Month in Review: January 2020

Hello friends!  I hope we’ve all had an excellent start to the new year!  For myself, I wish I’d gotten a little more read, but I did better than last year so that’s something.  And with my review of The Vanished Birds yesterday, I managed to get through all of the many ARCs I had committed to for January so I’m happy I’ve kept on track with those at least.

Novels/Novellas Read: 7

Short Stories: 3

Pages Read: 2,900

Average Rating: 3.8

Female Authors: 6

Favorite Reads:

Most of what I read this month was at least a 4 star read, but looking back, these two stood out as my favorites:

The God Game by Danny Tobey

Followers by Megan Angelo

Other Reads Completed:

Empire Ascendant (Worldbreaker Saga #2) by Kameron Hurley

The Broken Heavens (Worldbreaker Saga #3) by Kameron Hurley

A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen

Wonderland by Zoje Stage (RTC!)

Zenith Man by Jennifer Haigh

The Lion’s Den by Anthony Marra

A Good Marriage by Stephen King

The Girlfriend’s Guide to Gods by Maria Dahvana Headley (available free here!)

ARCs Received:

This is not including the ARC of Wonderland (pictured above), which I snuck in in January because I didn’t want to wait.

The Chill by Scott Carson – Has been getting some mixed reviews, but the blurb feels like it’s speaking so directly to me I couldn’t turn it down.

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown – A con artist who learned the trade from her mother, works a young heiress in the scam of a lifetime “where their intertwined lives give way to a winter of aspiration and desire, duplicity and revenge.”  Yes. Please.

Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon – Last year I strayed away from historical fiction, but it’s one of my favorite genres, and I want to get back to it this year.  It’s the story of a “socialite spy…who killed a Nazi with her bare hands and went on to become one of the most decorated women in WWII.”

Machina by Fran Wilde (and others) – Sent to me by Serial Box!  I loved Ninth Step Station, and was really honored when Serial Box reached out to me about Machina. I’ve already started listening to the first episode and it’s as great as I expected.

I did not receive any eGalleys in my effort to cut back on the number of ARCs I’m committing to.  (Which is not going well.)

PopSugar Prompts Completed: 5/50

A book published in 2020: A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen

A book that passes the Bechdel Test: Empire Ascendant (Worldbreaker #2) by Kameron Hurley

A book with the same title as a movie or TV show but is unrelated to it: Wonderland by Zoje Stage

A book about or involving social media: Followers by Megan Angelo

A book with a robot, cyborg, or AI character: The God Game by Danny Tobey

Other Posts from January:

Reading Challenge: 20 in ’20

Discussion: Books on a Budget

Book Haul

How was your January?  Anything special you’re looking forward to in February?

 

 

Books on a Budget

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t have a lot of disposable income.  It can be an issue when you’re reading 100+ books a year.  I know a lot of us, as bloggers receive free copies for review, but if you’re just starting out as a book blogger and still trying to establish your presence as a reviewer, reading can quickly become an expensive pastime.

Over the years I’ve become pretty adept at finding deals on books!  It can take a lot of effort and patience, if like me, your TBR hangs out in the 700 range, but it’s usually easy to maintain once you’ve put it together.

eReaderIQ

eReaderIQ

A lot of fellow readers I know utilize eReaderIQ.  It’s pretty easy to use, and there are two ways to use it.  The simplest way is to check it daily for price drops.  You can put limits on minimum or maximum prices,  search by percentage off, and sort by genre.  The second way to use it, is to make an account, add books to a watch list, and get an email notification when a book you want has reached a certain price.  You can also add authors to a watch list, and get a notification any time one of their books drops in price.

Advantages:  It’s nice to receive email notifications, and once your watch list is all set, you don’t have to do anything else unless you add or remove books from that list.  Another thing I love is looking at the price watch history.  You can see the lowest price point the book has ever been offered at, and their algorithms will make recommendations to purchase or wait based on the frequency and current price point of the sale.

Disadvantages: It only pings books about once a day (and some Kindle deals are known to drop for only a few hours.  If you have an author you love who also has a common sounding name (Stephen King, Mark Lawrence) eReaderIQ doesn’t seem to differentiate between THE Stephen King and that other guy who also happens to be named Stephen King.

Tor.com Free eBook of the Month

Tor.Com Free eBook

This is one of my favorite offerings from one of my favorite publishers.  Simply sign up here, and receive an email notification whenever a new book becomes available for download. (Their new one is available for download right now!)

Advantages:  It’s totally free, no review required, you get an email notification, and don’t even have to set a password.  It is available as a Kindle download and a PDF file I believe.

Disadvantages: You don’t get a choice.  Often times the book is being offered for free because there is a sequel coming up Tor would like to encourage you to purchase.  Additionally, for a few months I made the mistake of trying to send the books to myself via my phone.  Now those books are only on my phone (and I really am not keen on reading them there).  And since Kindle has no record of a purchase, I can’t even utilize the Content and Devices feature to transfer them to another device.  Hardwiring my phone to computer doesn’t make a difference either.

