Daughters of Doubt and Eyerolling

Category: Shelf of Shame

It’s that time of the month…

… when I wonder how I can avoid getting sunscreen onto my books. It is a serious problem, you know. What with the sun suddenly appearing and reading outside being much more attractive. And then there is lotion on my hands that makes turning the pages difficult and leaves oily marks on the covers and pages.

May was a very good reading month, I didn’t think so on the outset, but I managed to read a whooping twenty-seven books. I went to Victorian London, England, Paris, Italy, … with the Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas (five books, so far) and Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey series. Spent time in space with a Murderbot short story, Catherynne Valente’s Space Opera; and time on distopian Earth with Valente’s The Past Is Red and Django Wexler’s Hard Reboot. Not to forget, my time in an alternate history Cairo of the early 1900s, where djinn are part and parcel of the steampunkish city: P. Djèlí Clark’s A Master of Djinn. All these armchair travels were interspersed with some YA reads, some contemporary romance, a rather dull trip to the French Revolution, and the May Sceptre Buddyread.

So?! Where am I going to travel to in June? I have absolutely no clue yet. I might continue reading Victorian era mysteries, might crawl into a fantasy world, might travel in space. Or I might stay here on Earth and read a lot of non-fiction. What I know is, the Sceptres have each compiled a summer reading list. We’ll keep you updated on how exceedingly well sticking to these TBRs goes in the next weeks – watch our Instagram, Twitter and our individual Litsy accounts, apart from this place here.

Right this moment my currently reading shelf holds a few ongoing and hibernating buddyreads with my kids, as well as a book about swearing – a linguistic pet project of mine – Nine Nasty Words by John McWhorter, a contemporary romance, another cozy Victorian mystery with Lady Julia Grey (s.a.), and Kit Rocha’s Deal with the Devil.

Those are, of course, just a few of the books I am trying to read/ignore in June. Whatever books I will choose in the end, will certainly depend on how well they can handle the generous amounts of SPF 1.000 lotion I am using; ’cause this Harpy Eagle has Scandinavian (book) dragon skin.

Sceptre Summer Reading Program

Welcome to our self-organized, highly individual, just for fun summer reading program. Each of us has created a list of books we really want to read, but somehow haven’t picked up yet. So, picking them for our summer reading seemed entirely logical. Given our success with challenges or reading lists so far, it’s highly unlikely we will follow through with them. But, as we all know, planning is half the fun.

TheLadyDuckOfDoom:

  • Fortune’s Pawn
  • Rule of Wolves
  • Seven of Infinities
  • The Galaxy, and the Ground Within
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015
  • Dark Archive
  • The Reluctant Queen
  • American Hippo
  • Neon Birds
  • A Longer Fall
  • A Question of Navigation
  • The Outside
  • The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe
  • A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking
  • Way of Thorns
  • The Autumn Republic
  • How To
  • Velocity Weapon
  • Merciful Crow
  • Carpe Jugulum
  • Sisters of the Vast Black
  • Deal with the Devil
  • Bridge of Souls
  • One Day All This Will Be Yours
  • Shards of Earth
  • United States of Japan
  • The Thief
  • Ashes of the Sun
  • A Big Ship at the End of the Universe

TheRightHonourableHarpyEagle:

  • A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking
  • Bridge of Souls
  • The Thief
  • Deal with the Devil
  • Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen
  • For the Wolf
  • Nine Nasty Words
  • Arsenic and Adobo
  • The Dictionary of Lost Words
  • Master of Revels
  • Prime Deceptions
  • The Calculating Stars
  • The Butterfly Effect
  • The Beholder
  • Just One Damn Thing After Another
  • The Devil’s Thief
  • The Library of the Dead
  • A History of What Comes Next
  • Firebreak
  • How to Mars
  • Daughter of the Salt King
  • Swearing is Good For You
  • The Octunnumi

TheMarquessMagpie:

  • Iron Gold Reread, for….
  • Dark Age
  • The Final Empire
  • Temper
  • Sharks in the Time of Saviors
  • The Outsider
  • The Blade Itself
  • Snuff (Discworld)
  • King of Scars
  • Sins of Empire
  • Hyperion

  • Tyll
  • She Would Be King
  • Orfeia
  • Harrow the Ninth
  • Identitti
  • Life on Mars
  • Dune Messiah
  • The Betrayals
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January

It’s that time of the month…

…when I can sit outside and read in the sunshine.

Well, so far I’ve been reading outside just once, wrapped up very warm. And the temperatures still aren’t what I’d expect May to be like, but warmer weather has been forecast.

Warmer and longer days might get me to read some more. I’ve spent way too much time in front of the telly lately. And don’t ask, nothing new, nothing exciting; I have kids, who, even as teenagers, like re-runs.

