WRAP UP: November 2020

The end of the year while working in retail in the middle of a pandemic is not the best time to try to bring back a blog and instagram with any regular frequency, but HERE I AM. I’m TRYING. And that’s all that we can do, really. I read a little bit more in November than I did in October, but I didn’t really write any posts, so I’m making up for it now.


CURRENTLY READING

I’m still picking at A People’s History of the United States and The Big Book of Science Fiction (because they’re stuck under a stack of books and I’m too lazy to dig them out), and I’m reading a few prose poems a week out of The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem. They make me think about writing and prose poetry’s space in it all, so I’m enjoying savoring it. I also have a problem with waiting until the last minute to read my digital library loans, so I’m working my way through the next Lady Darby mystery, Mortal Arts. Angry Robot sent me a copy of The Rush’s Edge which I’m enjoying! And Scribner’s rerelease of One Writer’s Beginnings is a perfect winter read about writing.

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

📚 A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn (29%)
📚 The Big Book of Science Fiction – edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (15%)
📚 The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem: From Baudelaire to Anne Carson – edited by Jeremy Noel-Tod (8%)
⌛️ Mortal Arts – Anna Lee Huber (25%)
📓 One Writer’s Beginnings – Eudora Welty (10%)
📓 The Rush’s Edge – Ginger Smith (17%)


FINISHED READING

I read nine books in November! Most were okay, but some felt like a slog to get through. ACOWAR took the longest for me to read, and I feel like up until the 400th page or so, it was just the same cycle of action and inaction, really, that could have been condensed into a much smaller book. Wuthering Heights was one I’ve struggled with for years, and I just decided at the end of the month to read it and be done with it. The atmosphere was great, but I wasn’t expecting that level of emotional and physical violence and also why people consider it a love story. I’ve been in a nonfiction mood because I don’t really have to use my brain power to follow a linear story, and The Rise and Fall of Dinosaurs and Time Travel: A History were great science reads.

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

📚 Nooks & Crannies – Jessica Lawson (4/5 stars)
📚 The Breakthrough – Daphne du Maurier (3.5/5 stars)
📚 A Court of Wings and Ruin – Sarah J. Maas (3.5/5 stars)
📚 A Duke of Her Own – Eloisa James (2/5 stars)
⌛️ Flyaway – Kathleen Jennings (3/5 stars)
📚 Lady Bridget’s Diary – Maya Rodale (3/5 stars)
⌛️ The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs – Stephen Brusatte (4/5 stars)
⌛️ Time Travel: A History – James Gleick (4/5 stars)
📚 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte (3/5 stars)


ON THE HORIZON

I’m keeping this short and to the point because setting lofty TBR goals has never been one of my strong suits, but I really, really, need to read Real Life, I can’t resist rereading The Princess Diaries after seeing these new covers, and I want to start picking away at my neverending digital galley pile and Ruinsong is calling out to me the most.

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

📚 Real Life – Brandon Taylor
📚 The Princess Diaries – Meg Cabot
📱 Ruinsong – Julia Ember (thank you, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR))


WHAT I ACQUIRED

I am putting myself on a book buying ban from like… now until the end of 2021, because as I was sorting through my shelves this week and weeding a few titles out, I have too many unread books. I will still make a few requests here and there to publishers and check out books from the library, but I have to stop accumulating so much stuff. The first three books in Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive were on a really good deal, and I couldn’t pass them up. I’ve been holding off on starting this series, but I am also kind of in the mood for fantasy like this. Orbit Books had a great ebook sale over Black Friday weekend, so I picked up The Bone Shard Daughter, Nophek Gloss, and We Ride the Storm as they’re all books I’ve been anticipating reading! (And I also need to get back in the habit of reading things on my kindle/phone, so…) From Atria, I received Astrid Seeds All and To Love and to Loathe (I loved Waters’ debut! So I am excited for this one), and from Hachette, I received Culture Warlords. I’ve been following Talia Lavin on Twitter for a while now, and I enjoy her online presence and the work she’s done, so I’m curious to read her book now.

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

📚 The Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson
📚 Words of Radiance – Brandon Sanderson
📚 Oathbringer – Brandon Sanderson
💾 The Bone Shard Daughter – Andrea Stewart
💾 Nophek Gloss – Essa Hansen
💾 We Ride the Storm – Devin Madson
📓 Astrid Sees All – Natalie Standiford (thank you, Atria Books!)
📓 Culture Warlords – Talia Lavin (thank you, Hachette Books!)
📓 To Love and to Loathe – Martha Waters (thank you, Atria Books!)