GoodReads Giveaways

GoodReads Giveaways

I have pretty good luck with GoodReads Giveaways.  I won six last year.  Which is admittedly, a very small fraction of my reading, but it still always brightens my day when I wake up to get one of those emails.  I do think the fact that I have been reviewing regularly on GoodReads for three years factors into this.  I know that reviewing your giveaway wins on GoodReads factors in.  The good news is, I don’t think that anyone really polices what you write in terms of your review, so simply putting a little blurb in there like: I won this and I am so excited to read it!  Sort of tricks the system into believing you’ve reviewed it.

Disadvantages: Winning is random and not guaranteed.  The offerings are not always what you are looking for.  Reviews are expected and I haven’t found GoodReads to be incredibly forgiving in terms of timeline.  I’m a mood reader, so I’ve sometimes made the mistake of entering giveaways with no real intention of reading the book soon after receiving it.  Not reviewing the book has definitely led to not winning for long periods of time.

BookishFirst

BookishFirst Giveaways

This is another giveaways type site.  You can sign up here and check out all the rules.  The way it works is, you read a sample, and give it a first impression review.  When you complete your first impression, you can check a box saying whether you’d like to be entered into the raffle to win a physical ARC of the book, and I believe they have since added an option to receive a kindle version.

Advantages: There’s no real barrier to entry.  You don’t have to meet certain stat requirements for your blog or follower count.  Anyone who is willing to review the book can give it a try.  Out of the 4 raffles I entered, I won 3, so success rate is pretty high, as I think this site is less widely known than some of the others. (Disclaimer: I have not entered one of these raffles since 2018.)

Disadvantages: It’s still randomized and there’s no guarantee of winning.  You’re still expected to get your review up in a timely manner.  There aren’t always a lot of options.  (This week they appear to only have two books on raffle.)  Sometimes the samples are large and reading the first impression can be time consuming, and annoying because it’s done on a computer.

Amazon Wishlists

Amazon Wishlist

This is my current preferred method for tracking ebook deals.  Most of my GoodReads TBR is on an Amazon Wishlist.  I check it every morning, sort the prices low to high, and see what prices dropped that day.

Advantages: There are a good many price drops that are not always advertised on the Kindle Daily or Monthly Deals page.  Hunting through eReaderIQ can sometimes be laborious, and there is no guarantee they’ve caught the price drop yet.  The wishlist is in real time. Furthermore, you’re only looking at the prices of books you actually want to read. I sign up for all the deals emails, BookBub, BookPerk, The Portalist… but I don’t often look at them because I don’t need to be tempted by something simply because the price is low.  I’d rather pay full price for a good book than a dollar or two for a bad one.  The Amazon Wishlist cuts out the temptation.  If a book made it there, it’s because I know I want to read it.

Disadvantages: Maintaining and adding to this list (or taking the item away if you’ve changed your mind) can be time consuming.  Mine is in need of updating and I’m loathing the idea.  It’s very easy for this wishlist to grow out of control.

Other sources: These are mostly email newsletters I receive letting me know about various sales happening on eBooks.  I tend to have the best luck with BookRiot, it sends a daily digest and info about giveaways (though I’ve never won one of those) and BookBub is okay.  The Portliest focuses on a lot of the classics.  Book Perk is sponsored by Harper Collins, but Simon & Schuster, and Penguin Random House both publish similar newsletters for their own books.

BookBub

Book Perk

The Portalist

BookRiot Deals

I couldn’t not give a shout out to my local library who has or can acquire just about anything my SFF loving heart could desire.  And a special, special thank you to all you local used bookshop owners, for feeding my reading addiction.

How about you?  What’s your method for saving money on books?

Month in Review: October 2019

I actually got quite a bit read in October, though not as much Horror as I would have liked. I took a good chunk out of my Fall TBR too, which makes me happy because I’m going to get to mood read for most of November and December!

Books read: 9 for October, 86 for the year

DNF: 3

Pages read: 3,287 out of 28,587

Average rating: 3.78

Female Authors: 4 out of 39 for the year

Favorite Read(s):

I couldn’t pick just one so I went with two:

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Honorable mention to Kel Kade’s Fate of the Fallen, which I read way back in July but was technically the highest rated book for October.

