Tag Archives: reading

October Reading Wrap-Up

It’s the end of October, which means the end of my month of spooky/thriller-y/creepy/fall-ish reads. I definitely had some fun with my reading this month, although my ratings were all over the place, and I think I got my fix of October-type books for the year. I had a great time participating in Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon this month, and today I dressed up as Hermione Granger for Halloween, which was super fun. Now we’re on to November and NaNoWriMo next, so my wrap-up for next month likely won’t be nearly as impressive as this one is.

Total books read: 10

#readmyowndamnbooks: 7

Audiobooks: 2

Ebooks: 1

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch, #1)Till DeathThe Haunting of Hill HouseWhite Is for Witching by Helen OyeyemiSadie by Courtney SummersNeverworld WakeA Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain by Adrianne HarunMy Lady's Choosing by Kitty CurranZoo City by Lauren BeukesA Duke by Default (Reluctant Royals, #2)

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi (5 stars) – White is for Witching was one of those 5 star reads that sneaks up on you; I wasn’t expecting it to be as impactful as it was. It’s a dark, creepy, unsettling, and strange book that’s fascinatingly and intricately composed. Oyeyemi’s writing is beautifully strange and meandering, following the living as well as ghosts, making you question what’s real and what’s not. She also tackles themes of racism and xenophobia in unexpected ways. White is for Witching follows Miranda, a girl who suffers from pica, a compulsion to eat what’s not food. As she devours chalk and plastic, she grieves for her mother and is haunted by a house with a past—a past that seeks to encompass her too. I don’t want to reveal too much about the story, because learning its aspects is part of the experience of this book, but I highly recommend this to readers of magical realism or literary fiction who are looking for something to put them in the October mood.

My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris (4 stars) – This book is SO MUCH FUN! If you enjoy Jane Austen and/or the Brontes and/or historical romance or romance in general, I highly recommend giving this book a shot. I wasn’t sure when I bought it whether it was my kind of thing, since I’ve never really read historical romance, but I found that having read a bunch of Jane Austen (as well as Jane Eyre) was a solid enough background to catch a lot of the references in this book. Basically, it’s a choose-your-own-adventure historical romance, where you are the heroine and must make decisions every few pages. There are 4 main storylines that you can follow, but each has a bunch of twists and turns and involve a mystery in addition to the romance storyline. In general, the four storylines revolve around either a Mr. Darcy-esque figure; a female adventurer; a Mr. Rochester-esque figure; and a Scottish guy, but there are other endings and romantic options in each of these stories beyond the main character. The book doesn’t take itself too seriously, and there’s a lot of humor and parodying of historical romance tropes; I laughed out loud so many times while reading this that I couldn’t read it in public. If you’re looking for a fun, lighthearted read (or a good book for a readathon!) I highly recommend picking this one up.

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl (4 stars) – This book is strange, immersive, and claustrophobic at times, which makes it perfect to read in one sitting. Five teenagers, best friends, are in a car accident and find themselves hovering in what’s called a Neverworld Wake, a sort of in-between time loop between life and death. They’re trapped there, reliving the day of their accident, until they can bring themselves to vote unanimously for the only one of their group who will survive the accident. No one can agree on who deserves to survive, so they end up reliving their day in all sorts of crazy ways until they agree that they need to focus their time instead on the unsolved murder of the other member of their friend group, which took place a year earlier. I thought the writing was great, and I enjoyed the strangeness and creativity that went into the book’s concept. I wouldn’t say that I loved the ending, but I’d definitely recommend the book overall.

Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout (3.5 stars) – I’ve read a few Jennifer L. Armentrout books before (White Hot Kiss, the first two books of A Wicked Trilogy) and when I was at BookCon, I saw that she was going to be doing a signing and giveaway of this book, and luckily I was able to get in line while that was happening. Till Death is my favorite of hers so far; it’s a tightly written romantic thriller with a main character you’ll love and want to root for. It follows Sasha, who was abducted by a serial killer at nineteen and was the only one of his victims to escape, after which he killed himself. Ten years later, Sasha is finally mentally and emotionally ready to return to her hometown to help her mother run a bed and breakfast, but then creepy things start happening to make her wonder if the past is really over. Luckily, she also runs into her ex, who’s now a very attractive FBI agent. I don’t read a ton of thrillers, but this one was perfect for binge-reading and had a good mixture of thriller and romance elements.