ON SCREEN

GAMING: I just hit 60 in Shadowlands on my main, and I think I’m going to give tanking a try with the new Death Knight I rolled on the Alliance side.

TV: I finished The Golden Girls, and I kind of don’t know what to watch next. I’m still keeping up with The Mandalorian, and I’m enjoying where that series is going!

MOVIES: Disney’s live-action Mulan was entertaining but it fell flat in a lot of places for me. I also rewatched Trainwreck because it’s one of those movies I watch to cheer myself up.


PERSONAL

Life has been busy with work, adjusting to new policies and enforcing them with customers, and just carrying on with life when it’s so… weird and all up in the air. I know it won’t immediately get better in 2021, but for the first time in a long time, I have hope.

WRAP UP: September & October 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!

I took an unannounced break from the blog and from a lot of Instagram posting because my cat Broccoli’s death affected me a lot more than I anticipated. I thought I’d be able to focus on a few more reads in the month of October, but near the end of last month, I started feeling motivated to read again and come back to the blog. I only read six books in October, which is less than average, but I’m okay with that number all things considering!


CURRENTLY READING

The top four I’ve been struggling with for various reasons, or just not interested enough in to read long chunks at a time. I’m most surprised about ACOWAR because I devoured the first two in a matter of days each. American history is a struggle because we’re in the midst of so much now. The Big Book of Science Fiction is HUGE, and I have to remind myself I don’t have to read all the stories in it if they’re not connecting with me at the time. I picked up some romance to try to get out of my reading funk, and it’s sort of working? Nooks & Crannies is part of my 20 in 20 tbr, and it’s very dark for a middle grade book but I’m enjoying it! I’m also reading a little bit of poetry here and there because it’s short, it makes me contemplate things, and I’m still trying to broaden my reading horizons.

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

📚 A Court of Mists and Fury – Sarah J. Maas (36%)
📚 A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn (29%)
📚 The Big Book of Science Fiction – edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (15%)
📚 Mansfield Park – Jane Austen (20%)
📚 A Duke of Her Own – Eloisa James (41%)
📚 Lady Bridget’s Diary – Maya Rodale (14%)
📚 Nooks & Crannies – Jessica Lawson (39%)
📚 The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem: From Baudelaire to Anne Carson – edited by Jeremy Noel-Tod (2%)


FINISHED READING

I read eleven books in September and six books in October! I started quite a few in October, but I couldn’t focus on some of them very well to finish them in a timely manner. Overall, both months were good reading months with only one legitimately terrible-to-me read.

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

⌛️ Madeleine L’Engle Herself: Reflections on a Writing Life – Madeleine L’Engle (3/5 stars)
📱 Fable (Fable #1) – Adrienne Young (4/5 stars)
⌛️ Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell (3/5 stars)
📓 Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire – Dan Hanks (4/5 stars)
📓 The Phlebotomist – Chris Panatier (4/5 stars)
📱 Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir (5/5 stars)
📚 Into the Drowning Deep – Mira Grant (5/5 stars)
📚 Deathless – Catherynne M. Valente (5/5 stars)
📓 She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs – Sarah Smarsh (4/5 stars)
📓 A Place Called Zamora – L.B. Gschwandtner (1/5 stars, DNF)
📱 Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) – Rebecca Roanhorse (5/5 stars)
⌛️ The Anatomist’s Wife (Lady Darby Mystery #1) – Anna Lee Huber (4/5 stars)
📚 The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves #1) – Roshani Chokshi (4/5 stars)
📓 They Wish They Were Us – Jessica Goodman (3/5 stars)
📚 Nightbooks – J.A. White (4/5 stars)
⌛️ The Woman in the Mirror – Rebecca James (4/5 stars)
📚 The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories – Washington Irving (4/5)


ON THE HORIZON

I’m keeping the same books from the last Bookends post, with the addition of Enchantress from the Stars. This is another of my 20 in 20 books, and I’m reading it in an end of the year readathon!

