Tag Archives: march

Wrap-up 3.20

Things that happened at the beginning of March already feel like they took place a year ago, so this will be interesting.

To get started, a little refresher on my TBR goal for March:

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As I’m doing for every month this year, I set myself a goal of five specific books to read in March. For the first time in 2020, I did not manage to read all five books. I knew when I started out that this would be a tricky month to plan ahead of time, and I did make a conscious choice about halfway through the month to set this list aside to in order to focus on the Women’s Prize longlist. I managed to finish 3/5 of these books, plus I made progress in The Vagina Bible– I passed the halfway point. I didn’t even start The Heart’s Invisible Furies. These books won’t be appearing in future TBR sets, but I do still expect to read them this year; I might be able to finish The Vagina Bible next month, and The Heart’s Invisible Furies is one of my 20 in ’20 titles, so if you’re looking for my reviews on those they will still be coming eventually. As it is, I’m satisfied with my 3 out of 5 for now.

Here’s what I have been reading:

  1. The Snow Collectors by Tina May Hall – 3 stars. A gothic murder mystery wrapped up in historical fiction, this was a fascinating read. Some of its many elements worked better for me than others and the ending didn’t quite satisfy, but overall this was a good time.
  2. Things in Jars by Jess Kidd – 4 stars. I liked everything about this historical fiction mystery set in Victorian London except its whimsical writing style, which grated considerably for me. I probably would have adored this about ten years ago, but this month 4 stars felt generous.
  3. In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado – 4 stars. An absolutely stunning memoir of abuse in same-sex relationships. It’s full of important content and incredible writing, a nearly perfect read.
  4. The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave – 5 stars. This historical fiction novel re-imagines a terrible storm and a bad case of witch trials in a small sea town of northeastern Norway. I was utterly drawn in by the characters and the author handles the subject deftly, making room for new conversations about centuries-old witch hunts.
  5. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson – 4 stars. A short family drama following three generations in Brooklyn and the choices that set them apart and bind them together. I would’ve liked a little more from this book but overall had a nice time reading it.
  6. Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner – 4 stars. Despite a whole lot of infuriating characters, I very much admired what this book set out to do. Even though it didn’t quite come together as well as I’d hoped, I loved the writing and commentary and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the read.
  7. Girl by Edna O’Brien – 2 stars. I picked this one up with low expectations and it still managed to disappoint. It focuses on the kidnapping and abuse of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls, but the perspective and approach left its brutal content feeling sadly flat and ineffective.
  8. Dominicana by Angie Cruz – 3 stars. Featuring a young Dominican Republic girl who enters a loveless marriage in hopes of helping her family immigrate to the United States, this book failed to impress and yet was nevertheless very readable for me.
  9. The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo – 3 stars. A family saga in which four daughters aspire to find the level of perfect romance modeled by their parents; a secretly adopted son returns to the fold and shakes things up. I found this such an entertaining read, but wished it had more to offer than fun. Full review coming soon.
  10. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett – 3 stars. Another family saga, this one follows two children who were rich for a short time and lived in a fancy house, only to be turned out and faced with poverty. I loved Patchett’s writing but found myself increasingly disappointed with the book’s characters, plot, and structure. Full review coming soon.

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This was actually a great reading month, if you consider that I barely read for an entire week while on vacation in early March and still managed to finish one more book than my recent average of nine. I feel on the verge of a reading slump but I’m trying to push through at least until I’ve finished with the Women’s Prize. I’m saving some of the titles I’m most looking forward to for last, so hopefully I’ll have better luck soon.

Some stats:

Average rating – 3.5

Best of month – The Mercies

Owned books read for the first time – 2 out of 10. I read so many library books this month, and I won’t even mention how many books I acquired but it’s a lot more than 2- which my own-unread TBR grew considerably this month. But I only have one library book left and am not planning to check out any more (physical copies at least) until the lockdown has ended, so I expect to spend next month (if not longer) crossing quite a few own-unread books off my list and fixing this balance.

Year total – 28. Goodreads says I’m three books ahead of schedule for my goal of 100 books this year. I’m perfectly happy with where I’m at.

 

If you noticed a lot of historical fiction in my reading list above, it’s partially because I was preparing for my Spotlight on Historical Fiction post. Feel free to check it out and weigh in with your own experience with historical fiction! I had fantasy slotted for my genre spotlight post in April, but since I’m planning to stick to the Women’s Prize list for a few more weeks and haven’t been reading a lot of fantasy lately, I’m swapping fantasy with literary fiction. Stay tuned if this is a genre you’re looking forward to chatting about! Fantasy will feature later this year.

