(Belatedly Joining) Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge!

 

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I found out about this reading challenge, which lasts from March 21st until June 21st, from reading other book blogs. And I decided (very belatedly) that I really want to join! To participate, all you need is a loose commitment to read at least one book from the genres of fantasy, folklore, fairy tales, or mythology; it’s a very low-pressure challenge, and there are several different options depending on how far you want to immerse yourself. You can find all about the challenge here: http://www.stainlesssteeldroppings.com/once-upon-a-time-x

 

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I decided that I’ll be participating in Quest the First: to read five books that fit within any of the four different categories. I’ve been in such a fantasy-reading mood lately that I think it’s a very doable challenge, and I’ll expand on it for myself to read as many books as I can within those genres. Maybe 10? I think I can get to 10 🙂 especially if I count retroactively.

 

Every Heart a Doorway

 

I just started a book that fits in perfectly with this challenge: Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway. It takes place at a “home for wayward children” that actually houses children who have recently returned to reality from time spent in fantasy realms and are having difficulty adjusting to the loss of associated with that. I’m only at the beginning, but I absolutely love the concept.

Here are some of my TBR book options for the challenge:

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)The Girl Wakes: StoriesA History of Glitter and BloodFables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile

Through the WoodsCity of Dark Magic (City of Dark Magic, #1)Leo@Fergusrules.Com: A NovelGet in Trouble: Stories

Gods Behaving BadlyLittle, BigMr. SplitfootRoses and Rot

 

 

Are any of you participating? Any book recommendations in fantasy/folklore/mythology/fairy tales? Let me know!

 

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Recent Bookish Events: Adventures at a Small Press Book Fair and a Reading with N.K. Jemisin!

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Something I’ve realized over the past few years is how much I absolutely love attending bookish events. Readings, library book sales, author speaking series–it never fails to reignite my passion for books, reading, and writing. I was able to hear Kelly Link read from her newest short story collection Get in Trouble last winter, and this year I was able to listen to both Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Dinaw Mengestu speak about their lives, their writing, and current social and political issues during the Babel reading series in my city. I also went to hear Alyssa Palombo, a local author, read from her novel The Violinist of Venice at a local independent bookstore, and although historical romance isn’t typically my genre, I was very intrigued by the concept and added yet another book to my TBR.

 

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Last weekend, I was able to make it to the 10th annual Buffalo Small Press Book Fair, and I really wish I had known about it the nine previous years as well. It’s a very friendly community event geared toward all things bookish: it includes local small presses, authors, comics artists, and bookish crafts.

Because I physically cannot be around books without buying some of them, I picked up 3 books at the BSPBF:

 

The Girl Wakes: StoriesDeath My Own WayLeo@Fergusrules.Com: A Novel

 

I picked up two of the books at the Leapfrog Press booth, where they had amazing prices and fascinatingly weird story concepts. I was told that I shouldn’t pick up anything by author Michael Graziano if I didn’t like weird books, so I immediately grabbed one of his called Death My Own Way. I was also enticed to pick up leo@fergusrules.com by Arne Tangherlini because it was described to me as “Alice in Wonderland on the internet.” I mean, obviously I need to read that right away. And I absolutely cannot wait to start reading The Girl Wakes by Carmen Lau, which I found at the Alternating Current Press booth–it’s a fantasy short story collection featuring female-centric fairy tales. I also picked up the gorgeous bag in the picture from artist Claudia E. Berger.

Being at the small press book fair made me realize that I haven’t been paying enough attention to the importance of reading books published by local authors and independent presses. I feel like it’s difficult to break out of the habit of reading highly promoted new releases and books already famous, but I’d like to try. So, one of my bookish goals for the rest of the year, and carrying over into next year, will be to track down and read more lesser-known small press books.

 

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I didn’t realize until recently that I’d completely forgotten to blog about another recent bookish event–I was able to hear N.K. Jemisin, one of my absolute favorite authors, read her newest soon-to-be-released short story! I don’t want to give away too much (she told us that it would be published in the next few months by Tor.com) but it’s a contemporary fantasy set in New York, and the main character is a young homeless man coming to awareness of the ancient threat facing his city.

I also was able to meet N.K. Jemisin and asked her to sign my copy of The Fifth Season, during which I completely geeked out and had no idea what to say to her. I was totally intimidated by her awesomeness.

 

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What bookish events have you all attended lately? I’d love to hear about them!

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog  and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

 

It’s Monday, and I’m actually doing pretty decent on my April TBR list! Here’s what I managed to finish this week:

Nimona by Noelle StevensonMarked in Flesh by Anne BishopThe Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Shockingly, I was able to finish reading Marked in Flesh in time to return it to the library…only three days overdue :-/ But it could have been a lot worse!

I finally got around to reading The Yellow Wallpaper, which is actually a short story, although I downloaded it as a free standalone ebook, so…apparently I’m counting it as a book?