📚 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!)
📚 Enchantress from the Stars – Sylvia Louise Engdahl


WHAT I ACQUIRED

I did a lot of retail therapy in October, and these are some of the books I bought! I have been wanting to get my hands on a copy of Babitz’s Slow Days, Fast Company ever since reading Eve’s Hollywood, and I’m so pleased to finally have a copy to go on the shelf. Sarah Smith’s Simmer Down is a food truck romance that looks so cute and I couldn’t pass it up. I have an e-ARC of The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Vol.1 but I wanted a physical copy to peruse through, and it’s big and floppy, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the stories. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky finally came out in paperback! I have seen Kushiel’s Dart on a few friends’ instagrams over the last few months, and I remember reading this forever ago? But I didn’t have a copy because I think it was long enough ago that I just secretly borrowed things from the library. Scribner sent me a copy of Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings and it was a surprise to me because I don’t recall requesting it! I bought The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and The Once and Future Witches on release day as they’re some of my most anticipated new releases of the year! I didn’t know about Ex-Libris until it came into the store on its release week, and it’s so beautiful in person. I wish the illustrated covers included in the book were actual books to own!

📚 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 caught up on reputations in World of Warcraft with the boost before the patch; after the Shadowlands patch, I’ve been focusing on leveling!

TV: I’ve continued watching The Golden Girls, and I just finished watching the first episode of The Mandalorian‘s second season.

MOVIES: Netflix’s Rebecca had potential, but I thought it lost its way with some of the casting and the very last scene. Adam Brody in The Kid Detective is fantastic, making for a very enjoyable film about what it means to be a kid prodigy coming to terms with normal people adulthood.

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 adopted a black kitten who I named Wednesday! She’s been so cute and she loves snuggling with and being with people, so she has been a comfort these last few weeks.

WRAP UP: April & May 2020

Between COVID, the protests, and going back to work, I feel like the last four weeks have been a non-stop roller coaster of emotions and willingness to do anything that ultimately feels frivolous, like posting on social media and writing blog posts, because neither of those things seem important compared to what’s going on right now. But, I think having a place to share ideas and a place to write is important for me, so I’m working on how to navigate and use this space now and in the future.

Black Lives Matter. There’s no question about it. I’ve always thought myself to be progressive, but one thing that’s come to light for me recently is how much I still have to learn and how much I’ll always have to learn. I’m listening, I am working on unpacking my thirty-three years of living in privilege, and I am making a promise to myself to be better. I know I’ll make mistakes, but I am willing to put in the work, take responsibility, and do better. Not just now, but for the rest of my life. This carrd and this google doc/spreadsheet have a lot of information about protests, where to donate, and where to educate yourself. As a reminder, do your own research and do not ask Black people to do the work for you! There are many resources available online that people are sharing.

I also failed completely at Wyrd and Wonder, but this was also because I joined last-minute and didn’t plan anything. For 2021, I’ll be on the lookout for the initial post and hopefully be better about planning posts! I think for the time being I’ll have a set schedule, so I’m going to work on scheduling 2-3 posts a week (either reviews or lists of books I’ve read/want to read) just to keep my blog active and get my writing chops back because I feel like I’ve got a case of quarantine brain and nothing I write seems to make much sense to me anymore.

Now onto the reading!

In April, I read:

  • This Time Will Be Different, by Misa Sugiura (4/5 stars)
  • To Have and to Hoax, by Martha Waters (4/5 stars)
  • Be Prepared, by Vera Brosgol and Alex Lonstreth (3.5/5 stars)
  • Strange Love, by Ann Aguire (4/5 stars)
  • Sin Eater, by Megan Campisi (4/5 stars)
  • Peter Watts Is An Angry Sentient Tumor, by Peter Wars (3/5 stars)
  • The Girl in the White Gloves, by Kerri Maher (3/5 stars)
  • Her Body and Other Parties – Carmen Maria Machado (5/5 stars)
  • Beheld – TaraShea Nesbit (4/5 stars)
  • To Catch an Earl, by Kate Bateman (3/5 stars)
  • Crown of Three, by J.D. Rinehart (4/5 stars)
  • Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction, by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson (4/5 stars)
  • Jagannath, by Karin Tidbeck (3/5 stars)
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas (4/5 stars)

In May, I read:

  • Future Tense Fiction: Stories of Tomorrow, ed. Kristen Berg, Torie Bosch, et all (4/5 stars)
  • The Deep, by Alma Katsu (4/5 stars)
  • Death by Shakespeare, by Kathryn Harkup (4/5 stars)
  • Notre-Dame de Paris, by Victor Hugo (4/5 stars)
  • Prince Charming, by Rachel Hawkins (4/5 stars)
  • Over Sea, Under Stone, by Susan Cooper (4/5 stars)
  • The Queen of Blood, by Sarah Beth Durst (4/5 stars)
  • The Wrong Mr. Darcy, by Evelyn Lozada and Holly Lorincz (DNF)
  • The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (4/5 stars)
  • Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire (5/5 stars)
  • Sorcery of Thorns, by Margaret Rogerson (5/5 stars)
  • Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins (4/5 stars)

