The Historical Fiction Reading Challenge is my favorite challenge of the year! (Although it's really not a challenge for me to read historical fiction, so I mostly use this "challenge" to make myself feel great.) Since I've been diversifying my reading the last year or two, I'm not reading as much historical fiction as I have, so I'm not going to aim for the 50+ designation this year. I'm going to go for 'Ancient History - 25' books. Some historical novels I'm hoping to read in 2019 include Nisi Shawl's Everfair , anything by Cat Sebastian that I haven't read yet (so maybe any 2019 releases, I think...!), Stephanie Thornton's upcoming release, American Princess , and Madeline Miller's Circe , which I didn't get to this year. What historical novels are you looking forward to reading? Read in 2019 Alyssa Cole, An Extraordinary Union Alyssa Cole, A Hope Divided Evie Dunmore, Bringing Down the Duke Cynthia Sal
Showing posts from 2018
January Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House Jeff VanderMeer, Acceptance February Susanna Kearsley, The Firebird March Therese Bohman, Eventide Cat Sebastian, The Soldier's Scoundrel April Jazz Jennings, Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen Taisia Kitaiskaia, Literary Witches: A Celebration of Magical Women Writers Cat Sebastian, The Lawrence Browne Affair Mary Sharratt, Ecstasy A.J. Thomas, Pins and Needles May Justina Ireland, Dread Nation Alma Katsu, The Hunger Nella Larsen, Passing Sylvain Neuvel, Only Human Laura Purcell, The Silent Companions Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric June Kitty Curran, My Lady's Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel Angelle Petta, The Artist and the Soldier Donia Maher, The Apartment in Bab el-Louk July Mishell Baker, Borderline James M. McPherson, This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War Mitra Rahnema, Centering: Navigating Race, Authenticit
I've basically quit doing reading challenges since I wasn't actually challenging myself in my reading, just trying to tick off boxes for what I was picking up. But I want to change things up in 2019 since I did what I wanted in 2018 and I didn't blow myself away with my reading. (Although I read far more authors of color than in other years, which was an intentional choice I intend to continue.) Book Riot's Read Harder challenge intrigues me -- but also daunts me. The categories always include options I've zero interest in, but I'm going to attempt to hit each one this year! To help me out, I might populate this with ideas as I hit them -- so if you've any recommendations for me, please share! Read Harder 2019 1) An epistolary novel or collection of letters The Color Purple by Alice Walker (finished 10/28/2019) 2) An alternate history novel The Black God's Drum by P. Djèlí Clark (finished 5/9/2019) 3) A book by a woman and/or
As usual, I can't make my Wordless Wednesday post truly wordless. Somehow, whenever I feel an itch to update my blog, it's on a Wednesday -- so ... apologies for co-opting this meme for my purposes! Life has just been bananas hectic for us the last three months or so. My wife broke her ankle. We decided to move to the country. (!) Unabridged Kid turned four. We move next week, so it's been cardboard box city at our house the last few weeks, and I'm just not someone with grit or resilience. When faced with stress, I kind of just turn to mush. So it's been lots of games on my phone and zoning out to Netflix. (Although I did manage about 13K words for NaNoWriMo, so I am pleased about that.) I hope I get back into reading once we're moved and settled. I'll have a new, longer commute once we move, which will allow a good stretch of reading time twice a day -- I'm really looking forward to that. I've got something like nine books I'm in the mi
First line : This fairy tale begins in 1968 during a garbage strike. Holy expletive, this book was intense! A quarter of the way in, I told my wife this was American Gods by way of Laura Lippman, and now that I've finished, I stand by that description. This is a family mystery, a domestic thriller, a supernatural mindfuck. Perfect for Halloween and the creepy autumn days around it. This was my book club's October read, and I inhaled it in about three days. All of us who read it loved it, although pretty much none of us expected some of the elements -- although it varied which plot point or character surprised us. Apollo Kagwa loves books and stories; his parents' courtship, which opens the novel, has the magic of a fairy tale. His own marriage seems similarly fantastic, from his unusual courtship to his mesmerising wife Emma. But the pressure of a new baby takes a toll on all of them, especially when Emma becomes convinced their baby isn't really their ba
Things are so complicated in my life right now, I couldn't even get my weekend reads post ready until Friday night. We're hopefully moving -- beginning of December -- out to the country, of sorts. It'll mean an easier commute for my wife and a different kind of living for our whole family. It'll be a real adjustment for me but I'm excited. But just to make things a little more hairy, my wife slipped last week and broke her ankle. She'll have to be off her foot for at least four weeks, so ... I'll be trying to figure out how to pack and move and keep house and keep my sanity so think good thoughts for me! I'm between books again and feeling a bit too frazzled to read -- but I've been doing crazy prep for NaNoWriMo and I'm excited to get started. What are you reading right now?
