Books I’m Looking Forward To: First Quarter of 2017

Hello, everyone! Welcome to the new year! You know what that means–new book releases. There are quite a few coming out in the first quarter of the year that I’m pretty excited to read. Without further ado, let’s get into the books!

January 

5 January: Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg, Trans. Eliza Marciniak

This book sounds weird. It takes place in a close-nit agricultural community and sounds like it has a lot of fairytale elements & secrecy within it.

10 January: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

This book takes place in Russia, and gives me a lot of Uprooted, Grimm’s Fairytales vibes. I’m really excited to get my hands on this one.

24 January: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

This book focuses on a young woman who allegedly killed a young baby that her mother was watching when she was nine-years-old. Now, years later, she’s having a child of her own, and the authorities aren’t too keen on letting her keep it with her alleged past. Sounds like it could be a good coming-of-age/political commentary of a novel.

February 

7 February: Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani

A book of globalization and the aftermaths of British colonization in Kenya, this novel sounds like it could have a great blend of magical realism and African folktale woven throughout it. I have high hopes for this one.

7 February: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

A sweeping family saga that begins when a young woman is left pregnant by her lover, and has to marry a young minister who brings her to Japan. I love family sagas, so I can’t wait to get my hands on this book.

7 February: Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama, Trans. Jonathan-Lloyd Davies

A Japanese thriller that focuses on a botched investigation into a series of kidnappings of young children? Yes, please.

9 February: The Good People by Hannah Kent

I didn’t know Hannah Kent was coming out with a new book until recently, and am I excited. I absolutely loved Burial Rites, so I cannot wait to see how Kent delivers her second novel. This one sounds like it might have something to do with fey or changelings, and sounds delightful.

14 February: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

This book follows Fabiola Toussaint as she leaves Port-au-Prince, Haiti with her mother in order to live in the United States. It sounds like a great coming of age, immigration story, and I can’t wait to read it. (Plus, the cover is STUNNING.)

28 February: Everything Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz

This novel follows two childhood friends, Jisun and Namin, throughout their lives in South Korea. I love a good character driven novel, and this sounds like it could be beautiful. Plus, I love novels that center around female relationships and friendships.

March

7 March: The Impossible Fairy Tale by Han Yujoo

The Impossible Fairy Tale is the story of two unexceptional grade-school girls. Mia is ‘lucky’—she is spoiled by her mother and, as she explains, her two fathers. She gloats over her exotic imported color pencils and won’t be denied a coveted sweater. Then there is the Child who, by contrast, is neither lucky nor unlucky. She makes so little impression that she seems not even to merit a name.”

So begins the blurb to The Impossible Fairy Tale. This sounds like it’ll be a fantastically weird book, and it’s up there on my immediate books to pre-order.

7 March: Minds of Winter by Ed O’Loughlin

The blurb of the book explains it better than I could:

“When history looks through the annals of polar exploration, it is sure to deem Sir John Franklin’s 1845 campaign in search of the Northwest Passage as the darkest chapter. All 129 men would be lost to the ice; and nothing retrieved from an inventory that included two Greenwich chronometers given to the expedition.
When historians analyze the most profound mysteries of the modern age, they therefore remain mystified as to just how one of those very same timepieces would reappear in London – crudely disguised as a Victorian carriage clock -over a century and a half after being recorded as lost in the famous disaster.
It is a real-life mystery that did, and still continues to, defy an explanation.
When Nelson Nilsson catches the eye of the lone female in the arrivals hall of Inuvik airport in the Northern Territories of Canada, the last thing his life needs is further complication. Still unable to comprehend the enigmatic obsession that led his brother to take his own life, Nelson just wants to get in his care and drive.
When travel-weary Fay Morgan looks up and mistakes Nelson for a taxi driver, she realizes for the first time that she has finally made it to the one place on earth that may hold the answer to her burning question. And when she capitalizes on Nelson’s good nature and obtains a lift, she feels fate is on her side.
It is an improbable meeting that will unearth an impossible connection: as the questions Nelson has about his present, and those Fay has about her past, share a common link -itself inextricably tied to the movements of an elusive timepiece.”

It sounds like it could be beautiful, and more than a little strange. I’m excited for this cold, wintry sounding read.

28 March: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

This book promises us mythical cities, gods and goddesses, carnage, beauty–“a world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.”Sign me up.