Other Reads Completed:

Half Way Home by Hugh Howey

I Will Make You Pay by Teresa Driscoll

Sword of Kings by Bernard Cornwell

People of the Lake by Nick Scorza

Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

Airframe by Michael Crichton (RTC)

Alone by Christophe Chaboute (RTC)

ARCs Received:

A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen

The Better Liar by Tanen Jones

The Unwilling by Kelly Braffet

The Wall by John Lanchester

eGalleys Approved:

No, it’s not a joke, just a weird coincidence:

The Deep by Alma Katsu

The Deep by Rivers Solomon

Planned Reads for November:

Fortuna Sworn by KJ Sutton

Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer

Gamechanger by LX Beckett

Random Other Posts from October:

Discussion: The Dawn of the DNF

Monster Books on my TBR

Top Ten Tuesday: Spooks, Psychics and other Supernatural Books on my TBR

Reviews still to come on a few of these and the DNFs.  How was your October?  Anything special planned for November?

 

Month in Review: September 2019

Despite a slew of DNFs at the end of the month, I actually enjoyed most of my reading, and completed quite a few books.

Books read: 9 for September, 77 for the year

DNF: 3

Pages read: 3,581 out of 25,300

Hours listened to: 12 Hours

Average rating: 3.89

Female Authors: 2 out of 35 for the year

Favorite Read:

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Audiobooks Listened To:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – I am not reviewing this because there’s plenty of reviews already out there, but I enjoyed it, and the audio was fantastic.  Highly Recommended.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson – I very much enjoyed the audio on this also.  The ending took me by surprise, but I loved this story.  I quit on the other stories because the narrator changed but not for the better.

Other Reads Completed:

A Pilgrimage of Swords by Anthony Ryan

War of the Wolf by Bernard Cornwell

Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence

The Institute by Stephen King

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

ARCs Received:

Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia

Half Way Home by Hugh Howey

The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez

eGalleys Approved:

The Companions by Katie M. Flynn

Providence by Max Barry

Sword of Kings by Bernard Cornwell

Planned Reads for October:

I will not have time to read anything outside of this already massive list.

How was your September?  Have you read any of these?

 

Discussion: The Dawn of the DNF

Maybe it’s just because September was overloaded with new releases I wanted to read.  Maybe it’s just because October is my favorite month for reading because it feels like a solid excuse to read only horror without feeling too guilty about it.  Maybe I just really suck at picking books I think I’ll enjoy.  Or to spin this in a positive light, maybe I am good about going outside my comfort zone and trying things I’m not sure I’ll like.

I don’t like DNFing.  But at the end of September I ran into a problem.  I started a bunch of books I really had no desire to finish.  One of them was a buddy read I’d been looking forward to since we scheduled it a few months back.  One of them was a new release I’d been pining for since I first saw it on Edelweiss and originally was declined for but later won in a GoodReads Giveaway.  One of them was an ARC I was approved for months ago, when I might have been more in the mood to read it but put off because I didn’t want to read it too early, and am now just not enjoying the way I want to.

I feel obligated to finish all of them.  But I know it will put me in a reading slump because I’ll come up with other things I’d rather be doing than reading a book I don’t actually want to read.

So I’m DNFing.

And you know what?  It’s probably one of the most liberating choices I’ve made in a long time.  It won’t result in some scathing review I have to put up because I forced myself to finish a book I didn’t want to read.  And because it won’t be some ranting-hate-filled review I’m probably at less risk of offending the poor author who poured countless hours, blood, sweat and tears into writing it.  Or the publisher, who selected that manuscript over a thousand others to publish, and then poured time and resources into putting that book in the wider world.

Do I feel guilty?

Yeah.  I do.  I was given at least two of these books in exchange for honest reviews.  And while there’s nothing dishonest about saying I didn’t finish, or that a book wasn’t for me, it feels half-assed.  Like I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain.

But at the same time, I’ve given each of these books almost a hundred pages to make me care, and they just haven’t done that.

This isn’t a movie.  It usually doesn’t take a mere two hours to read a book.  It’s 10, 15, sometimes 20 hours of my life that I’m not enjoying, that I can say with reasonable surety is not going to become enjoyable, and I’m never going to get back.  I wouldn’t keep playing a video game that was no fun or riddled with glitches that made it unplayable.  I wouldn’t finish a meal that tasted bad.  I’m not going to continue reading a book I’m not enjoying.

I’ve seen some readers argue that if you don’t finish the book, you shouldn’t leave a review.  And while I understand the argument- anything could happen in those final pages – it could become enjoyable.  But can a book you dread picking up really perform that much of a turnaround?  Can you really go from hating a book to loving it?

I don’t think so.

I’ve seen books go from mediocre to awesome.  I’ve seen books go from good to bad.  It’s rare that I see a book go from awful all the way to enjoyable.

And it’s not even that a book has to be awful to make me want to DNF.  It could just be that it’s not for me.  I think that’s an even harder obstacle to overcome.

The fact is- I just don’t have the same amount of time to read like I used to.  And I’m making a conscious choice to spend those hours reading what I actually want to read instead of reading something that makes me miserable.

