FIRST LINES FRIDAY: The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! This is the last title I’ve chosen that I am going to hopefully read as part of my 12 Decades/12 Months/12 Books challenge (#12decades12books). One of the last essays I ever wrote for my undergraduate degree was on Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, and I loved it so much that I made a note to read more of Wharton in the years to come. However, it’s now been almost eight years since I graduated with my bachelor’s degree and I haven’t read another word of Wharton. When Scribner released beautiful new covers on The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence, I bought both of them and immediately added The Age of Innocence to this #12decades12books challenge.

On a January evening of the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing in Faust at the Academy of Music in New York.

Though there was already talk of the erection, in remote metropolitan distances “above the Forties,” of a new Opera House which should compete in costliness and splendour with those of the great European capitals, the world of fashion was still content to reassemble every winter in the shabby red and gold boxes of the sociable old Academy. Conservatives cherished it for being small and inconvenient, and thus keeping out the “new people” whom New York was beginning to dread and yet be drawn to; and the sentimental clung to it for its historic associations, and the musical for its excellent acoustics, always so problematic a quality in halls built for the hearing of music.

It was Madame Nilsson’s first appearance that winter, and what the daily press had already learned to describe as “an exceptionally brilliant audience” had gathered to hear her, transported through the slippery, snowy streets in private broughams, in the spacious family landau, or in the humbler but more convenient “Brown coupe.”

What did you read in school that you wouldn’t have picked up otherwise? How has an instructor shaped your enjoyment of something?

BOOKENDS: 21-27 September 2020

Bookends is a weekly feature on my blog that is a little reflection on what I’ve read/watched/enjoyed (or not) over the past week.

This past week was an incredibly stressful week, and I didn’t get much of anything read or done.


CURRENTLY READING

I finished some books this week, but I am still trying to finish out some of these before I start anything else new!

📚 bookshelf pick  |  📓 physical review copy  |  📱 digital review copy | ⌛️ library/borrowed | 💾 ebook  |  💞 reread

📚 A Court of Mists and Fury – Sarah J. Maas (4%)
📚 A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn (29%)
📱 Black Sun – Rebecca Roanhorse (71%)
📱 She Come By It Natural – Sarah Smarsh (17%)
📚 The Big Book of Science Fiction – edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (15%)
📚 Mansfield Park – Jane Austen (9%)


FINISHED READING

I finished reading three of the books I was halfway through, and I was pretty pleased about that!

Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary reminded me a lot of the humor and style of The Martian, and I was thoroughly entertained.

Into the Drowning Deep has left me never wanting to step foot into an ocean again.

Deathless was a masterful fairy tale with Russian influence.

I have had a stack of books on my desk since the beginning of the pandemic, and the other night I sat down and read a little bit of them and did some further research on them to decide what to keep and what to unhaul. I decided to keep a little less than half and started reading Shanghai Girls. While I really liked the beginning, there is a sexually violent scene that completely turned me off from wanting to read the rest. I’m not in the mood to read anything like that right now, and I wish I would have read into this book a little bit more before I started reading it. I’ve liked other books by See, but this one wasn’t it for me.

📚 bookshelf pick  |  📓 physical review copy  |  📱 digital review copy | ⌛️ library/borrowed | 💾 ebook  |  💞 reread

📚 Into the Drowning Deep – Mira Grant (5/5 stars, review to come)
📚 Deathless – Catherynne M. Valente (5/5 stars, review to come)
📱 Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir (5/5 stars, review to come)
📚 Shanghai Girls – Lisa See (DNF)


ON THE HORIZON

I’ve only added one new book to my current upcoming “tbr” and that’s The Gilded Wolves. I’ve had an e-arc of the sequel for a bit, but I never read the first one even though I had good intentions!

