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July 2014 Reading Wrap-Up

July! It started out really well. The first weekend in particular was great, seeing a good friend and watching the Tour de France go by just two minutes away from my house. We decided on and booked our holiday for the year, which I always find particularly exciting. I love planning our trips and knowing that I’m going to see a bit more of the world soon. We had a two week stretch of amazing weather, too, so although it rained on the weekend in between, it actually felt like summer.

Then the second half of the month crashed and burned, with another family member in the hospital and an inordinate amount of stress for other reasons. At the moment it seems every time I think a break is coming, something else happens.

In other positive news, though, I’ve gotten up the courage to start driving to work half of the time, which is a big step for me, and I’ve started to feel more like doing healthy things like cooking and exercising. We’re missing the 10k we had planned to run tomorrow, but I think my shin splints have finally healed now that I’ve given them weeks of no pressure. I’m hoping that by the time I write August’s wrap-up, I will have started moving again without any pain.

As always, anyway, books keep me company. I finished eleven books this month. They are:

  • Bone by Jeff Smith
  • Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire
  • Honor’s Knight by Rachel Bach
  • Deadly Curiosities by Gail Z. Martin
  • Heart of Venom by Jennifer Estep
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Devil’s Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square by James Straub
  • Hild by Nicola Griffith
  • A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Fury of the Demon by Diana Rowland

Favorites of the Month

fangirlamericanah

Obviously, I loved Fangirl, because I even managed to write a post about it without having any reason besides the fact that I loved it. But Americanah was pretty amazing too. Both of them got five stars from me although for different reasons. Just behind is Honor’s Knight by Rachel Bach, which was a fantastic follow-up to Fortune’s Pawn. 

Only three books are left in my summer reading stack. I’m hoping to read them before summer is over! How has your summer been so far?

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May 2014 Reading Wrap-Up

For me, May 2014 was a slow reading month, but in all good ways. I spent the first 10 days visiting my parents in the United States, which naturally meant that I didn’t have as much time as I normally would to read (although you might expect the opposite). By the time I’d got back, one of my friends had started work at my current company, so I got a commuting buddy – less time to read on the train, although company I am certainly happy about having. It also looks like we’re going to start driving to work, which eliminates that commuting time altogether. And then I got completely obsessed with Veronica Mars and spent every free hour for the last few weeks watching the show.

Speaking of Veronica Mars, I can’t believe I missed it when it was actually on TV. I think the first season is among my favorite seasons of television ever now. I’m in the middle of the third season now and will probably finish that and the movie this month.

We spent the last weekend of May in London, which was really lovely. Even the weather managed to be wonderful, staying in the low 70’s and sunny most of the time. We went to see the Viking exhibit (a real Viking ship!) and the Ancient Lives exhibit in the British Museum. Naturally, my favorite was the Vikings, while Keith preferred the mummies, but both were really, really interesting. I also brought my husband to his first Shakespeare play at the Globe and we went to Hampton Court Palace for the first time.

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Learning how to be mostly vegetarian is also consuming some time (thank you so much for all of the suggestions!) as I’ve been experimenting with different types of cooking and ingredients, like tofu and lentils. So far, I’ve been relatively pleased with what I’ve managed to create, but there has been quite a bit of recipe following as I try and figure out what to do on my own.

There was also the reading slump that I mentioned last time I actually managed to blog.

So what did I actually read?

  • Heart of Steel, Meljean Brook
  • The Dream Thieves, Maggie Stiefvater
  • Indexing, Seanan McGuire
  • How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days, Laura Lee Guhrke
  • Level 2, Lenore Appelhans
  • Banished, Liz de Jager
  • The King Must Die, Mary Renault

Looking at that list, I can see why I felt fairly uninspired by reading in May. For once, a favorite choice is easy; The Dream Thieves stands out immediately, as did its predecessor, The Raven Boys. I loved those books. Everything else on the list was mostly okay, but nothing stands out.

The list is also distinctly not multicultural; all of the authors are white women (as far as I can tell, anyway) and only one book is set elsewhere in the real world, which is The King Must Die. I’m definitely not hitting my goals here and will need to do my best over the rest of the summer.

How did your May go?

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TSS: Good-bye February, Hello March

tssbadge1February did not hold much excitement over here – in fact, I felt like I was away from home a lot, given that we kicked off the month with a weekend visit to family and the month consisted of not one but two trips for work. Small ones, but time away from home nonetheless. I’m taking this weekend as an opportunity to relax, at least a bit, and recharge, although there is some work that I need to catch up on (isn’t there always?).

In reading terms, February started off slow, as I read two non-fiction books simultaneously. Things warmed up pretty soon, though, and in the middle of the month I rocketed through The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, reading two in a day and the third one in a day shortly afterwards. I can already tell you those were the standout books of the month.