April 

4 April: Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

I know some folks were disappointed by the first in this series, Sleeping Giants, but I was quite intrigued by the story laid out for us. I’m excited to see where Neuvel takes us from the denouement of the first book.

15 April: The Clocks in this House All Tell Different Times by Xan Brooks

“‘An orphan is travelling through the deep, dark woods and discovers that the monsters she encounters are as much tragic as wicked and that the handsome young prince may be ugly inside. The world around her is callous, unjust and horribly scarred by the past. But she brings compassion and even a glimmer of hope.’” Yes, please.

What releases are you looking forward to in 2017? Let me know!

Until next time, happy reading!

–E. Adeline

Top Ten Books of 2016

2016 was a pretty good reading year. I read 100 books–40 more than my goal of 60. Whoo. And, for the most part, I’m pretty happy with what I read. I can’t wait to dive into the books I know I want to get to in 2017.

Before we get into the favorites, here are some honourable mentions: The Road by Cormac McCarthy, the Mistborn novels that I read this year that I loved–some of which were five stars, but didn’t equal the five stars from the books I have listed below, Harrow County–a great new comic book series, Between the World & Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Fireman by Joe Hill, The Vegetarian by Han Kang, Bluets by Maggie Nelson,  Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (would be on my best books, but I’m certain I read it before about ten years ago), and Sula by Toni Morrison.

[Disclaimer: these books are in no particular order, save for my ultimate favorite of the year, and they were not necessarily published in 2016. I just read them this year. I’ve ordered them in terms of when I read them. ]

162412011Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich

I adored this poetry collection. It’s beautiful, and heartbreaking, and one to keep with you throughout the years. It’s the first thing I read in 2016, and it sure set the mood for the rest of the year.

 

15819028The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

This is a beautiful, atmospheric story. I absolutely loved the characters and how Wecker portrayed New York City at the turn-of-the-century. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy character books that are a slow burn.

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By Light We Knew Our Names by Anne Valente

A beautiful collection of short stories, with just the right amount of magical realism and atmosphere.

 

 

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Today Means Amen by Sierra DeMulder

DeMulder is one of the best slam poets I’ve come across, and her new book did not disappoint. There’s a great mixture of powerful and poignant poems in this collection; it’s one to re-read over and over again.

 

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Shrill by Lindy West

Lindy West made me laugh and cry more than once in her essay collection Shrill. It’s wonderful, and West’s voice throughout the book is just fantastic. Highly recommend.

 

 

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Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

 

 

 

22929741The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started this collection, but it ended up blowing me away. Nelson has such a beautiful and raw way of writing. I throughly enjoyed this book.

 

 

 

26196220The Black Maria by Aracelis Girmay

This poetry collection is equal parts haunting, beautiful, touching, and heartbreaking. It’s one of the best poetry collections I’ve read in some time. Highly recommend.

 

 

29100285Whatever Happened to Interracial Love by Kathleen Collins

I loved this collection of short stories. I loved the way that Collins captured both the environment and the characters. I loved the way she incorporated filmmaking into some of her stories. I just loved it.

 

 

24611846And my favorite of the best? It’s, of course, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. This novel absolutely astounded me. The characters, the writing, the atmosphere, everything. James earned a spot among my favorite authors with this novel, and I also really loved his debut novel, John Crow’s Devil–which I read this summer. If you haven’t read A Brief History because you’re intimidated by its size, I recommend the audiobook. I went back and forth between the audiobook and the print novel, and I fully believe the audiobook is a tour-de-force unto itself. It’s fantastic.

How was your 2016 reading year? What were some of your favorites?

Until next time, happy reading!

–E. Adeline

Books I’m Bringing With Me On Holiday

Choosing what books to bring home with me when I go back for Christmas is always a tiny bit nerve-wracking. What if I choose books I don’t actually want to read? What if I don’t bring enough? It’s a major #firstworldproblem, but still a struggle. I think this is what I’ll be packing with me when I leave (there’s always a chance I substitute one book for another–such is life), and I’m excited about my choices.

