A Mini-Update – Where I Break All My Plans and Read What I Want

As you probably know, I love lists. I love following them, checking things off them, and boy do I love finishing them. Whether it’s To Do lists at work, tasks I have to do at home, or (of course) reading lists. I had great plans for the months of May and June, mostly consisting of lots of Hugo nominations and a few new releases here or there. But what does my brain want? Well… whatever it wants, apparently.

Recently Read

Fables by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham

For no reason I can discern, my eye fell on my bookshelf a few days ago and got stock on my Fables shelf. I’ve been reading this graphic novel series for years. It’s big! It’s finished, at least, but it’s still a looooong series and as much as I adored the first instalments, there was no way I could read them all in one go, especially since the editions I own weren’t even all published then. I had three of the deluxe volumes left (collecting three to four of the paperback volumes, which in turn collect several comic issues… yeah, it’s complicated; which is why I went for the rather expensive deluxe editions because they just collect everthing). By whim or fancy or whatever else, I picked up Volume 13 and I was BACK in that world and there were cliffhangers and twists and character deaths and there was no way for me to stop reading until I was done.

I feel a bit deflated now because finishing a series that long, leaving characters that have been in the back of my mind for many years, well, it’s a sad occasion. I was quite happy with how things turned out story-wise, but now… no more Fables. At least no more main-story Fables. I still have the Fairest spin-off series to read and a new Wolf Among Us game was announced, although we’ll probably have to wait at least another year for it to come out. But that’s something to look forward to, right?

Overall, I can recommend this series to anyone who loves comic books, fairy tales, and epic fantasy. Maybe one of these days, I’ll gather my thoughts enough to post a review of the entire series, although it will be one hell of a challenge to do that without spoilers.

Currently Reading

Again, instead of following my own plan of getting the Hugo books read before anything else, I picked up some books by gut-feeling, just because I wanted to. My track record with finishing series I’ve started is generally not great, so I am mostly happy that I’ve decided to continue some of them before I forget what the first books were all about. But it does mean I’ll have less time to get to those Hugo finalists…

The Farthest Shore by Urusula K. LeGuin

I thought the Earthsea Cycle just wasn’t for me when I first read A Wizard of Earthsea. But then, on a re-read, I discovered new things about that book that I just couldn’t appreciate the first time around. I still didn’t love it but it was good enough for me to pick up the sequel. And that completely stole my heart! So of course, I had to continue reading. Again, the fact that the series is finished gave me the necessary push to finally catch up. I’m not as taken with this book as I was with The Tombs of Atuan but I still enjoy it a lot and I’ll probably dive straight into Tehanu once I’m finished.

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

I have yet to read a bad book by Jemisin (I doubt I ever will) but this is something else! Although very, very different from her epic fantasies, this books is just sooooo good, you guys! The city of New York comes to life but it’s too much to hold for one single person as its avatar, so every burrough gets its own avatar. Except they’re not entirely sure what to do with themselves and not each of them has all the puzzle pieces needed to fight the strange threat to their city. So they have to find each other and figure out where to go from there. There is a ton of social commentary here, there are fantastic, amazingly diverse characters, the writing is stellar, and I just can’t get enough of it. I already know this will be on my Hugo ballot for next year even though I’m only at about 60% right now.

Magician by Raymond E. Feist

This book (or technically the first half of this book) is the May pick for the Sword & Laser book club and while I’ve read the first half – Magician: Apprentice – many years ago, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to continue the series. But because my memory was hazy at best, I started from the beginning. I am now smack dab in the middle of the book, my re-read of the first half is done and now I only have new stuff ahead of me.
Magician has a ton of flaws but it also offers comfort in these trying times. It may not be original, but it is kind of nice to read about humans, elves, dwarves, and trolls in a medieval Europe-ish setting. There’s nothing new here, no fantasy species I have to learn about, no interesting power dynamics, no difficult politics… it’s just two boys having the adventure of their life. There’s an alien invasion, war, learning magic, and potential romance. Look, this won’t end up being a favorite and you’ll hear all my gripes in my review, but I’m enjoying it anyways.

Plan to read next

In my last post, I had a whole plan. I started only one of those planned books (the only one not currently nominated for awards or sent to me for review…). The same thing will probably happen again this time, but I will do my best to somewhat stick to it, at least.

  • Emma Newman – Planetfall (series finalist)
  • Tade Thompson – Rosewater (series finalist)
  • Martha Wells – Network Effect (new release)
  • Ted Chiang – Exhalation (novella and novelette finalists)
  • Frances Hardinge – Deeplight (Lodestar finalist)
  • Seanan McGuire – In an Absent Dream (novella finalist)

Okay, I should manage reading some of those Hugo finalists in the next few weeks, right? Except, we all know I will pick up the long-awaited Murderbot novel before anything else… because who can resist Murderbot, especially now that another novel has been announced. I am so excited!
If I only read some of those planned books, I will count it as a victory. Having finished all the finalists in the Best Novel category, a large chunk of reading is done. The novellas, novelettes, and short stories are all shorter so I’m sure I can finish all of them as well. However, the Lodestars have a couple of big books that are nominated, and let’s not even talk about the Best Series shortlist.

I hope all of you are healthy and well, wherever in the world you are! Take care of yourselves and your loved ones. We’ll all get through this together! And until then, pick up a good book or two to distract yourself from this very real-life pandemic.

