September Reading Wrap-Up

So, that’s a wrap on September!

I’m so relieved that I was able to bounce back from my crappy reading month in August to have a great reading month in September. My plan to mood-read rather than giving myself a set TBR definitely paid off; I didn’t put pressure on myself to read certain books and genuinely just went with whatever I was in the mood for. This lead to a great mixture of genres: I bounced between nonfiction, fantasy, near-future SF, and thriller-ish reads. I was able to read three books that count toward the R.i.P. XII readathon, but I’m planning to get to a lot more of those spooky-type reads in October.

Here are my stats:

Number of books read: 9

#readmyowndamnbooks: 8

When did I acquire the books I read? June 2016 (Among Others), July 2016 (The Brides of Rollrock Island), December 2016 (The Glass Castle), February 2017 (The Last One), June 2017 (An Enchantment of Ravens, When She Woke), August 2017 (Blue Nights, All the Missing Girls)

Blue Nights by Joan DidionAn Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret RogersonThe Last OneVampire Girl (Vampire Girl, #1)The Brides of Rollrock IslandThe Glass CastleAmong OthersAll the Missing GirlsWhen She Woke

Among Others by Jo Walton (5 stars) – I fell in love with this book. It’s about a Welsh teenager obsessed with SFF literature who finds herself an outsider in a British boarding school after a family tragedy. Oh, and she can communicate with fairies. It’s a quietly powerful book about reading and growing up and finding your place in the world; I think it’s perfect for SFF fans of all ages.

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan (4.25 stars) – First off, I’d just like to ask everyone to ignore this book cover, even though it’s very pretty, because it’s not at all an accurate representation of this dark little book. I’d also like to say that in my opinion, this book is really miscategorized as YA fantasy; I would call it an adult myth retelling.

The Brides of Rollrock Island is a very dark retelling of the myth of selkies that uses the folktale vehicle to shine a light on a lot of issues that are still so relevant today, including consent and how cultural misogyny can lead to women mistreating other women. It’s told in multiple perspectives, but if the story has one anchor, it’s Misskaela, the so-called witch of the island, who began life as a misfit and mistreated child and grew to embrace the powers that set her apart from others and use them to cause a complete upheaval in the lives of Rollrock’s inhabitants. Lanagan’s prose is atmospheric and skillful; she can go from describing something transcendent to something abhorrent in one sentence and it still seems completely natural. This book both entranced and disturbed me; I’m very much looking forward to reading more from Margo Lanagan, and I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys darker fairytale and myth retellings.

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda (4 stars) – I was not at all expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. It’s a really smart, well-written thriller that’s told backwards over the course of 2 weeks when the main character returns to her small North Carolina town, during which memories of her best friend who went missing 10 years ago resurface and another girls in town also disappears. It was a perfect fall thriller, and now I need to pick up the author’s next thriller too, which just came out this year.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson (4 stars) – I enjoyed this book so much! An Enchantment of Ravens is the story of Isobel, a young human artist whose town’s economy thrives on the Fair Folk’s love of human Craft–essentially any type of artwork or human-made object. In exchange for the items they covet, the fae will gift humans spellwork, which will typically involve some type of trickery on behalf of the fae so that the humans never get what they really desire. Because of this, Isobel has learned to distrust her fae customers, and is able to cleverly manipulate the spellwork she receives in exchange for painting their portraits to be simple and practical enough to benefit without harming her or her family.

Everything changes for Isobel, though, when she meets Rook, the autumn prince of the fae, and in attempting to capture his likeness makes a terrible mistake not only by painting him with human emotions but by falling for him. Rook forces Isobel to follow him to the fae lands to stand trial for what she has done, and the two of them end up meeting with a lot more than they’d bargained for.

An Enchantment of Ravens is a standalone fantasy, which I really liked; I do get tired of everything becoming a series. It’s very well-written and uses a more traditional notion of the Fair Folk as being covetous and deceitful while at the same time distant from mortal emotions. I liked this depiction of faeries, and the writing style played well to this more traditional fairy-tale-esque vibe. I really admired Isobel’s practicality and intelligence; she’s not a heroine who stumbles into problems without thinking, and she always thinks of what’s best not only for herself but for her family before she decides on a course of action.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book, and I’d be very interested to see what Margaret Rogerson comes out with next. I’d recommend An Enchantment of Ravens to fans of fairy tale-ish books and YA fantasy with admirable heroines. (I received an ARC of An Enchantment of Ravens from the publisher at BookCon)

The Last One by Alexandra Oliva (4 stars) – If you’re like me and you like to try to read some books that are sort of horror/suspense/thriller-y as we move into fall, but you have a hard time finding books you really like in those genres, and you’re more into near-future SF and post-apocalyptic type things, you should pick up this book.