  1. Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson. I plan on starting this one on the 12th and continuing until the 24th.
  2. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I’ve promised one of my roommates that I’ll read this over break, so it’s going to be my flight/train book.
  3. Sula by Toni Morrison. I read Swing Time by Zadie Smith last month, and was a bit underwhelmed by the female friendships portrayed in it. It sounds like there were some undercurrents of Sula within the novel, so I’m excited to see how Toni Morrison (one of my favorite writers) handles her female friendships in this novel.
  4. Man by Kim Thuy. I just really want to read this book.
  5. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. This is the audiobook pick that I’ll be listening to, which I’m pretty excited about. It sounds like this is a fantastic memoir, and I’m a big fan of Noah.
  6. The Nutcracker by E.T.A Hoffman. I have a digital copy of this novella on my iPad, so I plan on giving it a read before I see it performed at the ballet later this month.

I may throw in a poetry book, or a nonfiction read. I just checked out Acres of Skin from the library, and I’m dying to read it, even though it will break me. We shall see.

How do you choose what to bring with you on holiday? I’d love to know!

Until next time, happy reading!

–E. Adeline

Recommended Reads for the Winter

Tis the season for cozy nights spent inside reading while it softly snows outside, with Christmas carols playing in the background, and a fuzzy animal curled up at your feet. I’m not a huge “season” reader, but I do think there are some novels better suited to the colder seasons that I love to reread this time of year. So, if you’re looking for some winter reads, look no further!

  1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. In case you didn’t know, The Night Circus is one of my favorite novels, and my favorite time to reread it is in the late autumn/winter season. It’s cozy and atmospheric and wonderful.
  2. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. My second favorite novel (or, possibly, tied with The Night Circus) is another greatly atmospheric novel. It doesn’t necessarily take place during this season, but the hunt for Dracula seems like the perfect excuse to curl up on your favorite armchair.
  3. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. This novel expands through all seasons, but the parts of the book that take place in NYC during the winter make this read exceptional during this season. It’s another great atmosphere novel (do you see a pattern emerging?), and the characters are fantastic.
  4. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. This novel is set in Iceland, so it’s perfect to curl up with on a cold winter night. And it’s, you guessed it, atmospheric and so well written.
  5. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Mystery novels are perfect to read in the winter season, and this is one of my favorites. It’s deliciously gothic and well written, and makes for a great night in.
  6. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. This is another gothic/suspense novel–it’s perfect for long train rides or nights spent in cafes.
  7. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. The Wonder takes place in Ireland around the 1850s, and its claustrophobic and isolated nature makes it suited for the colder months, even though it doesn’t necessarily take place in this season.
  8. The Nutcracker by E.T.A Hoffmann. This one is a pretty obvious choice.
  9. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. I read this last Christmas and it was perfect. If you’re a horror fan, this is one to check out over your holiday break.
  10. Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson. This is a new release, and it looks like it will be wonderful to read in the days counting down Christmas. It’s one I’ll be bringing with me back home.

What books do you think are suited to the season, or are just your favorite to reread in the colder months? Let me know!

Until next time, happy reading!

–E. Adeline

 

Where Have I Been?!? (An Apology)

Hello, everyone.

So, I kind of dropped off the face of the planet. My apologies. Life sometimes gets in the way of blogging. From moving this summer to teaching my own class this semester, it’s been hectic.

Which isn’t to say I haven’t been reading. I have been. Some have been okay reads, and some have been fantastic. I really want to share them with you, so I plan on doing a write up of my favorite books in the latter half of 2016 soon.

First, I’ll be sharing the books that I plan to bring with me back home for the holidays, and I plan on writing up a list of my favorite “winter” reads.

Again, so sorry for my absence! I hope everyone’s been well.

Until next time, happy reading!

–E. Adeline

 

Book Review//Gone Girl by: Gillian Flynn

Stats 19288043

Publisher: Broadway Books
Published: 5 June 2012
Word Count: 419
Format: Hardback
Rating: qiBXoBz5TqiBXoBz5TqiBXoBz5T
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, Book Depository, Audible

Synopsis

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

(via Goodreads)

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I may possibly be the last person on the planet who has read this book (exaggeration, but it feels that way), so I figured it was time to finally give Gillian Flynn a go. I’ve been in the mood for thrillers lately, so it was the best of times to do so. And, I ended up liking the book. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s an enjoyable read.

I will say, from the start, that I found the plot to be entirely predictable. I think if you’re someone who reads/watches a lot of thrillers or mysteries, you’ll be able to catch on fairly quickly. Its predictably doesn’t deter from enjoying the novel, but it does mean that some sections will seem to drag on, because you’ll know what’s going on and just want to move on to the next big moment.

