It’s Monday and I’m Literally Reading All the Things

It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly feature hosted by The Book Date.

I’m not going to lie, my reading this Monday is looking pretty darn awesome. As is my Monday in general, because even though it is Monday, I have a shorter week at work since I’m taking some time off to road trip to a friend’s wedding this weekend.

So, what am I even reading?

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) BodyA Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the CrematoryHerland

This week, I’m reading two of the books I was most excited for in 2017: Hunger by Roxane Gay, which is already amazing and devastating and incisive, like everything Roxane Gay writes, and A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas, which is the last book in my current favorite guilty pleasure series. I’m also listening to Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty on audiobook; I prefer nonfiction on audio, and I’ve been really interested to check out this memoir from a young mortician. So far it’s keeping my interest, but the real test is whether it’ll work during my 7-8 hour drive this weekend. And then today I just started a new classic on my Serial Reader app, Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman; I’d previously started A Room With a View by E.M. Forster, but then I realized that I’d meant to only read books by women writers this month, so I switched.

I recently finished reading:

This weekend, I finished The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember, which was one of the books that I got at BookCon. I picked this up at the booth for Interlude Press, which publishes LGBTQIA+-focused books, and everyone I spoke to at this booth was so wonderful and friendly. I was sold on picking up this book when one of the Interlude authors told me that it features Slytherin-esque characters.  It’s a really lovely Norse mythology-inspired YA fairytale retelling of The Little Mermaid with a love story between a rebellious mermaid and a tough Viking Girl. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys mermaids and fairy tale retellings.

I’m planning on reading next:

The Hate U GiveThe Girls

I needed to line up some attention-holding audiobooks for this weekend, as I’ll be driving for about 15-16 hours total, so I currently have library holds on The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and The Girls by Emma Cline. I’ve heard good things about both of these but haven’t actually heard anything about the audio versions, so fingers crossed. I also have some bookish podcasts saved up to listen to if I need a break from audiobooking!

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!

Summer Reading Goals: 20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge

20 books

Even though I’m no longer in school, I still find that I always get more reading done during the summer than during any other season. A big part of this is that I love to read outside; there’s just something so nice about lying on the beach or my roof and enjoying the sunshine with a good book. I also love to set summer reading goals and TBRs, so the 20 Books of Summer Challenge, hosted by 746 Books, is perfect. Here are the 20 books I’m hoping to read this summer (although I’m also hoping to get a few more in there); all are on my physical TBR shelf except for a few that haven’t been released yet and two that I’ve pre-ordered on ebook.

Nonfiction:

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) BodySmoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory

I have two memoirs at the top of my TBR for the summer. Roxane Gay’s Hunger, a memoir that focuses on her relationship with food and her body, comes out in June, and since she’s rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors, I’m going to need to read it pretty much immediately. I’ve also had Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes on my TBR since it was released, and I’ve heard nothing but great things about this memoir by a female mortician.

Next in series:

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2)Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3)Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2)

Sometimes I’m just really in the mood for some fast-paced fantasy in the summer. I haven’t yet started the final book in Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series, A Court of Wings and Ruin, which was released in May, and I’m thinking this summer is the perfect time to get to it. Awesomely, Ilona Andrews, one of my favorite fantasy authors, is releasing both the second and third books in her Hidden Legacy trilogy this summer, only months apart, and since I’ve pre-ordered both ebooks, I’m very much looking forward to getting back into this series that focuses on families with magical dynasties and a lie-detecting protagonist. Another anticipated release this summer for me is Seanan McGuire’s Down Among the Sticks and Bones, which is the second book in a YA series focused on children who have traveled to different portal fantasy worlds.

Literary fiction:

The Lonely Hearts HotelHomegoingOranges Are Not the Only FruitThe Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The GirlsThe Panopticon

I have very, very good feelings about the books in this category. Several are books that I’ve added to TBRs before but haven’t ever actually started; most of them are books that I think have the potential to really wow me.

