WWW Wednesdays 5/18

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

I’m trying to get more into the habit of writing on here and thought this blog hop might be a great way to do it. Every week I’m going to try 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 working on a story a day from Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam for my book club. It’s going very slowly. The prose is not my usual so I’m taking my time breathing it in.

What did you recently finish reading? Truthwitch by Susan DennardI love the portrayal of a friendship between two teen girls, but the book didn’t blow me away. There was no real interest for me in the main plot, which really didn’t seem like it was much of anything.

What do you think you’ll read next? The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye. I was lucky enough to meet Evelyn through a mutual friend and I was able to go to her book launch of this YA fantasy novel about two magicians that are dueling to the death in Imperial Russia. Off the cuff it sounds like a YA version of The Night Circus meets A Darker Shade of Magic, both books that I loved so hard. I can’t wait to jump into this story.

 

What does your book life look like this week?

WWW Wednesdays 5/11

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

I’m trying to get more into the habit of writing on here and thought this blog hop might be a great way to do it. Every week I’m going to try to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it, shall we?

What are you currently reading? As I’m in the middle of Bout of Books there are a few books going on. I am reading Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Orenstein. Not too far into it, but so far, my impressions are that it would make a great read to go with Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagasaki if you’re wondering what sex is like for the modern woman. I’m also reading Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam which is a collection of short stories for my book club. I’m trying to read a story a day so I can fully experience each one. My historical romance pick is Falling into Bed with a Duke by Lorraine Heath. I’ve been reading her Scoundrels of St. James series and the following series Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James which follow a group of connecting families and now I’m on another tier of the series. I’m enjoying the unconventional family dynamics that Heath puts into her books. I only had one in all the series that didn’t win me over, so those are good odds!

What did you recently finish reading? I just finished Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor. I am a big fan of Nnedi’s work. This is my fifth. I also recently finished Binti which was so wonderful. Lagoon basically asks the question, “What will you do when the aliens come?” In fact that question is on the back of the book. Nnedi recently came to speak at University of California, Santa Cruz and I was lucky enough to attend. She told us how this book was her response to District 9 as she was unhappy with the movie. I loved the book. It was great. She is one of the best world builders in the business. Her characters are fully developed. Just go get this book now.

What do you think you’ll read next? As I’m also reading all the books my friends have lent me, I have a few to choose from. I think the next will be Tarnished by Rhiannon Held. It’s the second in a werewolf series and I had a good time with the first one. If I finish Falling into Bed With a Duke, I’ll moving onto the next in the series, The Earl Takes All.

 

What does your book life look like this week?

April Book Club Favorites

This month the Ladies Reading Speculative Fiction book club read The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. It was a club wide hit. Our next book will be Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam.

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

Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #1) by Mark Lawrence. I don’t know if you have to come into this book already liking “grimdark,” but I’m sure it helps. Jorg is the ultimate anti-hero, especially considering he’s only 13 in the first book. Looking at who he is from the outside, he’s utterly repulsive. So what makes Jorg charming despite his deeds? A cheerfully self-incisive voice, and the enigma of his free will. It also doesn’t hurt that Mark Lawrence has an incredibly deft hand with prose. Just about every paragraph is a lean, mean vehicle that delivers characterization, worldbuilding, and plot advancement with a clever twist of gallows humor. This was a fast-paced and disturbingly compelling read. Juniper



The Fifth Season
(The Broken Kingdoms, #1) by NK Jemisin.
 This was everything I wanted and more. A non-linear tale with three perfectly converging stories; imaginative, gorgeous world building; characters that I adored and who developed so brilliantly over the course of the book; amazing suspense; graceful prose that I kept pausing to mark down; and the best god damned last line. Add in the part where Robin Miles is an immensely talented narrator and I just – everyone read this book, now. Anie

 


Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson, #9) by Patricia Briggs. I like the series because Mercy Thompson is a shapeshifting coyote in a werewolf world and she’s sort of an underdog compared to the werewolves, however, she always manages to pull off whatever it is she is trying to accomplish through sheer will and the occasional help of fey friends. I enjoyed the mixing of Native American lore around Coyote with the lore behind werewolves, witches, vampires and the fey. Patricia also imagines what life would be like both politically and emotionally for those who chose to “come out” as less than human. –Karly


As for meHamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter. Remember how I said i liked behind the scenes stories, this is a great piece about  the hit Broadway play Hamilton from its inception to closing curtain on opening night on Broadway. Filled with essays about the cast and costumes and staging as well as personal annotations from Lin on the full lyrics from the play, if you’re a Hamilton fan, you need this book. Be warned it is out of stock on several places so you may need to do some digging.

