May Reading Recap

The first book this month was The Agony House by Cherie Priest, a YA horror story featuring a comic book. How does one incorporate a comic book into a novel? By including pages of said comic book in the chapters, and it was done really, really well. I loved how the creep factor was cranked up subtly throughout the story until things hit the fan at the climax.

The other book that I read was Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. I watched (and loved) the Netflix movie, and it was what made me borrow the eBook from the library. Understandably, the book and the movie are pretty different. The pageant is nowhere near as prominent in the book as it is in the movie; that space is filled by compelling relationships, both romantic and platonic. It was definitely worth the read (even though I missed seeing more of the Hideaway!).

That’s… all I read in May. It was a bit of a rough month, so I’m happy with being able to get through those two books. I’m hoping that June is better.

Have you read anything good recently? 

April Reading Recap

With a trip to Myrtle Beach in store for April, I knew that I’d probably read more books than normal. Maybe four instead of my usual two or three. I read six. The Libby app and being able to easily borrow eBooks from the library definitely upped the count.

I read John Scalzi’s Lock In in a little over a day, which is a testament to how good it was. It took a dozen pages or so for me to get a hang of the world, but it wasn’t set so far in the future for me to wrap my mind around it. I can’t say enough good things about the characters, the mystery itself (which I didn’t solve ahead of time), and just the world in general. I’ll be reading book 2, Head On, soon.

While I started Hardwired by Meredith Wild in March, I didn’t finish it until early in April while house-sitting for my parents. It felt dated (being published around 2011 when social media was still gaining traction). I could have overlooked that, but there were other things that bugged me. Where to start: a controlling, manipulative hero; every guy trying to make a move on the heroine; and a sudden venturing towards BDSM (possibly as a way to explain the hero’s controlling nature?)

The next book that I read was Symbiont by Mira Grant. The second in her Parasite trilogy, it picks up with apocalypse in full force. Sal and Nate and all the regular players are still there. But now things are more than a little dicey with a new villain on the scene (and who has no problem with human/tapeworm experimentation). I’m liking the non-zombie apocalypse story whole still touching on those same themes.

I picked up Ashley Poston’s Geekerella from the library on a whim, deciding to give it a try but not giving expecting much. To my absolute delight, it was a sweet, geeky retelling of Cinderella featuring clever spins on the fairy-tale’s touchstones. There’s still an evil stepmother, a pumpkin, and a handsome prince. The sequel has a rather long wait list at the library, but I know that it’ll be worth the wait.

Next up was The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley, which just came out a few weeks ago. It’s a futuristic, science fiction story with time travel, and it examines (in a heavy-handed way) capitalist society and how it impacts humanity. I enjoyed the time travel elements and found the war sections really well done. I just wish there’d been more of an external plot than fighting against capitalism.

Finally–and finished three days before the loan was going to expire–I read Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire. And I loved it. McGuire is a sure-bet whenever I’m looking for something part whimsical, part dark, and 100% addicting. The story takes place at a home for children who’ve gone through doorways and into magic lands, and it turns into a gruesome mystery pretty quick. I’m kind of glad that it took me so long to read it: I don’t have to wait for the next three novellas.

What did you read in April? What’re you looking forward to reading in May?

 

The Libby App

I’ve become more inclined to read on my phone. It’s more convenient than stuffing a paperback into my purse and hoping that the cover or the pages don’t crease, and it’s far less bulky than sitting with a massive hardcover on my lap.

eBooks are plentiful on Amazon and Kindle, but the cost adds up quick. I shy away from ones priced above $2.99 but sticking mainly to the $1.99 books (aka on sale). I can usually justify such a price, but the budget has gotten rather tight recently.

Enter Libby: an app that allows the user to borrow eBooks from their local library.

Libby let me choose my library and browse its collection of eBooks and audiobooks even before I entered my library card number. Once I entered that bit of information, I could borrow and put holds on books. I’ve already buzzed through one book (Lock In by John Scalzi), have a second one downloaded, and have two holds that should be available in a couple weeks.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg library is substantial, but I hadn’t gotten a library card until finding Libby. It’s one thing to drive all the way to the library, spend forty-five minutes browsing the stacks, check-out with the librarian, and then drive home. It’s another thing entirely to browse through the Libby app and press a button to either borrow or put a hold on an eBook. Plus there’s the whole difference in returning said books. One involves driving back to the library. The other involves opening the app and pressing a button.

I’m not knocking physical libraries at all; there are few things better than meandering through shelves upon shelves of books. It’s just that I don’t have time in my schedule. So Libby lets me borrow library books without the logistics of going to the library.

Do you borrow books from the library? Do you prefer borrowing physical books or eBooks?

