Books in the Queue – The Super Excited Edition

During the last months, I was entirely taken in by Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy and couldn’t bring myself to read anything else. Now that the book hangover has subsided, my brain made some space for new books. And as it happens on the interwebs, many trusted people give many fantastic recommendations. It’s been a while since I’ve been this torn about what to pick up next. EVERYTHING SOUNDS SO GOOD!!!

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V.E. Schwab – A Darker Shade of Magic

Not only does this book come recommended from practically everyone, it also has two brilliant covers (both UK and US look gorgeous for once – ETA: And check out book two, it’s so shiny!). A few days ago, I listened to this charming podcast Cooking the Books, and Victora Schwab was so passionate and excited about her book, I’m itching to start reading it right now. Edit: And I’m already halfway through…

A Darker Shade final for IreneKell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London – but no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between
A Gathering of Shadows Finalroyals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.

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Laura Ruby – Bone Gap

This is Renay and Ana’s fault. In their Fangirl Happy Hour podcast, they made this book sound irresistible. I think this will be like the kind of story that sticks with you after you’re done reading. I skipped the spoilery bits and still got totally excited to pick up the book for myself.bone gap

Bone Gap is the story of Roza, a beautiful girl who is taken from a quiet midwestern town and imprisoned by a mysterious man, and Finn, the only witness, who cannot forgive himself for being unable to identify her kidnapper. As we follow them through their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures, acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

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J. Kathleen Cheney – The Golden City

I don’t remember how I found this book but since it’s set in Portugal, I immediately bought it for my Read Around the World challenge. The cover is a bit generic (girl in nice dress looking over her shoulder) but “spy” and “court” and “sea folk” are buzz words for me, at least when combined. This also sounds like it has a bickering couple in it and you know how I get weak in the knees when it comes to bickering couples.

golden cityFor two years, Oriana Paredes has been a spy among the social elite of the Golden City, reporting back to her people, the sereia, sea folk banned from the city’s shores….
When her employer and only confidante decides to elope, Oriana agrees to accompany her to Paris. But before they can depart, the two women are abducted and left to drown. Trapped beneath the waves, Oriana’s heritage allows her to survive while she is forced to watch her only friend die.
Vowing vengeance, Oriana crosses paths with Duilio Ferreira—a police consultant who has been investigating the disappearance of a string of servants from the city’s wealthiest homes. Duilio also has a secret: He is a seer and his gifts have led him to Oriana.
Bound by their secrets, not trusting each other completely yet having no choice but to work together, Oriana and Duilio must expose a twisted plot of magic so dark that it could cause the very fabric of history to come undone….

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Ken Liu – The Grace of Kings

Another book that has garnered nothing but praise (with the occasional reservation) and that I’ve been excited for since last year. I don’t really know what to expect but I look forward to diving into this epic fantasy. Also, “silk-draped airships” and “conspiring goddesses” sounds totally up my alley.

grace of kingsWily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, soaring battle kites, conspiring goddesses, underwater boats, magical books, as a streetfighter-cum-general who takes her place as the greatest tactitian of the age. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.

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Elizabeth Bear – Karen Memory

I still haven’t finished The Eternal Sky trilogy but Karen Memory looks too delicious to wait. That cover makes me giddy! Again, Renay and Ana are partly to blame for my excitement. I got this book as soon as it came out but it climbed up all the way on my to read pile after their episode of Fangirl Happy Hour.

karen memory“You ain’t gonna like what I have to tell you, but I’m gonna tell you anyway. See, my name is Karen Memery, like memory only spelt with an e, and I’m one of the girls what works in the Hôtel Mon Cherie on Amity Street. Hôtel has a little hat over the o like that. It’s French, so Beatrice tells me.”
Set in the late 19th century—when the city we now call Seattle Underground was the whole town (and still on the surface), when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront, Karen is a young woman on her own, is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable’s high-quality bordello. Through Karen’s eyes we get to know the other girls in the house—a resourceful group—and the poor and the powerful of the town. Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, begging sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone’s mind and control their actions.  And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap—a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.
Bear brings alive this Jack-the-Ripper yarn of the old west with a light touch in Karen’s own memorable voice, and a mesmerizing evocation of classic steam-powered science.

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So these are the books I’m itching to read very soon. Since starting this post, I already cound’t keep my hands off one of them and it’s just as good as everyone said. May the other books follow suit. And once I’m through this pile, I can finally catch up on City of Stairs and the rest of Vandermeer’s Area X trilogy. Man, reading is stressful sometimes…

Bout of Books Challenge #1 – The TBR Pile Mini Challenge

Ellie from Musings of a Bookshop Girl is hosting one of today’s challenges and because it requires people making lists, naturally I’m in.

