Month in Review: July 2019

I missed a June in review post, so I’m back with July in review.  I read a lot of shorter books this month, but I also tackled Wanderers which was huge!

Books read: 9 for July, 58 for the year

Pages read: 2,831 out of 18,051

Hours listened to: 5.5

Average rating: 3.78

Female Authors: 4 out of 27 for the year

Favorite Read:

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Review here.  It was close between this and An Illusion of Thieves but this one was so much longer (800 pages total) and was a larger time investment so I’m going with Wanderers.

UPDATE: I finished Inland by Tea Obreht just under the wire for July and after writing this post.  I’ve counted it in my stats but because I haven’t reviewed it yet I’m not counting it here or in any of the categories below.  I don’t want to say I enjoyed Inland far more than Wanderers or An Illusion of Thieves, but of the three, I think Inland will stay with me much longer, and would rank it as the favorite.

AudioBooks Listened To:  

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Review here.  I enjoyed this much more than the last McCarthy I read.

Graphic Novels Read:

Stephen Kings N. by Marc Guggenheim

Review here.  Being that it’s a graphic novel, it only took a couple hours to read, but it’s worth it!

ARCs Read:

 

The Last Astronaut released on July 23.

The Dead Girls Club – I cheated and read this early.  Review is scheduled for sometime in November!

Other reads completed this month:

 

ARCs received:

 

The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup – A Nordic Noir thriller that I’m super excited for.

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie – A Don Quixote retelling.  I’ve never read Don Quixote or Salman Rushdie so I’m curious how this one will turn out for me.

People of the Lake by Nick Scorza – An Edelweiss read now download that I was willing to take a chance on because I love the cover and the description sounds like something out of a King novel.

Imaginary Friend by Nick Scorza – I already mentioned this one in a Can’t Wait Wednesday post.  I’m hoping to clear out some of my other ARCs and dive into this one.

Giveaways Won:

 

Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade – I’m so excited to have won this!  It sounds right up my alley.  It’s not due out until November… I’m hoping Tor doesn’t wait months to send it.

Fortuna Sworn by KJ Sutton – The author actually approached me to review this, and it’s been awhile since I read a Fae novel, so I happily agreed.  (Also- I love that cover!)

Salvation Day by Kali Wallace – Thank you to Tammy @ Books, Bones and Buffy for hosting this giveaway!  It was a total surprise when it showed up in the mail but I’m hoping to start it very soon because it sounds perfect for what I’ve been in the mood to read lately.

Currently reading:

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova – This was a Kindle steal a couple months back for 99 cents.  Currently buddy reading it with some friends on the SFF Book Club at GoodReads!

Planned reads for August:

 

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys – An author I keep hearing about and finally have the occasion to read!

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa – A translated Japanese dystopian that I’m super excited for!

The Hive by Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden – A YA dystopian about a society that punishes and condemns online trolling, bullying, etc.

How was July for you?

Three Quick Book Reviews

I’ve actually finished several quick books the past week or two and I’ve been avoiding reviewing them because they were just the sort of books I didn’t have much to say about afterwards.  So I’m going to just give quick impressions here.

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Rating:  ★★

Alien Virus Love Disaster by Abbey Mei Otis (or: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,” my tag line, not the book’s.) This is the review I’ve been dreading most because I wanted so badly to like it and just couldn’t connect with it at all.  It’s a collection of bizarre short fiction mostly incorporating some kind of romance and/or alien contact.

With a title like Alien Virus Love Disaster– I was expecting something weird, yes, but also something funny.  Like the Stephanie Plum of alien books.  And it was just dark, depressing, despairing.  There isn’t a single shred of hope in the whole darn book.  Not one tiny story.

I gave it two stars instead of one because on the upside, the stories are unique and inclusive.  I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like them, and I can see how they would be right for someone, just not me.  I wanted to laugh, I wanted to be uplifted, and instead I ended up dragged down in a way I wasn’t prepared for.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Rating:  ★★★★

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (abridged, narrated by: Rupert Degas):  I know what you’re thinking.  “But Sarah, didn’t you just completely rip apart the last book you read by Cormac McCarthy just a few short weeks ago?”

Why yes, blogger friends.  Yes I did.  But I rewrote that review three times because I couldn’t get Blood Meridian out of my head.  And to me, the hallmark of a good book is one you can’t stop thinking about. (It’s the best 2 star book I ever read, lol.)  So I borrowed this on audio on a whim from my library.  Unfortunately all they had was the abridged version, so I can’t tell you what I missed out on, but I can tell you I would give this a go eye reading the full version.