And…Nimona!!! I’ll add a longer review later, but I liked this so much more than I thought I was going to. I had actually intended on saving it for Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon later this month, but I got too impatient and went ahead and read it.

 

Right now, I’m in the middle of three books:

Wide Sargasso SeaMr. SplitfootJackaby (Jackaby, #1)

 

Wide Sargasso Sea is the one I’m most focused on right now, and I have to say that the writing is absolutely incredible. Every sentence is so thoughtfully constructed and the language is dense and evocative. It’s a short book but I’m reading it very slowly due to its density and overall amazingness.

I just BARELY started Mr. Splitfoot, but I’m able to tell pretty quickly whether or not I’m clicking with a book. (Reading is a lot like dating in that way.) And I am absolutely hitting it off with this book so far. I can’t wait to get more invested in this book, but that will have to wait until I finish Wide Sargasso Sea, which is sort of consuming my reading thoughts at the moment.

 

Speaking of consuming my reading thoughts, I’ve been obsessing (a lot) about my reading game plan for Dewey’s Readathon. I have way too many book ideas for such a short period of time, but I’m rationalizing it because Bout of Books is coming up in May, and anything I don’t read for Dewey’s can just roll over into that readathon instead 🙂

 

 

What is everyone reading this Monday??

Audiobook Issues

I really want to like audiobooks, but I’m having some issues.

Here’s the thing: I started a job last year that has about a 25-minute commute. Nothing terrible or crazy, but long enough that I went from ecstatically rocking out every time Taylor Swift came on the radio (don’t judge, you know  you do it too) to getting really tired of all the repetitive songs and commercials. Audiobooks seemed like the perfect solution–I love books, and I have almost an hour of extra time each day that could be used to listen to them.

But! I’m a terrible listener. I don’t mean when I’m talking to someone one-on-one, but as part of an audience. In school, I always had difficulty paying attention in lectures; I always ended up teaching all of the material to myself later from notes and textbooks, unable to absorb things spoken aloud. I was a good student; it’s just that I’m not an auditory learner. And I quickly found this becoming a large hurdle to my audiobook enjoyment.

I’m an audiobook newbie; I’ve only listened to about five or so audiobooks total. But I’ve also started several that I’ve had to DNF because I was just not able to focus on them, for whatever reason. I have a hard time pinpointing why; I’m sure the narrator was doing a good job, and the stories were interesting enough, but my listening skills were just not up to par.

Only two audiobooks, so far, have really worked for me:

Why Not Me? by Mindy KalingReady Player One

I really enjoyed Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? because Mindy is so conversational and relatable–I could easily focus on the book because it was like we were chatting, and I just happened to be feeling very quiet at the time. And Ready Player One was just so funny and action-packed that I never even had a chance to think about whether I was paying attention; I couldn’t help it.

I’ve also tried these, and although I finished them, they weren’t great for me:

BossypantsModern RomanceAnansi Boys (American Gods, #2)

The thing is, I’d love to keep audiobooks a part of my commuting routine, but I keep striking out with the books I try.

So I’m looking for recommendations–does anyone have any suggestions for me of audiobooks you loved?

April TBR and Getting Psyched for Dewey’s Readathon!

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It’s my favorite part of the month: the part where I make a massive TBR list that I then immediately start to deviate from. I ranked these in order of most likely to actually read this month to least likely.

There are a couple of factors that went into my TBR decisions this month: I need to bounce back from my most recent book I thought I’d love that was just okay (Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman) and, more excitingly, I need to plan for Dewey’s 24-hour readathon on April 23rd!!!

I participated in the most recent Dewey’s readathon in October, and had an amazing time reading straight through Carry On by Rainbow Rowell in one day. I read a graphic novel too! It’s a fun and interactive celebration of reading, and I’m pumped to participate again this month. Unfortunately, I have to work the morning of the Readathon, but am planning on audiobooking to and from work and then getting down to hardcore reading/blogging as soon as I get home. I’ll be posting a more specific pre-Readathon game plan later in the month 🙂

So, here’s what I’m looking to read during April:

 

Jackaby (Jackaby, #1)Jackaby (Jackaby, #1)Jackaby (Jackaby, #1)

Jackaby by William Ritter – I already started listening to this audiobook, and it’s totally working for me. Supernatural Sherlock Homes in late 1800’s New England, with a female protagonist I really like in the Watsonish role.

Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4)Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4)Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4)

Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop – this is on a 7-day library loan, so I actually need to read it really quickly. It’s not that I can’t read a book in a week, but this series is a slower type of read that I prefer to take my time with, so this might be tricky.

NimonaNimonaNimona

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – I’ve been hearing from so many bloggers and reviewers that this is a must-read, and I’m excited to check it out.

The Yellow WallpaperThe Yellow WallpaperThe Yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – technically a short story I have on e-book. So far I have read exactly zero classics in 2016, so I should get on this.

