Daughters of Doubt and Eyerolling

Category: A Day in the Life of a Bookdragon Page 1 of 2

Please be gentle, 2021

We all can agree that 2020 was… well, let’s say challenging for all of us. I wonder what this year has in store, but taking a bookish look at it is a sure way to get our hopes up. So, here we go.

I am sure our monthly Buddyreads picked by the Otherland staff will continue to be a source of joy and lead to interesting discussions with my fellow Sceptres. The next Buddyread delivery will be accompanied by some other books I ordered, so the year is off to a good start.

Usually I’m not really good at keeping track of new releases, but there are some I am really excited about:

  • Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee
  • two new Becky Chambers books, the fourth Wayfarer book will even get here as a signed preorder thanks to TheLadyDuckOfDoom
  • Broken by Jenny Lawson
  • Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire
  • The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

Apart from that, there are a couple of books already waiting on my shelves that I finally want to get to:

  • Dark Age by Pierce Brown – I excitedly preordered a signed edition back in 2019 and it has been waiting for me ever since
  • Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb, to finish the Farseer trilogy
  • 5 (!) books by V.E. Schwab
  • Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy and Warbreaker
  • The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin – also signed, also silently judging me from its place on the shelf

As always and against my better judgement, I also get really excited about reading challenges at the beginning of the year. The Goodreads challenge is the only I’ve really stuck with in the last couple of years, but I always take a look at Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge and the Popsugar Reading Challenge. I usually plan books for most of the categories in January and forget all about them by April at the latest. But still, the planning is a whole lot of fun.

To a bookish 2021

2020 really sucked. One of the only good things that happened was starting the Buddyread group and the resulting book blog. So let’s just leave the rest behind and have a look at all the great books waiting for us this year.

Our Buddyreads chosen by Otherland (the best bookshop here in Germany) will, of course, continue. They have been a delight last year and I would bet my favourite pair of socks (there are ducks on them) that they will continue to pick fantastic, thought-provoking books.

There are a ton of books I already look forward to. Let’s start with some new releases of 2021. Maybe we will open my ever-growing TBR shelf in a later post.

The first book I really look forward to is Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire, the 6th release of the Wayward Children Series. These novellas are so beautiful and will resonate with those who ever felt lost on this world. Publishing date is 12th January, so I won’t have to wait long.

Next up is The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers. I love the Wayfarers series, and even ordered a signed HC for me and the Marquess. I am still angry that there is no German audiobook, because I keep talking to my love how awesome these books are – and audiobooks are what works for him. The release is on 16th February. Maybe I can get a whole year filled with a new release each month in this article?

March will end with the release of Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo, second in the King of Scars Duology. If you have not read anything in the Grishaverse yet, maybe do it soon, the Netflix adaption is on the horizon.

Whatever else happens in April, it will be overshadowed by the release of the next Murderbot installment, Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells on 27th. Everyone loves Murderbot.

There will be a lot of releases in May, but I’m particularly intrigued by Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa, released on 11th. The blurb sounds fantastic, so I really can’t wait to get my hands on it.

My to-buy list of new books is already overflowing, and June will only pile more on top. The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri, published on June 10th, is one of the books I will definitely get on release day. It is the start of a new fantasy trilogy inspired by the history and epics of India, and features morally grey characters.

July has another Becky Chambers coming up: A Psalm for the Wild-Built, released on July 13th. A new series of novellas, and I hope Becky Chambers will continue her unique hopepunk style in a new setting.

On August 24th The Thousand Eyes, book 2 in The Serpent Gates series by A.K. Larkwood, will be released. I haven’t read book 1 yet (it’s staring at me from my shelf), but I will. Soon.

September has the heavily anticipated release of Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff on the 7th. He seems to be really proud of this novel, and while I was not a total fan of his last books, I will pick this one up with an open mindset.

As of right now the announced releases are looking scarce for the year’s later months, but I bet they will be filled with a whole ton of awesome books. Last year, I did not manage to keep up with the new releases at all, but maybe this year will be different?

It’s that time of the year…

… when I’m trying not to make New Year’s Resolutions that I won’t keep.