📚 bookshelf pick  |  📓 physical review copy  |  📱 digital review copy | ⌛️ library/borrowed | 💾 ebook  |  💞 reread

📚 Beowulf – trans. Maria Dahvana Headley
📚 Real Life – Brandon Taylor
📓 Red Noise – John P. Murphy (thank you, Angry Robot!)
📓 Stranger in the Shogun’s City – Amy Stanley (thank you, Scribner!)
📱 The Orphan of Cemetery Hill – Hester Fox (thank you, HQN/Graydon House!)
📚 The Gilded Wolves – Roshani Chokshi


WHAT I ACQUIRED

I bought a lot of romance off of eBay due to some serious stress-related retail therapy, and I’m happy with the known medieval historical romances that I got and decently surprised by the mystery box (I knew it was a mystery box and it wasn’t guaranteed to be a 100% success). I also bought a lot of romance and other books from thrift stores that I don’t really remember, but I did get a copy of The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso because even though I’ve had a digital review copy for a long time, I thought trying to read it as a physical book (for $1!) would be a good way to help get my Netgalley percentages down. I also found a copy of Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper for also like… $1.50, and since I’ve heard so much about it, I thought I’d give it a try!

I also decided to try my hand at some popup opportunities through BookSparks and received a few books that way! I’ve been so behind on Instagram posting that I really need to at least get those photos posted by the end of the month, and I might end up posting several in a day just to be sure I’m getting them in on time.

📚 bookshelf pick  |  📓 physical review copy  |  📱 digital review copy | ⌛️ library/borrowed | 💾 ebook  |  💞 reread

📚 The Tethered Mage – Melissa Caruso
📚 Stalking Jack the Ripper – Kerri Maniscalco
📓 They Wish They Were Us – Jessica Goodman (thank you, BookSparks!)
📓 The Endangereds – Philippe Cousteau and Austin Aslan (thank you, BookSparks!)
📓 A Place Called Zamora – LB Gschwandtner (thank you, BookSparks!)
📓 Caley Cross and the Hadeon Drop – Jeff Rosen (thank you, BookSparks!)


ON SCREEN

GAMING: I did a few achievements and dungeons in World of Warcraft, but I’ve not had much time for anything else.

TV: Still, I have only really been watching The Golden Girls while I play video games or before I fall asleep.

MOVIES: I watched the last half of Black Panther on TV the other night, and some of the scenes hit a lot harder after Chadwick Boseman’s death.

There are a few movies and shows on Netflix I want to watch, and I need to make a list so I stop forgetting what they are. If you have any recommendations, let me know!


PERSONAL

Broccoli took a severe turn for the worse this week, and she died on the morning of the 27th. I won’t go into too much detail because it’s so heartbreaking, but I miss her a lot already. She’s not in pain anymore, and I knew this was the right step to take. Having looked back on so many months of pictures, I can see how quickly her physical and mental state deteriorated due to the effects of her kidneys failing her, and even though I wish I could have done more, I know there was not much else that could be done.

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales of Terror, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! For the next several Fridays, I will be featuring titles I am going to hopefully read as part of my 12 Decades/12 Months/12 Books challenge (#12decades12books). I read The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde when I was sixteen and found an old beat-up copy in a local used bookstore, and I remember being so entranced with it that I still haven’t stopped thinking about it. When I found it in a little free library, I grabbed it and have been waiting for the right moment to read it again. Now that it’s been half my life ago, I want to revisit it and see how I think about it now.

Mr Utterson the lawyer was a man of a rugged countenance, that was never lighted by a smile; cold, scanty and embarrassed in discourse; backward in sentiment; lean, long, dusty, dreary and yet somehow lovable. At friendly meetings, and when the wine was to his taste, something eminently human beaconed from his eye; something indeed which never found its way into his talk, but which spoke not only in these silent symbols of the after-dinner face, but more often and loudly in the acts of his life. He was austere with himself; drank gin when he was alone, to mortify a taste for vintages; and though he enjoyed the theatre, had not crossed the doors of one for twenty years. But he had an approved tolerance for others; sometimes wondering, almost with envy, at the high pressure of spirits involved in their misdeeds; and in any extremity inclined to help rather than to reprove. ‘I incline to Cain’s heresy,’ he used to say quaintly; ‘I let my brother go to the devil in his own way.’ In this character, it was frequently his fortune to be the last reputable acquaintance and the last good influence in the lives of down-going men. And to such as these, so long as they came about his chambers, he never marked a shade of change in his demeanour.

What books have you read a decade ago that you still think about today? Why do you think they’ve stuck with you?

