Daughters of Doubt and Eyerolling

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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… 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.

It’s that time of the year…

… when I’m trying not to make New Year’s Resolutions that I won’t keep.

One of my resolutions last year was to read 250 books. I managed to do that. The Covid-19 situation is not to be blamed for it, I’ve been reading a lot every year since I had to stop working. Further I wanted to read 24 physical copies off my shelves. I haven’t kept a record, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet that goal. Apropos meeting goals, I had planned not to buy more than two new books each month. That resolution went out the window within the first few days of 2020.

What are my resolutions for 2021 – the bookish ones that is?

  • I want to try to flatten the curve of my MountTBR, it’s ginormous. The number of ebooks, audiobooks, and physical copies unread has four figures and the first one is higher than there are fingers on one of my hands. I will have to live forever, it seems.
  • I’d like to tame my review copies shelves, which means, I have to read through the small mountain of ebooks and will have to stop requesting too many new review copies.
  • As every year, I promise myself to read 24 physical copies already lingering on my shelves – I’ll keep you updated on how spectacularly I’m failing.
  • Last but not least, I’m trying to stick to a tighter book buying budget. I’m going to keep a record of pages read. Each page will be worth one Cent. Audiobooks and ebooks are entered by checking the number of pages of the physical copy editions, or are estimated. I can only spend as much as I have earned by reading books. Means, I have to read a few books before some of my pre-orders make it to my shelves.

Pre-orders? Yes, of course, a reader has to be prepared for the worst case scenario: empty shelves. — I just burst out laughing. As if that could ever happen. If I believed in the concept of Heaven and Hell, I’d say Hell freezing over’s more likely to happen than me running out of reading material; just see above mentioned MountTBR.

I’m really looking forward to the second book in the King of Scars Duology by Leigh Bardugo: Rule of Wolves. This will be my birthday treat to myself. Okay, you got me. It’s part of my treat; I’m intending to let the staff of Otherland curate a surprise box of books for me again. Must read the four books from 2020 before then, though.

In order to get myself to catch up on some recommended reading – not the scholarly kind of RR – I’ve pre-ordered Becky Chamber’s fourth book of the Wayfarer series, The Galaxy, and the Ground within; and I’m contemplating pre-ordering the next book of the Murderbot series by Martha Wells, Fugitive Telemetry.

Five books that I’ve put on the tentative TBR list for 2021 are:

  • Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library – which I have wanted to read ever since the news about the book came out.
  • Victoria Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – s.a.
  • N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became – I’m going to read this in January for the #AuthorAMonth book club over on Litsy.
  • Sabaa Tahir’s Ember in the Ashes series – don’t gasp, I’ve already told you I am behind on the recommended reading.
  • Jay Kristoff’s Empire of the Vampire – can’t wait to review this one.

Why only five? Well, I could have added so many more. Actually, there are more than 400 books on my “Want to read” list on Goodreads. Though that doesn’t mean that I have to want to read them all within the next few months. I’m trying to put less pressure on myself not more.

Last but not least, a tiny recap of December 2020. I did manage to make a small book tree. I wrapped 42 books for it. I could have added more, but I was done cutting the pad of my thumb on the tape dispenser. As far as reading went, I finished the Forward Collection, a collection of six sci-fi short stories curated by Blake Crouch; read the first novella in the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells; wrote a long review after finishing Naomi Novik’s Deadly Education; and there were also a few ARCs and romance novels.

What are your resolutions for 2021? Any bookish challenges you’re taking part in? One of my non-bookish resolutions is drinking more water. Since I’ve emptied my tall glass now, I’m off to refill it and then settle down with one of my ‘left-overs’ from last year, The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart.

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.

Alive and kicking

Well, it’s been a while. First of all, I have to thank my wonderful fellow Sceptres for keeping this blog alive. I feel like the 30-something child still living in your basement without paying rent. I have nothing to say in my defence except for this: life has been busy and some things have sadly taken a backseat.

To my astonishment, I somehow still managed to read nine books in August – seems like I was just too lazy to talk about them. I solemnly swear to change that. Just typing these few sentences makes me wonder what has kept me from doing so in the past couple of weeks.

One of my bookish highlights this month was a reread of two childhood favourites. They are the first two books of a trilogy which was recently updated by a fourth book – the reason for my reread. Originally published in German, their English translations are The Water Mirror and The Stone Light and they are quite a bit darker than I remember.

Let’s see what September has in store for us. Of course there will be a Sceptre buddyread and we already have our suspicions. Fingers crossed that we are once again correct. Other than that, I will finish And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. It’s one of those books that has been sitting on my shelf for ages. Once I picked it up, I quickly remembered why I liked Hosseini’s other books so much. His writing is a thing of beauty.

I will also have some days off, so I’m expecting a lot of reading time. Maybe I will even finally finish The Stand…. just kidding, let’s stay realistic. Knowing myself, I will probably pick up something lighter to stay in the reading flow.

It’s August – time to not set a TBR

Did I stick to my tentative TBR last month? Let me see. I finished Godsgrave, Darkdawn, D3v1ate, These Broken Stars, The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again, Glücklich die Glücklichen. I also finished The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Wordslut, Aurora Burning, Mexican Gothic, The Once and Future Witches, and several more ARCs from NetGalley.

Planned for August is Stephen Graham Jones’ The Only Good Indians, the Sceptre Buddyread. Other than that, Harrow the Ninth is out, which I might read in August. And, as always, I’m going to work through my electronic ARCs 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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