One of my resolutions last year was to read 250 books. I managed to do that. The Covid-19 situation is not to be blamed for it, I’ve been reading a lot every year since I had to stop working. Further I wanted to read 24 physical copies off my shelves. I haven’t kept a record, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet that goal. Apropos meeting goals, I had planned not to buy more than two new books each month. That resolution went out the window within the first few days of 2020.

What are my resolutions for 2021 – the bookish ones that is?

  • I want to try to flatten the curve of my MountTBR, it’s ginormous. The number of ebooks, audiobooks, and physical copies unread has four figures and the first one is higher than there are fingers on one of my hands. I will have to live forever, it seems.
  • I’d like to tame my review copies shelves, which means, I have to read through the small mountain of ebooks and will have to stop requesting too many new review copies.
  • As every year, I promise myself to read 24 physical copies already lingering on my shelves – I’ll keep you updated on how spectacularly I’m failing.
  • Last but not least, I’m trying to stick to a tighter book buying budget. I’m going to keep a record of pages read. Each page will be worth one Cent. Audiobooks and ebooks are entered by checking the number of pages of the physical copy editions, or are estimated. I can only spend as much as I have earned by reading books. Means, I have to read a few books before some of my pre-orders make it to my shelves.

Pre-orders? Yes, of course, a reader has to be prepared for the worst case scenario: empty shelves. — I just burst out laughing. As if that could ever happen. If I believed in the concept of Heaven and Hell, I’d say Hell freezing over’s more likely to happen than me running out of reading material; just see above mentioned MountTBR.

I’m really looking forward to the second book in the King of Scars Duology by Leigh Bardugo: Rule of Wolves. This will be my birthday treat to myself. Okay, you got me. It’s part of my treat; I’m intending to let the staff of Otherland curate a surprise box of books for me again. Must read the four books from 2020 before then, though.

In order to get myself to catch up on some recommended reading – not the scholarly kind of RR – I’ve pre-ordered Becky Chamber’s fourth book of the Wayfarer series, The Galaxy, and the Ground within; and I’m contemplating pre-ordering the next book of the Murderbot series by Martha Wells, Fugitive Telemetry.

Five books that I’ve put on the tentative TBR list for 2021 are:

  • Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library – which I have wanted to read ever since the news about the book came out.
  • Victoria Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – s.a.
  • N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became – I’m going to read this in January for the #AuthorAMonth book club over on Litsy.
  • Sabaa Tahir’s Ember in the Ashes series – don’t gasp, I’ve already told you I am behind on the recommended reading.
  • Jay Kristoff’s Empire of the Vampire – can’t wait to review this one.

Why only five? Well, I could have added so many more. Actually, there are more than 400 books on my “Want to read” list on Goodreads. Though that doesn’t mean that I have to want to read them all within the next few months. I’m trying to put less pressure on myself not more.

Last but not least, a tiny recap of December 2020. I did manage to make a small book tree. I wrapped 42 books for it. I could have added more, but I was done cutting the pad of my thumb on the tape dispenser. As far as reading went, I finished the Forward Collection, a collection of six sci-fi short stories curated by Blake Crouch; read the first novella in the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells; wrote a long review after finishing Naomi Novik’s Deadly Education; and there were also a few ARCs and romance novels.

What are your resolutions for 2021? Any bookish challenges you’re taking part in? One of my non-bookish resolutions is drinking more water. Since I’ve emptied my tall glass now, I’m off to refill it and then settle down with one of my ‘left-overs’ from last year, The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart.

Burning Roses – Buddyread Reveal

The Sceptre Buddyread selected from the trusted booksellers at Otherland is S.L. Huang’s Burning Roses, published 29 September 2020.

To me, this came as a total surprise. Not only had I been looking at lists of books published at the end of November or in early December, but I hadn’t heard the name of the author before. My bad, definitely. My fellow Sceptres reminded me of other books by Ms Huang, like Zero Sum Game, which I have, obviously, missed out on, too.

So, we’ll be diving into a story where a middle-aged Little Red Riding Hood and middle-aged Archer go on a quest together. Sounds perfect for the time before Christmas. The book has about 150 pages, so we’ll probably fly through it in no time. We’re starting with Part 1 next Monday, December 7th that is. If you’d like to join the buddyread, leave a comment. You’ve already read the book? Great, tell us about it in the comments, spoiler free please.

