August Autobuys

Autobuys is about books that I am already having on preorder or definitely planning on buying. 

August is a good time for my weakness which I call snark and violence otherwise known as Urban Fantasy. It’s not high brow I know, but I’m not going to apologize for it either. Like Amy Bloom’s answer to ‘what books are you embarrassed you haven’t read,’ “I’m a grown woman.” Me too, Ms. Bloom. This is going to be a fun month for being a grown woman.

Blood Games (Chicagoland Vampires, #10)

Blood Games by Chloe Neill (Aug 5)

Chloe Neill is the epitome of snark and violence for me so I’m totally looking forward to the latest in her Chicagoland Vampires series.
Bad Feminist: Essays

Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay (Aug 5)

I flat out loved An Untamed State and then I started following Gay on Twitter. What a freaking treat that is. I look forward to reading her Ina Garten live tweeting, her romantic unrequited relationship with her UPS man, and really everything she tweets. Bad Feminist is something I want in my hot little hands yesterday.

Cursed Moon (The Prospero's War, #2)

Cursed Moon by Jaye Wells (Aug 11)

Another contender for the S&V crown Cursed Moon is the sophomore installment in Well’s newest series that combines urban fantasy with crime procedural.

The King's Curse (The Cousins' War, #6)

The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory (Aug 14)

I adore Gregory. I have sense I discovered The Other Boleyn Girl and quickly read her backlist. I’m anxiously awaiting the last in her Cousins’ War series.

Visions (Cainsville, #2)

Visions by Kelley Armstrong (Aug 19)

I devoured Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series and have faithfully followed her into her latest Cainsville series. While nothing like her previous urban fantasy series, Cainsville is a mix of part fantasy, part mystery and I like it.

The Wicked + The Divine #3

The Wicked + The Divine #3 by Kieron Gillen (Aug 20)

Comics are books dammit and I’m reading this. It’s on my pull list so I’ll be driving my happy ass there to pick it up probably the next day. This one is about gods who become pop stars every ninety years only to die two years later.

-Kurtis J. Wiebe

Rat Queens #8 by Kurtis J. Wiebe (Aug 20)

Let’s just assume every month I’m going to put TW+TD and this one in my autobuys. Otherwise it’ll get old really quick. But now you know. This series about a group of kick ass warrior women who have zero fucks to give and you need to be reading it now. The newest cover isn’t available, but here they are in their awesome glory.

There are probably some others that will be bought, but these are my pregame. Any books that you have preordered or will automatically buy?

To Be (No Longer) Unread: Backlist

At the beginning of every month I like setting out a few backlist books that I’m trying to get to sooner than later. Sometimes I get to them, sometimes I get distracted and read a book about snark and violence (my weakness).

This month’s tentative picks:

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris

A book about a man whose identity gets stolen only to have the impostor living his life better than he was doing it? I was already intrigued. Now Ferris is on the long list for the Man Booker. Time to move it up the TBR list. I know it’s technically not backlist, but it’s my list so I get to make the rules.

The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

This will be my third Ishiguro. I’m not in love with his stories, but there is something about his writing that keeps me coming back. (Plus I need an “I” for one of my spell it out challenges.)

Ghana Must Go

Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi

I just finished Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (I just love typing her name out) and feel like continuing the theme of learning more about regions I know very little about.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

Now that I’ve dived headfirst into comics I feel like this is the right time to read this one. I still feel bad I pulled a DNF with The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (the want was there, the action, not so much).

The House Girl

The House Girl by Tara Conklin

I have no other reasons than it just called to me from the shelf. I’ve got to respect that.

The Forty Rules of Love

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

I adore Rumi. I found a book of his poetry when I was in high school and started collecting them ever since. I got my husband into him to the point when my husband travels he takes a copy with him as a kind of talisman. In fact when any of us travel we take a copy. I even put a volume in my young sons’ suitcase when they went to their grandparents’ house for three weeks this summer. So this historical fiction about the Sufi poet? I’m in.

 

What books are you hoping to put on your “no longer UNread” pile?

 

Long Time No See

I know, I know! I am a horrible blogger. Life, quite simply has gotten away from me. There was a trip to Rome, a trip to go pick up my kids from their grandparents while we were in Rome, a trip up to San Francisco to march in the Pride Parade (I have proof! I’m in the Apple Pride commercial! 1:02), then went to Tahoe to spend time with another branch of the family tree. My reading has been sporadic and erratic all at the same time.

Remember how I wanted to read short stories this month? Well I managed two collections. I finished Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors and Alice Munro’s Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. I thought the Jeanette Walls book I had on my shelf was another collection, but it turned out it was her memoir (I’m horrible about reading the synopsis, but that’s a post for another day). I had The Lottery by Shirley Jackson on deck as well as Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, but I found myself just not in the mood.

The problem I found with short stories for me is this…I get too wrapped up in the stories so I want more. I’m greedy like that. I want more details, I want more plot. I don’t hate short stories, but I don’t find myself yearning to read one, for instance, like I find myself with historical fiction about Ancient Egypt or the 1920’s or books about snarky ladies who dole out violence to bad guys (I’m looking at you, Chloe Neil and Seanan McGuire).

