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Reading Thoughts: February 2017

Let’s try this writing about the books I’ve read thing again, shall we?

A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan – One of those books I like more in memory than I did while I was reading it, and which will probably grow in my mind over time, this contains lots of small stories about a variety of people around Bennie, “an aging former punk rocker”, and Sasha, who works for him. It’s little snapshots of the lives around both characters that reveal gradually the way that their lives turned out. I like these little vignettes, and the small pieces of human nature they reveal, but I think overall I prefer a more coherent narrative.

A Court of Mist and Fury, Sarah J. Mass – The follow-up to A Court of Thorns and Roses, this continues Feyre’s story as she has to cope with life after the events of the first book. I’m not as in love with this series as lots of people I know, but Maas has a surprisingly strong ability to tug and tug and tug on my heartstrings as she reveals more and more of what the first book only hinted at. I didn’t think I could love Rhysand and didn’t understand how others did when I very briefly skimmed the reviews of others – now I completely and totally do. Really enjoyable and really a book that suited my mood at the time I was reading it.

The Devonshires: The Story of a Family and a Nation, Roy Hattersley – This follows a chronological history of the Cavendish / Devonshire family through from Bess of Hardwick’s days to the earlier twentieth century. I’ve been to Hardwick Hall and read Bess of Hardwick (nearly 7 years ago, where on earth does time go?) so this seemed a natural progression for my interest, especially as we’re planning a visit to Chatsworth as soon as we can manage it. Parts of it were definitely better than others – for instance, I have always, always struggled with anything to do with the Stuarts, I just can’t seem to be interested. I enjoyed the beginning and especially the part about Joseph Paxton and his many innovations towards the end, but I felt it dragged significantly in the middle when the family members weren’t interesting enough on their own to hold my attention. Worth reading, but it’ll take perhaps longer than expected.

Heaven, Texas, Susan Elizabeth Phillips – The second in the Chicago Stars series, this covers the romance between Bobby Tom Denton, who’s just been forced into retirement from professional football due to an injury, and straight-laced, never-been-kissed Gracie Snow, hired simply to get him to a destination for filming. The actual romance was sweet enough, but I had real problems with the way Bobby Tom handled women – he’s completely a womaniser with a “type”, women throw themselves at him and he makes up football quizzes that women always fail (how is this possible? the logic of it got to me) to test whether they’re worthy of his hand in marriage. The whole thing made me feel uncomfortable. The author was clearly trying to portray him as a kind soul who gently lets these hoards of women down (now, anyway) and can’t let anyone in his home town down either, but it didn’t work for me, so I couldn’t get nearly enough behind the romance for my tastes.

The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen, Stephen R. Bown – I’m not sure what I expected when I bought this – I think I was attracted to the title – but I really liked it. I’m not all that familiar with the races to the North and South Poles, nor had I ever heard of Roald Amundsen, but the life of this particular adventurer caught and kept my interest throughout this book, as the author explores his motivations and his various record-breaking journeys. I find it difficult to wrap my mind around the concept of going on a five-year-long expedition, from which an explorer might not return, but reading about them, and learning a bit more about humanity’s relentless desire to find what’s out there, is awe-inspiring. Recommended.

As I’ve gone through and written these little paragraphs, I’ve realised that February wasn’t actually the best month for reading. I’ve been having some life dramas over the last month which have rattled me more than I’ve been particularly happy about, and I wonder how much my own personal situation prevented me from really enjoying any of these books – or perhaps my choice of reading didn’t exactly match what I needed as much as I’d hoped. In perfect honesty, I’m not sure that March will be a better month in life terms, not yet anyway, but something in me has been seeking this outlet again, a place to remember and reflect on what I’ve read and begin writing again.

In various other efforts to keep myself busy outside of work, I’ve been crocheting, having found the Scheepjes 2017 crochet-a-long:

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A bit of baking:

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and a lot of gaming both on my own and with various friends. Of course, I’ve kept on reading as you can see – at the moment, I’m reading The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley and Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, and I will do my best to tell you about them when I’ve finished!

How was your February?

