WWW Wednesdays 6/29

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? I’m one of the people who received a settlement in the Apple/Amazon lawsuit and…I might have gone a little crazy. I’m going to be out of town this coming weekend so I’m probably going to be sticking pretty closely to my digital bookshelf this week. I’ll be reading The Bourbon Thief by  Tiffany Reisz. I adored her Original Sinners series and even though this won’t be erotica, I know her writing to be amazing so I’m looking forward to starting this tomorrow. I’m actually going to be visiting Emily Foster’s How Not to Fall for my erotica. Emily Foster is the pseudonym of Emily Nagoski who wrote Come As You Are (go get it, now!!).

What did you recently finish reading? The Geek Feminist Revolution  by Kameron Hurley was so great! It was slow starting for me, but pretty quickly I was reminded of Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay which I am a big fan of. I also finished The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Calloway which was pretty interesting. I also finished The City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong. I’ve been a fan of Armstrong since her Women of the Otherworld series and she doesn’t disappoint here.

What do you think you’ll read next? Our book club meeting is being rescheduled and I still need to start Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston for my book club pick. After that I’m not 100% where I’m going.

What does your book life look like this week?

WWW Wednesdays 6/22

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? I just started The Geek Feminist Revolution  by Kameron Hurley which so far is pretty interesting. Remember, I love books about the arts so it should be no surprise I’m also into The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Calloway.

What did you recently finish reading? Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger was great. I have been a fan of urban fantasy for years and this was a great new addition to the genre. I had a lot of fun reading it and can’t wait to see where the series goes. I also finished We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrl to Covergirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement by  Andi Heisler, which was enlightening. I think it is a must read for any feminist. Roses and Rot by Kat Howard rounds out my reads for this week. I haven’t been so pleased by a book in a long time. Howard’s prose was lovely and the story was engaging. It’s been a long time since I’ve read so many great books in a row. Hopefully it continues.

What do you think you’ll read next? I’m looking forward to reading Sweet bitter  by Stephanie Danler. I really love books about cooking and restaurants. I also need to start Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston for my book club pick.

What does your book life look like this week?

WWW Wednesdays 6/15

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? I’m currently reading The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye. I’m not loving it, but I’m not hating it. I admit to being a bit biased since the concept of the book is two magicians competing using their magic. Sounds a bit like The Night Circus and in my opinion, the latter did it with more imagery and heart. So far, I’m not feeling very interested in any of the characters. I’m disappointed because I wanted to love it. I’m also reading Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger. I’m only a few chapters in, but I’m really loving it. A Chinese-American protagonist, alcohol created superpowers, creepy things in the night? What’s not to love?

What did you recently finish reading? I finished a few recently. The Great 2016 Challenge has been working pretty well for me. The most recently finished was The Star-Touched Queen by Roshabi Chokshi, which I found to be really well written with lovely imagery and an engaging plot. I also read two sad books, What Lies Between Us by Naomi Munaweera and  An Unrestored Woman by Shobhaa Rao respectively. I expecting a sad read, but the content of that sadness was something I wasn’t ready for. I don’t want to give things away, just that these normally would be books I avoid. They were wonderfully written so I don’t want to dissuade anyone from reading it. It was just the subject matter. I have to say especially for An Unrestored Woman, I loved the way it was written as paired short stories. My main complaint with short stories is that I want more, this fulfilled that need. I also finished a nonfiction with Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction by Erika Janik. On the whole it was filled with a lot of cool facts and references, but it could have been so much better. It seemed to focus mostly on white ladies only and I think the author would have benefited from looking at comics as well for her examples of lady detectives. Especially to show the difference between the roles of the lady detectives in the beginning with the ones in modern times. Jessica Jones in comparison to Nancy Drew? Lots of food for thought there.

What do you think you’ll read next? Technically I’m kinda reading We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrl to Covergirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement by  Andi Zeisler already, if you count I’ve read the introduction. I’m really interested to read the points about commercializing feminism. I love books about art in all of its forms so Roses and Rot by Kat Howard sounds like it’s totally in my wheelhouse.

What does your book life look like this week?

WWW Wednesdays 6/8

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? I’m continuing the great 2016 Hardback Challenge with What Lies Between Us by Naomi Munaweera and Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction by Erika Janik.

