Saturday, April 30, 2016

#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks - April

For this challenge, my goal is 80 books for the year from my own shelves, whether they're new books from the TBR or rereads.


The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg (DNF)
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
The Laws of Murder by Charles Finch
The King's English by Betsy Burton
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (relisten)
The Art of Neil Gaiman by Hayley Campbell
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland ... by Catherynne Valente (reread)
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland ... by Catherynne Valente (reread)
The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland ... by Catherynne Valente (reread)

Monthly Total: 9
Yearly Total: 30

With one third of the year gone, I am doing fantastic so far! The only problem is that I'm still acquiring new books so my TBR shelves aren't clearing off very much. I need to really limit my purchasing to only essential new books (like the new Neil Gaiman non-fiction collection, another Jackaby novel, and the next Flavia De Luce mystery). Still, it feels nice to be making progress and to be revisiting so many favorites that live in my house permanently. The only negative to this challenge is that I'm having to find room on my shelves for these new books that I'm keeping and I'm totally out of space!

How are you doing on reading your own books? Have you been inspired to join this challenge recently?

Making sure my books aren't just decor,

Thursday, April 28, 2016

What I'm Reading: A Discussion

Over the past couple of weeks, as I chose books to receive as birthday presents and what to read for Readathon and which my next #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks choices would be, I started noticing that my reading of late has been mostly what one would consider genre reads -- in my case, fantasy, science fiction, or mystery. Of my last twenty reads (including the three I have going at the moment), sixteen have been genre.

So, as we introspective readers do, I started thinking about why this was the case. And the more I thought about it, the more I got the feeling that it was the fault of modern politics and news and social media. I am tired of this world that we live in -- tired of the violence and hate and heartbreak and destruction. I am tired of hearing about the latest new war, the latest grizzly murder, the latest act of gun violence, the latest trampling of someone's civil rights, the latest evidence that we are destroying our planet. If I have to read about murder, I want it to be in Victorian England, far away from me and with some ridiculous motive. If I have to read about an army, I want it to be knights and rangers, fighting against the forces of evil that threaten their castle. If I have to read about awkward teenagers, I want them to be awkward because they are in Fairyland, being teased by a Blue Wind. If I have to read about a government, I want it to be that of Ankh Morpork, where I can chuckle at Lord Vetinari's iron grip without feeling the squeeze myself. I don't know how long this shift toward genre reading will last but my guess is at least until after the current election cycle is over.

How about you? Have you noticed a need to escape into genre reads lately?

Embracing the farfetched,

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Readathon Kick-Off!

It's 5 a.m. and, as I tell you almost every single Readathon, I'm still asleep! I did see that when I participated in my first Readathon in October 2010, I actually got up at the start of the event. But hey, I was six years younger then than I am now and, these days, I want my full night of sleep. So, I am writing this at midnight and I'll be awake around hour four or five.

This is my stack, with the addition of the second volume of the Edward Scissorhands graphic novel that I got for my birthday. The first three Valente books will be rereads but I want to do that before I read the last two. It's such a lovely, quick series that I'm hopeful that I'll get through most of it today. I have the third and fourth books on audiobook in case I need to rest my eyes by that point in the series. I threw in some other fun-looking middle grade review copies in case I need to take a break from September and her adventures. And I also have The Regional Office is Under Attack! on audiobook. I started it earlier this week on my daily walks and it is a crazy and exciting story. If I need a pick-me-up, this book will do the job! I'll probably stick it on first thing when I wake up to get me going.

I don't have a picture of my snacks at the moment. I'll put one on Instagram and Twitter when I get to the snacking portion of my day. In the morning, I'll be making my traditional scones. I can't wait! Otherwise, I have a lot of snacks that involve popcorn and dark chocolate -- sadly, not together.

I'll be doing all of my updates throughout the day on Instagram and Twitter as part of #TeamOwl so come find me there! I can't wait to spend the day reading with you (and hubby and Z, who are both joining me in order to share my snacks).

Doing this thing,

Friday, April 22, 2016

Spending Time with Neil

As the first casting decisions for the upcoming miniseries came out, I decided it was time to reread American Gods and to see what Neil decided to add back in to the Author's Preferred Text edition. I liked this story much more than I did when I first read it almost five years ago. At that time, I had just gotten started with Neil with books like Coraline and Good Omens and didn't really know to expect sex or violence in his stories. But now that I know him and his work better, there was nothing unexpected in the book and I was more able to focus on the details of the story and the mythology. I can't find where but I know I've seen Neil himself say that his fans can be divided into two groups, those who love American Gods and those who hate it. It is definitely a divisive book, dark and brooding with just a touch of redemption at times. This time through I appreciated the crafting of the characters and the vivid sense of each place that Shadow found himself in. Anyway, the casting decisions so far have been stellar and I'm really looking forward to watching the miniseries hopefully late this year.