What were your favorite books of the month?

WWW Wednesdays 4/27

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

I’m trying to get more into the habit of writing on here and thought this blog hop might be a great way to do it. Every week I’m going to try to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? As usual, I can’t stick with one book so I have a few going on. I’m reading Lady Bridget’s Diary by Maya Rodale which is the first in a new series which seems to be taking place right after her Wallflower series. I also need to make some progress on When Everything Changed by Gail Collins. I got sidetracked and need to jump back in. I also started All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders during the readathon and I’m enjoying it so far.

What did you recently finish reading? After the readathon, I finished Borderline by Mishell Baker which was phenomenal. I’ve been reading urban fantasy for more than ten years now, this is something new. The main character Millie lost her legs in a suicide attempt as well as her career and while she’s recovering she gets a visit from Caryl who is part of the Arcadia Project who wants her to join them. If that organization name doesn’t make you suspicious, well, I’m gonna need you to watch Season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I know, not their best, but I’m making a point here). The plot was engaging and Millie is a character that’s not perfect, something that urban fantasy doesn’t like to do with their heroines, so it’s refreshing. I can’t wait to see where this series takes us. I also finished Winterwood by Jacey Bedford. With a main character who was a cross dressing lady pirate with magical mojo, who crosses paths with ghosts and shapeshifters, and other fantastical creatures in Mad King George’s England, what could go wrong? The sequel comes out in January and I’ll be preordering.

What do you think you’ll read next? Sex with Shakespeare by Jillian Keenan. Naughty with literature? Pretty much my brand. I also have to read Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam for the book club.

 

What does your book life look like this week?

March Book Club Favorites

March’s book for the Ladies Read Speculative Fiction Book Club was Passenger (Passenger, #1) by Alexandra Bracken and April’s book is The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1) by N.K. Jemisin if you want to read along with us.

Here’s what the Spec Fic Ladies loved this month.

Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of WWII by Mitchell ZuckoffThis book. Holy hell THIS BOOK. It’s fantastic. I find that the term “gripping” tends to be overapplied, but it’s accurate in this case. I read this out loud with my boyfriend, and we both choked up at several points while reading; this is an intense and occasionally heart-rending story, one which makes nothing seem so perfect as a quiet and ordinary life. There’s plenty of laughter as well, and anyone with an appreciation for history – especially WWII history – or Arctic adventure will have a great time with this. Whole-heartedly and enthusiastically recommended. Anie 

The Vegetarian by Han Kang. It’s the story of a woman who, after a lifetime of passive acquiescence, stops eating meat to the distress of her family. Short but fascinating, The Vegetarian is packed with rich and strange detail and no small amount of trauma. It’s a testament to the power of a sparse writing style (not to mention a great translator). Highly recommended. – Clara

 

 

 


The Case for God by Karen Armstrong. Possibly the most important scholarly work of the present day, certainly one of the most important messages I’ve heard. Looking at religion as it has been practiced throughout the millennia brings contemporary spirituality into sharp contrast with its original purpose, context, and practice. The divisive literalism so prevalent in several sects today is apparently, for the most part, a very recent development and not part of their mainstream traditions. I found the epilogue alone to be worth the price of admission; it’s a summation that brings home her point about looking to the past for the value of “unknowing” and the importance of practice to bring meaning to the mystery. My intellectual curiosity about religion has now warmed into a greater respect. – Juniper 


All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister.  It’s thought provoking and at this point in the book, I’m kind of shocked at how much I didn’t know, and how recently  some of the rights we enjoy today were put into effect. Even more disturbing are some of the battles still going on today. I recommend reading, based on what I’ve read so far, if only to get a history lesson you don’t learn about in school.  -Karly

 

 


As for me, A Gathering of Shadows (A Darker Shade of  Magic, #2) by V.E. SchwabSo far, Schwab has set up a world that reminds me (in a good way) to Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. The characters are flawed which makes them interesting. I love Lila, the now pirate thief (or is that thief pirate?) and her attitude. Then there’s Kell with his loyalty to his brother which conflicts with his wish to be free of the situation he’s in. The new characters add instead of congest the story which sometimes happens in ensemble narratives. 