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1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – This book sounds absolutely amazing. I definitely will be starting it this month, but it is very, very long, so I doubt I’ll be able to finish it this month as well.

Through the WoodsThrough the WoodsThrough the Woods

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll – another graphic novel, this one is supposed to be quite spooky. I read a really positive review on Goodreads from Patrick Rothfuss that made me check this out from the library.

Every Heart a DoorwayEvery Heart a DoorwayEvery Heart a Doorway

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire – I just requested this short novel from the library. It’s a new release about children who return to the real world after getting lost in fantasy stories. It may be a good option for Dewey’s since it’s fairly short and has been getting amazing reviews on Goodreads.

Appetites: Why Women WantAppetites: Why Women WantAppetites: Why Women Want

Appetites by Caroline Knapp – This book has been sitting on my TBR pile mocking me since college.

Mr. SplitfootMr. SplitfootMr. Splitfoot

Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt – I do really, really want to read this, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to fit it in this month. Never say never!

 

I’d love to hear what everyone is planning on reading this month! What’s on your TBR lists? Anyone else participating in the Readathon?

 

March Reading Wrap-Up

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March, for me, was the month of the #Weirdathon, hosted by Outlandish Lit. I set ridiculously high goals (and a ridiculously high TBR stack) due to my love of weird fiction, and although I didn’t read even half of what I set out to, I absolutely loved the commitment to reading weirdly. I loved it so much that I plan to continue the #Weirdathon in spirit throughout this spring by keeping up with my weirdest TBR books.

 

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March Reading Summary:

Total books read in March: 5

#Weirdathon books I read in March: 3

#readmyowndamnbooks: 3

Audiobooks: 1

Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 2

✓ 3. Read a collection of essays (Bad Feminist)

✓ 9. Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award (Bossypants)

Goodreads 2016 Challenge: I’m at 18/50 (6 books ahead of schedule)

 

So, what did I read this month?

Bossypants by Tina FeyThe Rook by Daniel O'MalleyBad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Bossypants by Tina Fey (3 stars) – Fey is really likable, but this book was just okay for me. I did find it easy to listen to since it was read by a comedian, but it wasn’t an amazing read. The part I liked best was the discussion of her Sarah Palin impersonation on SNL.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley (4.25 stars) – see my review here (https://beachesandbooks.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/weirdathon-update-weeks-12/). To summarize, this book is funny, weird, and absorbing, and you should read it right now.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (5 stars) – for some reason, I had anticipated this book being more of a light-hearted satire of feminism, and wasn’t expecting the emotionally wrenching, thought-provoking, completely amazing read that it was.

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett ThomasTrigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas (4 stars)  – again, for some reason I was expecting this to be much sillier than it turned out to be. Ariel, a Ph.D. student researching thought experiments from the 1800s (seriously, how cool is that PhD topic?) finds a book believed to be cursed in that everyone who has ever read it has died or disappeared–including her thesis advisor. Through the cursed book, she discovers the way to enter an alternate dimension called the Troposphere, which allows her to enter the minds of other people and jump through time. It’s a very odd and philosophical read–it starts out slow, and then becomes gripping. I thought that Ariel’s character was sort of flat, but the plot and scientific concepts were fascinating and I really enjoyed the book.

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman (3.5 stars) – This was more of a 3-star read for me until the last couple of stories. I love Neil Gaiman’s writing, but this was my least favorite of the three short story collections of his that I’ve read. That being said, it was still quite good, and my favorites were the Doctor Who story and the American Gods novella. Also, his introductions are always fantastic–they’re very thoughtful, and he gives insight into each of the stories. It sounds like he’s going to write another American Gods novella set after the one in this collection, and then possibly follow that up with a full-length sequel, if I’m interpreting it right.

 

 

What did everyone enjoy reading this month?

 

 

March Book Haul!!!

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This month, I did not go a little crazy with book buying. I went a lot crazy.

But! I am so ridiculously excited about all of the books I found this month, so it works out 🙂

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – I fell in love with the BBC miniseries version of this novel (I’ve seen it 3 or 4 times) and really wanted to be able to read the original novel. This will also help me with my goal to read more classics this year.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – After reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle last year, I’ve been anxious to start another Murakami book, and the concept of this one has fascinated me for years.

Embassytown by China Mieville – I’ve read two previous books by this author (Perdido Street Station and The City and the City), and both were wonderfully weird. This one is supposedly focused on language and the interactions between humans and an alien race.

And Again by Jessica Chiarella – I won this awesome and unique-sounding book in a giveaway from Tor.com! It’s a debut novel about disabled people given a second chance at life in perfect new versions of their bodies.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – I loved this book so much that I wasn’t content just to check it out from the library and read it once–I had to buy a copy so that I could repetitively re-read it.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – I’m so fascinated by this complex and notoriously difficult to read horror novel.

The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead by J. Gordon Melton – because of course I need a reference text for my love of vampires.

 

 

I write about nontraditional beach reads for nontraditional readers