March for me meant the start of a new semester, this time with a full load of classes. Homework. General time-sapping nastiness. Not enough sleep. I felt like I barely read anything, that I was in a state of constant slump, but now looking at it laid out like that…it’s actually a pretty average, if not above average month, which is a pleasant surprise.
Most of all, I managed to complete the yearly April-to-April r/fantasy Bingo challenge, two full cards (which I’m never doing again, fuck) just in time for the new one to roll out.
- Chalice by Robin McKinley: Started off very badly and ended in a disappointment, but the middle was great. Nice, slow slice of life featuring magic bees.
- Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer (reread): This has been a pure spur-of-the-moment reread. I saw it on my shelves, grabbed it. It absolutely lives up.
- Treason’s Shore by Sherwood Smith: I started reading this series back in 2016 and now I finally wrapped it up. I felt like the last book was the worst of the four, too meandering (could legit not tell you what happens in the first half), but the ending was good. I’d still recommend the series.
- Prince of the Godborn by Geraldine Harris (DNF): I wanted to give more old fantasy a try and saw this reviewed highly, so it seemed like a good option…but I just couldn’t do it. Too many names thrown at me and no reason to care.
- Chimera by Tyler Ellis (read here): A new webcomic discovery. Will definitely continue.
- A Coalition of Lions by Elizabeth Wein: Sequel to The Winter Prince, which I read a few years ago and liked very much. This book takes place in a different setting, with a different protagonist, and I didn’t like it quite as much, but it was a fast read and still worth recommending – especially if you’re looking for books taking place in Africa!
- Witchmark by C.L. Polk: Review hopefully soon. Loved it, it’s a very fast read, the MC is somewhat similar to Caz from The Curse of Chalion (broken veteran who just wants a quiet life), and the romance is adorable…but man did I want to strangle his hypocrite of a sister.
Books read this year: 15 (+ 5 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 50/50 (100%), COMPLETE
The r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge has been my favourite reading challenge ever since its beginning in 2015. The squares are a nice mix of easy and challenging, designed to make you read more widely and explore the parts of the genre you may not have read before. With a new card coming out tomorrow and having to update my Bingo challenge page, I’ll be archiving the 2018 completed cards as a post.
This year, like the last one, I’ve been trying for two cards. One unrestricted, one focused on underrated books, with the additional criteria of at least 50% female authors over both cards. I have certainly succeeded as far as the second goal goes, but a card made entirely out of underrated books has been…difficult and I had to relax my criteria a lot.
Aside from that, my main rule is “don’t force yourself to read a book you know you won’t like just because it fits the square”. Over the years, I got a lot better at this – this time, there was only one such book.
(because who doesn’t love statistics?)
- 30.5 (61%) squares were filled with female authors, 19.5 (39%) with male authors. For comparison:
- in 2017 when I did a women-themed card the ratio was about 77.2% female to 22.8% male (38.6 and 11.4 squares)
- in 2016 it was 37.6% female, 54.4% male, 8% unknown (9.4, 13.6 and 2 squares)
- in 2015 it was 38% female and 58% male (9.5 and 14.5, short stories square unknown)
- 11 books (22%) were self-published
- 5 books and 2 short stories (10.8%) were written by authors of colour. This is one area where it could be better.
- 12 (24%) of the books were paper copies, the rest were ebooks. 5 of those ebooks were ARCs.
- 33 books and 2 short stories (66.8%) were by authors whose books I haven’t read before – as far as making you read new authors goes, I declare Bingo a success
- Only 12 (24%) squares stayed the same as they were on April 5th, in the earliest version of the plan I could find.
- 32 (64%) books were part of a series
- There were 8 times I had to find a replacement because I DNF’d the book I originally planned, probably a new record
Now onto the cards themselves. Whenever possible, I linked to my review of the book.
Continue reading “2018 r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge: Conclusion and Thoughts”
Overall, February has been more a sci-month than a fantasy one for me. At one point I was also reading 4 books at the same time, which slowed me down a lot. Still, I think it has been a decent month. From now on, reviewing and reading is expected to slow down a bit because of uni, especially in the first few weeks, but hopefully I can keep the blog alive.
- Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor (ARC): Excellent sci-fi novella series that I’m very glad I got the chance to read as one book. Recommended to anyone interested in books dealing with identity and culture.
- The Inheritance Cycle #1-3 by Christopher Paolini: Reread of the series that got me into fantasy when I was a kid, because…I don’t know why. On a random whim. By now, I’ve heard every criticism out there and agree with most of them. Yet I still devoured books 1-2 in less than a day, the third one the next day, and enjoyed myself very much. Nostalgia is powerful stuff
- Touch by Claire North: Finally read it after ages of being prodded into it by Coffee from The Fantasy Inn. Incredibly well-written, but very disturbing (the implications of body-hijacking ghosts…).
- The Vela by Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, S.L. Huang, and Rivers Solomon (ARC): Did live up to the hype. If you like character-focused sci-fi, keep an eye out for this.
- Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee: Buddy read (thanks P., it’s been fun!). Took forever to grow on me, until about 40%, but by the end, I was in a constant state of holy shit. Worldbuilding was amazing as well (calendrical heresy!). Review to come soon.
- Currently reading: Treason’s Shore by Sherwood Smith, Hwarhath Stories by Eleanor Arnason, no idea what to read next. Don’t feel like reading anything 😦
Books read this year: 10 (+ 4 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 46/50 (92%)
It took a long time (most people posted them in December and here’s me in February…), but the wrap-up is finally here. All in all, 2018 was an excellent year for reading. I surpassed my last year’s number of books read by 4, found a new all-times favourite, began reviewing every book I read, and, of course, started writing a blog on June 17th, which is something I’ve been planning since 2016.
- New books read: 64, which is 4 more than in 2017
- Books reviewed: 39, give or take a few
- DNFs: 10
- Out of books read, 39 books (61%) were written by female authors, 23 (36%) by male authors, one (1.5%) by a non-binary author, and one (1.5%) by a mixed-gender team
- The longest was The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, with 430 378 words and the shortest was The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn by Usman T. Malik with 22 366 words. Both according to the Calibre counter.
- 23 books (36%) were not part of a series
- 16 (25%) books were self-published
Continue reading “2018 Wrap-Up: Statistics & Top 13 Books”
January has been an excellent reading month quantity-wise, but quality-wise…not so much, despite only a single DNF. February is also my last month of freedom before Hell Semester starts and I plan to enjoy it as much as I can!
- The Royal Art of Poison by Eleanor Herman: I started this year with a nonfiction book. It’s gross but fascinating, covering everything from poison, cures, environment risks, poor hygiene (they. shat. everywhere.), disease, to about 20 stories of people who were allegedly poisoned and a modern look at what really happened. Recommended to every writer and anyone who’s read City of Lies and is curious about how it worked IRL.
- The Wizard Hunters by Martha Wells: In retrospect, should have probably been a DNF. Not badly written, just one of the most boring books I ever read.
- Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James: Still can’t quite believe I got it. Did not live up to the hype for me. Uneven pacing, profoundly unlikable MC, darker than I expected. Still, fans of grimdark might find something to like and the worldbuilding is fantastic.
- The Grass People by Kay Parley (DNF 61%): Buddy read with Keikii (who has, unlike me, managed to finish it). Much (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻ was had. Excellent worldbuilding, but the extremely traditionalist attitudes of most characters annoyed me to no end, especially once it became clear that the plot sided with them. Thought “what’s the point of torturing myself with a book that pisses me off” and quit.
- The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold: Reread because I needed a good book after three disappointments in a row. Still as good as ever. Caz is the best ❤
- The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe: Fun, quick to read UF with really good worldbuilding. I don’t usually like UF, but blazed through this. The fast, easy read I needed.
- The Hod King by Josiah Bancroft: Prose and characters remain as good as ever, and the ending is excellent, but I was not a fan of the structure.
- Currently just about to finish Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor (ARC). Very enjoyable and definitely works better as one book.
Books read this year: 5 (+ a reread)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 44/50 (88%)
December has been much, much better than November. After a couple months of reading slump and false starts, I feel like I’m finally back in the groove.
Best of 2018 post coming soon, I promise
- The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden: Had the book since February, no idea why I haven’t read it sooner because it was fantastic. I’m such a sucker for folktales and women defying gender roles.
- One of Us by Craig DiLouie: Very tough and painful to read, but felt both relevent and necessary.
- The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden (ARC): Review to come on January 8th. A fitting, bittersweet conclusion to the trilogy.
- Balam, Spring by Travis M. Riddle: DNF 30%. I was really looking forward to it because it seemed like it couldn’t be more up my alley but I couldn’t get past the jarring anachronisms (jeans?!) and the bland writing. It completely lacks any sort of atmosphere.
- The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley: A modern retelling of Beowulf and a gorgeously written trainwreck. Still not sure what I read, but I enjoyed it.
- Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett: A reread because I was leading a bookclub and needed a refresher. Still good.
- Swordheart by T. Kingfisher: Review to come. But overall, it’s a fun, humourous, uplifting fantasy romance. Short chapters, reads very fast.
- The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn by Usman T. Malik: Strange little story about a man discovering his grandpa’s past. Pakistani-inspired. Most of it is the protagonist narrating rather than experiencing, though the slow reveal is interesting. Not sure what to think of it.
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 40/50 (80%)
Books read this year: 64 🎆
November has been a mixed month for reading. I have found a couple of new favourites, but also more than a few books that I wasn’t so keen on. More than the usual number of DNFs as well; a lot of books tried, but only a few of them finished. From now on, my reading time is going to be reduced somewhat because of schoolwork as well, but we’ll see. Hopefully December is going to be better.
- Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron: Fun and charming and quite well-written, but ultimately not my kind of thing. Recommended if you want uplifting Urban Fantasy.
- City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer: The weirdest book I’ve ever read and one of the most interesting. No coherent plot, structured more as a collection of novellas and short stories, many of them in-character (scientific monograph on squid…), but it works incredibly well.