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2015 in review

assassins apprenticeIt’s fitting that, having spent most of 2015 not blogging, it’s taken me until February 2016 to finish writing about the year. But I know I’ll miss this post if I don’t write it, and I did read some amazing books in 2015.

Rereads

As my few posts in 2015 demonstrated, this was the year of rereading for me. I didn’t think I was restricted before, but I must have been in some sense so I properly indulged in rereading some of my favourite series over again in 2015. Mostly this was because new books were coming out; I reread all of Robin Hobb’s Farseer, Liveship Traders, and Tawny Man books so I could start her new series with the proper background, I reread Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress before I let myself read Winter by Marissa Meyer, I reread all of the Kate Daniels books again, and I reread Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey so I could finally move on to the remaining books in The Expanse series. All of them, completely worth it, by the way; if these were new-to-me series they’d all be in the next section.

New Reads

My favourite new reads of 2015 are mostly speculative fiction. In fact, most of what I read that wasn’t fell flat for me in some way; either I’m not reading the right books or I’m just very strongly leaning towards fantasy and science ficton. I suspect the latter. The only exception was A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, which I loved, although probably not quite as much as Life after Life.

a darker shade of magicHighlights from the rest of the list:

Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton – This has been billed as Pride and Prejudice with dragons and it really does feel like that; many of the social mores of a bygone English society combined with peculiarities that would only arise due to dragons living in that world led to a book that was highly enjoyable.

Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel – I loved this book so much I started pushing it on everyone I knew who liked reading in the slightest. I thought I’d tired of post-apocalyptic stories, but it turns out I just hadn’t read this one yet.

The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater – This book, and its characters, leapt off the page for me. Another review I’ve seen described this as a “fierce and hungry” book and that perfectly describes it. I can almost taste the salt water.

The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison – This is a book I let sit on my shelf for far too long. I loved Maia’s character, his honest desire to do the best he could conflicted against his shy and stifled personality, and his way of facing those who thought he was lesser due to being young and half-goblin. Also, I have a thing for political fantasy.

A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab – I only rated this book 4 stars, but I’m not sure why – I think it’s because I wanted something to happen that didn’t. But this book has actually stuck with me and I’m very much looking forward to the sequel, so on the list it goes.

In 2016

I’d like to go back to my goals, especially to read more authors of colour, which I know I don’t do enough of if I don’t pay attention, as aptly demonstrated by the list above. There will probably be more fantasy, too, but I’ll see where whim takes me for everything else!

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April 2015 Reading Wrap-Up

When the sun is shining, the daffodils are out, and the weather starts to warm up, April is one of my favorite months. We had a few really nice weekends this year and I’ve been grateful for so much sunshine.

20150405_145550_375x667The reading was good, too. I’ve started to fall down on a lot of my personal reading goals, and I know I shouldn’t, but I’ve felt drained and busy a lot this month and reading is always my refuge. I’ll get back on top later in the year. I read:

