Category Archives: Reading Recaps

April Reading Wrap-Up

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April was a very weird reading month for me. Almost all of the books I read were from the library, and the majority were YA and graphic novels. The main reason for this was Dewey’s; I got into the spirit of the Readathon early and sort of jumped on the idea of reading a bunch of shorter books quickly instead of the longer, slower reads I’m typically drawn to.

The fact that I failed hard at reading my own books in April just emphasizes the necessity of the #SmashYourStack challenge for me in May. I’m excited to make up lost ground during that and Bout of Books. So here are my stats for April:

Total books read: 12 (although one was technically a short story, but I had it in my Kindle as a standalone ebook)

Library books: 8

Graphic novels: 3

#readmyowndamnbooks: 2 (embarassingly low)

Audiobooks: 1

Ebooks: 2

Read Harder challenge tasks completed: 4

✓ 11. Read a book under 100 pages
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

✓ 17. Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the past three years
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

✓ 22. Read a food memoir
Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

✓ 24. Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

And here are all the books! A bunch aren’t in the picture I took because I had to return them to the library, plus there were the audio/eboks.

A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah MoskowitzYes, Chef by Marcus SamuelssonThrough the Woods by Emily CarrollKindred Spirits by Rainbow RowellFables, Vol. 1 by Bill WillinghamEverything, Everything by Nicola YoonReflections by Seanan McGuireEvery Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuireWide Sargasso Sea by Jean RhysNimona by Noelle StevensonMarked in Flesh by Anne BishopThe Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Here’s what I read in April, ranked from best to worst:

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys – 5 stars: Gorgeous, lush prose and a crucial re-interpretation of a classic.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire – 4.25 stars: Unique and intriguing concept that I’d love to read a lot more about.

A History of Glitter and Blood – 4 stars: Unconventional YA that I’m excited to post a longer review about soon.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – 4 stars: Adorable, hilarious, and absorbing take on fantasy and superhero tropes.

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell – 4 stars: Cute and wonderfully nerdy short story centered around Star Wars hype.

Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop – 3 stars: Latest installment in a series whose concept I love, even if the books themselves tend to leave me a bit underwhelmed since the great debut.

Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson – 3 stars: In-depth memoir of a fascinating chef, although the writing could get a bit repetitive.

Indexing: Reflections by Seanan McGuire – 3 stars: Sequel to an entertaining modern take on fairy tales that delved into the main characters’ backstory more but lost some of the action.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll – 3 stars: Beautifully illustrated graphic novel that lacked a bit in actual story.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – 3 stars: Classic and disturbing short story that I wanted to like more than I did.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon – 2.5 stars: Fun writing style and a fast read, but the characters just didn’t act in believable ways.

Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham – 2 stars: Despite my love of fairy tale characters, this was just not very interesting.

And here are all the books I bought in April, because I have a sickness:

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Yet another reason the #SmashYourStack challenge couldn’t come at a better time.

 

What did everyone read this month?

 

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: Halfway Update

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Halfway through the Readathon! Although it doesn’t really feel that way, since I started so late. I feel like Dewey’s came at a great time this year, and I love the feeling of letting everything fall away for a certain number of hours and just focusing on bookishness.

Here are my responses to the mid-readathon survey!

1. What are you reading right now?

I’m currently reading A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz, which is turning out to be a very dark, fairy-focused YA novel set before/during/after a violent conflict between fairies, gnomes, and another group of beings called “tightropers.” It’s written in an interesting way–the “author” keeps jumping in and commenting on how badly they’re telling the story in between the third person narration, and there are excerpts from other books made to look like they’ve been taped in. I really like the style and dark tone. Don’t let the sparkles fool you on this one.

A History of Glitter and Blood
2. How many books have you read so far?

