January- So Far, Currently, & Up Next

Here’s a check in of what I have read in January so far-

I started the year listening to The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells on Scribd.  I absolutely love these books and made my way through all four of them.  I can’t give them 5 stars though, because I’ve had a similar experience with them as I had with the Binti Trilogy: they wrap up too quickly.

I also finally got around to A Monster Calls.  It’s something I’ve been wanting to read and when I saw the audio available I thought, ‘Yeah! I’m really enjoying listening to shorter books lately, let’s do it!”

Thank goodness for book clubs! Who knows when or if I would have actually gotten around to rereading Good Omens.  I remembered nothing about it but was hoping to get to it so I could give the upcoming adaptation a watch.  Because of a time crunch, I ended up switching between reading and listening to the audio.  The audio was a great experience, and I can’t wait to see David Tennant play Crowely.

We didn’t get to it before Christmas, but the tree is still up so the kids and I went ahead and read Christmas in Cooperstown together.  They enjoyed it.  I enjoyed reading it to them.  Was it great? nah.  But this is a mystery series for young kids and so I make sure to keep that in mind when rating it.

And then there was Bitch Planet vol. 1, another read for a book club.  Here is my Goodreads review:

I wish I could have gotten a little more set-up or explanation as to how the society got to the point it is at. You get dumped right into this really intense world, and it’s not that you can’t figure out what’s happening, it’s just very…I don’t know…. abrupt? Jarring? I realize that obviously the reader is supposed to be uncomfortable with the exploitation and degrading view of women. That part of the plot is very promising. But it relies on the reader being able to create the world for themselves I think. Lazy world building, in my opinion.

 

I accidentally got distracted from Rogue Protocol (book 3 of the Murderbot Diaries), but once I re-started it, I got right through that one AND Exit Strategy.  And now we wait for Murderbot #5…. *checks watch* sad face.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt has been on my radar for YEARS!  I finally picked it up one day and then my Dad told me it was a movie starring John C Riley, Joaquin Pheonix and Jake Gyllenhall.   Westerns are so not my thing, but I really enjoyed this book.  Well, the first two thirds of the book anyway.

From my Goodreads review:

The ending dragged for me a bit, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the first two thirds of the book. I wasnt expecting to find it so humorous. While Charlie Sisters was an aggravating and hateful character, Eli was great. At times an unreliable narrator, he was relatable in his depression and feelings of both contempt and loyalty towards his brother.

 

The Astonishing Color of After was… ohhhh boy.  It was intense, and beautiful, and magical, and sad.  I started out really liking it, got a little bored with it, and then absolutely adored it.  I have one little problem though… the romantic feelings the main character, Leigh, had towards her best friend hit too close to home for me.  I remember being there and feeling like that, but thankfully my story went very differently on that front.  The main story though, about her mother’s suicide and her grief was just beautiful.  I found myself wondering “is this magical realism? is she having a breakdown?”  and I’m still not 100% sure.  I think it’s a combination of both.

I finally limped my way to the end of Hiddensee.  ugh.  That was rough.  Even though I finished it in 2019, it was so bad it was included on my list of 2018 disappointments!

I was SO HAPPY to see In An Absent Dream available on Scribd so soon after its release date.  I jumped right on that and within a chapter I just knew this is one I need to own a physical copy of.  It is my favorite of the Wayward Children series, hands down!  In this one, we travel to the Goblin Market with Lundy (honestly, I couldn’t remember who Lundy even was from Every Heart a Doorway).  I love anything that has anything to do with the Goblin Market because of my childhood Labyrinth obsession.  Other than the name of the market though, I have to go back and reread the original poem by Christina Rossetti to look for more references… not sure there is much more than that.

I am currently reading:

Up next on my radar:

  • There There by Tommy Orange- this is a book club read that I am unsure about.  Adult literary fiction is something I wish I did better with, but I am a genre fiction fiend.  Sorry not sorry.
  • Robopocalypse by Daniel H Wilson- grabbed this from my library because my love for Murderbot had me browsing the sci-fi shelves while my kids were busy participating a science program.
  • Lock In by John Scalzi- which I grabbed at the same time as Robopocalypse.  The premise of a highly contagious virus is a huge anxiety trigger for me…. BUT another woman whose child was also in the science program assured me that the book is more of a procedural crime novel with a sci-fi twist, and that it doesn’t focus too much on the virus.  Like Station Eleven, the virus seems to be over and done with by the time the main plot is taking place.

Books I am reading to my kids:

  • Bumblebee at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee
  • The Capture (Guardians of Ga’Hoole #1) by Kathryn Lasky

So that is 12 read, 3 started, 3 I want to get to soon, and 2 that I’m reading to the kiddos.

I am very happy to have started 2019 off with a bang, but I think I want to slow down and focus on reading through my owned books next month.

 

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T5W: Disappointing Reads of 2018

Top 5 Wednesday is hosted by Sam, of the YouTube channel Thoughts on Tomes. The group topics and links are here.


I had a pretty decent reading year overall, but there were definitely some books that didn’t hit the mark for me. I wouldn’t say theses disappointing reads are the worst I read of there, and I’m not going to include DNFs in this list either. In fact, some of these books I did actually like, just not as much as I expected to… which is almost worse. If I straight up hated them, I could just be bitter about it. But instead some of these leave me confused about how I feel and how to proceed; you’ll see what I mean.

