BoB 26 Round Up Day 1

Yesterday was actually the 2nd day of Bout of Books, but my official 1st day. I decided the best way for me to tackle my stack of digital ARCs I’ve been accumulating was this readathon. I only managed to finish one book and DNF’d another. It was just not that interesting to me. 

One Night for Seduction – Erica Ridley

Let me say, I’m not a fan of the trope where one Main Character (MC) makes a wager concerning the unaware other (MC). It’s obnoxious. I was thrilled when our betted on Diana finds out about Cole’s bet to get her married pretty quickly. I also love the conversation of equality the characters discussed. Diana was a great heroine. I would have loved to get more of Cole’s rags to riches backstory, but all in all, fun read. 


Hopefully today will be more productive! How was your reading day yesterday? Even if you’re not participating in the readathon, tell me about it.

Bout of Books 26

Just as I started typing the title “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 suddenly started playing on my previously off Spotify so I think it’s a sign. I wasn’t going to officially participate in Bout of Books this time, but then I thought about it. This is the last week of summer for the kids, my stuff still isn’t here…what else can I do? Also I spent all day reading and didn’t count it so might as well get credit. I don’t have a set TBR, but I’ll share what I did read when I’m done (either daily or after the whole week). You can also find me on Instagram @karenafagan for live content.

Have you ever participated in Bout of Books? If so, what’s your strategy?



Bout of Books

#24in48 Recommendations

Originally, I was going to do a post about what I’m reading for #24in48 which is happening this weekend (click the link for the deets), however, it turns out…the spawn are finally joining us in Pittsburgh that weekend so we will be running around showing them their new city. So I thought maybe I would help with some recommendations. I’m a bookseller on hiatus, it’s the least I can do. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t generally do a lot of my heavy reading for readathons, otherwise it’ll feel like I’m not making any progress so I’ll be keeping it nice and light (in page length anyway). I’m also going to keep it to more recent books since I haven’t really talked about anything newish in the last two years on here. And away we go!

Fiction

The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics (Feminine Pursuits, #1)The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Wait

F/F Regency romance is sparse on the ground when it comes to the Big 5 publishers so when I heard about this story about an astronomer who falls for an explorer’s widow? I was basically the human realization of that Fry gif. This hit all the spots. Fiber art! Science! Sexy times! All the exclamation points.

 

 

 

 

Kingdom of Exiles (The Beast Charmer, #1)Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau

While we are on the topic of romance, let’s talk about this romance/fantasy. To be honest, I still can’t figure out if it’s Romance with a fantasy theme or Fantasy with a romance subplot. That’s not a knock. I really liked that way Martineau blended it. As a bookseller, I just didn’t know where to shelve it. Ha! Anyway, it is a fun start to a series that I’m seriously interested in seeing where it goes.

 

 

 

An Illusion of Thieves (Chimera, #1)An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass

Also the first in a new series, I had a good time with this fantasy novel about a royal courtesan who is exiled when her brother steals from the wrong person and now has to keep an eye on him. It’s not flashy magic, and there’s a found family aspect which I am a huge fan of.

 

 

 

 

MiddlegameMiddlegame by Seanan McGuire

What, you haven’t heard me screaming about this book already? I’ve been reading Seanan McGuire forever and she STILL BLOWS ME AWAY with this standalone about two people, Roger and Dodger who are unexplainably linked. The technical writing alone is fantabulous. Also do yourself a favor and listen to it on audio because Amber Benson narrates and she is amazeballs. It is on the longer side that I generally don’t recommend, but  the plot’s roller coaster will keep you going.

 

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill SistersThe Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

If you loved Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, you need Jaswal’s recent gift to the literary world (and if you haven’t read it, go do that one too). Three sisters are sent on a pilgrimage to India after their mother’s death. The catch? They don’t really see eye to eye. Themes of immigration, sisterhood, familial obligation, and culture are weaved together so beautifully here. It was one of the first books I read in 2019 and I’m still thinking about it.

 

Nonfiction

Southern Lady CodeSouthern Lady Code by Helen Ellis

Ellis’s short story collection American Housewife is my favorite recommendation for people who don’t like short stories. It’s amazing. And everything I love about it, Ellis puts in this essay collection (also great rec for people who don’t like essays. See what I did there?). This is the book to read for quick bites of wit and charm in equal measures.

 

 

Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays)Call Them by Their True Names by Rebecca Solnit

Another great essay collection, but this time, less funny. Solnit is spot on with most of her observations and with the state of our nation at the moment (let’s be real, forever) this hits in the spot that tells you this is all fucked up and these are the reasons why that maybe you couldn’t name.