What did you recently finish reading? I just finished First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Brower. I wasn’t overly thrilled with it. It came off super gossipy and sort of catty. Brower used a lot of anonymous sources saying one first lady said awful things about another first lady. The cattiness seemed to take up most of the book instead of really focus on the women themselves and their lives. Or she would use one First Lady’s faults to bump up another which is a serious no-no in my book. I also finished Before We Visit the Goddess, the latest by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I adored Mistress of Spices, Queen of Dreams, and Leaving Yuba City: Poems. When I reviewed it for Litsy, I kept going between Pick or So-So. It just felt a little underdeveloped for me, but on the whole I did enjoy it. I’m a big fan of mother/daughter stories.

What do you think you’ll read next? An Unrestored Woman, a debut novel by Shobha Rao that I picked up at the Bay Area Book Fest last weekend. The bookseller promised me a tragic story and it feels like I’m ready for one right now. Also for my fantasy needs, I’m going to read The Star-Touched Queen by Roshabi Chokshi. I have heard such wonderful things.

What does your book life look like this week?

Bay Area Book Fest

IMG_1536This past weekend was the 2nd annual Bay Area Book Fest in Berkeley, California. I went last year with my family and had a blast. This time I grabbed one of the Book Girl Gang, Karly, and we drove to the closest BART station (Fremont!) and jumped on a train. We both brought a tote bag. I grabbed one of my smaller ones so that I wouldn’t be tempted to pick up too many. Especially since we were going to have to bring all the things back on the train as well as carry it around the festival. When we got there though, Half Price Books was giving out free totes if you signed up for their mailing list. We did this (with me super scared, I have no willpower!).

IMG_2151As usual, the booths set up were amazing. There were small presses, bookstores,
writing groups, among others. We didn’t get to see any panels, but there were a l
ot of great ones I would have liked to see. They separated their booths with cute bookish names like Maker’s Lane, Writer’s Row, Eco Alley, Radical Row, and Literary Lane, just to name a few.

 

IMG_8724If you look above at the header, they had what they call the Lacuna, which included 500,000 donated books for people to just take! We got there after stopping for lunch and drinks and it was already really depleted! I don’t know if more were put out for Sunday, but I was really glad we got there on Saturday. I lost Karly a bit and she came back with a full tote…her second tote. The one Half Price gave her.

IMG_8329We also got to meet up with Rae, who I’ve met via Twitter and is a fellow Book Girl Gang member and Book Riot fan. We had a lovely time going through the books and booths. It’s always a great thing to meet up with book people.

 

All in all, this is what we ended up with. I stuck with my single tote! I bought two books for my kids, six for me (two wereonly two dollars so they almost were free, right?), and two from the Lacuna. We had a blast. I love being around bookish people and this was no different.

IMG_1555
on the BART home with our haul
IMG_1560
Karly’s stacks
IMG_1557
literary loot!

If you went, what was your favorite part?

Cravats, Corsets, and Canoodling

I’ve fallen into the blackhole that is historical romance and I’m not sorry. Well, I’m not sorry now. I was sorry. I did that stupid thing where I felt guilty over what I was reading. Because I’m dumb. I’m not really dumb, I just got caught in the web that is literary snobbery. It’s not the first time, but this will be the last time I let it bother me. Here’s a little background.

I used to read a lot of romance. In fact, my early adult reading was pretty much just romance novels. That’s what my mom read and bought so that’s what i had easy access to once I got out of what we call now YA. Not that it really resembled the YA we have now, but that’s the closest thing I can think of. I remember pretty much jumping from Fear Street books right into Danielle Steel. Then I moved on to Jayne Ann Krentz and historical romance. My mom was/is a contemporary romance type of lady, so I had to outsource historical romances. For those I went to her best friend. That’s where I discovered the Malorys. She had ALL the Johanna Lindsey novels out at the time. Later, I would find Judith MacNaught, Catherine Coulter, Jennifer Crusie (I love her still), JAK’s other pen names in which she wrote historical romances and futuristic romances, Mary Balogh, Elizabeth Lowell, Suzanne Brockmann, and last but not least, the “Queen” of romance, Nora Roberts.