BOOK REVIEW: The Phlebotomist, by Chris Panatier

BOOK REVIEW: The Phlebotomist, by Chris PanatierTitle: The Phlebotomist by Chris Panatier
Published by Angry Robot
Published: September 8th 2020
Genres: Fiction, Thriller, Science Fiction
Pages: 344
Format: Trade Paper
Source: Publisher
Buy: Bookshop(afflilate link)
Goodreads

In a near future where citizens are subject to the mandatory blood draw, government phlebotomist Willa Wallace witnesses an event that makes her question her whole world.To recover from a cataclysmic war, the Harvest was created to pass blood to those affected by radiation.

But this charitable act has led to a society segregated entirely by blood type. Patriot thanks and rewards your generous gift based on the compatibility of your donation, meaning that whoever can give to the most, gets the most back. While working as a reaper for the draw, Willa chances upon an idea to resurrect an obsolete collection technique that could rebalance the city.
But in her quest to put this in motion, she instead uncovers a secret that threatens her entire foundations…

Chris Panatier’s The Phlebotomist is a wild dystopian ride that took a turn I was not expecting but by which I was completely thrilled. It starts out as a Bladerunner-esque dystopia in which people must sell their blood to Patriot, the government, in order to survive and to help those in the Grey Zone, an area suffering from the aftermath of bombardment. This differs from the usual dystopian fare in that the main character is a grandmother, and I truly love seeing older characters in the spotlight. Yes, the younger ones can be fun, but having the experience of life while also learning that you don’t know as much about the role you play in society is such a refreshing thing for me to see.

If you’re bothered by blood and medical terminology, definitely be aware that this has a lot of it. It’s so well done that even I was feeling a bit squeamish at some of the scenes, but I think that added to the grim reality of selling blood every month to the government for survival. I loved the medical definitions related to blood at the beginning of each chapter that kind of clued into where the story was going. Around a hundred pages in is where the twist happens, and it’s better if you don’t know what it is, because that’s when the puzzle of this future world starts piecing itself together and making its reveal. I went into this only knowing it was about a phlebotomist in a dystopian setting, and that twist got me excited to finish reading this to see how everything ended. All of the characters brought so much life to the story, and the unusual cast was another reason I was hooked, even though I knew no one could possibly be safe.

While this isn’t your typical gritty dystopia, I recognized a lot of throwbacks to dystopian favorites while also being fresh and innovative. There are a lot of WTF moments that pulsed throughout because it’s full of secrets, political intrigue, and class exploration that feels so relevant toward today, especially with COVID, society collapse, and its criticism of governments exacting control over their citizens. Because it blends together elements of so many different genres — thrillers, science fiction, mysteries, and dystopias — I think it’ll appeal to a wide variety of readers. It’s definitely a fun, fast read, and I hope someday there’s another book set in this universe! It reads as a standalone with enough of an open to add more.

Many thanks to Angry Robot for sending me a complimentary review copy! All opinions are my own.

BOOKENDS: 14-20 September 2020

I’m starting a new weekly feature on my blog called Bookends! It’ll be a little reflection on what I’ve read/watched/enjoyed (or not) over the past week, and I’ve seen a few other bloggers do something like this, either as a Wednesday post or a weekend post, and I thought “bookends” was a fitting title! As this is the first one, I’m mostly going to be playing catch up with what I’m currently reading and watching (and buying) and hopefully this will help keep me motivated to read a little bit more instead of just doomscrolling Twitter. Eventually, I want this to morph into a recollection of what I’ve been doing over the past week and eventually look back on it. I really just miss blogging and writing, and this ultimately is brought on by some livejournal-esque nostalgia.


CURRENTLY READING

I have a problem, but I constantly misplace books around my room/the house, usually by stacking other books on top until I forget I started them and then when I find them again, I dive right back in and pick up where I left off usually by rereading the last few pages.

During quarantine, my friend binge read the whole ACOTAR series and raved about it so much that I wanted to do it too, even though I’d never read the third and the novella, and now’s the perfect chance! I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but I am finding more and more that I like romance in a lot of flavors to help with this current climate.

I also want to read more history, so I’m reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States because I feel like I was sheltered from a lot of realities in the history I was taught as a homeschooled kid.

I don’t know how I managed to get approved for Rebecca Roanhorse’s Black Sun, but I am loving it so far, and it has reached the point where it’s picking up and I need to know how everything converges.

I love science fiction stories, and Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s anthology work is incredible. This is a chonk, so I read a few stories out of it here and there.

