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 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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.

Bout of Books Readathon TBR

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 8th and runs through Sunday, May 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional.ย For all Bout of Books 19 information and updates, be sure to visit theย Bout of Booksย blog.ย – From the Bout of Books team

 

I love it when Bout of Books happens right after (or almost right after) Dewey’s Readathon; that way, if you don’t read as much as you would have liked to during Dewey’s, or if you’re sad that the readathon has ended, there’s another chance right around the corner. Usually with Bout of Books I tend to focus on books that are fast-paced but not necessarily short in length, YA, and graphic novels; this time, I’m going to instead focus on some very short books on my TBR list that sound really intriguing. Also, I usually go with library books for the majority of my Bout of Books reading, whereas this time I’d like to ideally stick to my physical TBR shelf as I continue to try to #readmyowndamnbooks.

So here’s my Bout of Books TBR:

 

The LoverThe BeautyPull Me UnderBloodchild and Other Stories

The Lover by Marguerite Duras – This book was published in the 1980’s and depicts an affair between a French teenager and an older Chinese man in what was previously known as French Indochina (now Vietnam). I found a copy at a used bookstore in D.C. when I was there for the Women’s March; it’s only 117 pages long, and Roxane Gay gave it a 5-star rating on Goodreads. Seems perfect for a readathon.

The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley – this is a short novel, around 100 pages, about a future in which all of the women in the world have died and the remaining men are attempting to preserve their history using oral storytelling.

Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce – This book was actually my first Book of the Month pick and I keep putting it on TBRs and not reading it. It’s about a woman who was bullied as a child in Japan and accidentally kills the child who was bullying in her; I believe the novel mostly takes place when she is an adult and trying to come to terms with what she has done.

Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia Butler – Octavia Butler is one of my favorite authors, and this collection of short stories and essays sounds like it will be absolutely amazing.

 

So, that’s what I have planned for Bout of Books, which starts on Monday. As far as my reading plans go in the meantime, my main goal is to finish the books I’ve been reading for awhile prior to the readathon. This morning I was able to finish Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson, which I’ve been reading forever (it turned out to be pretty meh), and I’m about 2/3 of the way through Difficult Women by Roxane Gay, which is AMAZING so far.

Difficult WomenPerfect Little World

After that, I’d like to start one or more longer books that I will likely only be able to begin before the readathon and likely finish afterwards, although I also like having the option of a longer work to pick up during the readathon if I’m not in the mood to read only short books. These three are at the top of my list; ideally I’d like to finish them all sometime in May.

Windwitch (The Witchlands, #2)The Lonely Hearts HotelA Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)

 

Is anyone else planning on participating in Bout of Books? What’s on your TBR? Let me know!

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon Wrap-Up

april2017

And that’s a wrap on this round of Dewey’s! I’m very late with this wrap-up post (oops) but I had a wonderful time devoting my day to reading on Saturday. I luckily didn’t have too much in the way of conflicts so I was able to focus on reading better than I normally can for long periods of time. Of course, I didn’t read for the entire 24 hours (I never do) but it was overall a really fun bookish day and I very much enjoyed it.

The Grownup by Gillian FlynnReplica by Lauren OliverSaga, Vol. 7 by Brian K. Vaughan

Here’s my closing survey:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Hour 17. At about 12:30 a.m. I started to totally crash. I’m normally a night owl, but as it got later I was having a harder time focusing on my physical books, so I ended up switching to audio for the last few hours I spent reading.
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a reader engaged for next year?

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, The Grownup by Gillian Flynn, Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire, Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Aimee Kaufman, Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season?

Nope! I love the readathon as is.
4. What do you think worked really well in this yearโ€™s Read-a-thon?

Everything?
5. How many books did you read?

I finished 3 books and read a bit of a fourth, for a total of 833 pages.
6. What were the names of the books you read?

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn, Replica by Lauren Oliver, and Saga, Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples were the books that I finished during the readathon. I also read/listened to some of Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson.
7. Which book did you enjoy most?

Surprisingly, my favorite book of the readathon turned out to be The Grownup by Gillian Flynn. It was twisty, atmospheric, and impossible to put down. I wish it had been longer!
8. Which did you enjoy least?

I didn’t not enjoy any of my readathon books, but I wasn’t blown away by Replica. It was fun and fast-paced but it did lack a lot of depth for me and I wasn’t into either of the romantic plotlines.
9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I’m very much looking forward to the next round of Dewey’s in October!

Halfway through Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon Updates!

 

I can’t believe we’re halfway through Dewey’s! The day goes by so fast whenย  you devote it to reading. My readathon has been really lovely so far and I’m hoping to stay up quite late tonight if possible, but we’ll have to see how that goes. Here’s my mid-event survey:

1. What are you reading right now?

I’m currently reading Replica by Lauren Oliver, which is a science fiction YA read that is told from the perspective of two girls and deals with human cloning. The book is actually separated into two books, and you have to choose which story to start with and whether you alternate between the two storylines or read one and then the other straight through. So far I’ve been alternating between the two girls’ perspectives in chunks and it’s worked well to help mix up my reading.
2. How many books have you read so far?