I read romantic suspense, paranormal romance, historical romance, and contemporary romance. Pretty much to the exclusion of anything else. Remember while this wasn’t pre-internet, it was pre-Goodreads and social media. It was when your favorite author really didn’t have their own website, but were listed on their publisher’s site which weren’t as polished as they are now. Discoverability was tough when I didn’t really have any other people in my life who were readers. Working in a library on Grand Forks Air Force Base in my early twenties helped a bit, but it was still a lot of genre. Most of the patrons were reading the typical airport reads. I did discover Dan Brown and Steig Larsson, and also my next phase of urban fantasy with Kim Harrison and Kelley Armstrong.

Because I was the only heavy reader in my life, it wasn’t until I met some other heavy readers, that I found out that romance was looked down upon. Until then, it was my reading in general people couldn’t comprehend. I admit, I fell for it. I buckled and stopped reading romance altogether. I donated all the books I had slowly. To be fair, some of them I was getting tired of on my own. Some authors were just recycling material, some went a route I was unwilling to follow them on. But mostly, I got scared. What if I wasn’t doing this reading thing right?

Obviously now I know there is no right or wrong way to read as long as you’re doing it. Barring some of the problematic things like that “romance” novel floating around about Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, I mean. But that’s a discussion for another day.

I found Sarah MacLean a couple years ago thanks to Book Riot and fell back in love with historical romance. I also learned about Beverly Jenkins, Lisa Kleypas, Maya Rodale, and a few more. I do favor Regency historical romance over other eras, although medieval is another I’ll contemplate. I learned about Tiffany Reisz and discovered erotic romance (a subgenre I’d never been brave enough to try). Sonali Dev was my re-introduction to contemporary. I’ll be honest and say I’m still working on contemporary. So far, I’m really only reading Reisz, Dev, and Alisha Rai in my contemporary romances/eroticas. I’m working on discovering new authors. I also really don’t have any interest in paranormal anymore. I prefer my vampires and werewolves in urban fantasy.

This sounds great right? I’m reading all kinds of genres now. The problem? I relapsed for lack of a better term. After reading a lot of great Regency historical romance series, I realized I was just reading those. That wasn’t really the problem. The problem was I felt guilty over it. I was guilty that I was “ignoring” my other books or not reading anything “substantial.” Don’t get mad at me, I know it’s ridiculous. Those other books will still be there. Also my diversity stats fall when I read Regency historical romances. This is where only reading that subgenre fails. I don’t know of many PoC writing it. I can name Courtney Milan. I would love to read others, of different countries in the same time period. I’ve read a few historical fiction of China in the same time, but no romance. Give me your recs!

In the case of the blackhole, the only thing that I can do is ride the wave. I eventually fizzle out and start to crave a fantasy adventure or a feminist manifesto. One cannot live on cravats, corsets, and canoodling (also the name of my memoir) alone. Well, some probably can (and that’s perfectly okay!), but I have an appetite for variety. I’m sure in a month or two, I’ll have another foray into that world, hopefully this time, I won’t neglect my other TBRs.

Have you ever gotten stuck in a blackhole of a certain genre? How did you get out? Did you get out? Do you need me to throw you a feminist manifesto?

The Great Read All My 2016 Hardbacks Before They Go to Paperback Challenge

I recently started a book budget (my spending on books got Shopaholic out of control), so I’ve made some ground rules on what books I do spend money on. I do buy ebooks from Amazon, mostly the ones on sale for $1.99. If I’m buying it in print for more than $15, I double check how long I’ve wanted it.

I noticed that some of the books I thought I wanted so badly that I bought them right away are now coming out in paperback, and that copy I bought? Still on my TBR bookcase. This isn’t saying anything about the books or their quality. Only that I am extremely fickle and get distracted by all the books. How can I fix this? It is ridiculously hard to keep up with all the books that are coming out, not to mention get too all the backlist books I missed along the way. I did pretty well recently clearing some of that backlist, so I thought maybe I should devote myself to reading these awesome front list books that I absolutely had to have. I declare it the Great 2016 Read My 2016 Hardbacks Before They Go to Paperback Challenge. Yes, usually it takes about a year for books to go to paperback, but you’ve seen my shelves (What?! you haven’t seen my shelves? You need to be following me on Instagram). There are a lot of books to get to. If I can clear this backlog then maybe it’ll be easier when new books come out. Are you laughing? Stop it. Of course I’m aware I’ll never be caught up, but a girl can dream, right?

Since I’ve taken up this challenge in the middle of May, I’ve read four (!) books that I owned in hardback. I’m working on Jane Steele by Lyndsey Faye currently.

