Category Archives: Book Talk

June 2016 Check In

 

Yes, I’m still alive. It’s almost-not-quite halfway through 2016 (yikes!), so I thought it would be a good time for me to take a look at what I’ve been reading.

My twofold goals for this year were to read 100% women  and 25% nonfiction. So let’s see where we’re at.

So far this year, I’ve finished 48 books, along with 14 novellas and literary magazines (I read more stories online, but I do not keep strict track of them). When you discount short stories, I have read 100% women authors. (I’m discounting short stories because I read a lot of them, and I’m not going to trawl through bylines weeding out the cismen. I have better things to do with my time.)

This goal hasn’t been very hard to stick to. I was already women-biased in my reading. But I’m still quite proud I’ve done it, because it means putting out books I’ve been diligently waiting for, like The City of Mirrors. It means new books piling up on my TBR. It means I haven’t even read the Hamiltome. (gasp!) There are more male-authored books on my radar than I thought their would be, honestly, but they’ll still be there in 2017. For now I’m quite happy to continue reading only women.

My goal for nonfiction was to be at 25%. Right now I’m actually only at 14.5%. It’s a lot harder to consistently read nonfiction every month than I thought it would be. Most of the nonfiction I’ve read I haven’t actually liked all the much, which has also kept me from pursing it more faithfully. My standout favorite has been Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell. I’ve read books on Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Hatshepsut, Catherine de Medici, and more, but while interesting none of them have quite grabbed me. I’ll be happy if, by the end of 2016, that 14.5% is bumped up to 20%.

Now I have to admit one of my big failures this year: reading diversely. WOC so far make up only 10.4% of my full-length reads. Now this is partially because I’ve burned through the back catalogs of certain authors (*cough* KJ Charles *cough*) but only partially. I need to be better. While I have books by NK Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, and Jhumpa Lahiri on tap, even if I read them all tomorrow I wouldn’t be close to parity. I need to be better.  So recommend your favorite WOC authors to me. 25% seems like a decent ratio, if a lofty goal based on where I’m at right now.

Last year by this time, I had read 60 books. Obviously 48 is a bit of a drop off, but I actually feel good about that. I’m trying to focus on my writing a lot more, and I’ve also been trying to burn through the books I already own. I haven’t bought a (physical) book since December. That is huge for me. (ebooks are another story, but I’m clearing through them as well.) Focusing on what I own means I’m missing all of the “hot new” things, but I long ago stopped feeling guilty for not keeping up with the trends.

Most of my reading this year has fallen to fluff. Maybe that’s not so surprising. The world right now, frankly, sucks. Mostly I just want to read about pretty people bantering with each other and then making out. That’s okay, too. I banished “guilty pleasure” from my vocabulary years ago.

Here are 6 of my favorite books  (+ 1 novella) so far in 2016:

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Sarah Vowell- Lafayette in the Somewhat United States (read on audio, which I highly recommend)

Maggie Mitchell- Pretty Is (a twisty metafictional debut thriller)

Jhumpa Lahiri- The Lowland (guys I finally read The Lowland I’ve been promising to do that since I started this blog, it’s a miracle)

Lily King- Euphoria (insanely, heartbreakingly beautiful)

Courtney Milan- Her Every Wish (the hero of this novella is a multi-racial, bisexual bicycle salesman. It. Is. Glorious. And there are more puns about “velocipedes” (aka bicycles) than I ever would have thought possible. My only complaint is that this is a novella, because I thought the character pairing was stronger and more interesting than the one novel Milan has published in this series.)

Roan Parrish- In the Middle of Somewhere (sooooo angsty, but it’s also a really sweet love story)

KJ Charles- Think of England (and the Society of Gentleman series. and the Charm of Magpies side books. Basically, I see KJ Charles’ name now, and I click so fast I get whiplash, and I love them all. But Think of England is so good.)

Well that’s it, folks. This erstwhile blogger has been trying to keep herself busy and out of trouble. See any books here that you like? Anything I have to read right now? And who are your favorite WOC authors? Let me know!