Currently Reading – Pandemic Edition

This post is way less dramatic than it sounds, I promise. As I’ve been publishing three posts per week for the last month or so  in order to do my small part in keeping you dear readers entertained, I have actually reached the end of the review wait queue. There is one review of Kathleen Jenning’s Flyaway scheduled for July (it was great and you should buy it if you like your stories gothic, weird, and atmospheric) but other than that, I’m all out of reviews.

But so you know what’s coming up next, as soon as I finish reading them, here are my current reads and the books I intend to pick up next.

Currently Reading

Mark Lawerence – Red Sister

This is Booktube’s fault. Everybody there seems to love and admire The Book of the Ancestor, especially people who love Brandon Sanderson’s books. So I thought I’d finally give it a try and see if the fuss is justified. I’m 75% done with this and while the beginning was very strong and the ideas super interesting, nothing much has happened for quite a while now. Sure, we learn teeny tiny bits about the world and the characters, but compared to how amazing the beginning was, I’m a bit disappointed. But, let’s not judge the book before knowing the ending. For all I know, it might be mind-blowing.

Charlie Jane Anders – The City in the Middle of the Night

This is the last book I need to read for the Hugo Award Best Novel category.  I’m almost halfway done and I’m still waiting for the book to connect with me. There are interesting ideas, flawed yet intriguing characters, but somehow I’m missing that spark. I expected to love this so I’m surprised it hasn’t happened yet. But there’s still a bit more than half the book left – we’ll see if it can conquer my heart yet.

Raymond E. Feist – Magician

I didn’t think I’d ever pick this book or this series up again. I read the first half of the first book as a teenager (the paperback is split into two for the US edition – Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master) and while I liked it, I never continued the series. However, it is the May book pick for the Sword and Laser Podcast and so I took this as an opportunity to re-read the part I’d read before and then add the “Master” part of the book as well.
It’s incredibly generic fantasy but knowing what you’re going to get is pretty comforting right now. I’m not even a third done with this and it will probably still be a while. This chonker has over 800 pages.

Next in the Reading Queue

These are the book babies that I will probably pick up next, right after I’m finished with the ones listed above.

For the Hugo Awards:

  • Tade Thompson – Rosewater (for Best Series)
  • Seanan McGuire – In an Absent Dream (for Best Novella)
  • Frances Hardinge – Deeplight (for the Lodestar)

Review copies:

  • Melissa Bashardoust – Girl, Serpent, Thorn
  • Victoria McCombs – The Storyteller’s Daughter

Just because:

  • Ursula K. LeGuin – The Farthest Shore

2020 Five Star Predictions

As I’ll be away for a few weeks – escaping to a sunny hot place from the icy winter here – I prepared a handful of posts to bridge the time until my return. This is one I’m actually very excited for. I have discovered it through youtube where people wrapped up their 2019 Five Star Predictions and while I haven’t found the creator of the tag, I’m pretty sure I know what it’s about.

Here are the books I intend to read this year and of which I think I’ll be giving them the highest rating. On my blog, that would be somewhere between 8 and 10 stars which translates to 5 stars on Goodreads. I am curious to see if my predictions hold up and if I even manage to read all the books on this list.

Marlon James – Black Leopard, Red Wolf

This book has been on my TBR ever since it was published but the sheer size of it and the reviews I’ve read always made me put off reading it. I don’t expect the language to be easy, I think the plot structure will be rather complex, and I think it will take me a while to finish this book. But those are all things that I love. If the characters are great as well, I’m pretty sure this will end up as a new favorite.

Laini Taylor – Muse of Nightmares

This is a book I specifically saved up so I can read it when I most need something great. I adored everything about the first book in the duology and I have no doubt that I will love this one as well. Taylor’s prose is just beautiful, I already love the characters, and even if the plot doesn’t end up the way I want it to, I don’t think this would drag my rating down a lot. So yeah, this is the one book on this list I’m most certain will end up a five star read.

Mishell Baker – Impostor Syndrome

This being the third book in a trilogy where I loved both the first and the second novel, it’s a pretty safe bet that I will love this too. Mishell Baker’s Arcadia Project series has so much going for it on the surface, but it was the writing style that really drew me in. A great premise is one thing (many books have excellent premises) but when the execution works so damn well that I just can’t put the novel down, then the author did something right. It also helps that I love the flawed, multi-layered protagonist and that she’s definitely not your average Urban Fantasy heroine.

Rivers Solomon – An Unkindness of Ghosts

This is where it gets a bit tricky. I think I will love this book, based on everything I’ve heard about it. But I also believe it has the potential to go completely the other way. Of course I’m hoping that I will end up loving it but that’s how it is with books – you never know. Something everyone else seems to like may end up being a book I hate. But I have a good feeling about this one and can’t wait to find out if I’m right.

 

So here they are. My five star predictions for the year 2020. We’ll check back at the end of the year to see how well I know my own reading tastes or whether I’ve been mislead by cover blurbs, synopses and book reviews. 🙂

Currently Reading: My 2019 TBR Finale

December has arrived and with it the time where crazy book people like me get super stressed out about all the books we still want to read before the year is over. As ridiculous as this self-imposed “deadline” is, I can’t deny that I feel the urge to finish all my current reads and start the new year with a clean slate. So here are the books I’m currently reading and the ones I still want to cram into December somehow. It’s not going to be easy with the holidays, family visits, buying presents, and probably also spending a lot of time at work. But holidays and travel also means more reading time, and I look forward to cozying up with a blanket, a cup of tea, some cookies, and of course excellent books.

Current reads

I absolutely have to finish these books because all of them count toward the 2019 Retellings Challenge. I started out with the humble goal of reading 6-10 books for that challenge but now my bingo card is almost full. And I can’t very well leave it this way, right? Ambition holds me firmly in its grasp and I am determined to finish that challenge!

