June reading round-up

  • # of books read: 16
  • audiobooks listened to: 2
  • graphic novels read: 8
  • total page count: 4,395
  • year total page count: 24,472

A large portion of my month was spent reading 2 books by Cassandra Clare.

The first was Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, which I picked up mainly because I’ve been meaning to read it for a while and because I found out I wasn’t first on hold for Lord of Shadows…  I wasn’t expecting this to be, essentially, a book about Simon.  It was sort of like The Bane Chronicles, a series of short stories, written by Clare, Maureen Johnson, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Robin Wasserman, that focused on Simon’s time spent learning Shadowhunter skills, trying to recover his memories, and dealing with not being a vampire anymore.  There were a few lovely Malec moments, and a very sad moment at the end that for me, overshadowed the death at the end of Lord of Shadows.

I’m glad I read Tales before I read Lord of Shadows, simply because of some of the background, a reminder that Alec and Magnus now have children and to meet some of the Shadowhunters who appear as part of the Centurions.  There are many romances going on in Lord of Shadows, but my favorite relationship was between Kit and Ty.  I feel like in my review of Lady Midnight I didn’t even mention Kit, even though he was one of my favorite characters, because he wasn’t essential to the complex plot.  But here he was featured more, and I can’t wait to see what happens.  Two more years till the next book…

After these two tomes, I was ready for a huge graphic novel binge.

A few blog posts helped me discover a load of new graphic novels.  This one recommended the memoir Imagine Wanting Only This, and this one introduced me to Giant Days.  I swear there was a blog post that recommended Ten Count and The Angel of Elhamburg by Aki but unfortunately I can’t find it.  Ten Count has been highly enjoyable, so much so that I bought v. 2 and couldn’t wait for volume 3 to arrive and starting reading online.  My library director got an ARC of Lighter Than My Shadow, an intense memoir of a young woman with an eating disorder.

This month I also finished two books from Wattpad that have been published.  The first was a horse-related story called Born to Run which I enjoyed because it felt like a mash-up between Thoroughbred and Wildfire.  The second was The Casquette Girls, which I started reading on Wattpad and ending up buying, as Wattpad isn’t the easiest way to read and the book is over 500 pages.  I really loved Casquette Girls – if you’re looking for something with amazing world-building and some paranormal romance, this is it.

Sarah Dessen’s new book came out this month, which I was thrilled about.  While it followed the Sarah Dessen formula, it’s still a great summer read.

Into the Water was another new release I’ve been looking forward to, since I loved The Girl on the Train.  Unfortunately I found the issues I had with Hawkins’ first book (confusing multiple narrators) were even worse in this book, while this was also less of a thriller.  The mystery was interesting, and the story got better as it went along, but still a little disappointing.

With my trip to Ireland coming up next month, I’ll either read way more because I’m traveling, or read way less (sometimes vacations are too busy for reading!).  But I do have another stack of graphic novels to read, and about 4 OwlCrate books I need to get to, plus I’m going on a pilgrimage to the Book Barn in Niantic, CT tomorrow, so I’ll be sure to have a haul from that 🙂  The TBR list never stops growing!

The complete list of all the books I read this month (links take you to my Goodreads reviews)

  1. Born to Run (North Oak #1) by Ann Hunter (via Wattpad)
  2. The Voices by F.R. Tallis (audiobook)
  3. Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare et al.
  4. Torso by Brian Michael Bendis (graphic novel)
  5. Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green (graphic novel)
  6. Torso by Brian Michael Bendis (graphic novel)
  7. Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay (audiobook)
  8. Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2) by Cassandra Clare 
  9. Ten Count v. 2 by Rihito Takarai (graphic novel)
  10. Giant Days v. 1 by John Allison (graphic novel)
  11. Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke (graphic novel)
  12. Ten Count v. 3 by Rihito Takarai (graphic novel)
  13. Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
  14. The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden
  15. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
  16. The Angel of Elhamburg by Aki (graphic novel)
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editing time!

I was so ambitious when I planned for the third Wolf Point prequel to be released May 1.  Quite honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking, because I had planned to write the rough draft during April’s Camp Nanowrimo.  Like when I wrote The Madman, the rough draft was not in fact completed by the end of camp.  With a new deadline of June 1st, I raced to try to finish the rough draft.

Did I mention that the June 1 deadline was my publication date?

Obviously, I missed that deadline as well.  Just last night, I managed to finish the first draft.  Editing is an easier process than writing, so hopefully I can make my new deadline of July 1.  (I will most definitely be pushing back my deadline for the fourth and final Wolf Point novel, Warriors – as of right now it’s August 1, but yeah, I’m planning to write the rough draft during July’s Camp, so August 1 is NOT HAPPENING).

What took so long for this draft?

Unlike the other two prequels, I didn’t have as much freedom in the timeline.