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Reading Groups

Hi guys. Wonder of wonders, I was inspired to make a new post! About books. Didn’t think that was going to happen.

[The title of this topic may change if I decide to do it again, but right now Reading Groups is the cleverest thing I can come up with.]

I go through my TBR pile by feel, whatever interests me at a given moment. But I’ve noticed that sometimes, my reading starts to follow patterns. Over a short period I may read a lot of books with a connection to Ancient Rome, or about first contact with space aliens, or about women scientists, or what have you. I may not read them one after another, but so many times I’ve found that books I’ve been reading connect in obvious and unexpected ways.

So I thought it would put together some of these groups, as a mini curriculum of sorts. Which brings me to what I’ve been reading so far in 2016.

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Mansfield Park > Of Noble Family >Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice

All three of these books revolve around race, slavery, and the sugar trade in Regency/Georgian England.

In Mansfield Park, it can be easy to ignore underneath all the tea parties and plays. But Austen was a sharp social commentator, and she does make several overt references to the slave trade. The wealth that allows Mansfield Park to even exist was built on the backs of slaves, as Sir Thomas is an absentee sugar baron who is forced to go back to Antigua to deal with an uprising.

Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories are each based more or less on different Austen novels, and it’s clear to me that Of Noble Family owes a lot to Mansfield Park.  But because this is the twenty first century, and because Kowal is Kowal, she dives right in to uncomfortable topics instead of shying away from them. In Of Noble Family,  Jane and Vincent travel to Antigua to deal with Vincent’s father’s estate, and they come face to face with the dark realities of slavery. Jane faces some of her own prejudices, and learns that the slaves have different ways of working with glamour.  There are mixed-race “house servants,” conning and cruel plantation overseers, and tensions coming to a boil from all sides.

Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice, is the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the real life mixed-race daughter of an English naval captain who was raised alongside her cousin in the house of her great uncle, the Lord Chief Justice. There is very, very little actual documentary evidence of Dido’s existence. She was often erased from the narrative even when she was plainly there. (For a long time she was assumed to be a servant, even when there was direct evidence that she had been raised as an adopted daughter.) But Paula Byrne works with what’s available, and manages to craft a compelling and easily readable social history about how black people existed in Georgian England. (And while I really enjoy the movie Belle, it did not surprise me to learn that, especially in the romantic elements, it was almost entirely fiction.)

These books all feed into each other. In Belle, Byrne even adds a codicil about Austen, who most certainly met Dido’s cousin (she wrote about her), and may even  have met Dido herself.

We tend to have this weird idea that people of color barely existed  eighteenth century England, and that when they did they were highly segregated and most white people would never have seen them. That slavery was hidden across the ocean, and most people never gave it a second thought. That is patently untrue, but it’s an idea that holds on, even in the face of direct evidence. While we won’t ever know if Jane Austen knew Dido Elizabeth Belle, she almost certainly knew of her, and it’s interesting to think if that played any part in the inspiration for Mansfield Park.

What do you think? Interested in more of my informal book groupings?

 

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2015 End Of Year Book Survey

This is a bit of a weird end to a weird year for me. I’m having my Christmas in January, so for now I’m just sitting at home enjoying my days off alone and watching lots of Breaking Bad.

*cue “All Alone on Christmas“*

*turn it off and go watch more methheads and murders*

It’s a new Christmas tradition!

Ahem. Anyway. I figured it would be a great time-filler to do this End-of-Year survey compiled by The Perpetual Page Turner. Settle in, it’s a long one.

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Number Of Books You Read: 129 [probably still time for 2 more.]
Number of Re-Reads: 3 [possibly 4. A Discworld I read felt vaguely familiar but if I’d read it already it was before I tracked my books.]
Genre You Read The Most From: Um…all of them? Fairly evenly split between nonfiction, fantasy, sci fi, romance, historical fiction, YA.