I don’t know why I keep putting Into the Drowning Deep aside, but it’s one of the twenty books I set out to read this year for my 20in20 challenge that I’m not adhering very well to. The narrative is picking up where I’ve left off, and I’m excited to see how the mermaids are done.

Deathless has been on my TBR for far too long and is also part of my 20in20 challenge, and I’m really enjoying it so far. Valente’s writing is some of my favorite.

Requesting Andy Weir’s latest was a COMPLETE long shot that I was like 80% sure I’d get denied for, but when I got the email for the arc approval, I squeaked and immediately dropped everything else I was reading to get started on this. I didn’t like Artemis as much as I liked The Martian, and it’s safe to say that Project Hail Mary evokes a similar kind of enjoyment I had with The Martian!

I… am a bad classics reader and I have only read three of Jane Austen’s works, so I’m fixing that this year by starting Mansfield Park. I was in the mood to read something classic, and this one was in easy reach.

📚 bookshelf pick  |  📓 physical review copy  |  📱 digital review copy | ⌛️ library/borrowed | 💾 ebook  |  💞 reread

📚 A Court of Mists and Fury – Sarah J. Maas (4%)
📚 A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn (29%)
📱 Black Sun – Rebecca Roanhorse (66%)
📚 The Big Book of Science Fiction – edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (15%)
📚 Into the Drowning Deep – Mira Grant (28%)
📚 Deathless – Catherynne M. Valente (63%)
📱 Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir (61%)
📚 Mansfield Park – Jane Austen (9%)


FINISHED READING

For as many books as I’m currently reading, I definitely need to pick up the pace a little bit more. These are the books I’ve finished in the last two weeks, and hopefully I will get my current reads under control and have a better list next week!

I didn’t like Hamnet as much as I wanted to. I liked the prose itself, but the story seemed too vague?? I still need to think about it before I write a review.

Chris Panatier’s The Phlebotomist hit my radar earlier this year when I saw the cover, and it lived up to my expectations and surprised me! A review for this is coming this week.

Dan Hanks’s Captain Moxley was a fun Indiana Jones-esque, pulpy romp! A review is linked below!

Fable is the latest release from Adrienne Young, and I enjoyed it a lot! I wrote a review about it that’s linked below.

📚 bookshelf pick  |  📓 physical review copy  |  📱 digital review copy | ⌛️ library/borrowed | 💾 ebook  |  💞 reread

⌛️ Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell (3/5 stars, review to come)
📓 The Phlebotomist – Chris Panatier (4/5 stars, review to come)
📓 Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire – Dan Hanks (3.75/5 stars)
📱 Fable – Adrienne Young (4/5 stars)


ON THE HORIZON

I have a few review copies to write posts about, and a few more review copies to read. This is what I’m looking forward to reading in the very near future.This translation of Beowulf is one I’ve been waiting to read ever since it was announced (I loved The Mere Wife), and this took a while to arrive to my store. I’m glad to have it now, and I’m going to take one of my days off this week and really sit down with it and enjoy it. Brandon Taylor’s Real Life has been on my radar ever since it was announced (and he’s a delight on Twitter), so I put the preorder in for the UK edition because this cover speaks to me so much more. I’m so excited to be working with Angry Robot, so I want to read these and get my thoughts up about them as soon as possible! I was also delighted to have the opportunity to read She Come By It Natural and Stranger in the Shogun’s City sent by Scribner as both seem incredibly interesting! Both of Hester Fox’s previous books have been delightfully atmospheric, and I was so happy to be approved for her third novel! Between this release and Mexican Gothic‘s stunning success, I hope that gothic fiction in these veins make a big comeback as that genre is one of my absolute favorites.

📚 bookshelf pick  |  📓 physical review copy  |  📱 digital review copy | ⌛️ library/borrowed | 💾 ebook  |  💞 reread

📚 Beowulf – trans. Maria Dahvana Headley
📚 Real Life – Brandon Taylor
📓 Red Noise – John P. Murphy (thank you, Angry Robot!)
📓 She Come By It Natural – Sarah Smarsh (thank you, Scribner!)
📓 Stranger in the Shogun’s City – Amy Stanley (thank you, Scribner!)
📱 The Orphan of Cemetery Hill – Hester Fox (thank you, HQN/Graydon House!)


