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July Reading Wrap-Up (Yes, July)

Apparently it’s now a trend for my monthly reading wrap-ups to be super delayed; I’m sorry! I’ll try to get back on track next month, but July was pretty crazy: I turned 30, and to celebrate went on a 10-day trip to Croatia, which was absolutely amazing. Because my trip was right in the middle of the month, it was pretty hectic with trip preparation and then catching up with life things once I got back. And because it was my birthday month, I decided that I was in the mood to re-read some past favorites in addition to picking up new-to-me books.

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

First, I re-read the second two books in the Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas, which are possibly my favorite YA fantasy books (even if they’re technically New Adult?). I would have re-read the first book as well, but I wasn’t able to check it out from the library in time. I’ve re-read ACOMAF several times, as it’s mine and everyone else’s favorite of the series, but unlike a lot of people, I actually enjoy ACOTAR and ACOWAR as very close seconds.

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1)Living Dead in Dallas (Sookie Stackhouse, #2)Club Dead (Sookie Stackhouse, #3)Dead to the World (Sookie Stackhouse, #4)

Next, I turned to one of my favorite book series, which I was first introduced to back in college: Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries series. Unlike ACOTAR, it’s been many years since I’ve picked one of these books up, and they’re just as fun, funny, and addicting as I’d remembered. I love all of Harris’s little character details, and the Bill/Eric/Alcide love square situation is quite a fun one.

And here are all of the new-to-me books I read this month, plus reviews:

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina LaurenWilder Girls by Rory PowerThe End We Start From by Megan HunterHag-Seed by Margaret AtwoodWith the Fire on High by Elizabeth AcevedoThe Right Swipe by Alisha RaiSweep of the Blade by Ilona AndrewsFix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood (5 stars) – As with most of my 5-star reads, I can totally understand why someone might not like this book–I think it’s written to a very specific taste, and the writing style is very Margaret Atwood. It’s also extremely Shakespeare-focused and also extremely meta, so if you’re not a fan of any of those things, you may hate it. But for me, a diehard Margaret Atwood fan who enjoys weird and weirdly written books, and who went to see a production of The Tempest the same evening that I started reading this book, it was an absolutely fantastic read. I never had the chance to study The Tempest in college; if I had, I probably would have gotten even more out of the reading experience than I did, but I also felt that I was able to keep up just fine with having only seen the play. Hag-Seed is a story within a story (within a story?) about a disgraced former Shakespeare theater director who, after sequestering himself in obscurity for years, re-emerges to direct a modern production of The Tempest through his new role as a theater director in a prison. I loved this book because every scene works on multiple levels; it kept me thinking, and kept me engaged with Shakespeare’s work, while bringing new insights at a constant pace. There’s a lot of critical analysis of Shakespeare, and as a book nerd, I’m always going to be into that. It’s definitely not realistic fiction, as you might expect from the synopsis; I’d put it closer to magical realism as far as genre goes, although it’s hard to classify. Reading this book was a fun, thought-provoking experience that reminded me why I fell in love with Atwood’s writing years ago, and why I’ll continue to read from her in the future.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power (4 stars) – I read an eARC of Wilder Girls courtesy of NetGalley, and will be posting a full review in the next few weeks, but essentially I’d call it the YA version of Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation. It was well-written and disturbing, although with an unresolved ending that I didn’t love.

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai (4 stars) – I really enjoyed this ARC of a smart, fun contemporary romance that I was lucky enough to win in a Goodreads giveaway. Check out my full review here.

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter (4 stars) – This very short book about a flood-centric apocalyptic event wasn’t my favorite post-apocalyptic read, but it wasn’t my least favorite, either. Even for the brief length of this book, there wasn’t very much plot or character growth, but I did find the writing really lovely in parts, and I enjoyed the short, prose poem mini-paragraphs that comprised the narrative. It’s not a book that has stayed with me long after reading it, but I did overall enjoy the experience.