 

best-YA-books-2014

128752581. Best Book You Read In 2015?

My initial list was like 40 books long. Then it was 16. But, I guess, feet to the fire, it would have to be Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

A Study in Death by Anna Lee Huber. Don’t get me wrong, I love this series, and I’m still looking forward to more. But somehow this installment fell flat.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

In general I was surprised whenever I read erotica that turned out to have much better literary merit than would tend to expect. There were a couple of really surprising ones where the writing felt as good or better as most “literary” books I’ve read. In particular, I’ve gotta mention Scrap Metal by Harper Fox. Got a little soap-opera at the end, but a surprisingly well crafted story about building a home and a family in a place where you aren’t expecting it.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Um, I feel like I push any book I love but I think what I’m most proud of is getting my best friend to read NK Jemisin’s Dreamblood duology.

 5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?

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Series starter- The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles. These books are so much fun, I never want them to end but I keep vacuuming through them anyway.

Sequel- A Week To Be Wicked by Tessa Dare. Reading the first Spindle Cove book, I kept getting sidetracked because I thought the sequelbait couple was more interesting. I want to read that book, I said. And I did and man did it deliver.

Series ender- Police by Jo Nesbo. I…don’t actually know if this is the end of the Harry Hole series? He sets it up pretty hard for an eleventh book. But it’s the only thing on my list that might remotely qualify.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

In terms of most books read to date, let’s say Max Gladstone. I met a lot of great new authors this year, but most of them I’ve only gotten around to once so far.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

22554204Lumberjanes vols. 1 & 2

I’m not a big comics reader. But given my job a lot of them have come across my desk this year, so I started to check them out. I’ve read The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and Spider-Gwen and Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel (are we sensing a theme here on what I am likely to pick up…), and I was also blown away by Bitch Planet even though it’s not really my aesthetic. But Lumberjanes is where it’s at. So much fun. I already loved Noelle Stevenson’s style (although, oddly enough, not really into her famous Nimona that much.) Lumberjanes takes it friendship to the max and its cute and funny and exciting and nostalgia-driven all at once.

(btw, none of these comics collections were included in my reading total. I’m still not sure how to categorize comics or all the sort stories I read over the course of a year.)

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

I read both KJ Charles’ The Magpie Lord and A Case of Possession in single sittings. That is not a thing that I ever do.

 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Rainbow Rowell- Carry On. I kind of rushed through it and, anyway, I’m thinking of doing a full backlist reread of Rainbow Rowell in 2016.

2031246210. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?

Jackaby by William Ritter. Damn.

11. Most memorable character of 2015?

Hmmm….Baz from Carry On? Yeah, Baz. I love you, Baz.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

Say it with me, now. Tell. The. Wolves. I’m. Home.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

Tell The Wolves I’m Home. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but oh well. Maybe not so much life changing as life affirming.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? 

E.M. Forster- Howards End. Honestly most of my reading this year had not been on my TBR for a spectacularly long time or anything. This is a classic I should have gotten to earlier, though.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

I’m not a big quoter. Actually I kind of think that people who live by ‘inspirational quotes’ like the kind that end up as FB memes are pretty awful in general? It just bugs me and seems so shallow.

That being said:

“I really wondered why people were always doing what they didn’t like doing. It seemed like life was a sort of narrowing tunnel. Right when you were born, the tunnel was huge. You could be anything. Then, like, the absolute second after you were born, the tunnel narrowed down to about half that size. You were a boy, and already it was certain you wouldn’t be a mother and it was likely you wouldn’t become a manicurist or a kindergarten teacher. Then you started to grow up and everything you did closed the tunnel in some more. You broke your arm climbing a tree and you ruled out being a baseball pitcher. You failed every math test you ever took and you canceled any hope of ever being a scientist. Like that. On and on through the years until you were stuck. You’d become a baker or a librarian or a bartender. Or an accountant. And there you were. I figured that on the day you died, the tunnel would be so narrow, you’d have squeezed yourself in with so many choices, that you just got squashed.”
Tell The Wolves I’m Home

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?

Shortest: Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck. Longest: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Police by Jo Nesbo. I thought I was over his ability to shock me. I thought I had been desensitized to the fact that he routinely kills off my favorite characters in ways more gruesome than even George R. R. Martin. I thought a certain character was untouchable.

Reader, they were not. My face:

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18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Simon and Baaaaaaaaaaaz.