Here’s to April being a better month than March! We need it. Stay healthy, stay informed, escape with a good book. Be well, everyone.

 

The Literary Elephant

TBR 3.20

And so it begins again!

Every month for 2020, I’ll be setting my TBR with five of the books I expect to read throughout the month. I won’t mention extras even though I may pick up other things, and at the end of the month, finished or not, each of the five are barred from future 2020 TBR appearances.

This has been working perfectly for me so far, having completed both my January and February lists on time (monthly wrap-up coming soon!). I’m a bit more worried about March though, for two reasons: 1) the Women’s Prize longlist will be announced in just a few days, and I hope to read as much as possible from that list this coming month. Perhaps I could’ve waited to create and share my TBR, but what I read in March will be determined not only by what’s on the list, but which of those titles are most readily available; we could be halfway through the month before I have a clear idea of in what order I’m going to be reading the longlist, partially because 2) I’m also going on a trip this month! I will be in New York City for 6 days in the second week of March, which came up unexpectedly but I am very excited about it. I’ve never been and have long wanted to go, so I probably won’t be reading quite as much that week, and I expect I’ll order/library request the longlist books before I leave, which means I probably won’t know what will arrive first until I’m back. So I’m not sure a regular TBR will work this month on top of all that, but I’m going to try! If all goes well, here’s what I’d like to read in March:

  1. In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. I have been majorly slacking on nonfiction this year (by which I mean, I haven’t read ANY yet, and I regret it!); this one’s on the list of 2019 books I wish I had read last year. It’s a very-hyped memoir about an abusive same-sex relationship, with experimental formatting. It’s the book I’m planning to take on my flight, so hopefully I’ll be able to read at least this one book while I’m gone!
  2. The Vagina Bible: The Vulva and the Vagina- Separating the Myth from the Medicine by Dr. Jen Gunter. I started this nonfiction medical book back in January, and sadly haven’t made much progress in February. I am very excited that this exists even though I get more out of some chapters than others. I had to set it aside in a busy week and always struggle to get back into a book after I’ve done that, but I know I will appreciate this one and hope the extra push will help me finish it this month!
  3. The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. This is a library checkout, and one of my most anticipated releases of 2020 (out this February). If it’s longlisted for the Women’s Prize I’ll get to it sooner, but I’ll definitely be reading this one either way. It’s a historical fiction novel set in 1600s Norway and focusing on witch trials. My genre spotlight post for March will feature historical fiction, so I’m using the rest of this TBR to keep me on track for that as well.
  4. The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. This is one of my own-unread “20 in ’20” books, in addition to being the right genre for my spotlight post. But it’s long, so I’m uncertain. It’s an Irish 20th century lgbtq+ saga of one gay man’s life, and I am very much looking forward to finally picking it up!
  5. Things in Jars by Jess Kidd. Another historical fiction, this one featuring kidnapping and supernatural powers in Victorian London. It’s a library checkout and a February release I was very excited about. I’m hoping to squeeze this in before my trip and before longlist copies start coming in. (This is technically eligible for nomination as well, but it’s not one of my longlist predictions!)

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February’s TBR didn’t bring nearly as many high ratings to my reading as January’s did, but it still helped keep me on track with various reading plans so I’m calling it a success. The real reward, honestly, was just the excitement of completing the list after I thought I wasn’t going to finish in time; I hope the prospect of doing so again will help motivate me to complete March’s list as well, even though I will probably be prioritizing the Women’s Prize longlist where I can. But anything could happen! Maybe March will be my best reading month so far this year. ūüôā

Even though I don’t expect to get to many (if any) of these right away, here are the new releases this month that I’ve got my eye on! This is a list of releases on my radar that I’ll be watching out for this month in reviews and bookshops:

  • Anna K by Jenny Lee. A YA contemporary romance Anna Karenina retelling, in Gossip Girl style. Out Mar 3rd
  • The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Uncovering Secrets, Reuniting Relatives, and Upending Who We Are by Libby Copeland. Nonfiction about the pros and cons of widespread DNA testing and its impact on families, communities, and culture. Out Mar 3rd
  • My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell. Contemporary fiction featuring a woman who looks back on a relationship she had with a teacher as a teen and looks closer at whether it was abuse. Out Mar 10th
  • The Deep by Alma Katsu. Historical fiction horror centered around the sinking of Titanic and the subsequent use of a sister ship amidst plague and war. Out Mar 10th
  • The Operator by Gretchen Berg. Historical fiction about a phone operator in a 1950s Midwestern town who hears something shocking while listening in on a private conversation. Out Mar 10th
  • The Keeper by Jessica Moor. Mystery/thriller about a woman who worked at a domestic violence shelter and has turned up dead. Out Mar 10th
  • Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel. Thriller about a woman who was victim to Munchhausen by proxy as a child, out for revenge. (I’m on the fence about this one, having seen some comments about the way mental health is handled.) Out Mar 17th
  • The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. Literary fiction following several lives connected to a five-star hotel in British Columbia. Out Mar 24th
  • Constellations by Sinead Gleeson. Nonfiction essays centered around female bodies and health, grounded in one Irish woman’s experiences with art, illness, grief, and more. Out Mar 24th
  • Look by Zan Romanoff. YA contemporary about a girl with a large social media following, finding the line between what she presents to the world and who she really is. Out Mar 31st
  • Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang. Literary fiction about an Asian American woman in an interracial relationship who must choose where her career is heading and find her place in society. Out Mar 31st