I’ve finished 3 so far! All were shorter books, which I think I needed due to how sleepy I am. But I’ve also listened to about 1.5 hours of my audiobook and read the first few chapters of A History of Glitter and Blood. Here’s what I’ve read:

Kindred Spirits

Through the Woods

Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

I’m looking forward to getting deeper into A History of Glitter and Blood, which I’d ideally like to finish during the Readathon. I’m also planning on reading some of Mr. Splitfoot, which I’m about 50 pages into but haven’t read any of during the Readathon so far. I may also pick up Volume 2 of Fables to switch it up. And definitely more audiobooking with Yes, Chef.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

I went into the Readathon knowing that I’d be missing out on the first 5-6 hours due to work and that I would probably get interruptions since I’m on call tonight, so I guess I dealt with them by being prepared and planning on just enjoying the time that I do have to participate! It’s still been a huge chunk of uninterrupted reading time for me and it’s been awesome.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

I was planning on devoting most of my time to full-length books, but it’s turned out that I’ve read one short novella and 2 graphic novels. But I also feel like that’s helped me keep my momentum going. Also, I haven’t eaten any of my Readathon snacks! (Instead I ate lots of Thai food. No regrets there).

 

How has everyone’s Readathon been going???

March Reading Wrap-Up

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

 

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March Reading Summary:

Total books read in March: 5

#Weirdathon books I read in March: 3

#readmyowndamnbooks: 3

Audiobooks: 1

Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 2

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

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

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

 

So, what did I read this month?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

What did everyone enjoy reading this month?

 

 

February Reading Wrap-Up

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Total books read this month: 6 (not too shabby!)

#readmyowndamn books (books I actually own): 4 (!)

Audiobooks: 1

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 4

✓ 1. Read a horror book – Fledgling by Octavia Butler

✓ 8. Read a book originally published in the decade you were born (1980’s) – The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

✓ 10. Read a book over 500 pages long – The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

✓ 12. Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender – All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

 

Favorite book I read this month: I don’t know! It’s a three-way tie. I honestly enjoyed every book I read this month.

 

Fledgling

 

I was so glad I returned to Octavia Butler with Fledgling; I plan to read all of her books eventually, and the unconventional vampire story tagline hooked me completely. It’s a story about vampires that also tackles issues such as consent in relationships and the insidious nature of racism in a fresh way. I’m just so sad that the rest of the trilogy (this was supposed to be the first book) will never be written. But it still works well as a standalone title, and I’ll be reading more Butler this year for sure.

 

The Remains of the Day

 

The Remains of the Day surprised me. I was expecting the Downton Abbey vibe and the classic Ishiguro use of the unreliability of memory as a central theme, but I was not expecting the fascinatingly creepy historical intrigue. And it’s just beautifully written.

 

All the Birds in the Sky

 

I liked the juxtaposition of magic and science in All the Birds in the Sky; I love when science fiction and fantasy are combined. It kept each chapter fresh since the two main characters had such opposite paths and perspectives. I also liked the realistic climate-change catastrophies and the Magicians-esque vibe I got from the characters.

 

Biggest reading disappointment of the month: The Wise Man’s Fear.

 

The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2)

 

It’s not that I hated the book–I didn’t even dislike it! I genuinely enjoyed reading the majority of the book, but…parts of it just fell very flat for me as a reader. I was expecting this when I started the series, since I tend to avoid the cliche sort of fantasy where this young white “chosen one” boy becomes famous and powerful and destined for greatness–I greatly prefer creativity in my fantasy reads, and I like when books don’t remind me of anything else–but the thing about the Kingkiller Chronicles is that this trope is done really, really well, and the storytelling is done in a very interesting way. It’s enough to make you forget about all of the overused fantasy tropes that the books contain, because it’s well-written and has this very well-crafted structure. My favorite parts of this series have consistently been the present-day scenes; I find older Kvothe, Bast, and Chronicler so much more interesting than the child characters we encounter earlier in the timeline. (Except Elodin, who is my absolute favorite.) But there really weren’t enough “flash-forwards” in this gigantic book, and too much time was devoted to less interesting storylines (Denna) and less interesting characters (Denna). I just don’t feel that this author’s strength is in writing romance; personally, I’d rather read a book without a romantic storyline than one I just can’t find authentic.

