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Wrap-Up: July 2018

  • The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (★★★★★)
  • Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange (★★★☆☆)
  • The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding (★★★☆☆)
  • Illusion by Paula Volsky (★★★★☆)
  • The Royal Art of Poison by Eleanor Herman (★★★★☆)

MONTHLY TOTAL: 5
YEARLY SO FAR: 59

When July started, I had two very specific reading goals:

  1. Do not read too much.
  2. Do not read YA.

My first goal came after I felt overwhelmed with reading these past few months. I felt like I was reading way too much, not giving myself enough time to savor books, and it was beginning to feel kind of like a job. I also was not giving myself time to explore my other interests, namely television or lying around listlessly (yes, that counts). So, for this month, I would only read when commuting and when I really, really wanted to, not when I felt like I had to. Giving myself that space to breathe was wonderful. (Then again, two of these books were over five hundred pages long, and one was nearly seven hundred, so…yeah.)

My second goal came on the heels of last month, where seven out of the ten books I read were YA. I was starting to feel really frustrated with the various tropes present in YA fantasy in particular, the same old recycled plots…they all just started to feel very stale. But YA fantasy is my comfort genre, and I never want to reach a point where I never reach for it at all! So I decided it might be a good idea to take a break until I start to miss it again. This will also give me a chance to explore more books in different genres, which I did this month!

I am currently reading:

Last weekend I read like…thirty more pages of Jane Eyre (*sobs*). I’m getting there! I’m going to force myself to finish in August because this is getting out of hand. I’ve been reading this book since March. Unbelievable. A Place For Us is not as good as I was expecting it to be – I don’t hate it, but I probably won’t finish it as quickly as I want to. Not That Bad is so far as fantastic as I knew it would be, and I’m having to slow myself down in reading it so I can savor it (and so I don’t get all the essays mixed up in my head!).

Mini Life Update: July was a happy month, mainly because I was the recipient of two scholarships that will help me pay for grad school! This is just…incredible because not only are the scholarships prestigious but they just lifted a huge financial burden off my shoulders. I will also get paid trips to Seattle, DC, and an as-of-yet unknown location!

Currently I’m super busy with my summer class, which is ridiculously fast-paced, and I’m putting the finishing touches on my Fulbright application, which is due September 7th. I’m also preparing to enter #DVpit in October! My manuscript is pretty much finished; it needs one more full revision and it’ll be good to go. I’ve written a query letter and am starting to work on Twitter pitches. I want to be done with all this stuff before September, because I’m going to be heading to Egypt for two weeks!

Mini TV Update: I caught up on second season of Daredevil and will probably watch either The Punisher or the second season of Jessica Jones next. I’m also looking forward to the second season of Harlots, which was one of my favorite shows last year; it’s airing on Hulu right now but I think I’m going to wait until it’s all aired so I can binge it like I did the first season. I also want to catch up on the latest seasons of iZombie (which is so far not great), Supernatural (which is pretty awful this season), Agents of Shield, and The Fosters (it’s the last season, unfortunately). I’m also watching The Bold Type, which is the perfect summer show.

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Book Review: Illusion by Paula Volsky

Illusionillusion
Paula Volsky

Bantam, 1991
★★★★☆

Like most dense high fantasies from the early 90s, Illusion takes some time to get started. It moves leisurely, taking us through a period of two years in a whopping 674 pages. But I didn’t mind the length and I didn’t mind the sometimes uneven pacing, and that was wholly because of the writing.

Before I get into anything else about this book, I have to stress the quality of the writing. Reading Illusion felt like reading a literary classic from the 19th century. Everything about the writing was so elegant, so old-world, so formal, so eloquent…from the very first page I was hooked, drawn into this world through the evocative and elegant syntax. I wish I could write like Paula Volsky. God, her writing is everything I aspire to. I was drinking it in as I read, sometimes going back and rereading various phrases just to marvel at the way she could make something so utterly simple sound so grand. Continue reading “Book Review: Illusion by Paula Volsky”

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Tentative Summer TBR & Current Reads

So I don’t usually do TBRs because I’m way more of a mood reader, and I might look at this TBR in a week and decide to scrap it completely, BUT there are a bunch of books I want to finish and read within the next month or so, and I thought I would share them here so you guys can see and so that I have some record of what I intend to read.

