Top 5 Tuesday — Air!

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Bionic Bookworm, now hosted by Meeghan Reads. If you’re interested in participating, check out their blog to get the details and the prompts for each week, then link your post back to Meeghan’s blog or leave a comment on her weekly post.

23 May: Top 5 books with air

Calm like a monk, or wild like Aang? Don’t forget to breathe deeply. 💨🍃
(Variant: flight)

So, the obvious choice: Books with „air“ in the title or air travel…

Airframe by Michael Crichton — ✈️ ✈️ ✈️

I read this quite a while ago, when it came out first as a paperback. 2006-ish? Back then I probably would have given it four or five stars, but tastes change. I remember starting to read this, while sitting in a plane, about to hurl itself down a runway to take-off and thinking “How stupid can I be?” If you want some well written, fast paced entertainment, without having to engage too much brain power, this is a good choice. Unless you are afraid of flying… 

Probably around the same time or a little earlier I also read this:

Air Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones — ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️

Funnily enough, I bought this at duty free in Heathrow Airport. This book is a loose collection of anecdotes of the shenanigans in the airline industry. They are told in the form of one day in the working life of an airport duty manager. Very British, very shallow, occasionally very funny – especially if you have flown a few times. Brain candy. This is probably a great read during a long-haul flight.

Similar theme, still part of my TBR pile:

Cockpit Confidential by Patrick Smith — TBR pile

I got this in 2018. At the time I was still a regular flyer and I guess I thought it would be entertaining and illuminating:

„Cockpit Confidential covers not only the nuts and bolts of flying, but also the grand theater of air travel, from airport architecture to inflight service to the excitement of travel abroad. It’s a thoughtful, funny, at times deeply personal look into the strange and misunderstood world of commercial flying.“

So much for non-fiction. This meme’s prompt is a good reminder that I still have this short story on my TBR pile:

Any Way the Wind Blows by Seanan McGuire — TBR pile

Pretty cover, right? Added to my TBR pile in 2020.

In the original story Any Way the Wind Blows, New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire presents a sweet tribute to Manhattan’s iconic Flatiron building–celebrating the longtime home of Tor Books as the publisher bids farewell for new office space.

Composed of travelers from nine different parallel dimensions, the Cartography Corps crew aboard the airship Stalwart Trumpet of Glory descends on the New York City in our universe to collect and preserve artifacts from the legendary turn-of-the-twentieth century landmark Flatiron building.

Can be read for free here. Yes, I still need to read her Wayward Children novellas, they are burning a hole into my virtual TBR pile. I know, I know.

Last, but not least, if you are looking for a fun graphic novel series with good artwork, I highly recommend this:

Skyward Vol. 1: My Low-G Life — read in 2019 — ☁️ ☁️ ☁️ ☁️ ☁️
by Joe Henderson (Author), Antonio Fabela (Illustrator), Lee Garbett (Illustrator)

One day, gravity on Earth suddenly became a fraction of what it is now. Twenty years later, humanity has adapted to its new low-gravity reality. And to Willa Fowler, who was born just after G-day, it’s pretty awesome. You can fly through the air! I mean, sure, you can also die if you jump too high. So you just don’t jump too high. And maybe don’t get mixed up in your dad’s secret plan to bring gravity back that could get you killed…

Nice artwork, fun story. In Issue #2 Willa, the main character, started to live dangerously. There is a stunning panel, showing what happened to those that didn’t make it past G-Day.

I am not sold on the whole premise of this story and the world building seems flawed. Henderson claims to have researched gravity. I enjoyed this comic so much that I was willing to roll with it and suspend my major disbelief.

What did I like? The artwork, the colours, the humour. Willa is a little daft at times, but generally likeable, so is her dad. I liked the outfits people wear.

What did I not like? The holes in the world building, aka how would all this still work with really low gravity? Loose water, loose dirt, loose everything, the weather… What happens to the polar ice caps without water? However, the story telling works just fine, even without those open questions.