Short story collections:

Children of the New World: StoriesThe Unfinished World: And Other StoriesBloodchild and Other Stories

I’m falling a little behind on my goal of reading one short story collection per month in 2017, so I’m looking to catch up by reading three collections this summer. I’ve barely started The Unfinished World by Amber Sparks but I already love her lyrical style; I’ve heard that she uses magical realism and science fiction elements in her stories, which I’m always a fan of. I’m thinking that Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild will be absolutely amazing; I’m kind of regretting starting the Amber Sparks collection first because I’m kind of in the mood to start that one. Alexander Weinstein’s Children of the New World is also science fiction, and I think I could get down with some of that this summer.

Classics:

North and SouthHerland

After not reading any classics for about the past two years, I’m trying to get back into them with the help of the Serial Reader app, which helps you read small chunks of classics every day. (It’s free! And it’s really been working for me!) So far, I’m about 1/3 of the way through Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, which was published in 1854 and depicts a romance while also delving into class and labor struggles in nineteenth-century England. I’m definitely enjoying it so far; in the past I’ve loved the BBC miniseries adaptation and I’ll probably need to re-watch it after I finish the book. Next, I’m thinking of picking up Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, author of the short story The Yellow Wallpaper, which was published in 1915 and is a feminist story about an all-female utopian society. It’s much shorter than North and South, so I’ll hopefully get to start another classic as well before the summer ends.

Science fiction/fantasy:

The Last OneBorderline (The Arcadia Project, #1)Lagoon

These might be my most anticipated reads of the summer. Alexandra Olivia’s The Last One depicts an apocalyptic event that takes place during the filming of a survivalist reality TV show; Mishell Baker’s Borderline was nominated for the Nebula and focuses on a double amputee with Borderline Personality Disorder who is in charge of policing the traffic between our world and a fantasy world; and  Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon is a first-contact-with-aliens story set in Nigeria. I mean, how awesome do those descriptions sound?

 

What do you all plan to read this summer? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

Bout of Books Wrap-Up (And Days 6&7 Updates)

So that’s a wrap for Bout of Books! It’s always fun to have a readathon going to help inspire you to read more than you normally would. I definitely wouldn’t say I got a crazy amount of reading done this week, but I think I did a decent job and most importantly have (for the most part) really enjoyed the books I chose.

On Saturday, I had a very productive readathon day. I did have to work, but I listened to the audiobook of Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear..and Why by Sady Doyle on my commute and also while running a bunch of errands afterwards, so my day was doubly productive. When I got home, I finished reading The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley, which turned out to be very good and even weirder than I expected it to be (which is a good thing in my book). It also had more plot twists than I anticipated, so I couldn’t have stopped reading it even if I’d wanted to. I meant to pick up another print book after that, but I started getting some things done around my apartment while listening to Trainwreck and couldn’t stop; it’s very short as far as audiobooks go, and the subject matter is super absorbing. I actually finished it late Saturday night and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a feminist nonfiction read.

Sunday was Mother’s Day, so I spent most of the day with my family and didn’t get quite as much reading done. I did start a new audiobook, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, but only got a little bit into it. I also read a little more of Windwitch by Susan Dennard, which is slower-paced than I had expected.

Here are my stats for the readathon as a whole:

Total books read: 3

Pull Me UnderThe BeautyTrainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear... and Why

Total pages read/audiobook time: 432 pages and 464 minutes of audio

Books started, but not finished: 3

Windwitch (The Witchlands, #2)The LoverBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

And here are my stats for the last two days of the readathon:

Day 6

Pages read: 237 minutes of Trainwreck, 74 pages of The Beauty

Books started: None

Books finished: The Beauty, Trainwreck

Day 7

Pages read: 12 minutes of Big Magic, 37 pages of Windwitch

Books started: Big Magic

Books finished: None

 

How did Bout of Books turn out for you guys? Let me know!

Bout of Books Updates: Days 3-5

Here are my updates at the end of day 5 of this round of the readathon! I’m still having a great time doing Bout of Books, although it hasn’t been perfect: in the past 3 days, I managed to actually finish a book (!) and started a new audiobook, but have been struggling a bit with my physical book reading. My goal for the readathon was to finish 3 books, so I definitely have a ways to go if I want to accomplish this.