WHAT I HOPE TO FINISH (by the end of July): 

I am currently reading the above three books: Illusion by Paula Volsky, The Royal Art of Poison by Eleanor Herman, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (yes, STILL). I sped through a couple hundred pages of Illusion yesterday, but the pacing has slowed down again and so have I! I’m still enjoying it very much, however, and I don’t think finishing it by the end of July will be a problem. The Royal Art of Poison, while not what I expected, is turning out to be a quick, fun read too, so I don’t think that should be a problem.

What I’m not sure I will finish in July is Jane Eyre. I really need to sit myself down and just go through the rest of the book already; I’ve been reading it since fucking March! I’m about 44% of the way through, and things are starting to get more interesting, but I still always manage to find something else I would rather read. So, I don’t know, maybe this will go into August? Thing is, there’s another classic I really, really want to read very soon, for a very specific reason.  Read on, friends.

AUGUST TBR

As soon as I finish Jane Eyre, I need to pick up Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Not only is it shameful that a self-described lover of the Gothic such as myself has never read it, BUT I also have an e-ARC of Kiersten White’s The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, which I am absolutely dying to read. I realize reading Frankenstein is probably not a prerequisite, but I would still like to read it beforehand. I also of course want to read Kiersten White’s Bright We Burn, the conclusion to her trilogy and a book that will likely be recalled from me very soon (I have it out from the library and it’s quite in demand). So, as soon as I finish my July reads, this is the first book I will start.

 

Another book I have out from the library is A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza. I’ve heard good things about this book, so hopefully it will be a success! Also, this is another highly in-demand book (I was eleven on the queue and it took a loooong time for me to get this book), so I need to get on it soon. Another book I struggled to get and am excited to read is Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay. I’ve heard it’s amazing. Another book I’ve been seeing absolutely everywhere is Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver. I actually acquired an e-ARC of this months ago but never got around to it. Now, though, it seems it’s the book everyone’s going to be reading. I loved Uprooted and I’ve heard people say Spinning Silver is even better.

 

This portion of the TBR for August is more aspirational than anything. So, the next classic I want to read is The Picture of Dorian Gray, not just because I’ve heard great things about it, but because Creatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer, a book I purchased months ago and have been dying to read, is heavily inspired by it. The latter takes place in a Victorian London infested with demonic presence and features a fencing heroine, so I am HERE for it. And finally, I’ve had An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson out of the library for AGES, and I don’t know if I will get to it or put it on hold yet again. Thing is, I’ve been trying my best to stay away from YA fantasy for a while, especially YA fantasy that has such middling reviews. However, the fact that it is not universally beloved means I might actually like it, so who knows? At the very least, I’m told it has beautiful language, and it’s one of the splashier books out there, so I would like to say that I have read it.

I’ll stop there! There’s a few other books on my TBR but I highly doubt I’ll get to them in August.  I might do another TBR as September nears, though!

Have any of you guys read any of these books yet? Planning to soon? Let me know!

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Owlcrate July 2018 Unboxing!

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Drumroll? Drumroll!

I’ve been so excited for this box! Ever since I heard that the theme would be “Strange & Unusual” I was captivated! I thought it was a strange theme for July, certainly more suitable for October than the midst of summer. I couldn’t for the life of me guess what the book was, since it was described as a “reimagining of a beloved classic novel, mixed with the supernatural fun of Ghostbusters.” It also features a “Victorian Gothic setting” and a “glimpse into the Occult”.

Now that I’ve seen the book and thought about it, it makes sense, but I have to say I was positively shocked at the book choice! I wasn’t expecting it at all! So let’s just get into this so I can talk to y’all about the book! Continue reading “Owlcrate July 2018 Unboxing!”

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Top 5 Wednesday: Books I’ve Removed from my TBR

top 5 wednesday

Top Five Wednesday was created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey and is currently hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Check out the goodreads group to learn more.

July 18th: Books I’ve Removed From My TBR
Discuss the books that you wanted to read at one point, but don’t anymore

This is kind of fortuitous, as yesterday, out of nowhere, I sat down and decided to clear my TBR just a bit. Not extensively, mind you, I don’t have the energy for that just yet, but I thought I would just give it a quick skim and see which books I am definitely no longer interested in reading.

