Category Archives: Monthly Readings

May Books

I managed quite a few books in May, and many of them were unrelated to reading challenges. Challenge burnout has been setting in, and I really, really want to work on my Amazon wishlist, which is sitting at over 1100 books. I should probably also work through the 50ish books on my Kindle. My reading eyes are bigger than the time I have, and someday I’ll get caught up, but it sure won’t be in the next five or so years.

Audiobooks (10)


I was excited to listen to Clinton Kelly read I Hate Everyone, Except You, but it ended up being really disappointing. You can tell he loves his family, but at the same time, some of his essays were surprisingly crass. I have no interest in listening to him go on and on about a a weird spot on his penis. ~ Hell Divers is not my usual fare, but it was interesting and I didn’t want to stop listening to it. ~ I have been waiting for Awaken Online: Precipice for a while. I absolutely LOVED the first book. This one wasn’t quite as strong, but still wonderfully morally ambiguous. ~ Another sequel I’ve been waiting for is For We Are Many. The Bobiverse is awesome. There is no strong central plot, but instead multiple smaller plots that can intersect. It’s akin to a multigenerational saga.

Novels (20) / Nonfiction (4)

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My non-challenge books ended up being on the darker side, minus the three romance novels. Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph were surprisingly entertaining. I wasn’t expecting to get sucked into reading them to the point that had to go to the library in order to get my hands on the sequel as quickly as possible. Assassin nuns fighting evil, but the world around them is morally ambiguous (I like morally ambiguous). Not fluffy reads. ~ Hunter was an alright retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Not my favorite, but not the worst. ~ Wintersong was better than expected. As soon as I heard it was a riff on Labyrinth, I had to read it. And while it is, to a degree…it also isn’t. It started out somewhat meh, but picked up once Liesl saved her sister. I liked the mythology behind the Goblin King, and I’m curious as to what happens next. ~ Daughter of the Pirate King was also a good story. Alosa was on the annoying, eye-rolling side at first, but once the story got rolling, she became less obviously obnoxious.

Graphic (1)

I love how Neil Gaiman modulates his words and voice, and he does it beautifully with Hansel & Gretel. And while I did not listen to the story, I heard his voice in my head.

Read Alouds (9)

 

My younger two, Bug and Max, have been on a Notebook of Doom kick. We’ve been ignoring other books, such as The Princess and the Goblin, in order to plow through these. The stories are creative and fun, and I like the pages dedicated to showing facts about various monsters. I don’t hate reading them, which is fairly high praise. Bean and I have been slowly making our way through The Witch of Blackbird Pond. It’s hard to make time to read to her because of the younger two. Also because we’ve been watching Poirot on Netflix.

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April Reads

I had a slight dip in reading this month – 27 books. Only five books were unrelated to any of my reading challenges (The Medieval World, The View from the Cheap Seats, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, The Witches, and The Notebook of Doom: Rise of the Balloon Goons). I managed to complete Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge – Tetris: The Games People Play, being the last needed book. One challenge down, multiple challenges left!

Audiobooks (11)

     

Novels (8) / Nonfiction (2)

   
  

Graphic (4)

  

Read Alouds (2)

 

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March Books

I started losing reading challenge steam in March; burning myself out in the first two months of 2017. Over half the books I read  had no bearing on any of the challenges I am participating in.

Audiobooks (14)

Anne Bishop’s The Others was the first of two series that distracted me from challenge reading. I managed to listen to only the first one in January, but no dice after I finished the second book, Murder of Crows. I had to keep listening. It’s been a while since a series sucked me in enough that I couldn’t tear myself away. Etched in Bone was the weakest of the five, but even though the story focused on the utter reprehensible Jimmy, it was a necessary story in that it shaped how the Others will deal with humans in the future. One thing I’ve noticed in reviews is the common complaint that there’s no real heat between Meg and Simon. There is heat, but it’s latent, and the thing to remember is that the five books encompass less than one year. That’s not a long time in the whole scheme of things, especially when one partner is non-human who  doesn’t know how to interact with humans on a friendship/relationship level; and the other is a physically and psychologically scarred human who was most likely regularly sexually assaulted before escaping the compound for cassandra sangue. We Are Legion (We Are Bob) was a surprisingly fun sci-fi story. Bob and his replicants were intelligent and entertaining. My only issue was how the various subplots were handled at the end of the book. Not cliffhangers necessarily, but some of them weren’t really at good stopping points. The final two books in the Wayward Pines trilogy were good as well, even if the science wasn’t completely plausible. Wayward was the weakest of the three in that it was pretty much set up for The Last Town.

Novels (2) /Nonfiction (2) / Poetry (1)

All five books were for various challenges.

Manga (12) / Graphic Novels (5) / Picture Book (1)

Diary of a Tokyo Teen was alright. It was interesting to read a travelogue from the perspective of a teenager, but it felt like she kept her thoughts to the surface level without really getting into anything. Tokyo Ghoul was the second of two series that derailed my challenge reading in March. I binge read 11 volumes, and they are still amazing the second time around. Yes, it can be violent and gory, but I love the commentary about relations between humans and ghouls that underlines the series. I can’t wait to read the final three volumes, and I hope that VIZ Media will print the sequel series, Tokyo Ghoul:re.

