguirre Enclave by Ann Aguirre
✓ 8. Read a book originally published in the decade you were born (1980’s)
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
✓ 9. Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award
Bossypants by Tina Fey Bossypants by Tina Fey
✓ 10. Read a book over 500 pages long
The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2) by Patrick Rothfuss The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
✓ 11. Read a book under 100 pages
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
✓ 12. Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
✓ 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
✓ 14. Read a book by an author from Southeast Asia
Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal, #1) by Zen Cho Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
✓ 15. Read an historical fiction book set before 1900
The Passion by Jeanette Winterson The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
✓ 16. Read the first book in a series by a person of color
Binti (Binti, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
✓ 17. Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the past three years
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
✓ 18. Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie. Debate which is better.
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
✓ 19. Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
✓ 20. Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction)
The Daylight Gate by Jeanette WintersonThe Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson
✓ 21. Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction)
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (The Neapolitan Novels #3) by Elena Ferrante Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante
✓ 22. Read a food memoir
Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson
✓ 23. Read a play
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
✓ 24. Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

 

2016 Colorful Covers Challenge

Red Cover
The Rook (The Checquy Files, #1) by Daniel O'Malley Shrill Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Orange Cover
Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt

Yellow Cover
The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 by J.K. Rowling Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

Green Cover
The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2) by Patrick Rothfuss Outpost (Razorland, #2) by Ann Aguirre Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Blue Cover
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders Enclave (Razorland, #1) by Ann Aguirre Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan

Purple Cover
Everything Is Teeth by Evie Wyld Bitch Planet, Vol. 1 Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Pink Cover
Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler Love Poems by Pablo Neruda

Black Cover
The Just City (Thessaly, #1) by Jo Walton milk and honey by Rupi Kaur Confessions by Kanae Minato

White Cover
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay Trigger Warning Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Gray Cover
Landline by Rainbow Rowell Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll The Underground Girls of Kabul In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg

Brown Cover
Roses and Rot by Kat Howard The Girl Wakes Stories by Carmen Lau Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Colorful Cover
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1 The Shrike by Kelly Sue DeConnick The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1) by Becky Chambers