At the time I read Skyward, it sounded as if it might be adapted as a motion picture for Sony. I guess Covid-19 happened, so… 🤷‍♀️

So, any air-themed books on your shelf? What did you like and what can you recommend?

Top Ten Tuesday — Non-book Freebie (short stories)

“Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.” Head over there to link your TTT, if you take part!

April 18: Non-book Freebie (choose your own topic that’s not related to books! This could be hobbies, TV shows/movies, bands/singers, food items/recipes, top ten things about you, your top ten favorite things, places you’ve visited, favorite fashion designers, etc. Take this time to let your readers get to know you a little!)

All great suggestions, but I am totally stealing BookWyrm’s idea to look at free online stories. Tipping that hat back… 😝 I am expanding a bit on the idea: free online short stories by female speculative fiction authors, mostly (not exclusively) Hugo nominations from 2018 — blast from the past!

  1. Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies” by Brooke Bollander: Three pages of revenge and profanity (“This is not the story of how he killed me, thank fuck.”) and a Hugo nomination. Nice, too short. Appreciated this story more during my re-read, I think. Yes, profanity, but also fabulous use of words. And applause for taking revenge for all those unnamed victims. Read here, Uncanny Magazine…
  2. Rebecca Roanhorse‘s “Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™“: Winner of the 2017 Nebula Award and 2018 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. Quite a mind bender. Difficult to comment without giving something away. About representation of Native Americans in SFF, about self-image, loss of self… The second person narrative briefly confused me, but I got into it easily enough. Horrible ending, trippy indeed. Not sure what would be worse—this being his reality or his experience. If it‘s his experience, he at least has the chance to go back to a possibly better life, fingers crossed. Read it here at Apex Magazine…
  3. Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea” by Sarah Pinsker: Nebula Awards Nominee. A post-apocalyptic story. We never find out, what or how, just bits and pieces. This is more about the character development of the rock star and the woman who finds and rescues her. A fairly quiet story and bitter-sweet. I liked it and picked up other things by the author. Read it at Lightspeed Magazine here…
  4. Carnival Nine” by Caroline M. Yoachim: “I’ve heard it said that every hundred days passes faster than the previous hundred. In childhood, the days stretch out seemingly forever, and we spend our time and turns freely on any whim that catches our fancy. But at the end of our lives, each day becomes an increasingly greater fraction of the time we have remaining, and the moments grow ever more precious.” Bittersweet story. First I was sad that Matts got so few turns. But really it’s not about how many turns you have, but what you make of them, isn’t it? And Zee made hers count, even if in the end she didn’t live the life that she had envisioned. Finalist for World Fantasy Awards, Hugo and Nebula. Read for free here…
  5. Sun, Moon, Dust” by Ursula Vernon: A farmer inherits a magical sword from his dying grandmother. But he doesn‘t want to become a warrior. Hugo 2018 short story finalist. Very poetic, from an author with a love for potatoes, apparently. Satisfying ending. Read here at Uncanny Magazine
  6. How about some poetry, it being National Poetry Month in the US… “What to expect from the Hadron Collider as a college roommate” by Betsy Aoki: Pretty amusing poem. I liked it! Read at Uncanny Magazine here
  7. The Secret Life of Bots by Suzanne Palmer: There seems to be an abundance of misbehaving, self-aware bots gallivanting through our galaxy. Not sure why this was nominated for the Hugo, but definitely fun to read. Good thing that Bot 9 was an outdated model with some design flaws. Hugo Awards winner (novelette). “I have been activated, therefore I have a purpose, the bot thought. I have a purpose, therefore I serve.Read it here at Clarkesworld
  8. A Series of Steaks” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad: And the winner for odd titles goes to… a very meaty story. Fun. Humorous. Odd. I am not entirely sold on the concepts behind the story, but the world building and characterizations were top-notch for such a short piece. Hugo Awards 2018 Novelette Nominee. Read it at Clarkesworld here
  9. Nalendar“ by Ann Leckie — she is an instabuy for me. “Umri searched her memory for advise on being rid of a persistent god.“ Those pesky gods, not keeping their promises and dragging people into their business. Umri has enough problems (one, specifically) on her own… What a fun read! If I wasn‘t a big fan of Ann Leckie already, this might have done it. Read it at Uncanny Magazine here… and the interview to go with the story here.
  10. Field Biology of the Wee Fairies” by Naomi Kritzer: “When Amelia turned fourteen, everyone assured her that she’d find her fairy soon. Almost all girls did. You’d find a fairy, a beautiful little fairy, and catch her. And she’d give you a gift to let her go, and that gift was always beauty or charm or perfect hair or something else that made boys notice you.” Great story. Creative. If life gives you obstacles, you don‘t have to fight through them, you can also find another way. Girl power! So what, if people expect girls wanting to look pretty and find a boy. Find a way. Do your thing. Read it at Apex Magazine here

