2019 Wrap Up

The holiday season in retail is so draining, and I’m finally here to do a little recap of my reading in 2019!

I set out with my usual yearly goal of 100 books and read 110! Most of them were self-chosen this year rather than a higher majority of review copies, and I found myself enjoying my reading a bit more than I did the year before, which is good! I have been a little more selective in the review copies I choose/receive/download because I know I only have so much time in which to read. I also set out with six mini-challenges to accompany those 100 books, and I did… okay, overall. I wanted to do a whole year of Hugo/Nebula award winners with its own instagram page and everything, but some personal stuff began happening a few months into the year and I moved from the east coast to Colorado, and needless to say, with my books packed up in boxes and the stress of moving left me no choice but to abandon that and possibly pick it up again on a smaller scale in the future. I really loved the idea, the concept, and the graphics I created for it, but I also realized how much work it is to maintain momentum for a yearly challenge with monthly lists included, so I have gained a lot more respect for those who manage to do this month after month, year after year.

So, here are the results for those challenges:

  • 12 Hugo/Nebula winners: 2/12
  • 12 Romance: 12/12 (easy, fun reads, and over the last two years my perspective has changed on the genre a LOT)
  • NYRB Classics: 1/12 (lol, I do this every year and always fail, why? I love these editions)
  • Classics (in general): 4/12 (I also do this every year and manage to fail. I have SO MANY classics on my shelves??)
  • Historical Fiction: 9/12
  • YA: 12/12 (In 2018, I bought a lot of YA but didn’t read enough of it, and I succeeded at this one in 2019!)

If I’m going to give myself a grade, I got 67% on this personal assignment, whoops.

Overall, though, I’m happy with the number of books I read. I had a few months throughout the year where I read less than average (I try to go for nine or ten books a month), but life happens and I still hit my goal.

I’m still working on a new design for the blog because I’m getting a little tired and uninspired by this one, so keep your eyes peeled for some blog updates in the near future, especially with information and challenges and maybe becoming more organized. I’m also working on a favorite reads of 2019 post (this is more difficult than I anticipated!) and a 2020 goals + challenges post!

What were your favorite reads in 2019?

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY: January-March 2020 Review Copies On My Shelves

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine (though it seems as though it’s been a while since she updated that particular blog, so if you know of the current host, if there is one, please let me know) that highlights upcoming releases that we’re impatiently waiting for. This week I’m featuring January-March 2020 review copies that I have either in physical form or digital form that I can’t wait to dive into! And now that it’s the middle of December, I need to get started on some of those January ones! The release dates are listed but are always subject to change.

  • A Beginning at the End – Mike Chen :: The tagline for this is “How Do You Start Over After the End of the World?” and I’m all for something that supposedly calls back to Station Eleven with post-apocalyptic pandemics and how society picks up the pieces and returns to normalcy after a catastrophe. Releases January 14, 2020
  • Followers – Megan Angelo :: A book about social media and what happens when good intentions go horribly wrong?? YES. Releases January 14, 2020.
  • A Queen in Hiding – Sarah Kozloff :: This is the start of a four-book fantasy series and we don’t have to wait long for the sequels! Each of the sequels will be released in subsequent months (January, February, March, and April), so I’m excited for that first off because I always hate the wait for a series I really like. This is a coming of age story with a twist, and so far the early reviews have been looking great! Releases January 21, 2020.
  • Show Them a Good Time – Nicole Flattery :: A collection of stories by a debut writer that I heard some good buzz about on Twitter, and when I saw it was available for download on Netgalley, I snapped it up! Releases January 28, 2020.
  • Things in Jars – Jess Kidd :: Victorian London, female sleuths, anatomists, fairy tales? Give me all of those things, please. Releases February 4, 2020.
  • Daughter from the Dark – Marina & Sergey Dyachenko :: I downloaded Vita Nostra last month as a Kindle deal because I keep seeing it in various places, so when I saw this on the ARC shelf at work, I grabbed it because this is also a stand-alone and seems really interesting. It’s about music and companionship with a magical twist. Releases February 11, 2020.
  • Foul is Fair – Hannah Capin :: This is described as a Macbeth retelling with hints of Kill Bill and Heathers and all of those things are right up my alley?? This came in my inbox as a one-day download from Netgalley, and I’m so excited to see what this will bring. Releases February 18, 2020.
  • The Hidden Girl and Other Stories – Ken Liu :: Anything Ken Liu writes is a gift, and this latest collection is sure to be another favorite of mine. Releases Feburary 25, 2020.
  • The Girl in White Gloves – Kerri Maher :: This is historical fiction about Grace Kelly and her life behind the scenes, and I love Hollywood stories. The cover for this is also GORGEOUS. Releases February 25, 2020.
  • Beheld – TaraShea Nesbit :: This is about the first murder in Plymouth, Massachusetts not long after the Mayflower landed in the 1600s. Some of the reviews and buzz I’ve seen have said it evokes that period very well. I love a good historical mystery, and I don’t think I’ve seen many set in this era.

Are any of these on your to-read list? What one would you read first?

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee

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’ve added to my TBR cart. I have the physical copy of Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee and then picked up all three on a really great Kindle deal a few months later… and that was over a year ago. I’m trying to make an effort to read (and finish!!) more series, especially ones that I’ve got all the titles for on hand.

