book lists bookish posts

Books for lazy days

There’s a certain kind of book I love to read on long, lazy summer days. They’re not exactly beach reads, nor are they necessarily light. But they are books that call to me when summer seems to stretch time out and make me want to delve into long, immersive books.

lumberjanespenderwicks in springeverything leads to you

Lumberjanes: Visiting Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types is just a given.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen: I first read Garden Spells in July, and it was perfect timing. The beautiful descriptions of the flowers and plants and the almost languid feeling of Allen’s writing make it great for a hot summer day.

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall: I love this series, and they’re perfect fun books for a summer reread.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke: First: reading about grey moors and rain sounds great when it’s 500 degrees out. Second: summer is a great time to embark on a 1000 page book.

The Bayern books by Shannon Hale: Sometimes what you need is a reread of a favorite long series.

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge: Hardinge’s books are marvelously weird and packed with striking characters and situations. Also, A Face Like Glass takes place mostly underground, which sounds cool and lovely.

Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson: Hopkinson’s rich, lush prose and wonderful characters make this one a great option.

The Touchstone Trilogy by Andrea K Höst: This trilogy doesn’t have a lot in the way of plot, which means that you get great characters and writing without having to keep track of what’s happening.

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour: I love this book, and since it takes place during the summer, it’s perfect for this time of year.

Wildlife by Fiona Wood: Another one that takes place in a camp, Wood’s quiet writing and strong characters make this another lovely summer read.


book lists bookish posts

Musicians in fantasy books

Today I’m taking a look at fantasy books which feature musicians–I’m less interested in this case in the generic bards that litter high fantasy, and more in books where there’s a specific, deliberate relationship to music. (These are all books I’ve read! If you know of others, let me know.) This is a bit of a subjective criterion, and probably Patrick Rothfuss should be on this list, but I couldn’t quite decide. When it’s done well, this is one of my favorite themes–the mix of magic and music can be a really powerful thing to explore.

masks and shadows seraphina 7ae48-cover_of_fire_and_hemlock

Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

The Story of Owen and Prairie Fire by E.K. Johnston

The Dalemark Quartet (esp. Cart and Cwidder) by Diana Wynne Jones

Fire & Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones

Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey

All Our Pretty Songs  by Sarah McCarry

Song for the Basilisk by Patricia McKillip

Lament and Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater


bookish posts

What I’m reading: 4-13

goblin emperorI’m considering changing things up a bit here, and one of my ideas was to start semi-regularly doing a snapshot of what I’m reading right now, rather than what I’ve finished. We’ll see how it goes–let me know what you think!

The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner: I am allllmost done with my reread of QoA. Having now reached the point where most of the “ow-my-feelings” moments are over, it’s mostly the happy ending, yay!

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette): I don’t remember exactly where I am with this one–a little less than halfway through, I think. I’ve been reading it before bed, because it doesn’t matter that I’m tired and not in the best state for reading comprehension.

Dark North by Gillian Bradshaw: An Ethiopian auxiliary in Roman Britain. I think I started this one before and didn’t finish it, but I can’t remember why. It’s certainly not gripping me with the same excitement as my favorites of her books, but I am enjoying it and it’s a relatively quick read.

I don’t often read this many books all at the same time, but I’m kind of enjoying having different kinds of books for different situations–Queen of Attolia is perfect for lunchtime reading, for example, because I know it so well that it doesn’t matter where I stop or start.

bookish posts

The particular pleasures of rereading

queenAt the moment, I’m rereading three books. Two of these–The Queen of Attolia and The Goblin Emperor–I’ve already reread multiple times (QoA so much that I’m beginning to worry about the binding). The third–Tamar Adler’s lovely An Everlasting Meal–I’ve only previously read once. I’m reading all three slowly, as the mood strikes me, and something about this made me consider the joys of rereading.

Some people aren’t rereaders and others are. I always have been. I can remember spending long summers immersed in the familiar world of LM Montgomery, reading all over our backyard and getting popsicle juice on the books. In middle school, I read and reread and rerereread Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword. Later, I was basically always rereading something by Tolkien. These days, I have to be more deliberate about my rereading habits, and yet I do frequently pick up a book I’ve read before.

But I haven’t particularly articulated why I keep returning to certain books, why part of my personal definition of a good book is, “a book that holds up to rereading.”

In the first place, once you’re past the initial read through a book, you don’t have to deal with that pesky issue of plot anymore. For me, plot is usually distracting, either because it’s bad and I keep arguing with it, or because it’s good and therefore too gripping and tense. Once I know roughly what is going to happen in a story, I can focus more on what I really  love: characters and writing.

And in addition, my favorite authors usually build in layers of complexity. It takes time and revisiting to unravel them all. One of the things I love about rereading Megan Whalen Turner, for example, is the way I make new connections and find things I had previously overlooked. Even though I have parts of her books almost memorized, she still surprises me. For the kind of subtle, deep writers that I tend to love, rereading can practically be a necessity.

It’s also true that–especially in certain moods and at certain times of the year–I find great value in knowing what I’m getting myself into. It’s not that I only want light books, but that I want books that are a known quantity. And there are books that feel like old friends, which I slip into easily and fully no matter what else is going on. The Perilous Gard is a prime example, as is almost anything by Georgette Heyer.

But rereading isn’t only a particular form of nostalgia. It often asks me to revisit my past readings of a book. Does my old assessment of this character or that plot point hold up? Do I see things differently in my current time of life or frame of mind? It reminds me that reading and reacting to books is an active and ongoing process, that what I think about any given author is never fixed.