Sadie by Courtney Summers (3.5 stars) – This is a book that’s definitely best listened to as an audiobook. It alternates between the perspective of Sadie, a girl whose younger sister was murdered and who is now on the hunt for her killer, and a true-crime podcast tracking Sadie and her sister’s story. Because of that, I found this really easy to listen to, since podcasts are normally easier for me to pay attention to than audiobooks. I didn’t think it was a perfect book; I wished it was more complex, and the ending was a bit anticlimactic, but overall it was definitely a good listen and a creative storytelling method.

A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain (3.5 stars) – This atmospheric book is hard to categorize in terms of genre. It follows a group of friends in a Northwestern town besieged by poverty and bad people–and that’s before the devil shows up. It deals a lot with violence against women and discrimination against indigenous communities, and according to the author’s acknowledgements “was sparked by outrage over the ongoing murders and disappearances of aboriginal women along Highway 16, the so-called Highway of Tears, in northern British Columbia.” The supernatural element was creepy and well-done, but I felt like the book could have been longer and developed its themes more fully.

A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole (3 stars) – This was a fun contemporary romance about a woman who takes an internship at an armory in Scotland and ends up falling for her gruff instructor. I liked the heroine, Portia, quite a bit–she’s interesting, flawed, and easy to root for–but I wasn’t quite as much of a fan of her love interest, who for me was sort of a standard grumpy romance novel dude. I do think I’ll check out the other two books in this series, because overall I enjoyed Cole’s writing and I liked the snippets we got of Portia’s friends, who are the main characters of books 1 and 3.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (2.75 stars) – I…wasn’t impressed with this one. I keep wanting to like Shirley Jackson, but somehow her books/stories just don’t seem to quite click with me. This is probably going to be the last one I try; sometimes an author just doesn’t work for you, and that’s OK. The premise of this book is that a professor studying the arcane convinces three other people to accompany him to stay at Hill House, a notoriously malevolently haunted house, where the four of them will proceed to observe and study what happens. We primarily follow Eleanor, a sheltered 32-year-old who has spent most of her life caring for her sick mother, who has recently passed away, and are also introduced to Theodora, a free spirit, and Luke, the sketchy heir to Hill House. The biggest issue I had (probably?) was that I found all of the main characters very unlikable, but not in interesting or compelling ways. The four of them proceed to encounter various supernatural phenomena and learn about the story of Hill House, but this doesn’t happen very interestingly either, in my opinion. There were some well-written passages, and a few attempts at humor did really work for me; I was more interested in the book as a whole at the beginning, when I thought that the more interesting parts were yet to come. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the buildup just didn’t really go anywhere that interesting until the very end, which I sort of liked some aspects of.

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (2.5 stars) – I really liked the original premise of this South Africa-set urban fantasy: when a person commits a serious crime, they magically obtain an Animal, which is sort of a companion and living representation of their guilt. There are a lot of theories about why this is happening and when it first started, but when the book is set, those with Animals are being driven into slums and have difficulty finding good jobs and homes (and in some countries are killed or imprisoned). The Animal is also sort of a guardian against a mysterious and deadly force called the Undertow, which takes a person if their Animal is killed. It’s a very unique premise, and I liked learning about all of the aspects of this concept, but unfortunately I didn’t like the story itself nearly as much. I found all of the characters to be very unlikable, but not necessarily in interesting ways (I don’t mind unlikable main characters as long as they’re done well) and the story meandered quite a bit before (in my opinion) a really unpleasant and unsatisfying ending. I wouldn’t really recommend this one, and I don’t think I’ll be picking up more from this author in the future. I like urban fantasy and am always looking for UF with a unique premise, but this was a disappointment for me.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (1.5 stars) – Honestly, this book was a disappointment. YA fantasy can be very hit or miss for me, and this one just didn’t work. The premise of the book and its direction were very promising, but I just didn’t feel that it was executed well. There was a lot of infodumping, and the majority of the conversations between characters were also just infodumps in disguise; very little plot or character development happened over 400+ pages. I almost DNF’d it a few times, but kept hoping that things would pick up. Unfortunately, it’s not one I’d really recommend.