Joan D. Vinge – The Snow Queen
This was a book pick for the Sword & Laser podcast. It’s a Snow Queen retelling set in space and while I enjoy the book as long as I read it, whenever I put it down, I don’t feel a particular need to pick it back up again. So it’s not bad but I just need to give myself a little push to pick it up again and finally finish it. Status: 43% read

Marion Zimmer Bradley – The Mists of Avalon
This was a recommendation here in the comments (thanks again!) and I have been reading this book for a while. Again, I enjoy it, but at almost 1000 pages, it’s quite chunky. It tells the story of King Arthur from the women’s point of view and I love how women are definitely the protagonists in this story, but they’re not all equally likeable. I’ve also been told that the last part has more action and even a plot twist, so I’m confident I’ll finish this beast before the year is over. Status: 76% read

Lisa Mantchev – Eyes Like Stars
I picked this up on the one hand because it fits into the “Shakespeare retelling” slot of my challenge, and on the other hand because this book (and the entire trilogy) were nominated for a Mythopoeic Award. I’m not sure whether I like it yet but it is a quick read that I’m sure I’ll finish within the next few days. Status: 68% read


Still to read

There are a many books I’d still love to read this year, but because some of them are quite big, I tried to keep my TBR realistic.

Esther Dalseno – Drown
A Little Mermaid retelling by an indie author for – you guessed it – my Retellings Challenge. I’ve actually had my eye on that book before I knew about the challenge so I’m excited to read it. It sounds dark and twisty.

Julia Ember – The Seafarer’s Kiss
I need to read a retelling with a weapon on the cover and this book has been on my radar for a long time. I may change the book because I have two Little Mermaid retellings lined up and I’m not sure I’m up for that, even though this one is a lesbian retelling. But unless I find something that I’m more excited about, this is the book I’m going for.


I’m pretty sure I can manage to read those books and still have time to start another. Whether that will be the rather big but hopefully fantastic Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James or the horror novel The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher, I don’t know yet. Of course, there’s also Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater and The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders calling my name. Not to mention Starsight by Brandon Sanderson. You see why reading can be stressful sometimes, but I think whichever book I’ll pick as my very last read of 2019, I’ll take it easy. No worrying about challenges, no stressing about deadlines, no pressure whatsoever.

2019 has been a fantastic reading year for me. I’ll post my favorite books of 2019, my challenge wrap-ups, and my most anticipated releases of 2020 in the next few weeks. If you have recommendations or think I should prioritize one of the books mentioned above, let me know in the comments!

A Quick Update: Current Reads and Spooky Books for Autum

Hello, faithful followers and readers of this blog (and also people who just stumbled onto this page by accident). I have been so good with posting regularly this year, but after two crazy reading months, I have hit… not quite a slump, but definitely a time where I’m going a little easier on myself.

Lately, I had a lot of other things to do that put my reading plans in the background. Friends got married, others celebrated their birthdays, I went on a trip to Paris and Disneyland (it was amazing!), my sister got engaged and I will be her maid of honor (yay!) – so there has just been a lot on my plate. All of these things are wonderful and I don’t regret spending my time with friends and family but that’s why I haven’t been posting as regularly lately. I haven’t stopped reading altogether of course. Here’s what I’ve been up to plus some more books I want to start soon.

Current reads

Unfortunately, two of my current reads are books with a massive hype, and so far, neither can quite live up to what was promised. The first was one of my most anticipated publications of the year, The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow. I loved, loved, loved her Hugo-winning short story and I really like Alix’s online presence in general. The way her book was hyped once it hit the shelves made me expect a new favorite. The language is gorgeous, no doubt, but I can’t help feeling like I see through it, if you know what I mean. There are beautiful descriptions, lush prose, but every pretty line I read, I keep thinking: I see what the author is trying to do. It’s still beautiful but it just doesn’t feel as organic as, say, Cat Valente’s style. The plot itself is also a bit of a disappointment. Of course I knew we wouldn’t actually step through ten thousand doors with the protagonist, but the plot and the characters all feel kind of distant to me. I have put the book aside for now and I hope I’ll enjoy it more when I go back to it.

The second overhyped book – for which I still have hope, however – is Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. This is another book where people seem to love the idea of the plot more than the actual thing. I admit “lesbian necromancers in space” does sound pretty awesome! Last week, I hit the 40% mark and FINALLY, the plot is kicking off. The entire first third of the book was thin world building and no plot to speak of. What kept me going was the protagonist Gideon, who was fun to follow from the start. Now that I can finally see what the story might actually be about, I am quite eager to keep reading. I hope all the reviewers were right and the story gets going in the second half.

My third book is quite nice so far, but also not as gripping as I’d like. Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Gods of Jade and Shadow reads way more like a YA book than I expected. I don’t know if I just missed the info that it was a YA book or if it’s simply the writing style, but while I like the protagonist and the plot so far, I haven’t been hooked yet. The plot seems quite simplistic but I think it could turn out to be a lot of fun. I definitely enjoy the setting and the fact that this book involves mythology you don’t see too often. Greek, Norse, and Egyptian gods are well-represented in SFF fiction, but Aztec or Native American myths aren’t something I’ve come across that often.

For the 2019 Retellings Reading Challenge I am reading Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust and this is also pretty good but missing something to totally grab me and make me want to drop everything to go read. It’s a Snow White retelling, all the main characters are women so far, and there is a kind of magic involved that makes me very curious where the tale is going. The evil stepmother doesn’t seem quite evil (manipulative, sure, but her reasons are understandable) and Snow White appears to be developing a crush on a female friend. I am having a lot of fun with this retelling so far and I look forward to finding out if poisoned apples make an appearance.

