Tag Archives: weirdathon

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten of the Best Books I’ve Read Recently

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish (http://www.brokeandbookish.com/p/top-ten-tuesday-other-features.html).

This was supposed to be my last ten 5-star reads, but 5-star reads are so rare for me that I’d not only be rehashing my best books of 2015, but reaching back into 2014 as well. So here are ten of the best books I’ve read recently, including 5- and 4-star reads that I really enjoyed. I’ve ranked them starting with the most recent and moving backwards.

 

The End of Mr. Y

 

  1. The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas – creative and extremely odd, with interesting literary and scientific references. #Weirdathon.

 

Bad Feminist

 

 

2. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay – poignant, thought-provoking nonfiction that made me laugh and want to cry.

 

The Rook (The Checquy Files, #1)

 

3. The Rook by Daniel O’Malley – fast-paced and hilarious story of magic, amnesia, and espionage. #Weirdathon.

 

Fledgling

 

4. Fledgling by Octavia Butler – modern take on vampires that also dissects aspects of racism and consent in relationships.

 

The Passion

 

5. The Passion by Jeannette Winterson – a meditation on the different kinds of obsession rendered in gorgeous prose.

 

To Say Nothing of the Dog (Oxford Time Travel, #2)

 

6. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis – a hilarious take on time travel and British literature.

 

Magic for Beginners

 

7. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link – creative, original, and disturbing short stories.

 

Carry On

 

8. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – are there really still people who haven’t read this book? Go read it immediately.

 

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

 

9. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – I checked this book out from the library when it debuted and loved it so much I just bought my own copy to re-read.

 

The Library at Mount Char

 

10. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins – weird and creative, like most books I enjoy.

 

What were some of the best books you’ve read recently?

 

 

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

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Right now I’m in the middle (almost the exact middle) of Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman. This will be the 3rd book of short stories I’ve read by this author, and so far it’s not living up to my expectations. I’m actually really sad about this–I’m a huge Neil Gaiman fan, and I loved the majority of the stories in both Fragile Things and Smoke and Mirrors, but for some reason I’m just not connecting with any of the stories in this collection yet. I still loved his thoughtful introduction and context for each of the stories that he tells, but the stories themselves so far are underwhelming. I really want to finish this before the end of the #Weirdathon, though, so I’m going to power through and hope that the stories get better. I know there’s an American Gods novella at the end, so I’ll have that to look forward to.

 

8ae4d-month-longreadathon2bcopy

 

This week I also DNF’d the audiobook version of The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. This had nothing to do with the awesomeness of the story, and everything to do with the fact that I am unable to listen well enough to certain audiobooks to feel like I’m really getting everything out of them. I don’t like that I can’t reread sentences on audiobooks without jumping back aways (I listen to audiobooks on CDs) and I have trouble paying close attention to deeper meanings than I do when I read normally. I really want to read this in a physical book, though–I love the story concept so far.

 

What is everyone reading this week?

#Weirdathon Update: Weeks 1&2

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I missed posting my Week 1 update for the #Weirdathon (I was on vacation! Stay tuned for my upcoming post about vacation reading), so here are my combined updates for the first 2 weeks of weird reading in March.

 

 

To recap: the #Weirdathon is hosted by Outlandish Lit (http://outlandishlit.blogspot.com/) and for me has been a great excuse to read even more weirdly than I normally do.

So far, the thing that’s surprised me the most about the #Weirdathon is how dependent I’ve become on switching between genres while reading. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever been very good at reading for long periods of time within only one genre, and I’m not sure that I have been. When I’m caught up in a series I tend to want to read straight through (as far as I can until the series ends) but otherwise I’m sort of a genre-hopper. I like to be reading several books at once and I want all those books to be very different from one another. I thought that focusing on weird fiction for a month might prove an exception to my typical reading trend because all of the books’ individual weirdnesses would make them so distinct from one another, but it hasn’t. While I’m loving the focus on reading weirdly, I still apparently have genre ADD; in addition to my weird reading, I’ve finished 2 nonfiction books so far this month.

Here’s how it’s gone down so far:

 

Weird books I’m currently reading:

The Gone-Away WorldThe End of Mr. Y

The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas

I like both of these a lot so far, but to be honest I’m still at the beginning in both cases. The premises are very promising and also very weird.

 

Weird books I finished:

The Rook (The Checquy Files, #1)

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley – 4.25 stars

I absolutely loved The Rook. If you enjoy fantasy combined with humor and espionage (who wouldn’t?) you really, really have to pick this one up.

The book’s premise is that a woman wakes up in a park in London with no memories, surrounded by dead bodies wearing latex gloves. From letters she finds in her pockets, she learns that the body she inhabits used to belong to a woman named Myfanwy (rhymes with “Tiffany”) Thomas, a powerful figure in a covert supernatural agency whose function is to protect the United Kingdom from otherworldly threats. The old Myfanwy was forewarned in prophecies that she would lose her memories and that another prominent member of the organization would be responsible; it is up to the new Myfanwy to discover who would conspire against her and why.