It’s that time of the month…

…when I’m wondering why I have so much Christmas decoration that I cannot put up because of the cats.

Have you ever tried having a lovely looking book tree with tinsel and fairy lights with two nosy cats? I have, last year. Ended in disaster for the tinsel and fairy lights, luckily the books escaped without much harm. This year, I had the idea of creating a Jolabokaflod book tree. If you are not familiar with the term Jolabokaflod, it’s Icelandic for Christmas book flood. The Icelandic tradition is to give and receive lots of books on Christmas Eve (that’s the brief version). So, my Plan -with a capital P- is to wrap all of the books that I have for the kids, and for myself, and put up a book tree. I’ll forego the tinsel and lights this time; better safe than sorry. What is keeping me from doing this? The amount of books I’d have to wrap. It’s somewhere around 50 or 60, I think. (Yes, I went all out.) Also, the time that goes into wrapping all those books, I would rather be reading!

I’d best be procrastinating by telling you about whether I have planned any reading for December? But first, did I get any reading done in November?

November seemed like a slow month for me, maybe it’s because I did not read twenty or more books. I’ve read/listened to The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin. I’ve read, and partly re-read and buddyread with my son, The Scythe trilogy by Neal Shusterman; review to come. There were a few juicy romance novels in November, which I totally blame on the foggy weather. I skimmed along the Sceptre Buddyread, The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow. We, that is the Sceptres, also read R.F. Kuang’s The Poppy War together; a review is forthcoming. I’ve managed to read a few ARCs off my NetGalley shelf, gave feedback on two beta-reads, and I read a lot of chapters from different books to my daughter.

In December I plan to read that slim volume of Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose for my postal book club. There is the Sceptre Buddyread, which is lying right next to me, but since TheMarquessMagpie and TheLadyDuckOfDoom haven’t got their books yet, I am keeping mum about the title. [ETA: they both got their copies, we all know what the title is; you’ll find out in our title reveal post] There will, of course, be more books to read, but I don’t know what I will pick at this moment. There will be ARCs, that’s for sure, there might be some books that have collected actual and virtual dust over the past months/years. I’ll tell you in January.

For now I am off. There are books to be wrapped, tinsel to be stuffed into a cat prove box, biscuit dough to be prepared. I’ll put on an audiobook to entertain me, can’t waste precious reading time on listening to the ticking of the clock.

Better late than never #1 …

…or how I eventually picked up a series that had been recommended to me felt ages ago. (BTW, this is going to be an ongoing series, I have a lot of catching up to do.)

The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin was, as I mentioned above, recommended to me. When I found myself spoilt for choice with what to read next, I picked up the first book, The Fifth Season.

It was a bit tricky to get into the story. The different POV took some time to get used to, but when it finally clicked and made sense, I flew through the rest of the book and immediately picked up the next one, The Obelisk Gate. Which I then chased with the last book, The Stone Sky.

The world-building and magic system are what most people rave about. I would like to describe it, but I am sure I’d botch it up and/or give too much away. Let’s just say, the raving is justified.

What I truly liked about the series is that the main character is a woman in her forties, who has already experienced so many bad and good things in her live and now has to find her daughter and somehow save the world on her quest.

It’s that time of the month …

… when I wonder what’s supposed to be nice about November rain. Ah, well, probably staying indoors and reading books while the tea goes cold.

October was full of books. According to my rather incorrect stats I managed to read about a book a day.

  • Tamsyn Muir’s Harrow the Ninth certainly was my favourite read in September and October.
  • There was the Sceptre Buddyread Hench, which we all liked and got through quicker than we had planned.
  • Sylvain Neuvel’s The Test left me unsettled. The idea behind this sort of citizenship test is not sitting well with me.
  • Nix’s The Left-Handed Booksellers of London, an Urban Fantasy set in the ’80s. Clever world-building and very likeable characters.
  • Johnson’s The Space Between Worlds plays with time travel ideas but set in a multiverse novel, thereby avoiding the typical time travel conundrums.
  • Hackwith’s Hell’s Library duology was “chef’s kiss”-superb. Honestly, if you like Urban Fantasy and library stories, read it.
  • I also read Cixin Liu’s short story/novella collection To Hold Up the Sky. The stories made me put The Three Body Problem onto the “need to read soon” TBR. He manages to intertwine the lives of down-to-earth people with hard sci-fi and Chinese culture which makes for very interesting reading material.
  • Further I have read some mediocre YA fantasy novels, which I then had to cleanse off my palate with romance novels and a few children’s books.