The narrator, Rupert Degas, did a phenomenal job (except for his girly voices, which are weird, but only a small part of the book).  His voice is perfect for this kind of grim, desolate, post-apocalyptic world.  Hearing it instead of reading it solves a lot of McCarthy’s style choices.  The narrator was able to convey dialogue and made the issues I had with a lack of punctuation almost nonexistent.  I think audio is a good way to be introduced to McCarthy.

Anyway- our two MCs are Man and Boy.  They are traveling The Road to get South.  America’s population has been decimated by some kind of sickness.  What’s left are the good guys and the bad guys.  Man and Boy are “good” guys, as good as good can be in this world anyway.

The environment itself is the biggest challenge, lugging around supplies, enduring weather, falling trees (I got the sense the trees were all dying).  And when they encounter bad guys, it gets grim and dark real fast.  The message of the book is that hope and beauty can still be found in even the darkest places, I think, because despite all the many, many low points, there were still some significant high and happy points.

McCarthy’s writing really is beautiful and often reads like poetry.  I wasn’t glowing or gushing when I finished it, but I didn’t find my mind wandering too frequently when I listened, and that’s usually a challenge for me.  I’d definitely recommend this if you enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction.

Trigger content: again, if you have them I sort of must insist that you avoid McCarthy at all costs.  Nothing is off limits for him.

Stephen Kings N. by Marc Guggenheim

Rating:  ★★★★

Stephen King’s N. by Marc Guggenheim, illustrated by Alex Maleev – This is a graphic novel adapted from Stephen King’s novella of the same name found in his collection: Just After Sunset.

I enjoyed this- the art work was great and dynamic, and the mystery sucks you in right from the start.  It starts with a letter from a woman to an old friend talking about her brother’s death.  From there we flash back to where it all started.  The brother was a psychologist working with a patient who developed OCD after visiting Ackerman’s field in Motton, Maine.

It wasn’t quite a full five stars for me because the whole story is pretty ambiguous, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, and will definitely check out the novella.  If you decide to pick this up, don’t skip the foreword.  Guggenheim pays a beautiful tribute to a good friend and makes clear his fondness for King and his excitement over this project.  I’d love to see more of King’s short stories adapted into Graphic Novels turned into Graphic Novels.

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer TBR 2019

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

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Since I jumped the gun on this week’s post for childhood favorites, (which can be found here, in case you want to compare and contrast) I figured I’d play catch up a little and talk about my summer TBR.  I don’t know how many of these I’ll get to-  I’m way over committed and feeling totally overwhelmed, but I’m going to give it the good old college try.

The Last Astronaut by David Wellington

The Last Astronaut by David Wellington – I’ve already started this, and am actually mostly enjoying it even though my progress is slow.  Hoping to have a review up before it releases toward the end of the month!

An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass

An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass – I’ve already started this one too (because when you get hung up on The Queens of Innis Lear, you just read everything else until you beat the slog) and it is such a breath of fresh air!  It feels like the first fantasy I’ve enjoyed all year.

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig – I’ve had this on hold at the library for three months (at least).  I wasn’t lucky enough to snag an ARC but it’s okay.  It releases tomorrow and I’m fully expecting it to take precedence over everything else.  I just hope I enjoy it more than I enjoyed its comp title, The Stand, which I read earlier this year and wasn’t a big fan of.  I’m reasonably confident that Wanderers pulls the things I liked about The Stand and leaves out what I didn’t love about it, so my excitement level remains high.

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Alien Virus Love Disaster by Abbey Mei Otis – I forget why I added it, but it’s a buddy read for my virtual book club right now so I’m reading a story before bed every night.  The stories themselves are super inventive but also depressing.  Not sure how I feel about it yet.

The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville

The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville – Buddy read scheduled for July 9th.  I have one week to read 4 books.  This is going well.  (Send. Help.)  I’m finally ready for another Mieville.  The only book of his I’ve read so far is Kraken, and it was really weird (weird is good, I like weird), but I’m hoping this will be easier to digest at 200 something pages.  I think it’s also one of his higher rated books.

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova – This is an odd one for me.  It has a lot of buzz words that usually make me pass: dragons, clockwork, magic, organ market… (what can I say, I guess I prefer low fantasy) but it also has a lot of buzz words that make me scream yes: thief, assassin, lowest rungs of society… It was 99 cents not too long ago on Kindle, the reviews are pretty good, and a buddy read was proposed, so I guess only time will tell.

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte – I’ve read the first chapter of this.  It looks and sounds like a straightforward fantasy, but it’s actually more like science-fantasy, and I sort of love it.  I’m looking forward to reading more.

Famous Men Who Never Lived by K Chess

Famous Men Who Never Lived by K Chess – This book has probably one of the most intriguing blurbs I’ve ever read.  One world is destroyed and a lucky few are invited to hop into an alternate reality created from a schism circa 1924.  The MC has trouble adjusting to this new New York, where a science fiction author died young and never wrote his masterpiece.  I’m worried that there isn’t enough plot here to keep the book going, but I read the first chapter and it sucked me in right away so I’m hoping that’s a good sign.