Myfanwy’s organization, the Chequy, is populated by memorably unique characters with interesting supernatural powers. There’s a character who can invade and influence dreams; one who can secrete poisons from his skin; and a being with one mind but four distinct bodies. There have been a lot of X-men comparisons, most likely due to the varied powers and existence of a school to train the Chequy’s operatives from childhood, but for me The Rook’s premise is more far-reaching and intriguing. We’re constantly hearing how the Chequy interacts with and provides explanations to the mundane world, and we’re reminded of the complexity of saving the world through the fact that Myfanwy’s position in the organization, despite her formidable powers, is mainly administrative.

The main thing I want to impart about this book is how fun it is. You will get absorbed into the world of the Chequy and invested in its outcome, but at the same time you will be laughing hysterically at the absurdity of the book’s situations and its dry humor. For me, it was a perfect vacation book–consuming, enjoyable, and well-crafted.

But I do have one issue.

While I was reading The Rook, as the concentration of pages gradually shifted from my right hand to my left, I was heartened by the fact that I’d heard its sequel will be released in June. I was so glad that the story and these wonderful characters would continue in another book, since the worldbuilding is, in my opinion, too lush for just one. But then! I found out that the sequel focuses on two new main characters, relegating Myfanwy to the background, and it made me sad. I like her too much, and I’m too invested in her as a character, for her not to be the star of the second book.

So, I’m sad. But will I still read the sequel? Heck yes.

 

March #Weirdathon TBR

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Am I actually going to be able to finish all of these books in March? No. But I’m going to have a really good time trying…

 

 

I had a really hard time with my March TBR, because I’m trying to balance the #weirdathon with my vacation reading options (I’ll be at the beach for a week this month! Bringing back the “beaches” in Beaches and Books! With the winter the way it’s been I should have considered changing the name of this blog to Snow and Books…) and I’m way too excited about what to read for both. I love to read weirdly, and I realized that I have a ridiculous number of very weird books on my TBR shelves right now. Since there is no possible way I could read them all this month, I picked the ones I’m most anxious to get to. So here’s the breakdown:

 

Mr. SplitfootTrigger Warning: Short Fictions and DisturbancesThe End of Mr. YGrave Visions (Alex Craft, #4)Bad FeministThe Rook (The Checquy Files, #1)KindredThe Gone-Away World

 

The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway – I just started this one and it is already SO WEIRD. It’s great. There was a mysterious war called the “Go-Away War,” and in order to keep out something scary (monsters? zombies? It’s not clear yet) a giant, seemingly indestructible structure called the Jorgmund Pipe was built. When the book starts, it’s inexplicably on fire and the fate of the world is now in question.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley – I can’t wait to start this!!!

Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt – I can’t wait to start this either!!!

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay – I wouldn’t call this one “weird,” but I like the irony of a feminist book being called Bad Feminist. And I feel like I’ll be in the mood for some engrossing nonfiction on the beach.

Grave Visions by Kalayna Price – necromancy, fae, grim reapers, and deadly magical hallucinogens? Perfect for my urban fantasy fix this month.

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas – this is the book on my list I know the least about. Well, I know that, according to the blurb on Goodreads, it deals with “A cursed book. A missing professor. Some nefarious men in gray suits. And a dreamworld called the Troposphere?” Sounds just weird enough to work.

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman – I love how Neil Gaiman blends fantasy, science fiction, and horror in his short story collections. I’m getting into a very short story-ish mood right now and this will work perfectly. I was debating reading Kelly Link’s new book this month…but I think I’ll save some weirdness for April πŸ˜‰

Kindred by Octavia Butler – as I’ve mentioned before, one of my reading goals is to read every book by Octavia Butler. This book deals with time travel and slavery, and like all of her books I’m anticipating it to be a brilliant fusion of science fiction and social commentary.

Not pictured, possible alternate TBR titles depending on the library:

BossypantsThe Book of Lost ThingsMarked in Flesh (The Others, #4)

Bossypants by Tina Fey (this is not a #weirdathon read, it’s the audiobook I’m currently in the middle of and will probably finish this week)

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (I’m thinking of listening to this audiobook after I finish Bossypants)

Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop

 

What is everybody reading this month? If you want to read weirdly, here’s the link to the signup: http://outlandishlit.blogspot.com/2016/02/month-long-weirdathon-sign-up.html

Reading the Weird in March

Earlier this week, I was in the middle of five different books and realized I wasn’t completely happy with any of them. I was enjoying them, but nothing was consuming my interest and inspiring me to reach for it obsessively. And then I figured out why: for the first time in probably years, not one of the books I was reading had any kind of fantastical or science fiction-related element.

I like to mix up my reading and read a mixture of genres, but science fiction and fantasy (along with their offshoots, magical realism, speculative fiction, etc) have always been my favorites. I love the feeling of reading something that is completely unlike anything else I’ve ever read, encountering new ideas and creative ways to tell a story. And by accidentally finding myself in a place without any of those books, I had strayed away from that. And I hated it!

That’s why the Month-Long #Weirdathon, held by Outlandish Lit (http://outlandishlit.blogspot.com/2016/02/month-long-weirdathon-sign-up.html) is coming at the perfect time for me. I’ve already realized that in order to get back into the reading zone, I need to immediately jump into some scifi/fantasy reads, and making those books as weird as possible sounds like the perfect antidote to too much realistic fiction.

AreΒ  you reading anything weird in March? My TBR post will be up soon!