Ultimately, I find that rereading gives me a sense of depth and understanding which enriches my experience of the book. Whether I notice something I had always overlooked, or realize that I don’t hold to a previous reading, or simply deepen my understanding and love for the story, rereading gives me something special.

bookish posts

April 2016 releases

Wow, all the books are coming out today! (Not literally true, but quite a few of the ones I’ve been looking forward to are out as of this morning.)

lumberjanesbookedtell the wind and firemasks and shadowsdaughters of ruin

  • Lumberjanes vol. 3 (April 5)
  • Booked by Kwame Alexander (April 5)
  • Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan (April 5)
  • Masks & Shadows by Stephanie Burgis (April 12)
  • Daughters of Ruin by K.D. Castner (April 5)
  • The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (April 26)
  • A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry (April 12)
  • The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (April 26)
  • The New Guy (And Other Senior Year Distractions) by Amy Spalding (April 5)

star touched queena fierce and subtle poisonthe new guyraven king

bookish posts

March 2016 releases

Several books this month that I’ve been eagerly waiting to read (especially E.K. Johnston’s latest). What about you?

great american whatever charmed children land of forgotten girls exit pursued by a bear

Anya’s War by Andrea Alban
Far From Fair by Elana K. Arnold
A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann
Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar
The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox
Beyond the Red by Ava Jae
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly

bookish posts

February 2016 releases I’m excited about

These are the February releases I’m really looking forward to reading. There are a few more I’m cautiously interested in that I haven’t listed here.

gentleman jole kingfisher little white lies criminal magic

Gentleman Jole & the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold

A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

Kingfisher by Patricia McKillip

Little White Lies by Brianna Baker

Peas & Carrots by Tanita Davis

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Dove Exiled by Karen Bao

bookish posts monthly book list reviews

January 2016 round up

Books I’ve already talked about
A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston
Picture Book Monday
Forget You by Jennifer Echols
Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold
Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Ships of Air by Martha Wells

Other books
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen: I don’t think this is her best book, although part of the problem is that Garden Spells is my favorite of her books and therefore any sequel is going to have to really impress me. This one–felt a little slight. I certainly enjoyed it, and as usual her writing is lovely, but I didn’t find it as deep or touching as her others.

Gentleman Jole & the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold: Review for this coming soon!

Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith: I really liked the worldbuilding for this one, and the overall setup of the characters and plot. I don’t think it’s perfect, but it’s doing some fun, interesting things.

The Oracle Glass by Judith Merkle Riley: I…didn’t like this one much. Which is sad, because it was my last unread Judith Merkle Riley book, but it didn’t have the subtle humor that I love about her other books, nor was I super invested in the characters.

The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill: I feel like I was more excited about this one in the abstract than I actually was in terms of the book. Partly this is because I didn’t connect well with the characters, and didn’t feel super invested in the plot despite the marching band on a cruise ship setup. I did finish it, for whatever that’s worth.

Listen to the Moon by Rose Lerner: Review coming soon!

The Mystery of Art by Jonathan Jackson: One of my goals this year is to read 12 Orthodox books. I…argued a lot with this one in my head, which I think is partly because I wanted it to be something different (not fair of me, I know) and partly because it was pretty surface-level.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge: I’m not sure if I technically read this book, because the copy of the ARC I had is missing the last chapter & a half. Since this is not my fault, I’m counting it anyway.

Updraft by Fran Wilde: This is a lovely fantasy with a really unique world and some nice writing. I was really intrigued by the society and the way it’s set up, as well as by the idea of the towers. I believe there may be a sequel coming, and I’ll be interested to see where the story goes.

Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink by Stephanie Strohm: A very light but also quite fun YA read about a girl working at a living history museum. I love this, as someone who spent most of her teens volunteering at one! It doesn’t delve at all into the complexities of living history museums and the stories they tell, but as a quick, fun read I’ll get behind it.

Other posts
Some reading and blogging resolutions
New additions to my TBR
10 favorite alt-history mysteries
Links: 1-14
Links: 1-27
Queen’s Thief news
Bullet Journal update
Making without context
Made & Making

TV & Movies
Star Wars: I saw it for the third time with a couple of people and loved it just as much as the first two times. STAR WARS.

Galaxy Quest: I had been meaning to watch this one for awhile and after Alan Rickman died, I decided it was the time. I enjoyed the commentary on fandom and geek culture a lot (reminded me a bit of DWJ’s Deep Secret), and of course Rickman was wonderful.

Father Brown: The first season of the recent BBC adaptation. Well, “adaptation”–G.K Chesterton is rolling in his grave. I don’t mind that it was changed, but I don’t think it’s particularly good as either a retelling or its own thing and I don’t intend to watch more, despite Mark Williams.

Jane the Virgin: I’m about halfway through the first season and loving it!

bookish posts

January 2016 releases

I haven’t quite gotten into gear with collecting 2016 releases yet, but here are a few I’m looking forward to reading. What are you exited about this month?

worlds of ink and shadowimpostor queento catch a cheatdragon tombassassins masque

  • Worlds of Ink and Shadows by Lena Coakley
  • The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine
  • To Catch a Cheat by Varian Johnson
  • Secrets of the Dragon Tomb by Patrick Samphire
  • Assassin’s Masque by Sarah Zettel
bookish posts

November releases I’m excited about

hereville the wrinkled crown black wolves

Not as many books this month, and two non-fiction, which is unusual for me!

Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish by Barry Deutsch

The Wrinkled Crown  by Anne Nesbet

Black Wolves by Kate Elliott

A Royal Experiment : Love and Duty, Madness and Betrayal—the Private Lives of King George III and Queen Charlotte by Janice Hadlow

Coventry : November 14, 1940 by Frederick Taylor