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End of Month

End of March 23 Round-Up

My Book of the Year So Far

I am starting this update on a positive note; I finished Siblings by Brigitte Reimann (trans. Lucy Jones) on the last day of February. And it’s my book of the year so far.

There is a mini-review here:

Missing Mojo

In the middle of March, I finally DNF’d (Did Not Finish) a novel that was recommended to me.

I have to be in the mood to read, but I also need the mental capacity to process my reading. I can’t skim-read or skip sections. If that happens, it’s a sign that I should put the book down and, ideally, move on to the next one.

Sometimes I force myself to keep going, as it might just be that book section or my mood that day. As a tactic, this can work, but often it just zaps my momentum even more if I push it too far. This can infect my motivation to read other things.

In this case, the recommendation meant I tried past the point when I should have given up. And my mood for reading other things did dimmish.

I put this down in the middle of March.

I did try reading another book, which I should have loved, but it didn’t hook me, so I took some time out.

Though I can’t entirely blame my mood as…

I Got Distracted

You might not have been aware, but Nintendo closed the e-shop for games connected to their Wii U and DS/3DS consoles (which they stopped manufacturing in 2017/2020. and this caused a surge of panic buying.

I bought a Nintendo 3Ds off eBay to load it up with Pokemon games I’ve never played. The cost of physical copies of the various Gameboy games could buy a good few books, and the e-shop versions were around £8.99. So I chose the e-shop versions.

I’ve been playing Pokemon Scarlet as my first real Pokemon Game (Let’s Go Eevee was my first attempt, but I didn’t know what I was doing, and my Team was underpowered). I wanted to have the option of going back, hence the stocking up.

And that got me looking at retro RPGs…

All of this is to say that much of my reading time got sacrificed for video games in one way or another.

Collecting Books is Still a Separate Hobby

Despite not reading, I added 23 books to the TBR in March. They were a mix of the last arrival of my now cancelled book subscriptions, a physical copy of Rachel Pollack’s run on the Doom Patrol, and a combination of recommendations from other commentators and 99p ebooks.

Plans for April

I’m writing most of this on Easter Monday and have yet to finish reading anything of substance, so I’d better get a wiggle on if want the April update to have content mentioning books I’ve read.

I am, however, reading thanks to a visit to Eastercon again. It was the tonic and motivation I needed. And should mean I have at least one book to mention next time.

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End of Month

End of Feb 23 Round-Up

NOTE: I wrote most of this at the end of February 2023.

Welcome to my monthly round-up. I am planning on publishing them on the last Sunday of the month. They are primarily for me to look back on at the end of the year, but you’re welcome to come along for the ride.

The Good

I should be gentler with myself. I thought I had a terrible reading month. But I haven’t. I read Far From the Stars of Heaven by Tade Thompson and The Fifth Season (Broken Earth Bk1) by N. K. Jemisin (no review yet).

I didn’t manage to finish anything else.

I did try. I DNF’d my first book of the year. I am sure the book is fine, but I couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough. What should have been a romp was an anxiety-producing misadventure. I haven’t mentioned the title, as I may try it again.

I am currently reading Siblings by Brigitte Reimann. Fifty years after it was first published in German, Penguin Classics has translated it into English for the first time. It’s only 129 pages long, but I have to pause to add tabs to the pages and write notes in my reading-focused notebook. It is a powerful meditation on East Germany at the time.

Both of these caused my reading to slow down, and I didn’t have the mental space to read any short fiction.

I’m reading A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files as my ebook. It’s 275 pages long and could technically be described as short fiction. But it’s not what I meant when I said I wanted to read more short fiction.

The Bad

Just because I wasn’t reading didn’t slow my acquisition of new books.

I picked up some £0.99 ebook bargains, including The Kaiju Preservation Society, This This, Juniper & Thorn, and Now She is Witch.

I grabbed some anthologies: Unspeakable: A Queer Gothic Anthology and Unthinkable: A Queer Gothic Anthology from proud-geek.co.uk. I also purchased The Devil and the Deep, Far Out: Recent Queer Science Fiction and Fantasy and Isolation: The Horror Anthology.

I bought the entire series (so far?) of Wayfarers by Becky Chambers. I picked up the first book of The Founders Trilogy (Foundaryside) by Robert Jackson Bennett & The Outside Series (The Outside) by Ada Hoffmann.

I also picked up a few standalone titles: Masks by Fumiko Enchi trans. Juliet Winters Carpenter, Lanny by Max Porter, Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher and Sterling Karat Gold by Isabel Waidner 

That is not all of them. I’ve logged all the books I’ve bought this year and know exactly how much I’ve spent. I need to calm down!

I am going to cancel my book box subscriptions. I have never been a hardback reader, and I know these are stunning, but they are expensive shelf-space-reducing objects.

This was ‘The Bad’? What is the ugly?

The Ugly

Chasing new shiny isn’t good for me. New shiny is where most of the book talk is aiming towards. I thought about ramping up my reading and reviewing again. I imagined chasing the waves alongside other book influencers. Realistically, it’s not going to happen. I either can’t or don’t want to devote time to keeping up with the field and reading the required work.