There are several titles coming out in March that I’ve been looking forward to for months, and which have featured on my most anticipated releases of 2020 list. It’s a bit frustrating that I can’t pick them all up immediately, but there are so many great bookish things going on this month that I’m sure to find some quality reads no matter what I focus on! And surely I’ll be coming back to the titles I don’t manage to pick up within the month. I’m very interested to see what other readers will think about these books as they emerge into the world.

See anything on my lists that you’ve read or are looking forward to reading?

 

The Literary Elephant

Wrap-Up 3.19

March has been such a mixed reading month for me. Ratings all across the board, a high number of books read but very few from my March TBR. I read way more library books than usual, so I’m looking at my little wrap-up stack of the books still in my possession and it looks pretty sad, even though the written list looks good. All in all, I suppose March just felt like a second January, albeit with slightly better weather- it just went on and on and there’s basically no rhyme or reason to anything I’ve accomplished. I suppose I’ve just felt a bit unfocused.

Finished Books:

(Titles link to my full reviews, with a few exceptions mentioned below.)

  1. The Victim by P. D. James. 3 stars. A single short story from the Faber Stories collection. The first of several that I read this month; these are so short that they hardly seem to count, but Goodreads counts them so here we are. I loved how carefully this one was constructed, but didn’t find the murder scheme as shocking or innovative as I had hoped.
  2. The Test by Sylvain Neuvel. 5 stars. A new release novella that I read in one evening and loved. The commentary made up for a bit of predictability in the plotting, and it was just so engrossing and unique that it completely hooked me.
  3. Mrs Fox by Sarah Hall. 4 stars. A Faber Story, one of my favorites from the handful I’ve read so far. Great themes.
  4. A River in Egypt by David Means. 3 stars. Another Faber Story, one of my least favorites so far. The writing simply wasn’t to my reading taste.¬†(This link will take you to my most recent Faber Story mini-reviews for more detailed thoughts on each.)
  5. No Exit by Taylor Adams. 3 stars. A distinctly winter thriller. I actually fit this one in over the last blizzard weekend of the year, so it still felt appropriate. This one had its ups and downs. I thought the plot and structure were done well, but didn’t like the way some of the details (especially one of the “torture” moments) were handled, and overall believability was a bit of an issue for me. But ultimately, this seemed unlike other thrillers so I’m glad I gave it a chance.
  6. Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond. 3 stars. I cannot adequately express my excitement for the upcoming Stranger Things season 3. I picked this up in an attempt to fill the void and found it generally interesting but nowhere near as compelling and creepy as the TV series.
  7. Color and Light by Sally Rooney. 5 stars. This is a short story I read online which has apparently vanished from Goodreads entirely but I’m counting it anyway. I think this is the only short story that I’ve read this year that I’ve rated 5 stars, but it’s stuck with me. I found some very resonant lines in this one. I believe it’s still available through¬†The New Yorker so I’ll link it here.
  8. Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li. 2 stars. The first Women’s Prize novel that I picked up after the longlist announcement earlier in March. This might have been a 3-star read if I had managed my expectations better, but I’m standing by my first impression that this was a solid idea that just never quite lived up to its potential.
  9. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. 4 stars. I read this to discuss it with a friend who was rereading this month, and I fell a bit in love with it. I have never seen so many Beatles songs referenced in one work, and some of the commentary on mental health was wonderful. It didn’t quite make the cut as a favorite, but I’m sure I’ll always remember it fondly and probably reread it someday as well.
  10. Looker by Laura Sims. 3 stars. A thriller that’s not quite a thriller- more of an intense, psychological character study. I did find this short novel compelling and fun to read, but ultimately didn’t agree with some of the points it seemed to be making or the way it went about them.
  11. Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden. 2 stars. Another Women’s Prize book- this one was also disappointing, mainly because of stylistic choices in the execution of what should have been a very moving premise.
  12. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. 4 stars. Somehow even though I had been anticipating this one for months and seeing many great reviews in the lead-up to publication, I didn’t expect to love this one quite as much as I did. I still have not stopped listening to 70s/80s rock.
  13. 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne. 2 stars. I really liked The Hating Game (by the same author) but this one felt very unpolished and messy.
  14. Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn. 4 stars. From the Women’s Prize longlist. Fortunately, in this one, I did find a new-to-me title that I expect will leave a good, lasting impression. I loved the flash format and the way all of these little chapters fit into a larger narrative, and the magical realism element gave this historical backdrop (70s communist Romania) an interesting spin without overwhelming the story. I’ll have more thoughts in a full review tomorrow, if life goes as planned.
  15. Terrific¬†Mother¬†by Lorrie Moore. 3 stars. Another Faber Story. I’ll have another set of mini-reviews up soon with more in-depth thoughts on these most recent Faber Story reads, but for now I’ll just say that this wasn’t quite what I expected. I thought it would be a bit darker, and found it less compelling for its lightness.
  16. Come Rain or Come Shine by Kazuo Ishiguro. 4 stars. Another strong favorite from the Faber Stories collection.This one also was not quite what I expected, although this one was better for it.