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey (4 stars) -I love being surprised by a book. I’d say that I’m someone who reads pretty widely across genres, and who’s willing to try something new or give a book a chance, but there are always certain things that, when I see them in a book description or review, don’t appeal to me at all and tend to make me want to avoid a book rather than reach for it: epic fantasy with a lack of female characters or set in a pseudo-medieval European setting; anything self-help-related; WWII historical fiction. Add to that list romances with former pro-sports players as the love interest, because that’s a trope that I just don’t find appealing at all. Strangely, I found myself pleasantly surprised by two books with this trope this month, including this one, Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey. On the surface, Fix Her Up didn’t sound like my type of book: not only does it feature a former pro-baseball player as the male main character, but it also deals with a lifelong unrequited crush/hero worship on behalf of Georgie, the female main character. But after hearing fantastic things from several reviewers I trust (namely Chelseadollingreads and Meltotheany ) I decided to give it a chance and really enjoyed it. I still didn’t love the male main character, Travis, but Fix Her Up is a very fun romance with a fake dating trope and a heroine who helps found a feminist organization in her town to help women empower each other. Would definitely recommend this one for fans of contemporary romance looking to start a new series that focuses on supportive female friendships in addition to the romance.

With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo (3.5 stars) – I enjoyed this YA contemporary featuring an aspiring chef who’s balancing high school; a difficult relationship with her father; supporting herself, her grandmother, and her daughter; figuring out her future, and maybe falling for the new kid in school. I especially enjoyed the recipes and how Elizabeth Acevedo describes the main character’s love for food, since although I’m not even close to a chef, I am a huge fan of Chopped and the Food Network.

Sweep of the Blade by Ilona Andrews (3.25 stars) – Compared to how much I normally love Ilona Andrews books (which is a LOT), Sweep of the Blade was a bit of a miss for me. It’s ostensibly a love story between Maud, the sister of previous books’ main character Dina, who is a fierce warrior and mother to a half-human, half-vampire child, and Arland, a medieval-ish vampire warrior from another planet (yep) (I’m actually totally into the medieval space vampires, that’s not my issue with this story), but it’s really a sort of mystery/political subterfuge type of story (again, not a bad thing). For whatever reason, I didn’t find the main characters as charismatic as most Ilona Andrews leads tend to be, and the plot was pretty lackluster, while the romance was pretty nonexistent. It was still a fairly fun read, but I’ve read much better from this author.

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren (3 stars) – This was a fun, quick listen on audiobook; I picked it up after hearing the Heaving Bosoms podcast review and saw myself in the mood for a rom-com. I definitely wouldn’t say that I loved it, because although I did like Josh and Hazel together, the plot didn’t really work for me.

 

Well, it’s basically September now. I’ll be back soon with more reviews (including Wilder Girls!).

ARC August TBR!

This August, I’ll be participating in a month-long readathon called ARC August, hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat. The goal is to spend the month reading as many ARCs (advance reader copies of upcoming books) as possible, and I’ve got my hands full with highly anticipated releases that I picked up at BookExpo.

I’m trying to be strategic with my TBR; I want to focus on the ARCs that are being released within the next two months, starting with my two August releases:

Rage (Stormheart, #2)The Other's Gold

Rage by Cora Carmack is the YA fantasy sequel to Roar (release date 8/27), and The Other’s Gold by Elizabeth Ames is contemporary fiction focusing on four best friends (release date is also 8/27).

Next up are the 4 ARCs coming out in early September that I haven’t picked up yet:

After the FloodGideon the Ninth (The Ninth House, #1)Lost in the Spanish QuarterThe Ten Thousand Doors of January

After the Flood by Kassandra Montag is post-apocalyptic science fiction (release date 9/3); Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is science fantasy featuring necromancers in space (release date 9/10, I’m currently reading and loving this one at the moment); Lost in the Spanish Quarter by Heddi Goodrich is a coming-of-age story set in Naples and is being compared to Elena Ferrante’s novels (release date 9/5); and The Ten Thousand Doors of January is portal fantasy (release date 9/10).

If I have time after reading those 6 books, I’ll try to pick up one of more of these end-of September releases (if not, they’re at the top of my September TBR):

Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative FictionThe Future of Another Timeline

Monster, She Wrote by Lisa Kroger and Melanie R. Anderson is a nonfiction book about female creators of scifi and horror (release date 9/17), and The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz, which I’ve already started and really like, is feminist time-travel science fiction (release date 9/24).

This seems like a lot, but they’re all books that I’ve been really looking forward to. To add even more reading to my month, I do plan as well to pick up some non-ARC books (although I haven’t decided what yet). All of the books I’ve talked about will need to be read in physical copy, and since I also like to consume books via audiobook and ebook, I’ll use those media to read some backlist titles or new releases in August as well.

 

Are you participating in ARC August? Are any of these on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon Kick-Off Post!