No, no. Wait. Simon and Blue. (sidenote: why are there so many gay boys in books named Simon, anyway?)

Or. Wait. Alexander and Bagoas. (history otp).

Or my newest loves Lucien Vaudrey and Stephen Day.

Guys. I swear I do read about straight people sometimes. They just don’t inspire all my otp flailings, I guess.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Maddie and Julie, Code Name Verity. I’m still crying.

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20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

 Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years Of Pilgrimage- Haruki Murakami. Hadn’t read Murakami in a while so I liked delving back into his style.

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Hmm. I read Theresa Romain’s Secrets of A Scandalous Heiress solely based on a review and a recommendation from someone whom I asked for interracial historical titles. (The hero is 1/4 Indian which is…ok, looked at today would be judged pretty white, but in a historical setting had some interesting things to say about race and class.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

Tyrannus. Basilton. Pitch. (Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaz.)

Oh and Winter Makepeace. *fans self*

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23. Best 2015 debut you read?

I’m not sure I read any 2015 debuts, except The Girl On the Train which was…okay. Overhyped.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence world is one of the cooler fantasy settings I’ve visited in a while.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Right now, KJ Charles’ A Charm of Magpies books are making me laugh more than any books have a right to.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein had me weeping uncontrollably.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Hot Head by Damon Suede was supposed to just be a fun romp about fire fighters falling for each other…and instead it brought me all the feels.  Annnnd…I may have already read it twice. (not sorry.)

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Wilkie Collins- The Moonstone because it certainly felt like the longest book I read even if it wasn’t.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

Charlotte Gordon- Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Live of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley. This book had a really interesting structure that took some getting used to but was ultimately fascinating.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood. Greenwood uses the lazy and highly offensive trope of asexuality = evil. I almost burned something down.

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book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?

I abstain. I love you all.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?

I feel like, for a book review blog, I have not been doing all that much reviewing. But I guess maybe this one?

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Had a lot of fun doing the Max Gladstone readalongs.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I really enjoyed participating in Austen in August a lot.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?

Um…?

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Keeping motivated.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My short story Sunday posts always get the most views, although I guess they’re mostly spam. *shruggy guy*

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Any of my reviews. Really, any of them. They were the reason I wanted to write this blog to begin with and I feel like no one even looks at them. Which leads me to writing less of them. Which just keeps the cycle going.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I’m not sure that I made any.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I didn’t formally set out any challenges, but one of my goals was to read at least one book of nonfiction a month, and I generally wanted to focus on reading more diverse authors and characters. I read 13 nonfiction books in all, and I think I did an ok job on the diversity front.

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1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?

Three, because I’ve been a bad TBR reader and these will be the three I tackle first in January:

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The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal, Winter by Marissa Meyer

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?

At the moment, the YA historical anthology A Tyranny of Petticoats. It just looks so good.

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I…don’t know any debuts that are coming out *fail*

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?

City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin. I won’t be able to read it until 2017, unfortunately [see below], but damn. It is time. I have been waiting for this book so long.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?

So, 2016 is officially my year of No Boys Allowed. Female-identifying authors only. A little experiment, and something I’ve wanted to do for a while.

I’m also hoping to up my nonfiction ratio to a full 25%. (right now, it’s hovering around 10%)

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

I have not read any 2016 releases. I have not read any ARCs in what feels like a very long time.

 

If you got through all that: have a cookie!

Ok…I don’t have any cookies. Have a good holiday if you celebrate, and a good day in general even if you don’t, how about that?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Best of 2015

toptentuesday

The topic of this Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is Best Books I Read In 2015.

This year I’ve decided to go month by month. Because what’s the point of all the random listmaking I do if I don’t get to play around with the stats? So, flagrantly disregarding the ‘ten’ thing, because I read way too much to narrow this down.

The best book I read in January was:

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, The Persian Boy by Mary Renault.

The best book I read in February was:

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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

The best book I read in March was:

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The Girls From Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe

The best book I read in April was:

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The Man Who Touched His Own Heart by Rob Dunn, Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon

(a nonfiction double feature!)