A nice long list, right? So many of these feel like cheating to include though because of how short they were- 5 Faber Stories, a novella, and three more books under 200 pages. I wasn’t picking up short things to improve my numbers though, those are just the titles I was interested in this month, so I guess it is what it is.

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Some stats:

Avg. rating – 3.3, which is a bit low for me. Usually I’m more enthusiastic just to be reading and tend to rate high; I’m much more likely to lower a previous rating after some time has passed than raise one.

Best of month –¬†The Test. This was a hard choice- I loved the Rooney, Hall, and Ishiguro stories, but because of their brevity I didn’t feel like I’d spent enough time with them for those titles to stand a fair chance here. I’m very much a novel person. I’m sure the Murakami will stick with me longest, and I had the most fun with¬†Daisy Jones. But the Neuvel definitely made the best immediate impression this month.

Worst of month –¬†99 Percent Mine. I think it’s a first for me, to have three 2-star ratings all for different authors in one month. But this was a much easier choice. The two women’s prize books that disappointed me at least left me with some positive food for thought.

Books hauled – 18. Eleven of those are single short stories, so I feel pretty good about limiting myself to only seven books this month, and I’ve already gotten a decent start on reading that list.

Owned books read for the first time – 8. Five of these were only short stories, though. And it’s less than I hauled, so my owned-unread TBR grew again.

Year total – 42 books. My Goodreads goal is set for 100, so I’m well on track.

March TBR tally – 4/14. In February I hauled fourteen books, and when March began I had already read three of those. Throughout the month I read only one more from that list. But I’m also working on another- I’m partway through¬†Early Riser by Jasper Fforde, one of my February BOTM choices that I’ll finish up before moving on to my April TBR.

The seven library books really threw off my plans this month- I usually stick to around 2-4 library books per month; I mainly just had a lot of previous holds that all came in at the same time in March. But everything I read was either a new release, newly added to my owned-unread TBR, and/or a Women’s Prize longlister, so I’m satisfied.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

 

The Literary Elephant

Wrap-up 3.18

March has been an incredible reading month, but I’m glad it’s over. (It was starting to feel like another January, which always seems to last about a year.) I read some great things, I was excited to see all the great new releases this month (even though I haven’t read them all yet), and I was happy with my progress on my reading challenge. It was just an all-around great reading month, but I’m ready to start fresh again. But before we get too far into April, here’s how March looked – – – >

Personal trends:

  • February was black history month, and March was women’s history month. I wasn’t prepared in February so I read to honor both this month.
  • March was also the month of Penguin Moderns for me; I read six of the little volumes in this new set already and I added another 6 to my shelf already.
  • I had one of those crazy book-buying sprees this month where all of my patient book-buying resistance of 2018 turned into a free-for-all at the bookstore. You can check out my book haul if you want, but I’ll admit right here that I was way past my limit this month for no good reason.