March Reading Recap

Yes, it’s April. And yes, I’m just now posting my reading recap for March. Things have been more than a little hectic, and this blog has fallen by the wayside. But I’m getting my feet back under me–slowly but surely–and getting back into the groove.

So without further preamble, here we go.The first book of March was Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller. I’d seen hype about it on Twitter and bought the eBook when it went on sale. It’s set in the future with several science fiction elements (or maybe not because hey, it’s the future) after Earth has succumbed to climate change. The characters are engaging and worth reading about; however, the world building–while necessary–bogged me down.

Next up was Witchmark by C.L. Polk, which I received from Tor Publishing’s as part of their monthly free eBook when you subscribe to their newsletter. As opposed to Blackfish City, this book built its world without being overwhelming. It draws on the general idea of Edwardian life after a World War. The characters are also fascinating; I’m seriously thinking about getting book 2 when it comes out.

The final one was Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan. I picked up this novella ARC as part of the pre-release publicity. It’s a sweet, fluffy story about two elderly women making a middle-aged man (Mrs. Martin’s nephew) absolutely miserable. There’s enough conflict to move the story along without pushing it out of fluff territory.

What did you read in March? Anything that I should check out?

 

 

February Reading Recap

I’m seriously proud of how many books I managed to read this month, considering it’s the shortest month of the year and I had so much other stuff eating into my “free” time.

5/35 BOOKS READ IN 2019

I finally finished The Lost World by Michael Crichton. It’s the sequel to Jurassic Park, and once I got over the fact that a certain character was still alive (it was written after the Jurassic Park movie), I enjoyed it. The dinosaur-fact-heavy sections lost me occasionally; but the descriptions more than made up for it.

The next book was The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I bought the eBook after watching the Netflix show, understanding that the book only loosely inspired the show. Hill House follows a paranormal scholar and three others as they spend time in the nefarious Hill House. It managed to creep me out at points, which is an achievement in and of itself.

My final book of February was Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. I decided to reread it before reading the second book in the series (The Vanishing Stair, which just came out). Truly Devious chronicles two mysteries at the elite Ellingham Academy: one a kidnapping and the other a murder. And I actually didn’t mind that several loose ends were left to be resolved in the next book (though that’s usually something that bothers me a lot).

What books did you read this month?

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A Successful Trip to B&N

I took a trip to Barnes & Noble the other day and walked out with three new books. This is an unusual occurrence for two reasons. First, because I tend to do all of my book-buying online (whether ordering paperbacks from B&N or Books-a-Million or snagging an eBook while it’s on sale). Second, because I rarely find books or authors that interest me (the YA section excluded).

I’m going to chock my success up checking the B&N website for whether the Maureen Johnson’s new book, The Vanishing Stair, was actually in stock at my local B&N. The other two books were just a bonus: I decided to grab a physical copy of Truly Devious for my re-read and there were autographed copies of An Absolutely Remarkable Thing in stock.

How’s your luck with brick-and-mortar bookstores? Do you have a go-to bookstore or method of finding books?

January Reading Recap

The Goodreads Reading Challenge book-tracker-thingie says that I need to read 3 books a month to hit my 2019 goal of reading 35 books. I managed two, which I think was due to one being an eBook (that I could pick up anytime) and the other being a hardcover (that I could only read when I had the book with me (obviously)).

The first book I finished was Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn. It’s the second in the Lady Julia Gray series, featuring a Victorian widow and a brooding PI. Sanctuary gave me such Miss Fisher vibes and scratched that itch for a historical cozy mystery. I definitely recommend the series.

The other book was The Family Plot by Cherie Priest. I read this book around when it came out in summer 2017, but I’ve been feeling for some time that I rushed through that reading. So I picked it up again. It’s a slow-burn plot and then all of a sudden it isn’t. Part of me is thinking twice about my desire to buy and fix up an old house after this reread.

I started a third book this month: The Lost World by Michael Crichton. I’m about a third of the way through as of writing this post.

What books did you read in January? Anything that I should check out?

My Favorite Books of 2018

With 2018 winding down, it’s time to take a look at the books that I read this year and decide on my favorites. Narrowing my favorites down to atop five is difficult, and feels unnecessary. Plus it means I don’t get to talk about all the pretty awesome books that I read this year.

So without further ado, here are my favorite books from the past year:

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Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
The tagline says it all: “A funny book about horrible things.” It’s a book about living with mental illness, about taxidermy animals, and about being furiously happy.

 

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Truly, Devious
by Maureen Johnson
A Sherlock Holmes-obsessed main character? An elite private school with an unsolved murder? Sign me up. I’ll be buying book 2 when it comes out.

 

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Let’s Pretend This Never Happened
by Jenny Lawson
I know, another Lawson book. I’ll ready anything she writes. This (mostly true) memoir is about the moments that make us.