 

What were your favorite reads last month?

February Book Club Favorites

Here’s what the Spec Fic Book Club Ladies liked in February.

 The Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne M. Valence. This.was.fantastic. Valente’s writing about Japan always reaches eerily into the bones — it’s so clearly personal and formative for her, and there is a passion and a need in these stories that is truly affecting. (There’s a real sense of Japan as a diverse place, and so much more than the typical stereotypes of what Japan is — which is pretty damn refreshing.) There’s so much great stuff in here. Obviously Silently and Very Fast is a well-lauded masterpiece of a novella, and “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time” deserves its accolades as well; but I especially loved some of the smaller pieces. “Killswitch” is a genuine phenomenon all on its own (look up “Killswitch game” on Google if you need proof), and “The Ghosts of Gunkanjima” and “Fade to White” both grabbed me in the heart-place. –Anie (Twitter: @diapasoun)


The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork. I knew going into this book that Vicky Cruz attempted suicide and that bonding with the fellow patients in her hospital’s mental disorders ward would help her recover from suicidal depression. Which meant that I knew there would be crying on my part. But I especially loved the way that Stork slowly unravels why each of patients are in the ward and how they can help each other. Each of their stories is heartrending, but he tells them so beautifully, helping to make them fully realized individuals with clear motivations based in their personal histories. In addition, I was struck by how rare it is to have an intersectional book on mental illness: All of the patients are Hispanic. But most importantly, I cried even more than I expected, because recovery is hard and there will always be setbacks, and now I’m probably going to go read all of the Francisco X. Stork books that I’ve been meaning to read since 2009. And probably cry more. –Mary


This Too Shall Pass by Milena Busquets (May 24). Every word of this gorgeous novel is colored by grief. It paints a vibrant picture of the way life stops and yet still marches on after a major loss. Milena Busquets’s beautiful prose twists and turns to avoid and face grief head on. In This Too Shall Pass, Blanca is adrift after the death of her mother. When a loved one dies, a lot of time is spent sorting out who they were and reconciling the difference in their last days. Blanca loves generously and, ultimately, it’s the people around her who bring clarity to an otherwise devastating life event. – Ivy 

 Da Vinci’s Tiger by L.M. Elliott. This is not a fluffy romance, or just for young adults, it’s a well-researched work that transported me to Florence just as the Renaissance was kicking into high gear. I have felt a connection to Leonardo in general since I was a teen, and this portrait in particular when I discovered it features a juniper tree (a pun on Ginevra’s name). I had no idea it was such a groundbreaking work of art however, it’s Leonardo’s very first portrait and it broke many conventions, boldly presenting Ginevra as a thinking, feeling subject. – Juniper (Twitter: @JuniperNichols)


As for me:The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee. This book. It was highly anticipated and did NOT fail to meet the expectations. I have a  kryptonite when books are about the arts so a novel about an opera singer? I was done. Also the main character, Lilliet, is a survivor. Whatever life throws at her, she figures out a way to move forward, no matter what it means for her. I don’t want to say too much without giving things away so hurry up and go pick up this book.

 

 

What was your favorite book of February?

January Book Club Favorites

I’ve written before that I am in a book club that is comprised of ladies who read speculative fiction by ladies. I thought it would be fun, since we have such a broad range of interests to see what their favorite book they read this month. January’s book club pick was The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. Technically it was also December’s pick, but the holidays got us all busy and we thought it was a novella due to an article we found (it is most definitely not). We all mostly enjoyed it even with some of the shortcomings that we agreed on (summary: not enough conflict, but fun and full of feels).