As for the rest:

Fiction

  • Spilt Milk, Amanda Hodgkinson
  • The King’s Damsel, Kate Emerson
  • Cinder, Marissa Meyer
  • Scarlet, Marissa Meyer
  • Book of a Thousand Days, Shannon Hale
  • The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Queen Jezebel, Jean Plaidy
  • Blood Kin, M.J. Scott
  • Gabriel’s Ghost, Linnea Sinclair
  • Cress, Marissa Meyer

Non-Fiction

  • Montaillou, Emmanuel La Roy Ladurie
  • Germania, Simon Winder

I managed to continue holding to my reading goals, although just barely; Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland is both by an author of color and set partly in India. Both of my non-fiction choices were set outside of the UK and US, and so was Queen Jezebel, which was set in France. I know Europe isn’t actually very far outside of my comfort zone, but it’s an improvement. I didn’t succeed in writing review this month, though. In fact, I hardly blogged at all.

Favorite of the Month

cinderscarletcress

Book of a Thousand Days should probably be in here too. I just devoured these books; they were the perfect reading experience for a month when I truly felt down in the dumps and stressed for a number of reasons. Really loved them and would highly recommend them.

Ahead for March

Primarily I’m hoping everything calms down a little. I’m also hoping to plan that holiday I mentioned. I need something to look forward to until the current malaise subsides! The increased light in the mornings and evenings is getting me there, bit by bit.

I’m also hoping to read:

  • Empress by Shan Sa (actually for real this month – it’s next on the pile!)
  • One Night in Winter, Simon Sebag Montefiore
  • A Dance with Dragons, George R.R. Martin
  • The Iron Kingdom, Christopher Clark

What’s on your schedule for March?

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TSS: Belated monthly wrap-up: January 2014

tssbadge1I do realize that we’re a third into February, but I wanted a chance to sum up January anyway. I’ve learned that when I’m away from home on the weekend, blogging doesn’t really happen, so here we are on the following weekend looking back.

As the start to 2014, January wasn’t great. Another family member landed in the hospital for serious reasons and most of the goals I had for the year got derailed already – primarily the ones involving doing things that weren’t reading. I’ve had a lot on at work and in general I have not been getting on as well as I’d hoped. The weather in this part of the world certainly hasn’t helped. While my family and friends at home in the US have been buried in snowfall after snowfall, it’s merely been grey and rainy in the UK, almost every day its seems. As a result it doesn’t feel much like winter – a season that’s going to go away eventually – but instead an endless trudge of cold, wet, and dark.

Fortunately at this point, the above-mentioned family member is out of the hospital (by far the most significant), there are signs of the sun rising earlier and earlier, and I’ve buried my sorrows by acquiring a slightly ridiculous number of new books, so there’s hope yet.

I read:

Fiction

Non-Fiction

  • Edward III and the Triumph of England, Richard Barber
  • The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, Richard P. Feynman
  • Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman

That’s 12 books, which is pretty high for me. The eagle-eyed amongst you will also note that most of my long-awaited reads actually got read. The only exception was Empress, which will probably be read this month, as it’s in the middle of the immediate reads pile.

I also hit all of my reading goals for at least the first month. We Need New Names is set in Zimbabwe and by an author of color (these don’t have to coincide but they happened to this month), I acquired Demon Angel and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay pre-2013, and I read 3 non-fiction books.

Favorites of the month

life after lifewe need new namesedward iiithe amazing adventures of kavalier and clay

I couldn’t choose between the three fiction books, so have all of them. I loved all four of these books.

All those other goals

As I mentioned above, I haven’t been doing terrifically well with my other goals. Exercise and cooking have both been sporadic, but I’m taking the fact that I’m doing them sometimes as a small victory.

How was your January?

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TSS: June 2012 Reading Wrap-Up

We are now officially halfway through 2012 and well on our way to 2013. I’m already not 100% sure where the first half of the year has gone, but it’s been a busy one for me. Lots of work, lots of travelling for work (or so it felt to me), and even a trip to the United States to see my parents and their array of parrots. In 2012 I gave up my second, self-employed job, to give myself more free time, I got a computer that I can call my own again, and I got promoted at work. I’ve got my provisional driver’s license, and I’m planning to achieve my full UK driver’s license before 2012 is up. I’m about to go on what I hope is the first of two trips exploring a little bit more of the world this year, as well, which I cannot wait to do. Next weekend I’ll be heading to Munich to meet two of my friends from home, and we’ll be going through Munich, Berlin, and Prague before I have to return to the UK.

All this going on means I’ve not read nearly as much as I have in years previous. I’m up to 67 books for the year. This is, interestingly enough, about how many books I thought I’d be reading when I started working over 2 years ago. So I slowed down to my expectations eventually. Unfortunately, I’m still terrible at keeping up with reviews. Since I stopped reviewing urban fantasy except in large series reviews (expect one for the Elemental Assassin books shortly), there haven’t been as many to review, regardless.