 

How did your October reading go?

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Dewey’s Readathon Updates & Mid-Event Survey

We’re more than halfway through the readathon already! Here are my hour 12 updates:

1. What are you reading right now?

I’m reading A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain by Adrianne Harun and listening to Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand.

2. How many books have you read so far?

So far I’ve finished one book, Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl, which I really enjoyed and gave 4 stars. I’ve also listened to about an hour of the audiobook of Sawkill Girls and am almost halfway done with Mountain.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

I think that after I finish A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain, I’m going to lighten the mood by reading some choose-your-own-adventure stories in My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel.

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

I took an unintentional nap a few hours ago; I’m feeling super tired today as it was an intense week at work. I then drank a bunch of coffee to wake myself back up and rally for the second half of the readathon. I also took a break to go to the gym, since it was rainy all day and I didn’t end up taking an audiobook walk .

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

It’s going by so fast! It’s already 8pm my time as I’m writing this update. I never make it the full 24 hours, and I’m trying to figure out how late I can stay up without throwing off my sleep schedule too much.

 

Hope everyone participating is enjoying their readathon as well!

Dewey’s Readathon TBR

It’s that time of year again! October means colder, rainier, more reading-friendly weather, candles, my famous pumpkin chili, spookiness and all things Halloween, and another round of Dewey’s 24-hour readathon.

If you’re a fellow bookish person and you’ve never heard of Dewey’s, check out the site here. It’s a twice-yearly readathon where the purported goal is to read for a full 24 hours–but don’t worry, most of us don’t make it to nearly that much. Essentially, it’s a day of reading as much as you can while connecting with fellow book lovers. You can post as much as you want on social media, enter a bunch of challenges, or just be a hermit all day and devote  yourself to books. Either way, it’s super fun and a great way to treat yourself on a Saturday. Dewey’s takes place this Saturday, October 20th, and it starts at a different time depending on what time zone you’re in; on the East Coast of the U.S., where I am, the readathon starts at 8 a.m. (although I almost never actually start reading that early).

One of my favorite parts of Dewey’s is, oddly, the planning. I like to think about what books to read in advance, because if you’re going to spend a day binge-reading, you’ll burn out fast if you try to read books that are too slow or complex (or at least I do!). I find that what works best for me are books with alternative formats (books that have text interspersed with images, interviews, documents, etc; think Illuminae or Night Film), short books (I like Tor.com novellas in particular), YA (you’re looking for a book that’s absorbing without being too strenuous to read, especially later in the day when you’re getting tired), and thrillers (because they’re gripping and fast-paced; I recommend Kanae Minato‘s books for the readathon). Keeping those things in mind, here’s my readathon TBR!

Neverworld WakeThe Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & MagicSawkill Girls

For YA books this time, I’ve come up with two: Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl and The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths and Magic by F.T. Lukens. Neverworld Wake is one that’s been highly recommended but I don’t know too much about–and I’d kind of like to keep it that way, since it’s a strange concept that I think involves time travel and purgatory and a murder investigation. Rules and Regulations is one that I picked up at BookCon; I think it’s a contemporary fantasy. And then I have the audiobook of Sawkill Girls by Clarie Legrand, because it’s good to have an audiobook option to give your eyes a break.

The Strange Bird: A Borne StoryThe End We Start FromA Portable ShelterA Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain

In terms of shorter books, I think I’ve found a few that will work for the readathon. I love Jeff Vandermeer, and I’m hoping to pick up his novella The Strange Bird, which is a companion to his novel Borne (which is fantastic, btw) when I’m in the mood for a shorter read during the readathon. Vandermeer writes weird fiction, and I’m interested to see an alternate perspective on Borne’s story, since the world he created in that book is so rich with detail and opportunity for further exploration. I also have on deck Megan Hunter’s The End We Start From, which is a short, sparsely written apocalyptic novel set while its main characters are fleeing a flooded London; A Portable Shelter by Kirsty Logan, which I believe also has short stories, and A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain by Adrianne Harun, which is sort of a creepy fantastical mystery.