 

 

 

We're Going to Need More WineWe Are Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

I’m just going to say what I put down for IndieNext. Writing this off as another celebrity memoir is the worst mistake you can make in your reading life. Union has put together a collection of essays covering topics of race, feminism, beauty standards, and fame that truly touch the soul. I would recommend for fans of Roxane Gay and Phoebe Robinson, for her blunt truthfulness and heart. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every essay and would read anything she writes in the future. (TW: rape)

 

Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz ChickensBelieve Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard

I am a huge fan of Eddie Izzard’s and have been since high school when I discovered Dress to Kill. I highly recommend the audio of this because of course I do. It’s Eddie. He talks about coming to terms with being transgender, a word he never applied to himself, his comedy career, his family, and everything in between. Then go watch all of his standup…after the readathon, of course.

 

 

Priestdaddy: A Memoir

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

Ending it with one more audiobook recommendation because Lockwood herself reads it and while a lot of authors can’t pull it off, Lockwood nails it. She does fantastic impressions of her family which is worth the price of the audiobook. She recounts the years where after her husband has some health problems they move in with her conservative parents. And oh boy, it’s a doozy. You need to read it to believe this kind of wild. You’ll laugh out loud on your commute and scare the crap out of that baby sleeping in their stroller. I’m sorry. But not really.

 

So that’s it, I mean, it’s not really it because if you know me, I have more recommendations where that came from, but these are a good start. If you want more, you know where to find me.

What are some books you are recommending for people’s #24in48 needs?

Mid Year Book Excitement recap

A co-conspirator from the Rogue Book Coven that I’m a part of suggested this great tag she saw from Emily Fox’s Booktube channel.

  1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2019
  2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2019
  3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to
  4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
  5. Biggest disappointment
  6. Biggest surprise
  7. Favorite new author (debut or new to me).
  8. Newest fictional crush
  9. Newest favorite character.
  10. Book that made you cry.
  11. Book that made you happy.
  12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)
  13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

 

  1. Gideon the Ninth by Tasmyn Muir. It’s released in September by Tor.com, but I was able to get my hands on a digital ARC. Freaking fantastic and I can’t wait for you all to read it.
  2. Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean
  3. The Outside by Ada Hoffman. I have an ARC for it and just haven’t gotten to read it. I am here for #ownvoices representation.
  4. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. Are you kidding me?! A sequel to Handmaid’s Tale after 34 years? It’s hard not to have expectations.
  5. We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia. I wanted to love it so much, but the writing was boring.
  6. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire. I knew Seanan had skill. I knew that she is a fantastic author, but what she did with Middlegame BLEW MY MIND.
  7. Tasmyn Muir! If what she did with Gideon is just the beginning of what she has to offer, I can’t wait to watch her shape what Science Fiction is.
  8. Gideon Nav from Gideon the Ninth. As my friend said, she’s the jockiest jock to ever bro and even though I didn’t think she’d be my type, I’m so here for it.
  9.  I loved so many great characters that I’ve read this year, it’s hard to narrow it down.
  10. The Nickel Boys by Colston Whitehead almost made me cry. It was intense.
  11. The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal was fantastic. I loved Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows so much so I was excited to get my hands on her next novel and it didn’t disappoint. She’s a joy to read.
  12. Beautiful covers or beautiful prose?
  13. I don’t have a list of things I have to read. I would like to clear a lot of my digital arcs just to make things cleaner.

Urban Fantasy Summer

While at Bookshop Santa Cruz I ran the Science Fiction/ Fantasy section where I expounded on the merits of titles like The Unkindness of Ghosts, A Darker Shade of Magic, and The Fifth Season. However, the area where I really cut my teeth on the genre, was urban fantasy. We don’t see it as much anymore. I don’t know if it’s because UF had a habit of upping its hero’s skills to unbelievable levels or just because publishing is cylindrical and it’s time was done, but while there are some series that live on, on the whole UF is a thing of the past. One of the series that lives on, is Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series (as well as her Incryptid series). I decided since for the time being I don’t have to live by Pub Dates and Indie Next submission deadlines, I’d revisit Toby and the gang. Then I thought about it. Why not spend this summer going back to the books that made me fall in love with SFF?

October Daye is a changeling in San Francisco who is a Knight errant and all around badass. Snark and violence at its finest. And at 13 books in, we have quite the world building to traverse through. The first few books run a little slow, but by book 4 she hits her stride and it’s a fun journey. The series starts with Rosemary and Rue (did I mention all the titles are Shakespeare references?). Toby has some great growth as a character and it’s amazing.

