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Wrap-Up: November 2018

  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor(★★★★☆)
  • These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas (★★★☆☆)
  • The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (★★★★☆)
  • The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory (★★★★☆)
  • Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea (★★★★☆)
  • Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor (★★★★★)

MONTHLY TOTAL: 6
YEARLY SO FAR: 86

A solid month with mostly unexpected reads! I hadn’t at all anticipated on reading so much romance/women’s fiction this month. What happened was, I had a sort of half-dream about a contemporary romance story and I started writing it with fervor, and that made me want to read other romance books to get a feel for the flow of the narrative, since I’ve never read romance before. I had a good time! I also finally got around to Laini Taylor’s latest, which makes me want to read her backlist now!

I’m not sure why my reading seems to be slowing down quite a lot…perhaps it’s because of the holidays. I had a solid five days off this month where I did absolutely no reading (instead I binged The Office for like the fourth time).

I am currently reading:

Sawkill Girls is so freaking good so far!!! It’s so much creepier than I had anticipated. I love reading good old-fashioned horror. Vampire Academy isn’t bad or anything, but I’m not finding it as compelling as I had hoped…then again I’m only like 10% into it. I think I just might not be in the right mood. I was totally in the mood for vampires at the start of the month but then I had that romance story dream and my mood shifted, so who knows.

The fact that Sawkill Girls is so good makes me think I’ll pick up Furyborn sooner than I had thought! But before that, I’ll probably get to Vengeful, and then Damsel, and then maybe, hopefully, The Girl in the Tower? I’ve had it on my Kindle for ages. I also had kind of wanted to read at least one non-fiction book because it’s been ages since I read non-fiction, but winter is such a cozy month that I want cozy, seasonal reads, not non-fiction, so I’m not sure if that will happen. Also being considered are The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater and my re-read of The Traitor Baru Cormorant, but these are both very tentative. I might push both to January.

Mini Life Update: 

Because of some fortuitous evens, I am all set to graduate library school by the end of Spring 2019 rather than Summer 2019. That means just one more semester and I can drop two of the four classes I was signed up for! Before I can get to all that, though, I have to get through this semester – I have so many papers and assignments piling on that I need to get to but have been steadfastly ignoring.

Mini TV Update: 

I watched Thirteen starring Jodie Cromer, which was the perfect short thriller series. I’ve also been catching up on season 13 of Supernatural, which, while frustrating in many ways, is still really enjoyable. I’m such trash for this show. Like, I fully acknowledge that it should probably end, but I’ll likely be devastated when it does. I’ve also been enjoying Hasan Minaj’s Patriot Act because it’s freaking hilarious. And I’ve also been rewatching random episodes of The Office.

Otherwise, things have been quiet. I’m very much looking forward to next month both here and on BookTube; I love seeing everyone’s end-of-year lists!

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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!

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Wrap-Up: December

  • The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman (★★★★★)
  • The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie (★★★☆☆)
  • The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan (★☆☆☆☆)
  • Court of Fives by Kate Elliott (★★★☆☆)
  • Jade City by Fonda Lee (★★★☆☆)
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (★★☆☆☆)

MONTHLY TOTAL: 6
YEARLY SO FAR: 75

Okay, so first of all, hats off to me for finishing off a whopping six books this month! I know for a lot of folks here in the book blogging sphere that doesn’t seem like much, but I haven’t accomplished this in a long time! I definitely tried to dedicate more time to reading than I usually do this month, and because I read so many books I didn’t love, I was in a hurry to finish them and get on to something better.  Funny how that works.

So let’s talk about that, huh? This was…not a great month! It started off amazing with The Dark Days Pact, but it very steadily went downhill from there. I finally finished off The Bloodprint, which was as terrible as the first chapter promised; I’m actually surprised and proud I managed not to DNF it.  Then I wanted to try some Kate Elliot, and though Court of Fives wasn’t as terrible as some reviewers make it out to be, I didn’t love it.  The Abyss Surrounds us, a f/f sci-fi that everyone purports is the greatest thing ever, was only just okay.  Jade City, a highly anticipated fantasy, was not for me. And finally, my classic read of the month, Northanger Abbey, was dreadful.