1. The Binti Series by Nnedi Okorafor

I listened to all three novellas back to back to back. I was expecting for these books to blow my mind based on all the reviews I’d seen of it. While I enjoyed the world and the plot, I was really let down by the speedy resolution of the conflict. Every book left me thinking ‘Seriously?! How anticlimactic.’ There is a point towards the end of the third novella where even Binti says the same exact thing! Is this just the nature of novellas? The world was built well, and the tension was developed well… but the resolution was just… ugh…

So where do I go from here? Before reading these I really wanted to read Akata Witch, and since reading these I’ve seen good reviews for her other novels and learned that Nnedi Okorafor is authoring graphic novels based on the Dora Milaje warriors from Black Panther which I kind of want to give a try. But will she just let me down again? What to do, what to do?!

2. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

I was one of the few people who actually kind of liked Leah in Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I saw a little bit of myself in the character and was excited to get to read from her POV. THIS BOOK SHOULD NOT EXIST. It ruins the characters from the original book. Leah is the worst. The absolute worst. And yet…. I still enjoyed how Becky Albertalli portrays anxiety in her characters, and just like when I read Upside of Unrequited, there were lines from Leah that really resonated with highschool me.

3. Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire

So I’m still reading this actually. Slowly. But this was quite the disappointment because I bought it to be a Christmas-y read. It. was. not. In all fairness, I don’t actually know much about the original Nutcracker story (Hiddensee is a retelling of this), just that it’s associated with Christmas. I had to put it aside to read more holiday theme books which is what I was in the head space for in December. I went back to it shortly after the new year because I knew if I put it off longer than that I wouldn’t ever finish is.

My experience with every Gregory Maguire book I’ve read (Wicked, Son of a Witch, Mirror Mirror, and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister), has been that I struggle through them… not quite sure of what’s going on… but then once I finish it, I decide it was really good. What does that mean? Do I enjoy his writing or not? Is it weird that I can’t tell?

4. Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Have you ever put off reading a book because you know you’re going to love it, so you may as well get some other books out of the way? That’s what I did with Uprooted. Even when I saw negative-ish reviews of it, I brushed them aside because I was sure I would be on the absolutely infatuated side of the spectrum. Imagine my disappointment when I just didn’t love it. I liked it…. I just didn’t love it. It took me FOR-EV-ER to finish, just about the entire month.

Now what? Do I read Spinning Silver? Even people who loved Uprooted were ‘meh’ about Spinning Silver. I already have it on my nook, though, so should I just go for it? I most likely will, but not anytime soon.

5. The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

Unpopular opinion time…. this series was just good. Not great.

Don’t get me wrong. Points in the second book had me screaming “Whaaaaaaaaaat?!?!” in my car while I listened to it on the drive home. I really loved the magic system and the fact that everything you thought you knew…. was WRONG! What a ride.

However…. the characters were the literal worst! So annoying. And the books were just too long, especially the third one. How many times can you say THE SAME THING, Brandon?! I actually came to really dislike Sanderson because I got the feeling he wrote such long books just to be able to say he writes long books. You know, page count bragging rights.

But I liked the world, right? So do I go on and read the Alloy series? Should I give The Stormlight Archives a try? What do I do? I just can’t decide. Because I listened to them all back to back over the summer, I am glad that I took a break from Sanderson and not go right into Alloy of Law, which I thought about doing at one point. If I do decide to read more from him it will be another major time investment, so I’m not in any rush.


Have you had similar experiences with these or any other book? Let me know.

Did you have the opposite experience with any of these books? Let me know that too!

Happy Reading!

Hello 2019!

We are going to power right on through the awkwardness of me trying to come up with a reason I went AWOL back in October and have been away from my blog 2+ months.   There’s no reason, it just happened.


And here we are.

Hello 2019!

Last year, I set my Goodreads challenge at 45 books.  Thank you audiobooks and graphic novels… I upped my challenge goal to 150 midway through the year, and PASSED that!  My final number on Goodreads was 163.  It’s not totally accurate, though, because I didn’t include all of the books I read with my kids, only the ones that felt were more substantial (not page count wise, but plot wise).

This year my Goodreads challenge goal is set to 75 (to start anyway).  I feel like this year won’t be quite as high because 1) I don’t have a 24+ volume graphic novel series to bulk up my numbers, and 2) I’ve set a couple of other reading goals for myself that I think will slow down my reading pace.

What are those goals?  I’m so glad you asked.

1. Read 12 nonfiction books

I think I can manage 1 nonfiction book per month.  I have a couple ideas of what I want to get to- mostly biographies of people like Walt Disney, Fred Rogers, Jim Henson, Steve Irwin, and I got a copy of Michelle Obama’s Becoming.  I enjoyed reading about a specific aspect of baseball history, so I think something similar may find its way into my summer TBR.

2. Read Them Classics

I have several examples of classic literature on my shelves that I have picked up here and there from thrift stores and library sales.  Now it’s time to read them.

3. Author/Series Goals

I took a good long look at all the books I own and prioritized authors I have multiple books from, and series I’m excited for and own at least the first book of.

4. Don’t Forget EBooks!!!

I have so many ebooks that I completely disregard because they are not visible!  I wrote out a list of titles I own digitally that I was excited about when I added them, but then forgot about.

5. Make a dent in my collection of unread physical books

We all have this goal, don’t we?


Do you set reading goals for the year? What are they?

Happy Reading!