My Lady's Choosing: An Interactive Romance NovelEmpire of Sand (The Books of Ambha)

To mix things up, I also have a choose-your-own-adventure style book, My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris, that I think might be fun to pick up when I’m feeling sleepy or distracted; it’s not a book that you read straight through, but you can play around with different storylines. It’s sort of an interactive romance novel that also parodies historical romances. And then to round out my stack, I have an ARC of Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri that I got at BookCon, because it’s a book that I need to read before its release date in November.

Are any of you participating in Dewey’s? If so, I hope you enjoy the readathon!

September Reading Wrap-Up

In September, I basically only read SFF and nonfiction, with the exception of my favorite read of the month, which I would classify as magical realism. I didn’t feel like I did a great job with reading from my physical bookshelf, and my reading in general felt slower and less productive than normal. I was out of town for two of the weekends in September (I was in Montreal for Labor Day weekend, and Toronto last weekend) and although both weekends were very fun, they didn’t leave a lot of reading time. On the other hand, I enjoyed every book I read this month!

Stats:

Total books read: 8

#readmyowndamnbooks: 4

Audiobooks: 2

Ebooks: 2

Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and TrumpI'm Afraid of Men by Vivek ShrayaMagic Triumphs by Ilona AndrewsRecord of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers, #3)An Easy Death by Charlaine HarrisFear by Bob WoodwardThe Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee BenderBannerless by Carrie Vaughn

And here are my reviews, from most enjoyed to least:

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (4.5 stars) – Due to its cheerful cover, I’d always thought this book was going to be a light, summery read–which was why I wanted to finish it during the summer. I knew that the premise was a reverse-Like Water for Chocolate situation (If you haven’t read either of these, in Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel the main character is able to imbue the food she cooks with her emotions, whereas in Lemon Cake the protagonist gains the ability to taste the emotions of others, such as the people who have picked, packaged, or prepared the dish, in the food she eats) but I didn’t realize that the book as a whole focused closely on an unhappy and dysfunctional family. It’s a book about growing up and slowly finding out who you are, and a lot of the time it’s deeply sad. That being said, it’s a novel that builds, and by the last third of the book I was completely in love and fascinated. Bender explores the implications of tasting emotions every time you taste food and the impact it would have on a person, as well as how it would help her gain insight into the issues of her family members. The novel starts with our protagonist as a child and follows her into young adulthood, and we grow with her as family secrets are exposed and also as she comes to better understand the people she sees every day. I absolutely loved the ending and the direction the book took, and I was left thoughtful and entranced. I’m very glad that I started reading Aimee Bender this year, and I’d highly recommend this book to fans of magical realism.

Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews (4 stars) – It’s really difficult to rate or review the tenth and final book in my favorite fantasy series, but I’m trying. I really can’t say anything at all about the plot, except that it builds on a lot of things that have been happening throughout the series, and that almost every character we know and love showed up at some point. I thought that it set things up really nicely for both the Iron Covenant trilogy (which focuses on Hugh, who’s sort of a villain throughout most of this series; the first book came out earlier this summer and I really enjoyed it) and a possible spin-off series focusing on Julie, Kate’s adopted daughter. Basically, if you enjoy fantasy with strong female characters, found families, and a lot of action and humor, you should really be reading this series, and know that Andrews does not disappoint with the finale. I can’t say that I loved every single thing about how the plot of this book went, but overall it’s been a wonderful ride, and this is a series I’ll continue to revisit in the future. I’m glad that Andrews isn’t ending things with this world or these characters for good, even if she won’t be putting out anymore Kate-centric books.

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (4 stars) – This is the third book in the excellent Wayfarers series and was one of my most anticipated books of 2018. This book focuses on the Exodus fleet of spaceships, which originally was how humans fled a dying Earth and discovered a greater universe of other peoples, and now exists as a home for humans not interested in living on Mars or other planets among alien species. We follow five characters as they mediate on the values of tradition versus exploration and innovation, and what the purpose is of a fleet of ships that technically completed its mission decades ago.