So far, I’ve finished one book and read about 3/4 of another, for a total of464 pages.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

Hmm…I’m really looking forward to finally picking up the most recent volume of Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, but I’m also getting this urge to go rogue and pick up a book that’s not on my TBR. After I finish Replica I feel like I’ll be all over the place.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

I woke up late (the readathon starts at 8 a.m. my time, and I am physically unable to force myself to wake up that early when I don’t have to work) and I’m planning on taking a reading break soon to work out. I feel like as it gets later I’ll get more and more distracted with interruptions, so we’ll see.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

I haven’t been as easily distracted as I thought I’d be! I haven’t spent this much time in one day reading since, well, the last round of Dewey’s, but so far I really haven’t gotten bored or restless or anything. I think it’s partly because I was really looking forward to a reading-centered day after a few weeks of craziness, and partly because I picked out good choices for my TBR.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon – Opening Survey

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

I’m reading from the East Coast of the U.S., where it’s supposed to be gloomy out all day. Perfect reading weather, although it does mess with my plans to read outside for a bit.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Probably Replica by Lauren Oliver – I’m really in the mood for a new YA book, and the fact that this one is dystopian with a nontraditional format just makes it sound even more enticing.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to making a chai latte this morning, and also to some Thai food later in the day ๐Ÿ™‚
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I absolutely love making TBRs, but I rarely stick to them. I’m really curious if I’ll stay with my TBR for Dewey’s or if I’ll end up going rogue.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, whatโ€™s one thing youโ€™ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

Hm…the last readathon in October was actually pretty great for me–I got a ton of reading done and really enjoyed almost everything I read. I’m actually hoping to keep this round pretty similar, with as much reading as possible, checking in on bookish social media, and taking a break to work out later in the day to mix things up. Hopefully I’ll end up participating until pretty late tonight, although I never end up reading for the full 24 hours.

 

How is everyone’s readathon going so far???

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon TBR

april2017

I always look forward to the next installment of Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon; it’s such a fun, positive day of reading and bookish interactions. The last few weeks have been really crazy for me, so I’m really looking forward to having a nice, relaxing, reading-filled day on Saturday. I’m also really looking forward to picking up these books! I tend to save certain books for readathons that I think will be good picks; I have a few graphic novels, a few YA novels, an audiobook, a short story collection, and a novella to choose from. I picked out a few yummy snacks and am probably planning to order takeout, since readathons allow you to be lazy, and if it’s nice out I’m hoping to read outside on my roof or maybe walk down to read by the river. I’ll be posting updates here on my blog every so often, and also will be posting a lot on Instagram and Litsy (I’m @beachesnbooks on both of those).

And here’s my TBR! Ranked from most likely to read/finish during the readathon to least likely.

The GrownupSaga, Vol. 7Replica (Replica, #1)Difficult Women

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn – I got this short story in one of my Book of the Month Club boxes and have been saving it for a readathon because it’s so tiny and will be a perfect fast-paced read. I think it involves ghosts, maybe? Or else it’s just a thriller, but either way I’m thinking it will be a good way to kick off the readathon Saturday morning.

Saga, Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples – this next volume of Saga came out just in time for Dewey’s. I don’t exactly remember where the previous volume left off, but I always enjoy this series.

Replica by Lauren Oliver – I’m thinking this may be my main YA read during the Readathon, but I’ve never read a Lauren Oliver book before so I don’t really know if I’m going to like it (thus having lots of backup options). It’s a science fiction novel told in dual perspectives that you can read any way you want–alternating chapters between the two characters, or reading first one perspective and then the other; I think this nontraditional format will help my reading flow during the readathon.

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay – I haven’t yet read a short story collection in April, so I’m going to have to finish this one before the end of the month. I got a bit behind on my reading during the Tome Topple Readathon, so I’m hoping to read some of this collection before the readathon and try to finish it during Dewey’s.

Windwitch (The Witchlands, #2)Perfect Little WorldSomething New: Tales from a Makeshift BrideDisplacement: A Travelogue

Windwitch by Susan Dennard – I couldn’t resist picking up a copy of Windwitch immediately after finishing Truthwitch earlier this month, but I’ve been saving it in case I’m in the mood for this YA fantasy during the Readathon. I’ve heard that the majority of people didn’t like this as much as Truthwitch, but I’ve got a good feeling as it seems like we’ll be getting more of Iseult and Aeduon in this one.

Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson – I’m listening to this “utopian” novel on audiobook; it’s always a good idea to have an audiobook option during the readathon so that you can keep your reading up if you have to go drive somewhere. If it’s nice out, I may also take a walk while listening to this.

Something New by Lucy Knisley – I read Relish, Lucy Knisley’s food-related memoir, for a previous readathon, and thought it was really cute and well-illustrated. This graphic memoir focuses on Knisley’s engagement and planning her wedding; since I was in four weddings over the past year, I think it should be pretty entertaining.

Diplacement: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley – I picked this up at the library when I was grabbing Saga and Something New; it’s another graphic memoir by Lucy Knisley that focuses on her relationship with her grandparents when she goes on a cruise with them.

 

 

Is anyone else participating in Dewey’s??? What’s on your TBR? Let me know!

 

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

โœ“ 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

โœ“ 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 listenedย  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:

I write about nontraditional beach reads for nontraditional readers