Posted in Books News

2018 Man Booker Long List


I don’t go out of my way to read books that are nominated for or win prizes. In fact, I’m usually tickled when I actually do read a book that’s on any prize list because it happens so infrequently. I don’t go out of my way to avoid them, they just don’t usually cross paths with my TBR. Even so, I almost always pay attention to those various lists when they’re published every year. One such list that catches my eye and attention more often than not is The Man Booker International Prize longlist. Reading books in translation adds spice and interest to my reading list. I wish I read books by non-English writers more often. Probably, the Man Booker International Prize list is a good place to start. 😉

Here’s this year’s long list from the website:

Author (nationality), Translator, Title (imprint)
• Laurent Binet (France), Sam Taylor, The 7th Function of Language (Harvill Secker)
• Javier Cercas (Spain), Frank Wynne, The Impostor (MacLehose Press)
• Virginie Despentes (France), Frank Wynne, Vernon Subutex 1 (MacLehose Press)
• Jenny Erpenbeck (Germany), Susan Bernofsky, Go, Went, Gone (Portobello Books)
• Han Kang (South Korea), Deborah Smith, The White Book (Portobello Books)
• Ariana Harwicz (Argentina), Sarah Moses & Carolina Orloff, Die, My Love (Charco Press)
• László Krasznahorkai (Hungary), John Batki, Ottilie Mulzet & George Szirtes, The World Goes On (Tuskar Rock Press)
• Antonio Muñoz Molina (Spain), Camilo A. Ramirez, Like a Fading Shadow (Tuskar Rock Press)
• Christoph Ransmayr (Austria), Simon Pare, The Flying Mountain (Seagull Books)
• Ahmed Saadawi (Iraq), Jonathan Wright, Frankenstein in Baghdad (Oneworld)
• Olga Tokarczuk (Poland), Jennifer Croft, Flights (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
• Wu Ming-Yi (Taiwan), Darryl Sterk, The Stolen Bicycle (Text Publishing)
• Gabriela Ybarra (Spain), Natasha Wimmer, The Dinner Guest (Harvill Secker)

If I could only pick one book off of this list to read, it’d be Frankenstein in BaghdadBut it’s mean to make someone pick only one book. I also like the sound of The White Book and The Dinner Guest.

Which novels would you choose from this list? Do you pay attention to book prize lists at all?

Posted in Fun Bookishness

World Book Day


Today, World Book Day is being observed in the UK and Ireland (and maybe other places, I’m not sure.) I’m in the U.S., but any day that people are celebrating books and reading is a day that makes me feel warm and cozy. Speaking of warm and cozy…

When I Googled “world book day” this morning, the first article that came back was Parents fret as World Book Day costumes wasted as schools closed and events canceled due to snow as the UK deals with Storm Emma. Hopefully, parents use this day to read with their little ones as a snow day activity. I mean, it sounds like a good plan to me.

Are you observing World Book Day today? As for me, I’m going to try and finish my current read, The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory, and get started on my next read. I love days where I have bookish plans, lol.

Posted in blog stuff, Book Review

Book Review: Furyborn


(Isn’t this cover gorgeous???)

Title:  Furyborn (Empirium #1)

Author:  Claire Legrand

Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire

Pages:  512

Genre:  Fantasy

Setting:  Empirium Fantasy World (If they name the world, country, etc., I missed it.)

Source:    I received this novel from NetGalley for my honest review

Publication Date:  May 22, 2018


When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

What I Say:

I am excited to write this review. This was such a great read and it’s nice to have a positive review versus my previous one (which I’ve considered deleting, and may still do so, many times).

This story is told from the perspective of Eliana Ferracora and then, in the past, Rielle Dardenne. Both are young women trying to survive in their respective worlds but in entirely different ways.

Rielle has to prove that her powers over the elements are completely within her control and that she intends to use them only for the protection of her world. She’s forced to do this in the form of trials, one for each of the elements, where the goal only seems to kill her. All the while, trying to resist her attraction to the prince, who is already betrothed to Rielle’s best friend.

Eliana is a bounty hunter trying to earn enough money to send her mother and brother to a safer part of the world. She exchanges her own peace for violence in order to achieve her goals.