The Questions:

1.  Which 5 books are at the top of your TBR pile at this moment?

2.  If I gave you a wad of cash and sent you into a bookshop right now, which 5 books would you buy to add to the stack?

My Answers:

The five books on top of my TBR list change constantly as new books are published or I read reviews of older books that make me all the more giddy about finally reading them. So this is a very momentary view of my TBR list. The current Top 5 are…

  1. Mark Helprin – Winter’s Tale
  2. Terry Pratchett – Witches Abroad
  3. Nalo Hopkinson – Sister Mine or Brown Girl in the Ring
  4. Jean-Christophe Valtat – Aurorarama
  5. John Crowley – Little, Big

Now if you send me into a bookstore, equipped with enough cash to go crazy, these would be the books I’d pick up first:

  1. Jeff Vandermeer – Wonderbook
  2. Nahoko Uehashi – Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit
  3. Hiromi Goto – Half World
  4. Maria M. Tatar – The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales
  5. Terry Pratchett – A Blink of the Screen

Bout of Books 8.0 – Reading Goals + Updates

It is time for another Bout of Books read-a-thon! And here they are, my goals for the week from August 19th through 25th. I am still stoked that the read-a-thon is happening during my week off work and that’s also why I’ve set my goals rather high this time. In a normal week, I may read up to three books (if they’re slim and I have short work days) but lately, it’s been more like one book a week. I will have to work Friday and Saturday but that still gives me an otherwise completely free week. And looking at my pile of started books, I desperately need it…

Bout of Books

Time Devoted to Reading

I want to devote at least three hours a day to reading. That is my minimum goal and I should easily be able to surpass it because, as I said, no work (almost) all week. I’ve already seen Pacific Rim so there are no movie-going plans, I do have two TV shows I am currently watching somewhat religiously, I may go out for dinner with Mr. Dina a couple of times, but all things considered, my days can be dedicated to reading books and reading how other people are doing with their goals.
Friday and Saturday will be the exception as I have a 10-hour-day at work on Friday and another 8-hour-day on Saturday but I hope to make up for it during the rest of the week. Ready, set, let’s read!

My Goals

  • Read 100 pages per day (or more)
  • Finish at least 4 books (2/4)
  • Finish at least 1 book that is part of a (personal) challenge
  • Participate in 2 Bout of Books challenges
  • Meet lots of new people and find new blogs to follow
  • Participate in at least 1 Twitter chat (SO much fun!)

Books to read

  • Mark Helprin – Winter’s Tale (768 pages)
  • Catherynne M. Valente – The Melancholy of Mechagirl (304 pages)
  • Nalo Hopkinson – Sister Mine (346 pages)
  • Karin Lowachee – Warchild (57%) (451 pages)
  • Kameron Hurley – God’s War (311 pages)
  • Anne McCaffrey – The Ship Who Sang (38%) (256 pages)
  • Iain M. Banks – Consider Phlebas (545 pages)
  • Susan Cooper – Seaward (180 pages)
  • Scott Lynch – The Republic of Thieves (76%) (800 pages)
  • Terry Pratchett – Wyrd Sisters (55%) (368 pages)

The Wild Card Pile

Like last time, I reserve the right to change my mind at a moment’s notice. If the books listed above just don’t do it for me or I’m not in the mood for any of them, I won’t force myself to read them now. So this pile is full of books I’ve been wanting to read for a long time, or books I’m sure will make me feel good.

  • Patrick Ness – Monsters of Men (43%) (603 pages)
  • Margaret Atwood – Oryx & Crake (376 pages)
  • Philip Reeve – Mortal Engines (373 pages)
  • Deborah Harkness – A Discovery of Witches (594 pages)
  • Michael Grant – Gone (576 pages)
  • Diana Wynne Jones – Charmed Life or Castle in the Air (298 pages) (252 pages)
  • Robin Hobb – Fool’s Fate (914 pages)
  • Terry Pratchett – Small Gods (400 pages)
  • Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett – Shadow Magic (464 pages)

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Updates

Monday

Pages read: ~ 266
Total pages read: ~ 266
Books started: 1
Books continued: 2
Total number of books I’ve read: 1
Books:

Notes:

Wow! What a first day. As expected, I finished my Terry Pratchett book. The witches are too good to put aside and once I’m in a Discworld adventure, it’s impossible to stop. So one book down, three to go.
The Republic of Thieves will not take me much longer. It may have begun slowly but by now, every chapter is full of suspense and usually ends in an evil cliffhanger. Perfect for read-a-thons.
Kameron Hurley’s God’s War on the other hand is much harder to read than I expected. It’s not that the language is difficult but I still have to wrap my head around the world-building. So far, I’m intrigued but I’m sure I’ll go to bed with Locke Lamora tonight (you know how I mean it, you dirty bastards!).

With all that reading, I still managed to go shopping, watch TV with Mr. Dina, and check out some other participants’ blogs. Lots of good stuff there. Thus, I declare this first read-a-thon day a full success.

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Tuesday

Pages read: ~ 240
Total pages read: ~ 406
Books started: 1
Books continued: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Books: 

  • Scott Lynch – The Republic of Thieves (finished)
  • Courtney Summers – This is Not a Test

Notes:

Today, Mr. Dina and I hopped on a train to visit my family. This meant about three hours on the train altogether – plenty of time for reading. It also meant grandma’s cooking (why is it that granmothers are always great cooks?) and staring at a computer screen for a considerable amount of time but I met all my goals for the day and family.  So I can’t complain.

And because it has become so gripping, I only read (and finished) one book. The Republic of Thieves was worth the long wait of six years. It may have started slowly but, by the Crooked Warden, did it pick up the pace. I’ll post a full review closer to publication date (because NetGalley) but if you’re thinking about buying it in October, go get it! It’s a wholehearted recommendation. Like the two volumes before, it offered its own closed story arc, but delivered a new mystery for us readers to obsess over right at the end. I sincerely hope that Scott Lynch is well enough to write the next instalment very, very soon. If I had any say in it, The Thorn of Emberlain would come out tomorrow. Go, Gentlemen Bastards!