And, because it was recommended to me in the comments, I finally started reading The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. This also fits into my 2019 Retellings Challenge for the prompt “read a book longer than 500 pages” – at over 900 pages, it’s a chunky tome!
I had no idea I was in the right mood for it, but this is the book I’m currently enjoying the most, even though the plot is slow-moving so far. I just really enjoy the atmosphere and the conflict between old faith and Christianity. I also believe I’ve never a King Arthur retelling… ever. So the book has that going for it as well. The fact that it’s misty outside and this goes perfectly well with the book is just an added bonus. 🙂

 

A Spooky Mini-TBR

Because it’s October and today is particularly foggy here in Vienna, I want to read something spooky before the month is over. With the books listed above I technically have enough on my plate, but I so want to read these two creepy books:

Shirley Jackson – The Lottery and Other Stories
I loved We Have Always Lived in the Castle to pieces! And The Haunting of Hill House gave me serious nightmares. While it may not be great for my sleep, I have heard that “The Lottery” is supposed to be the best thing Jackson has ever written. So even if I don’t read the entire collection, I definitely want to tackle that story.

Helen Oyeyemi – White is for Witching
It’s right there in the title. Helen Oyeyemi has a particular writing style that I just enjoy. I’m sure she isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but there’s no denying that she is a master of creating atmosphere, so I can’t wait to see how she tells a haunted house story with witches.

 

And once October is over, I move straight into the Triwizard Tournament Readathon! I cannot wait to see which prompts I have to fulfill and whether I stick to my TBR.

Easter Update – Currently Reading, Recently Read

My pretty consistent schedule of posting reviews has been interrupted lately, not because I haven’t been reading but because spring is here and with it nice weather, outdoorsy things, meeting with friends, getting exercise in the fresh air and all that good stuff. So I have read less than in the first three months of 2019 but I have by no means stopped. Reviews are in the making, I’m catching up on some Hugo reading (more on that later) and generally enjoying hobbies other than reading. I will try to post one review per week again soon, but for now, the sunshine and my new running pants pretty much own me.

Recently read

I only finished one recently that I haven’t told you about yet. It  is The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson – a wonderful, mythical, and powerful story about Fatima, a young courtesan in soon-to-be-conquered Spain, and her best friend Hassan, who has a magical gift with mapmaking. There are djinn and mythical tales, islands that don’t exist, the Spanish Inquisition, love and betrayal – and despite that it’s a very quiet book that touched me more with the character development than with action. I loved it to pieces and highly recommend it to!

Currently reading

I am being a good girl and reading one book for my Retellings Challenge, one book for the Hugo Awards and one simply because it’s long overdue and I finally want to read everyone’s thoughts on it without fear of spoilers.

Brianna R. Shrum’s Never Never retells the Peter Pan story from the point of view of Captain Hook. We meet young James when he is still a boy, spirited away to Neverland by Peter Pan himself. Unable to find his own way back home, James grows into the Captain Hook we all know. I enjoy the writing style but I’m almost three quarters done with this book and there still isn’t much of a plot. In a retelling, I always hope for a little something more than just the story I already know. It’s an okay read so far and I honestly doubt the ending will surprise me, but we’ll see.

As she is nominated for the Not-a-Hugo Award for Best New Writer, I am finally reading The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty. Now this book is a total hit so far. I am still very confused about djinn politics and social structures, but I love all the characters, I want to learn so much more about this world, and there hasn’t been a single page that wasn’t exciting in a way. I’m glad I’m reading this although it will make my choice on the ballot much harder.

My third book – and one that will likely be with me for a while longer – is Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson. As you may know, I like “reading” his books (whenever possible) in Graphic Audio format. Which is why I wait almost a year until after publication to finally read the latest book in the Stormlight Archive. It’s another great one but I’m sure Sanderson kept the best, most epic bits for last. I am almost halfway through this book but half a book with Sanderson is two novels for other writers.. so it will take me a bit longer to finish this.

Reading plans

I don’t have any particular plans, but I do want to keep up my Hugo reading. I nominated my favorite books of 2018, the finalists have been announced, so now I have lists of stuff I still need to read and watch in order to make an informed decision once voting time arrives.

Either I’ll go with Becky Chambers’ Record of a Spaceborn Few next or Yoon Ha Lee’s Raven Stratagem – the third book in that trilogy is nominated but I have only read the first, so I need to catch up quickly.
For the Lodestar nominees (the newish YA Not-a-Hugo), I’m really looking forward to Tess of the Road. I have only read one of the nominated works which makes me rather anxious. Then again, having too many great books lined up is not really something I should complain about.
And just so I don’t lose sight of books for the Retellings Challenge, I may finally start Circe by Madeline Miller or finish the Winternight Trilogy with Katherine Arden’s The Winter of the Witch.

#ReadDiverse2017 – An Update and a TBR Pile

I am so happy I found the Read Diverse 2017 Challenge! I have been reading and reviewing books for this challenge since January and have discovered so many new authors, books, and bloggers.

Normally, I am super motivated to read all the books for a challenge right away but then I lose interest. Not so with this challenge! Because the goal isn’t to read one type of book or genre but simply to take a closer look at the authors and books you want to read anyway.  Turns out – and I’m sure this is true for most people with a big TBR – I didn’t even have to buy new books for this challenge (although I did anyway) because many of my unread books were written by marginalised authors and featured diverse characters. And because the experience has been so much fun, I wanted to share the books I’ve read for the challenge and the books I have lined up for the next few months with you guys. May your wishlists grow.