Read Alouds (3)

Both Dealing with Dragons and James and the Giant Peach were read aloud rereads, though this time I read them to Bug and Max. Bug adored DwD, while Max wanted to skip it and read picture books (so I read him a picture book first and then read DwD to Bug). Both children loved JGP and would always beg for one more page. I read Half a World Away to Bean. Realistic fiction is one of her preferred genres, and I thought this one might be interesting to her. The story was about a boy who was adopted, but didn’t really attach to his adoptive parents. At the start of the books, his parents were at the end of the adoption process for a second child, and family was off to Kazakhstan to bring the new baby home. We ended up having multiple conversations about attachment, poverty, and children who have special needs.

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February Books

Audiobooks (9)

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The Casquette Girls was a good spin on the vampires in New Orleans sub-genre. Adele was a strong character who thought on her feet and didn’t do obviously stupid things (other than dealing with vampires). I will listen to the sequel when it comes out later this year. Written in Red has been on my TBR for a few years, and I finally got around to reading/listening to it. I ended up liking it more than I thought I would. Meg was well-written, and while she she was guileless, she wasn’t an idiot, and her lack of awareness of how things are supposed to be served in her favor. Sam and the ponies were my favorite characters.

Novels (13) / Novellas (4) / Nonfiction (1)

ghostly-echos margaret-the-first paper-magician rolling-in-the-deep marvels casino-royale  eyre-affair hellhole always-happy-hour desert-queen city-of-light lawrence-browne-affair diabolical-miss-hyde midnight-dance thousand-pieces-of-you last-horror-novel bb the-bees

Ghostly Echos was a decent book, but Jackaby is still the best. The writing this time around wasn’t nearly as strong – the wit and banter between Jackaby and Abigail was missing and the plot was weak. I will read the final book (with the strong hope of resolution between Abigail and Charlie). The Eyre Affair was supposed to be for a challenge (PopSugar, #7 – Story within a story), but only around 30 pages of the book fit that requirement. It was still a fun book and a quick read. I loved the details that showed the story takes place in a parallel universe. A Midnight Dance was only meh. It was a bit light on plot, and leaned a bit much on characters exclaiming in French to show that they were in France. The positive was that Sabine was a strong lead, stood up for herself and her family, and didn’t let herself get pushed around. A Thousand Pieces of You was my February Bookish choice (love story). I liked the concept, and I liked the characters. However, I don’t have an interest in reading the rest of the trilogy. Beauty and the Beast by Vivienne Savage was awful. I finished it only because I love B&B retellings, and hoped that at some point it would redeem itself. The whole thing lacked depth and substance, and for an adult romance, the writing was very juvenile. Anastasia was a total Mary Sue, and everything just sort of fell into place without any real conflict or tribulations. Add in the pseudo-Scottish aspects of the Beast, and I’m surprised my eyeballs didn’t get stuck in the back of my head.

Graphic Novels (11)

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Paper Girls Volume 2 was interesting, and the complexity of the plot increased immensely. I can’t wait to see where it goes. Nextwave, volumes 1 and 2, was entertaining, though it was incredibly crass and sarcastic. The whole thing being a superhero satire focused on the rejects and delinquents of the superhero world.

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January Books

After feeling burned out at the end of last year, reading fever kicked in on January 1st. I want to get these challenges done! Las year, I allowed myself to get distracted by non-challenge books, and ended up finishing PopSugar at 10pm on December 31st. Not gonna happen this year. Once I get all major challenges taken care of (or at least mostly taken care of), then I can focus on other books without guilt (and possibly other non-book projects as well).

Audiobooks (11)

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Nine of the books are for various challenges, so they’ll be written about in future posts. The Queen’s Poisoner was a disappointment. There wasn’t a cohesive plot, Owen was wishy-washy and kind of weak, and Elysabeth Victoria Mortimer was incredibly annoying. So very annoying. The author also couldn’t make up his mind of King Severn was evil or just misunderstood. I have no interest in reading any other books in this series. One Good Dragon Deserves Another was a decent listen. It dragged on a bit in the beginning, but the wheels started turning, and now I’m looking forward to listening to book three.

Novels (9) / Nonfiction (3)

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Every single book in this section is for a reading challenge, so they will be written about in future posts.

Graphic (5)

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The first four books are for various challenges, so more will be written about them in future posts. Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening was the lone “read for the fun of it” graphic novel. The illustrations were lush and complex, as was the story. I’m looking forward to reading the next volume.

Read Alouds (2)

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Bug (my 6-year old) liked the first Never Girls book, so we gave the second one a try. They are only minimally annoying, which is good for me. I read Stories from Hawaii to all three kids because of their curiosity about Maui after watched “Moana” in the theater (very catchy songs). This was the only book on Hawaii my library system has. The writing was a bit simplistic and redundant, but the kids enjoyed the stories.