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I had both a historical timeline, and I was working through the years of recent history to where the Wolf Point books begin.  This covers approximately 100 years.  I had to account for all those years somehow, as well as deal with what might have been going on politically and socially in that time.  I knew I wanted to include the Schoolhouse Blizzard of 1888 (not to be confused with the 1888 Blizzard that hit the East Coast), and I also had to research what was going on with several of the Native American tribes in that region during those years, which was… a lot.  Famine, being forced onto reservations, etc.  It’s amazing how much research I have to do for what amounts to a paragraph.  Or I try to write something simple, like someone cooking over a fire, only to discover after doing research that the particular tribe I am writing about cooked over hot stones, not fires.

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And then there were the family trees.  I have pretty much determined that it’s impossible to make a cohesive family tree for the Five Families.  The characters kept having babies and I kept forgetting to write them down.  I found myself with two characters named Charles, three named Sarah, and one whose name was both Ainsley and Kieran.

But the good news is that the end is in sight!  My goal is to have The Seer published before summer reading madness hits at my library, and get busy with writing Warriors (so far there’s just a rather vague outline and some scenes written when I had planned the series to be 6 books and the 4th book was from Misty’s POV and titled Fighters).

May reading round-up

  • # of books read: 21
  • audiobooks listened to: 5
  • ARCs read: 1
  • total page count: 4,538
  • year total page count: 20,077
I managed to get tons of reading done this month!  My favorite reads of the month were Bang by Barry Lyga (about a boy who shot and killed his younger sister when he was a toddler), Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty (a murder mystery set in space and involving clones), and Ten Count v. 1 (a manga that warmed my little yaoi heart).

I got through the top four books in this stack.  I enjoyed House quite a bit, though it was somehow completely different than I imagined.  Dissected was also pretty good!  I thought I would like The Last Final Girl and Tape better than I did, but hey – you can’t like everything.   All of these were super quick reads.  I got House and Tape via Thriftbooks (along with most of the others in this stack!) and the others I got at the library book sale.  Last year I only found one book at the book sale, so I was quite pleased with the selection this year.

The Revenge of Analog was an interesting look at how people, after several decades of movement toward a digital world, are gravitating toward the analog.  Whether it’s music on vinyl, film cameras, or simply handmade goods, I have seen this trend emerging both for myself (I own a typewriter again!) and among others of my generation.  Sure, it’s convenient to be able to load up my Nook for a trip, but sometimes it’s easier (simpler, and easier on the eyes!) to read a physical book.  I was thinking this was more of a hipster trend, but honestly I’m seeing this everywhere.

A nice day for beach reading #beachreads #sixwakes #bookstagram #murlafferty

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I’m not a big fan of sci-fi, but the horror elements of Six Wakes (“Six crew. One ship. One killer.”) intrigued me when this appeared at the library.  I also really liked the cover, because sometimes that’s how I judge books!  I had the opportunity to read One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus as an ARC, and I enjoyed that murder mystery just as much.  Maybe I like murder mysteries now?

Because the weather has been far cooler than usual for May, I’ve been listening to audiobooks like mad (normally, I’d have my car window rolled down, which makes it hard to listen to an audiobook while driving).  My favorite audio of the month was definitely The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.  It was a quirky kind of love story that takes place over the course of a day.  The alternating voices reminded me a little of Eleanor and Park – also the focus on music as a thing that brings the two together.  I also enjoyed Anna Kendrick’s memoir, Scrappy Little Nobody.

Three nonfiction books this month, WHAT?  I’ve had this on request for a while and it came in for me just as I was heading up to Acadia, Maine for the weekend.  It could not have been more perfect timing.  The Stranger in the Woods is the story of a man who lived alone and unnoticed in the Maine wilderness for TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS.  As the author of the book pointed out, most people don’t go more than a few hours without speaking to another human being.  Even me.  I enjoy my time alone, but I also have the outlet of talking to people via the internet, even if I don’t leave the house at all, which is rare.  Usually I at least go to the gym or grocery shopping.  So while it sounds lovely to be alone for so long, I’m sure not even I could do it.

The complete list!  (links take you to my Goodreads reviews)

  1. The House by Christina Lauren
  2. Day 21 (The 100 #2) by Kass Morgan (audiobook)
  3. I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid (ebook)
  4. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
  5. The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax
  6. Dissected by Megan Bostic
  7. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (audiobook)
  8. Tape by Steve Camden
  9. The Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones
  10. One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus (ARC)
  11. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
  12. Bang by Barry Lyga
  13. Insanity by Susan Vaught
  14. The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave #2) by Rick Yancey (audiobook)
  15. The Gathering (Shadow House #1) by Dan Poblocki (audiobook)
  16. Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
  17. Ten Count, Volume 1 by Rihito Takarai
  18. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel
  19. Blood on My Hands by Todd Strasser
  20. Deadly Attraction (Nightmare Hall #3) by Diane Hoh
  21. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (audiobook)

reading while traveling

books-1163695_640Apparently this is a thing I like to do: read a book set in the place I’m traveling to.