First line : The day I came squealing and squalling into the world was the first time someone tried to kill me. First, this cover. LOVE IT. Second, this premise. LOVE IT. In brief: the dead rose after the battle of Gettysburg, and the formerly enslaved are freed -- but only to kill the undead. Our heroine, Jane McKeen, is rich, complicated character. Born on a failing plantation to a white mother, she ends up in Philadelphia at Miss Preston's School of Combat for Negro Girls, training to be a white woman's bodyguard. But she chafes at the rules, frustrated she can clear out cities she'll never truly be welcome in, and she struggles to balance work with the passions of personal life. From the start, Ireland's novel makes the point that whatever the era, were there a zombie outbreak, white supremacy culture would have demanded that people of color be the ones combating it . I love speculative fiction for imagining what could be, and that's what is so c
Belatedly, here's my commitment post for Readers Imbibing Peril XIII , or RIP 13, the reading challenge of creepy, scary, and chilling reads. I'm a total puss and yet I love me some creepy books. Reading ghost stories in October is just a tradition for me (honestly, Halloween might be my favorite holiday) so gathering up spooky books is catnip. My queue, unsurprisingly, is massive. Good luck to me. My list includes two beloved rereads ( Rebecca and Jane Steele ) (if you haven't read either of these books read them immediately!) as well as some new items. I'm particularly excited for the issue of Nightmare magazine, as it's focused on authors of color and includes some thoughts on Lovecraft. Mmmm. Agatha Christine, Ordeal by Innocence Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca Lyndsay Faye, Jane Steele H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (Daniel) Mallory Ortberg, The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Nightmare Mag
First line : Now make room in the mouth for grassesgrassesgrasses Another find I have to credit wholly to my fellow book bloggers; in this case, Carolyn of Rosemary and Reading Glasses. Her review of this volume of poetry made me put this book on my TBR immediately, and it felt pretty urgent I read it. I'm so conflicted about how to review this book. I struggled with almost the entirety of Part I but Part II, her long form exploration of Congress' throwaway apology to Native Americans, was captivating and brilliant. But every piece in this book, whether I "got" it or not, hit me hard, and I can't dismiss anything in this volume. Many of the poems are about language and identity; Long Soldier wrestles with definitions and grammatical rules to make a point about the rules Native Americans face. She details the appalling microaggressions she experienced (like a white woman saying she'd never thought American Indians had feelings until seeing a woman s
Almost one year after I made my first few tepid attempts, I'm once more returning to book vids. Unabridged Kid and I made a brief video (I just learned how to edit!) of our weekend reads: his, Duck, Duck, Moose by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen; and mine, The Parting Gift by Evan Fallenberg. Unabridged Kid even offers a brief reading. What are you reading this weekend?