EDIT: Last night (meaning on day 2), I started another book. A very quiet YA zombie book that may not have the best characters but at least it’s gripping. Sloane has been wanting to kill herself for a while when the apocalypse happens. She and five other students hide from the zombies in their old high school. But Sloane is the only one who wouldn’t mind being bitten – or eaten – by a zombie, because there are things in her past that simply aren’t worth surviving…

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Wednesday

Pages read: ~ 190
Total pages read: ~ 596
Books started: 2
Books continued:1
Total number of books I’ve read:2
Books:

  • Terry Pratchett – Witches Abroad (26%)
  • Courtney Summers – This is Not a Test (50%)
  • Mark Z. Danielewski – House of Leaves

Challenges:
Yay, I participated in my first Bout of Books challenge today. The TBR Pile mini challenge was a lot of fun and made me realize that I already own way too many books to justify buying even a single one more.

Notes:
Oh boy, a lot of today was spent watching TV. But then, I also got enough reading done to achieve my goal. I’m halfway through This is Not a Test, a surprisingly good YA zombie novel. And I coudn’t resist any longer… the next Witches of Lancre adventure is on. And this time, it’s about fairy tales. Magrat the witch already inherited a wand with the peculiar habit of spurting pumpkins instead of what you wish for. 🙂
I also slid sideways into a (huuuge) book that I hadn’t planned on reading. Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves messes with your mind, starting on page one. I read about 40 pages but it felt more like 100 because the pages are large and the print is tiny. But I love how the word “house” is printed in blue (every single time) and different types of text are printed in different font types.

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Thursday

Pages read: ~ 112
Total pages read: ~ 708
Books started: 0
Books continued: 2
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Books:

  • Mark Z. Danielewski – House of Leaves (12%)
  • Courtney Summers – This is Not a Test (53%)

Challenges:
Because it sounded like a lot of fun, I participated in another challenge (thus, my challenges goal is met – YAY!). The Book Road Trip challenge was a lot of fun and reminded me that I still have a bunch of great books that I need to read soon.

Notes:
I got little reading done today, not so much because I don’t feel like it but because House of Leaves is quite difficult to read (tiny print, huge pages, tons of footnotes) and I had to go to sleep early for Friday.

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Friday

Pages read: ~ 25
Total pages read: ~ 733
Books started: 0
Books continued: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Books:

  • Mark Z. Danielewski – House of Leaves

Notes:
Yeah, it’s not even worth mentioning… I knew I wouldn’t meet my daily goal on Friday. That ten-hour workshop at work knocked me out completely. I came home at about 7:30 and was even to tired to watch TV. All my brain capacity was used up throughout the day. I’ll have some catching up to do on the weekend.

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Saturday 

Pages read: ~ 102
Total pages read: ~ 745
Books started:
Books continued: 2
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Books:

  • Terry Pratchett – Witches Abroad
  • Courtney Summers – This is Not a Test

Notes:
Second day of workshop done. This means it’s now officially weekend and I still have a little bit of Saturday left. I hope to finish This is Not a Test today because it’s a short book, and then I’ll dive straight into Cat Valente’s Melancholy of Mechagirl. The crazy mind-fuck that is House of Leaves will take me at least another week to finish…
Witches Abroad, on the other hand, is a wonderful read. I doubt I’ll finish it this week but that doesn’t really matter. It’s so much fun, I don’t mind drawing it out a bit. Now I’m off to look for new Bout of Books challenges.

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Sunday

Pages read: ~ 188
Total pages read: ~ 933
Books started:
Books continued: 3
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Books:

  • Mark Z. Danielewski – House of Leaves (19%)
  • Terry Pratchett – Witches Abroad (80%)
  • Courtney Summers – This is Not a Test (86%)

Notes:
Ah, the last read-a-thon day. I am still reading two books which I hope to finish today (that would mean reaching my goal, yay!) but even if I don’t manage, I am so happy that, because of this read-a-thon, I finally dared to pick up the gigantic, daunting, crazy thing that is House of Leaves. I have owned that book for years and years and always thought it’s too big to start right now or I didn’t have enough time at the moment. Well, now I’m a good 100 pages into the thing and already itching to go back.
God’s War also surprised me a little. I expected to love it and race through it in no time. Now that I’ve put it aside for a few days, however, I don’t feel much like it anymore. 

Looking back at this week, I diverged from my reading plans quite a bit.  Then again, I’ve never been that strict with myself when it comes about the actual books I choose. Just as long as I read more and discover new books and bloggers, I’m pretty happy. 🙂

EDIT: This is me posting from the future. I almost finished my Discworld book and I’m fairly confident I’ll finish it today. The same goes for This is Not a Test. The last of my three current reads will take me longer, not just because of what I’ve mentioned above, but because I can only read it at home. It’s bulky and heavy and not exactly a book for reading on the subway.