How do their lives, with Eliana living 1,000 years in the future, intertwine? The reader is brought along on both of their journies in a fast-paced story filled with magic, danger, and love. These are all themes that most are familiar with, however, Legrand writes them in a way that’s totally unique and new to the genre. And it’s fun! I really enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series. (This is what sucks about ARCs, lol.)

My only beef with this book:  This book is labeled as young adult but I’d be surprised to see this turn up in a high school library. The amount of violence and sex sets it above young adult. Just my opinion.

4 Hearts


Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Player’s Game


TitlePlayer’s Game

Author:  Desirae Clark

Publisher:  BLVNP Incorporated

Pages:  186

Genre:  YA Romance

Setting:  Scottsdale, AZ

Source:    I received this novel from DigiWriting via NetGalley for my honest review

Publication Date:  Dec 2017


And when I turned around, I expected to see my annoying little sisters but was instead greeted by a familiar face. In the threshold stood Parker Brady with a devious smirk on his face and the looks of a god. 
Samantha Valentine’s life turns upside down when she finds out her family is returning to her old town, Scottsdale. It took her a while to make the city her home, and now all of that is for naught, as she has to learn to settle in a quiet town again.

Parker Brady is perfectly happy to make a mess of his life after his best friend, Samantha, left him. He felt betrayed by his most trusted friend, and now he doesn’t care about anyone anymore. The only thing that matters to him is getting girls.

The two are not so thrilled when they meet after years of being away. Old grudges resurface from the past.

Will Samantha and Parker restore their broken friendship? Or will something else rise from its ruins?

What I say:  

The book opens in Manhatten with Samantha finding out that her mom’s been given a transfer (or new job?) in Scottsdale. This means returning to the town from which they had moved six years prior. Samantha had to endure the painful process of moving, leaving her friends behind, and starting a new school only to turn around and do so again, ending up where they started. The only part of this story that made perfect sense was Samantha’s angst and worry about moving, which she gets over the very first day at her new school.

Enter the old “best friend”, Parker, she left behind who’s turned into a teenaged Lothario and has made his way through all the girls at his high school. Samantha turns to him as her friends from her NY school fade out of her life. He spends the night at her house and her mom even says that it’s ok for Samantha to spend the night at Parker’s. Who does this?

Speaking of her mom, barely three months after they move back to AZ, the mom finds out that she has to take a business trip to London. It could last a few days or a few months (at one point, Samantha says she hopes it isn’t years) but that’s ok because Samantha can stay by herself for an indeterminate amount of time and Samantha’s 14-year-old twin sisters can conveniently stay with a couple that the mom has just met. Who does this????

Even more strangely, Samantha’s old classmates turn up at her AZ high school as part of some alien off-world exchange program in which private Manhattan schools drop their kids off at public, rural-type schools in Arizona. Who does this?????

The romance that blossoms between Parker and Samantha was cute and it played out as it’s played out in dozens of YA romance novels throughout history. This bothered me a bit too as the writing style and level of writing is suited to the YA set but the sexual themes were more than I’d want my 15 or 16-year-old to be reading. But this is very much my own opinion and personal to me.

I could go on about other things that were wrong with this book. For instance, how the book ends with talk about their upcoming senior year when throughout the entire book, I was thinking these kids were already seniors and guessing Samantha’s age to be about 18 from context clues (doing the math from when Samantha says they moved to NYC and how long they lived there). Or how about when their class goes on a “field trip” that spanned a weekend and the principal gave some of the kids (conveniently, Samantha and her group of friends) to stay in their own vacation houses that were owned by their families. Never in a million years would this happen at a school-sanctioned event.

I hesitated writing this review because there was so much wrong with this book. Another reviewer pointed out that a lot of the problems could have been solved if Clark has just set this in college and not high school. Still, if some of the off-the-wall, confusing elements of this book were slightly altered, it’d have great potential as a YA romance.

1 Heart

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Bookworm

The Bookworm

Title:  The Bookworm

Author:  Mitch Silver

Publisher:  Pegasus Books

Pages:  352

Genre:  Mystery

Setting:  Russia and Alaska mainly.

Source:    NetGalley

Publication Date:  February 6, 2018


Europe, 1940: It’s late summer and Belgium has been overrun by the German army. Posing as a friar, a British operative talks his way into the monastery at Villers-devant-Orval just before Nazi art thieves plan to sweep through the area and whisk everything of value back to Berlin. But the ersatz man of the cloth is no thief. Instead, that night he adds an old leather Bible to the monastery’s library and then escapes.

