Daughters of Doubt and Eyerolling

Month: December 2021

So long 2021 – Welcome 2022

We – the blog – has gone a bit quiet over the last few months. Well, with the world currently being even weirder than it was last year this time, I’d say you can certainly relate.

The good thing about this weird situation is, I read so much more than I had anticipated, or believed possible. My Goodreads Challenge says 452 books read – on 29th December. That includes books I bailed on, but also books I have read more than once, but didn’t add more than once, and doesn’t include books I read with my children but didn’t enter into the database. Neither does it include all the essays I have read on- and offline over the past year. I don’t want to brag. Truly. I read a lot. Stop.

As I have mentioned, I bailed on books, i.e. Did Not Finish. Just like all those years ago, when I first dared to not finish a book, it felt exhilarating. And, of course, I also felt like a snob, felt that something was wrong with me when so many other people liked a certain book, until I remembered:

“‘Does this spark joy?’ If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.”

Marie Kondo

Which books sparked joy in 2021 – for me that is, your list might look much more different:

  • The Kingdoms – Natasha Pulley
  • Get a Life, Chloe Brown – Talia Hibbert
  • Unnatural Causes – Richard Shepherd
  • A History of What Comes Next – Sylvain Neuvel
  • Great Circle – Maggie Shipstead
  • Stranger Times – C.K.McDonnell
  • The Dinner Guest – B.P. Walter
  • Cultish – Amanda Montell
  • Hard Reboot – Django Wexler
  • The Calculating Stars – Mary Robinette-Kowal
  • The Man Who Died Twice – Richard Osman
  • Prosper’s Demon – K.J. Parker
  • The Guncle – Steven Rowley
  • A Master of Djinn – P. Djèlí Clark
  • Fugitive Telemetry – Martha Wells
  • The Butchering Art – Lindsey Fitzharris
  • Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir
  • The Galaxy, and the Ground Within – Becky Chambers
  • The Love Hypothesis – Ali Hazelwood
  • The Chronicles of St Mary’s series – Jodi Taylor

This Harpy Eagle has, of course, already set her sights on what she might read next year. Among the books that are expected to be published in 2022 are the next instalments in series like Neuvel’s History of What Comes Next, The Chronicles of St Mary’s by Jodi Taylor, Ali Hazelwood might publish another RomCom set in STEM, and Mary Robinette-Kowal’s The Martian Contingency. Apart from that, I am hoping to make my way through the literally thousands of books I have piled onto my TBR.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year with lots of good books to read and the courage to bail on the ones that don’t spark joy.

New Year, Old TBR

Oh well, 2021 certainly was… definitely something. Looking at the TBR lists I created in the past, it feels like I fell completely off the bandwagon. I managed to start quite a few of them, but by far didn’t finish each one. It may be that the timing wasn’t right, but some were just complete disappointments. I’m looking at you, Mr. “I’ll reinvent vampire lore by making it cringy” Kristoff.

I went on a three week vacation which really boosted my book total for the year, but other than that the last couple of months felt like one big reading slump. Which is probably one of the reasons I wasn’t really active here.

Since I do miss living the bookish life to the fullest, here are some resolutions to get me into the flow again:

  • take notes during reading, this makes writing a blog post so much easier
  • DNF faster if the vibe doesn’t fit
  • finish some series before starting new ones
  • don’t follow the hype
  • read without fixed lists and choose by mood
  • buy fewer books

Ha, especially the last point will probably be thrown overboard quite quickly. But lately the amount of unread books waiting on my shelves just have been feeling a bit overwhelming. I miss being really excited about choosing the next book.

My current read A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay feels like a good pick to transition into the new year. Let 2022 be as exciting.

Quick Reviews – December 2021

Fifty Words for Snow by Nancy Campbell, published 5 November, 2020.

This is a wonderful non-fiction book that you can dip in to at a whim. 

I was surprised to see not only words from snow-rich areas, but also words and stories relating to snow from areas with warm climate throughout most of the year. 

This book is a gem! I wish it had been longer. 

