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?

when bookworms get earworms

The first book that ever really got a song stuck in my head was If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth.  The title is taken from a Wings song, “Band on the Run.”  If you didn’t know, reading the book would tell you that Wings was a project of Paul McCartney’s after The Beatles, and the main character Lewis is pretty much obsessed with them and with music in general, although his story is happening in the 70s and so he can’t just download them.  Anyway, everytime I looked at this book’s cover, the song started playing in my head…

It seemed to be a bit of a trend that year, as I came across I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson.  Never actually read the book, because every time I saw this book in the library it was full on David Cassidy and the Partridge Family and I just couldn’t do it.

So, of course, I’ll include the song below so you can have it stuck in your head, too.

After that point, I had songs on the brain every time I saw a book title.  That’s the only way I can explain why every time I saw the cover for Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi, I got Metallica’s “Through the Never” stuck in my head.

Twisting

turning

through the

Ever Night!

Thankfully, I stopped getting songs stuck in my head so regularly.  But recently it’s come back.  I blame the advanced reader copy I received of Bad Blood by Demitria Lunetta.  Of course.  Taylor Swift.  You KNOW that’s going to get stuck in your head.  ‘Cuz baby now we’ve got bad blood…

And then, while I was reading Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, I couldn’t stop hearing Blondie’s “Heart of Glass.”

And then another Taylor Swift song swooped in while I was reading After the Woods by Kim Savage.  Are we out of the woods yet? Are we out of the woods yet? Are we out of the woods yet? Are we out of the woods? Are we in the clear yet? Are we in the clear yet? Are we in the clear yet? In the clear yet? Good.

It comes to a point where I’m relieved to finish one of these books, just so I can get the damned song out of my head.

What books have given you an earworm?

 

 

3 on a theme: books within books

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.

Well, I started this blog post with three recent titles, then I kept finding more.  I’ll try to keep it to these three, because their inclusion in the novels felt more important to the plot than some of the other fictional titles.

collage

All read in December 2016-January 2017

The premise of Melanie Raabe’s The Trap includes a mention of the fictional book right on the cover blurb: “I know who killed my sister.  I wrote this book for him.”  The narrator, an author, writes a book called Blood Sisters about her sister’s murder in an effort to lure the murderer, a journalist, to her secluded house, where she plans to get him to confess.  There are chapters from the fictional book, which later one wonders how closely these chapters actually follow the truth.

A fictional book called The Bubblegum Reaper brings together two teens in Matthew Quick’s Every Exquisite Thing.  The fictional novel involves a teenage boy who falls in love with a twin who talks to turtles, only he isn’t sure which of the identical twins he’s in love with.  The characters, in their obsession with this book, discover that the author lives nearby and after striking up a friendship with him, also discover that The Bubblegum Reaper seems to be a thinly veiled story of his own life.  Every Exquisite Thing reminded me a LOT of The Fault in Our Stars, which has its own fictional novel, An Imperial Affliction.  Still no idea why the book is called The Bubblegum Reaper.

Finally, and you knew I’d be back to talk about this one, A List of Cages features an entire SERIES of fictional novels: the Elian Mariner books, which sound suspiciously like The Little Prince to me (and I just finished reading Everything, Everything, in which the main character reads and re-reads The Little Prince).  I haven’t actually read that book, so I could be way off, but basically Julian uses these books both to remind him of Adam, and to escape into the stars much like Elian Mariner does.

I often find that characters in books read other books, and most of the time they are real books that exist.  Obviously, authors are readers and they want to pay homage to the books that inspire them.  The use of a fictional book gives the characters the ability to interact with the authors’ lives – obviously, The Trap wouldn’t have worked with a real novel, because it’s all about the author, and the same for Every Exquisite Thing (and The Fault in Our Stars).  For A List of Cages, I think the reason for using a fictional series is largely for one scene, in which one of Julian’s classmates asks what he’s reading, and he gets excited to talk about his favorite books, and we as the reader don’t know what level these books are until the classmate makes a terrible comment, and suddenly we realize that high school freshman Julian is reading books meant for elementary school children.  In that way, The Little Prince wouldn’t have worked, because many adults read it.

Lots and lots of other books include fictional works.  Probably the coolest example of this is Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell, in which the main character writes fanfiction for the Simon Snow series (it bears close resemblance to Harry Potter).  So many people were writing fanfiction for this fictional series that Rainbow Rowell actually wrote the fic Cath was working on, and it was published as Carry On Simon.  Doesn’t always happen, but I sure would like to read The Bubblegum Reaper!

Addition, 3/10/17: Found another one!  Currently reading The Man in the High Castle, wherein there is a book titled The Grasshopper Lies Heavy.  I keep getting the feeling that there is a parallel universe where people read the book The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, which refers to a fictional book called The Man in the High Castle.