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!

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: The House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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). The Scarlet Letter is one of my favorite classics, and I first fell in love with it when I was like thirteen when I had to read it for a co-op Literature class. This is the other more well known Hawthorne title, and I had it on my shelf already!

Half-way down a by-street of one of our New England towns, stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst. The street is Pyncheon-street; the house is the old Pyncheon-house; and an elm-tree of wide circumference, rooted before the door, is familiar to every town-born child by the title of the Pyncheon-elm. On my occasional visits to the town aforesaid, I seldom fail to turn down Pyncheon-street, for the sake of passing through the shadow of these two antiquities; the great elm-tree, and the weather-beaten edifice.

The aspect of the venerable mansion has always affected me like a human countenance, bearing the races not merely of outward storm and sunshine, but expressive also of the long lapse of mortal life, and accompanying vicissitudes, that have passed within. Were these to be worthily recounted, they would form a narrative of no small interest and instruction, and possessing, moreover, a certain remarkable unity, which might almost seem the result of artistic arrangement. But the story would include a chain of events, extending over the better part of two centuries, and, written out with reasonable amplitude, would fill a bigger folio volume, or a longer series of duodecimos, than could prudently be appropriated to the annals of all New England, during a similar period.

How to you feel about Nathaniel Hawthorne’s work? Do you enjoy it or is it something you’ve passed on?

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Anticipated Reads Cover Love

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly discussion hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl (and formerly hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), and this week’s topic is “Cover Freebie” so I decided to look up some books I’ve been hearing about recently and books I’ve been waiting a while for their release and collected all of the covers!

  • A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik – I have actually never read anything by Naomi Novik (yet!!), but I love magical schools and this seems to be right up my alley.
  • In the Quick by Kate Hope Day – This is compared to The Martian and is about a female astronaut’s life and a love affair that threatens the rescue of a lost crew, and I’m intrigued? The cover of this is interesting, too!
  • The Gilded Ones by Naima Forna – I think the date of this one got pushed back, but a young woman who prays for her blood to be a certain color and fate intervening looks like it will be something I’ll like!
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab – This seems like it’s on everyone’s lists this fall, but I’ve enjoyed every book of hers I’ve read, and this one looks to be one of her more ambitious endeavors.
  • The Mask Falling, by Samantha Shannon – I’m a book behind in this series, but I’m looking forward to a reread of all of them soon as I got an arc of this! I love binging series, I’ve noticed, so the more I can read at once, the better.
  • Malice, by Heather Walter – This comes out like two weeks before my birthday next year and it’s a f/f retelling of Sleeping Beauty, one of my favorite fairy tales, and I just want this in my hands now.
  • The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers – Becky Chambers writes amazingly wholesome and heartfelt science fiction, and I’m very happy to see they’re continuing the Wayfarers series.
  • The Heiress Gets a Duke by Harper St. George – I love stuff set in the Gilded Age? Like give me all the things.
  • The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec – A banished witch who falls in love with Loki??? I love ancient myth retellings, and this one popped up on my radar the other day and stuck.
  • Wild Women and the Blues, by Denny S. Bryce – This ties together a film student in 2015 and a chorus girl in 1925 in Chicago, and I’m looking forward to reading a lot of jazz age books this decade.

Are any of these on your radar? What are you looking forward to reading most?

BOOK REVIEW: The Echo Wife, by Sarah Gailey

BOOK REVIEW: The Echo Wife, by Sarah GaileyTitle: The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey
Published by Tor Books
Published: February 16 2021
Genres: Fiction, Thriller, Science Fiction
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy: Bookshop(afflilate link)
Goodreads

The Echo Wife is a non-stop thrill ride, perfect for readers of Big Little Lies and enthusiasts of Killing Eve and Westworld­

Martine is a genetically cloned replica made from Evelyn Caldwell’s award-winning research. She’s patient and gentle and obedient. She’s everything Evelyn swore she’d never be.

And she’s having an affair with Evelyn’s husband.

Now, the cheating bastard is dead, and the Caldwell wives have a mess to clean up. Good thing Evelyn Caldwell is used to getting her hands dirty.