London, 2017: A construction worker operating a backhoe makes a grisly discovery—a skeletal arm-bone with a rusty handcuff attached to the wrist. Was this the site, as a BBC newsreader speculates, of “a long-forgotten prison, uncharted on any map?” One viewer knows better: it’s all that remains of a courier who died in a V-2 rocket attack. The woman who will put these two disparate events together—and understand the looming tragedy she must hurry to prevent—is Russian historian and former Soviet chess champion Larissa Mendelovg Klimt, “Lara the Bookworm,” to her friends. She’s also experiencing some woeful marital troubles.

In the course of this riveting thriller, Lara will learn the significance of six musty Dictaphone cylinders recorded after D-Day by Noel Coward—actor, playwright and, secretly, a British agent reporting directly to Winston Churchill. She will understand precisely why that leather Bible, scooped up by the Nazis and deposited on the desk of Adolf Hitler days before he planned to attack Britain, played such a pivotal role in turning his guns to the East. And she will discover the new secret pact negotiated by the nefarious Russian president and his newly elected American counterpart—maverick and dealmaker—and the evil it portends.

Oh, and she’ll reconcile with her husband.

What I Say:

First of all, isn’t that blurb a little spoiler-ish?

I chatted about this book a little in my previous post. It turns out that I was wrong about it going back and forth in time. The 1940s perspective is told from recordings that Noel Coward made.

This book was a multi-pronged story. You have the historical aspect of it and the “truth” of how Hitler chose his targets. How much truth is there to Coward’s testimony? Where’s the bible? Then you have the Russian side of things and the main character, Lara. She’s a history professor and she’s approached by shady looking guys with dictaphone cylinders and a handsome “reward” if she uncovers the whereabouts of the missing Bible. Then she’s given an even more handsome offer by another party. Who’s working for whom? Who are the bad guys here?

We also have the American aspect of things. Lara’s brother, Lev, just happens to be working in Alaska at an oil field. He makes an unexplained discovery in the daily course of his job and the next thing you know, his American counterpart turns up dead. How does Lev’s discovery and the President of the United States fit into this puzzle?

This was a well-written story. Silver has quite the imagination, which made the book interesting and fun to read. With the Russian, American, British, and German characters, settings, and histories, making a play, there were times when I got lost and had to do a bit of backtracking (mainly at the rushed ending). I don’t think Silver was trying to do too much, necessarily, I think this was just me being me. This book was very political. I’m not sure if Silver was being a storyteller or a conspiracy theorist, lol. I thought the ending felt slightly rushed, but ends were nicely tied off. Maybe a little too cleanly, but that’s purely my opinion.

I gave this two stars on Goodreads simply because I don’t enjoy politics, especially extreme politics. This story very clearly and emphatically took sides. For me, “it was ok”. Purely on the writing alone, I’d give this a very solid three stars. Silver’s storytelling skills are strong, his characters fleshed out and likable, but the politics bogged it down for me.

One last tidbit…The title is incredibly misleading, lol. This is not a book about books or readers at all.

2 Hearts

Posted in blog stuff, Weekly Reading

What I’m Reading Jan 24

As of today, I’ve read 12 books this month. I think I’m on a pretty good pace to meet my annual goal, especially for those occasional reading slumps that I get into throughout the year. Goodreads says that I’m eight books ahead of schedule. Woot!

Currently, I’m kinda sorta in the middle of four different reads. I say, “kinda, sorta” because two of them I haven’t touched in a couple months. Did you hear my sigh? I’m going to work from my most current read back. Click on the links to read more about the books. These are just my opinions of them so far.

The BookwormFirst up, I’m reading The Bookworm by Mitch Silver. This is a Netgalley book and I’m about 10% into it. I’m enjoying it so far. It has historical elements, mystery, and some violence to it. It’s also a little bit political, which makes me wary and we’ll see where Silver goes with that. It seems to bounce back and forth in time from 1940 to 2017 with the focus being on WWII, Nazis, and Russia. This is, according to my memory, my first book dealing with this subject matter. Where history is concerned, I tend to gravitate towards older stuff. Only being 10% into it, I haven’t formed a concrete opinion, but the character development is solid and the building of the suspenseful atmosphere is great.