Dare to Disappoint: Growing up in Turkey by Ozge Samanci. At first I was drawn in by the slice-of-life in a country I find fascinating but know little about, but by the end everything tied into a powerful and universal message. I will be lending and rereading this one a lot. – Juniper (Twitter: @JuniperNichols)

 The Best American Essays 2015, edited by Ariel Levy. I would really love to have dinner with each of these essayists, which I think maybe sums up my experience with this book – what a group of minds and perspectives. The essays were thoughtful and often beautifully subtle, with great touches of humor, and they really hit on topics that I wanted to hear about. –Anie (Twitter: @diapasoun)

 All The Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Charlie Jane Anders’s mastery of language is incredible. She drops you into an incredibly lush and wildly imaginative world, one I wanted to live in for much longer than the book lasted…At its heart, it is a story of relationships. The disparate yet similar forces of nature and technology, past and future, and, most importantly, between two people marked by childhood as they attempt to survive and live in our strange world. –Ivy

As for me:

American Housewife by Helen Ellis. This book made me chortle most unladylike. From the Book Club chapter to the story about the woman whose husband is “The Fitter,” someone who can fit you to the perfect bra, the tongue-in-cheek asides about what being a “housewife” were hilarious and smart. My favorite is a passive aggressive email exchange between two women sharing a common hallway between their apartments.

 

What was your favorite book of January?

Best books of 2015 (so far!)

I was trying to think of the best way to do this. Do I only talk about my favorite books published in 2015 or do I just talk about all the books I’ve read this year? Because with that qualification my lists change. So because this is my blog…my rules and I can do whatever I want.

2015 Books

  • Sunstone Vol 1 and Vol 2 by Stjepan Šejić. I can’t talk about one without the other. Šejić is crafting a beautiful love story that is wonderfully written and has gorgeous artwork. I will probably be adding Vol 3 on the next best of the year list.
  • How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz. I feel like this one is a bit of a gimme. It takes place in Santa Cruz (my town!) among other locations and it’s an interesting story about a friendship between three women that starts in college (UCSC!) and goes through some rocky times. I loved it.
  • Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski. This list is actually in no particular order, but if it was, this book would have been at the top. Right from the introduction I was impressed. There is so much information that I’m thinking I’m going to definitely go back to it. I wanted to buy a pallet of these books and hand them off to not only every woman I know, but also the straight men. Pick up this book NOW!
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. This was a fun book. It had shades (heh) of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman for me and I loved that book. I want the sequel in my hands now!
  • Half Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older. I read a lot of urban fantasy and this was such a great addition to the genre. I love that it is a blend of UF and also noir. The world building was richly developed and the characters were fully realized. I am looking forward to Shadowshaper, his YA book that takes place in the same world while I wait for the second book in the series.

Total favorite books by the month.

  • January – Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. I had a wonderful time reading this.
  • February – Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. I generally am not into poetry, but this one blew my mind. I need to buy a copy for my house.
  • March – Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. Mind blown with this. My first Butler and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Definitely need to add more of her to my life.
  • April – Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King. This was the YA book I would have wanted to read when I was a teenager. Real characters going through emotions that I went through. I like the fantasy stuff, don’t get me wrong, but to get such a perfect bit of what we go through, is important. I’m looking forward to holding this one for my boys to read when they’re old enough.
  • May – I can’t pick just one. May was a great month for reading.
    • No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay. Remember what I said about poetry before? I saw Kay’s TedTalk and was so moved that I immediately bought her book and devoured it. Look her up! “Hiroshima” and “B” are amazeballs.
    • Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans. Oh man. I have so many hopes for short stories and often just can’t get them. This is not one of them. I checked it out at the library and now want my own copy.
  • June – I held off from publishing this until almost the last minute just in case I was going to find a better June book. I like to keep my options open. Alas, I was right, and my weekend in San Francisco for PRIDE resulted in ZERO reading. I did buy a book, but did not read more than a couple pages while we were waiting for the parade to start. However, Come As You Are wins which I technically finished in the first part of June. See above for the reasons why.

What are the best books you’ve read so far this year? Ones written this year or just that you’ve read, back list or not count. It’s your choice! Did anything surprise you?

Week Between the Pages

This week has been pretty fucking good for books. I loved every single one (one exception but it is strongly in like).