4/5 Harpy Eagles

Sherlock Holmes & the Christmas Demon by James Lovegrove, published 22 October, 2019.

A rather festive Sherlock story.

Asked to help a young lady to proof her sanity, Holmes and Watson travel to Yorkshire mere days before Christmas. Needless to say, Holmes cracks the case, he always does.

I liked the story. Will certainly (eventually) read the other books in the series.

4/5 Harpy Eagles

The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart, published 23 November, 2021.

Middle Book Syndrome?

It just didn't click with me.

The story had more world-building than the first book. Though Stewart's acclaimed attention to detail was at the loss of character and plot development.

In my opinion - without book three out there yet - this trilogy might have worked better as a duology.

2/5 Harpy Eagles

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff, published 7 September, 2021.

And that's a wrap - I'm hereby declaring I am no longer the designated audience for Mr Kristoff's work. 
I know that a lot of people love his work and this book in particular, but I just couldn't finish it. The interview style didn't work for me. I was missing the plot. Then there was homophobia, which was overcome by an f/f romance including a voyeuristic sex scene. There was underage sex, very explicit underage sex, which got my hackles up, but that might just be me. 
Add frat boy banter between hardcore fighters and period-jokes, and I am out. 

0/5 Harpy Eagles

I am SO behind on my reading goal this year

I did SO MUCH this year. Broke up with my bf, moved into my own space again, started a new job, spend time with my learning: painting, 3D modelling, and game programming. Reading, not so much, unfortunately. I ONLY read 75 books so far, according to Goodreads (yeah, I know. It’s too few for me, for others, it is an unbelievably high number).

My reading goal each year is 100 stories. Not books, but also graphic novels, novellas, short stories. And I really can’t let it sit to not achieve that. So, in the days before Christmas, I have a genius plan to fill my days with reading.

Behold the mighty list:

  • The Mysterious Study of Doctor Sex by Tamsyn Moor
  • The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t by Gail Carriger
  • Meat Cute: The Hedgehog Incident by Gail Carriger
  • Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson
  • Ascender Vol.3
  • The Return of the Sorceress by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • The Undefeated by Una McCormack
  • Awakening by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Last Witness by K.J. Parker
  • Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor
  • The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho
  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
  • City of Songs by Anthony Ryan
  • The Dream-Quest of Velitt Bow by Kij Johnson
  • The Expert System’s Brother by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Alice Payne Rides by Kate Heartfield
  • Monstress Vol. 4
  • Poems to Save the World With curated and illustrated by Chris Ridell
  • Sunreach by Janci Patterson and Brandon Sanderson
  • ReDawn by Janci Patterson and Brandon Sanderson
  • Evershore by Janci Patterson and Brandon Sanderson
  • Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs
  • Paper & Blood by Kevin Hearne
  • The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan
  • Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson

It really is a wild ride between everything I like to read, and I hope I finally manage some catching up with the works of Brandon Sanderson and Gail Carriger, among others.

Wish me luck!

You need to be watchful

In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu, published 31 August 2021.

I went into this knowing it’s a literary SFF novella, with Asian-inspired queer narratives.

The story, sadly, didn’t make a lot of sense to me from the start. The MC, who can possess any animal living within the city limits, tries to apprehend a suspect by possessing the body of a raccoon – why a raccoon? Was this meant as comic relief? Okay, it was just the start, it’ll get better, I’m sure. At least that’s what I told myself.

Only to be confused by the three different gender neutral/non-binary pronouns used. They weren’t explained in any way, they were just there. And for the reader’s ease, there was only one representative of each of these pronouns in the story. Hence I still don’t know what distinguishes “æ/ær” from “se/ser” and “e/em” – and especially, what distinguishes these three from binary pronouns.

In a meandering way the plot made sense in the end, but the way to that sense wasn’t very cohesive. This lack of cohesion made following the plot very hard; you need to be watchful, so as not to lose the thread.

Summing up, the story does what it says on the tin: it’s exploring “borders, power, diaspora, and transformation in an Asian-inspired mosaic novella.”

TW: mutilations, death, self-harm, suicide, violence.

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