The best book I read in May was:

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Jackaby by William Ritter

The best book I read in June was:

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Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein.

The best book I read in July was:

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Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt

(Cause WINTER. Ah, this is my favorite Maiden Lane book by leaps and bounds. I still have a few to get through, but I think it will stay on top.)

The best book I read in August was:

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A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare, Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

The best book I read in September was:

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Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekback

The best book I read in October was:

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Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, Simon. vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

The best book I read in November was:

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City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

The best book I read in December (so far? I think I still have one or two books left in me, as I’m home all alone for Christmas) was:

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Police by Jo Nesbo

I think the biggest surprise in this is how much YA is on this list. I didn’t realize I was reading so much YA, much less how much I have been enjoying it. But the YA books I did read were good. Good enough to edge out a ton of other great books.

What made your best list?

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: New To Me

toptentuesday

The topic of this Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is Top Ten New-To-Me Favorite Authors I Read For The First Time In 2015

This year was weird. Most of my new-to-me authors I didn’t like very much. There were a few standouts, but mostly I found myself sticking with old favorites, because new-to-me authors left me cold. That said, there were some standouts.

(in effort to keep these lists somewhat different, I’m not including any debut novelists here. At least as far as I know. First timers get plenty of their own lists!)

1.  Holly Black

I still have not gotten around to reading more Holly Black and I don’t know why but it needs to be remedied asap.

2. Elizabeth Wein

Ahhhhh, tear out my heart and stomp on it and then send those pieces through the shredder and then light them on fire. And I will love every second of it.

3. Max Gladstone

I read three books by Gladstone this year. His worldbuilding is so cool and I look forward to reading the rest of his Craft Sequence series soon. (But not in 2016, alas. Because 2016 is my year of no dudes.)

4. Jo Graham

I was a bit surprised how much I enjoyed her debut, Black Ships. The writing was just so unusual and unexpected. I have a couple more of hers waiting on my ereader that I will hopefully get to in December or January.

5. Emily St. John Mandel

I haven’t checked out any of Mandel’s other stuff yet, and honestly I’m not even sure it appeals to me, but I did really enjoy Station Eleven.

6. Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Stairs was really, really, really, really good ya’ll.

7. Amy Jo Cousins

I don’t usually make a habit of talking about my taste in erotica cause really, no one wants to know that stuff. But holy schmaow what I’ve read by her so far (Off Campus and a couple of free novella things) is so good. And the characters act like adults and talk out their problems which I particularly appreciate in a genre that tends to manufacture tension simply because dumb people don’t use their words.

8. K.J. Charles

I’ve been hearing about The Magpie Lord for what feels like forever, but I kept putting it off and now I don’t know why. I flew through that book over Thanksgiving vacation, and it was so much fun. It reminded me a bit of a combination of Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. And there are sequels and I waaaaaaaaaaant them.

So that’s all I’ve got. Who did you read for the first time this year that you came to love?

 

 

 

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November Round Up

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Reading

I finished 12 books in November and got a good chunk of a way into a 13th. Thanks, Thanksgiving vacation! (Seriously, airplane travel = epic reading time.) One book was a reread, one was nonfiction, and three were short story compilations with multiple authors- including one I started reading way back in February.

Reading Diversely

Three of the books were multi-author; 4 of the single authors were male, and 4 were female (with one female author being read twice.) I actually probably read more male authors than I would have normally read, because I’m trying to cut down my tbr and I don’t plan to read any male authors next year.

One of the short story compilations was specifically written by diverse authors from around the world. One of the single authors that I’m aware of is a POC. Three of the books featured QUILTBAG characters, and I was kind of pleasantly surprised by that…but at the same time, God am I tired of the Tragic Bisexual.

Writing

Things are not great in writer land at the moment.

Sometime soon I’ll be tallying up my submission/rejection stats for the year, which I’, sure you’re all just itching for.

TV Junkie

How To Get Away With Murder is going to be the death of me. Viola Davis is earning that Emmy, and as much of a hot mess as that show is, I have to give it props for how well it crafts such a damaged, unstable, complicated middle-aged female character. Women on TV so rarely get to be this complex, and it is wonderful to watch.