Finished:

  • Come As You Are by Emily Nagasaki. I’m going to keep coming back to this one. I can feel it. It’s already made me realize things about myself that I had no idea about. I want to buy a stack of them and hand them out to both the women AND the men in my life.
  • Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee. A great story. I might finally getting on the YA bandwagon if there are more books like this one. A girl friendship that doesn’t involve them tearing each other down and actually helping each other? Sold.
  • Hammer Head by Nina MacLaughlin. An interesting read about a woman who quits her job in books (I can haz?) to become a carpenter’s apprentice. I didn’t love it, but I applauded her bravery. It’s scary to quit something you’re good at to to something brand new.
  • How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz. This one was my favorite of the week. Possibly the month. All the books I read after this one have quite the challenge to overcome. It takes place, among other locations, in Santa Cruz which is my town. Lutz uses real streets and it was fun to go, yup I’ve been there. Another book about friendships between friends, this one is a lot more complicated than Under a Painted Sky’s as adult friendships inevitably become although it felt a lot more real than some of the other ones where it’s over some weird misunderstanding or jealousy. Did I mention I loved this book?
  • The Calligrapher’s Daughter by Eugenia Kim. My knowledge of Korea is sorely lacking I realized as I read this one. I have been trying to get to this book for awhile now and I’m glad I finally did. It’s beautifully written and the main character’s struggle with her family’s traditionalism and religion and her own desire for education and progression is well developed.

Currently reading

  • The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin. For some reason I was thinking this one was YA and I was resisting it because I wanted fantasy with some steam, not just some stolen kisses. I’m not far enough for the steam, but I read on Goodreads Tiffany Reisz was raving about the first book so I’m thinking if my personal kink hero loves it, it has to have something naughty in it. This is 3 books plus a novella so I might be in trenched in it for awhile.
  • Desperate Duchesses by Eloisa James. I devoured her fairy tale series and wanted to try more. There is something about this one that keeps turning me off though. I’m going to try to read a bit more, but so far, it’s not hitting the right notes.

Books Acquired

  • The Marriage Game: a novel of Queen Elizabeth I by Alison Weir. I have been trying to keep my book acquisitions to a minimum right now, but I couldn’t resist a book about the Tudors. They’re a weakness. I don’t know why. There’s just something about this family that sparks my interest. Also it’s a library book so it makes it easier that it’s not here to stay.

What has your reading week been like?

Mid Week Shuffle

I’m hoping to get some posts up soon, but we swapped internet providers kind of (we went from Comcast business to Xfinity) and we’re still working out the kinks. I just wanted to stop in and do a little book check in.
On Sunday my husband went in to start the outline of the sleeve tattoo he’s masterminding (it’s going to be intense) so for eight hours it was just me and the spawn. They were allowed a day of Wii-U and I settled down with a stack of books I’d been neglecting. I got so much finished! Some had been ones I’d been working on for awhile and some I managed to finish in one sitting.

  • Sex Criminals Vol 2. by Matt Fraction(print)- Another solid installment. I like saving SC as a trade. It’s definitely one of those binge comics for me. If I didn’t do the trade I totally see myself letting it stack up until I had the complete arc anyway.
  • Ms. Marvel Vol 2. by G. Willow Wilson (print) – MM is the same for me. I like having this chunk of storyline to read instead of just a sliver. Loved the Wolverine cameo.
  • The Geek’s Guide to Dating by Eric Smith (print) – I thought it was a mostly fun read. The friend zone section kind of made me sad, but all in all, I’m glad it wasn’t of another pick-up-artist nature.
  • In Real Life by Cory Doctorow (print) – I used to play World of Warcraft years ago and this one struck a cord with me. Go for the art and stay for the message.
  • Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera (print) – This was an impulse buy from my local when I saw it on their signed shelf. I was not disappointed.
  • Dark Debt by Chloe Neill (ebook) – This is the latest in Neill’s Chicagoland Vampire series. I’m pretty sure the series is getting close to finishing up and I’m still hooked. I like a lot of snark with my violence so this was on the mark as usual.
  • War Dances by Sherman Alexie (print)- My first Alexie! I was enthralled which says a lot since I have a hard time with short stories. I need to pick up some of his other ones next.
  • Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit (Scribd) – Loved this collection of essays. Like Bad Feminist it struck a lot of cords with me.

That was just one day! In the last few days I also finished a few.

  • Empress by Shan Sa (Oyster) – I was almost 50% through before I remembered I’d read this before. I wasn’t sure because it’s similar to Empress Orchid by Anchee Min which I’ve also read. I finished it anyway because I couldn’t exactly remember how it ended. Well worth the reread.
  • The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman (ebook)- Amanda from Book Riot has been RAVING about this one. Still, silly me, I took her ravings with a grain of salt. Silly me. I kept getting mad when I had to put it down to help out the kiddos with something. It’s probably one of my favorites of the year so far. Go get it. Now!

What’s your reading been like so far this week?