So, what’s in store for November? I intend to participate in the NaNoWriMo. Some of my reading time will have to be allotted to writing.

  • Well, there is the new Sceptre Buddyread. Alix E Harrow’s The Once and Future Witches, which I have already read as an ARC, but I am really looking forward to what my two buddies have to say about it. I’ll probably skim along.
  • The LadyDuckOfDoom and I might read Shveta Thakrar’s debut novel Star Daughter together. It’s set in Indian culture and mythology and the main character is half human and half star.
  • I carelessly abandoned Kit Rocha’s Deal with the Devil weeks ago, it’s patiently waiting for me to return to it.

I’m off to make tea and fetch my favourite blanket, maybe I’ll even light a candle and get some chocolate.

Visiting the best bookstore

I had the fantastic idea to start my vacation by visiting my favorite bookstore, Otherland! I hopped on the train from Hamburg to Berlin, and at about 11:30 AM, I stood in front of the Doors of Doom….. ahem, the Way to Wonderland… no, The Gate-to-an-insane-amount-of-bookshopping… ummm, almost! At 11:30 AM, I arrived at Otherland!

I was greeted by Wolf with a big smile you could see despite the mask and a cup of warm, black tea from the bakery across the street.

Shopping books in Otherland is like a dream come true for a German bookshopper who likes English science fiction and fantasy. Hamburg is no small town, but it is almost impossible to browse some well-sorted English bookshelves. There is one store 45min away with an o.k. selection that I exhausted years ago, and the amount of SFF-books has been continuously shrinking since then. But Otherland has it all: new books, old books, antique books, short stories, doorstoppers, comics, pen&paper books, and even nonfiction science books can be found in this Mary Poppins’ bag of a book store.

A selfie later, the quest for a good selection of books to bring home started. I had a little list of books that I ABSOLUTELY wanted to read, including Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden, Litlith’s Brood by Octavia Butler and This is How You Loose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Naturally, the stack of books grew and grew until I decided to take a break and grab something to eat.

The height of the stack of books was so ridiculous, there were actually 2 and a half stacks, and I decided to spend the next hours reading the first chapter of every selected book to be sure I really wanted to read it. Unfortunately, almost every book had a first chapter that was engaging, suspenseful, funny, or interesting in any other way. One book was brought back to its shelf space, but of course I picked up two others on my way there. Such is the life of a bookworm that is allowed to go into a bookstore without supervision. They should have known better. When I left, I left with this:

No, I have no regrets. I love my ever-growing shelf of shame back home. I don’t feel overwhelmed by the many, many books I want to read. Instead, I am happily looking at an IKEA Billy overflowing with books. I love it. My personal library. Whatever might happen to me, if I get sick, loose my employment or the apocalypse starts, I will have something to read, to escape, to calm my mind.

It’s that time…

…when pumpkins make an appearance on doorsteps, windowsills and in kitchens. There’s some pumpkin soup bubbling on the stove right now and a sourdough bread from Bryan Ford’s New World Sourdough is fermenting nicely. Philistines might just say, it’s October.

My reading in September was very much sci-fi, fantasy and a bit of romance. And yes, I definitely said “Here! Let’s buddy read this!” too often. Also, I hit the request button for ARCs a few too many times. More on the shelf of shame later.

I’ve read 27 books in September. Wow, that’s nearly a book a day. And here I thought I hadn’t gotten much done. My highlights from among those 27 are:

  • Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi, the buddy read book our trusted indie The Otherland sent us. (A separate review will follow.) We wanted to pace this book over four weeks but finished within ten days of its arrival. It was a wonderful read.
  • Stuart Turton’s The Devil and the Dark Water. I read an ARC of this dark slightly Sherlockian mystery novel, it’s being published today.
  • Kevin Hearne’s Ink & Sigil, the start of a new series – a spin off (if you will) of the Iron Druid series. I highly recommend the audiobook.
  • Laura Lam and Elizabeth May’s Seven Devils, the beginning of a space opera. Seven unlikely allies are out to save the galaxy, which ended in a cliffhanger of sorts. I need to know how the story continues.
  • Rudolf Einzenh√∂fer’s Mein Papa ist ein Ork – a German fantasy story about a single orc father and his son. It’s for young children and I am counting myself among them. It’s an orcish story about family and home; and I’m thinking about getting another copy for myself – the one I bought is for my nephew. Maybe I need more than one copy though, my neighbour’s son is the perfect age for the book.