I could post another 10 or 20… Wow, I really have to get back to reading more short fiction! The Hugo Awards have not been free of conflict in the last few years. However, the short stories and novelettes I read were always interesting.

I just had a look at the 2022 Hugo Awards, specifically the short stories and novelettes finalists and winners—it turns out I only read one of them. So here is one extra story:

Bots of the lost Ark” by Suzanne Palmer. Bots run amok, aliens threaten, ship and humans need to be saved, little bot to the rescue. Set on the same ship and following the adventures of the same little bot as that other HUGO-awarded The Secret Life if Bots, this is a fun and slightly absurd take on the currently abundant stories and novels about artificial intelligences. I guess it is about time that I pick up one of her full-length novels. Read it at Clarkesworld here

Top Ten Tuesday — Animals! The living, the extinct and the fictitious…

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week‘s topic—April 11: Titles with Animals In Them and/or Covers with Animals On Them (submitted by Rachel @ Sunny Side)

Just to keep things lively, I had a look at all of my books, without filtering anything more specific. So we start with the last book that I added to my shelves: Ravensong by T.J. Klune:

The beloved fantasy romance sensation by New York Times bestselling author TJ Klune, about love, loyalty, betrayal, and joy. The Bennett family has a secret: They’re not just a family, they’re a pack. Ravensong is Gordo Livingstone’s story.

I just requested this from Netgalley yesterday. Fingers crossed! Raven in the name, wolf on the cover…

I read the first book of that series in November and like it a lot!

Do Japanese monsters count? It looks like an animal and is another new addition to my TBR pile: The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi.

‘The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi is a thrilling, fast-paced adventure set on an alternate Earth – perfect for fans of Adrian Tchaikovsky and Michel Crichton’s Jurassic Park.
They’re big, they’re bad and they’re about to become extinct . . .

And while we are talking about mythical creatures, how about dragons? My Dragonriders of Pern re-read didn’t really go anywhere last year. We’ll see about that in 2023. How about dragons and dolphins: The Dolphins Of Pern (Dragonriders of Pern #13) by Anne McCaffrey.

Another animal on my want-to-read list is a pig: Ham Helsing #2: Monster Hunter by Rich Moyer. The first volume was so much fun!

“The uproarious next installment of the Ham Helsing graphic novel series sees Ham and his crew back to fight monsters at mysterious Camp Fish Head Lake!”

Back to the not quite real animals… have you ever heard of the Foreigner series by C.J. Cherryh? They ride on horse-like animals called mecheita. And they look like this: Deliverer (Foreigner, #9) by C.J. Cherryh. I am reading this series for the first time and this one will be my next audiobook of the series, sometime in the next 2 months.

Another want-to-read, this one for September: Mammoths at the Gates (The Singing Hills Cycle, #4) by Nghi Vo. This series of novellas was not love at first sight, but has become an instabuy with the second offering.

On this cover we do not only have the hint of some mammoths, but also two neixins. They are birds from Chinese mythology. The bird in this book is a talking bird and the sidekick of the human main character of this series.

The next book on my TBR pile is a German version of Wicked Charms (Lizzy & Diesel, #3) by Janet Evanovich. For some reason it has a racoon on the cover:

It’s a swashbuckling adventure full of raiders, monkeys, minions, and mayhem. Lizzy and Diesel are going to have to do everything they can to keep their heads above water and hope they are living a charmed life.