I read quite a bit during quarantine (statistically double each month than the previous six months), but one thing I’ve noticed is that I have a lot of books by BIPOC authors that I’ve bought but haven’t read (some for YEARS), so for the rest of the year, I am going to shift my reading focus to actually reading those and posting about them on social media and here on this blog. Next year I will likely do a full-year shift to reading more works across the board by BIPOC and non-white writers and continue that focus from here on out. It’s so easy to fall into reading “comforting” things that generally trend toward white writers, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, I can do better about stepping out of that comfort zone.

I also want to finish series that I’ve started but have never finished, so along with my 20 in 20 books challenge and my classics challenge, I’m going to try to finish up as many book series as I can! This includes N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, Sarah J. Maas’ ACOTAR + TOG, Sarah Beth Durst’s Queens of Renthia series, and likely others that I’m currently forgetting.

What have you read in the last month that really stuck out with you? How do you see yourself changing your perspectives on reading in the coming months and years?

Waiting on Wednesday, YA SFF edition!

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 highlighting some new/upcoming YA SFF books that I can’t wait to read!

INTO THE CROOKED PLACE – ALEXANDRA CHRISTO

Even though I still haven’t read To Kill a Kingdom, Alexandra Christo’s upcoming gangster fantasy about a girl “who delivers a vial of dark magic—a weapon she didn’t know she had—to someone she cares about, sparking the greatest conflict in decades. Now four magical outsiders must come together to save their home and the world, before it’s too late. But with enemies at all sides, they can trust nobody. Least of all each other.” Sign me up! This releases October 8, 2019!

THE MAGNOLIA SWORD – SHERRY THOMAS

I love reimaginings of popular stories, and a Mulan retelling?? Yes, please. I have Sherry Thomas’s Charlotte Holmes series on my TBR right now (sensing a theme here…), and I’ve heard such good things about her writing. I’m excited to read her version of Mulan! It’s out September 10, 2019!

THE MERCIFUL CROW – MARGARET OWEN

All of this just sounds amazing, and I’m so here for more crows and bird-related imagery in fantasy. Crows especially bring up the imagery of cunning darkness, so I’m hoping for that to be reflected in this and the next title! It releases July 30, 2019!

THE STORM CROW – KALYN JOSEPHSON

Elemental, magical crows? Sisters? Taking back what was taken from them? Yes, thank you. This comes out July 9, 2019.

WAR GIRLS – TOCHI ONYEBUCHI

Bionic limbs, post-nuclear disaster survival, political unrest, and two sisters who dream of more. This cover looks amazing, and I’m here for the intersection of humanity and mech and hope for a better future.

Are any of these on your radar? What are you looking forward to reading in the upcoming months?

FIRST CHAPTER, FIRST PARAGRAPH: Rouge, by Richard Kirshenbaum

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday is hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea! Today I’m featuring Rouge by Richard Kirshenbaum, sent to me by St. Martin’s Press for review! Rouge is a fictional account of the first women to build major corporations in America based upon their own creations – namely beauty products. The novel follows four main characters who are all intertwined with each other throughout the decades as business and profits grow while personal lives become more and more entangled with personal and professional rivalries. I’ll have a full review posted next week, so keep your eyes out for that, but for now, enjoy this little sneak peak!

 

New York City, 1933

A Technicolor sky hung over the city even though it was only early May. At times, even New York City seemed to have caught the bug. The pear trees that bloomed like white fireworks every April may as well have sprouted palm trees. Everyone, it seemed, had just stepped out of a Garbo movie, and Josephine Herz (née Josiah Herzenstein) would be damned if she would not capitalize on this craze.

A young, well-kept woman was the first to grace her newly opened, eponymous salon on Fifth Avenue. With bleached-blond “marcelled” hair, a substantial bust, and a mouth that looked as though it had been carved from a pound of chopped meat, her new client had all the ammunition to entrap any man in the city, to keep him on the dole, and her cosmetic hygienist, in this case Herz Beauty, on the payroll. She lowered herself onto the padded leather salon chair like a descending butterfly and batted her eyes as though they too might flutter from her face.

I’ve taken this from the actual first chapter, rather than the prologue, and included a bit more than just the first paragraph. What do you think? Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for sending me a complimentary review copy! Stay tuned for a full review next week!