 

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Jurassic Park 
by Michael Crichton
Yes, that Jurassic Park. The inspiration for that one series of dinosaur movies. I bought it on a whim and was on the edge of my seat more than once.

 

 

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Into the Drowning Deep
by Mira Grant
I LOVED seeing Grant/Seanan McGuire at ConCarolina this past summer, and this book was on sale. Plus killer mermaids? Yes, please.

 

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Discount Armageddon 
by Seanan McGuire
A cryptozoologist living in New York splits her time between the cryptozoological world and the world of ballroom dancing. Add a forbidden romance and a dragon, and I’m hooked.

 

 

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Lawless Lands 
edited by Emily Lavin Leverett, Misty Massey & Margaret S. McGraw
This is a Western speculative fiction anthology that I picked up at ConCarolina. Anthologies are my favorite way to find new (to me) authors.

 

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Clockwork Boys 
by T. Kingfisher
A dark, funny fantasy book where a crew of criminals (plus a scholar) are sent on a suicide mission? Totally worth reading. And worth picking up book 2.

 

I recommend checking out any/all of these books in 2019. They were certainly the best I read in 2018. What’re some books you read in 2018 that I should check out?

The Pros & Cons of Reading on My Phone

There’s an old school Nook tucked between paperbacks my bookshelf; I can’t remember the last time I used it, and I’m pretty sure the battery is dead. I like it … though it’s not exactly the most convenient. Especially since the battery doesn’t hold a charge for long anymore. I’ve given thought to replacing it with a tablet of some kind, but that’s not in the budget right now.

So I decided to download the Kindle and Nook apps on my phone. After reading a handful of books on them, I’ve come to the conclusion that reading on my phone has both pros and cons.

Pro ~ It’s Convenient as Hell
My phone goes wherever I go. At the store? It’s in my pocket. Work? In my purse. At home? Probably within arm’s reach. That means instead of popping on Facebook or Twitter while I’m waiting for something or need to fill a bit of time, I can read. And there’s no need to make sure that I’ve packed a book or worry that said book hasn’t been bent and crushed by whatever else is in my bag. I just grab my phone, click on the app, and I can pick up right where I left off.

Con ~ I Can’t Hold the Book
Paperbacks and hardcovers have a certain feel to them. There’s the weight of all three hundred or four hundred pages; there’s the smooth feel of the cover and sometimes even the raised lettering; there are the lines of black text dimpled with the imperfections in the page; there’s even accidentally catching a glimpse of the last page and trying to figure out what those lines mean. That’s all missing with a reading app.

Pro & Con ~ So Many Books
I’ll admit that I haven’t read half of the books on my bookshelves. I happen across interesting-looking books for relatively cheap and bring them home. The difference with eBooks is that I don’t have to leave my couch to find a good deal. The positive side is that I can amass a plethora of books for a reasonable price. On the downside, I’m buying books faster than I can read them and now have a dozen books on my phone that I haven’t touched yet.

Ultimately, the convenience factor trumps all. I can read while lying in bed or while at my partner’s place or on my lunch break or while in a waiting room. All without needing to pack a book. I just need to remember my phone.

My ConCarolinas Book Haul

I’ve added to my bookshelves so much in the past few months that I banned myself from buying any new books. The ban doesn’t work, of course. I’ll see a paperback on sale at Target, add it to my basket, and then remember after I’ve paid that I’m not supposed to be buying anymore books.

But I gave myself permission to consciously lift the ban when I headed to ConCarolinas. It wouldn’t have made any sense to go to a convention with dozens of authors and not buy their books. Though I will say that I surprised myself: I didn’t buy nearly as many books as I thought I would.

Here are the four books I picked up at ConCarolinas:

Creek Walking by Tally Johnson
Tally Johnson was promoting his book as Southern Gothic ghost stories during his panels on the paranormal. He was such a presence on the panels and a great storyteller that I picked up his book without even reading the blurb on the back.

Phoenix Rising: Naked by Alexandra Christian
I saw Alexandra Christian on a couple of panels, the first being “Romancing Your Readers”. I’m a sucker for romance novels, an Christian talking about how she made the heroine an active hero/participant in the novel sealed the deal.

Curious Incidents: More Improbably Adventures edited by A.C. Thompson
The second time I saw Alexandra Christian was on a panel about themed anthologies, and she’d brought Curious Incidents with her as an example of an anthology that she’d edit. It’s a Sherlock Holmes/paranormal anthology. Need I say more?

Perishables by Michael G. Williams
I walked past dozens of authors, and Michael G. Williams was the only one who pitched his book to me. I listened at first just to be polite. And then he said that Perishables was about a vampire at a neighborhood dinner when the zombie apocalypse begins. I bought the first book in the series right then and there.