Finished

TBR

Are there any books you really need to get to this summer?

May Book Club Favorites

This month the Ladies Reading Speculative Fiction book club read Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam. Our next pick is Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston.

Here’s what the ladies enjoyed this month outside of our book club read.

Come as You Are: The Surprising Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski. I can say that the subtitle is entirely apt. It sounds like a self-help book, but it’s more like a self-acceptance book – and that REALLY HELPS! We all tend to think we’re at least a little bit broken, so…just read this. And then gush about it to your partner. –Juniper



Fable” by Charles Yu. A few years ago I picked up Yu’s How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe on the recommendation of my friend Oliver. I’ve read a lot of science fiction and it’s rare that I read something truly surprising, but Yu’s novel was rich, complex, innovative, and heartfelt. So when I heard this week that Yu had a story in the New Yorker, I immediately went to check it out. “Fable” took my breath away. Yu deconstructs allegory in his stories. Instead of disguising the true content of his narratives, he presses the edges of them by meticulously unwinding the metaphorical veneer surrounding them, stitch by stitch. “Fable” is simultaneously a surreal and true-to-life tale about the nature of love, heartbreak, and family and how we work our way through it. He wields a plain, seemingly simplistic writing style defiantly, revealing the deeply moving story underneath. It’s well worth a read. –Clara

 


As for me. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. I knew I loved Nnedi’s books after reading Who Fears Death and The Book of Phoenix, but Binti just made it even more so. I got to dish about it a lot during Bout of Books and was thrilled when someone read it on my recommendation and loved it. It’s a wonderful feeling. She’s also a favorite of the book club (we got to meet her when she came to speak at UCSC a couple months ago). Nnedi’s worldbuilding is so intricate, even in a less than 100 page novella. I can’t wait until January for book 2.

What were your favorite books of the month?

Upcoming June Books

Every month I try to make a list of all the books coming out that I’m excited to read. Let me know in the comments about any you’re excited about. Here’s what’s coming up in June.

The Gilded Years: A Novel by Karin Tanabe (Jun 7). Based on the true story of Anita Hemmings, the first black student to attend Vassar, who successfully passes for white- until she let herself grow too attached to wrong person. This sounds really interesting. It’s set in the Gilded Era which is also a selling point.


Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach (Jun 7). I love me some Mary Roach. So far, I’ve read or listened to everything except Spook. I’m especially interested in her latest as that was our life for ten years when my husband was in the military.


Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay (Jun 14). Remember how I said I love Mary Roach? Roxane Gay is also on my author goddess list. I have Bad Feminist on my list of Essential Nonfiction Reads that Shaped me as a Person and An Untamed State still makes me feel breathless when I think about it.


Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford (Jun 14). Another historical fiction, this one revolves around the upstart British Broadcasting Company and an American raised secretary who uncovers a conspiracy in the organization. I’m into it.


Curse of the Tenth Grave (Charley Davidson, #10) by Darynda Jones. (Jun 28). The adventures of Charley the Grim Reaper continues. I wasn’t thrilled with the amnesia plot in the last book, so hopefully things will be more of the Charley we all know and love.


Chasing Lady Amelia (Cavendish, #2) by Maya Rodale. (Jun 28). I adore Maya Rodale. I just read Lady Bridget’s Diary and I’m thrilled I don’t have to wait any longer to read the next one. Those Cavendish’s are my newest favorite historical fiction families.

What books are you looking forward to in June?

WWW Wednesdays 6/1

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? Surprisingly enough I didn’t get any reading done during the holiday weekend! I kind of started Jane Steele by Lyndsey Faye which has been raved about by some of my closest book nerds. I also have been enjoying the Maiden series by Elizabeth Hoyt. Right now I’m on Thief of Shadows. It feels a bit different from some of the other romance novels I’ve read, mostly because they have been following more commoners around than the nobility and it’s a bit refreshing.

What did you recently finish reading? I finished Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Ornstein. I was, unfortunately, not very surprised by the information that Ornstein revealed, which is a sad state of what’s going on with our youth and their sex education. The book provides a great deal of food for thought to get the conversation started.

What do you think you’ll read next? I probably will pick up Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston for my book club. My next non fiction looks like The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Brower, which was pretty much inspired by me listening to Hamilton, even though Eliza never got to be First Lady.

 

What does your book life look like this week?