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa – A translated Japanese classic reminiscent of 1984, I’m really looking forward to this. I just hope the translator is up to snuff.

The Hive by Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden

The Hive by Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden – Another Big Brother-esque novel about the dangers of Social Media.  I feel like I’ve been waiting for this book FOREVER.  Since the advent of the selfie and Facebook, I’ve been wondering when someone would get around to writing this.  I absolutely can’t wait to read it.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – A book for book lovers about the magic of books.  Plus the cover is really pretty.

Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence

Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence – This is the sequel to One Word Kill.  I won it in a GoodReads giveaway but haven’t gotten around to it yet.  I’m curious to see where the mystery goes (and also hope the ending is better than the ending I inferred from One Word Kill).

The Institute by Stephen King

The Institute by Stephen King – Happy birthday to me!  I had to end it here.  The Institute comes out on my birthday and is the book I’m most excited about.

This is way more than 10, and still only a fraction of what I’m hoping to get read, but that covers most of the major ones.  Are any of these on your summer TBR?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Spring 2019 TBR

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is pretty straight forward.  I’m pulling most of these from a list of buddy reads I’ve already agreed to join.  I swore this year I wasn’t going to do this to myself… but my March reading is already behind and April is pretty much booked solid.  You see the trouble is I commit to buddy reads and then I find all this other great stuff to read along the way.  So while three or four buddy reads is totally reasonable in a month- I’ll probably end up reading twice that and cramming eight or nine reads into a month.  #INeedToPlanBetter.

Luna Moon Rising Ian McDonald

Moon Rising, Luna #3 by Ian McDonald – I am SO EXCITED for this book.  It releases today!!  Plus I learned that CBS has picked up the TV rights on it.  I’m not sure they can do it justice (probably not like HBO could anyway) but I’ll give it a try if it ever manifests.  I’m so in love with this world and all it’s drama.

Beowulf Seamus Heaney

Beowulf, Seamus Heaney translation – So this is super embarrassing to admit, lover of vikings that I am, but I’ve never read this.  And I need more classics on my roster this year because last year I read none.

The Mere Wife Maria Dahvana Headley

The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley – If you aren’t familiar with this one, it’s a modern, suburban house wife, retelling of Beowulf.  To me there’s something contemporarily vicious about modern housewives and keeping up with the Joneses, so as odd as it sounds I think the setting will fit a Beowulf retelling perfectly.

Servant of the Underworld Aliette de Bodard

Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard – I actually have no idea who Aliette de Bodard is, I just know her name keeps coming up everywhere.  Tenochtitlan, Aztecs, high priests and priestesses… No idea what it’s about, but I’m sold.

Time Was Ian McDonald

Time Was by Ian McDonald – I’m pretty convinced at this point that Ian McDonald is one of the more underrated science fiction authors out there right now.  Again- no idea what this one is about, but for some authors, it really doesn’t matter.  I’m hoping for a sweeping science fictional LGBT+ love story.  And that cover is gorgeous.

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Alien Virus Love Disaster by Abbey Mei Otis – This book, along with Time Was (above) is nominated for the Phillip K. Dick award.  I fell in love with this book based on the title alone (you know, because 400 years in the future, I am totally a walking Alien Virus Love Disaster).  It’s a collection of short stories and looks like it will be pretty quick.

Wicked Saints Emily Duncan

Wicked Saints by Emily Duncan – Somehow I was lucky enough to be approved for an ARC on this one (St. Martin’s Press has always been kind to me).  To be honest, early reviews have me a little nervous, but with a title like: Wicked Saints and a series called: Something Dark and Holy… what’s not to love?! (Please be good.)

City of Stairs Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett – The number of books this man has on my TBR list is seriously out of control.  Everything he puts out I feel like I need to read and I’ve yet to actually read any of them.  Worse still- the omnibus for The Divine Cities was on sale for $2.99 a couple months back (a steal) so I own all three and still haven’t read them.  Spring 2019, it is time.

TheStand_SK

The Stand by Stephen King – I have to work really hard not to read Stephen King all the time.  Even on his worst days, he still offers me more than a lot of what I feel like I’ve been reading lately.  And I still have SO MANY of his books on my TBR.  Lately I’ve been wanting to read the stand, because I feel like it will be epic on the scale of Under the Dome.  (At least that’s what I’m hoping for.  Please don’t let me down.)