What I’ve read so far

I have read a total of 16 books in 2017 so far, five of which were written by LGBTQI authors and/or featured LGBTQI characters. Five books were written by Authors of Color and/or featured POC main characters. Two books had protagonists with a disability, and five were #ownvoices books.
There was oviously quite a bit of overlap and in reality, I read only 10 books for this challenge so far. But 10 out of 16 is a pretty amazing ratio if you ask me.

And for anyone who believes that I am changing my reading habits or forcing myself to read certain books for the sake of diversity, I can only say that all of these books (except for Peter Darling which I discovered through the challenge) were already on my TBR and I would have read them anyway. The Read Diverse 2017 challenge only pushed them a bit further up on my TBR pile, that’s all.

Here are my diverse reads so far, all of which I would recommend. My full reviews can be found behind the links.

  • Emma Donoghue – Kissing the Witch
    A short story collection retelling fairy tales, most of which feature lesbian protagonists, and all of which focus on women.
  • Zoraida Córdova – Labyrinth Lost
    This book is a wonderful story about a young girl, dealing with her cultural heritage, her place in her family and witchcraft. After messing things up she tries to fix her dire situation. Incudes a trip to the underworld with a fantastic bisexual protagonist.
  • Leigh Bardugo – Six of Crows
    Not so much a heist story as a character study of six amazing, diverse, and absolutely lovable protagonists. Kaz is disabled and walks with a cane, Inej is dark-skinned, and I suspect (though don’t know yet) that at least one character is gay. I loved all of them!
  • Mishell Baker – Borderline
    This is such an amazing book. Millie is a double amputee after her attempted suicide who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder. She also starts to work for the secret Arcadia Project which polices the traffic between our world and Fairyland. And it’s set in Hollywood. Everything about this book was perfect.
  • S. L. Huang – The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist
    A retelling of The Little Mermaid that gets really dark and broke my heart into a million pieces. The protagonist is a lesbian who falls in love with a “mermaid” and trades her voice for fins. But trust me, it’s much better and more sinister than I make it sound.
  • Helen Oyeyemi – What is Not Yours is Not Yours
    A story collection by the brilliant Helen Oyeyemi that features a diverse cast of characters, most of all highlighting women. I didn’t love all the stories but the collection overall was solid.
  • Marissa Meyer – Wires and Nerve
    Meyer’s first graphic novel, set after the Lunar Chronicles, finally gives Iko her own story. The protagonist android loves her body (which is a Woman of Color) and she deals with questions of identity, feelings, and friendship. It’s a lovely, quick comfort read and I need the sequel now!
  • Catherynne M. Valente – Palimpsest
    Valente’s characters in this book may not all be bisexual, but pretty much everyone sleeps with everyone in this luscious tale of a sexually transmitted city. There are no graphic or particularly steamy sex scenes here, but instead there are breathtaking descriptions of Palimpsest. The language and imagery are stunning, but you should like flowery prose if you pick this up.
  • Austin Chant – Peter Darling
    What if Peter Pan grew up as Wendy Darling? In this very short novel, Peter is a transgender man who comes back to Neverland as an adult. To my utter delight, he and Hook fall in love. I had some problems with this book (there was just not enough of it) but overall, I enjoyed it.
  • Nnedi Okorafor – Binti: Home
    I adored Okorafor’s Binti and couldn’t wait for this sequel. Binti, who has run away from home to study at a university far away from her home planet, has returned. She has to deal with her own identity, her past, her family’s culture and the life she wants for herself. The only thing I didn’t like about this book is that it ends on a pretty mean cliffhanger. Review to come.

What’s on my TBR

I have SO MANY BOOKS! Seriously, there is no shortage of diverse books in my home, but I do have a few lined up that I want to read very soon.

  • Yoon Ha Lee – Ninefox Gambit
    I’m already reading this and as much as the beginning tried to break my brain, I am completely in love with it now and can’t wait to find out how the story continues. If you start reading this, please don’t give up. Push through the first chapters and you will be rewarded!
  • S. Jae-Jones – Wintersong
    I am not sure if I will finish this book. I read half of it and it’s a huge disappointment. A whiny heroine who wallows in self-pity, a bland “romance”, and no plot to speak of. Maybe I’ll write something even if I DNF this book… we’ll see. For now, it’s on hiatus.
  • Heidi Heilig – The Girl From Everywhere
    This book just sounds soooo good. Time travel, maps, a biracial protagonist, a romance, and ships! Plus, the sequel is out already (I think), so if I love it I won’t have to wait for the next book.
  • N. K. Jemisin – The Obelisk Gate
    I actually saved this book up because I know it will ruin any book that is unfortunate enough to follow it. Jemisin is a phenomenal writer and this world is her most complex and ambitious yet. The cast ist effortlessly diverse and Jemisin’s writing is always stunning.
  • Rhoda Belleza – Empress of a Thousand Skies
    I’m a bit on the fence about this but people have said it has lots of diverse characters and a fast-moving plot. So I hope this book leaves away all the YA tropes and delivers an exciting space adventure.
  • Madeline Miller – The Song of Achilles
    I’ve wanted to read this for ages but somehow, every time I choose a new book to read this one slips my mind. Must remember this time.
  • Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett – Dragon Soul
    I love this series so much! The first book told (among other plot lines) a beautiful romance between two very different men, and all the characters are superb. Can’t wait to continue reading about this world of steampunk dragons, and the crazy people who fly them.
  • Caitlín R. Kiernan – Agents of Dreamland
    I love everything Kiernan writes and most things Tor.com publishes, so this is a book that is practically a guaranteed hit.
  • Ann Leckie – Ancillary Sword
    I am SO behind on this series. The first book was my favorite the year it came out but then I never caught up with the sequels. It’s time to rectify that situation! If you don’t know this series, it’s about a former space ship AI, now existing in one human body, who uses all-female pronouns because it’s an AI and doesn’t know or care about gender. Also, it’s a super exciting space adventure with amazing characters.