This book reignited my love for tarot. I bought my first tarot deck at 16 or so, and have been passionate about tarot since then. But after twenty years of reading (and heavily collecting), I found I wasn't turning to my cards as much. Partially it was being pregnant, and then having a kid -- many, many things in my life slowed down -- but a good deal of it was feeling in a rut and at a dead end. I 'knew' the cards, as much as I could, but I wasn't using my decks regularly or reading for anyone -- including myself. On a whim, I requested this book via NetGalley, and to my surprise, actually read the e-book galley cover to cover -- yes, including every page for every card. Cynova -- popularly known online as Little Fox Tarot -- has a wonderfully down-to-earth and accessible attitude that immediately drew me in, and her every thought on tarot and reading (or card slinging) is approachable, welcoming, and realistic. From the first page, Cynova's personality co
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date. I've picked up The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter again, after ignoring it so I could finish Mishell Baker's Arcadia Project trilogy . Then I wallowed for a while in a book hangover. As usual, I've got about eight books in various states of read-ness -- this one, which I'm about halfway through -- and Whereas , a slim volume of poetry that I am working through very, very slowly. (It is intense .) The rest are my throwing-spaghetti-at-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks attempts and frankly, I'm not grabbed. It doesn't help that a wicked summer cold swept through the house this weekend, leaving all of us exhausted and snotty. I've made good progress on my knitting project, however! What are you reading today?
First line : It was midmorning on a Monday when magic walked into my life wearing a beige Ann Taylor suit and sensible flats. I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to adequately write about this book because it's quickly become one of those reads that has merged a little with my DNA. How do you reasonably talk about a book like that? An inventive urban fantasy, this novel features a heroine who has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and is a double amputee. Languishing in a psychiatric center after a failed suicide attempt, Millie -- once a promising film director --is invited to join the Arcadia Project, a mysterious organization that manages relationships between this world and the fey. Baker's writing is wonderful: with the Los Angeles setting and our cast of misfits, there's a noir-y feel to this urban fantasy that makes it read fresh and fast. Baker manages to do some incredible world-building in a deft, readable manner; even though our heroine was
First line : It was the last letter in Irene Redfield's little pile of morning mail. This slender novel reveals a deep, rich, emotional story as well as a snapshot of life in 1929 Harlem. Through the awkward reunion of Irene and Clare, we're also offered a glimpse into the complicated world of identity and colorism and the soul-crushing pain of being othered. Undoubtedly a timely read no matter when, this book felt especially important to me in this time of Black Lives Matter and the importance of skin tone in film casting . (And speaking of casting, the upcoming film version of this book has been cast and I'm so excited!) There's nothing oblique or obfuscated in this story (other than Clare's behavior, of course). Irene and Clare are young black women, married with children. But Irene is proud of her identity and her family and to her surprise, gorgeous Clare has passed herself as white, and is married to a very racist white man. The bulk of the story is
This weekend I'm hoping to finish Theodora Goss' The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter which is so ridiculously fun, I can't even deal. It's about the daughters of famous Victorian scientists and their struggle to deal with the legacy of their fathers. If you love Victorian and Gothic lit, this will be catnip for you! I just got a new tarot deck, The British Gothic Tarot , which I am also loving; and it's a fab overlap with my current read. (It's making me consider more book and tarot pairings!) Musing a bit on what to do with this blog (yet again) since I'm finding it hard to keep up here and be present (and active) with the other blogs I enjoy. How do you all do it? And of course -- what are you reading this weekend?
I'm absurdly excited for this year's 24in48 Readathon -- I've got a big ole stack of books prepped, some audiobooks in the queue ( Welcome to Lagos as well as another non-fiction book about the Civil War as background research for my novel), plus a knitting project I'm dying to start. Iced coffee, dark chocolate, and three sleepy cats. I'm determined to clock in 24 hours this year, too. Are you participating? What are you planning on reading if so?
I love readathons and I occasionally sign up and I almost never, EVER, never hit any goals (other than, like, an hour of reading and two or three hours of cheering). But much like NaNoWriMo, I can't stop trying. So here I am, once again, signing up for the #24in48 Readathon ! It's a simple premise -- try to read for 24 hours in a 48 hour period. For this month, it'll be July 21-22, and even though I've got a busy Sunday, I'm still going to try. Who knows, maybe I'll make 12 hours of reading happen! Will you be participating? If so, share a link where I can check in on you and cheer you along! I'll most likely be updating on Twitter , Instagram , and Litsy (@unabridgedchick).