That said, the utter dislikeability of both main characters left me engrossed in the areas the plot didn’t. Nick is a pretty detestable dude (at least to be in a relationship with), and Amy is…well, Amy is. She was probably the best part of the novel, because I enjoyed her complexity, and I loved the way Flynn decided to portray her–completely outside the realm of how women are typically portrayed. I don’t want to spoil anything in case any of you out there are like me and haven’t read the book yet, but Amy’s a great character.

Gone Girl is also extremely well written. There’s no denying that Flynn can tell a good story. Everyone in the novel feels realistic, even with how absurd it gets in moments. I wish there had been a bit more development with Go (Nick’s sister), because I do feel in times she just got slotted into the “miserable sister” category. I also wish we had gotten a bit more resolution when it came to Amy’s parents. (Those of you who have read the book should know which part I’m talking about!)

My favorite aspect of the novel was the “game” aspect that held up the first 150-or-so pages; when done well, that element provides a good sense of suspense. It provided a nice noir-esque sentiment. My least favorite aspect of the novel was probably the ending. It makes sense in the grand scheme of the novel, but I felt it was a bit anticlimactic.

All in all, I recommend the book if you’re a fan of thrillers. It’s engrossing, has unlikeable characters (which I’m a big fan of), and it’s well written. It’s nothing especially unique, but will entertain you for a day or two while you read it. While I had my issues with it, I definitely liked it enough to read Flynn’s other works, which I think says a lot about an author.

I’m looking forward to seeing the movie (because Rosamund Pike), so I might do a book-to-movie adaptation post when I watch it!

Until next time, happy reading!

–E. Adeline

Book Review//The Fireman: Joe Hill

Stats 25816688

Publisher: William Morrow
Published: 17 May 2016
Word Count: 768 pages
Format: Hardback (I read an early e-copy)
Rating: qiBXoBz5TqiBXoBz5TqiBXoBz5TqiBXoBz5T
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Audible, Indiebound, Book Depository

Synopsis 

The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

[…]

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.

(adapted via Goodreads)

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Disclaimer: I received a digital ARC courtesy of Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I’m not being paid for anything I say! 

When I first read the synopsis to Hill’s new novel, I knew I needed to read it. The concept of a spore that gave people great ass body tattoos while simultaneously setting them aflame sounded awesome–and, for the most part, I wasn’t disappointed.

The best part of this novel, by far, is the world. As I just said, I love the idea of Dragonscale–it’s original, and it’s as awesome as I wanted it to be. The way that Hill presented the spore and its affects was great, and felt oddly realistic. Not that I necessarily want to ever have Dragonscale…but I’d be lying if I said the thought of controlling fire through the spore didn’t sound appealing. Or, at the very least, like a hell of a party trick. That said, there are some brutal scenes of people spontaneously combusting, and the novel can get a bit gruesome/violent, so be wary of that while going into it. I, personally, loved that aspect of the book, but y’all know how much I love my horror and violence. Hill doesn’t hold back in expressing how some folk would react to those infected by the Dragonscale, and it rings fairly realistically.

The characters were also extremely well developed in the novel. As they should have been, given the length of the book. Harper is a fantastic protagonist. I love how optimistic she was, but how she could certainly hold her own–even when enormously pregnant. I oftentimes don’t like the way that male authors portray female characters, but I think Hill managed to pull it off quite well. And John (the fireman) is great; he’s witty and British, basically everything that I love.

 A great element in the novel that I really loved was the cult/church/camp that Harper comes to live amongst in roughly the middle of the novel. It was done so well, and added such a fantastic element to the story–plus, I’m a sucker for cults. It’s a thing. The characters we got to know in this section of the story were a lot of fan, and just like Harper and John felt well developed.

The biggest let down I had with the novel was a certain romance that felt rushed and almost out of place. We hadn’t gotten to see a lot of interactions between the two characters by the time they were professing their love, and the times they had interacted, there hadn’t been much indication how they felt. It took me a bit out of the story, even though I ended up quite liking the two of them together by the end of the book. It worked, but it needed more time to develop.

All in all, The Fireman is an entertaining read. I highly recommend it to those who love dystopian horror (think The Road, not The Hunger Games).

Until next time, happy reading!

–E. Adeline