Basically, this book is about a contestant on a survival-themed reality show when the show’s structure appears to start breaking down around her and it becomes clear that there’s something very wrong happening to the world around her, but she can’t tell whether it’s real or just a part of the show. It’s told in first-person from the contestant’s point of view (she’s referred to by the show producers as Zoo because she works at a wildlife preserve), and also in third person descriptions of the early days of the show and her interactions with other contestants. There’s even some bits of internet commentary from the show’s fans.

This book does a great job of building creepy tension, and the reality-show/survival premise gives it some Hunger Games-esque vibes at times, which I loved. It’s definitely well-written, in case you’re also picky about that in your suspense-type reads (I very much am). Overall, definitely would recommend as a fall read. I’ll be interested to see what this author comes out with next.

Blue Nights by Joan Didion (4 stars) – this is the second of Didion’s memoirs focused on grief that I’ve read; her writing is skillful and heartbreaking.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (3.5 stars) – this is a well-written and absorbing memoir, but it’s also really disturbing and I would not recommend it at all if you’re sensitive to reading about child abuse.

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (2.5 stars) – I really don’t recommend this book. It’s just not very well-written, and everything stays very surface-level and obvious with the characters and plot. Things never reach any depth, and the author has not gotten the whole “show don’t tell” memo. This was really a disappointment for me.

Vampire Girl by Karpov Kindrade (1 star) – I hate giving books 1-star ratings. I went into this with low expectations just looking for a fun vampire read, but it was just very poorly written, the plot was rushed and predictable, and it was very cliched, to a degree that really bugged me. On top of that, this is NOT a vampire book! It’s a book that pretends that these demon princes are somehow also vampires.


What did you all read in September? What were your faves (or least faves)? Let me know!


Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

It’s been forever since I’ve done a Top Ten Tuesday, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my fall TBR, so this came at the perfect time. There are a lot of books that just give off a fall vibe that I’d like to read this season, and of course there are also my anticipated reads for the R.i.P XII readathon, so my fall TBR is sort of a balance between those two categories and new releases that I just absolutely have to pick up ASAP.

Deathless (Leningrad Diptych, #1)ThreatsHaemansBelzhar

These four books are probably at the top of my TBR for the R.i.P XII readathon. I’ve been meaning to read Deathless (and basically all of Catherynne M. Valente’s adult books) for years now, and I’ve decided that this fall is finally the time that I’m going to go for it.

I also have really high expectations for Threats by Amelia Gray; I read her collection of short stories, Gutshot, last year and went to a reading she did in my city. Threats sounds a bit more conventionally structured than Gutshot (pretty much anything is conventional compared to Gutshot) but still with a healthy dose of weirdness.

And then there’s Haemans by Nicoline Evans, which is a book that I bought at the author’s booth BookCon. It sounds dark and vampire-ish and also involves Russian royalty.

For a YA Octoberish read, I also have Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer. I actually don’t know a ton about this one, but it’s very short so I don’t want to know a whole lot. It has mixed reviews on Goodreads, but I tend to have unpopular opinions a lot of the time, so that doesn’t bother me.

SourdoughWhat HappenedOnly Ever YoursThe Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3)

I think ideally I’d like to also get to my most recent Book of the Month Club pick, Sourdough by Robin Sloan, this fall; it’s about bread-baking and foodies and it sounds sort of cozy and fall-ish.

Hillary Clinton is coming to my city for a signing of her new book What Happened, and unfortunately I have to work that day but my friend is going and is hopefully going to get a copy signed for me as well. I’m definitely planning on reading this one as soon as I get the chance, and I’m probably going to cry multiple times while reading it.

For a YA dystopian read, I have Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill, which has been called the YA version of The Handmaid’s Tale and is a possible read for me for Dewey’s 24-hour readathon in October.