  • The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater – I loved this. Maggie Stiefvater has so much talent and gets right into her characters’ hearts and minds without skimping on any of the scene-setting or story of her books.
  • The Complete Keeper Chronicles, Tanya Huff – It hasn’t been all that long since I discovered Tanya Huff but I’ve gone on a number of binges trying to catch up on her back catalogue (love it when this happens). This is an anthology of three books in one. Although I didn’t love it as much as the Confederation series, it was so enjoyable that I tore through all three books without a break.
  • Throne of Glass, Sarah J. Maas – I didn’t feel that I loved this one as much as others did, or that it had lived up to its reputation. But there was enough there for me to request the next from the library, which I appreciated a lot more. And I did love Chaol.
  • Canada, Richard Ford – If I was someone who gave up on books, I’d have given up on this one. This was really a half-hearted effort to read something outside the comfort zone of my previous reads, but I just ended up not liking it very much. I liked the idea of it – a book about a child of bank robbers and his flight to Canada – more than the book itself, which is all told in past tense and felt too introspective for my tastes at the time.
  • Murder of Crows, Anne Bishop – So I went right back into my comfort zone with this follow-up to Written in Red, a book that I loved. There’s something refreshingly normal about Anne Bishop’s world even as she introduces completely different concepts and complications into the lives of her characters. It’s like she doesn’t forget that, in the real world, stores have to stay open, mail has to get delivered, and people have to eat, but at the same time her worlds are populated with shape-shifters, elemental ponies, and women who can see the future when they cut themselves. Murder of Crows is just as good as Written in Red.
  • The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton – I didn’t want to ruin any other fantasy by reading it after Murder of Crows so I switched to historical fiction. This book was a lot less about the miniaturist and a lot more about a small family of Dutch people than I’d expected, but it didn’t suffer for it. I loved the period feel of this book in particular. I seldom read books set in the Netherlands, let alone at the height of its power, so I liked the insight into what life may have been like alongside the different and complex story.
  • Super Sad True Love Story, Gary Shteyngart – This was unfortunately another slightly “eh” book for me – it’s meant to be hilarious, but I just found the sad part to be too strong.
  • Pocket Apocalypse, Seanan McGuire – Another great urban fantasy read. I’ll continue reading everything Seanan McGuire writes.
  • Ms. Marvel, vol. 1: No Normal, G. Willow Wilson – This graphic novel went by quickly, about Kamala Khan’s transformation into Ms. Marvel, and I really loved it. I loved that Kamala is part normal teenager, struggling with her identity already as a minority, and part superhero who develops extraordinary superpowers. It’s a good mix, I’m looking forward to the next.
  • Crown of Midnight, Sarah J. Maas – This came in for me at the library so I decided to read it straight away. I enjoyed it a lot more than the first one. The love triangle went away (woo!) and the world expanded satisfyingly. The conclusion made me very glad I’d reserved both books from the library rather than waiting!
  • A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson – I finished the month with some non-fiction. This book has been sitting on my shelf for years even though I love Bryson’s writing, and predictably I loved this too. I never wanted to walk the Appalachian trail before, and I’m still not entirely sure I want to, but I loved Bryson’s mix of actual experience and trail history. Definitely worth a read.

How was your reading month in April?

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Spring 2015 Read-a-thon!

Dedeweys-readathonbuttonspite my lack of blogging, over the weekend I participated in the Read-a-thon!

I’ve done a good number of Dewey’s 24 hour read-a-thons in my time as a blogger and I have recently swung way back towards just focusing on the reading. I did that this time, with some added photos on Twitter and Instagram as well as seeing what other people were doing on there. I actually liked it this way and think I might limit my participation to just that in future, too. I could still get a glimpse of what people were doing while allowing myself to remain immersed in what I was reading. I think I’ll probably just make it a bit more public next time and try to get on Twitter to do a little bit more encouraging and cheering.

I couldn’t participate in the whole day. In the UK, the read-a-thon goes from 1 pm on Saturday to 1 pm on Sunday and I’m physically incapable of not sleeping, plus I’d be a wreck for work on Monday. I tend to allow myself to sleep as normal and just read on either side. I did that this time, although I only started at 5 pm since I also happened to start volunteering on the same Saturday. I’m going to finally get a little bit back into medieval history by volunteering in a couple of museums here in York, which is pretty exciting. So I read from about 5 pm until around 11 the following morning, when we went out for a late breakfast.

I read:

  • Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart – this was my current read before I started and I only had around 100 pages to go. I’m not sure how I feel about this book, to be honest. I picked it up quite a while ago and pulled it out to fulfill one of my goals of reading more of my older books. This version of America’s future is truly creepy, but it’s softened by the emotional core of the book, even if it didn’t end in quite the way that I wanted. I’m not sure I got the “hilarious” part, so perhaps not exactly the book for me. It kind of is super sad.
  • Pocket Apocalypse by Seanan McGuire – I read the last Incryptid book in the read-a-thon a year ago so this was perfect timing. Alex, the star of the last book, Half-off Ragnorak and brother to Verity Price, star of the first two, now finds himself headed to Australia with girlfriend Shelby to cure a werewolf problem. So enjoyable and so perfect for a read-a-thon.
  • Ms Marvel, vol 1. – I loved this. Kamala just felt so right to me. I think the second volume is out and I want it NOW.
  • Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas – I actually started this right at the end of my read-a-thon time and then finished it over the course of Sunday. I was kind of eh on the first book in this series, Throne of Glass, (love triangles why?) but I have read so many great reviews of the third one that I decided to continue. It was a library book and the first was a quick read, so I thought it would be a good one to finish off the day. This was a better book in every way, fortunately – primarily because Celeana felt more like a real person and not a silly teenage girl that can somehow kill people. It’s true that I guessed the surprise “twist” early on, although maybe everyone does, but I really liked it and had trouble putting it down. I am now glad that I borrowed two and three from the library at the same time. I can catch up easily and get on schedule with everyone else anxiously awaiting the next book.