This month, I read 11 books:

Fiction

  • Fifty Shades of Grey, E. L. James
  • The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes
  • Venom, Jennifer Estep
  • The Sister Queens, Sophie Perinot
  • Deadline, Mira Grant
  • Tangled Threads, Jennifer Estep
  • Proven Guilty, Jim Butcher
  • The Ugly Duchess, Eloisa James
  • Spider’s Revenge, Jennifer Estep
  • Wonder Girls, Catherine Jones

Non-fiction

Favorite of the Month

the sister queens

Much as I had my gripes with Deadline, I still had a fantastic time with it, and The Sister Queens was a terrific historical fiction read that reminded me just why I love the genre.

I also posted reviews for:

Right now, I’m reading 3 books. The first, which I’ve been reading the longest, is The War on Heresy: Faith and Power in Medieval Europe, by Professor R.I. Moore, which is very interesting but slow going on my fragmented brain. I also started Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, my very first venture in “hard” science fiction as opposed to the space opera types I normally love. I’m close to halfway through this and I’m surprising myself by intensely enjoying it, to the degree of marking out passages of surprising beauty and meaning, something I hardly ever do. I made it a condition that I like the Mars trilogy before I purchased Robinson’s newest, 2312, but I think I’ll be getting that too. Finally, when I can’t really process either of those, I’m reading The Way to a Duke’s Heart by Caroline Linden. In short, a microcosm of my incredibly eclectic taste in books.

I’m also continuing with Babylon 5 and Battlestar Galactica, so I’m seriously indulging my science fiction obsession. We’ve just finished the first season of Babylon 5 and we’re very close to saying the same for BG, and I’m still loving both of them.

Have a fantastic July, all!

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May 2012 Reading Wrap-Up

Happy June everyone! I love this time of year, especially when we actually get nice weather. It was glorious and sunny over one recent weekend and as such I’ve really been in the mood for summer, even though functionally summer is the same as winter for me. Still, there’s something about sunlight until nearly 10 pm that makes me feel like the days are longer and I have more of a life outside of work.

May was not the world’s most spectacular reading month, for me – I read 10 books. As I briefly mentioned in a post last week, I’ve spent a slightly ridiculous amount of time playing Crusader Kings II. I thought I’d write more reviews when I got my own PC – instead I’ve been gaming!

Here’s what I read:

Fiction

Non-fiction

Favourite of the Month

code name verity

I haven’t even managed to write a review for this book yet – I’m not sure how I will, in fact, especially when others have reviewed it so much better than I can. But let me tell you, you should read it, and I will soon tell you why I think so.

Have a wonderful month and a great start to summer!

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April 2012 Reading Wrap-Up

I am so glad to see the back end of April! It was one crazy month, with no less than 3 business trips and a visit to the US to see my parents. Amazingly, my plans for May don’t involve leaving York, and I am thrilled about that for once! I have the rest of the year to take more time off and travel, so I’m grateful for a few weeks and weekends just at home.

This travel meant that I actually did a lot of reading, but little to no reviewing. I managed to read 16 books in April, including rereading 4 Harry Potter books. I have a lot to catch up on, but we’ve got a 3 day weekend ahead, and I am very much looking forward to having an extra day to relax and get everything in order. So these reviews will be appearing in May.

Fiction

  • Girl Reading, Katie Ward
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling
  • The King’s Agent, Donna Russo Morin
  • When She Woke, Hilary Jordan
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh
  • One for the Money, Janet Evanovich
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling
  • A Night Like This, Julia Quinn
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling
  • Chime, Franny Billingsley
  • Discount Armageddon, Seanan McGuire
  • I, Iago, Nicole Galland
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling
  • Web of Lies, Jennifer Estep

Non-fiction

Favourites of the Month

i, iagogirl readingchime

I would whole-heartedly recommend all three of these books, and I simply can’t wait to tell you about Chime.

Ahead for May

As I mentioned, May is going to be a blissfully quiet month! I intend to finish my Harry Potter reread and move on to A Song of Ice and Fire. I’ve started watching A Game of Thrones (I am now fully caught up) and I’ve really been longing to read the series again. I hardly remember what’s happened now that we’ve moved on to the events of the second book, and I want to catch up. I’ve not had a chance to post about the Harry Potter reread, but I do plan to.

I’ve also given myself a temporary ban on buying books in May. I’m up to 522 unread books and that number needs to go down, and the money that I would normally use towards buying books can be channeled temporarily into other causes, like a potential trip with a couple of my college friends this summer.