The way I know myself, this reading plan will probably be thrown away pretty fast, especially with the amount of exciting recommendations this reading challenge produces. But then, I read for fun. So I’ll do my best to stick by this TBR but if I stray, so be it. 🙂

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Books in the Queue – The Summer Reading List

The struggle is real, guys. I don’t know what to read because there are TOO MANY GREAT BOOKS! I have a total book overload and whatever I start reading doesn’t do it for me because I know there are fifty other great books I also want to be reading right now. But I’m tackling this ridiculous first world problem head on and making a list. These are some (!) of the books I wish I could eat up at this very moment, but being semi-reasonable at times, I know that it will take me a while to catch up on all of these. I also know that I don’t ever stick to strict reading plans, so I won’t plan my reading order. I hope that I can get through all of these during the summer – that includes June, July, and August – and you’ll see some reviews of these soon-ish.

My Summer Reading List

Catching up on sequels

  • Catherynne M. Valente – The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home
  • Maggie Stiefvater – The Raven King

I’m currently reading both of these, so you can definitely expect reviews within the next weeks. Spoiler alert: I’m loving both books, so be prepared for some squeeing.

Shiny and chrome new stuff

  • Mishell Baker – Borderline
  • Kat Howard – Roses & Rot
  • Angela Slatter – Vigil

I got a review copy of Angela Slatter’s first novel. You know what this means! I will crawl into my bed, start this book and won’t come out until I’m done. Maybe some music is allowed in there with me but that’s it. Food and human company are overrated anyway, especially when there’s an Angela Slatter novel involved.

Both Borderline and Roses and Rot have picked up some rave reviews and while Kat Howard’s novel sounds just up my alley, I don’t know whether Mishell Baker’s book will be my thing at all. But they both sound fantastic and throw around so many buzzwords that I can’t wait to start them.

Books for reading challenges

  • Nicole Kornher-Stace – Archivist Wasp
  • C.S.E. Cooney – Bone Swans
  • Helen Oyeyemi – What is Not Yours is Not Yours
  • N. A. Sulway – Rupetta

Ah, reading challenges. A blessing and a curse. I do love them dearly but I am – again – falling behind on some of them. Summer holidays are the perfect time to catch up, so wish me luck.

…and all the rest

  • Jordanna Max Brodsky – The Immortals
  • Dexter Palmer – Version Control
  • Kelly Lee – A Criminal Magic
  • Hermione Eyre – Viper Wine
  • Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff – Illuminae
  • Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Signal to Noise
  • April Genevieve Tucholke – Wink Poppy Midnight

These are just a few books that keep staring at me with puppy dog eyes, begging to be read soon. They each have something that completely drew me in, whether it’s Prohibitian Era magic, Greek gods, unreliable narrators, time machines, music, crazy literary romps, or complicated relationships – I could pick up any of these right now and be happy (if it weren’t for the other books looking resentful at me. Yes, books really can look resentful, you just have to leave them on your TBR pile too long and they start hating you. I’m serious!)

Other than that, I still have some Hugo Awards reading to do. I have read Uprooted and The Fifth Season, which will definitely be my first two choices. Unless of course one of the other books is so overwhelmingly amazing that it overtakes them, but I very much doubt that. Still, I look forward to Jim Butcher’s book and I’m curious if Seveneves will be the first Neal Stephenson book I finish. So it’s going to be a long summer filled with lots of books. The way my luck goes, by the time I’ve finished all of these, some of the sequels I’m waiting for will have been published and I can start the whole thing over. If too many books is my biggest worry, however, I consider myself a very happy girl indeed.

Bout of Books 16 – Goals and Books

Bout of Books It’s time for Bout of Books and I am so ready to catch up on my reading. I did pretty well during the first few months of the year but what with my inability to say no to a challenge, I do have a lot of books to finish.

Seeing as I was all big-mouthed and said I would decide on the books to read and then stick to that plan, here are my goals and the books I’ve picked:

  • Read one comic book/graphic novel
  • Finish whichever current book I’m reading
  • Finish one other book that is part of a reading challenge
  • Start listening to one new audiobook

My graphic novel of choice is Fables: The Deluxe Edition Volume 11. I’m still enjoying the Fables series a lot, although I’ve noticed that the deluxe collected volumes got bigger and bigger. This volume is almost 450 pages thick. PLUS, in order to read all of this graphic novel, I need to take a quick side-trip into the Jack of Fables comics. That’s another 200 to 300 pages. And yes, there are pictures and all that but Fables can be pretty dense stories. Anyway, I look forward to catching up.

The audiobook is easy to pick. It will be The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. Although I ordered the hardcover to sit on my shelf next to all the other beautiful Raven Cycle books, I also got myself the audiobook version which I’ve been kind of avoiding because I don’t want the series to end.

My current read – and I don’t understand why I took such a long break from the book – is A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab. I loved the first book A Darker Shade of Magic, but this one took a long time to get started and I guess I just wasn’t in the right mood. But it’s really time to pick it up again and finish it.