At Kel Academy, an instructor had explained to Cheris’s class that the threshold winnower was a weapon of last resort, and not just for its notorious connotations. Said instructor had once witnessed a winnower in use. The detail that stuck in Cheris’s head wasn’t the part where every door in the besieged city exhaled radiation that baked the inhabitants dead. It wasn’t the weapon’s governing equations or even the instructor’s left eye, damaged during the attack, from which ghostlight glimmered.

What Cheris remembered most was the instructor’s aside: that returning to corpses that were only corpses, rather than radiation gates contorted against black-blasted walls and glassy rubble, eyes ruptured open, was one of the best moments of her life.

Five years, five months, and sixteen days later, surrounded by smashed tanks and smoking pits on the heretic Eels’ outpost world of Dredge, Captain Kel Cheris of Heron Company, 109-229th Battalion, had come to the conclusion that her instructor was full of shit. There was no comfort to be extracted from the dead, from flesh evaporated from bones. Nothing but numbers snipped short.

I really enjoyed Lee’s Dragon Pearl, a MG sci-fi novel put out by Rick Riordan’s imprint, so I’m looking forward to see what he did previously in his adult science fiction!

BOOK REVIEW: Waiting For Tom Hanks, by Kerry Winfrey

BOOK REVIEW: Waiting For Tom Hanks, by Kerry WinfreyTitle: Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
Published by Berkley
Published: June 11, 2019
Genres: Romance
Pages: 288
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Goodreads

Can a romcom-obssessed romantic finally experience the meet-cute she always dreamed of or will reality never compare to fiction, in this charming debut adult novel from Kerry Winfrey.

Annie is twenty-seven years old, single, and obsessed with romantic comedies (she and her mother watched them religiously, before her mom died). Her dating life is limited by the expectations she’s formed from these movies. She is not as open to new experiences as she might be, because she’s waiting for her Tom Hanks–i.e., a guy she’ll find in the perfect, meet-cute romantic comedy way. When Annie does finally meet her perfect match, it’s not quite in the way she expected, and she’s forced to reckon with the walls she’s built around herself over the years.

“It doesn’t matter how someone in a romantic comedy affords their absurdly nice house, or whether or not their profession makes sense, or if technically they’re sort of stalking someone they heard on a call-in radio show. What matters is that they have hope. Sure, they find love, but it’s not even about love. It’s the hope that you deserve happiness, and that you won’t be sad forever, and that things will get better. It’s hope that life doesn’t always have to be a miserable slog, that you can find someone to love who understands you and accepts you just as you are.”

I’ve been reading a lot of romance this year, and it’s helped a lot through the more stressful and difficult times of this year. It’s light, fluffy, and a perfect escape from reality for a little bit. I do tend to gravitate toward historical romance, but some of the contemporary romances I’ve read this year have been super cute. I really enjoyed Kerry Winfrey’s Waiting For Tom Hanks because it ties in those Nora Ephron romantic movies with someone who has modeled their expectations around the characters Tom Hanks portrays in the romantic movies in which he’s starred.

The story explores Annie’s expectations versus reality and how she comes to terms with meeting her “Tom Hanks” and how he differs from and goes beyond her expectations throughout the course of the story. Drew is the good-looking Hollywood star who has come to film a romantic comedy in the town in which Annie lives, and they have their own movie-perfect meet-cute, but she has self-doubts that Drew actually is interested in her for real reasons rather than whatever she has concocted in her mind. As she and Drew get to know each other and sparks develop, Annie begins to learn more about herself and her past that shatter everything she’s ever known and reveal truths with which she must come to terms and make adjustments in order to grow and be who she needs to be rather than who she wants to be.

I loved the romantic comedy references sprinkled throughout the story, and the cast of characters is so much fun. I loved her friend Chloe, and I can’t wait to read the forthcoming book about her! Annie’s Dungeons & Dragons playing uncle, Don, was such an amazing character to include, and I don’t know if I’ve seen many nerdy characters like these portrayed positively in contemporary fiction like this (though my pool of reference is fairly small, so correct me if I’m wrong), and I hope to see more of him in the upcoming sequel and beyond!

This is a breezy, cute romantic story that I read in two sittings because I couldn’t put it down, so if you like Nora Ephron comedies and contemporary romance in general, definitely look into this one.

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse

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’ve added to my TBR cart. I’ve seen several 2020 reading challenges that involve reading backlist titles in addition to new ones, and I think I’m going to make that one of my personal challenges this year too. I have so many books released in the last several years that I’ve been meaning to read, and Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning is one of them. It’s also gotten a bump because I’m really enjoying Star Wars: Resistance Reborn as well. I started reading Trail of Lightning about a year or so ago, but I remember I was reading about eight different books at the time because I was in a weird reading place, but I’m definitely making it a priority in the next few months.

The monster has been here. I can smell him.

His stench is part of the acrid sweat of exertion, part the meaty ripeness of a carnivore’s unwashed flesh, and part something else I can’t quite name. It fouls the evening air, stretching beyond smell to something deeper, more base. It unsettles me, sets my own instincts howling in warning. Cold sweat breaks out across my forehead. I wipe it away with the back of my hand.

I can also smell the child he’s stolen. Her scent is lighter, cleaner. Innocent. She smells alive to me, or at least she was alive when she left here. By now she could smell quite different.

Have you read Trail of Lightning? What did you think of it? Is it on your list?