Don’t even get me started on the Felurian parts–while I’m sure the whole elf-princess-sex-goddess-is-suddenly-obsessed-with-our-hero thing is a fantasy that many people are into, as a woman in her mid-twenties, this part just really…bored me. That is, when I wasn’t skeeved out reading about a fifteen-year-old having sex with a milennia-old fae. It just wasn’t new, or interesting, or done well. If you want to make it romantic, make it romantic! If you want to make it creepy, then go full-on creepy! As long as it feels authentic. I don’t mean “realistic,” this is fantasy and I get that. But make it believable, give us some emotion! Instead, it was just sort of ambivalent, while we as readers were supposed to believe that this fifteen-year-old child was learning the best sex moves of all time from this ageless faerie who for some reason had nothing better to do that day. Felurian could have been an interesting character if the author had given her some depth, but the majority of her characterization was that she was very pale and had a personality like a spoiled child. Sorry, not buying it. This fae is thousands of years old! I get tired of these ageless fantasy characters who act in ways that don’t make sense (falling in love with teenagers is the #1 issue)(Edward Cullen). Can’t we find something more interesting for them to talk about?

This turned into a rant, and now I sound like I hated the book. I promise, I didn’t! I actually really enjoyed it, but these things have been bugging me ever since I finished it. I loved the first half of the book when Kvothe was still at school; every time Elodin shows up I know it’s going to be amazing. I love Devi; she’s multi-faceted and intriguing. I love that we’re getting to see the dark side of Kvothe. I loved the part that I’m not going to talk about because it’s a spoiler (you’ll know it when you get there! Such a cool twist). And I love the consistent beginning/ending bookending of the story.

 

What has everyone been reading this month?

January Reading Wrap-Up

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I know we’re a week into February, but here’s my (belated) reading wrap-up for January! It was a really great month for me, reading-wise; doing the Bout of Books challenge really helped me jumpstart the year. I actually spent a substantial amount of reading time in January on a book that I wasn’t able to complete before the month ended (The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss), so I’m surprised that my total was so high. My main disappointment was that only 2 out of the 7 books I read this month were books from my physical TBR shelf, which goes against one of my reading goals for 2016. However, I am a huge library supporter, so I can’t really feel bad about some extra library time this month, and there’s always next month to tackle my unread bookshelf (which is more like two shelves and several piles of books in my closet, if I’m being honest).

Why did I fail so hard at the Read My Own Damn Books Challenge? My main issue is that I get into these weird reading moods where I need to be reading something out of the box, or fast-paced, but I don’t have a specific book in mind that I know I’ll really like, so I head to the library to find several possible choices to fit that mood. Then I get caught up in one or two and neglect my overstocked TBR shelf that’s full of things I know I’ll really like and become immersed in once the right mood strikes. But mood is key, and I’m a moody reader. This usually tends to happen after a book hangover from a particularly amazing read; this month I blame The Passion for that.

January Stats:

Books read: 7

-Library books: 4

-Ebooks: 1

-Books I own: 2

Book Riot Read Harder tasks completed: 3

Reading Challenges: 1 – Bout of Books

January Book Reviews:

The Passion by Jeannette Winterson – 5 stars

This book set the bar extremely high for my reading in 2016. Winterson’s prose is lyrical and gorgeous, without tempering the harshness of the subjects she tackles. The story is told in alternating perspectives by Henri, a young French boy who leaves his farming town in the countryside to serve under Napoleon as an assistant/chef both in France and during his horrific Russian campaign, and Villette, a bisexual Venetian girl who navigates both the mysteries of Venice’s canals and her complex romantic life. It’s a story about obsession and what drives people, but it’s not a sweet, predictable love story; this short book is breathtaking and philosophical. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The Just City by Jo Walton – 4 stars

When I was younger, I was obsessed with Greek mythology. Now, one of my obsessions are books that combine science fiction and fantasy; this book was able to encompass both of those with interesting results. My full review is in my previous Bout of Books post, but to summarize: read this if you want to read about Socrates engaging in dialogues with futuristic robots while displaced children attempt to become philosophers in a mysterious island isolated from history.