What I am confused about, since I’ve never really made a conscious choice to DNF, is what the rules are for DNFing?  (Are there rules?)  Does it have to happen around some significant plot point in the book?  For example, a scene of rape or child abuse that makes you not want to continue?  Do you have to give it so many pages before you quit?  Do you need to determine that the text is borderline unreadable?  As may be the case in something self published that wasn’t properly vetted by an army of beta readers and developmental editors?

So you tell me, fellow readers, what are your rules for DNFing?

 

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.

TTT-NEW

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.

avld_amo

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?

Month in Review: May 2019

May was not a great month for me.  I think I’ve mentioned this before but I’m currently between jobs and that’s sucking up a lot of my time.  I finished the month pretty strong though and I’m excited to share those reviews with you!

Books read: 6 for May, 41 for the year

Graphic Novels read: 3

Pages read: 2,066

Average rating: 3.55

Female Authors: 3 for May, 18 for the year

Favorite Read:

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Review to come on this one!  I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write it yet, but this was a wild ride, and I think gave me a much needed break from Fantasy, which I’ve been feeling burnt out on.

Currently Reading:

 

ARCs Approved & Giveaways Won:

Looking Ahead:

 

Month in Review: April 2019

April was a pretty good month for me I think.  I feel accomplished having tackled not one but two behemoth novels that accounted for over 2,000 pages of reading alone.  I found some new favorites and authors to look out for in Sylvain Neuvel and Maria Dahvana Headley.  To top it off- I added another notch to my classics belt with Beowulf!

Can I start with some stats?  Is that allowed?

Books read: 9 for April, 32 for the year

Pages read: 3,925 out of 10,597 (So 37% of my reading was done in April alone… interesting.)

Average rating: 3.61

Female Authors: 3 out of 15 for the year (Booo! My goal this year is to read more women than men.  For some reason I gravitate more towards male authors. It’s a bad habit and I’m trying to break it.)

Favorite Read:

The Mere Wife Maria Dahvana Headley

Review here.  I gave this book 4.5 stars, but if I’m being honest, it deserves 5.  I was a little thrown by the ending at the time, but this book has stuck with me.  Weeks later I find myself still thinking about it, and wondering how I can convince my mother to read it.

Longest read:

TheStand_SK

Review here.  This is probably the longest book I’ve ever read at 1,345 pages.  The Priory of the Orange Tree was a close second at 848 pages.  I feel like I’ve lost a part of my soul having to say that it was also my lowest rated read.

Shortest Read:

The Test by Sylvain Neuvel

Review here.  The Test clocks in at a mere 112 pages and is absolutely worth the two hours it takes to read it. It was a close second for highest rated, and really only lost out because The Mere Wife effected me so much more.

Series Completed:

Luna Moon Rising Ian McDonald

Luna by Ian McDonald, review here.  I’m sad it’s over- I could spend another 3, 5 or 10 books with these characters. On the bright side, in the bottomless depths of the Edelweiss catalogues, I’ve discovered a novella expected to release this fall set in this world.  Once they’ve got a cover up it’s headed straight for Can’t Wait Wednesday.

Other reads completed this month:

ARCs approved:

I’m super excited for Atmosphaera Incognita by Neal Stephenson.  It will actually be the first time I’ve read him, and while it may not be the best place to start, I’m happy I won’t feel obligated to finish a thousand page novel if I don’t end up being a fan.

A Hero Born is actually a wish I had granted.  I was super excited about it because I’m always looking for a good translated and foreign favorite novel, but I’ve seen some less-than-stellar reviews on this particular translation.  Lucky me it’s not due out until fall so I won’t feel too bad about procrastinating.

GoodReads Giveaway Won:

Ninth Step Station by Malka Older Fran Wilde Jacqueline Koyanagi Curtis Chen

I’m SO excited I won the giveaway for Ninth Step Station.  Not long after I downloaded my kindle copy, the kind folks at Serial Box sent me a redemption code to get the audio to go with it.  I’ve never tried Serial Box before but I hear it is full cast audio, and one of the authors, Malka Older, I know is super talented.  I can’t wait to get started!

Looking ahead…

Currently reading:

Just to assure myself I really do like Under the Dome and that my reading tastes haven’t changed drastically, I’m re-reading it so I can later do a compare-contrast (and finally put up a review).  It’s long but it’s going quick and only 10% I’m fairly certain it isn’t my taste that’s changed.

Friday Black was put on my radar by the Newburyport Literary Festival, which happened to be the same day as the Providence one.  I was combing their list of authors trying to determine which festival I would enjoy more and Adjei-Brenyah was one author I’d never heard of before but that I was sort of sorry I would miss out on.  This is a collection of short stories, many of which happen to be speculative fiction.  It’s definitely interesting so far, and his stories are very thought provoking.

Planned reads for May:

And I guess that’s it!  *If you don’t hear from me, send help. I’m already behind!*