Books in the Queue – The Summer 2013 Edition

This is entirely Carl’s fault. He posted an amazingly ambitious summer reading list (head over to Stainless Steel Droppings and check it out now!) that reminded me of another reason I love summer. Because book lists! During summer, most people like to read something light, something fun, a bit of romance maybe, or a thriller, or simply books set during summer. I am no different. But I do have a few quirks that weaseled their way into my reading habits and left me with “summer” books that don’t actually have anything to do with summer. Here’s my list for the next few months and why I consider these my summer books.

divider1Stephen King – Joyland

Generally, I’m all for amusement parks. King-ified amusement parks, though? I believe a new phobia is coming my way, but who cares, because King writes the best friendships in fiction, especially between children. The protagonist here is 21, so not technically a child anymore, but I’ll take what I can get.

joyland2

College student Devin Jones took the summer job at Joyland hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart. But he wound up facing something far more terrible: the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and dark truths about life—and what comes after—that would change his world forever.
A riveting story about love and loss, about growing up and growing old—and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time—JOYLAND is Stephen King at the peak of his storytelling powers. With all the emotional impact of King masterpieces such as The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption, JOYLAND is at once a mystery, a horror story, and a bittersweet coming-of-age novel, one that will leave even the most hard-boiled reader profoundly moved.

dividerIain M. Banks – Consider Phlebas

I have never read any of Banks’ books but I’ve been buying them for years. Wanting to “just try out a few pages”, I immediately got stuck in this first Culture novel. It probably doesn’t have anything to do in particular with summer but it is a big book and these are best consumed during summer, at the beach or in a park.

consider phlebasThe war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender.
Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.

dividerSarah Zettel – Dust Girl (finished July 28th)

Dust storms, Kansas… that all sounds like appropriate reading material for a hot summer, right? Right! I bought this because the premise sounded really good (and yes, I liked the cover), and it moved up my reading list when Elizabeth Bear recommended it on the SF Squeecast – seriously, that podcast is going to make me poor.

dust girl 2Callie LeRoux lives in Slow Run, Kansas, helping her mother run their small hotel and trying not to think about the father she’s never met. Lately all of her energy is spent battling the constant storms plaguing the Dust Bowl and their effects on her health. Callie is left alone when her mother goes missing in a dust storm. Her only hope comes from a mysterious man offering a few clues about her destiny and the path she must take to find her parents in “the golden hills of the west”: California.
Along the way she meets Jack, a young hobo boy who is happy to keep her company—there are dangerous, desperate people at every turn. And there’s also an otherworldly threat to Callie. Warring fae factions, attached to the creative communities of American society, are very much aware of the role this half-mortal, half-fae teenage girl plays in their fate.

dividerTerry Pratchett – The Tiffany Aching Series

The Wee Free Men was fun, I loved Tiffany, the protagonist, but had a few problems with the plot. Now that I’m almost done with A Hat Full of Sky, I can’t stop reading Pratchett and want to finish the Discworld sub-series this summer. It is sooooo good.

A Hat Full of Skyhat full of sky 2 (just finished today)

Tiffany Aching, a hag from a long line of hags, is trying out her witchy talents again as she is plunged into yet another adventure when she leaves home and is apprenticed to a “real” witch. This time, will the thievin’, fightin’ and drinkin’ skills of the Nac Mac Feegle — the Wee Free Men — be of use, or must Tiffany rely on her own abilities?

Wintersmith (finished June 29th)

Twintersmith2iffany Aching is a trainee witch — now working for the seriously scary Miss Treason. But when Tiffany witnesses the Dark Dance — the crossover from summer to winter — she does what no one has ever done before and leaps into the dance. Into the oldest story there ever is. And draws the attention of the Wintersmith himself.
As Tiffany-shaped snowflakes hammer down on the land, can Tiffany deal with the consequences of her actions? Even with the help of Granny Weatherwax and the Nac Mac Feegle — the fightin’, thievin’ pictsies who are prepared to lay down their lives for their “big wee hag.”

I Shall Wear Midnight (finished July 6th)

It starts with whispers.i shall wear midnight2
Then someone picks up a stone.
Finally, the fires begin.
When people turn on witches, the innocents suffer. . . .
Tiffany Aching has spent years studying with senior witches, and now she is on her own. As the witch of the Chalk, she performs the bits of witchcraft that aren’t sparkly, aren’t fun, don’t involve any kind of wand, and that people seldom ever hear about: She does the unglamorous work of caring for the needy.
But someone or something is igniting fear, inculcating dark thoughts and angry murmurs against witches. Aided by her tiny blue allies, the Wee Free Men, Tiffany must find the source of this unrest and defeat the evil at its root before it takes her life. Because if Tiffany falls, the whole Chalk falls with her.
Chilling drama combines with laughout-loud humor and searing insight as beloved and bestselling author Terry Pratchett tells the high-stakes story of a young witch who stands in the gap between good and evil.

dividerTerry Pratchett – Nation (finished June 16th)

And just because I’m in a Pratchett phase, I’m throwing this in for good measure. Terry Pratchett himself said in many interviews that this is the book he is most proud of, The Book Smugglers have loved it, the story sounds wonderful and heartbreaking. Looking at the cover, I don’t think I need to explain why I think this book will work as a summer read.

nation1Finding himself alone on a desert island when everything and everyone he knows and loved has been washed away in a huge storm, Mau is the last surviving member of his nation. He’s also completely alone – or so he thinks until he finds the ghost girl. She has no toes, wears strange lacy trousers like the grandfather bird and gives him a stick which can make fire.
Daphne, sole survivor of the wreck of the Sweet Judy, almost immediately regrets trying to shoot the native boy. Thank goodness the powder was wet and the gun only produced a spark. She’s certain her father, distant cousin of the Royal family, will come and rescue her but it seems, for now, all she has for company is the boy and the foul-mouthed ship’s parrot.
As it happens, they are not alone for long. Other survivors start to arrive to take refuge on the island they all call the Nation and then raiders accompanied by murderous mutineers from the Sweet Judy. Together, Mau and Daphne discover some remarkable things – including how to milk a pig and why spitting in beer is a good thing – and start to forge a new Nation.

dividerNeil Gaiman – The Ocean at the End of the Lane (also finished today)

