Tag Archives: reading recap

October Reading Wrap-Up

img_2331

October was an awesome reading month for me. The last few months haven’t been great (I didn’t read good books in August, and in September I read good books but very few of them), so I was really relieved to have a month of great books and lots of reading. I participated in the Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, which was wonderful; read a total of 3 books with a significant focus on artificial intelligence, which was a total coincidence; and participated in a Halloween-themed reading challenge for which I read 4 books. I also read an absolutely enchanting 5-star book and discovered a few new authors that I’ll definitely be reading more from in the future.

Here are my stats:

Total books read: 13 (!)

#readmyowndamnbooks: 6

Audiobooks: 4

Book Riot Read Harder challenge tasks completed: 1

✓ 20. Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction)
The Daylight Gate by Jeanette WintersonThe Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson

And here’s what I read, ranked in order of awesomeness:

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)The VegetarianThe Beautiful BureaucratThe Daylight Gate

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (5 stars) – this is the perfect example of a book that lives up to all of its hype and yet still manages to surprise you. It’s a shockingly positive, daringly upbeat science fiction novel focused on character development and the interactions between seemingly disparate societies, and I LOVED IT. I want to pick up the sequel very soon.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang (4 stars) – I thought the writing was really beautiful, and this was dark and immersive. The multiple perspectives worked well for me, as each one takes you deeper into the story. I really liked it but didn’t love it.

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips (4 stars) – this was a short, unsettling novel about a woman who takes a dull office job entering data into a database and finds her reality slowly start to unravel. The weirdness was great for October, and it’s one that I’d recommend.

The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson (4 stars) – this was a disturbing, starkly written historical fiction/fantasy about the famous witch trials that took place in Lancashire in the 1600s. It wasn’t a subject that I had prior knowledge of, but Winterson includes a brief historical note before and after the story that helps to orient people like me. The book’s main character is Alice Nutter, a beautiful, mysterious, independent bisexual woman living in an era completely pervaded by misogyny and religious persecution. As a witch hunt begins to take place in her present, we begin to learn about her fascinating backstory. It’s a really brilliant and impactful book, and I’d highly recommend it–but I’d add the caveat that there is a lot of sexual violence and torture throughout the book, so if that’s something you typically have a hard time with, steer clear.

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)Fun Home: A Family TragicomicForest of MemoryAlex + Ada, Vol. 1 by Jonathan Luna

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman (4 stars) – I read this for Dewey’s after procrastinating it for awhile; it’s a book that’s just so popular all over Bookstagram and the blogs that I got tired of seeing its cover. Turns out that I was wrong and everybody else was right, because I thouroughly enjoyed it.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (4 stars) – this graphic memoir, which focuses on Bechdel’s relationship with her father and learning about her sexuality, was insightful, emotional, and I’d highly recommend it.

Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal (3.75 stars) – this was a short novella set in the near future where everyone has a personal AI that sort of acts like a google inside their heads was a perfect pick for Dewey’s. The story starts when our main character, a dealer in antiques (which are basically modern-day objects, although some are older) is abducted by a man in the woods and finds herself without an AI and completely out of contact with the world. There is also something mysterious going on with deer. I don’t want to say more because it’s quite short, but you should pick it up.

Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1: The Shrike

Pretty Deadly, Vol 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios (2 stars) – Sorry, Pretty Deadly, but I am just not on board. For me, this graphic novel was too bloody and never took the time to establish any characterization. The mythology could have been interesting, but just wasn’t in the way the story was told. I won’t be picking up the next volume.

Bird Box by Josh MalermanFuriously Happy by Jenny LawsonIn a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth WareThe Geek Feminist Revolution

Audiobooks! I’m not going to lie, I crushed it with audiobooks this month. Four audiobooks is a lot for me, and the great thing was that I was really absorbed in most of these. I decided to rank these separately, for some reason.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware (4 stars) – this was a really pleasant surprise for me. I don’t read a lot of mystery/thriller books, but Ware does a fantastic job with characterization and I was immediately drawn in to the atmosphere of this story. Essentially, an introverted author is invited to the bachelorette weekend of an old childhood friend she hasn’t spoken to in years, and things begin to get creepy from there. My favorite character was Nina, the bitingly sarcastic doctor friend of the book’s main character.

The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley (3.5 stars) – this book of essays was interesting and insightful, but the audiobook narrator was TERRIBLE. I would absolutely recommend the book itself, but I’d really advise people to steer clear of the audio version–the narrator sort of overly-pronounces words and seems like she’s trying to sound super proper, but she somehow still manages to mispronounce a lot of things. It’s very odd; I kept going because the essays were so interesting, but I persisted in spite of the audio narrator.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson (3.25 stars) – at turns entertaining and insightful, and a really good listen on audio.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman (2.5 stars)  – I really liked the science fiction/horror concept of this book, which was why I didn’t give it a lower rating. The problem for me was characterization, and this is a big deal for me in books–if the characterization is flat, then it doesn’t really matter how many twists and turns there are in the plot, it just isn’t going to be a great book for me.

So that’s what I read in October! How did everyone else’s reading month go?

 

April Reading Wrap-Up

IMG_1650

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:

IMG_1641

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

 

What did everyone read this month?

 

February Reading Wrap-Up

IMG_1369

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

IMG_1292

 

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!