First line : Night comes as a surprise in the tropics. It took me less than a month, but more than two weeks, to read this brief novel; it's incredibly interior-oriented, which isn't a bad thing, but it didn't allow for lazy, quick reading. Our narrator, Shirley, is clever, and you can't be sloppy to keep up with her. The feel of this novel is Erica Jong meets Kate Chopin. Shirley is a smart, passionate 40-something housewife who travels the world meeting her spy lover. But their latest tryst takes her back to Toronto, where she grew up and still lives, and as we watch Shirley attempt to untangle the clues that will connect her with her lover, we start to wonder just how much of this might be real. And yet, that's not precisely the point of this novel. In her pursuit of her lover, we're exposed to Shirley's entire life -- her childhood, her marriage, her anxieties and hopes -- and a complicated-but-familiar portrait emerges. By the end, I found my
First line : Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. I had to grit my teeth to get through this book. (All 209 pages.) I'm ashamed to admit this since a surprising number of folks online and in person have cited this novella as one of their favorite books, but I found everything about this brief read to be agonizing -- the plot, the narrative style, the characters -- it and I just did not connect. I went in expecting to love this book given its reputation and subject matter. Achebe depicts the story of a Nigeria broken by white colonialism; our hero is deeply flawed and stubbornly committed, living in a world with problems triply complicated by the unnecessary influence of white colonizers. Achebe's narrative style is straight-forward and clear, even as he articulates a world deeply foreign to modern audiences. I suspect I didn't understand this book; I'm also not a huge fan of tragedies (I loathe Hamlet ) so Okonkwo as a characte
First line : Everyone agreed it had been a bad winter, one of the worst in recollection. Unlike most of the planet, I didn't like Katsu's debut novel, The Taker . Which I was bitter about, because Katsu impressed me with her potential. With The Hunger , I got the novel I always wanted: taut, moody, dangerous, atmospheric, and creepy. I don't know where to start with my squee-ing. It helps that the premise -- supernatural take on the Donner Party tragedy -- is just so delicious. Katsu doesn't speed through the trip, and through the early days we learn how fractured these people were, and the many demons that chased them. She takes her time to give the characters space to breathe, and we're rewarded with rich plot threads and deeply flawed and oh-so appealing characters. For history sticklers, this book will surely aggravate, as Katsu takes some wild liberties with the histories of the Donner Party members: victims of sexual abuse, secretly gay, murderer.
My weekend read is In the Distance with You by Carla Guelfenbein, a literary thriller set in Chile inspired by Clarice Lispector. It has a delicious opening line -- "Somewhere on the planet, there was someone responsible for your death." -- and I can't wait to settle in tonight for a good long read. What are you reading this weekend?