I believe the entire book blogging community is reading this at the moment and I don’t mind being part of that crowd. Having already read a third of it, I can say I don’t adore it, but it is enjoyable and shows off Gaiman’s particular brand of weirdness.

ocean at the end of the laneSussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

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Alan Bradley – I am Half-Sick of Shadows

Now here’s the un-summery summer book on my list. I read the first Flavia de Luce mystery on holiday last year and since then, I always felt they should be read during hot summer days. Even though the weather in the book is often cold, rainy, or misty, my brain has made the connection bikini + sunshine = Flavia books – and I will not fight my brain on this, even though this Flavia adventure is set during Christmas season…

flavia4It’s Christmastime, and the precocious Flavia de Luce—an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry and a penchant for crime-solving—is tucked away in her laboratory, whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick. But she is soon distracted when a film crew arrives at Buckshaw, the de Luces’ decaying English estate, to shoot a movie starring the famed Phyllis Wyvern. Amid a raging blizzard, the entire village of Bishop’s Lacey gathers at Buckshaw to watch Wyvern perform, yet nobody is prepared for the evening’s shocking conclusion: a body found, past midnight, strangled to death with a length of film. But who among the assembled guests would stage such a chilling scene? As the storm worsens and the list of suspects grows, Flavia must use every ounce of sly wit at her disposal to ferret out a killer hidden in plain sight.

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Nalo Hopkinson – Sister Mine

And the last on my list is Nalo Hopkinson whose novel Midnight Robber convinced me that I have to read everything by this author. Her short story in Gaiman’s anthology Unnatural Creatures made it to my top 3, so I guess I have to give in to the urge and throw in another of her novels. At the moment, this one sounds the most intriguing, but I may change my mind and pick up another one. Either way, a Nalo Hopkinson book shall be read this summer!

sister mineWe’d had to be cut free of our mother’s womb. She’d never have been able to push the two-headed sport that was me and Abby out the usual way. Abby and I were fused, you see. Conjoined twins. Abby’s head, torso and left arm protruded from my chest. But here’s the real kicker; Abby had the magic, I didn’t. Far as the Family was concerned, Abby was one of them, though cursed, as I was, with the tragic flaw of mortality.
Now adults, Makeda and Abby still share their childhood home. The surgery to separate the two girls gave Abby a permanent limp, but left Makeda with what feels like an even worse deformity: no mojo. The daughters of a celestial demigod and a human woman, Makeda and Abby were raised by their magical father, the god of growing things–an unusual childhood that made them extremely close. Ever since Abby’s magical talent began to develop, though, in the form of an unearthly singing voice, the sisters have become increasingly distant.
Today, Makeda has decided it’s high time to move out and make her own life among the other nonmagical, claypicken humans–after all, she’s one of them. In Cheerful Rest, a run-down warehouse, Makeda finds exactly what she’s been looking for: a place to get some space from Abby and begin building her own independent life. There’s even a resident band, led by the charismatic (and attractive) building superintendent.
But when her father goes missing, Makeda will have to find her own talent–and reconcile with Abby–if she’s to have a hope of saving him .

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Wow, so that list turned out to be longer than expected. But at least I can say that, other than Carl, I don’t have many other plans for this summer. I already went on a weeks’ holiday to a sunny island and will spend my second holiday week at home, with Mr. Dina, lazing about, reading and watching TV. I also promised him to finish reading the Foundation books – so add that to the list. Looks like I’m all set for the summer, now I better go and read a little…

Books in the Queue – The Anti-Reading-Slump Edition

Sometimes, I wonder at my own reading habits. On the one hand, I love challenges and themes, on the other hand I’m no fan of the pressure these tend to come with. Now that I’ve read a couple of fairytale retellings, a lot of the Nebula nominees and an atrocious YA novel, I don’t feel in the mood for anything. None of my current reads are as immersive as I had hoped, even Brandon Sanderson can’t get me to read more than a chapter at a time…Which is why I went through my shelves and dug out some books that I know I will enjoy.

Catherynne M. Valente – In the Night Garden (finished 1st May 2013)

night gardenWhy I want to read it: This is Cat Valente we’re talking about here. I have adored every piece of her fiction, long and short, that I could get my hands on. I thought about reading Palimpsest first, it being a standalone, but from what I have heard about this duology, it’s exactly what I need right now. Complex stories-within-a-story with tons of myth and fairytale elements. Paired with Valente’s gift for language, I can already see myself disappearing in that book. And if I do, I got a follow-up waiting for me.

dividerFrances Hardinge – Fly By Night (finished 10 May 2013)

fly by nightWhy I want to read it: Because when it comes to children’s books, The Book Smugglers are a source of neverending great recommendations. Drowning in hyped books that turn out to be all kinds of terrible, their blog is my last refuge for good fiction for young people. And if you are a regular visitor to their site, you will have noticed their ongoing love affair with the works of Frances Hardinge. I picked my first Hardinge randomly. They all sound interesting but I started reading this one and was hooked.

dividerMargo Lanagan – The Brides of Rollrock Island (Sea Hearts)

brides of rollock islandWhy I want to read it: I’ve only read one Margo Lanagan book but it was so good that I am confident her other work will equally satisfy my reading needs. Plus, this is about selkies! Mostly though, I am sure this author will not make the current YA mistakes but rather deliver a dark, deep tale, seeped in mythology. Now that I’m writing about it, I am already getting giddy with excitement. Must pick up soon.

dividerOrson Scott Card – Ender’s Shadow

enders shadow1Why I want to read it: I may not like Card as a person but he sure writes damn good stories. I stopped the Ender Saga at Xenocide, especially after I watched my boyfriend torture himself with that book. But I own all the Ender books and have been meaning to go back and see what Bean has been up to in the last years (last years for me, that is). If the internet is not completely wrong about the spin-off series, I will enjoy this a lot.