Book-to-Film Adaptations:

  • I watched Stephen King’s It (1990), the mini-series (although it watches like a normal 3-ish hour movie). I read the novel It in January 2018 for my first buddy read, and rated it 5 stars. My buddy and I finally got together for an It film marathon. I wasn’t really impressed with this version, and I don’t think I would have liked it at all without having read the book, but this one does follow the novel’s details pretty well, which I appreciated.
  • We also watched the new (2017) adaptation of It, which is the first part of a two-movie duo. The second part comes out Sept. 2019, but I can see myself watching this one repeatedly in the meantime. It doesn’t follow the novel as religiously, but I think the changes it made suited the story. The scares were more dramatic than terrifying (though the movie is rated R and I would not recommend it to immature viewers), and you don’t need to read the (1000+ page) novel to enjoy this one.
  • I saw The Glass Castle this month, after reading Jeannette Walls’ memoir of the same name in January 2018, which I rated 5 stars. I prefer the book to the movie, but the film made me cry (which is rare), and I loved seeing the real photos/videos of the Walls family with the movie credits.
  • I also saw Ready Player One this month; I’ve been eagerly awaiting this film since reading Ernest Cline’s corresponding novel in¬† September 2016 and rating it 5 stars. The movie seemed less 80’s than the book, but it had equally great characters and a compelling plot and I honestly loved the movie as much as the book despite their differences. Highly recommend.

Books I finished reading this month:

  1. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. thestoriedlifeofajfikry3 stars. I did like this book, but it didn’t wow me. I appreciated the diversity and uniqueness of the characters, but I found the plot predictable and the conclusion obvious. Some of the characterization even seemed a little weak. Nevertheless, there are things I like about Zevin’s writing, even in a book with a transparent plot. This is a book for book lovers about book lovers, with lots of literary references that are fun if not always relevant to the overall story.
  2. Hunger by Roxane Gay.hunger 4 stars. This memoir was a phenomenal and enlightening reading experience, and only a few stylistic details in the writing structure kept me from a 5-star rating here. Recently I’ve been loving nonfiction books that advocate for equality and loving yourself, and I love learning about the real world in a way that doesn’t feel like reading a textbook. I’m going to be recommending this one a lot.
  3. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. anamericanmarriage4 stars. This one has been named Oprah’s 2018 book club selection, so I’m sure it’ll be getting a lot of attention this year and I’m glad. I thought I was over love triangles in literature, but this one stems from wrongful imprisonment rather than any of the usual petty drama, and it’s used not as a love saga but an acknowledgment of current social injustices. I’m on more of a read-to-learn kick this year, and books like this are a great way to step into other people’s shoes without leaving my beloved realm of fiction.
  4. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. theblindassassin4 stars. I read an Atwood book every year; this is my fourth year, and all four novels have been vastly different. Atwood is one of my favorite writers, and even though this one took me a long time to finish (I started it in February) it did nothing but reinforce my good opinions of Atwood and her literary works. This one made me sadder than I can convey, but I’ll definitely read it again someday (t’s one of those books that has more to offer on subsequent reads).
  5. Letter From Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. letterfrombirminghamjail5 stars. I was even more thrilled with my Penguin Moderns when they arrived in my mailbox than I’d expected. I decided to read the ones I bought in numerical order. This was the first one, and it was a great note to start on. I’m so glad America has seen strong voices like this one; I love reading about the need and effort to reach equality, and and I love that great writers/orators can put their words to such constructive and powerful use.
  6. Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan. rainbirds3 stars. This is my March BOTM, and I actually read it before the month was half over. So proud. Although I found the style of writing in this book very readable, I couldn’t connect with any of the characters in the emotional way I expected to so it ended up being a bit of a bland read. The plot interested and occasionally surprised me, but there’s a lot of grief in this book that I just wasn’t feeling. I debated between 2 and 3 stars, but even though I don’t have many fond thoughts of it in the aftermath I really didn’t struggle while reading it.