In 2017 I read 40 books, and while it's on the leaner side (compared to the years I was aiming for 200+!), it felt like the first year I was really back into reading in a way I hadn't been since I was pregnant in 2014. I got much closer to my goal of being a free-range reader in 2017, but I still struggled with balancing reading with other activities, and more importantly with regards to this blog, writing about my reads. (Here I am, almost halfway through 2018, and I'm seriously behind on reviews. Ugh!) In 2017, thirty-four of all the authors I read were women. Seven were authors of color. Four of my reads were audiobooks, which is a first for me! I managed two non-fiction reads: one a memoir, the other a food/how-to guide. Twenty-four of my reads were 2017 releases. As always, my top ten reads for the year were books that delighted me upon reading and have lingered with me after. All are books I've recommended multiple times and/or won't shut up about. On
First line : --Central, this is Lapetus. Target in sight. This is the final novel in the Themis Files trilogy (I reviewed the previous two novels, Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods .) I'm not going to summarize the plot because I don't want to end up spoiling anything. As a concluding novel, it did everything I needed a final book to do: wrapped up plot threads, answered the mysteries, and provided some final flash bang. As with his previous novels, I think some of Neuvel's characterizations are thin -- no doubt because the story is told through transcripts and journal entries -- and it left me a little impatient with the story. These were fast reads, so if you want a Michael Bay-esque summer action flick in a book, this trilogy will do it. Title: Only Human Author: Sylvain Neuvel Genre: Fiction (Sci Fi / Speculative / Mecha / Aliens / Parenthood / Social Commentary / Warfare) Publisher/Publication Date : Del Rey (5/1/2018) Source: Edelweiss
First line : The subway car was packed and she had to stand from Slussen to Östermalmstorg, crammed between people who all seemed to be sweating. I didn't think I'd so enjoy a book that details the angst of being 40ish and uneasy about one's life. But Bohman's slender novel and her cerebral, melancholy heroine Karolina, are touching, familiar, and wryly funny. This is a familiar story, but still feels fresh and vibrant. Karolina is 40-ish and newly separated, a decision that she agonizes over. Living alone, she relishes the freedom even as she doubts her own decisions. When her charming graduate student's research reveals an exciting, forgotten female artist, there is the promise of something more. Bohman's narrative style, as translated by Marlaine Delargy, is both grounded and ethereal: we experience Karolina's grimy commutes through the city as well as float with her during her lofty, meandering ruminations. It's a think-y kind of novel that
First line : The new doctor took her by surprise. This book is my catnip: Victorian, gothic, haunted house slash ghost story maybe slash unreliable narrator, plus mysterious deaths and creepy countrysides and, well, this read did not disappoint. I loved it. Elsie is a young widow, mere months into her marriage. Her husband died under mysterious circumstances at his family's decrepit country estate and Elsie must go there for his burial, accompanied by a mousy cousin-in-law, Sarah. She finds The Bridge, as the house is called, in shambles, with an clumsy, unprofessional staff surrounded by hostile villagers. She also finds a home, and family, steeped in tragedy. I don't want to say too much more lest I giveaway a small but meaningful detail, but needless to say, Purcell creates a story with all the shiver-inducing details one wants in a creepy gothic-y horror. Nothing can be trusted: not people, not one's senses, not history, not place. The title's silent c
First line : Nineteen years old, Alma Maria Schindler longed body and soul for an awakening. I knew, from the previous novels of Sharratt's that I've read (the astounding Illuminations and fascinating The Dark Lady's Mask ) that I would love Ecstasy -- even though I feared the story of Alma Mahler's life would frustrate me. However, I should have trusted that Sharratt would somehow manage to make me not just enraptured of/with Alma but also the people in her life, including the frustrating Gustave Mahler. Alma Schindler is beautiful and clever, growing up in Vienna's glittering world of art and intellect. She composes and wishes to devote herself to music, but aspires to a passionate love as well. She eventually marries Gustave Mahler, a genius who demands she give up her composing and devote her entire self to his art. The cost, unsurprisingly, is enormous. This probably sounds miserable, but Sharratt somehow manages to make it deeply compelling and kind of