Other than that, I’ve been trying to avoid TV. Really into the true crime show A Crime to Remember lately, and my usual sitcoms and cartoons (Adventure Time‘s Marceline miniseries was amazing, btw), but I honestly am trying to stay away from cable.

Mix Tape

I’ve been listening to a ton of Marina and the Diamonds lately. I know, I know, I’m late to the party. But she’s great.

Also: this song. I am so into this song, it’s ridiculous:

 

So wow that’s almost it. This year has flown.

 

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Would You Rather?

I’ve been seeing this meme kicking around, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

*Would you rather only read trilogies or only read standalones?*

Standalones. For one because there’s no law against how long a standalone can be, for two because the story beats that make up a trilogy can get old after a while.

*Would you rather only read male or female authors?*

It’s actually a goal of mine in 2016 to only read female authors. Many men are among my favorites (David Mitchell, Jo Nesbo, Haruki Murakami), but I kind of need a break from the male POV right now.

*Would you rather shop at Barnes and Noble or Amazon?*

Barnes and Noble. As I’ve mentioned before, Amazon makes me feel icky. B&N isn’t the greatest, either, but I’ve worked for them and I kind of have a soft spot for them, too. I currently have to drive an hour to get to one, though, so not really feasible…

Would you rather books were made into TV shows or movies?

Depends on the book, which is totally a cop-out but is also really true.

*Would you rather read only 5 pages per day or 5 books per week?*

5 books per week duh. Can whatever magic that makes that possible also clean my house and cook my meals and give me a paycheck and go to the gym for me?

*Would you rather be a professional author or reviewer?*

Author. Hands down.

I’m growing as a writer. I’m worlds away from where I was ten years ago, when I was so sure I was going to be the next wunderkind author without actually having produced any work to back that up. And I’m managing to sell a few stories a year, which for now results in a little thrill each time I sign a contract, swiftly followed by a you’re kidding me, right?, and feelings of insecurity and nausea the minute something comes out.

So I have a loooooooooong way to go. I may never get there. But at this point I am trying to look at it as a personal journey and not focus so much on external validation. If I have something to say, and can find the right way to say it, maybe one day I’ll hold a book with my name on the cover in my hands.

*Would you rather be a librarian or a bookseller?*

So I’m in a bit of an odd position with this one. Because I have been both a bookseller and a librarian, but I was never a “real” bookseller, and I’m not actually a “real” librarian, either.

When I worked in a bookstore my official title was bookseller, but I actually worked in a building across the way that sold college apparel and souvenirs. (That was kind of crummy, but at least I got my discount!) And now I’ve worked in libraries for a few years, both academic and public, but I don’t actually have a library science degree, and I work in collection development, which is kind of hidden away from the rest of the library.

So I don’t know! They both have benefits and drawbacks. Probably a librarian, I guess, because as anyone who has worked retail knows, it sucks. Even if every single customer loved books and wanted to buy on my recommendation, I’d probably end up losing little pieces of my soul every day.

*Would you rather only read your favorite genre, or every other genre but your favorite?*

I am totally prepared to cheat with this and say I don’t have a favorite genre. Because I really don’t. I have moods that certain books fit. I certainly grew up with a specific genre (fantasy), and only gradually learned to branch out, but I read pretty evenly across a range of styles now. So cutting one out would be kind of impossible and pointless.

*Would you rather only read ebooks or physical books?*

ebooks. There are still a lot of design errors slipping through, and to my mind they are still far too expensive, but it all comes down to the fact that I could read basically an infinite number of books on one small device. If all the physical books in the world disappeared tomorrow I’d be really, really sad, but if I had ebooks I’d eventually get over it.

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Gimme More

toptentuesday

The topic of this Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is Top Ten Debut Authors Who Have Me Looking Forward To Their Sophomore Novel.

This is the type of post where I can’t make it to ten. Only seven this time. A lot of authors have had enchanting debuts…and then a lot of other books that I love, too! Coming up with ten authors who have only had one book so far was difficult for me.