So that was my read-a-thon! Did you participate this time? How was yours?

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January 2015 Reading Wrap-up

January felt slow while it was happening, but now it’s hard to believe that it’s February! I turned 29, watched the first season of Angel, did a whole bunch of crocheting, and carried on as normal with everything else. I wrapped up this month by getting sick – not quite ill enough to miss doing anything but too ill to really have energy or feel up to much outside of work. Fortunately, that illness has turned into a cold, and so I’m hoping it will pass soon as we get into February.

This month I read:

  • Assassin’s Apprentice, Robin Hobb
  • Royal Assassin, Robin Hobb
  • Assassin’s Quest, Robin Hobb
  • Arlington Park, Rachel Cusk
  • Ship of Magic, Robin Hobb
  • A Line in the Sand: Britain, France, and the Struggle that Shaped the Middle East, James Barr
  • Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami

The problem that arises when you’re reading a lot of Robin Hobb is that no other books really appeal in quite the same way. So both Arlington Park and Norwegian Wood felt like disappointments to me. I’m not too surprised I didn’t like the Murakami a huge amount, because I think I read one of his previously and wasn’t too keen. Both of those off to the charity shop, clearing a bit of space on the shelves. A Line in the Sand was fascinating, though horrifying, and almost painful to read. It’s ridiculous what can happen to people when another country’s government decides to intervene, with no actual consideration besides what will benefit that particular country (or politician). I’d recommend it – I think it provides an informative backdrop to current events in the Middle East, if a depressing one.

Ahead this month, undoubtedly more Robin Hobb. And I’ve finally got my hands on Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – I don’t think I’m going to wait long to start that.

What’s ahead for you in February?

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2014 Reading in Review

2014 was the year I gave up on the reading spreadsheet and decided to just let Goodreads sort out my reading. As a result, I don’t have fancy statistics to show, and this post has been a bit more difficult to write (and included me getting halfway through creating a new spreadsheet before giving up) but I decided to just go with it and highlight what I thought was worth it.

I didn’t manage 150 books, but 144 is a number I’m very happy with. My reading was mostly speculative fiction, with fantasy in particular dominating the books I chose for personal enjoyment. This year, that was most of them. My system of reading a review book and then a personal book got dropped, so although the “immediate” TBR pile still has a few of them in there, they seem to make up more like one of each six or seven books I read rather than every other book. I love the freedom of choosing whatever I like. It may have kept me away from reviewing, because of the guilt thing, but I missed reading whatever I felt like whenever I wanted. As a result of this I had an amazing time re-reading the October Daye series in (not coincidentally) October, along with lots of other books I chose myself. Although I felt like I did away with all of my rules as the year went on, I kept reading more books by authors of colour – the figure isn’t high, but the consistency is there, and I can and do plan to work on that balance in 2015. Mostly female authors, mostly fantasy of various kinds, that seems to be where I’m happiest in my reading life right now, and I’m okay with that.

My own personal reading highlights, reviewed and not reviewed:

Books

  • life after lifeEdward III and the Triumph of England by Richard Barber – review – perfect for my target period and really interesting besides (or so I would think!)
  • Life after Life by Kate Atkinson – review – I just loved this book. I loved the time travel aspect and the way it looked at how tiny events can result in huge life changes. I’ve recommended this to so many people this year and I don’t see that ending. I’m so excited for the follow-up, I just hope it’s as brilliant.
  • Cinder, Scarletand Cress by Marissa Meyer – these books completely captivated me. This was the first time in a long time that I stayed up too late reading, and I want more of that in my life. I was in London for work and read Cinder and Scarlet in one night (consuming a really amazing curry in the meantime). Never have I been so grateful for my ereader – and the meeting the next day still went well.
  • A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan – this hit just the right notes for me at the right time. Very anticipated and very enjoyable.
  • A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki – I so wish I’d written about this book after I read it. I absolutely adored it and, like Life after Life, have gone about recommending it to everyone I know who reads books regularly.
  • The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater – The only reason I haven’t read Blue Lily, Lily Blue yet is because I can’t bear the idea of waiting for the fourth book, and also because I think I want to read these two. So brilliant. Wish I’d written thoughts down (again).
  • We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler – review – I’ll let my words speak for themselves this time.
  • americanahThe Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henriquez – review – you can’t go wrong with either of Henriquez’s books.
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – mini review – I loved so much about this book. I’m glad I at least wrote something to express that.
  • Written in Red by Anne Bishop – this was a surprise to me. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. In some ways it reminded me of books I’d read when younger and I’m not sure I can articulate why I liked it so much. Maybe because I love closed-in communities and stories (boarding schools, spaceships, etc.) and this fit right in. I remember it really fondly and I’m looking forward to book 2.
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – review – a book I liked so much it inspired me to write about it. More of these in my life and no books I feel required to review and I might just become a blogger again.
  • My Notorious Life by Madame X by Kate Manning – review – One of only two historical fiction choices on this list, I was so unexpectedly pleased with this book that I had to include it. It is not only a good read, it feels important.

Authors

  • I love everything that the writing team of Ilona and Gordon Andrews produces. No questions. This year, I only read Clean Sweep, but trust me when I tell you I have a re-read of the Kate Daniels series planned this year.
  • Rainbow Rowell – Fangirl and Attachments this year. Love stories <3
  • Rachel Bach – I read the Paradox trilogy this year and loved Devi and her quest to save the universe. I have really high hopes for future writing from her.
  • Seanan McGuire – as I mentioned above, I read the entire October Daye series in a row before I read the latest installment and I loved doing it. I had forgotten so much about Toby’s earlier books and the way things changed. Plus, going back at this time was honestly perfect because the last book was a game changer and it became clear that McGuire laid the groundwork from day 1. Amazing.

2014 is also the year I blogged less than ever (since making a start), and I’ve not made my general malaise about writing much of a secret. I’m trying to remove requirements and write when I feel like it, about what I want. I am trying to remember this blog is for me – so often I only write about something if I have it for review or if it’s exceptional. I want to write a sentence about everything I read, even if it’s just I loved this and I think this is why, or why not. I want to make this into a hobby I enjoy again, because what I’ve learned with my haphazard year of blogging is that I don’t want it to end. I’m not a professional at this and I don’t need to be.

The same honestly goes for reading. I’d like to achieve more diversity, and I think the best way to do that is to continue making sure I’m reading diverse books every single month, like I did this year, but more of them. I’d like to read more non-fiction, but I think I can do that if I disregard my numerical targets. I have a lot of exciting non-fiction waiting for me, more than ever. I did put a numerical target in place – the same as last year, 150 books – more because I think that’s the amount I naturally read than a stretch. I just like having a number there.

I think I’ve stopped accepting review copies, too. I still get emails. I star them sometimes and think I’d like to read those books. But then I remember the pressure and I think, you know what, I’ll just buy it if I want to read it. I’m fortunate enough to be able to afford to buy the books I really want to read, and in any case I have two bookcases full of books I haven’t read yet. No point adding to those.

In other aspects of my life, much of this year was great, and should go down as such in memory. We have made strides financially, professionally, and educationally. We saw the culmination of years of work and effort – our debt is gone and my husband completed the degree course he’s spent six years on with a first. I was promoted at the beginning of November and for once I’m not getting the two-year job change itch. I’d like to stay where I work. Personally, I rediscovered one of my favourite hobbies, which is crocheting, and although I may not have exercised enough this y ear, and really should do more in 2015, I am the same dress size as I was when I was 21 (albeit a bit tighter) but I will take that as a victory since it definitely hasn’t been the case for all of the years since then.