I'm an enormous Mary Sharratt fan; her novels are rich, detailed, evocative, complicated, lush, and compelling. (See my reviews for Illuminations and The Dark Lady's Mask .) I'm sharing my review of her newest novel, Ecstasy , tomorrow, but needless to say, it'll be all gushing praise. Sharratt's portrait of Alma Mahler, Gustave Mahler's beautiful, talented wife, is so good. I couldn't say I liked Alma's choices, but Sharratt allowed me to imagine why she would have made them. I'm delighted to share my interview with Ms. Sharratt about Ecstasy . There's also a giveaway at the end, too! How did Alma's story cross your path? I’ve always been a huge Gustav Mahler fan. I adore his music and he appears like the perfect tragic hero, rising up from rural obscurity and facing insurmountable struggles in his life, and meeting his untimely death with great courage and dignity. But then I became intrigued by the figure of his wife, Alma, especia
Yikes, it's been a while. Winter did a number on me, as it always does; although I can say that while I wasn't reading much (and clearly not blogging about it), I've been filling my time. This year I've finished six knitting projects , which is a record for me given that I normally only manage one piece a year! A few weeks ago, we adopted two cats since Unabridged Kid and I had reached our limit of cat-less living. After bickering over names for two weeks, we finally reached agreement: Gus, from Gus's Garage , and Stanley, from Stanley's Garage . (Notice a theme?) I've fallen terribly behind on my novel; I pretty much stalled out after the winter holidays, and I've just gotten back into a morning writing habit (one hundred-ish agonizing words a day, le sigh). This weekend I'm starting Mary Sharratt's Ecstasy , a historical novel about Alma Mahler. Gifted in her own right, she put all that away for her marriage, and I'm kind of sho
My Teaser Tuesday this week is from Molly Tanzer's Creatures of Will and Temper , a Victorian novel inspired by Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray , only with literal demons and very open homosexuality. It's not hyperbole to say it's delicious. Also, it's a novel about sisters, and they don't get along, and I'm loving it. I love complicated sister relationships (I don't have a sister, so I live vicariously!). And finally, Tanzer's narrative style is fantastic and matches the novel's premise beautifully. It makes my soul thrill -- something I think the characters would appreciate -- and I half gulp, half linger as I read. Anyway - my teaser! This scene is from early on, when Dorina faces her mother and older sister, anticipating she might be in trouble. Dorina tried to read them like a painting--if an artist had arranged them, how should their positions be interpreted? What intrigues could be presumed, given their attitudes, their
Yikes. It's been almost a month since my last post. I've read only two books so far in 2018 which is pretty much panic-worthy, although I am swimming in really great options. Just haven't had the focus to sit down and read. I haven't worked on my novel much either (sad trombone) so I can't really say what I'm doing with my time. (Well, I sort of can: I've been knitting up a storm and going through my tarot and other woo, doing some housekeeping and deep diving.) Anyway, it's not lack of awesome books that has me not reading. It's just me. However, I've got two tempting Victorian-ish books that are siren-calling to me, so here's hoping I get out of my rut! Both are new library finds: Molly Tanzer, Creatures of Will and Temper and E.K. Johnston, That Inevitable Victorian Thing . Unabridged Toddler and I did a short booktube video to talk about the books we're reading this weekend. What are you reading this weekend? What
I have a half dozen posts started and lingering unfinished -- including my top ten reads of 2017 post -- but work and home life (including a string of minor-but-expensive home dramas) has been enough to keep me from having enough brain cells to finish a post. The 24 in 48 Readathon is this last weekend in January and I'm so looking forward to it. You only (ha, "only") have to read for 24 hours within a 48-hour period, and I'm hoping to scrape out that time, even if it means staying up all night in the living room. I'm so behind on my 2018 reading (basically just dragging my feet through Things Fall Apart ) and I'm looking forward to being able to spread out some books around me and start 'em all until something sticks. In the readathon queue are: Toni Morrison's Beloved , Chloe Benjamin's The Immortalists , and Middlemarch . I actually have about ten thousand books jostling for my attention and for once, I'm actually overwhelmed by my
We've survived the "bomb cyclone" here in Boston, but now have ten thousand pounds of snow to shovel in negative temps. Hooray! This weekend is the Moby Dick Marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, an annual tradition for our family. So we can safely assume my read for the weekend will be Moby Dick , although I am working on a few reads, trying to find something to sink into: Middlemarch (still!), Emergent Strategy , and The Desire Map . What are you reading this weekend? For those of you impacted by snow and cold -- hope you're okay!
Sheila of Book Journey invited a bunch of bloggers to share what they planned to read as their first book for 2018 -- and she made a collage of their reads . I'll be reading Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart -- the January pick for my book club -- and I'm looking forward to it (as much as one can for a book that seems to be heavy on misery). What's your first read of 2018 going to be?