I’m still planning on getting to Alexie and Jackson. I just don’t think planning a month around a genre or category, author, etc is the way I can do it. I start to feel it’s like an obligation, instead of exploring something new. I’m thinking of changing Monthly Explorations just to Reading Explorations so then I’m not putting myself in a box.

 

Review: The Book of Life

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3)

*This galley was provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Disclaimer: I probably am a little biased on this one, I have to admit. I adored the predecessors in the trilogy so I feel like I was already predisposed to enjoy it before I opened the book (figuratively of course…since this was in e-format, ha).

Also I’m trying hard not to give away huge plot points, but just in case, here is your SPOILERS AHEAD WARNING. I’m also going to assume you’ve read the first two books. If not…turn back now.

This is the final book in the All Souls Trilogy following the witch Diana Bishop and her now-husband, the vampire, Matthew Clairmont as they fight against old prejudices between their species, search for a book that might reveal untold secrets, find a serial killer/rapist vampire, and protect their unborn twins. This sounds like the recipe for too many tangled plots, but I think Harkness pulled it together nicely. The previous book had Diana and Matthew running around Elizabethan England as Diana learning how to be a witch. The Book of Life brought them back to modern times. I think Harkness treated the whole time travel aspect pretty well. I always joke in these books that once you accept that vampires or witches exist (in the story) then you have to open yourself up to more seemly impossible situations. Never once did the other characters disbelieve that Diana and Matthew were hanging out with Christopher Marlowe, however they did question how a witch and a vampire made babies (when a vampire and a witch love each other very much…).

One of my favorite things about this series is that while yes, at the beginning Matthew was one of those ALPHA males, which I think his reasons for being so are satisfactorily explained, he shows growth and gives Diana room to do what she does. Diana was so much better in the last two books than the first. She kind of was waspish in the first following that stuffy female academic trope, she’s also shown development into being an actual person showing a range of emotions.

I am not a science person, however I appreciated the plot dealing with Matthew and his merry group of researchers delving into the genetics of the ‘creatures’ of this universe. I also was interested in Diana delving into what went into the spell crafting.

The serial killer/rapist plot is tangled so I’ll say I liked how Harkness dealt with it without it getting neither lost in all the other more important plots, or letting it take over the same and turning this into a very different book.

 

I can’t come up with anything I didn’t like about the book except for the formatting that comes with reading a galley, but that’s expected and I obviously don’t count it against the book or the author. I said before that there was a lot going on in the book and I think that it was necessary to have the complications. The subplots all related to each other so it wasn’t forced. Harkness showed to have one problem like Diana and Mathew ignoring the covenant set down by their ruling body that states creatures are not to be in a relationship, there are repercussions of that. Same for once that rule is broken, and babies are made where it seemed impossible, there are repercussions of that. Like what are those babies? Witches? Vampires?  (Diana uses two combinations of the species which made me chuckle, but of course now I can’t find them). If they are vampires will they have Matthew’s bloodrage? Never once did I feel that a plot was forced or fluff. The villains aren’t stock and the heroes have flaws. It’s a great amount of fun and adventure.

I look forward to Harkness’s next endeavor even though we’re through with the the Bishop-Clairmont clan. I am a bit sad to be leaving them, but happy they get their ending.

 

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories

For my inaugural July Exploration, I jumped into Alice Munro’s Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage which I found to be fitting for a day that I didn’t have the attention span for a longform story (I’m looking at you, Wolf Hall). This was the first time I’ve sampled Alice Munro and was delighted. The stories are a bit sad, but how else would we know joy?

I am hard pressed to pick my favorite story from the collection.It’s often said we can easily remember the beginnings of things and the ends, but the middle is a bit hazy. I find that pretty appropriate here. The first story, from which the collection takes its title was sad, but rewarding at the end. How a teenager’s prank could have gone horrible wrong, but ended up working out for the parties involved. The last story The Bear Came Over the Mountain about a man and his wife who has Alzheimer’s was the same. Sad, but there was some compassion there.

Next I think I’m finishing Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors. Unless I don’t.

Monthly Explorations: July Meets Short Stories

I can’t say I will do these every month, but every once in awhile I get the urge to devote the month to a theme, whether its an author, a series, or a genre. I’ve been toying with this month’s theme for a while. I feel like I have tried some real stinkers in the short story category because otherwise it’s to admit short stories might not be for me. I don’t know. If A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle counts as a short story, then the latter can’t be true, because I really liked that one. So to put the old adage “try try again” to use, July will be devoted to some short stories. Right now I have a few that I can get my hands on without going to the bookstore or library so we’ll go with those. Thanks to my obsession with library book sales and the subscription service Oyster, I have more than enough to get me started.

  •  The Best American Short Stories 2013 (Oyster)

  • Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman (Oyster)

  • The Lottery and Stories by Shirley Jackson (print)

  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (both print and Oyster)

  • Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage  by Alice Munro (Print)

  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie (Oyster)

  • Me Talk Pretty One Day/Naked/When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris (print) – Not sure which one to start with here. Thinking Me Talk Pretty One Day.

Any other suggestions once I get through these?