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December Books

My reading slowed down as the end of the year approached. I overdid it with the book challenges (given everything else going on), and by December I was in a reading rut from “having” to read certain books even as my neglected TBR list continued to grow. We’ll see how 2017 goes.

Audiobooks (12)

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royally-screwed tom-stranger shadow-queen redshirts
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Most of my December reading consisted of audiobooks. I didn’t feel like I had the time to sit down and focus on an actual book. Plus I have a bunch of titles sitting in my Audible queue, and I needed to make them disappear. A Man on the Moon was wonderful. I’ve listened to several other space race/outerspace books recently, and it’s always nice to get slightly different perspectives on both people and events. It also brought back memories of when I got to listen to an astronaut give a talk in the officers club at Kirtland AFB when I was kid (couldn’t tell you who, but I was mesmerized during the entire thing). I ended up finishing it a few days before John Glenn passed away. The Magicians is a reread, and I liked it more than I did when I first read it in 2009. It’s full of ennui, and I can relate to that because I feel like I’m in a life rut. Royally Screwed ended up being a bit of a disappointment. I know to suspend belief when reading romances, but I couldn’t get past the complete lack of plausibility of a crown prince falling for an American commoner, and then abdicating for lurve. Redshirts was more entertaining than expected. A fun riff on Star Trek and other old sci-fi shows – this is what happens when a tv show intrudes on another reality. I liked the main ending, but could have done without the various epilogues focusing on some of the secondary characters.

Novels (5) / Novellas (3)

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Five of the books listed here were from the PopSugar reading challenges, and there will be another post with my thoughts about them. As a whole, I enjoy the Dark Kings series by Donna Grant, but I’m kind of over the romance part of it – it’s fairly predictable and formulaic, and generally doesn’t add anything to overarching plot. The overarching plot and various secondary characters are what keeps me coming back. These characters tend to be more complex, more ambiguous in what their angle is or whose side they’re actually on. Dark fairies vs. dragons, dragons vs. exiled dragon(s), light fairies claim neutrality, the Reapers (what amounts to the fairy Justice League) have made their reappearance, and the humans are unwittingly caught in the middle of it all. Natural Born Charmer was a cute book. It was well-written, and the plot generally felt believable.

Read Alouds (2)

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Bunnicula was the first chapter book I ever read (age 8, finished while riding in a car somewhere in Nevada). It will always have strong sentimental value to me. I still have the same copy, and a few years ago, I got it signed by James Howe at a book festival. It was the highlight of my day. This time around marks the third time I have read it to my children, and I am happy they enjoy it as well. While trying to find books to read to my 6-year old, I stumbled across Clementine. She absolutely adores it. Me…not so much. I found her kind of bratty in a pig-headed, “they don’t understand me” kind of way.

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November Books

Life has been crazy recently. Holidays, upcoming (now completed) travel, and Girl Scouts, have made life fairly overwhelming. Quite frankly, I want to curl up in a little ball, read some fluff romance novels, and be left alone.

Audiobooks (10)

hemingses-of-montecello wildflower food-a-love-story astronaut-wives palace-job artful anubis-gates lesser-beasts breakfast-tiffany american-gods-10th

The Hemingses of Montecello was fascinating, if a bit long and dryly academic. The conjectures she made were fascinating – such as why Sally and James Hemings would walk away from freedom in France in order to go back to slavery in Virginia. The Astronauts Wives Club was also fascinating. One doesn’t normally think about the wives behind the scenes, but they had to maintain the “All-American” front, sometimes to the detriment of their own health. NASA dropped the ball on giving them support when they needed it. The Anubis Gates has been on my TBR list for a while because it’s considered a classic steampunk novel. I liked it, but I wouldn’t consider it steampunk. It’s magically focused, not technologically focused. Lesser Beasts was very good, and I highly recommend it – a history of the pig and humans’ relationship with keeping and eating pigs. American Gods is my least favorite Neil Gaiman book. I can’t pinpoint why exactly, but it feels rougher than his other books. That being said, matching the old gods against the new human-made gods is a cool concept; and I liked the small vignettes that focused on various gods and goddesses.

Novels (8) / Nonfiction (1)

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Seven of these books are for various PopSugar reading challenges, so there will be another post with my thoughts on them. The Big Tiny was on my TBR list for a while, and it ended up being a good read. I like the idea of tiny houses (though I know I would never want to live as tiny/off-grid as the author). Life is so much easier with less stuff. It was an uplifting read in that she took a horrible experience/health issue and used it as the springboard to reevaluate her life and her things, and ended up freeing herself from a lot of the previous stress and disconnectedness. I had high hopes for Doon, being that it involved Scotland and time-travel (interdimensional travel, in actuality), but I had to push myself to finish it. I have no interest in reading the remaining books in the series. The plot was poorly developed, stereotypes and clichés abounded. Character-wise, Mackenna is the one who drove me nuts. She is supposed to be the foil for Veronica (a complete Mary Sue), but Mackenna came off as self-absorbed and idiotic.

Graphic (8)

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Read Aloud (1)

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