Nothing is ever perfect, and I don’t want to pretend it is; there are a few things going on which are not in the public eye and which I’d like to keep out of it. But this was, primarily, a good year for me and I’d like to remember it that way.

So, for 2015, let’s keep it simple. More of the good stuff, less of the pressure. No expectations or requirements, just goals. And we’ll see how we get on.

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November 2014 Reading Wrap-Up

Hello! I think I might be ready to return, tentatively; I’ve written and scheduled a bunch of book reviews and I’ve started thinking of things to write about, which is always a good sign. We’ll try it and see how it goes. I have a had a couple of days off work which has helped a ton, and I’ve got another one on Friday so we’ll see how inspired I am to keep up the post writing.

November has been a busy month. I’ve been promoted at work (which is of course wonderful and I’m so pleased about) and spent a lot of time learning what I’m doing while still doing parts of my old job. I don’t particularly anticipate this getting much better until January when I’ve settled more into my new role, but I am still convinced it was the right choice – it just means my free time is a little bit less free than it was previously. It will be worth it in the end, it’s a big step up for me and I hope I’ll be getting somewhere with it soon. I’ve been spending a lot of that free time watching Buffy and crocheting. I’ve never seen Buffy before; I’m mostly through season 3 now and I love it. I’m a bit sorry I missed it while I was in high school, but on the bright side I can binge watch it now.

I’m pleased that I’ve done a considerable amount of Christmas shopping already, too. Everyone has something except for one person, so while I might pick up little things as I see them, the progress has been made and I’ve been happy with that progress.

I finished 9 books in November. They are (with quick thoughts underneath the ones I haven’t reviewed already, as I probably won’t get to them):

  • The Epigenetics Revolution, Nessa Carey
    • This was a fascinating-to-me book about how we are made up of more than just standard DNA. I felt like the author laid everything out clearly enough for me, a non-scientist, to understand and I was kept intrigued the entire time. Very pleased with this read.
  • Midnight Alley, Rachel Caine
    • Still feeling a bit meh about this series. This is the third book – I bought them quite a while ago and they’re fast, easy reads, so I’m working to get them off my shelves. All okay, but not my favourite series by any means.
  • Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins
  • Smiler’s Fair, Rebecca Levene
  • The Sandman, vol. 2: The Doll’s House, Neil Gaiman
    • This is (obviously) a graphic novel rather than an entire book. I love the art and this one grabbed me from the first page, so I actually read most of it in one sitting (although with a graphic novel this isn’t quite such a feat). Really looking forward to the next one.
  • Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo
    • I’m not sure I’d praise this as much as others have, but I really, really liked it; loved the vaguely Russian feel of the world, Alina’s uncertainty and growing confidence, the creative idea behind the threat to the world and how it’s handled, and the way this particular book ended. Another book 2 I’m really looking forward to.
  • The Years of Rice and Salt, Kim Stanley Robinson
    • This felt too long to me, and somewhat contemplative. I like the ideas behind this author’s books but I am not sure I have the patience for a book quite this long. It took me 3 weeks to read, which makes me feel impatient while I’m reading, but isn’t something I could read for extended periods of time. I preferred Red Mars.
  • Heaven’s Queen, Rachel Bach
    • This trilogy is just fantastic. I should probably do a proper review of it, but seriously, if you enjoy sci fi with a fantastic heroine, this is a series to go straight to. It has all the elements I love – great story, intriguing worlds, fantastic characters, powerful and convincing romance – and feels truly epic throughout. Love.
  • Boy, Snow, Bird, Helen Oyeyemi

I think my favorite is Heaven’s Queen. Space opera is my genre of choice recently, I’m quite new to it so I keep discovering amazing reads.

heaven's queen

How was your reading November?

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September 2014 Reading Wrap-Up

Hello there, October. As usual, you are sneaky, and I didn’t realize you were coming until you’d arrived.

So, September! This one qualifies as a good month, and I can safely say that now that it is over. We are now debt free (aside from student loans, but another six years of those are ahead, so we’ll ignore them for now), Keith finished his degree (no results until November, but it’s OVER), and nothing particularly atrocious happened to anyone I care about. More months like this one, please! A smooth last few months of the year would make me so very happy.