  7. Create Dangerously by Albert Camus. createdangerously3¬†stars. Even though I didn’t love this volume as much as expected, I did find appreciable points within it and my mild reaction wasn’t enough to turn me off of the Penguin Moderns. There are some beautiful ideas in this volume of three speeches, and I liked the size and variety of the works. It was Camus’s philosophical style I was having a hard time with, and I recognized it as a personal issue rather than anything wrong with this book.
  8. The Missing Girl by Shirley Jackson. themissinggirl4 stars. I sped through this one a lot faster than the nonfiction Penguin Moderns. I was completely engaged in the stories but I don’t think they’re going to stick with me and keep me thinking the way that the nonfiction books did. Still, this is my favorite kind of fiction: reality with a twist. Well-crafted creepiness that keeps me wanting more. (P. S. Mint green is hard to photograph accurately and I’m just bad at photography in general, I know. I just like to provide a visual of the edition I’m reviewing.)
  9. Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine. stillhouselakesquare3 stars. I started this one way back on Christmas 2017, as my first Kindle Unlimited book. I have been reading it off and on all this time, just a few pages here and there when I have some unexpected free time on my hands. It probably would’ve gone faster if I had enjoyed it more, but I was determined not to quit. I’m glad I didn’t, because once the plot picked up about halfway through I did speed up and enjoy this enough that I’ll continue with the sequel.
  10. The Distance of the Moon by Italo Calvino. thedistanceofthemoon5 stars.¬† This one really surprised and delighted me, and it was the one that helped me decide to buy more Penguin Moderns to read after this month. I love Calvino’s writing even more than I love these specific stories, and I really love these stories. If you’re interested in literary astrology (or just some short well-written sci-fi), this is the volume for you. The writing is beautiful and constantly unexpected.
  11. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. rebecca5 stars.¬† I was a little worried in the first chapter of this book because I don’t like a lot of place description and revelatory dreaming, but even those aspects found their place in this story and by chapter 2 I was enchanted. I don’t read a lot of Gothic literature (there does tend to be a lot of description of nature/landscapes as well as prophetic/revelatory dreaming), but in small doses I absolutely love the creepiness and the old buildings and the ghosts. This book was a perfect fit for me, even better than Jane Eyre.
  12. Red Rising Sons of Ares by Pierce Brown, Rik Hoskin, and Eli Powell. sonsofares4 stars. I was looking for some sort of graphic novel to check out while I’m waiting for the next Saga comic, and I realized this one was going to be published in March. Of course, it’s Pierce Brown so I had to read it right away. I’m glad I waited until all six volumes were published in one book. It was not my favorite part of the Red Rising story, but it was a great way to spend an evening nevertheless. And now I can’t wait to reread the novels in anticipation of Dark Age, Brown’s Sept. ’18 release.
  13. Piers of the Homeless Night by Jack Kerouac. piersofthehomelessnight2 stars. I thought I might be interested in some of Kerouac’s books, but I’d heard more about his topics than his style. I haven’t had many encounters with stream-of-consciousness writing, but I was definitely not a fan with this volume. I’m glad I figured out Kerouac isn’t for me with this little sample volume rather than an entire book; I did like reading some of his thoughts, but I don’t think I’ll be reading any more of them.
  14. The Problem That Has No Name by Betty Friedan. theproblemthathasnoname5 stars. The last of my Penguin Moderns for the month, and a good note to end on. I had not heard of Friedan before picking up this volume and the blurbs for these books are so short and not entirely helpful in discerning contents, so I was really pleasantly surprised by this one. It’s a sort of feminist history that’s unlike any of the more recent books on feminism that I’ve read. I felt like I learned a lot with this one.
  15. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. childrenofbloodandbone4 stars. First, this book has some glorious exterior details, and they absolutely fit the gorgeous writing within the story. Some of the broader sweeps of the story seemed rather stock (a “chosen” teen on a quest to save magic with three artifacts despite powerful opposition), but the cultural details are beautiful and plentiful, and an undercurrent of modern social issues helps set this story apart. I’m glad dipped back into YA for this one. Full review tomorrow.