(This is also the type of post where I make it painfully clear that I don’t know how to add accent marks to the font in WordPress. Some of these women do, more properly, have accent marks in their names. Someone help me internet.)

 

158190281 Helene Wecker- The Golem and the Jinni

An absolutely enchanting tale of supernatural, turn-of-the-century New York City. I’ve been impatiently waiting for a new book from her pretty much since I read the last sentence.

2 Carol Rifka Brunt- Tell the Wolves I’m Home

A strong contender for the best book I’ve read this year. Just go read it; you can thank me later.

3 Cecilia Eckback- Wolf Winter

This is an atmospheric, very creepy novel about a place in history I knew almost nothing about–Swedish Lapland in the early eighteenth century. The characters were very well drawn and the writing in general was fantastic.

4 Erin Lindsay McCabe- I Shall Be Near to You

This Civil War novel almost wrecked me, which was all the more poignant because I didn’t expect it to. I’m curious to see what McCabe will get up to next; whether she’ll stick with the era and become a sort of Jennifer Chiaverini, or whether she’ll tackle a new time period.

5 Suzanne Rindell- The Other Typist

This roaring twenties thriller made a big impression on me a few years back.

6 Tea Obrhet- The Tiger’s Wife

I’m not sure what happened to Obrhet. A few years ago, she was the buzzy author everyone was talking about and I’d have expected her to have a follow-up by now. Whatever it will be and whenever it will end up appearing, I’ll be excited to read it.

7 Paula Hawkins- The Girl on the Train

This is undoubtedly the debut of 2015. It has been tremendously popular and, at least as far as I was concerned in library-land, came out of nowhere. I wasn’t completely blown away by it, but I did think Hawkins made some interesting choices and it was an interesting read. Whatever she does next is sure to get a lot of attention.

 

Who are you waiting to see a sophomore effort from?

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Vampires

toptentuesday

The topic of this Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is a Halloween themed freebie.

I love Halloween. It’s probably my all-time favorite holiday. And I am kind-of-sort-of-maybe-in-the-process-of writing a vampire novel. I mean. I am. It’s pretty atrociously bad right now, but I should probably just own up to it, right? I am working on a vampire novel.

SO. Weird obfuscations and silliness aside, here is my vampire reading list for said novel. For inspiration and tropes and all that fun stuff, although of course I hope the style and plot is all my own.

BuffyTheVampireSlayer13

Books I’ve read

1. Bram Stoker- Dracula

I have complicated feelings about the father of all vampire novels. Basically, I respect it as a literary touchstone, but when it comes to the actual book I find it…well, really boring. I think I need to see how I feel about it now that I’m not in high school any longer.

2. Holly Black- The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

I love this book. Have I mentioned that I love this book? Because I love this book. It’s scary and visceral and wonderfully character-driven.

3.  Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu- Carmilla

I read this story basically every year. Every time I get something new out of it.

4. John Joseph Adams, ed.- By Blood We Live

There are a lot of great stories by a lot of different style of authors in this collection.

5. Justin Cronin- The Passage, The Twelve

I need the conclusion to this trilogy. It’s such a unique spin on the vampire mythos, and I really enjoy it.

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Books I’ve yet to read

6. John Ajvide Lindqvist- Let the Right One In

I just recently saw Let Me In, and I adored it. It is so fucking scary and beautiful. I’ve yet to see the original version of the film, but it’s on my list. And I had no idea until recently that it was all based on a book…which now I have to read.

7. John William Polidori- The Vampyre

Polidori is probably the biggest omission in my knowledge of classical vampires. I know so much about this story, about it’s creation and it’s influence on Stoker, and yet I’ve never read it. So I need to rectify that.

8. Octavia Butler- Fledgling

The last time I read Butler we didn’t get on so well. I really just found her style awkward and highly overrated, which in some circles of SF is dangerous to say out loud because it’s akin to sacrilege. But, I’m willing to give this a try. Maybe I’ll like it better?

9.  Michael West, ed.- Vampires Don’t Sparkle!

Another story anthology; I love the title’s cheeky allusion to a certain series which I will not touch with a twenty foot pole.