I love Becky Chambers’ writing style, and her universe is a place I want to continue to read about in many books to come. That said, the pacing in this book felt too slow to me, and I wanted to hear more from members of non-human species since their cultures and perspectives are some of the most interesting things in Chambers’ books. I really enjoyed reading this one, but for me it wasn’t as good as The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, which is one of my all-time favorite science fiction reads.

An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris (4 stars) – It’s been awhile since I’ve read a Charlaine Harris book, but for years and years, I devoured every book of hers that I could get my hands on, starting with the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries series. She’s still #1 on my most-read authors feature on Goodreads (although Ilona Andrews has recently caught up, and they’re currently tied for first place with 28 books each). When I heard that she had a new book coming out, though, and that she would be signing copies at BookCon, I was so excited to be able to dive back into her writing. And An Easy Death definitely did not disappoint; the premise is a lot different than Harris’s other books, but it has her signature cozy mystery-esque writing style alongside plenty of action and lovable characters.

An Easy Death is hard to classify, genre-wise; it’s sort of an alternate history Western with fantasy elements. It’s set in a version of a fractured United States that splintered apart after the assassination of FDR and a series of disasters, and at the time the book is set, pieces of the U.S. are now owned by Canada, Mexico, and England, and the exiled tsar of Russia has settled on the West Coast with his army of grigoris, or wizards. Our main character Lizbeth Rose lives in the southwestern country of Texoma and works as a gunnie, sort of a gunslinger/bodyguard hired out to protect people. She gets drawn into a search for a missing grigori when she’s hired by two wizards as a guide and protector, and although she’s not a fan of magic or the Russian wizards that brought it with them to her country, she’s determined to see her mission through.

There are really no dull moments in An Easy Death; it’s action-packed and does have a high body count. Lizbeth Rose is a badass, street-smart heroine who’s easy to root for, and she faces down a series of bandits, wizards, and rival gunslingers head-on. The worldbuilding is gradual and fascinating; the concept of the Romanovs surviving an assassination attempt and fleeing Russia for California is a particularly interesting one, as well as the idea that Rasputin had actual magical powers that he taught to a host of other magic-wielders. The book sets up a sequel well, as there’s still a lot left to explore at the end of the book, and I really can’t wait to return to this world. I think that this book would work really well for fans of Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse (which I also loved) as well as urban fantasy fans looking for something different. Highly recommend!

*I received an ARC of An Easy Death at an autographing session at BookCon.

Yes We (Still) Can by Dan Pfeiffer (4 stars) – I listened to the audiobook of Yes We (Still) Can, which is half a memoir about working for President Obama during his campaign and presidency and half an advice guide for Democrats on how to move forward and beat Trump. Dan Pfeiffer was President Obama’s Communications Director (prior to that the Deputy Communications Director and traveling Press Secretary on the campaign) and he has some great stories of what it was like to work in the Obama White House. This book made me miss President Obama even more than usual, and I’ll definitely be checking out Pfeiffer’s podcast Pod Save America next.

I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya (4 stars) – this was an extremely short, extremely personal memoir about Shraya’s experience as a transgender woman, both before and after her transition, and her experiences with how men have treated her throughout her life. It’s very short–you could call it a long essay, or a very short book–and very powerful.

Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward (3.5 stars) – I listened to the audiobook of this one because, as a liberal who faced a rude awakening after the 2016 election, I almost felt like I had to. I want to understand as much as I can about why Trump was elected and what’s been going on since then, and how we can turn things around and repair what he’s been doing to our country. I thought Woodward’s book was a very interesting read and a necessary piece of the puzzle; he clearly had a bunch of very high-level sources in the administration speak to him about this book, and it paints a disturbing picture of a disorganized White House with an incompetent bully at the helm. If you’re interested in politics, or if you’d like to read a book that’s sort of like a written version of an episode of the West Wing or Veep, then you should definitely pick this one up.

Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn (3 stars) – I didn’t really dislike anything about this post-apocalyptic mystery, but I wasn’t in love with anything about it, either. Bannerless follows Enid, a young investigator living in what’s now called the Coast Road communities, a collection of towns along what was once the West Coast of the U.S. The book is set a few generations after what’s known as the Fall, when the countries and societies of our current world were destroyed by a combination of epidemics, natural disasters, and prolonged financial crisis, and people in this part of the world have re-organized themselves into a society strictly based on division of labor, conservation of resources, and population control. Only households and communities that have proven themselves able to sustain an extra mouth are given a banner, which is an indication that they are allowed to conceive a child; it’s based on the idea that overpopulation, waste, and greed were the main factors leading to the Fall.

Enid’s job as an investigator is to expose and punish those who violate the communities’ laws, and the book begins when she is called in to investigate a possible murder in a seemingly thriving town. Since murder has become a rarity in this world of interdependency and communal living, the prospect is daunting, and we follow Enid through her uncomfortable investigation in a community that doesn’t seem to want her there, interspersed with flashbacks to a younger Enid meeting her first love and discovering her independence as an older teen.

For me, this book was interesting; I love a good post-apocalyptic story, and I’m always interested in hearing about an author’s interpretation of how society is likely to collapse and what they imagine humanity’s response to be. Post-apocalyptic SF is often fairly dark, and Bannerless definitely isn’t; as readers you can see flaws in how society is organized, but for the most part the people of the Coast Road are healthy and happy, and there is no exploitative ruling class. It was nice to see something different in that regard, but I kept wanting more from the book. More reveals, more depth, more exploration of the implications of strict reproductive control. And I just never got them. The writing is good and solid, but didn’t blow me away. I enjoyed the read, for the most part, but wouldn’t necessarily recommend this one.

 

And here are the books I purchased during the month of September:

R.i.P. XIII Readathon TBR

The beginning of September marks the beginning of one of my favorite readathons, Readers Imbibing Peril (R.i.P.) XIII. The R.i.P. readathon lasts throughout the months of September and October, and you can participate as much or as little as you want, by reading books from one of these categories:

– Mystery
– Suspense
– Thriller
– Dark Fantasy
– Gothic
– Horror
– Supernatural
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For more information, or to sign up, check out the site here. It’s very low-key, and if you want, you can participate in specific challenges, or “perils,” to get the most out of the readathon. I’ll be participating in Peril the First, which is to read 4 books from any of the above categories, and Peril of the Short Story, which is just to read a short story from any of the categories.
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Because R.i.P. is such a long readathon, I like to go a little crazy with my TBR by searching my shelves for anything that fits the six categories, and making a giant TBR pile that I can then choose from throughout the readathon. I definitely don’t plan to read all or even most of the books I have listed here, but it’s nice to have a bunch of fall-ish options.
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Here are some potential TBR picks:

 

The World of Lore: Monstrous CreaturesGreywalker (Greywalker, #1)White Is for WitchingLet the Right One InSunshineThreatsFoxloweThe DevourersSlade HouseGet in Trouble: StoriesOutDeathless (Leningrad Diptych, #1)Pretty Monsters: StoriesTill DeathAn Easy DeathThe Haunting of Hill HouseThe Bone Witch (The Bone Witch, #1)Stone Mattress: Nine Wicked TalesThe Drowning GirlZoo CityCertain Dark ThingsDreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories

I’m excited to kick off the readathon! In September, I know I’ll be picking up Charlaine Harris’s An Easy Death, since I was able to get an ARC at BookCon at an autographing session, but everything else is up in the air. I typically read the most R.i.P. books during October rather than September, because that’s when I’m most in the mood for fall-ish reads, so we’ll see.

Are you participating in the R.i.P. readathon? What books are you looking forward to picking up this fall?

August Reading Wrap-Up

I’m a little late with my August wrap-up, since I was away for Labor Day weekend (I went to Montreal! It was really fun) and didn’t have a chance to finish it before I left or while I was gone, but here it finally is!

August was a prolific reading month, but I wasn’t able to find any new 5-star reads, which I’d have really liked to do. It was a really fun reading month overall, though; I’m especially proud that I finished all three of the books from the Make Me Read It challenge from Litsy. I finished some fun, summery reads, as well as some really interesting ones. I also participated in another round of Bout of Books, one of my favorite readathons.