Witchmark C.L. Polk

Witchmark by C.L. Polk – I realize this is a bizarre follow up to The Stand, but reading The Wolf in the Whale last month, I was reminded that romance really is a favorite genre of mine, when it’s done well.  So I suppose it’s not a coincidence that both Time Was and Witchmark landed on my Spring TBR.  It’s nominated for the Lambda award and seems to have great reviews so I’m very excited for it.

That’s it!  I probably will end up reading ten totally different things, but I’m hopeful I’ll at least make it through the six buddy reads I have planned.  What about you?  What’s on your Spring TBR?

Top Ten Tuesday: Last ten books added to my TBR

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Okay – so this post is going up super late tonight.  I didn’t have time to write it in advance this weekend, but I really wanted the chance to talk about something new because I feel like I do such a good job of beating everyone over the head with my favorite books.  These aren’t in order of favorites or anything- just the order they were added to my TBR.

The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick – Alison comes across an old painting in an antique shop.  She’s told it’s of Anne Boleyn, but Alison knows it’s Mary Seymour.  The daughter of Katherine Parr and Henry VIII who went missing in 1557…it holds the key to her future, unlocking the mystery surrounding Mary’s disappearance, and the enigma of Alison’s son.  As soon as I read the description I was pretty much sold. It seems like it’s a little bit fantasy, a little bit mystery, a little historical fiction.  I love genre benders like this, and I love anything tied to Henry VIII’s reign.  The dude was bat shit crazy and 450 years later- crazy kings bring me crazy joy.

God’s Hammer (Hakon’s Saga #1) by Eric Schumacher – This is a viking saga set during the making of England.  The fact that it’s vikings was enough to sell me- throw in a 4.17 rating on GoodReads and the current 99 cent price point, and I guess I’m pretty well sold.

Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin – This is one I’m actually less sure about then the others.  I added it because I saw a rave review somewhere and because it sounds pretty fascinating in terms of what it does with language, but the truth is it’s a 30+ year old book and that makes me hesitate.  The gist of it is: women are property again (a la Atwood) and when they are past child bearing age without children they must retire to the barren house.  Linguists are necessary to keep the interstellar economy afloat and Nazareth is the most talented linguist of all, but all she wants to do is retire to the barren house.  When she gets there, she discovers a revolution is brewing using an entirely new language the barren women have created.

Alien Virus Love Disaster by Abbey Mei Otis – This is one a collection of short fiction nominated for the Phillip K. Dick award this year.  I’ve been enjoying shorter fiction ever since this terrible reading slump hit and with a title like Alien Virus Love Disaster how could I say no?

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson – As embarrassing as this is to admit, I’ve never read a single book by Sanderson, and I know he’s one of giants of modern fantasy fiction. I picked this one mostly because I liked the cover and because it was YA so I figured it would be a little easier to digest.

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon – My first love is and always will be, horror.  Ghost stories, monster stories, supernatural anything- I love it.  This is a book about a couple who buys a house, and discovers it has a violent and tragic past.  As the wife sources materials for her new home, she becomes obsessed with the lives of the Breckenridge women who occupied the home before.  It’s due to release April 30th, 2019.

The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan – This is a grim dark fantasy that I’ve seen getting rave reviews by book bloggers left and right.  From GoodReads: “When three thieves – an orphan, a ghoul, and a cursed man – are betrayed by the master of the thieves guild, their quest for revenge uncovers dark truths about their city and exposes a dangerous conspiracy…”  A thieves guild and three thieves that are an orphan a ghoul and a cursed man?  I don’t even need to read the rest of the blurb.

Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor – This is another book I’m not too sure about.  I added it on a whim after it was nominated for SciFi Fantasy’s Book Club monthly read.  “Historians” (read: time travelers) investigate major historical events in contemporary time from the Cretaceous period to World War I.  I’m not sure what the actual plot is but the hook seems interesting. (Please let there be dinosaurs.)

Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell – I really enjoyed last year’s The Silence of the Girls and Circe.  And while I didn’t love The Lost Queen, I do love the idea of giving women a voice in time periods and stories that are usually otherwise voiced by men.  Shadow on the Crown is centered on Emma of Normandy, wife of King Athelred of England in 1002.  Courtly drama, romance, viking invasions, and (hopefully) historically accurate (as possible) events could make for a truly fantastic story.

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The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids by Michael McClung – This book was the winner of Mark Lawrence’s first self published fantasy blog off in 2015.  I’ve only read one of his books- but I’m crazy in love with Mark Lawrence as an author, (for many reasons besides his wicked writing skills) so I added it for just that reason.  I’m told it contains plenty of gruesome violence, but between the spunky title and the purple watercolor cover, I’m getting more of a YA vibe.  Either way- I’m excited to read this and check out some of the other winners of Mark’s blog off.

What about you?  What have you recently added?  Link to your TTT below so I can check it out- I’m always looking to add more!