Monkeys? No idea… My mum gave this to me, hence in German. We’ll see, sounds like a nice beach read.

Ok, we had weird Japanese monsters, we had dragons… we need dinosaurs! This is another one on my audiobook want-to-read: The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Stephen Brusatte.

“… the epic story of the dinosaurs, examining their origins, their habitats, their extinction, and their living legacy, from one of the most accomplished young paleontologists in the world today.“

I like to listen to non-fiction, instead of eye-reading—it raises the probability of me actually finishing the book in under 5 years… 😝 And I like dinosaurs and Earth history. This one popped up in my feed of likeminded readers.

Another great example of this type of non-fiction on my want-to-read shelf is Otherlands: A Journey Through Earth’s Extinct Worlds by Thomas Halliday:

“A stirring, eye-opening journey into deep time, from the Ice Age to the first appearance of microbial life 550 million years ago, by a brilliant young paleobiologist.”

I am not 100% sure, but is that a dodo?

Ok, without actually planning for it, all the above listed books are books I have not read yet, with the exception of those dolphins, and I am not sure about that one. So, book number 10 is another want-to-read: Monarchs of the Sea: The Extraordinary 500-Million-Year History of Cephalopods by Danna Staaf.

“Before mammals, there were dinosaurs. And before dinosaurs, there were cephalopods—the ancestors of modern squid, octopuses, and more creatures—Earth’s first truly substantial animals. Essentially inventing the act of swimming, cephalopods presided over an undersea empire for millions of years—until fish evolved jaws, and cephalopods had to step up their game or risk being eaten. To keep up, some streamlined their shells and added defensive spines, while others abandoned the shell, opening the gates to a flood of evolutionary innovations: masterful camouflage, fin-supplemented jet propulsion, and intelligence we’ve yet to fully measure. Monarchs of the Seais a history about these bizarre but beautiful creatures that ruled the seas—and still captivate us today.”

Voilà! I hope there is something on this list that inspires you!

First Line Friday — stealing immortality

I did read quite a bit since last Saturday, I just didn‘t have much to post about. I am still reading Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt, #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky, but it‘s pretty long and printed with a pretty small font. Reading for a prolonged time is just not possible, my eyes just give up and I can‘t focus anymore. That‘s what I love about ebooks—I can increase the font… I wasn‘t in the mood to read short stories or comics in between to mix it up, so I picked a SF novel in ebook format instead…

First Line Friday is a weekly linkup hosted at Reading is My Superpower. … share the first line of a book of your choice, add the link on the host’s page…

The Immortality Thief (The Kystrom Chronicles, #1)
by Taran Hunt

The Immortality Thief is a ridiculously fun, fast paced, seat-of-your-pants read full of treasure hunts, traps, deadly enemies, betrayal, secrets, mysterious aliens, adventure and action as the story races to the find the secret to immortality.

Far off the edge of human existence, beside a dying star lies a nameless ship abandoned and hidden, lost for a millennium. But there are secrets there, terrible secrets that would change the fate of humanity, and eventually someone will come looking.

Book blurb

That‘s a pretty exciting book blurb, right? I slowly made it through the first quarter of the book and so far I am a little underwhelmed. One reason might be that I am simply reading it too slowly, due to alternating it with my other read. However, something has just come to light that might change my mind. By the way, this is classed not only as SF, but also as horror. The horror element is pretty weak so far. Anyway, first sentence!

The nothing-place between leaving and arriving during faster-than-light travel isn‘t really Hell.

First sentence

Right? Yeah, clear as mud. But the sentences following this one give it more sense. We get some aliens that I find hard to visualize. Little grey men? So far I am not buying the relationship between our salvage crew and the aliens. If the author was trying to sell me supposedly bad guys as being decent in a way, it was a weak effort. But I am not sure yet, if that was the intention. Still, about 350 pages to go, there might be horror and good characterization just around the next corner… oh yes, the mystery / big secret is not giving me sleepless nights yet either.