Some stats:

  • average monthly rating = 3.9 (pretty typical for me)
  • books hauled = 15 (I counted the Penguin Moderns as one book in my book haul, but here I’ll count each of them. Either way, I clearly failed my 3 books or less goal)
  • owned books read for the first time this month = 11 (WOW, even if 6 of them were short! But even so, my TBR shelf grew)
  • total books read in 2018 = 33

And that was March! This has been an excessively long post, so I’ll stop here. Fingers crossed for April being even better– because it’s my birthday month!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant

 

Book Haul 3.18

New books for March! My goal this year is 3 books per month, maximum; I achieved that goal in February, but I gave in to temptation in March and went way overboard. :/ Here are the most recent additions to my (overflowing) shelves:

  1. Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan. This is my Book of the Month Club selection for March. There were some great choices this month, but again I succeeded in limiting myself to one selection. (I swear the month started out on such a good note, I had no idea I was in for such book-buying weakness later on.) I even read it within the month! It’s a sort of mystery/grief sketch of one Japanese man uncovering the secrets surrounding his sister’s untimely death.
  2. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. I had a 20% off coupon on the day this one released (a YA fantasy with an entirely non-white cast, the first book in a new series), which seemed like a sign. It’s surprisingly easy to find “signs” that I should buy a book. I don’t think I’ve bought any YA books this year, and I’ve hardly read any– but this one looked like a must. This is my current read and I’m certain I’ll finish it within the month; look at me go, reading my new books promptly! Review will be up next week.
  3. Penguin Moderns. I saw Ariel Bissett talking about this new collection of modern classics on Instagram and I had to check them out. They’re such beautiful little samplers of classic/influential writers from the 1900s, perfectly collectible with a nice range of content. I immediately wanted to read about half of the collection, but I settled on 6 to start and told myself I could buy more if I read and loved these first. I’m counting these as one book here (they’re only about 60 pages apiece so all 6 of them together is about the length of one book). I did manage to read all 6 this month. Here are the reviews: Letter From Birmingham Jail, Create Dangerously, The Distance of the Moon, The Missing Girl, Piers of the Homeless Night, and The Problem That Has No Name.
  4. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. I found this hardcover copy in the bargain books section at Barnes and Noble on the day I picked up my parents from the airport. Long story short, they didn’t want to just be picked up from the airport, they thought they should run a bunch of errands as long as they were already out of the house and had a “chauffeur”, so I spent eight hours driving this day and I’ll be honest, when I had a chance to step in to a bookstore I didn’t try very hard to resist even though I already had my three books for this month. I feel kind of bad about not sticking to my allotted number of books (and carefully selecting titles I know I’ll read soon), but I needed a pick-me-up this day so I bought this family saga lit fic novel for cheap.
  5. The Circle by Dave¬†Eggers.¬†After I surpassed my 3 book limit, I let myself go a little book-buying crazy. I’ve been wanting to read¬†The Circle for a long time, but really I didn’t need to own it this month and I picked it up in the store because the color of the cover fit my mood for the day (it’s a bright coral red, if you were wondering). I have no idea when I’ll get around to this one, and all I remember about the synopsis is that it’s sci-fi, and it revolves around some internet company that has access to a lot of private information and is maybe trying to take over the internet or do something shady?
  6. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.¬†I did have a coupon when I bought this one, and I bought it in store because every time I looked at it online I wasn’t sure what the size of the big floppy paperback I wanted actually was and I was afraid I’d accidentally buy the mass market paperback or something. I’ve really been in the mood for fantasy lately and I’ve heard that this one is superb. I’m a little hesitant to start because I know there’s no prospective publication date for the last book yet, and also I’m still in the middle of A Song of Ice and Fire. But I’m really excited for this one.
  7. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick¬†Ness. I picked this one up kind of randomly, but as soon as I read the synopsis (I actually didn’t get any farther into it than the uncontrollable mind-reading aspect) I couldn’t walk out of the store without buying this one. As I said, I’ve been in a fantasy mood and I was exercising no restraint. This is a YA fantasy trilogy by an author I’ve been interested in but haven’t read yet.
  8. Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Sons of Ares by Pierce Brown, Rik Hoskin, and Eli Powell. Back in the beginning of the month when I thought I could limit myself to 3 books, I was planning to order this one at the very end of the month (with a coupon, because saving money) so that it wouldn’t arrive until April, when I was expecting to go over 3 books anyway for my birthday month. But I ended up ordering it as soon as it was released on the 16th. At least I did read it right away (I love Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series) instead of growing my TBR shelf even more. This is a graphic novel prequel to the Red Rising series.
  9. Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I was on the fence about buying this one, and if I had been closer to my 3-book goal I would have waited. I’m pretty sure I’m going to love this series, but in all honesty I haven’t even started the first book yet (Illuminae) and this is the third. But there was a good deal on the Barnes and Noble exclusive edition and, as you can see, the entire second half of this month was a new-book free-for-all for me. Obsidio is the third book in a YA sci-fi trilogy with a uniquely graphic narration style that uses different sorts of documents and files etc. to tell its story.
  10. The Illustrated A Brief History of Time & The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking. Stephen Hawking died this month and it reminded me that I wanted to read his A Brief History of Time, a nonfiction science book. I found this cool illustrated edition that’ll be a great coffee table book (someday when I have a coffee table) and in the meantime I think the pictures will make it easier to read. Science was my least favorite subject in school, but I think mostly because I hated the hands-on part of it. I avoided chemistry like the plague. But I am interested in learning about the world and how things work, and reading beyond my usual comfort zone, so I have high hopes.

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I’m pleased with myself for reading 3 (soon to be 4) of these 9 within the month; if I had stuck to my original 3-book goal, I would’ve made a dent in my TBR shelf this month. Instead I read 5 (soon to be 6) of my own unread books this month and added 5 unread books, which means my TBR shelf will be down only 1 book this month and not until I finish Children of Blood and Bone tonight or tomorrow. That’s the real goal of my 3-book hauls this year, to lower the number of owned, unread books on my shelves; so I guess I’m glad that at least I’m not ending the month in a worse position than I started. But better luck next time, as they say.

Have you read any of these books? What new books did you pick up this month?