The reading was pretty slow, but mostly because I spent a lot of the month watching TV and making things, as well as spending two weekends a bit too busy to do much reading (no complaints, though). I have rediscovered my crocheting hobby and seem bent on making lots of things. I have watched Mr. Selfridge, some of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Parade’s End while crocheting. I forgot how very satisfying it is to make something that is then finished and cute and can either be a present, decorate my house, or perhaps even be worn if my current project pans out the way I want. It is lovely and consuming lots of great shows goes pretty well too. Suggestions for more excellent TV or films available on UK Netflix are welcome.

Recent creations:

parrotselephantsowl cushion

What did I actually read?:

  • Shattered Pillars, Elizabeth Bear
  • Tiger Eye, Marjorie M. Liu
  • The Girl with All the Gifts, M.R. Carey
  • Lagoon, Nnedi Okorafor
  • The Tropic of Serpents, Marie Brennan
  • The Spider, Jennifer Estep
  • Beatrice and Benedick, Marina Fiorato
  • Written in Red, Anne Bishop

No reviews this month, although I think Written in Red is probably my favorite of that little list. Okay, definitely my favorite. Pure enjoyment, even if it turned out to be more of a winter than an autumn read and I’m now going to suffer through waiting for more books in yet another series to be released – only the second one is available right now with the third to follow in March.

I anticipate October will be more of the same, with a few more social plans. As briefly mentioned above, I am currently making my first garment, a sweater, and I am looking forward to seeing whether it turns into something I can actually wear or will just count as experience. And I’ll continue working through my autumn reading list, slowly but surely.

How was your September?

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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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The Belated March Wrap-Up

tssbadge1Good bye, first quarter of 2014! I have been so happy to see most of the back of this winter; the daffodils out have been making me really happy over recent weeks and just this last weekend we started spotting a greater variety of flowers and buds on the trees. It’s my allergy season, but this year I genuinely don’t care. I’ll sniffle happily outside if we’re heading towards summer.

As with a lot of months these days, March seemed to slip through my grasp. Suddenly it’s April, and we’re already nearly halfway through the month. How did that even happen?

I read a lot in March. I also went a little bit overboard with the book buying (probably my most egregious sin was buying six books in Forbidden Planet while a little bit tipsy. I guess if my worst crime while tipsy is going into a store full of books and buying too many, I probably don’t have much to worry about), which probably spurred me to read more than I ordinarily would have. I also appear to have gone on a mini fantasy binge in the middle towards the end of the month.

So, to books:

Fiction

  • The Arrow of Sherwood, Lauren Johnson
  • Empress, Shan Sa
  • A Dance with Dragons: Part 1, George R.R. Martin
  • One Night in Winter, Simon Sebag Montefiore
  • Secrets of the Demon, Diana Rowland
  • The Chalice, Nancy Bilyeau
  • Night Broken, Patricia Briggs
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black
  • A Tangle of Magicks, Stephanie Burgis
  • The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi
  • Promise of Blood, Brian McClellan
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
  • Panic, Lauren Oliver
  • A Natural History of Dragons, Marie Brennan

Non-Fiction

So yeah, that whole writing about every book I read again thing? It really isn’t happening. I’m a bit disappointed in myself, but at the same time, I have a lot to write about if I can dig some motivation up from somewhere.

Fortunately, I am still accomplishing those reading goals I set out in the beginning of the year. One book by an author of colour, which was Empress, and One Night in Winter is set in Russia. I also acquired Empress in 2008, so it satisfies my other condition of reading books bought pre-2013. I need to get better at that, though; all the rest of the books came from 2013 and 2014. I actually could get better at all of the goals, but I had a rough second half of the month, so I’ll let myself off a little.

Over the rest of April, I would hope that I’ll be able to get a few more posts going; I’ve got a lot of great books to review and I would like to re-start some mini reviews. I’ve also, believe it or not, had several post ideas going in my head, but whether or not they will make it to the blog is another question altogether. That said, it’s a four day weekend coming up, and I am really hoping to draft up some posts and schedule them out. We’ll see!

How did your March go?

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