Another new release I’d like to get to this fall is The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin. This is the final book in my favorite current fantasy series, so I’m almost hesitant to pick it up because then it will be over 😦

Gather the DaughtersThe Female of the Species

Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed is a book that just sounds like it’s right up my alley. I’ve heard amazing things so far, and all I know is that it’s about young women in a misogynistic cult who attempt to go against its teachings and escape.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis is a YA book that has been on my radar for awhile; I don’t read a ton of contemporary YA, but this is supposed to be very feminist and well-done, so I’m intrigued.


What’s on your fall TBR? Feel free to link me to your Top Ten Tuesday post if you’ve done one!

It’s Monday! What are you reading?


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.  It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. 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.

Thankfully, I’ve been doing a LOT better with my reading in September compared to August, so I’ve been inspired to do more currently reading-type updates.

What am I currently reading?

Among OthersThe GirlsThe Unearthly (The Unearthly, #1)

I’m in the middle of of a book that I think will become one of my favorite books of the year, if not ever. I’m hesitant to say something like that too soon, because what if something happens and I start hating the book, but I just get such a wonderful feeling every time I pick it up and I’m already thinking about how this will be a great one to revisit and re-read in the future. That book is Among Others by Jo Walton, which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 2012 and is about a Welsh teenager who survived a tragedy and is now making it through her time at an English boarding school through a combination of SFF literature and communicating with fairies.

Audio-wise, I’m listening to The Girls by Emma Cline, which has been on my TBR since before its release. I’m very much at the beginning, but so far it’s intriguing. I’m also reading The Unearthly by Laura Thalassa, which is a YA paranormal fantasy set at a boarding school also where all of the students are supernatural creatures. Again, I’m very much at the beginning but liking it so far.

What did I recently finish reading?

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo LanaganThe Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

My most recent physical read was The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan, which was a dark retelling of the selkie myth that was quite good. I also recently finished listening to The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls on audio, and it was very well-written and compelling but also extremely disturbing and hard to listen to due to its content. If it had been fiction, I might not have been able to finish it, but since it was nonfiction and I at least knew that Walls survived and became successful, I did.

What books might be up next?

SourdoughGather the DaughtersThe Natural Way of Things

After I finish The Girls, I’m going to need a new audiobook. If the timing works out (I get audiobooks through my library’s Overdrive app), I’m hoping to be able to start listening to Sourdough by Robin Sloan. And once I finish Among Others, I’d like to pick up a book on my list of 5-star predictions; I’m thinking it will probably be Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed or The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood, but I’m a mood reader, so you never know.


WWW Wednesday!

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. 

My September reading is starting out strong! Let’s see if I can keep up this momentum.

What are you currently reading?

The Last OneVampire Girl (Vampire Girl, #1)The Brides of Rollrock Island

My currently reading pile is a bit of an eclectic mix, which is exactly how I like it. At the moment I’m so absorbed in my audiobook (I also have a physical copy that I might switch to at some point), which is The Last One by Alexandra Oliva. I’d really never considered listening to this one on audio, but while I was picking out potential books for the R.i.P. XII reading challenge, this arose as a book I’d really love to check out. The Last One focuses on Zoo (not her real name), a contestant on a wilderness-survival-themed reality show, and what happens when the structure of the show appears to start breaking down and there may or may not have been some sort of pandemic event while she was isolated in the woods. She has no way of knowing, however, whether this actually happened or if it’s just a part of the show. It’s SO absorbing; the perspective shifts from Zoo later on in the course of the show (she’s called that by producers because she works with animals at a nature preserve) and a third person account of the earlier days of the show and its fan response. It’s also a great read for R.i.P. XII, which I didn’t actually intend to really begin until October, but hey, I’ll take my library audio holds when I can get them.

Speaking of starting my fall reading challenge early, I started Vampire Girl by Karpov Kinrade on a whim when I needed something to read for a few minutes on my phone during my lunch break at work. I noticed this book because it was a Goodreads Choice Awards nominee last year (I LOVE following the GRCAs) and it contained the word “vampire,” so I figured I should at least check it out. I’m about halfway done and I will say that the quality of the writing is…not good. I would also say that the word “vampire” is used very loosely here and I would not at all classify it as a vampire book. That being said, it’s so fast-paced that I basically read half the book without even thinking about it, and it’s sort of a fun silly book that I do intend to finish. It just won’t be a good rating from me, unfortunately.

And! I’m still only about 40 pages into The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan, but I really love it. Lanagan’s writing is very lyrical, and I love anything that is sort of a dark retelling of some kind of myth/legend/fairy tale. In this case, Lanagan is tackling the myth of selkies, which I think will also provide a lot of commentary on misogyny, which should be interesting. It’s a slower-paced read, but I never feel like I’m lost when I put it down and pick it back up.