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If you have any recommendations for favorite books that always get you out of reading slumps, or books that fit my particular mood (fed up with the world in general and YA fiction in particular) then, please throw them my way. What do you guys do to get out of slumps? Re-read a favorite book? Pick a favorite author? Leave your comfort zone and try a new genre? Hell, I may just re-read Harry Potter if the books above don’t help. 🙂

Books in the Queue – The Currently Reading Edition

Hello, fellow lovers of books. This month I believe I have taken on a bit too much. What with various challenges, my ever-changing mood and the poor books that have been queueing for a while, my current Books in the Queue is almost identical to my Currently Reading list.

China Miéville – Un Lun Dun (finished March 9th)

un lun dunChina Miéville is the guy I would like to have discovered when I was a teenager. I’m not sure my 14-year-old self would have made it through Perdido Street Station, but this young adult novel is just so  much fun. I picked it up because I wanted a nice big book that I could nibble at a little each night (and it’s on my TBR-challenge list). A mere couple of days later, I find I’m halfway done with the book. What? How did that happen? So I’m reading what feels like a little every day and just having fun discovering UnLondon. I am especially in love with the sentient empty milk carton, Curdle.

dividerJuliet Marillier – Daughter of the Forest (finished 19th March 2013)

daughter of the forest1I have owned this book for so long, I can’t even remember. A few days ago, I finally picked it up (again, that TBR-challenge got to me) and found myself liking it quite a bit. I notice that I am reading this very slowly. I had a few hours at my disposal on the weekend and read, and read, and read. In the end, I saw that I had gotten about 50 pages into the book. It’s the opposite Miéville effect. That said, I really don’t mind. I like large books that slowly build an entire world and let me get into the characters’ heads. Sorcha, the protagonist, is a likable young girl, whom I enjoy following around. I am looking forward to the part where The Six Swans retelling begins, though. Also, I find myself looking for good music to go along with this book. It feels like it needs a soundtrack… any recommendations?

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Martha Wells – Emilie and the Hollow World (finished 29th March 2013)

emilie and the hollow worldI got an e-ARC of this and have been reading on and off in it for several weeks. For a short book, it’s taking me an enormous amount of time. And it’s not bad at all. Emilie runs away from home to catch a ship to her cousin’s place. She ends up on the wrong ship and has to join an expedition to the inside of the Earth (vie aether current). I enjoy the adventure quite a bit. My only problem was that Emilie, in my mind, is about 12 years old and behaves as such, but in the book, it is said she is 16. I’m just ignoring the author and imagining my 12-year-old anyway. Right now, I’m about halfway through this Jules Verne-esque YA adventure book.

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Here’s the actually queueing books (that I haven’t started)

Caitlín R. Kiernan – The Red Tree

red treeWhy do I want to read this? If you haven’t read my gushing review of The Drowning Girl, you won’t know how much I need to read another one of this author’s books. I have no idea what this one is about (and I don’t need to), except that there is another unreliable narrator. And I do love me some of those. If Caitlín Kiernan’s books are at all alike in style, theme, or darkness level, I believe I have a new favorite author on my hands. An author I would never have picked up because I find the covers unappealing. Thank you, Worlds Without End.

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Dubravka Ugrešić – Baba Yaga Laid an Egg

baba yaga laid an egWhy do I want to read this? It’s all Catherynne M. Valente’s fault, really. She tore my heart out with Deathless and gave me a taste of Russian mythology. Ever since I read Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana,  I wanted to learn more about rusalki. Then Cat Valente comes along and introduces me to Baba Yaga. I now know that I have been missing out on Russian fairy tales for a long time. I will start my journey of discovering Russian mythology with this book here. I heard very mixed things about it and am not sure at all that I will like it – but I’ll give it a shot.

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And the rest…

You may think these aren’t all that many books, right? But of course, I’m still trying to read as many of the Nebula nominees as I can fit into my free time (I do have that annoying time killer called work to think about, after all. Plus another semester at university.) as well as some other books I’ve started and am somewhere in the middle of:

  • Connie Willis – Blackout
  • Tina Connolly – Ironskin
  • John Crowley – Engine Summer (finished April 21st)
  • Meljean Brook – The Iron Duke
  • Stephen King – Wolves of the Calla
  • Leo – Betelgeuse (The Worlds of Aldebaran cycle 2) (finished April 19th)

Other than that, I still have a lot of catching up to do for my older Books in the Queue. Patrick Ness’ Monsters of Men is eagerly awaiting to be read, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone has been jumping at me for months now, Jean-Cristophe Valtat’s Aurorarama just looks at me with sad puppy eyes from my shelf. And I won’t even mention The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood (edit: Ha! Finished it. It was awesome.). It gives me a serious case of guilty conscience for being in my late twenties and not having read it yet.