Enclave and Outpost by Ann Aguirre, 3 stars for both

I read books 1 and 2 of Aguirre’s Razorland trilogy this month and was surprised I hadn’t heard more about these books when they were released; I think they may have gotten lost in the shuffle of the many dystopian YA books that were released post-Hunger Games. These were what I turned to after my book hangover from The Passion when I needed something different to keep me from staying frozen in Winterson’s gorgeous prose. And it worked. These books are very distracting; there’s interesting worldbuilding and a cool premise. Deuce (yes, that’s really her name. No, I don’t know why the author couldn’t have picked a better one) is training to be a Huntress in the tunnels beneath future New York City in an enclave ruled by strict traditions enforced for survival. Outside the safety of her community, the Freaks roam wild, and aboveground, she’s been told, is nothing but devastation. The Freaks, who are zomebiesque, begin to change behavior patterns and become more threatening, and eventually Deuce (still her name, unfortunately) eventually is forced to face the surface and discover what has become of the world outside her enclave. Oh, and there’s a love triangle. And in book 2, Deuce has to try to fit into an aboveground community where people have started living like they’re in the 1700s to try to stave off the Freak threat. In summary, books 1 and 2 were fast-paced, entertaining reads, but I wasn’t invested enough to check out book 3.

Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples – 4 stars

So, I REALLY disliked Volume 4 of Saga, so much so that I almost wasn’t going to pick up Volume 5. But this one completely redeemed it for me! The story is back to its former awesomeness–it seemed like there was more action and more heart in this one than there’s been in awhile. And the artwork is so incredible. If you’re a book fan who is interested in trying a graphic novel, I highly recommend this series.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell – 3 stars

I really like Rainbow Rowell, but this was just not my favorite. It was cute and comforting, but didn’t really go beyond that for me.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – 4 stars

Concise, poignant, and important. Adichie states what should be obvious but unfortunately is not. I’m a huge fan of this author and look forward to reading Half of a Yellow Sun this year.

So, that’s it! What did you all enjoy reading in January?

2015: My Reading Year in Review

2015 was a great reading year for me. I branched out into different genres while digging deeper into genres and authors I know I love. My top ten list for the year contains books that will become some of my all-time favorites (see my earlier post!). And, here, I’ll attempt to organize some stats about my reading year for the first time ever!

Total number of books read: 73

Total number of pages read: 23,167

Longest book read:

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (722 pgs)

Shortest book read: (technically a short story)

Forbid the Sea by Seanan McGuire (20 pgs)

Average book length: 317 pgs

Most popular book I read this year (according to Goodreads): The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, with 481,331 other readers

Least popular book I read this year (according to Goodreads): Verses by Ani DiFranco, with 440 other readers

Average rating: 3.3 stars

Number of live author events attended: 3 (Kelly Link, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Dinaw Mengestu) (all were awesome)

Number of states I purchased books in: 4 (Massachusetts, New York, Florida, Louisiana)

Number of library used book sales attended: probably around 10. I tried to count, but I lost track.

Number of books I bought: infinity, approximately

Number of audiobooks I listened to: 4

Plays I attended (plays are similar to books…): 3: Book of Mormon, Twelfth Night, Spring Awakening

 

meta-chart

meta-chart(1)Reading Challenges:

✓Participated in Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon

✓Read more than 60 books

✓Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge

read-harder-finisher-2015

✓Colorful Book Covers Challenge: read 3 books for each color

Red Cover
The Mime Order (The Bone Season, #2) by Samantha Shannon A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1) by Sarah J. Maas Me Before You (Me Before You, #1) by Jojo Moyes

Orange Cover
Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels, #5.5) by Ilona Andrews Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles #2) by Ilona Andrews The Martian by Andy Weir

Yellow Cover
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler The Sixth Extinction An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Green Cover
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell Fate's Edge (The Edge, #3) by Ilona Andrews All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost A Novel by Lan Samantha Chang

Blue Cover
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link Perdido Street Station (Bas-Lag, #1) by China Miéville

Purple Cover
Fracture Me (Shatter Me, #2.5) by Tahereh Mafi Steel's Edge (The Edge, #4) by Ilona Andrews Saga, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan

Pink Cover
The City & the City by China Miéville Saga, Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Black Cover
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter Small Gods (Discworld, #13) by Terry Pratchett Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

White Cover
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Gray Cover
The Heir (The Selection, #4) by Kiera Cass Smoke and Mirrors Short Fictions and Illusions by Neil Gaiman A Red-Rose Chain (October Daye, #9) by Seanan McGuire

Brown Cover
Forbid the Sea (October Daye, #0.4) by Seanan McGuire Anansi Boys (American Gods, #2) by Neil Gaiman Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Colorful Cover
Euphoria by Lily King The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Here’s to even more awesome reading in 2016!