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?

Book Review: Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Rating:  ★★★★

Blurb from GoodReads (minus the spoilery parts): Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and are sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.

Wanderers is far from the first novel of its kind- an epic, sprawling, apocalyptic story, that evokes memories of Stephen King’s The Stand, Justin Cronin’s The Passage, or Robert McCammon’s Swan Song (admittedly, the latter two of these I have not read).  And I don’t think anyone would be wrong to compare this to any of those that came before- Wendig often mentions many of these books by name, almost poking fun at the derivative nature of his own story.  But I would say there is one key difference between Wanderers and the others.

Wanderers spends a lot more time on the actual downfall of man kind.  It isn’t really until 75% of the way through that readers get to see what the world looks like when most of humanity is dead or dying.  For that reason, some might find this to be slower paced than those others, but for me it amped up the stakes.  It forces the reader to think about what it would really be like to know human civilization is coming to end, the enormity and devastation of that statement. It doesn’t skip straight to the part where the survivors are just trying to survive.  You spend most of this book wondering if there will be any survivors at all.

The characters were full of depth, likes and dislikes, talents and flaws, hopes and desires.  They grow and they change.  It has been a long time since I’ve seen a full cast of characters in which I felt each was given sufficient attention.  None of them feel like background characters.  None of them feel unimportant.    There was one that made me groan a little when his parts came along- but I think it was more the nature of his character than it was that anything was wrong with him, but his arc is probably one of the better ones in the book.

The pacing on this story is pretty slow- I’d say it’s driven forward by the mystery/intrigue of what’s happening to the sleepwalkers more so than the action.  But the way the mystery and the plot unfolds is so natural, and even as we gain answers we also gain more mysteries, until most of the mysteries are solved and the action starts to ramp up.

There was a surprising bit of science in this book that I expected to fall more in the realm of horror or fantasy.  I really enjoyed it and it added a level of “realness” to the story that made it all the more terrifying.  I can’t dive into this too much without spoilers, but I read the acknowledgements at the back and Wendig’s research seemed pretty thorough, though he admits he’s not sure how accurate it ended up.  It sounded real enough for me so… *shrugs*.

Finally, without spoilers, I will say the ending disappointed me a bit.  It was way too ambiguous and the reader doesn’t get any closure to some of the character’s story lines.  It kind of crushed me to get that sort of ending in a book I invested 780 pages worth of my time into.  It felt like a cop out.  So I deducted a star.

Otherwise, I think this is absolutely worth reading, especially if you enjoyed these sort of books or are a fan of Wendig’s work.  I’ve been craving an epic I could sink my teeth into and get lost in, and this hit all the right notes.

Wanderers can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon.

 

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.

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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?

Book Discussion: Authors that have been on my TBR for way too long

I don’t know about you- but I have quite a few authors with multiple books on my TBR that have been there forever.  I’ve been thinking a lot about why I’m so hesitant to jump in and wondering if it’s just that I don’t know where to start.  I’m enlisting your help to get me started on some of these books!  Let me know if there’s one that’s better than the others or books that make for good introductions to these authors and their worlds.

Robert Jackson Bennett – Everything he writes sounds exactly like something I need in my life.  I even own his Divine Cities omnibus.  Still haven’t read him.

Chuck Wendig – I think I actually have read a short story by Wendig, and that was what put him on my radar initially, but I never ended up committing to any of his novels.  Now Wanderers is coming in July, and I’m positively giddy with excitement because it sounds epic.

Neal Stephenson – I see Stephenson’s books everywhere.  But I feel like people are pretty mixed on whether they like them or not.  To top it off, from what I understand, his books are all like 800+ pages long.  Where is the best place to start?!

Claire North – The book she’s probably most recognized for is The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, but for some reason that book doesn’t appeal to me so much.  These others  do.

Nancy Kress – Let’s be clear.  I want to read all the Nancy Kress books.  I don’t know if it’s her beautiful covers, or the descriptions or the possibilities for discussion, but every time one of her books pops up in my GoodReads feed. I add it.  Please, someone tell me where to start!

Joe Abercrombie – This is perhaps the most embarrassing one to admit to, because I love dark fiction and everyone recommends him as one of the top grimdark authors.  I think his blurbs are not doing his books justice.  Every time I look at one of them it turns into a TL;DR.  But now he has a new one coming out and I really just need to get on the bandwagon.

Other authors I need recommendations for: Brandon Sanderson (I know, I know), John Scalzi, and Richard Morgan.  Have you read any of these authors?  Can you tell me a good place to start?  Do you have any authors that have been on your TBR for way too long?