What does October hold in check for me? More books, obviously. As mentioned above, there is the ARC-Shelf-Of-Shame, which currently houses 101 ebooks waiting for my opinion. I’m not sure I will manage to squeeze all of them into the 31 days of the month. The ones that I will try to read though are Kerri Maniscalco’s Kingdom of the Wicked, A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe, The Castle of Tangled Magic by Sophie Anderson.

I’m also going to finish Harrow the Ninth, I’ve reached chapter 29 – that’s roughly the middle of the book. I had ideas about where the story was going to go and not a single one of them has turned out right so far. [sarcasm off] Thanks Tamsyn Muir, I love it when an author manages to surprise me! [/sarcasm off]

There are a few beta-reads waiting for me. Yes, romance. Regency period. Yes, steamy scenes included. There’s that buddy read with a friend in Australia that continues with the second book in a six book series – I haven’t even finished the first book. (shame on me!) There’s the obligatory Pratchett for the #OokBOokClub on Litsy – The Fifth Elephant, starting October 8th. There are at least ten books that I’ve started – I might attempt to finish them. And there will also be a new Sceptre Buddy Read. What will it be this time? TheMarquessMagpie has spoken already, I’m hoping she’s right again. I will get her to cough up the winning lottery numbers for the upcoming draw sooner or later – okay, gotta be honest, sooner would be better. I’d go on a spending spree in a certain Berlin bookstore.

Cheerio for now, the sourdough wants to be tugged into the fridge over night and the pumpkin soup should be ready, too.

It’s that time …

… when supermarkets start stocking gingerbread, Stollen, and chocolate Santas – or in other words: It’s September!

Contrary to what I thought at the beginning of the month – that I might be happy if I get a few books off my TBR – I had a very productive August, thanks to the schools reopening. That offered me a lot of hours of audio-reading while doing the chores. You have no idea how much that has helped with regaining my equilibrium.

My August was filled with sci-fi, fantasy, (explicit) romance, a bit of horror and historical fiction. Goodreads, probably the only place that keeps a halfway accurate record of my reading, has 19 books logged for August. That’s not true. I read a couple of ARCs that are not in the Goodreads database yet; and a few excerpts of books, which I don’t count towards my Goodreads challenge. Which is looking fine, btw. Thanks for asking.

The Sceptre buddyread The Only Good Indians was interesting, although I wouldn’t say my favourite of the month. That honour goes to the romcoms I’ve read, Dawn with a Duke and The Switch and Erin Mallon’s Flirtasaurus. I needed a cozy feel-good read for a change. I had virtually thrown too many books at the wall in August.

Looking forward to September I have to admit, I might have said “yes, let’s buddyread this book/series/author” a few too many times. My plate is full.

There are, as always, books I’m reading with my kids; strangely that list is getting longer every month too. There’ll be the Sceptre buddyread; we’re busy speculating on which book it might be. It’s a book that’ll be published in early September, because the bookshop will send out the books later this time.

Buddyreads: There’s Katie MacAlister’s Improper English that I am reading with a friend in Australia. My postal book club book for August is still unread – Ugh! – and the next book is on it’s way to me. Pratchett’s Last Continent wants to be read by September 7th for the Litsy OokBOokClub. There is Shusterman’s Scythe, which I’m buddyreading with my son. Then I’m looking forward to Laura Lam and Elizabeth May’s Seven Devils, which I wanted to start but accidentally started reading Kit Rocha’s Deal with the Devil; I am also savouring the ARC of Turton’s next book The Devil and the Dark Water. Coincidence? I think it just means September is off to a good start.

If you’re wondering, the current state of the NetGalley-ARC-shelf-of-shame is 95. Hand me some gingerbread, please! I need something to snack on while I get through that pile.

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