When they said all happy families are alike, this can’t be what they meant...

Sarah Gailey’s The Echo Wife reminds me so much of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein crossed with a domestic thriller in the sense of examining the question: how much responsibility do we carry for our creations?

Evelyn Caldwell’s research leads to genetically cloned replicas of people, and her entire life is shattered when she discovers that her husband stole her research and created her clone – a “better” version of herself so that he could have what he wanted out of their marriage. Evelyn is a workaholic who prefers to work to starting a family, so when she discovers that Nathan, her husband, is wanting a divorce because he has created an Evelyn clone named Martine who is everything Evelyn couldn’t be for him – including being the mother of his child. The twist in general domestic thrillers usually ends here, but this is where the story actually begins.

Clones, by design, should not be able to get pregnant, but Martine clearly is carrying Nathan’s child. This is only the survace of the story, and it dives deeper and deeper into uncanny territory the more Evelyn gets to know Martine. Everything takes a complete turn when Evelyn receives a call from Martine saying she has killed Nathan. The only way the two decide to cover this up as Martine’s existence, and pregnancy, are illegal, is to create a clone of Nathan. As they bury and re-bury Nathan’s body in the backyard, Evelyn and Martine realize they have only scratched the surface of what Nathan has done.

I loved this so much. I’ve loved every single book Gailey has written, and I’m sure I’ll love everything they’ll ever write. They have such a knack for taking a trope, running with it, and twisting it so that you have to continue reading to see how everything unfolds and resolves. This is one of my favorite science fiction and thriller books I’ve read in a bit, and I’ll be recommending this one to everyone on its release in February. And I’m sorry you have to wait that long to get your hands on this, but believe me, it’s well worth your time and consideration, because I hope, like me, you’ll continue thinking about the nature of personal responsibility in the aftermath of creating something.

Thank you to Tor and Netgalley for an early copy to read and review! All opinions are my own.

WRAP UP: August 2020

Halfway through September is a good time to do an August wrap up, yes? Time is such a weird thing with the pandemic, and I’m also still struggling about how I want to do this blog, but the more I think about it, the more I just need to do what I want, when I want, and if there’s a week of posts every month, then that’s the case! I know I wanted to do some writing for blog posts and otherwise last week, but with how things lined up at work, I ended up working nine days in a row with little to no time to myself, so that threw me off. I want to try to do three or four posts a week, and if I can schedule/write out a post or two a night, I can keep things on track.

Lately with the weather here in Colorado getting colder, I find myself more interested in keeping up this blog (but who knows how long that enthusiasm will last??), but I have to keep reminding myself that I’m writing for me and really no one else, because I like looking back on what I’ve read and how I thought about the things I read. I think ultimately I’m struggling with social media and Instagram in particular, because while that’s easier in a sense, I don’t feel like I’m getting much out of it anymore. I know I like buying books and collecting books, but I need to actually read them too. I also am making plans to clear out my shelves, reorganize, and weed out everything so that I feel motivated to read what I haven’t read and get rid of what I know I won’t read any time soon. With the library and places to buy used books, I know that if I ever want to read what I’ve let go of I know there will be opportunities to read them again in the future.

I’m also in the process of planning out my 2021 book bullet journal and tying in a book thoughts journal to go with it. I read a lot of books I don’t end up reviewing for one reason or another, but I would like to keep a personal book journal to have a physical thing to refer to in the future if anything happens to the internet!

I haven’t made much progress on any of my challenges and have been reading what I’ve been drawn to, and in August, that was a lot of shorter, easier reads because August felt more stressful with more full days than other months.

In August, I read:

  • The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison
  • Letter From Birmingham Jail, by Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • The A.I. Who Loved Me, by Alyssa Cole
  • The Binding, by Bridget Collins
  • The Duke’s Stolen Bride, by Sophie Jordan
  • Television Was a Baby Crawling Toward that Deathchamber, by Allen Ginsberg
  • Sisters of the Vast Black, by Lina Rather
  • The Times I Knew I Was Gay, by Eleanor Crewes
  • Sex and Vanity, by Kevin Kwan
  • The Scandal of It All, by Sophie Jordan