10. Deborah Harkness- A Discovery of Witches

I understand that this is witches and vampires? I’m interested to see what it’s like.

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I have read many, many (many, many) bad vampire novels in my day. And I’m not particularly looking to go in a paranormal romance/typical UF direction, or read them either, which leaves out a lot of the long series. But! Recommend me some vampire novels, folks. Help me fill this list out!

Oh hey, and if you have nonfiction recs about vampires, throw those at me too. I have a pretty basic encyclopedia type reference on vamps, but I’d love to check out more substantial nonfiction on the subject.

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: I Wish I Knew How to Quit You

toptentuesday

The topic of this Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is Ten Bookish Things I Want to Quit Or Have Quit.

Be freeeeeeee. (aka I needed a graphic for this post and was out of ideas.)

Be freeeeeeee. (aka I needed a graphic for this post and was out of ideas.)

1 I wish I could quit…feeling like I’m so far behind on my reading because I can’t keep up with what everyone is talking about.

I want to read books for me, not to keep up with trends. I’m too old to worry about that shit. But it’s easy to feel buried in all the awesome new releases and feel like you have to read everysinglethingrightnow.

2 I wish I could quit…reading historical fiction novels that I enjoy in the moment but then ultimately become forgettable.

I read a lot of historical fiction. I always have. But recently it feels like a lot of those books leave me feeling…hollow. Like, they’re good for the time I’m reading them, but then I immediately forget them. They don’t stick. I think I need to read more nonfiction rather than these pointless, lightweight books.

3 I wish I could quit…buying books that I don’t have time to read.

Kind of tied to number 1. I have so many books crowding up the shelves, and then I start to feel guilty about not reading them, and then the guilt compounds.

4 I wish I could quit…reading when I want to be writing.

I have been trying to grow in my writing the past few years, and honestly it can be kind of scary and feel kind of fruitless. I’ve been going back and forth between larger projects, but a lot of times, instead of sitting down and getting my hands dirty and working through a problem, I give up and go read. I tell myself I’m doing research or giving my brain a break…but then a whole weekend afternoon, and all of its writing time, is gone.

5 I wish I could quit…more books that I don’t like.

Over the past year I’ve gotten much better at DNFing, but I still get to the end of too many books with a vague feeling that my life would be better if I had just stopped reading.

6 I wish I could quit…buying physical books.

I’m hoping to move within the next year, and it’s already giving me hives. Because: BOOKS. I have six bookshelves. They are all out of space. Most are, in fact, double-packed. I prune my collection at least once a month, yet it keeps growing. And growing. And growing. I want to switch a lot more of my books to my ereader, but that takes money I don’t have. And of course there are so many I just can’t give up the physical book for a screen.

7 I have quit…sticking it out to the end of the series.

There are too many books and too little time. If a series doesn’t catch me in it’s first installment, I’m not going to read any more. I don’t care if it becomes amazing in the second book.

8 I have quit…reading books about circuses.

I’ve read a lot of books about circuses, and I ALWAYS hate them. Like, universally, across-the-board. I don’t know why. I don’t care why. I finally put the moratorium into place: if the synopsis so much as mentions a circus, a sideshow, a fair…I’m out.

I have (mostly) quit…reading white men.

Look, there are plenty of good white, male authors. But I’ve gotten really fed up with some, even those who used to be my favorites. The pretentious MFA literati. The genre-trashers (and genre-stealers). The whitesplainers and the mansplainers. I have never picked up or avoided an author based solely on their gender or race–it comes down to the book, always–but I’m making a concerted effort to read many other authors. And avoid white men for a while, cause I’m tired of the bullshit, the trembling fear and insecurity from the top of ivory tower. We’ll see how I managed at the end of the year when I tally up my reading statistics, and then maybe I’ll be able to make a more realistic goal.

10 I have quit…loaning books.

Sorry kids. I have lost way too many books because I loan them to people and then, hey presto, never get them back. Or even worse- get them back with broken spines. I will literally buy you a book rather than loan my copy if I think it’s something you need to read right this second. Bad for my bank account, but good for my sanity.

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