Right now, I’m heading off to a weekend in Acadia, Maine, and I’m reading The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel, about a man who lived as a hermit in the backwoods of Maine for nearly 30 years.

When I went to Iceland, I read a book called Boy on the Edge by Fridrick Erlings, about a foster kid growing up in Iceland – I could look outside and understand the descriptions of the lava fields in a way I probably couldn’t have if I hadn’t been right there.

When I went on a road trip after college, I read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild.  I also read, as we drove through the southwestern states, a terrible book by Bentley Little called The Revelation, which took place in Arizona.

These were all nearly coincidences – I requested Stranger in the Woods a while back and only now just got it.  And I had Boy on my Overdrive Wish List, and it just happened to be available as I was loading up my Nook for the trip.  Most of my road trip novels were ones I took with me, so I did choose them with the trip in mind, but The Revelation was found somewhere along the way.  More loosely, when I did a semester in Italy, I picked up a copy of Alex Garland’s The Beach in an English bookstore – it wasn’t about Italy, but the traveling aspect was there.  And the movie was released in Italy at around the same time.

This summer I’m heading over to Ireland, and I would love to read something set there.  Of course, I’ve already read The Dubliners.  Any suggestions?  Otherwise I’ll just hope that a magical coincidence will bring me a good Irish-themed book just in time… or that we’ll find an Irish bookshop to visit there…

3 on a theme: living houses

I am often reading between 3 and 5 books at the same time, and occasionally there’s a theme that might not be remarkable in one book… but when I see it in three books, I take notice.

It’s a common trope, the haunted house.  But not so common when the house becomes its own character…

livinghouses

All read between October 2016 – May 2017

And the Trees Crept In reminded me a lot of House of Leaves, and both books could be on this list.  Even more so than House of Leaves, And the Trees Crept In treated the house like a character.  It also treated the trees like their own character, so it felt everything around the main character was creeping in on her in some threatening way, and feels very much alive.

The Woman in the Wall is about a young girl who feels invisible and disappears into the walls of her house.  She builds intricate tunnels so that she can move about unnoticed, walls off rooms for herself and spirits away food and sewing supplies to make clothing for her family.  The whole novel had a sense of magical realism, and it was clear that members of her family had forgotten about her and thought of the house as being alive.

The final book on this list was the one that got me remembering just how many other stories I had read about houses that felt alive.  In this case, the house in The House IS alive, brought to life by a misplaced spell, and it has raised a child up to be a boy… and it isn’t very happy when a girl comes along and tries to steal him away.

Have you read a book that fits this theme?  Tell me about it in the comments!

April reading round-up

  • # of books read: 11
  • audiobooks listened to: 4
  • ARCs read: 1
  • total page count: 3,288
  • year total page count: 15,539

I didn’t finish a lot of books in April, but I did read a lot!  I swear!  For a full list, scroll down to the bottom – the links will take you to my Goodreads reviews.

This month brought in 2 hefty tomes that I’d had on hold: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor and King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard.  I love love loved Strange the Dreamer.  There’s a librarian protagonist!  And Laini’s usual lovely prose and world-building.  I was a little disappointed that the story ended the way it did, of course that only means I will need to read the next in the series!

As for King’s Cage, I was not as enamored of this one as I was with the first two.  It felt too long and slow in the beginning.  But I will still probably continue reading this series, just like I’ll be continuing to read the Throne of Glass series.

I spent most of the month reading Queen of Shadows (another 500+ pager), but it was more because of all the other big ass books that came in from the library that kept me from finishing it quicker, because it had a good pace and I really enjoyed it.

Another long one I read was Secret Windows, a compilation of various essays on writing by Stephen King.  I’d had this one on my TBR pile since 2009 (yikes) and since I had borrowed it, and it no longer fit on my shelf after I arranged it by color, and I’m well ahead on my reading goal, I decided to read it. Besides, I felt like I needed to read a book to inspire me on writing, since this month was Camp Nanowrimo. Unfortunately I had to slog my way through this one.  I had read many of the essays before.  One of them was over 100 pages long and was excerpted from Danse Macabre, and I hadn’t liked it the first time.  The transcriptions of some of the talks he gave were fun to read, and I did enjoy some of the pieces… but his On Writing is so much better, and covers many of the points he makes throughout all these various tidbits.  Plus editing.

I also had another book come in on hold, though it was on the shorter side.  I’ve been spacing out my holds and unfortunately this month it seems they all caught up with me.  Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist felt very timely and dealt with the riots in Seattle.  Not my usual genre, and something I think I found through trying to find the source of the title’s quote.