It’s Dewey’s time! Finally!

I ran out of time to post a TBR yesterday as I was at a hockey game after work, so here’s my tentative TBR for the day (VERY subject to change as I’m feeling super mood-reader-y today):

That Inevitable Victorian ThingThe Red TreeOnly Ever YoursSlade HouseHer Body and Other PartiesDusk or Dark or Dawn or Day

 

And here’s the Dewey’s opening survey:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

New York! It’s actually quite nice out for late October. Maybe I’ll take this readathon outside later…

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to finally picking up Seanan McGuire’s novella Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day, which has been on my TBR for awhile but I’ve been saving it for a readathon.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

I’m thinking of treating myself to some Thai takeout later, as I’m not in the mood to cook! And also some delicious hot beverages like maybe a chai latte.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I slept really terribly last night and woke up with this super-stressed feeling which sucks, so I’m trying to get back into relaxation mode for the readathon.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I’ve done several previous readathons (3, I think?) and I actually hope to keep my game plan pretty similar to before.

WWW Wednesday

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

I sort of waffled about posting an October TBR this week, but since I already made a TBR post for the R.i.P. XII reading challenge that covers the majority of that TBR, I decided to hold off and post an update instead. Maybe I’ll still end up posting one. I don’t know!

What am I currently reading?

Night Film

At the moment, I’m only reading one book! This is super weird for me, as 2-3 books at a time is my norm (and sometimes there are more).  I’m about halfway done with Night Film by Marisha Pessl, which I put on my October TBR honestly sort of skeptical that I would ever pick it up, but after reading the first page of several TBR books sounded like the most appealing. I’m very much enjoying it so far; it’s fascinating and creepy without being TOO scary (at least so far) and I love that there are newspaper articles and whatnot included along with normal text. This book is over 600 pages long, but it’s flying by so far.

What did I recently finish reading?

Sourdough

This morning, I finished Sourdough by Robin Sloan, which was my Book of the Month Club pick for September. I listened to some of this on audio and read the rest with the actual physical book; it’s a very quick, light read which didn’t blow me away but was a nice contrast to the darker mystery-type reads I had going simultaneously. I’d say that if you are in a mood where you want to read something fluffy and delightful where nothing bad will happen, pick up Sourdough.

What am I planning to read next?

Final GirlsFever Dream

Night Film will probably keep me occupied for another few days, but I’ll be looking for an audiobook to pick up soon (I needed a little audiobook break after listening to a few in a row) and Final Girls by Riley Sager just popped up in my library holds list. This was my BOTM pick for July and I do also own the physical copy, so I’ll probably jump between the two. It’s a thriller about survivors of horror-movie-type massacres who are later targeted themselves by an unknown killer; it’s very much in the October reading type vibe. I think I’ll also be in the mood to pick up Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin soon, which is a very short and weird book that was on the Man Booker shortlist and sounds like something I’d be very much into.

 

What are you currently reading? Feel free to link me to your WWW Wednesday post!

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!

Summer Reading Goals: 20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge

20 books

Even though I’m no longer in school, I still find that I always get more reading done during the summer than during any other season. A big part of this is that I love to read outside; there’s just something so nice about lying on the beach or my roof and enjoying the sunshine with a good book. I also love to set summer reading goals and TBRs, so the 20 Books of Summer Challenge, hosted by 746 Books, is perfect. Here are the 20 books I’m hoping to read this summer (although I’m also hoping to get a few more in there); all are on my physical TBR shelf except for a few that haven’t been released yet and two that I’ve pre-ordered on ebook.

Nonfiction:

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) BodySmoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory

I have two memoirs at the top of my TBR for the summer. Roxane Gay’s Hunger, a memoir that focuses on her relationship with food and her body, comes out in June, and since she’s rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors, I’m going to need to read it pretty much immediately. I’ve also had Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes on my TBR since it was released, and I’ve heard nothing but great things about this memoir by a female mortician.

Next in series:

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2)Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3)Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2)

Sometimes I’m just really in the mood for some fast-paced fantasy in the summer. I haven’t yet started the final book in Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series, A Court of Wings and Ruin, which was released in May, and I’m thinking this summer is the perfect time to get to it. Awesomely, Ilona Andrews, one of my favorite fantasy authors, is releasing both the second and third books in her Hidden Legacy trilogy this summer, only months apart, and since I’ve pre-ordered both ebooks, I’m very much looking forward to getting back into this series that focuses on families with magical dynasties and a lie-detecting protagonist. Another anticipated release this summer for me is Seanan McGuire’s Down Among the Sticks and Bones, which is the second book in a YA series focused on children who have traveled to different portal fantasy worlds.