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant

March TBR

February flew by. I had too many reading ambitions and not enough time. I did work through all 8 books on my official Feb. TBR, but it was nowhere near the insanely great month I had in January. March, however, is slightly longer and I have big plans. BIG reading plans. This is my official TBR for the month:

  1. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare. I’m actually currently reading Clare’s Clockwork Angel, the book that comes before¬†Fallen Angels¬†in publication order, so technically I’ll be reading these both. I’m reading all of Cassandra Clare’s books this year in publication order, and Fallen Angels is the next one on my list–the fifth published, and the fourth in the Mortal Instruments trilogy. I really enjoyed rereading the first three books in this series, and I know I love the Infernal Devices, but I’m a little nervous about how this second half of the Mortal Instruments will go–it seems like it could hold a lot of potential, but it could also start to feel like what was originally a trilogy will be drug out to long, so I’m curious to see where this one will lead me.
  2. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. I thought it would make sense to only be reading one big series at a time, but I couldn’t put off the Grishaverse any longer; I read the first book in this trilogy in February and plan to continue with this sequel in March. I’m really enjoying this world and its characters so far (other than Alina at times, I hope she improves), so I’m looking forward to continuing onward.
  3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. This is my designated classic of the month. I’ve actually started this book previously, but I was busy with college things so it was back-burnered after three chapters. I’m planning to start over and read it all the way through this month, and this is probably the classic I’m most excited to be reading this year. I know it’s a romance, and I’ve read Wuthering Heights previously, by another Bronte sister, so I have high hopes for this one as well.
  4. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. I wasn’t planning to pick this mystery up in March, but I saw it on the new arrivals shelf at my local library when I went in to request my holds for the month, and I couldn’t pass it up. A lot of the library books I read come through inter-library loan because all of the towns around my home are small and have to share copies of books. I have a weakness for checking out unplanned reads when I spot anything that’s been on my radar on the new releases shelf because I just get so excited that something I want to read has actually found its way to my library. So I placed my holds and added this one on extra even though I’d already planned for more than what’s on the rest of this list and was feeling a little overwhelmed by everything I wanted to be reading in March. But I’m excited for it anyway.
  5. Caraval by Stephanie Garber. This YA fantasy book was a new release in January of this year, and I put a hold on it at my library before it was even published but it’s taken this long for me to get my hands on it. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this one, and getting into this one while it’s new will give me extra incentive to also get around to reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern soon, which has been a goal for a long time. I wish I could have read The Night Circus first, but it took me too long to make time for it and I wanted to read this new release before it wasn’t new anymore. I’ve already missed that chance with The Night Circus.
  6. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. I’ve been getting back into YA these past few months because I think that age bracket has really improved its literary options in the past few years while my interest dwindled. I’ve been rekindling my love for YA lit with some great newer releases, and this one (although not quite as new as some of my other picks) came highly recommended by a trusted friend who gave me a beautiful copy for Christmas.
  7. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. This book is quickly becoming a YA staple, and when I almost bought it at a bookstore last month I realized that I’m finally ready to actually read it. While I didn’t end up buying my own copy, I picked one up at the library soon after and plan to read it this month. It looks a little morbid, a little sad, and also a little heat-warming, so I’m excited to dive in.
  8. The Magicians by Lev Grossman. I’m currently writing an NA science fiction book, and feel that I need to read more adult sci-fi/fantasy before I make final edits and send the manuscript on. (Recommendations are highly appreciated!) This trilogy is one I’ve really been wanting to get into for a couple of months now, and I guess I’ve just given up on trying to finish one series before I start another this year. I don’t really know what this one’s about anymore, but I remember reading the synopsis and thinking it sounded absolutely perfect, so I’m happy to go in blind. I also know that this one has been turned into a TV show, and I’m all about those book to TV show adaptations, so I’m adding the show as well to my upcoming plans.

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Eight books was also my goal for February, and I didn’t read much past that, so I thought I’d stick with the same number for March. Although this next month will be a little longer, some of my TBR choices are also a little longer this month, so eight feels like a realistic goal. I’m enough ahead of my Goodreads goal for 2017 that I don’t even need to read this many, but I’m enthused about all of these books–so enthused that I can’t wait another month to read them. I know that I can read YA and thrillers faster than some other books, so I think a lot of these will actually go pretty quick. As usual, I have a couple back-burner choices in mind in case I actually finish all of these with time to spare, but these are my highest priorities for March and I’m determined to read them all. My track record for 2017 TBR lists is good, so here’s to hoping.

Have you read any of these books? What are you reading in March?

Sincerely,

The Literary Elephant