- The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles: Book that made me realise that I maybe need to look into romance more. Reads very fast and the characters have a great dynamic. Loved it.
- The Black Tides of Heaven by J.Y. Yang: Interesting worldbuilding, but the story would need a bit more space to breathe. Too much stuffed into too short of a pagecount.
- Prince of Cats by Daniel E. Olesen (ARC): DNF 40%. Nothing wrong with it, the world is very well-researched and if you like sassy thieves you should probably try it, but I wasn’t really feeling it so I put it down. Maybe some other time.
- Gods of Men by Barbara Kloss: DNF 30%. Way too grimdark for my taste, couldn’t get over the fact that one of the two main characters literally supports and participates in the genocide of an entire race of people because of what some of their mages did in the past.
- An excerpt of The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon that I got off netgalley. It was about 100 pages long, and I’ll be getting the book on release. It’s classic political epic fantasy, chock-full of worldbuilding. The POV number is not overwhelming and the East/West divide when it comes to chapters help. The characters all have their own, often opposing, goals and motivations and the world feels both familiar and fresh.
- Currently reading The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden. Feels very appropriate for the cold weather.
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 37/50 (74%)
Books read this year: 57
October was a great month for ARCs, not so much for reading in general. I only managed to finish four full-length books because I got stuck on one of them for over two weeks, but I did manage to squeeze in two novellas and a short story.
- The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee: Preordered and buddy read on release day. It’s just so much fun and the characters and writing are lovely.
- The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky by Mackenzi Lee: Got it with the preorder. Adorable and fun little story featuring pretty writing, lots of awkwardness, talking about feelings, and Monty’s incredible talent for screwing things up.
- The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson (ARC): My most anticipated elease this year and also the book I got stuck on. Great worldbuilding, great prose, by all accounts I should have loved it, but something about the plot/pacing just didn’t work for me.
- Blood of Heirs by Alicia Wanstall-Burke (ARC): After Monster, I read this one in two days. Nothing groundbreaking, but it’s fun and it read fast, which was exactly what I needed.
- In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard (ARC): Queer, Vietnamese Beauty and the Beast. Pretty prose, one of the most original settings I’ve seen, good handling of consent in such a situation. I hope we get to see more of this world.
- Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire: Short and sweet, in all senses of the word. Still my favourite novella series.
- …and a reread of The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan because I was leading a bookclub! Still as good as ever and I finally had people to squee about spoilery things to! Man, I love this book so much.
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 34/50 (68%)
Books read this year: 53
After the August slump, September was a lot better. I finished six books, most of them between 4 and 5 stars and found a new favourite or two. No bad books and no DNFs.
- The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee: Liked it way, way more than I expected I would. It was just so fun, with great characters.
- A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers: Amazing. Liked it even more than the first book. Cried a lot. I love slice of life, Sidra was one of the most relatable characters I had a chance to read about, and Pepper’s story was good as well.
- Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones: Fun, nostalgic, appropriate for all ages. I wish I wasn’t interrupted mid-book, because a two-month break seriously affected my enjoyment.
- Everfair by Nisi Shawl: Amazing concept (land bought from Leopold II used to establish an utopia), too ambitious for its own good. The story spans decades and 10-ish points of view, but for a shortish book this just doesn’t work.
- City of Lies by Sam Hawke: A slow burn optimistic political mystery story. Characters that are truly good people, plot that ramps up very slowly until you suddenly can’t put the book down. Thanks to Sara for her endless yelling about it because seriously, it was great.
- The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson (ARC): Full review to come in February. I loved the setting (starts with the fall of Granada, Muslim viewpoint), historically accurate inclusivity, and the prose was lovely. I’m not sure I was a fan of the ending and how loose it was, but as they say, journey before destination. Still, highly recommended.
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 31/50
Books read this year: 46
August was a bit of a slump month. Life interfering, less time to read, trouble focusing on some books…I still managed to finish and review four books, but I hope September (the last month of the summer break) is going to be better.
- We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson: I’m usually not much for political multi-POV epic fantasy but this was pretty damn good regardless. Definitely reading the sequel.
- Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik: A complex take on the Rumpelstiltskin story with great female characters, but the plot seemed too scattered for my taste and first-person multi-POV made things confusing at points. A good book that I struggled with.
- The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell: A soft sci-fi tragedy. It was the right book at the right time and hit many of my soft spots – focus on the (very likable) characters, a recovery plot, starting at the end and working towards the middle, alien cultures – but there are just as many reasons why I would hesitate to recommend it.
- Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner: I wish I had been familiar with the original story before going in. It’s a lovely, poetic little story, well-written, but perhaps too short.
- Attempted to read Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks, but just couldn’t connect with it and didn’t feel like forcing myself to read it. Will likely try again some other time.
- Four short stories, all of which are available online for free (links go to stories, not reviews): Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™ by Rebecca Roanhorse, I, Kane by Laura Hughes (from the Lost Lore anthology), In Sea-Salt Tears by Seanan McGuire, and The Lily and the Horn by Catherynne M. Valente.
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 25/50
Books read this year: 41