Hopefully this means that my total unread count will go down. I have plenty of books I feel like I can’t wait to read, so I certainly won’t get bored. From last month, I still haven’t read Blackout by Connie Willis or The Girl King by Meg Clothier, both of which were on my list, and I’m also planning to read Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy next.

Mainly, I’m looking forward to nicer weather, free time, and a little bit of relaxation without all that travelling!

What’s ahead for you this May?

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October 2011 Reading Wrap-Up

As usual, it’s hard to believe we’ve already hit November! I’m on my third day of #nanowrimo and so far the first couple have gone pretty well, even though it is really hard to try and fit that writing in after work. Unfortunately, you’ll definitely be seeing less of me this month, but we’ll see how it goes.

October, though, was a decent month for reading. Even though I spent a week in glorious Rome, I still read quite a few really amazing books. The Read-a-thon helped too! 17 books in total, not bad.

Fiction

Non-fiction

Pick of the Month

unclaimed

I couldn’t really choose between these two, and I think they have very different audiences, so I chose them both. I loved them and would wholeheartedly recommend them, so there you go.

In November, I expect I’ll be reading a lot less as I try to shift my focus to writing this month. I’ll try to keep up with reviews, which should actually be a lot easier if I read as little as I’m expecting to, and I will be posting about my trip to Rome this weekend and probably a few times over the next few weeks – it was quite a busy vacation!

I’d still like to squeeze in the following books:

  • Rome by Robert Hughes (already reading!)
  • Flawless by Carrie Lofty
  • The Courtesan’s Lover by Gabrielle Kim
  • Praetorian by Simon Scarrow
  • The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
What’s on your list for November? Wishing you all fantastic months!
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TSS: July 2011 Reading Wrap-Up

So hard to believe tomorrow is already August! I’ve just returned from a week in the States and an overnight flight with no sleep has left me pretty tired, so it’s incredibly unlikely I’ll finish anything else today. July was a really busy month for me, but I still managed to fit in some reading – especially last week – and discovered some fantastic new books.

Fiction

Non-fiction

  • The Band that Played On, Steve Turner
Non-fiction is looking very sad this month. It’s clear that when stress takes over, I start reading fiction. I’ve definitely found myself drawn more towards fantasy and historical romance this month, even though non-fiction remains as compelling as ever in my head.

Best of the Month

ready player onerules of civility

I just completely adored these books. Ready Player One is the perfect fiction novel for a gamer; I had an incredible time with it and I can’t wait to share it with you towards the middle of this month. You’ve already read about how much I loved Rules of Civility, which was fantastic literary historical fiction, so its appearance here shouldn’t be a surprise at all!

I’m not sure how August will go, how much time I’ll have, or even if I’ll have an internet connection in our new place just yet. It’s very much wait and see, but I’ll keep you all posted. I’m planning on devoting most of the month’s lunch breaks to blogging, so I hope you won’t notice I’ve gone, and will even spot me on your own blog a few times! I’d love to get more involved in the community again, so I’m hoping once the dust has settled, I’ll be around a lot more. I am planning to read:

  • Amsterdam, Geert Mak
  • In a Treacherous Court, by Michelle Diener
  • An Artificial Night and Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire
  • The Wild Rose, Jennifer Donnelly
  • The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle

How was your reading month? What are your plans for August?

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June 2011 Reading Wrap-Up

We’ve made it all the way into July! I can’t believe half of the year is over. And it’s the painful half of the year; I have no less than three trips scheduled in the last six months of this year and I’m really excited for all of them. So, roll on July, August, and October, and after that comes November and Christmas.

June was exciting, too, though; I got to see Kathy from Bermudaonion!

 

I also met her lovely husband Carl and we spent a nice afternoon wandering around London. Definitely worth the train trip!

June was a month that was decent for reading, considering how much else I had going on, and not so decent for reviewing. They’ll turn up eventually, trust me!

Fiction

Non-fiction

Rereads
  • Magic Bites, Ilona Andrews
  • Magic Burns, Ilona Andrews
  • Magic Strikes, Ilona Andrews
  • Magic Bleeds, Ilona Andrews
In terms of romance, Unlocked is the clear winner this month, but can’t top Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews for a book containing everything I love, especially coming after I reread the entire series in anticipation of it. And for non-fiction, I’d be torn between Blood Work and Super Mario, the latter a book that ticked several of my nostalgia boxes and gave me lots of cool information besides.
I have no idea what I’ll read in July. I’m going to visit my parents, so I’ll undoubtedly get lots of new and exciting books that have piled up there, but I want to get a few of the books that have lingered here read. I’m thinking:
  • I’m Feeling Lucky by Douglas Edwards
  • The Maid by Kimberley Cutter
  • The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
  • Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
  • Sugar by Elizabeth Abbott
  • And most definitely more Nalini Singh!
How was your reading month in June? What are you planning on reading in July?
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