Two of the audiobooks I listened to this month were extremely similar in style and subject – and actually had the same narrator!  The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, deals with a future where aliens have taken over, and several teens are left trying to fight and survive.  The 100 by Kass Morgan, deals with a future where several teens (or, you know, 100 teens) are sent to a destroyed Earth, where they try to survive.  I had seen both the movie “The 5th Wave” and the first episode of “The 100” TV series, and hadn’t been super engaged with either of them.  But reading The 5th Wave made me want to go back and give it another chance, because the book was so enjoyable.  I also want to rewatch “The 100,” because there seem to be significant differences.  The book was okay, it was quick listen and the plot moved right along, though the characters weren’t as memorable or deep as those in The 5th Wave.

I received a physical ARC this month from Simon Pulse, the absolutely adorable When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon.  A cute summer romance that I zipped right through, made me want to listen to my Bollywood playlist again.  The book will be released May 30th.

Here’s a complete list of the books I read this month:

  1. Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
  2. Secret Windows: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing by Stephen King
  3. The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1) by Rick Yancey (audiobook)
  4. Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa
  5. A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting by Guy Delisle (graphic novel)
  6. Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1) by Laini Taylor
  7. The 100 by Kass Morgan (audiobook)
  8. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris (audiobook)
  9. Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4) by Sarah J. Maas
  10. King’s Cage (Red Queen, #3) by Victoria Aveyard
  11. Devil’s Pass (Seven, #6) by Sigmund Brouwer (audiobook)
  12. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (ARC)

March reading round-up

  • # of books read: 14
  • audiobooks listened to: 3
  • ebooks read: 3
  • books from the Throne of Glass series: 2
  • graphic novels: 3
  • total page count: 3,998
  • year total page count: 12,251

Well, I still haven’t beat that crazy reading streak I had in January.  It does seem that I’m reading roughly 4,000 pages a month, though, and I can attest that several of the books this month were really long (including one that will end up being in next month’s round-up).

Only 3 audiobooks this month.  The first was the YA novel Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace, which I enjoyed despite its unevenness.  The other two audiobooks were both similar in genre and tone: Paul Tremblay’s Disappearance at Devil’s Rock and Megan Abbott’s You Will Know Me.  Both dealt with mothers and the hidden lives of their teenagers.  Both were also interesting character studies as not much by way of action happened, but kept me hooked until the end.

Darkly amusing #bookstagram #thedinner #hermankoch #justfinished

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The Dinner was recommended to me by a friend, and it was both short and disturbing.  I enjoy disturbing.  This was the kind of real-world disturbing, a scenario showing how thin the masks of polite society are, and how easily people descend into violent depths.

One of my favorite reads this month was Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs.  This series continues to keep me hooked on the complicated political world of supernatural creatures.  Of course, Mercy Thompson is one of the strongest female characters I’ve ever read, and this installment revolves around that reputation.  I finished off another series just today, the Experiment in Terror series by Karina Halle.  The final book, Dust to Dust, wrapped everything up nicely.  If you enjoy those ghost hunter shows, this series is for you.

I started watching “The Man in the High Castle” last month, and binge-watched both seasons.  The book doesn’t develop the characters quite so much as the show does, and is more about the randomness of possibility and choice rather than the concept of parallel universes, but it was a thought-provoking read. (I’ll have to include Girls on Fire in next month’s round-up, since I’m still only halfway through).

On the graphic novel front, I only read 3 and they were from the same series: Harrow County.  I had read volume 1 last spring and only now discovered that a.) there were 4 volumes out already and b.) my library consortium had them all!  These are kind of horror, but also strangely wholesome?  The main character Emmy is a witch, but she wants to use her powers to help people.  She also has a familiar in the shape of a boy’s skin that speaks to her, and an evil twin, and there are lots of “haints” around who are more than ready to do evil stuff.  (See what I mean about wholesome/horror?)

Two more books in the Throne of Glass series read this month: The Assassin’s Blade, a prequel which contains 5 novellas, and Heir of Fire, book 3.  It seems like each book in this series gets longer and longer… and Heir of Fire in particular felt long, more like a setup for a grand finale.  However, it’s still really good!  Only 2 books left to go…

Finally, I got around to reading Caraval, which I received via Owl Crate.  I was pretty psyched about this month’s theme, which was circus.  I was half-expecting to receive the book Freeks, which would have better fit the theme, but Caraval had its own charm.  It’s a fun read if you don’t take it too seriously.  It’s also a beautiful book, and receiving it through the mail with lots of luxurious little goodies fit the theme of the book.  I can’t wait for next month’s box!

I may decide to include a Wattpad reading round-up at some point in the future – but probably not next month, since I’ll be busy participating in Camp Nanowrimo and hopefully cranking out the third and final Wolf Point prequel!

What have you read this month that you enjoyed?