As it turned out, it was quite a lot of YA fantasy.

I don’t know why I’m having this weird about-face with YA fantasy recently. I don’t know if I’ve grown bored of the genre, or if I’m frustrated with the insistence on tepid romances, or if I’m just becoming really, really picky about the YA fantasies I read. Perhaps all three. All I know is, as I was going through the summaries for some of these books, they all sounded exactly the same, and I had no interest in reading any of them. So I got rid of them.

This list isn’t going to be solely YA, however; I’ve tried to bring in a little variety of genres! (Also, you get six books, because I can’t decide.)


rivers of londonRivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Funny story: I always thought this was a podcast. I don’t know why I thought that. I see this title thrown around Tumblr a lot and for some reason my brain made the assumption that it was a podcast, not a book. Iwas pleased when  I discovered it’s actually a book. But then I watched Jean @ Bookishthoughts talk about how badly the female characters in this book are represented. I think she literally says that the women in this book seem like nothing more than a pair of boobs and that the male narrator can’t stop objectifying them. Yeah, no thanks.

 


a discovery of witchesA Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I was initially so drawn to this book, because it’s about a scholar and librarian studying at Oxford. She’s also a witch, and there’s vampires and demons and it sounded like it would be super cool. I actually picked it up last month. I read like three pages of it before putting it down. Something about the writing didn’t sync with me, so I thought I’d give it another go sometime later. But then I read some detailed reviews, quotes included, and was disappointed to discover that this book is basically the adult Twilight. Chock full of nonsensical romance and bizarre plot points and a whole heap of toxic masculinity.

Oh, but apparently there’s an upcoming TV adaptation of this with Matthew Goode? You can be sure I’m checking that out.


timekeeperTimekeeper by Tara Sim

I think at one point this was one of the more popular YA books? I was drawn to it because of the Victorian steampunk aesthetic, but the more I learned about it the less interested I was. I think it’s about semi-sentient clocks? Or something? And there’s a romance with a…clock?? That premise seems terrible enough already, but then I read reviews saying it was boring and not at all atmospheric, and that there aren’t many female characters, and that sealed the deal.

 


BLOOD ROSE REBELLION R3 V11.inddBlood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

I added this to my TBR because it’s an alternate Victorian-era Hungary. But it seems like it’s one of many forgettable, carbon-copy YA plots. The protagonist is the equivalent of a squib in her world. Then there’s some kind of rebellion. There’s a love triangle with two tepid romances. Lather, rinse, repeat. The reviews I’ve read pull out some choice quotes about the love interests that had me rolling my eyes. This is the exact kind of YA fantasy I want to stay away from so I don’t start hating the genre.

 


the hundredth queenThe Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

So first, this is an Indian-inspired fantasy written by a white woman, which already has me side-eyeing. But I added it because I thought the concept of a sickly young woman forced out of the comfort of her monastery and forced to fight for the position of wife sounded super cool. But apparently, this book devolves into – surprise, surprise – a tepid romance. Apparently there’s also a lot of girl-hate, which is ridiculous because the concept of this book is practically begging for two girls to team up and blow the whole thing up from the inside out.


everlessEverless by Sara Holland

I was iffy about this book’s concept to begin with.  I mean, it sounded interesting, I guess – time is currency, the rich tax the poor to extend their lives. I mean, it’s fine, just not something that particularly interests me. I don’t even remember why I added this to my TBR. I think that was my “add any and all YA fantasy releases” phase. Anyway, the heroine seeks revenge on one of these wealthy families and also wants to buy her dad more time, buuuuuut…what do you know, all that is forgotten in favor of – you guessed it- a tepid romance!


Mainly this list seems to be showcasing a rabid hatred for romance, which couldn’t be further from the truth! I’m a shipper at heart; I adore romance. I just loathe awkward, forced, tepid romances that are so clearly shoehorned and instalovey and just…cringey. I also hate when romance overshadows plot, which seems to happen in most of YA fantasy these days.

Anyway. Have y’all read any of these books? Am I mistaken for removing them from my TBR? Let me know!