What did you recently finish reading?

Blue NightsAn Enchantment of Ravens

The first book I finished in September was Blue Nights by Joan Didion. This is my second Didion; I previously read The Year of Magical Thinking in 2015, and Blue Nights is very similar in topic, tone, and structure. Both are memoirs of grief; Magical Thinking focuses on the loss of Didion’s husband, John, and Blue Nights focuses on her daughter, Quintana. They both sort of drift from topic to topic, mimicking Didion’s patterns of thinking and memory; both are very sad and very well-written.

I then finished an ARC I picked up from the publisher at BookCon, An Enchantment of Ravens, and thoroughly enjoyed it. An Enchantment of Ravens is a YA fantasy by Margaret Rogerson, and it takes place in a town called Whimsy which is stranded in perpetual summer due to its connection to the world of the fae, or Fair Ones. The fae in Rogerson’s book are very far removed from emotions and their general humanity, but they covet human artwork and creations more than anything. Our main character, Isobel, finds herself sucked into the fae lands when Rook, the autumn prince of the fae, is furious at his portrayal in a portrait she painted. It’s well-written, self-contained, and in my opinion a perfect YA fairy-related read. It’s set to be released on September 26th.


What do you think you’ll read next?

Gather the Daughters

Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed! I’ve nearly started this book about four or five times already in the past few days, but it just hasn’t quite felt like the right time and I’ve been waiting until I cut down my currently reading pile a bit. I actually won this book in a giveaway during the 24 in 48 readathon, which was such a wonderful surprise because it’s been at the top of my 2017 releases TBR. Gather the Daughters is focused on a cult and its misogynistic tendencies and has drawn Margaret Atwood comparisons, so it sounds right up my alley. After Gather the Daughters, I have absolutely no idea what I’ll pick up next. I do hope that my library hold on the audio of The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls becomes available soon, because I think I’ll be in the mood for another memoir by the time I finish my current audio.


Have you read any of these? Feel free to link me to your WWW Wednesday post as well!

August Reading Wrap-Up

Before I get into everything, here are my reading stats for August:

Number of books read: 8

#readmyowndamnbooks: 5

When did I acquire the books I read? August 2016 (Arcadia), June 2017 (Heating & Cooling), July 2017 (The Animators), August 2017 (Fierce Kingdom, Binti: Home)

Overall,  unfortunately, August turned into a disappointing reading month for me. I didn’t see it coming, especially since July was a FANTASTIC reading month (not only did I read a lot of books, but I read a lot of books that I just enjoyed the heck out of). I was actually super excited for my reading in August, since it featured two readathons that I love taking part in: Bout of Books and Tome Topple. And I still had a good time participating in those readathons, but overall the books I chose this month were disappointments in various ways, and I struggled finding motivation to pick them up for that reason.

So here’s what I read in August:

Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3)The Animators by Kayla Rae WhitakerArcadiaA Scot in the Dark (Scandal & Scoundrel, #2)Home (Binti, #2)Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly WomanFierce KingdomHeating Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs

Arcadia by Iain Pears (4.25 stars) – So, here’s the thing. When I decided to pick this book up for the Tome Topple readathon (and when I put it on my top 10 tbr list for 2017), I had this really solid conviction that it would end up being a 5-star read. It’s been highly recommended by several bookish people that I trust, and its premise sounded so fascinating–it’s essentially a genre mash-up compared to David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas that is set in a dystopian future, an agrarian fantasy world, and 1960s England simultaneously. And it was still a very good book, and I enjoyed reading it. It just wasn’t amazing.

The plot was very fascinating and intricate, and I really enjoyed picking up the little pieces and hints throughout to figure out what the heck was actually going on. But. The characters were very surface-level, and I wasn’t getting the deeper themes and meanings that I’d need for a five-star read.

So do I recommend this book? Yes. If you enjoy both science fiction and fantasy and enjoy a good plot-driven novel, you will definitely like this book.

Wildfire by Ilona Andrews (4 stars) – I love everything Ilona Andrews writes, and this was no exception. This is the third book in a trilogy (although if it sells well enough, it’s possible the series may be expanded *crosses fingers*) about magical family dynasties in Houston. It’s more paranormal romance than urban fantasy, but there is still lots of action, humor, and worldbuilding, in classic Andrews fashion.

Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly (4 stars) – Before picking up Heating & Cooling, I had actually never heard of a micro-memoir before. I had, however, heard of microfiction, which I tend to absolutely love; there’s something about a short format that requires an author to pack so much meaning and complexity into every word. I think that shorter pieces are much harder to create than longer pieces for this reason; you just don’t have room for anything extraneous, and you have to make every bit count.

It turns out that I enjoyed the short memoir format just as much as I enjoy very short stories. Every piece in this collection–especially the extremely short ones–was impactful and concise; Fennelly’s writing style doesn’t waste a word. Fennelly writes about a variety of topics–her marriage, her parents, her children, the nature of memory, the less shiny aspects of her childhood and hometown–yet things never feel disjointed. In turns, I laughed out loud and felt profoundly disturbed by what she had to say, and I frequently re-read sentences to appreciate her skill in conveying things so concisely.

If you’re a short story or microfiction lover and are interested in picking up a memoir, this would be a great choice; I’d also recommend Heating & Cooling for anyone who enjoys memoirs and appreciates honest and well-crafted prose.

*I received an ARC of Heating & Cooling from the publisher at BookCon

Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor (4 stars) – The sequel to Binti really built on the first book and also delved back into what wasn’t fully addressed in book 1–namely, Binti’s relationship with her family. Binti continues to unintentionally push cultural boundaries in a variety of ways, and this novella is building toward what I hope will be a really interesting conclusion.

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips (3 stars) – So the premise of this book is undoubtedly intriguing–it’s a suspense novel that takes place over the course of three hours, following a woman and her four-year-old son as they attempt to survive and escape a shooter who is loose at the zoo. And for the first third or so of the book, I’d say it lived up to my expectations; it was extremely suspenseful and made you want to keep reading while still devoting time to characterization. The problems for me came later in the book; without giving anything away, I felt that not enough really happened over the course of the book. If you’re going to write a short novel, you really need to make every conflict and scene count, and I don’t feel like that’s what this book did. It was too much buildup for not enough payoff.

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen (3 stars) – This book provided great commentary about and analysis of some of the most prominent female celebrities today, but it fell flat attempting to connect them into a broader statement.

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker (2.75 stars) – I liked the characters and the premise, but the plot was really all over the place and the pacing was super inconsistent. I didn’t love a lot of the decisions about how the story progressed. I did think it was pretty well-written and I especially liked the discussion of how animation and the creative process of the characters worked.

A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean (2.25 stars) – The beginning of this book was so much fun, but things got SO repetitive after awhile, and the actions of the main male character were so idiotic and frustrating that I basically had to stop rooting for them as a couple.
I liked the concept a lot, but this book really needed more to happen plot-wise to justify the amount of complications to the romance.
I’d like to try another of Sarah MacLean’s books to see if things are handled better in others, because I feel like there’s much more potential than was utilized in this story.

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril (R.i.P.) Challenge Sign-Up & TBR!

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XII takes place from September 1st, 2017 through October 31st, 2017. It’s a low-key reading challenge hosted by Andi at Estella’s Revenge and Heather at My Capricious Life focused on completing different tasks (called “perils”) all focused on reading within the following genres:
Dark Fantasy.
I’ll be participating in Peril the First, which entails reading at least 4 books that fit into the R.i.P. categories. It’s possible that I could also end up accomplishing Peril of the Short Story or Peril on the Screen, but I’m not to hold myself to it.
For this reading challenge, I don’t like to set a solid TBR; instead, I like to find a bunch of books on my TBR shelf that could possibly fit the challenge categories so that I have a lot of wiggle room for mood reading and instead of a small pile that I definitely want to read, I have a bunch of books to choose from. And no, I am definitely not going to be reading all or almost all of these books, not even close! I tend to do most of my R.i.P reading in October, but I might pick up one or two of these in September, too, depending on how my reading is going!
All the Missing GirlsFinal GirlsNight FilmHaemansSee What I Have DoneAgents of DreamlandDusk or Dark or Dawn or DayFever DreamVampire Girl (Vampire Girl, #1)Fearscape (Horrorscape, #1)ThreatsLailah (The Styclar Saga, #1)The Last OneZoo CitySunshineWhite Is for WitchingDeathless (Leningrad Diptych, #1)BelzharThe DevourersChime
Who else is participating? I love this reading challenge 🙂