I’m really hoping I start off the new year with better books! Currently I’m reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I’m only one chapter in, so I don’t have too much of an opinion yet, but it seems entertaining.  And…that’s it! It’s been so long since I was only reading one book at a time. I’m sure that won’t last long, though.  I’m meant to be starting a buddy read of The Lymond Chronicles, beginning with The Game of Kings.  I’m also thinking to read Jane Eyre, but I’m not 100% on that yet; I think I might need a break from classics for a bit! Other than that, I don’t think I have any specific plans!

We’ve come to the end of the year, however, so stay tuned for a) a best books of the year post and b) a more reflective end of the year post including some bookish resolutions.

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The Greek Gods Book Tag

My friend Rachel @ Paceamorelibri tagged me in this meme, which was created by Zuky @ The Book Bum! I hardly know anyone on here, so I won’t be tagging anyone myself, but feel free to do this if you see it!

ZEUS: KING OF THE GODS – YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK

7821892The Sweep Series by Cate Tiernan: Choosing a single favorite book is really difficult for me. There’s so many different criteria one could go by! In the end, I decided to choose my comfort series, the one that I go to when I just want to sink into a world and not think. Obviously, that’s Harry Potter, but I didn’t want to go with Harry Poter, because, what a formulaic answer! So, I decided to go with my second favorite series: Sweep.

Sweep is a weirdly obscure YA series of fourteen very short books about a teenage girl coming into her powers and heritage as a Wiccan. This isn’t your every day Wicca, obviously – Tiernan really, really embellishes (our heroine shapeshifts at one point) but somehow maintains realism by including many factual elements of Wicca.

Why do I love this series so much? I’m not sure. It probably helps that I started reading it at twelve years old, at the height of my burgeoning obsession with magic and witches and all things supernatural. I mean, I’m still tangentially obsessed with Wicca to this day – I have two books on it on my bookshelf! So, clearly, the Wicca element was definitely a significant factor.

Otherwise…I’m not sure I can put it into words. The books are…cozy, in a way. Most of them take place in the small upstate New York town of Widow’s Vale and revolve around Morgan as she discovers her powers and heritage. There’s teen drama, instalove, a love triangle (of sorts), but there’s also some cool subversion of those tropes. There’s road trips and theological discussions and battles between good and evil…there’s a lot.  I’m not sure I’m doing a great job selling these books, and I don’t even know if I would love them as much if I read them today and not as a kid.  All I know is they’ve been sitting on my shelves for years, and I reach for them whenever I need to sink into something familiar.

HERA: QUEEN OF THE GODS – A BADASS FEMALE CHARACTER

11388429When the Sea is Rising Red & House of Sand and Secrets by Cat Hellisen: Felicita Pelim comes from wealth and privilege – but when her best friend commits suicide to escape an arranged marriage, Felicita decides to trade privilege for freedom. She takes to the streets, joins up with a gang, and gets caught up in a plot to destroy the city. In the first book, Felicita isn’t badass so much as resilient, but in the second book, after her marriage and move to another city, her prowess grows.  She is every bit a lady, with all the selfishness and pride and willfulness that comes with growing up privileged, but she’s also compassionate, sharp, and snarky as hell.  In a city where her family name means little, Felicita fights fiercely to bring justice to members of an oppressed caste who are being murdered and whose human rights are soon to be stripped.

JANUS: GOD OF BEGINNINGS – YOUR FAVOURITE DEBUT(S)

6437061The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin: This was Jemisin’s debut as well as my introduction to her. I remember picking this book up at a time when I was just so, so tired of all the generic white male fantasy being recommended to me. I don’t recall how I stumbled upon Jemisin’s book, but I do remember reading that it was unusual in many ways for a fantasy novel, particularly a debut. I loved it completely – it was a totally original world, and the narrative style – though not everyone’s piece of cake – was fantastic. In this book Jemisin explored Gods and creation myths all though the first-person perspective of a young black woman, and it was mind-blowing.