Aaaaaaand for my last goal, I will pick a book that is part of one of my reading challenges. There is a lot to choose from, mind you, because I’m an idiot who thinks she can read a billion books a year. But I’ve narrowed it down to a challenge (reading more authors of color) and even a book: Helen Oyeyemi – What is Not Yours is Not Yours. I’ve read two of Oyeyemi’s books and I adore her style. Maybe I should have tried an author that is new to me, but for this read-a-thon, I thought a collection of short fiction would be better because I can read one story per evening or ideally even a story per train ride to and from work.

The big post of pages/books read and mini-challenges and other stuff will be posted tomorrow. By the way, there’s still time to join the read-a-thon if you feel like it. Just go here and sign up.

Top Ten Tuesday – Ten Books On My Spring TBR

Oh, the glorious TBR. What would I do without it? Curl up and die, that’s what. While it can be daunting sometimes, looking at the hundreds (yeah, really) of books that I own but haven’t even started yet, there is a nice sense of comfort to knowing that even if I’m cut off from the outside world, I’ll have enough to read to last me until I die of hunger or cold. For today’s Top Ten Tuesday, The Broke and the Bookish want us to look at our top ten books on our spring TBR.

I seriously hope spring is coming soon but independent of the current (shitty) weather situation, here’s what I’m most excited to read in the near future:

1 Catherynne M. Valente – The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home

I may be pushing this book on and on because it’s the last in a series I love. September was the reason I started this blog and she’s been my constant companion ever since. Letting her go will be difficult, but suppressing my excitement to know What Will Happen will probably harder.

fairyland 5Quite by accident, September has been crowned as Queen of Fairyland – but she inherits a Kingdom in chaos. The magic of a Dodo’s egg has brought every King, Queen, or Marquess of Fairyland back to life, each with a fair and good claim on the throne, each with their own schemes and plots and horrible, hilarious, hungry histories. In order to make sense of it all, and to save their friend from a job she doesn’t want, A-Through-L and Saturday devise a Royal Race, a Monarckical Marathon, in which every outlandish would-be ruler of Fairyland will chase the Stoat of Arms across the whole of the nation – and the first to seize the poor beast will seize the crown. Caught up in the madness are the changelings Hawthorn and Tamburlaine, the combat wombat Blunderbuss, the gramophone Scratch, the Green Wind, and September’s parents, who have crossed the universe to find their daughter…

2 Giambattista Basile – The Tale of Tales

This sounds like it was made for me. With a distinct Pan’s Labyrinth vibe to it, I couldn’t help but buy this the day it came out. Fairy tales, dark princesses eating hearts, mermaids, mazes… this is literally pushing every single one of my buttons.

tale of talesBefore the Brothers Grimm, before Charles Perrault, before Hans Christian Andersen, there was Giambattista Basile, a seventeenth-century poet from Naples, Italy, whom the Grimms credit with recording the first national collection of fairy tales. The Tale of Tales opens with Princess Zoza, unable to laugh no matter how funny the joke. Her father, the king, attempts to make her smile; instead he leaves her cursed, whereupon the prince she is destined to marry is snatched up by another woman. To expose this impostor and win back her rightful husband, Zoza contrives a storytelling extravaganza: fifty fairy tales to be told by ten sharp-tongued women (including Zoza in disguise) over five days.
Funny and scary, romantic and gruesome—and featuring a childless queen who devours the heart of a sea monster cooked by a virgin, and who then gives birth the very next day; a lecherous king aroused by the voice of a woman, whom he courts unaware of her physical grotesqueness; and a king who raises a flea to monstrous size on his own blood, sparking a contest in which an ogre vies with men for the hand of the king’s daughter—
The Tale of Tales is a fairy-tale treasure that prefigures Game of Thrones and other touchstones of worldwide fantasy literature.

3 Lee Kelly – A Criminal Magic

Here’s to book bloggers! Neither cover nor description spoke much to me but when I read a couple of rave reviews, I started getting interested. By now, I’ve worked up enough hype to barely contain myself. I need dis nao.

criminal magicMagic is powerful, dangerous and addictive – and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal.
It’s 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved the Prohibition of sorcery, the city’s magic underworld is booming. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters’ crime sprees. Smugglers funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer’s shine.
Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an offer to work for DC’s most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang, when her family’s home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws.
Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous world of criminal magic – and when their paths cross at the Shaws’ performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.

4 Hermione Eyre – Viper Wine

This straddles the line between Literary Fiction and genre fiction and I don’t care a bit where it’s shelved. It sounds too good to pass up.

viper wineAt Whitehall Palace in 1632, the ladies at the court of Charles I are beginning to look suspiciously alike. Plump cheeks, dilated pupils, and a heightened sense of pleasure are the first signs that they have been drinking a potent new beauty tonic, Viper Wine, distilled and discreetly dispensed by the physician Lancelot Choice.
Famed beauty Venetia Stanley is so extravagantly dazzling she has inspired Ben Jonson to poetry and Van Dyck to painting, provoking adoration and emulation from the masses. But now she is married and her “mid-climacteric” approaches, all that adoration has curdled to scrutiny, and she fears her powers are waning. Her devoted husband, Sir Kenelm Digby – alchemist, explorer, philosopher, courtier, and time-traveller – believes he has the means to cure wounds from a distance, but he so loves his wife that he will not make her a beauty tonic, convinced she has no need of it.
From the whispering court at Whitehall, to the charlatan physicians of Eastcheap, here is a marriage in crisis, and a country on the brink of civil war. The novel takes us backstage at a glittering Inigo Jones court masque, inside a dour Puritan community, and into the Countess of Arundel’s snail closet. We see a lost Rubens altarpiece and peer into Venetia’s black-wet obsidian scrying mirror. Based on real events, Viper Wine is 1632 rendered in Pop Art prose; a place to find alchemy, David Bowie, recipes for seventeenth-century beauty potions, a Borgesian unfinished library and a submarine that sails beneath the Thames.