For May I have planned to finish what I had started months ago. Wait! I think I said that before. I must make it happen. It’s just so much easier to pick up a new book than a book I had previously started.

Now, you must think me either very fickle, or think I’m reading only boring books. I’d like to believe it’s neither. In most cases the books I have started are so interesting that I want to prolong my time with them as much as possible, hence I pick up a romance in between chapters. These days – and I am totally blaming the current situation – one romance usually leads me to picking up the next interesting looking book, and the next. And whoops, a week or two have gone by without me reading more than a few chapters in the book I had been dying to read. It’s weird and it’s annoying.

So, I solemnly swear that I’m up to being good this month -well, okay, maybe the first ten days of the month? I am going to ignore all the tempting new books and old books and shiny covers and enticing narrators and concentrate on the *mumbles figure* books I have yet to finish. Wish me luck! I feel stressed already.

Among that mumbled figure of books is P. Djèlí Clark’s A Master of Djinn, which will be published on 11th May. It’s the first full-sized novel set in Clark’s alternate history/urban fantasy/steampunk Cairo, where agent Fatma has to find out why an imposter of al-Jahiz, the most important man in history, is using unfathomable magic to kill the members of a secret order and is trying to rile the masses against the social oppression of the modern age.

I might even read it outside, once the sun comes out.

It’s that time of the month…

…when Spring has sprung and the pollen are flying.

March was another strange month. I have read books, mainly audiobooks, but this was more to soothe my mind than actually please my craving for new stories. Can we please end that Twilight Zone episode about a pandemic? Or is someone playing Jumanji? Still?

I haven’t finished many of the books that I set out to finish; Chilling Effect is still lying on my bedside table, I read a few pages but then was distracted by rakes and debutantes (aka The Smythe-Smith Quartett books by Julia Quinn). I struggled through March’s buddyread The Absolute Book; and have only skimmed through Underland, let’s hope that’s enough for book club night.

I bought The Octunnumi. It’s a book whose secrets are very well hidden. All I knew about the book before purchasing it, and all I know about it at this moment, is what is on the website. I might have bought the cat in the bag. I might have found a gem. I strive to find out in the next days. For now, let’s just applaud the publishers for their marketing strategy.

In further news, I’ve read the sixth book in the Veronica Speedwell series, An Unexpected Peril. I’ve also finished Fugitive Telemetry, the sixth Murderbot story which will be out in a few weeks. I started Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series, Every Heart a Doorway was interesting, but it didn’t make me stop everything else to read the rest of the series.

My current read is a review copy of Project Hail Mary, Andy Weir’s new book, publishing day 04 May 2021. I’m trying to savour it, but I want to fly through it too; not at FTL, though. Some people might find it a bit science-heavy, but I like it. It doesn’t only have lots of centrifuges in it, but space travel boosted by a very unexpected fuel, and the one man who might be able to save all humankind -as soon as he recovers his memories- encounters aliens. Final verdict to come, but so far I am leaning towards better than The Martian.

The Shelf of Shame currently holds 120 eARCs; a recent count of the physical TBR came up with a figure that’s closer to 200 than 100. For my PennyPerPage challenge – get one penny/cent for every page I’ve read and balance it against every penny/cent I spent on books – I’m still in the blacks, although I bought a lot of books in March. Ergo, I am reading more pages than I am spending; I count that as a win.

It’s that time… wait…

… where did February go?

We all know that January is the longest month. If you don’t think so, go and read this mnemonic posted by Brian Bilston. And since February is the shortest month, it feels like it just slipped by. It didn’t. It got buried under homeschooling, a week of heavy snow and lots of appointments. Anyway, it was a very successful reading month for me.

Among the more than twenty books that I read in February were a lot of sci-fi books and novellas. I eventually caught up on The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells, and read the fourth Wayfarer, The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, by Becky Chambers as an ARC. I also started the Chilling Effect series by Valerie Valdes.

My daughter and I finished the Ickabog together. For the adult reader, it is very predictable. My daughter, though, liked it very much. She kept begging me to read another chapter. And another. Until it was way past her bedtime.

What am I reading right now? I just started the sixth adventure in the Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn, An Unexpected Peril, published 02 March 2021.

I’m trying to finish Chilling Effect, so I can start its sequel Prime Deceptions. I should be reading William Boyd’s Any Human Heart for an online book club meeting tonight. That same book club has agreed to read Robert Macfarlane’s Underland in March, which I’m looking forward to much more than the Boyd book.

The size of #MountTBR and #MountARC shall not be revealed here. Let’s just say, I’m hoping this month will turn out just as good as February, then I might make a tiny dent in both.

What are you reading? Any books you are looking forward to this month?

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 Einzenhöfer’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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