Daughters of Doubt and Eyerolling

Category: Shelf of Shame

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.

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.

Why I cannot make a monthly TBR post

Welcome to my TBR Shelf of Shame. I won’t pretend to have even a tiny bit of control over the shelf, and I regret nothing. In fact, it makes me very happy to see my big shelf of unread books! I always discover something, and I know that even if everything goes to hell, I will always have something to read.

The only real problem is: WHAT DO I READ NEXT?! I am a total mood reader, so I simply cannot plan my TBR a month ahead. I can only talk about the direction my mood swings. Right now, I am of a mind to finish some series where the last book is hidden in there:

  • Shattered Minds by Laura Lam (Pacifica series)
  • The Broken Heavens by Kameron Hurley (Worldbreaker Saga)
  • The Toll by Neal Shusterman (Arc of a Scythe)
  • The Night Country by Melissa Albers (The Hazel Wood)

Instead of planning a TBR, I will talk about new releases now, books I look forward to, and my reading mood swings to.

This month, 2 new books will find a home in my lovely TBR shelf: Peace Talks by Jim Butcher, which I am totally freaking out about, I need more Harry Dresden NOW!!! and Demon in White by Christopher Ruocchio, last part (I think) of The Sun Eater series.

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