The Bear and the NightingaleNext, I’m reading The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. This is a pretty popular book and I’m sure most everyone has heard something about it. I guess I wasn’t listening close enough because I didn’t realize this was the first book in a trilogy. Normally, I love trilogies and series, but I wasn’t looking to get into a new one, especially an unfinished one. That being said, I’m probably about 10% into this one too and I like it so far. Again, the character development and atmosphere building is great. It’s also a book set in Russia (what’s up with that??) but medieval Russia this time. I’ve found the storyline and characters compelling enough that I’ve been looking up names and events mentioned to learn more about this period in Russia’s history, of which I know nothing. The fantasy elements add to the story and have kept me engrossed in the book enough that I have to make myself put it down to do other things. I love the lyrical, mystical quality to Arden’s storytelling.

I’ve mentioned these next two books in a past post and because I haven’t actually gotten any further in them since that post, I’m just going to mention the titles here. I’m stillllll reading Monstress, Vol. 1 by Marjorie M. Liu and Queens of the Conquest by Alison Weir. The reasons why I’ve stagnated on these books are that Monstress just didn’t hold my attention and I haven’t had the time and focus to devote to Queens that it deserves. I’ll get back to them both, but I’m not sure when.

What are you currently reading? What do you do when you’re really enjoying a book but have put it aside for whatever reason? Do you still consider it a “current read”?

Posted in Community

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Resolutions/Goals


Top Ten Tuesday is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader! Interesting, right?

I haven’t done a TTT in a loooong time, but I thought it’d be a great way to start off book blogging for 2018, especially considering this week’s topic.

I don’t have ten goals for reading, but I do have a few. First of all, I don’t do New Years resolutions. I think they’re just setting yourself up for failure. Rather, I do life goals. At the end of 2017, I sat down and listed things that I wanted to accomplish, change, continue, or just do better for 2018. Then, I created a bingo layout in my bullet journal so that I will get mini rewards for each box I complete and then a larger reward if I actually get a bingo. I did this last year too but fell off with tracking it and didn’t actually reward myself with anything or complete any bingos, lol. One of my goals for this year is to be more intentional with my life, so hopefully, that goal will enable me to complete other goals, which include the following reading/bookish goals that are on my bingo board.

  1. Book blog at least once a week for at least 40 weeks this year. Being more regular with blogging has been a goal of mine since I first started blogging in 2004. I fail regularly at this, heheh. This will be my year!! (We’re not going to talk about how this is the 3rd week of the year and I’m just getting started.)
  2. Participate in at least one season of the Goodreads Seasonal Challenge. I’m doing this in my own way. I’ve created a spreadsheet for myself to keep track of the tasks and how I’m meeting the goals. I’m following the rules as set down for the challenge, but I’m not posting my completed tasks to the group. This is just for me. So far, I’ve scored 215 points for Winter and I’ve completed this goal.
  3. Read five books per season for the Goodreads Seasonal Challenge. This will take me all year, but I’ve read 16 books for winter (Dec 1 to Feb 28) so far.
  4. Organize my Goodreads shelves. This is something I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time. Years, really. I’m trying to remain positive about it.
  5. Read and review 12 ARCS. This should be easy enough. It breaks down to just one a month and will help me complete my first goal too.
  6. Create a household Goodreads account. This is, by far, my most challenging bookish goal that I’ve set for myself but will be highly rewarding once completed. We’re a family of readers and our interests overlap. This has resulted in us buying books that we already own on several occasions because one person doesn’t realize that another has already bought the same book. Also, I’m extremely curious as to how many books we actually own.
  7. Read six nonfiction books. Seems simple enough, but the nonfiction books I gravitate towards are historical tomes that take me weeks to finish. We’ll see how it goes.
  8. Successfully track all the books that I read in 2018 in my bullet journal. Yes, I know I have Goodreads, but I track things in my bujo that I don’t on GR. For example, I keep track of author’s nationality, whether they’re male or female, and whether or not I’ve reviewed a book and where I’ve reviewed it. I started out strong last year, then switched journals and fell completely off the track.
  9. Lastly, my Goodreads book goal for 2018 is 65 books. This is the same as it was last year and I finished 2017 at 75. I’m not too worried about reaching this goal. 🙂 I’m already at ten books for 2018.

So, what are your bookish/reading goals for 2018? Do you bother with yearly goals at all, or just figure they’re a waste of time?