The 2012 Nebula Award Nominees…

have been announced. The list looks fantastic but I’m ashamed that I’ve read very, very few of the titles. Most of them are at least on my TBR, so I may just make March the Nebula nominee month and start catching up. nebula award logo

I’ve noticed something interesting since I’ve started blogging. First of all, I think a lot more about why I like or dislike a book. Secondly, I used to be only interested in awards for full length novels. Short stories, novellas or novellettes never did it for me. Being first and foremost a fantasy reader, I am quite comfortable with big books and I always thought short stories couldn’t capture me the same way a doorstopper novel could. But then I fell so thoroughly in love with certain authors’ writing (read: Catherynne M. Valente and Genevieve Valentine) that I had to read everything I could find. In my attempt to catch up on the nominees, I will still favor novels but at least I won’t completely disregard the shorter fiction. I have learned how powerful a story of merely a few pages can be.

NOVEL

  • 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson (WINNER)
  • Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed (my review)
  • Ironskin, Tina Connolly –> TBR
  • The Killing Moon, N.K. Jemisin  (my review)
  • The Drowning Girl, Caitlín R. Kiernan (my review)
  • Glamour in Glass, Mary Robinette Kowal  (my review)

NOVELLA

  • After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress (WINNER)
  • On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard
  • “The Stars Do Not Lie”, Jay Lake
  • All the Flavors“, Ken Liu
  • “Katabasis”, Robert Reed
  • Barry’s Tale“, Lawrence M. Schoen
NOVELETTE
SHORT STORY

ANDRE NORTON AWARD FOR YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY

  • Fair Coin, E.C. Myers (WINNER)
  • Iron Hearted Violet, Kelly Barnhill –> TBR
  • Black Heart, Holly Black
  • Above, Leah Bobet
  • The Diviners, Libba Bray –> TBR
  • Vessel, Sarah Beth Durst  –> TBR
  • Seraphina, Rachel Hartman –> TBR
  • Enchanted, Alethea Kontis
  • Every Day, David Levithan –> TBR
  • Summer of the Mariposas, Guadalupe Garcia McCall
  • Railsea, China Miéville –> TBR
  • Above World, Jenn Reese –> TBR

Thanks to SF Signal for providing links to many of the short fiction works!

Books in the Queue

Here’s the thing that I do when I am reading too many thick books at the same time and can’t post new reviews. I tell you what other (thick) books I’m excited to read next. Yay! Surprisingly enough though, this little segment has helped me a lot in keeping up with my reading resolutions. Three to five books are not as daunting as, say, “I want to read 20 sci-fi books this year” or “I need to read 10 classics” (although I really do). I still have some old queueing books to get to, but overall, I’m a good girl – and the TBR is shrinking (ever so slowly).

Patrick Ness – Monsters of Men 

monsters of menWhy do I want to read it? I never thought I would like these books as much as I do. I was expecting another mediocre YA dystopia but Patrick Ness is quite brilliant. I decided to take a little break between the second and the third instalment in the trilogy, but the more time passes, the more I feel the urge to pick it up and finally find out what happens to Todd and Viola and whether they both make it out of this mess alive. This trilogy is truly gripping and I was delighted to find out that the third book is almost twice as thick as its predecessors. Plus, I desperately want to see Mayor Prentiss get what he deserves.

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Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale (finished 24th March 2013)

Whandmaids talehy do I want to read it? I don’t really have to explain this, do I? I’ve never read anything by Margaret Atwood although I own several of her books. Oryx and Crake and The Handmaid’s Tale sound the most interesting to me. So I tossed a coin (and looked at the number of pages *ahem*) and picked one. From what I’ve heard, this is a bone-chilling vision of the future where women are separated into castes. And the protagonist is a “breeder” whose sole purpose is supposed to be giving her husband/owner children.

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Catherynne M. Valente – Silently and Very Fast (finished 2nd February 2013)

silently and very fastWhy do I want to read it? If you’ve just stumbled upon this blog you may not no yet: I love Catherynne Valente. She is currently my favorite author and I’m thrilled to have a substantial back-catalogue of her fiction yet to read. Because the February theme in my German book forum is “heart” I picked this novella – the robot on the cover has a glowing something in its chest that could be its heart, after all.

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Deborah Harkness – A Discovery of Witches

discovery of witchesWhy do I want to read it? You can say what you want, sometimes we are all influenced by how much we like an author in interviews. I listened to a few podcast interviews with Deborah Harkness and I couldn’t help but find what she had to say very interesting. The idea to this novel came from the thought: Okay, if there are witches and vampires and ghosts and all that, what the hell do they do all day long? I have always wondered the same and I can’t wait to pick up this novel and find out.

These are the books I’m currently most looking forward to. My mood could change completely (though I have no doubt, I’ll pick up the Valente next) but each of these books is screaming my name right now. Then again, I’m reading Margo Lanagan at the moment and I am so stunned that I might just throw in another one of her books…

Reading Resolutions – The 2013 Edition

I may finish a couple of books that I’m currently reading but I won’t start anything new this year. And what’s more fun than making plans, resolutions, and – of course – lists?  I noticed that my last resolutions post (the 2012 second half edition) was an utter failure. I only read one of the books I wanted to. Probalby because the list was too long. So here is my short list of absolutely-must-read-as-soon-as-possible resolutions.

Guy Gavriel Kay – The Lions of Al-Rassan

lions of al-rassanWhy do I want to read it? My very first GGK book absolutely surprised me on many levels. And while it’s given me severe post book trauma, I think I’m ready to dive into another adventure. I’m told this story is set in an alternate Spain (as Tigana was set in alternate Italy) and since I speak a little Spanish, I look forward to not stumbling over the character and place names. Also, winter is that time of year when I most enjoy diving into a book and staying there for a month. Big, doorstopper novels such as Guy Gavriel Kay produces, are perfect for that.

