Category Archives: Reading Recaps

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

βœ“ 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

βœ“ 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)Β  – 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

βœ“ 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

βœ“ 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 listenedΒ  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

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

βœ“ 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

βœ“ 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%!

oh-hey

% 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.

format

2016 Reading Challenges:

Book Riot Read Harder 2016 Challenge

βœ“ 1. Read a horror book
Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
βœ“ 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
βœ“ 3. Read a collection of essays
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
βœ“ 4. Read a book out loud to someone else
βœ“ 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
βœ“ 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
βœ“ 7. Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel
Enclave (Razorland, #1) by Ann Aguirre Enclave by Ann Aguirre
βœ“ 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
βœ“ 9. Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award
Bossypants by Tina Fey Bossypants by Tina Fey
βœ“ 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
βœ“ 11. Read a book under 100 pages
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
βœ“ 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
βœ“ 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
βœ“ 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
βœ“ 15. Read an historical fiction book set before 1900
The Passion by Jeanette Winterson The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
βœ“ 16. Read the first book in a series by a person of color
Binti (Binti, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
βœ“ 17. Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the past three years
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
βœ“ 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
βœ“ 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
βœ“ 20. Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction)
The Daylight Gate by Jeanette WintersonThe Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson
βœ“ 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
βœ“ 22. Read a food memoir
Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson
βœ“ 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
βœ“ 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

 

January Reading Wrap-Up

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My reading in January was really weird and moody. I read mostly graphic novels and YA, which is not typical for me, and also stuck mainly to library books, which is also not typical. I can’t really say that I was in a reading slump because I did finish twelve books, but it felt like it; I struggled to focus on any book that required a long attention span, and the majority of my reading took place during Bout of Books in the first week. That being said, I did enjoy a lot of what I read in January even if it wasn’t mind-blowing, and I did read one amazing book that turned out to be my first 5-star book of 2017.

So here are my stats:

# of books read: 12

#readmyowndamnbooks: 1 (eek!)

Audiobooks: 1

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 1

βœ“ 6. Read an all-ages comic.
Relish My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Instead of ranking my reads by awesomeness and star ratings like I usually do, I sorted my January reads into categories so that I can talk about them more easily.

Alex + Ada, Vol. 2 by Jonathan LunaAlex + Ada, Vol. 3 by Jonathan LunaGiant Days, Vol. 1 by John AllisonGiant Days, Vol. 2 by John Allison

So I kicked off the month by finishing Alex + Ada, a graphic novel series that I did not actually realize was a trilogy until I got to the third and final volume. I…was OK about this as a trilogy. It seemed promising at first, and I tend to like anything that’s near-future science fiction, but the whole thing felt overly simplistic. The ethics of artificial intelligence is such a fascinating discussion, but I feel like Alex + Ada barely scratched the surface, plus I HATED the ending.

I also read the first two volumes of Giant Days, which is another graphic novel series that I’ve heard a lot about. I liked this one more than Alex + Ada; it’s about three girls who met at their first year of college and depend on each other to navigate all sorts of challenges and craziness. It’s cute and fun and I’ll definitely continue with the series, but I’m saving Volume 3 for the next readathon (probably Dewey’s, in April).

Poison Princess by Kresley ColeEndless Knight by Kresley ColeDead of Winter by Kresley ColeArcana Rising (The Arcana Chronicles, #4)

January was also the month that I got sucked into Kresley Cole’s Arcana Chronicles series. This is a YA series that basically takes every single YA novel cliche and jams it into one story: there’s magic, an apocalyptic event, a love triangle, zombies, people magically being pretty and not smelly despite the lack of showers and the overabundance of dirt and dust in the post-apocalyptic landscape, references to Greek mythology, and a competition between teenagers to the death. I don’t love this series; I’ve given each book three stars out of enjoyability, but it’s not that they’re particularly well-written. They’re just addicting, despite the fact that all of the characters are basically terrible. Our story follows Evie, who has the magical powers of Poison Ivy plus the ability to shift between a blond and a redhead, and who is trying to survive the apocalypse and the competition between twenty or so teenagers who each represent cards of the Tarot deck (yep) while choosing between two love interests who both have serious issues. There’s Jack, who is basically Alcide from True Blood except much meaner and Cajun and not a werewolf (although I totally thought he was because that was the only YA trope missing form this story) and Death, who is basically Eric from True Blood mixed with Eric from True Blood during that one book where he lost his memories and acted super weirdly. I started these books thinking that they were a completed trilogy and then halfway through found out that it was an incomplete six-book series. Oops. So now I’m waiting on book 5, although I absolutely hate how book 4 ended and may end up abandoning the series if book 5 doesn’t do something big to make up for how terribly the plot is going.

Relish by Lucy KnisleyMagic Binds by Ilona AndrewsUnmentionable by Therese OneillMen Explain Things To Me (Updated Edition)

Other things I finished:

Relish by Lucy Knisley (4 stars) – very enjoyable food memoir with cute illustrations. I’m planning on picking up her other graphic memoir, which focuses on wedding planning, for the next readathon.

Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews (4 stars) – finally got to this one! This was the 9th book in the Kate Daniels series and I’m incredibly sad that the next book will be the final one. It was definitely better than the previous few books and it looks like things are heading toward an epic conclusion for Kate. I just love these characters so much. Please, Ilona Andrews, don’t let any of them die in the last book.

Unmentionable by Therese O’Neill (2 stars) – Ugh. This was disappointing. I listened to this on audio; it’s an account of what life was like for women in the 1800s, and the premise is sort of like “what if you were the protagonist of a classic novel?” I feel like it just really failed in its execution; the information was given for way too broad of a time period, and all of the information was focused on what it was like for wealthy white women, mostly in America, and ignored everyone else. Things got really repetitive and the narration became SUPER annoying about halfway through. I know a lot of people have liked this one, but for me it was a definite letdown.

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (5 stars) – this was absolutely fantastic and should be required reading. Solnit’s prose is beautifully complex, and her essays are very purposeful and well-executed. She raises a lot of very important points and expresses herself perfectly; I kept pausing to think about what she was saying and to re-read really beautiful sentences. I actually brought this one with me when I went to D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington, and I thought this was a really great pick in light of the current political climate. Highly recommend.

 

What did everyone else read this month? Let me know!

December Reading Wrap-Up

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I’m a little early with this December reading recap, but I’ll be out of town for New Years’ and am trying to get a jump on my blog posting before I leave. In December, I managed to read three of the four books from my Tome Topple Readathon TBR list (which I totally failed at reading in November) and also read a bunch of very popular books, with varied results. There are technically three days left in December, but it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to finish another book before then–I’m right at the beginning of The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, which is a very long book, and I’m listening to Lab Girl by Hope Jahren very, very slowly. I’m also re-reading Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Mist and Fury, which is a very wintery read.

Total books read in December: 6

#readmyowndamnbooks: 5

Audiobooks: 0 (I wasn’t in an audiobook mood! Although I did start one audiobook, Lab Girl by Hope Jahren)

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 1

βœ“ 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

A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers, #2)Crooked Kingdom by Leigh BardugoGemina by Amie KaufmanThe Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own M... by Catherynne M. Valente

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers (4.25 stars) – this was a wonderful story about two people discovering who they are: an AI who is given her own body for the first time, and a girl born in a world that only wants to use her as a slave. Like Becky Chambers’ previous book, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, the themes here are universal and well-portrayed, and although I did think it was really good, it didn’t quite live up to its predecessor. I’m absolutely planning to continue with the series; according to Goodreads, Chambers has a third book set in this universe coming out in 2017.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (4.25 stars) – So, I loved Six of Crows, and this book was one of the books I was most excited about reading this year. Maybe that was why I was underwhelmed with the first half of the book; things were seeming forced (especially dialogue and character interactions, which was really disappointing) and things just didn’t feel quite right. But! It got wayyyy better in the second half when the action really ramped up and things started feeling back to the awesomeness that I remember from the first book. The ending was very, very satisfying in pretty much every way. It’s sad that this is only a duology, but honestly things ended on such a perfect note that I’m glad there were only two books.

Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman (4 stars) – The sequel to Illuminae, the ridiculously exciting unconventionally formatted science fiction book that I devoured during Dewey’s. I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by this series. Gemina, like Illuminae, was very suspenseful and a quick read, but I actually really preferred the two main characters of this book to the main characters of Illuminae–especially Nik, our new male main character, who is a good-hearted guy who happens to be part of an organized crime family. On a space station.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente (4 stars) – this was a really lovely middle-grade book about a girl named September who travels to Fairyland and discovers that things aren’t quite what she had expected. She befriends a wyvern and goes on a quest, which gets more complicated after the evil ruler of Fairyland gets involved. I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this; it’s very well-written and has a good amount of originality. I wish I had younger siblings or cousins that I could pass this along to; I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a middle-grade read for anyone.

The Final Empire by Brandon SandersonA Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (3 stars) – I was not a big fan of this book. I know that a lot of people really love it, and it wasn’t that I thought it was terrible, but it was just…not great. There were so many way-too-convenient plot twists and tropes galore; I can be OK with either of these things in fantasy if the writing is really good, but unfortunately, it really wasn’t. I’m not saying this book was bad; the premise was interesting and there were some fun moments, but overall it wasn’t unique enough for me.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (3 stars) – This book was okay…I’d say it was a pretty solid 3-star read, but I’m not sure why it gets so much hype. I did like the concept of multiple Londons; I found the power-hungry White London especially interesting, and I liked Prince Rhy, who seemed by far like the most interesting character. Unfortunately, neither of these really got enough page time for me, and I found the two main characters’ actions to be really frustrating for the majority of the novel. I did like Kell, the main character, but for someone who’s supposed to be a super-powerful magician, he sure forgot to actually use his magic pretty often. Lila really grew on me by the end of the book, but it definitely took awhile. I probably won’t be continuing with this series.