ATHENA: GODDESS OF WISDOM – YOUR FAVOURITE NON-FICTION BOOK

6792458The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander: As a nerd who reads a ton of non-fiction, narrowing this down to one book was tough.  Eventually, though, it came down to The New Jim Crow.  Michelle Alexander’s book is incredible not only because it is written in accessible language and puts forth a resonant thesis, but also because of the sheer amount of eye-opening information it provides. If you think the United States justice system is at all fair to those who aren’t wealthy and white, read The New Jim Crow. This book will completely overturn any false narratives you hold about the United States as a champion of justice.

APHRODITE: GODDESS OF LOVE – A BOOK YOU ADORE AND RECOMMEND EVERYONE READ (OTHER THAN YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK!)

21414439Truthwitch by Susan Dennard: Okay, as a YA high fantasy, I don’t know if this book is necessarily for everyone, but I absolutely love it, so I’m including it on here.  Not only is Truthwitch is an absolute achievement in worldbuilding, it features two fully fleshed out female leads who love each other more than anything else in the world.  Their friendship is the thread that binds the plot together, even as they struggle against coups and political machinations.  The magic system is intricate and incredible, and Dennard can write action scenes like nobody’s business.

 

HADES: GOD OF THE UNDERWORLD – AN EVIL BOOK YOU WISH DIDN’T EXIST

Hmm, I don’t think I have a particular book in mind for this! “Evil” is a strong word, and I tend to shy away from books I think I won’t like. I can’t recall anything I’ve read that had a terribly strong effect on me.  I will, however, give a shout out to The Continent and The Black Witch, both unpublished books, both coming out of HarperTeen, which perpetuate some really horrifically racist narratives.  I haven’t actually read either of them, but I’ve read other folks’ very, very detailed reviews (including a chapter-by-chapter readthrough), and that was definitely enough to convince me that I do not want these books anywhere near me.

POSEIDON: GOD OF THE SEA & EARTHQUAKES – A BEAUTIFUL & GROUND-BREAKING BOOK

23444482The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson: I’ve read some of Dickinson’s short stories, and he seems to be fascinated by the concept of extremely difficult choices.  A Sophie’s Choice, if you will.  This whole novel is one big Sophie’s Choice, but you don’t really find out until the very end, in one of the most shocking, heart-breaking twists I’ve ever come across in literature.  The main character, Baru, is an accountant who has had her home colonized by a brutal empire. She grows up with the goal of dismantling said empire and winning her home back, but the choices she has to make to achieve that goal may just break her.  This book is utterly devastating. It’s a truly horrifying portrait of the brutal effects imperialism and colonialism has on people.

APOLLO: GOD OF THE ARTS – A BEAUTIFUL BOOK COVER

11774295The Shadowed Sun by N.K. Jemisin: I read a lot of YA, Genre of the Beautiful Covers, so of course I come to you with…a non-YA book cover. It’s another Jemisin book (she’s my favorite author, of course she features twice), from her oft-ignored second series. Most people nowadays praise The Fifth Season (rightly so) or her debut, but her middle series tends to be forgotten, which is such a shame. The Shadowed Sun (and its prequel) feature some truly fantastic and hella creative worldbuilding based on North African myth and culture. As a North African myself, you can bet I loved that. But The Shadowed Sun also includes one of my favorite romances ever, because it is real and raw and unexpected.

HYPNOS: GOD OF SLEEP – A BOOK SO BORING YOU ALMOST FELL ASLEEP

18077769Authority by Jeff VanderMeer: I read the first book in this series and liked it well enough. I thought the second book would begin to answer some of the question posed in the first book. How wrong I was. Basically, Authority is a literary rendering of bureaucratic routine with some occasional weirdness thrown in.  Pretty much nothing happens throughout this book; there’s a lot of meandering and asking questions, but nothing is answered or revealed.  By the last third of the book I was truly struggling, and I began to skip significant chunks just to get to the end.

HERMES: MESSENGER OF THE GODS – A BOOK YOU SPED THROUGH

29276588Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia: I finished this book in a day and a half.  I remember very clearly that I did not sleep until nearly four am the day I started reading this book, and probably would not have slept if I didn’t have to get up for work in the morning.  This book is a murder mystery/thriller, told in alternating perspectives and using flashbacks.  It also features one of my favorite tropes, but I won’t say what that is so I don’t spoil the book!