Here are my August stats:

Total books read: 10

#readmyowndamnbooks: 6

audiobooks: 0

ebooks: 4

The Hating GameThe MothersThe Answers by Catherine LaceyThe Hazel Wood by Melissa AlbertHurts to Love You (Forbidden Hearts, #3)Torn (A Wicked Trilogy, #2)To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny HanBellwether by Connie WillisRoomies by Christina LaurenCirce

 

Bellwether by Connie Willis (4 stars) – Bellwether is about a sociologist/statistician who studies the history and origins of fads, from short hair in the ’20s to Barbie to the current “it” colors, and finds herself on the path toward a major scientific discovery alongside a chaos theorist, while being forced to deal with repeated and hilarious bureaucratic and administrative hurtles. It’s fast-paced and funny, written and set in the early 90s, and is my fourth Connie Willis book. I absolutely love her chaotic writing style and sense of humor; reading Connie Willis brings me a lot of joy, and I’d highly recommend this one if you’re looking for an entertaining science-related read.

The Answers by Catherine Lacey (4 stars) – I ended up really enjoying this deeply weird novel; my philosophy on books is generally the weirder the better. The Answers follows Mary, a woman suffering from an undiagnosed illness who finds the only way to alleviate her symptoms is through an expensive form of alternative medicine called PAKing. To pay for her treatments, Mary joins an experiment that a famous actor is putting together to attempt to find the secret to an ideal relationship. Women are given roles and scripts such as the Anger Girlfriend and Emotional Girlfriend (Mary’s role) while a team of researchers analyze their interactions. Things actually get even weirder from there! Overall I found this to be very unique and well-written; I’d recommend it to fans of literary fiction with a weird/speculative twist. I’ll be interested to read more from Lacey in the future.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett (4 stars) – The Mothers is centered around a black church community in Southern California, and we follow three of its young members, Luke, Nadia, and Aubrey, in alternating perspectives, interspersed by the voices of a chorus of “the mothers,” a group of elderly women whose lives now revolve around the church. Through these voices, we learn the intersecting lives and stories of Luke, a former college football recruit sidelined by an injury; Nadia, an intelligent, ambitious young woman reeling from the recent suicide of her mother; and her best friend Aubrey, who has an equally tragic family past and who copes by finding her place in the church. When the story opens, Nadia is pregnant at seventeen with Luke’s child, and the story follows her decision and their lives through the next several years. The Mothers is a relatively short novel, and it’s fast and almost addicting to read; it’s the type of book that could be read in a single sitting. Despite its fast pace, it’s really beautifully written, and each character is fully realized and easy to picture from the very beginning. It’s also a story very rooted in a sense of place, and the Southern California setting is one of the novel’s constants, even when its characters move to other places. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for an emotional literary fiction read that will hold you and not let you go until the end.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (4 stars) – Honestly, this book just made me really, really happy. I’m not a big contemporary romance reader; I basically didn’t read any contemporary romance at all until a few months ago, and I was skeptical about this book for that reason. After a few chapters, I was hooked, and started to absolutely love this hate-to-love romance. I’d absolutely recommend this to fans of The Kiss Quotient; I think it has a similar vibe even if the plots aren’t at all alike, and also to anyone looking for a great contemporary romance.

Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai (4 stars) – This was the third and unfortunately the final book in Rai’s Forbidden Hearts series, and I enjoyed it just as much as the first two. This contemporary saga focused on warring families wrapped up nicely in Hurts to Love You, which focused the romance between Gabe, a tattoo parlor owner and the son of one of the families’ housekeeper growing up, and Eve, who grew up wealthy but is now trying to make her own way.