Literary fiction:

The Lonely Hearts HotelHomegoingOranges Are Not the Only FruitThe Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The GirlsThe Panopticon

I have very, very good feelings about the books in this category. Several are books that I’ve added to TBRs before but haven’t ever actually started; most of them are books that I think have the potential to really wow me.

Short story collections:

Children of the New World: StoriesThe Unfinished World: And Other StoriesBloodchild and Other Stories

I’m falling a little behind on my goal of reading one short story collection per month in 2017, so I’m looking to catch up by reading three collections this summer. I’ve barely started The Unfinished World by Amber Sparks but I already love her lyrical style; I’ve heard that she uses magical realism and science fiction elements in her stories, which I’m always a fan of. I’m thinking that Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild will be absolutely amazing; I’m kind of regretting starting the Amber Sparks collection first because I’m kind of in the mood to start that one. Alexander Weinstein’s Children of the New World is also science fiction, and I think I could get down with some of that this summer.

Classics:

North and SouthHerland

After not reading any classics for about the past two years, I’m trying to get back into them with the help of the Serial Reader app, which helps you read small chunks of classics every day. (It’s free! And it’s really been working for me!) So far, I’m about 1/3 of the way through Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, which was published in 1854 and depicts a romance while also delving into class and labor struggles in nineteenth-century England. I’m definitely enjoying it so far; in the past I’ve loved the BBC miniseries adaptation and I’ll probably need to re-watch it after I finish the book. Next, I’m thinking of picking up Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, author of the short story The Yellow Wallpaper, which was published in 1915 and is a feminist story about an all-female utopian society. It’s much shorter than North and South, so I’ll hopefully get to start another classic as well before the summer ends.

Science fiction/fantasy:

The Last OneBorderline (The Arcadia Project, #1)Lagoon

These might be my most anticipated reads of the summer. Alexandra Olivia’s The Last One depicts an apocalyptic event that takes place during the filming of a survivalist reality TV show; Mishell Baker’s Borderline was nominated for the Nebula and focuses on a double amputee with Borderline Personality Disorder who is in charge of policing the traffic between our world and a fantasy world; and  Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon is a first-contact-with-aliens story set in Nigeria. I mean, how awesome do those descriptions sound?

 

What do you all plan to read this summer? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

Bout of Books Wrap-Up (And Days 6&7 Updates)

So that’s a wrap for Bout of Books! It’s always fun to have a readathon going to help inspire you to read more than you normally would. I definitely wouldn’t say I got a crazy amount of reading done this week, but I think I did a decent job and most importantly have (for the most part) really enjoyed the books I chose.

On Saturday, I had a very productive readathon day. I did have to work, but I listened to the audiobook of Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear..and Why by Sady Doyle on my commute and also while running a bunch of errands afterwards, so my day was doubly productive. When I got home, I finished reading The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley, which turned out to be very good and even weirder than I expected it to be (which is a good thing in my book). It also had more plot twists than I anticipated, so I couldn’t have stopped reading it even if I’d wanted to. I meant to pick up another print book after that, but I started getting some things done around my apartment while listening to Trainwreck and couldn’t stop; it’s very short as far as audiobooks go, and the subject matter is super absorbing. I actually finished it late Saturday night and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a feminist nonfiction read.

Sunday was Mother’s Day, so I spent most of the day with my family and didn’t get quite as much reading done. I did start a new audiobook, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, but only got a little bit into it. I also read a little more of Windwitch by Susan Dennard, which is slower-paced than I had expected.

Here are my stats for the readathon as a whole:

Total books read: 3

Pull Me UnderThe BeautyTrainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear... and Why

Total pages read/audiobook time: 432 pages and 464 minutes of audio

Books started, but not finished: 3

Windwitch (The Witchlands, #2)The LoverBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

And here are my stats for the last two days of the readathon:

Day 6

Pages read: 237 minutes of Trainwreck, 74 pages of The Beauty

Books started: None

Books finished: The Beauty, Trainwreck

Day 7

Pages read: 12 minutes of Big Magic, 37 pages of Windwitch

Books started: Big Magic

Books finished: None

 

How did Bout of Books turn out for you guys? Let me know!