5 Silvia Moreno-García – Signal To Noise

Another book I would have overlooked if it weren’t for trusted book bloggers. I admit, the fact that it’s set in Mexico helped because I have that world travel challenge going and need to fill some spots.

signal to noiseA literary fantasy about love, music and sorcery, set against the background of Mexico City.
Mexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you” with a mixtape. Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends — Sebastian and Daniela — and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. With help from this newfound magic, the three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as non-entities, and maybe even find love…
Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father’s funeral. It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, and it revives memories from her childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? And, is there any magic left?

6 Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Illuminae

You see where this is going. A bland-ish cover, a standard description, an uninterested me. Buuuuut The Book Smugglers loved it, many other people loved it, so here I am, wanting to read it too. Plus, the sequel comes out this year which means I won’t have to wait that long to continue the series, and that’s always a plus.

illuminaeThis morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.
This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

7 C. S. E. Cooney – Bone Swans

Another book – well, collection of novellas and stories – that seems to have been written solely for me. I don’t know about you, but I find it wonderful that authors are writing stuff that caters to my readerly needs. I doubt I’ll ever get enough of subverted fairy-tales. Plus, the cover illustration is by Kay Nielsen and that is pure Dina-bait.

bone swansA swan princess hunted for her bones, a broken musician and his silver pipe, and a rat named Maurice bring justice to a town under fell enchantment. A gang of courageous kids confronts both a plague-destroyed world and an afterlife infested with clowns but robbed of laughter. In an island city, the murder of a child unites two lovers, but vengeance will part them. Only human sacrifice will save a city trapped in ice and darkness. Gold spun out of straw has a price, but not the one you expect.
World Fantasy Award winner Ellen Kushner has called Cooney’s writing “stunningly delicious! Cruel, beautiful and irresistible.” BONE SWANS, the infernally whimsical debut collection from C. S. E. Cooney, gathers five novellas that in the words of Andre Norton Award winner Delia Sherman are “bawdy, horrific, comic, and moving-frequently all at the same time.” Cooney’s mentor, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Gene Wolfe, proclaims in his introduction that her style is so original it can only be described as “pure Cooney,” and he offers readers a challenge: “Try to define that when you’ve finished the stories in this book.”

8 Nike A. Sulway – Rupetta

This book fell into my hands through unconventional (for me) ways. I love Angela Slatter so, so much that I was browsing on her publisher’s home page and discovered Rupetta. It sounded really good so I bought the e-book.

rupettaFour hundred years ago, in a small town in rural France, a young woman creates the future in the shape of Rupetta. Part mechanical, part human, Rupetta’s consciousness is tied to the women who wind her. In the years that follow she is bought and sold, borrowed, forgotten and revered. By the twentieth century, the Rupettan four-fold law rules everyone’s lives, but Rupetta—the immortal being on whose existence and history those laws are based—is the keeper of a secret that will tear apart the world her followers have built in her name. The closeness between women is mirrored in the relationship between Henri and Miri, a woman at the college with whom she fall in love, and also between mothers and daughters and grandmothers and granddaughters – a heritage of affection that loops down over the centuries.
This stunning new novel by award-winning Australian writer Nike Sulway invokes the great tradition of European fantasy/horror fiction and moves it forward in a superbly imaginative, highly original fashion.

9 China Miéville – This Census-Taker

Come on, it’s China Miéville! That’s all the reason I need to read a book but as happens so often with his novels, it also sounds highly interesting and original. I have no idea what really  to expect but if China Miéville wrote it, I’ll probably like it. And there’s usually some mind-blowing element in his books and having my mind blown is a favorite pastime, so there you go.this census-taker

For readers of George Saunders, Kelly Link, and Karen Russell, This Census Taker is the poignant and uncanny new novella from award-winning and bestselling author China Miéville.
After witnessing a profoundly traumatic event, a boy is left alone in a remote house on a hilltop with his increasingly deranged parent. When a stranger knocks on his door, the boy senses that his days of isolation are over—but by what authority does this man keep the meticulous records he carries? Is he the boy’s friend? His enemy? Or something altogether other?

10 Nicole Korner-Stace – Archivist Wasp / Hannah Moskowitz – A History of Glitter and Blood

I’m cheating. Number ten is a tie, but because both books landed on my wishlist and eventually my shopping basket because of The Book Smugglers, I think I can bend the rules a little bit. Archivist Wasp was just nominated for the Andre Norton Award and A History of Glitter and Blood just sounds amazing.

Archivist Wasp:

archivist waspWasp’s job is simple. Hunt ghosts. And every year she has to fight to remain Archivist. Desperate and alone, she strikes a bargain with the ghost of a supersoldier. She will go with him on his underworld hunt for the long-long ghost of his partner and in exchange she will find out more about his pre-apocalyptic world than any Archivist before her. And there is much to know. After all, Archivists are marked from birth to do the holy work of a goddess. They’re chosen. They’re special. Or so they’ve been told for four hundred years.
Archivist Wasp fears she is not the chosen one, that she won’t survive the trip to the underworld, that the brutal life she has escaped might be better than where she is going. There is only one way to find out.

A History of Glitter and Blood:

history of glitter and bloodSixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies.
But when Beckan’s clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn’t have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected.
This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love.