Wednesday was my day off from work and I thought I’d be able to get a ton of reading done; I ended up being busier than expected but still managed to get through a decent chunk of Kelly Luce’s Pull Me Under and Susan Dennard’s Windwitch. To mix things up a bit, I started The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley, a short novel set in an isolated community of men after a pandemic has killed all of the women in the world. It’s definitely a very strange story, but the writing is skillful and lyrical.

On Thursday, I finally managed to finish Pull Me Under, a book I’ve been meaning to read for the past 6 months. For most of the book I was enjoying the story, particularly the discussions of Japanese culture, and was thinking about rating it 4 stars; however, for me the book really fumbled with how it handled the main character’s emotions and growth toward the end and it ended up being only a 3-star read. I also read a bit more of The Beauty, which quickly took a very odd turn; I’m really curious to see how the author handles things going forward.

Because I was listening to the audio version of Pull Me Under during my commutes to and from work, I was left without an audiobook on Friday. There were a few available from my library’s Overdrive app that I was interested in, but I ended up choosing Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear…and Why by Sady Doyle and narrated by Alex McKenna. The narrator was a big reason I picked this one up; McKenna also narrated Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, which has been one of my favorite audiobooks to date. I got completely sucked into this nonfiction book on Friday and listened to it for several hours, which is super rare for me as I struggle with paying attention to audiobooks. This book offers really interesting cultural criticism about why we tear famous women down while discussing tons of examples, both historical and modern. It’s so good that I may even finish it in the next few days.

 

So here are my stats for days 3-5:

Day 3

Pages read: 86 pages of Pull Me Under, 28 pages of Windwitch, 11 pages of The Beauty (125 pages total)

Books started: The Beauty

Books finished: None

Day 4

Pages read: 63 pages of Pull Me Under, 14 pages of The Beauty (77 pages total)

Books started: None

Books finished: Pull Me Under

Day 5

Pages read: listened to 215 minutes of Trainwreck

Books started: Trainwreck

Books finished: None

 

How is everyone else’s Bout of Books so far?

Bout of Books Days 1&2 Updates

We’re two days into Bout of Books! Things started off really well for me–I kicked off the readathon late Sunday night (technically after midnight on Monday) by starting The Lover by Marguerite Duras, a short novel that was on the top of my readathon TBR. It ended up being a bit different than I expected; instead of a fast read, the writing is actually very complex and I found myself rereading a lot of her sentences. Her style is complex and disjointed; each few paragraphs the narrative jumps forward and backward in time, so it’s definitely not a quick type of read. I still would really like to finish it during the readathon if I can, although I was only able to get through about 15 pages.

During the day on Monday, I listened to the audio version of Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce (I also have the physical book and I’ve been alternating between the two) during my commute to and from work; I’m really enjoying this story so far. It’s about a woman who killed her bully as a child and has since completely reinvented her life; however, when the death of her father brings her back to Japan, the country of her childhood, she’s forced to confront a lot of things she has kept buried.

I had a long day at work and when I got home I wasn’t feeling ambitious enough to pick up The Lover, so I read a bunch of Windwitch by Susan Dennard instead. This book is the second in a series focusing on two female friends with different magical powers; one can always tell truth from lies, and the other can sense the emotions and connections between other people. I’m definitely liking it so far; another viewpoint character has been added and I really like her, which means that I’m very into four of the five viewpoint characters (one of the love interests really rubs me the wrong way, but I still like the series a lot overall).

Unfortunately, Tuesday wasn’t nearly as successful of a reading day. It ended up being an absolutely crazy day at work, and I had plans to see a movie with friends right afterward (Guardians of the Galaxy 2!  It was such a fun movie). The only reading I got done was a brief audiobook session of Pull Me Under during my lunch break. Wednesday is my day off, however, so I’m hoping to make up for some lost reading time today.

Here are my stats:

Day 1

Pages read: 15 pages of The Lover, 64 pages of Pull Me Under, and 30 pages of Windwitch (109 pages total)

Books started: The Lover

Books finished: None

 

Day 2

Pages read: 10 pages of Pull Me Under

Books started: None

Books finished: None

 

How is everyone else’s Bout of Books going so far? 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.

I write about nontraditional beach reads for nontraditional readers