The Art of Neil Gaiman is a comprehensive review of almost everything Neil has done in comics, novels, film, and children's books by Hayley Campbell, a young family friend who a journalist and the daughter of illustrator Eddie Campbell. She had access to all of the stray papers in his attic and to him and his memories. It was really interesting to read how his career evolved, which things he loved working on and which were more like "work", and what things he would possibly like to write in the future. This is a book for diehard Gaiman fans and it was a fascinating inside look.

Worshipping at the altar,

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

New in Paperback: The Library at Mount Char

I have to admit that after reading the first chapter of The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins, I took to Instagram to ask my fellow readers if I should keep going. Why? Because the first chapter was dark and violent and full of surprisingly awful characters and I didn't know if I could stomach a book that continued on like that. Luckily, a couple of you convinced me to stick with it and, while it's probably not going to be an all-time favorite, it was a unique read with some very big ideas and some really interesting characters that paid off in the end.

I don't really know how to summarize this story without giving everything away. It's a story that builds, turns back, flip-flops, and builds again. The main character is Carolyn and we know at the start that she calls herself a librarian, she's nowhere near normal, and she's walking down the street the early morning hours, covered in blood. What follows is the building of an alternate universe where manipulation of the laws of physics and biology is possible for those who have the knowledge. The owners of that knowledge, however, happen to be a horrible, horrible bunch.

There is a LOT of killing in this tale and a LOT of violence, but, strangely, also some extremely honest friendships and connections, including some that you really would never expect. The story is rooted in the intersection between science fiction and fantasy but so much of it is brutally real that it doesn't necessarily seem like a genre book most of the time. It definitely has the potential to be a long-lived cult favorite.

Unwrapping my mind from around this tale,

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Holiday's End

Though I've been reading quite a lot lately, I ended up taking a bit of a blog holiday the last two weeks. All the events of March Magics took a lot out of me! Instead of writing, I've been doing a lot of yard work and house cleaning and we had Z's Spring Break this last week. My mom came up from California for a short visit and just left yesterday. I can't believe it's already past the middle of April!

I did manage to place a nice Powell's order at the beginning of the month while they had a sale. I got six new-to-me books (all used or remaindered) and four that I wanted for my library. I've already read Excellent Women and The King's English.

And my mom and I went to Third Place Books this week and she bought me these four beauties as an early birthday present. (The big day isn't until the middle of this week.) The Shepherd's Crown is in paperback at the end of May and I'll grab that one then. I love the design of these and I will definitely be wanting to reread them soon!

This week, we'll be going back to school, celebrating my birthday, and getting ready for Readathon. I'm still hoping to get some catch-up blog posts written this week too but if I get caught up in life, I'm sure you'll all understand!

Sneaking back in,

Friday, April 1, 2016

#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks - March and Spring Reading

As a reminder, my goal is 80 books for the year from my own shelves, whether they're new books from the TBR or rereads.


Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (reread)
The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones (reread)
Archer's Goon by Diana Wynne Jones (reread)
Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones (reread)
American Gods by Neil Gaiman (reread)
House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones (reread)

Monthly Total: 6
Yearly Total: 21

So, I didn't actually read any books off of my TBR unless you count the fact that this was my first time reading the Author's Preferred Edition copy of American Gods that I've owned for a while and the copy of Equal Rites is one that I bought for the read-along. Both were books I had read before though so I just counted them as rereads. But, luckily, part of reading my own damn books is allowing myself rereads and so I did great on that front this month.

I should have a lot of time this spring to get to books on my TBR, especially with Z's spring break starting in a week and a half. I tend to reshuffle the books onto the top shelf of my TBR bookshelf that I'm currently the most interested in. Here's what that shelf currently looks like:

I'm actually planning on a whole reread of the Girl Who ... series, probably on 24-Hour Read-a-Thon day (April 23), and hopefully get to these last two books. And I might reread the other Miss Peregrine books before I read Library of Souls. It's been a while and I don't really remember what all has happened.

There are a few random books in here, including a reread of Ready Player One. I listened the first time so I'm curious how it is in print. Two of these are starts to series (Rivers of London and The Chatelet Apprentice) so I may or may not get to those unless I'm ready.

And here I have a couple of mysteries, continuing series books, and other random books. I'm definitely looking forward to some of these! A few of them will also count for the Once Upon a Time X event (which is actually why you see so much fantasy here). I love spring reading!

What books do you have your eye on to read in April?

Making plans for reading,

Thursday, March 31, 2016

#MarchMagics - Wrap-Up

And this, my friends, is the end of another lovely March Magics / DWJ March event. It was a successful month of celebration, new connections, and satisfying reads and rereads. I also got a Neil Gaiman retweet during our DWJ Twitter party so that was awesome!

I ended up rereading five Diana Wynne Jones books (Witch's Business, The Lives of Christopher Chant, Archer's Goon, Dark Lord of Derkholm, and House of Many Ways), reread Terry Pratchett's Equal Rites, and read Guards! Guards!, Nation, and Sourcery for the first time. Nine books seems simultaneously like a lot and not enough time spent with these two wonderful authors.

Thank you for spending this month with me, Diana, and Terry! I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Returning to quiet remembrance,