WHAT I ACQUIRED

Let me just preface this by the fact that I work in a bookstore, so I am privileged enough to have access to physical arcs this way and through direct working relationships with publishers, and I have the employee discount perk so I do tend to buy a lot of books that catch my eye. I need to spend less on books, overall, but I enjoy supporting my store and the authors. I also find it entirely too easy to buy ebooks during those daily deals, I also went thrift shopping, and bought some romance lots off of eBay… Since this is the first week, I won’t list off everything, but here’s a list of ten that I brought into my place this week!

The Cadfael series has been on my radar for a bit, and when this was a daily deal, I grabbed it! They were all on Kindle Unlimited at some point, but I obviously missed that.

Craven Manor, and other Darcy Coates titles, popped up on KU when I last checked, so I downloaded this one to give this author a shot!

Eva Evergreen‘s cover gives me Studio Ghibli vibes, and I was happy to find this on the shelves at the library!

I haven’t liked the first two titles in this Twisted Tales series, but with this being a different author and only 99c, I thought I’d give this series another chance.

Such a Fun Age popped up as a decent deal, and I’ve heard lots of good things about it! I’ve read a lot of the Reese’s Book Club picks, and this was one I hadn’t yet started.

The Duke I Tempted was going around on romance Twitter a few days ago, so… I got curious and had to download it.

I go through phases of wanting to read nothing but nonfiction, and my main interests in science reads are physics, space, nature, and dinosaurs. I’ve been eyeballing this one by Brusatte ever since it came out, and I’m excited to read it!

The Sea Around Us is also on KU, and it looked interesting while I was browsing through the available titles.

I found The Tethered Mage half off at the thrift store the other day (a dangerous venture for me), and since I’ve had the e-arc of this for too long, I’m going to read the physical copy!

James Gleick’s Time Travel has also been on my radar since it popped up on store shelves, and I was happy to find it at the library as well!

📚 bookshelf pick  |  📓 physical review copy  |  📱 digital review copy | ⌛️ library/borrowed | 💾 ebook  |  💞 reread

💾 A Morbid Taste for Bones – Ellis Peters
💾 Craven Manor – Darcy Coates (KU)
⌛️ Eva Evergreen: Semi-Magical Witch – Julie Abe
💾 Reflection – Elizabeth Lim
💾 Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid
💾 The Duke I Tempted – Scarlett Peckham
⌛️ The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs – Steve Brusatte
💾 The Sea Around Us – Rachel Carson
📚 The Tethered Mage – Melissa Caruso
⌛️ Time Travel – James Gleick


ON SCREEN

GAMING: I have not played Animal Crossing in about a month and a half, and I don’t have any explanation for it except that I probably burnt myself out on it. I am pumped for World of Warcraft’s upcoming expansion, Shadowlands, so I have been catching up on some achievements and things to wrap up before Battle for Azeroth ends.

TV: I have only really been watching The Golden Girls while I play video games or before I fall asleep.

MOVIES: I saw The New Mutants (3/10) and The Personal History of David Copperfield (7.5/10).

There are a few movies and shows on Netflix I want to watch, and I need to make a list so I stop forgetting what they are. If you have any recommendations, let me know!


PERSONAL

I found a cat food my cat Broccoli will eat without feeling like I have to sit there and encourage her to eat. Her teeth need to be removed and she has bad kidneys, so I want her to gain some weight and show the vet that she’s doing all right even with the current pain medication to moderate the pain her teeth are causing her. It’s only a few more weeks until I have saved enough money for her procedure, but there’s a lot of anxiety I have surrounding that as well. With my other cat, I really didn’t have the money to afford the care I wanted to give her, so I’m making sure I do whatever I possibly can to feel like I’ve done everything, but I am hopeful and optimistic about this procedure as I think it will really help with Broccoli’s long-term care. I am about halfway to my goal, and I’m glad I get paid weekly because that really helps with budgeting. I’m also listing things for sale on eBay this week to also help offset the cost (and get rid of the HP merch and other various things I no longer want in my life).

I am also working on a few personal writing projects that are slow going, but a little progress is better than none at all. It’s just difficult having ideas for three different novel-length projects and barely having the energy to write a full blog post. This current one has been a week in the works. But now that I have a format that I like, it’ll be easy to copy and paste and fill in the new stuff!