Also on the list is going to be Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series. Kelley is still writing, but her books are closer to the mystery genre these days. The Women of the Otherworld swaps narrators is very few books which I completely enjoyed. We start off in Bitten with Elena, who is the only female werewolf, then there’s Paige, a witch learning about being a parent to an orphaned witch while navigating the world of magic, as well as a cast of other powerful ladies. PSA: Warlock Lucas is totes my book boyfriend.

At the same time that TWotO was a hit, there was also The Hollows series by Kim Harrison. Starting with Dead Witch Walking we are following a witch bounty hunter slash detective named Rachel through magical Cincinnati with her pals, a bisexual living vampire named Ivy and a foul mouthed pixie named Jinks. Rachel is a hot mess of a character which I wholly appreciated because it’s boring when the main character knows all the answers.

Remember that snark and violence I mentioned? One of the best examples is Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. In Hounded Atticus is the last known Druid who is in hiding from a very angry Celtic god in Arizona. Oh did I mention that Atticus, while appearing 21, is actually 21 centuries. So you know. Like you do. You will love his pal, a talking Irish Wolfhound named Oberon.

Last but not least, is Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires. The first book is Some Girls Bite where we meet Merit who is changed to a vampire without her consent. I love Merit. I love her best friend Mallory. Spanning 13 books (which seems to be the magic number in ending UF series) we see her kick ass, take names and eat all the junk food. And good news, there’s a spin-off called Heirs of Chicagoland so the fun continues.

There are tons of Urban Fantasy series out there and everyone has their favorites. These were just a few that I really enjoyed and plan on revisiting. Do you have a favorite UF series? Tell me about it in the comments or on social media!

Bookseller Hiatus

According to my history it’s been over 2 years since I’ve updated. Apparently it’s hard to keep a blog going when your job is to sell books. If I wasn’t at work, handselling or running a register, I was writing reviews for Indie Next or the store’s newsletter. So why am I back, you’re asking? Because at the current moment of my life, I’m not a bookseller. Husband got a job in Pittsburgh and just like that, we are onto the next chapter of our lives. I’m currently in a hotel room in San Jose whole he finishes his last two days of work at the previous job. Spawn are in Southern California, visiting their grandparents while we make the transition. I’m hanging out with the newest additions to the family, Poppet and Widget of the French bulldog persuasion (yep they’re named for the twins in The Night Circus as they are litter mates).

It seems it’s hard to get me out of the book world though. I had serious plans to just read, no work, but I can’t stop myself. And if that wasn’t enough, I did a poll on Instagram and everyone said I should. I think that’s legally binding.

I can’t promise the blog will be regular at the moment. I can’t even guarantee the formatting will make sense. For at least the foreseeable future I’ll be in the car, as we are road tripping from NorCal to Pittsburgh in the next week so updates will probably come from my phone. I don’t even know what kind of blogging I’ll be doing or if I’ll be using any of the same things I did on the blog previously. What I can say is that I will write about books, the pups, and anything that I find mildly amusing.

I can’t seem to break my frontlist habit, but atm I’m currently rereading the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire so I’m on Book 4 Late Eclipses. If you haven’t read this series I highly recommend. It’s heavy world building in the first 3, but I think Book 4 is where she hits her stride. It’s fun as a reread because I can see what she was setting up at the beginning that she didn’t reveal until way later in the series.

The road trip is guaranteed to have some bookish moments so stay tuned.

Bout of books progress 

Hey! As previously posted, I’m attempting Bout of Books this week. However, if you want to follow my progress and chat about it, I will be doing that on my Twitter account! You can find me @karenafagan.

For now I can say due to work, I’ve gotten a late start so all I’ve read so far is half of Marry in Haste by Anne Gracie. Hopefully day off that changes!

Cheers!

 

Quick Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Quick Review is a semi-regular feature of ARCs I’m loving. You should keep your eyes out for these! 


Born a CrimeBorn a Crime by Trevor Noah

Noah’s perspective of growing up in South Africa during apartheid while being the son of a black woman and white man, while mixed with his trademark humor, was insightful and poignant. We in the US are often presented with what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has termed “the danger of the single story” where we are told history from the point of view of the oppressors and it was refreshing to see history from someone directly affected by the heinousness of the apartheid laws.

Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Format: Digital ARC from Edelweiss

Quick Review: Breathless by Beverly Jenkins

Quick Review is a semi-regular feature of ARCs I’m loving. You should keep your eyes out for these! 


BreathlessBreathless by Beverly Jenkins

Beverly Jenkins has done it again. She gave me a story that had layered characters, a wonderful plot and as an added bonus gave a history lesson that most of us didn’t learn in school regarding US history. I love that our hero fell in love first, no brooding for this guy and the heroine? She was the one who had to be convinced to leave her single state. The romance between the two equals steamy.

Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Format: Digital ARC from Edelweiss