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Laini Taylor – Daughter of Smoke and Bone (read 12th April 2013)daughter of smoke and bone

Why do I want to read it? I am soooo behind on this one. The internet is exploding with praise for Laini Taylor and I must admit, the premise caught my interest. Since this is set in (alternate?) Czech Republic, I can add it to my Read Around the World challenge as well. Plus, have you looked at that cover? In case I like this as much as everybody else does, I have book two already sitting on my shelf. Edit: I gave both books to my sister after hating this one. Maybe she’ll like it more…

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code name verityElizabeth Wein – Code Name Verity (read 6th January 2013)

Why do I want to read it? I’ve had the book for a while and it’s been at the back of my mind since I bought it. But you know, my busy book-lover life got in the way and it’s still unread. It would have been a priority read anyway, but now I see it popping up on many, many best of the year lists, and so I can’t wait any longer. A children’s book set during World War II that tells of a deep friendship between two girls? Sounds intriguing, sounds like it will tug at my heartstrings and probably make me cry.

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James S. A. Corey – Leviathan Wakes (read 30th January 2013)leviathan wakes

Why do I want to read it? I initially wanted to read this with the Sword & Laser bookclub but I simply didn’t have the time. But I’ve heard nothing but good things and several comparisons to Firefly. Who doesn’t want more of that kind of crew? Exactly. By now, the second part and a couple of short stories set in the same universe are published already, so if this becomes my next literary crush, at least I won’t have to wait long for sequels.

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auroraramaJean-Christophe Valtat – Aurorarama

Why do I want to read it? It’s been on my radar for a long time, by now the beautiful hardcover edition is on my shelf, and I’m alread infatuated with the cover design, the inside illustrations, and the general look of the book. The idea of a steampunk Victorian society in the Arctic and the polar bear on the cover did it for me. I’m hooked, and I hope I’ll get to this one while it’s still winter here (even though it’s surprisingly warm this year). If I’m very lucky, I’ll catch sight of a few snowflakes through the window while reading this.

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I have more resultions but they are rather loose, such as “read a book by this author” or “read more classics” and I don’t see much sense in listing these vague plans. I have the very best intention of finishing a few series (Robin Hobb’s Tawny Man, Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel Trilogy), continue others (Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera, Stephen King’s Dark Tower, Alan Bradley’s Flavia deLuce), and – as is obvious from the list above – start some new ones. I especially look forward to my TBR challenge this year because I picked a cool theme and almost all of the books on the lists make me squee with excitement.

I will keep up my Books in the Queue feature because it has worked fairly well in the past and also, you people help out a lot by helping me decide which book to read first. 2013, I’m ready for you!

Books in the Queue

This is the bit where I talk about the top books in my TBR-pile, the ones that – for one reason or another – shout at me more loudly than others “Read me! Read me now!”. These can be books that I’ve owned for years or books that just moved in with me recently. But there’s always that spark that makes me want to pick them up as soon as I’m done with my current reads. So here are the books for that I most look forward to reading very, very soon.

China Miéville – Perdido Street Station (read 30th December 2012)

I have been China Miéville - Perdido Street Stationlistening to a bunch of interviews with China Miéville in the last few days and I can’t find the words to discribe how infatuated I am. What a clever, wordy, wonderful person. And since I’ve never read any of his books (but buy them constantly), I thought I should start out with the first of the New Crobuzon novels, Perdido Street Station. Now this is a beast of a book. At almost 900 pages, I am expecting to be sucked into this world for a long time. But somehow, the author as a person (at least the way he persents himself publicly) has made me so curious to explore his fiction that I must read this book. And soon!

Koushun Takami – Battle Royale

Koushun Takami - Battle RoyaleThere is already a firm plan to read this starting in December. The German book forum Literaturschock is hosting a reading group where we’ll read and discuss the book as we go along. This is another big novel to get through and I hope I’ll keep track of all the names and characters. Having already seen the movie, I do look forward to it quite a lot, though – especially discovering all the side characters’ back stories.

Catherynne M. Valente – Deathless (read 3rd January 2013)

I’ve been pondering long and hard about my first non-Fairyland Valente to read. While the covers are all striking (and you know how easily I am influenced by a pretty cover), I wanted to read a standalone book. That left Palimpsest and Deathless – a little trip to the god wikipedia told me more about each book and while I find the idea of a sexually transmitted city insanely intruiguing, the Russian folktale of Koschei the Deathless caught my attention just a little bit more. Plus, the internet spat out some wonderfully heartbreaking quotes from the book. I can’t wait.

Sharon Shinn – Jenna Starborn (read 9th Decemer 2012)

This is, again, entirely the SF Squeecast‘s fault. Since Ellen Kushner’s recommended Flora Segunda trilogy turned out to be just as charming and adorable as she painted it to be, I simply couldn’t close my ears to their recommendation of this science-fiction retelling of Jane Eyre, one of my favorite books ever. I’ve been meaning to re-read Jane Eyre for ages but new books always get in the way. So here I can sort of combine the two. Read a book that’s new to me while, hopefully, getting that flavor of Jane Eyre that I’ve been wanting to revisit for years now.

These are the four books that have moved to the top of my pile most recently. I still have two books to read from my last Books in the Queue post. Patrick Ness’ The Knife of Never Letting Go and Connie Willis’ Blackout/All Clear. I am still as excited about these two (technically three. Even more technically five, because the Patrick Ness books are a trilogy) and my mood will decided which one gets to be picked up first.