Circe by Madeline Miller (3.5 stars) – I definitely wouldn’t say that I disliked Circe, nor do I think it was a bad book in any way, but I also didn’t think that it lived up to the hype. I should start by saying that I’ve been a voracious reader of Greek mythology from a very young age, like a lot of bookish people. Because of that, I’ve read a lot of books of mythology and a lot of retellings, and although I absolutely understand Miller’s intent to put a feminist slant on Circe’s story, I just didn’t feel that I gained any new information or insights from this book. It was well-written and incorporated many different mythical “heroes” and deities; I was just expecting more from all of the rave reviews and 5-star ratings I’ve been seeing. By the end of the book, I still felt like Circe’s character development wasn’t fully realized, and that was disappointing, since feminist retellings are one of my favorite types of books. So many people loved this one, though, and so I still think that many people would enjoy reading Circe, but for me it was a bit disappointing.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (3 stars) – I have mixed feelings. The Hazel Wood follows Alice, a 17-year-old girl with anger issues who, along with her mother, has been constantly on the move around the country ever since she can remember. She’s also the granddaughter of the author of a cult classic fairytale collection–but she’s never even met her grandmother, or been able to read her stories, as they’ve become increasingly difficult to find. But then Alice’s mother goes missing, and more and more strange things start to happen, as Alice starts to wonder whether her grandmother’s stories might not be so fictional after all. The premise of this story sounded fantastic, but the execution didn’t go so well. I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style, which relied way too hard on similes and metaphors for my taste, and I felt like the most interesting part of the book–Alice’s grandmother’s collection of fairy tales–went unfortunately unexplored. We only get to hear two of her stories, and not even in their entirety; we get little hints of others, but I think this book would’ve been SO much stronger if we actually got to read these fairy tales rather than having characters constantly referencing interesting-sounding stories that we never get to know. It also makes our main character seem less competent and interesting since she doesn’t know them either. Overall there were aspects of this book that I did like, but it was inconsistent and the ending was rushed and anticlimactic, especially considering its meandering buildup.

Roomies by Christina Lauren (3 stars) – This was a cute, quick contemporary romance about Holland, the niece of a lauded Broadway director, who is living a sort of directionless life in New York, and Calvin, a young Irish musician whose visa has expired and is performing on the subway and in various bands to pay his bills. Holland decides that Calvin would be perfect for a star orchestral part in her uncle’s show, and the two fake a marriage in order to allow him to join the cast. Of course, they then develop real feelings for each other, and drama ensues. My issue with this was that I found both main characters really unlikable in a lot of ways, and although I found the book very readable, I was never really on board for their romance. My favorite characters were Holland’s uncles, and I found myself wishing that they were this book’s main characters instead. I did recently hear that it’s being adapted into a movie; maybe it will work better in that format. Personally, I’d recommend skipping this one and reading The Hating Game instead.

Torn by Jennifer L. Armentrout (2.5 stars) – This was the second book in Armentrout’s A Wicked Trilogy, which is an urban fantasy focused on the conflict between the fae and humans in New Orleans, and I definitely liked it less than the first book, Wicked. It went down a really dark and disturbing storyline, and I wasn’t in love with the series to begin with, so I’m not sure whether I’ll be picking up the third book.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (2.5 stars) – This month, I discovered the delightful and adorable Netflix movie version of this book, and enjoyed it so much that I immediately picked up the book version. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it quite as much as the movie, but it was still a cute read. I’m very much hoping the movie gets a sequel, though!

 

And here’s my August book haul:

Bout of Books Wrap-Up and Day 7 Updates

So, that’s a wrap on another round of Bout of Books! I’m a little behind schedule with this wrap-up, but better to post late than never. I’d say that I enjoyed this round of the readathon quite a bit; it maybe wasn’t as successful as some have been in the past, but all that really matters is that you read and have a good time.

First of all, here are my Day 7 stats:

Books started: The Only Harmless Great Thing

Books finished: None

Pages read: 110 pages of Circe, 23 pages of The Only Harmless Great Thing

Audiobook time: 53 minutes of No Time to Spare

The Only Harmless Great ThingCirceNo Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters

As you can see, I definitely got a good chunk of reading done on Sunday, in between getting brunch with a friend, going on an audio walk down by the waterfront, and getting ready for the week, but I wasn’t able to finish any more books. I definitely could have pushed myself and finished The Only Harmless Great Thing, since it’s a 90-something page novella, but I just wasn’t in the right mood.

And here are my stats for the readathon overall:

Total books finished: 2

Total pages read: 865

Total audiobook time: 1 hour 33 minutes

 

I’ll definitely be looking forward to the next round of the readathon, which goes from January 7-13th!