I must remember that I have moved on as much as the book-o-sphere has.

I will sit back and enjoy the content of those with energy and joy.

What’s the plan for March?

I’m writing this on the 12th of March. I have finished Siblings. I am still reading A Book of Tongues. I have eighteen days left of the month. The plan is to read an additional novel. That’s the plan.

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End of Month

End of Jan 23 Round-Up: Addendum

In my End of Jan 23 Round-Up post I forgot the add the most important section, what I read in January, so here it is.

What I’ve finished reading in January

I finished a book I started in December:

  • The Burning God by R. F Kuang 

A novel from start to finish:

  • Alien: The Cold Forge by Alex White

I am making reading more Alien tie-ins a priority and I’ve got Alex’s sequel, Into Charybdis, all lined up to read in Feb.

I’ve only read on short story, OPTIMIST CLEAVER’S LAST TRANSMISSION” by J. C. Hsyu, which prompted some thought.

And that’s it. Not as much as I’d hoped, if I am being honest.

You can see what I’ve read in 2023 here.

Categories
End of Month

End of Jan 23 Round-Up

Welcome to my first monthly round up. I am planning on publishing them on the last Sunday of the month. They are mostly for me to look back on at the end of the year but you’re welcome to come along for the ride.

The New Year always starts with the best of intentions, at least for me, but planning and doing are two entirely separate things.

Playing Catch-Up

I have set this year’s plan as ‘playing catch-up’ and that’s still my intention though as you’ll see the struggle is real.

Currently Reading: The Fifth Season & Far From the Light of Heaven

I said in my opening blog post for the year that I wanted have another go at reading N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy and after a few false starts I think finally I’m invested.

The Fifth Season is told from the point of view (pov) of three main characters. Each gets their own chapter and Jemisin is swapping between them regularly. Every chapter swap between the characters but there is no order to it .

Having multiple povs is standard but my brain doesn’t really enjoy the swapping and changing. I like consistency and so this tends to subtly kick me out of the story.

In The Fifth Season one point of view is narrated using ‘you’.

You are she. She is you. You are Essun. Remember? The woman whose son is dead

The opening line to Chapter 1

I really don’t think it helped me to settle into the book as I usually bounce straight off second person narratives. And then I say bounce, they make me incredibly frustrated.

I wasn’t really feeling it on the second attempt either but I asked Mastodon for their views and I got two really helpful comments:

And then there was this.

So I am now listening to a mix of the audiobook and reading the text. Listening to The Fifth Season got me into the ‘you’ voice and combined with Robin Miles’s narration gave the voice of the story, which I’ve very grateful for.

And I’ve settled in to each pov and the ‘you’ doesn’t seem jarring now I’ve got used to it. I am very curious what the payoff is going to be.

I was listening to Runemarks when I tried the audiobook for The Fifth Season so I am balancing both books.

I’m now at page 200 and I don’t think there is further DNF potential. So thank you Cina and Louise for the feedback to get me going again.

I’m about 80 pages into Far From the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson. I wasn’t sure what to read as my next ebook but someone mentioned that Far From the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson. is a space horror book. And as it’s a book I already have, I have it a go.

I also found out that it’s also a detective story. I love this combination.

Tade has a storytelling style that had be invested from page 1. I am now on page 80 and I am curious to see where this is going as there is a lot of pages to go.

Back to Runemarks, I’m about 2 hours (or 66 pages in) and as it’s a relisten I can take me time and enjoy it. And I am. It’s a fun take on Norse myth.

For my own notes these books were published in 2007, 2015 and 2021.

Reducing the overflowing physical and digital TBR piles

I failed. I’ve failed so hard. It’s gone up. It’s gone up by quite a margin. I am keeping a spreadsheet of what I’ve bought but also how much I’ve spent. I’ve bought more books than I’ve set as my reading goal for the year. I need an intervention. Or better budgeting skills.

Below are some of the highlights. And can you blame me? Look at them, they all come highly recommend.

I dipped my two into these fancy book you can get with sprayed edges from Illumicrate last year getting the full package of book plus extras (Babel and The Book Eaters). I could see me accumulating lots of lovely items that stay in the box quite rapidly so I cancelled my subscription.

I did continue to have FOMO so I’ve got a book-only subscription to both Illumicrate and FairlyLoot.

My rationale is that I’ll pick up nice editions of new books. And this will scratch some sort of new book-itch… it’s not a very strong reason I grant you. But the two February books are high on my radar list. And the January Illumicrate (if I understood the teaser correctly) is a stand-alone I’m itching to read as well.

Bonus Challenge of Reading More Shorter Fiction       

If you check out my Read in 2023 page, you’ll see I’ve logged 1 short story. It was a short story that got me thinking but I need to get more shorter fiction under my belt in February, I think I’ve been distracted by acquiring new books…

Plans for February

Finish the books listed above, get some shorter fiction read, and maybe start The Stand.

Oh, and actually not buy that many books…