First Line Friday — gearing up towards warfare

Oh my goodness, it‘s the weekend. Hallelujah. Long week was long and gave me a headache. Going for a long walk with a friend and her dog tomorrow, no plans for Sunday. Well, I need to do some laundry and my kitchen floor really needs some attention…. Back to the main topic, reading! I used to do a meme with posting first lines of books. At some point it was discontinued or I lost track. This one here looks the same at first glance. Maybe it is? Anyway…

First Line Friday is a weekly linkup hosted at Reading is My Superpower. To participate, share the first line of a book of your choice, add the link to the linkup on the host’s page, and check out what others are reading and sharing!

I started a new book this week. I haven‘t gotten far yet, as it was a busy week and I was out for dinner twice as well. I decided to finally start working on my Adrian Tchaikovsky backlog….

Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt, #1)
by Adrian Tchaikovsky

It feels very much like epic fantasy, but it also has steampunk elements, which messes with my head. People are either like ants or like beetles, one of them has features of a mantis. The bad guys are wasp-like, with wings…. I‘ve only read the first chapter, so I barely scratched the surface. Here is the first sentence:

After Stenwold picked up the telescope for the ninth time, Marius said, ‘You will know first from the sound.’

Not a bad first line. We jump straight into the action and there is build-up straight away. What will I know from the sound? What sound? A telescope in Fantasy? Nine times, something is up, obviously…. Good one! I hope it keeps going like that, because my secondhand paperback is over 600 pages with relatively small print.

In other news, The StoryGraph has added a streak tracker. And as I am slightly OCD about my pages & minutes tracking, I was allover this like white on rice… Sadly the new feature only starts tracking from the new year, otherwise I would have had a really nice streak from the start. My tracking was spotless in 2021 and 2022. Anyway, it‘s opt-in and the standard setting is 1 page or 1 minute per 1 day. I checked January and February and as this is my year of chilling and mood reading, I only changed the setting to 5 pages or 5 minutes…

Let‘s see if I can manage the full year!

Top Ten Tuesday — Bookish Goals for 2023

Top Ten Tuesday moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Topic for January 17: Bookish Goals for 2023

I am not very goal oriented in my private life. Work is about goals. Private life is for doing what I want, when I want. Or not. Anyway, I do have some ideas about this year‘s reading.

  1. Read fewer buddy reads in 2023 — odd, I know. But I committed to so many buddy reads last year that I did not have any room for mood reads. I ticked off my list, following a schedule. It started to feel like work.
  2. Read fewer books than last year — the next odd one. I did set my usual 100-book-challenge on Goodreads and The StoryGraph, but I am considering to lower it or maybe completely delete it. I don‘t need it for tracking purposes and I am trying to de-stress my reading life.
  3. Reduce my Netgalley pile — I have 20 unread Netgalleys and some of them are really ancient. It would be sweet to finally get caught up. And then I would only request more with the expectation to actually read and review them close to their publishing date, as it was intended.
  4. Don‘t commit to reading challenges — again, it’s about de-stressing my reading life. Regardless, I have actually picked two challenges. One is the 2023 bingo challenge of my favourite Goodreads group. It‘s about reading previous, missed buddy reads. I don‘t expect to get a bingo, it‘s more of a tracker for books I own from those old buddy reading lists. And i picked an Alphabet challenge on Storygraph. I will only use it to help me pick books from my owned bookshelves.
  5. Reduce my TBR pile of owned books and buy fewer new books — I failed at this last year. I finally want to make a dent in my physical bookshelf. Buying no new books is an illusion. I don‘t want to set any rules either, aka only buy a new book after reading 3 old ones. That would just stress me out, plus I would need to track it. More tracking = less reading.
  6. Finally continue with the Dragonriders of Pern — a few years ago I decided to re-read the series plus to read all the new ones that I never picked up. I was off to a good start and had fun, but last year I was so overbooked that I didn‘t read a single one of them.
  7. Mix it up — I have been reading a lot of SF and Fantasy in the last few years. I want to mix it up a little more. There is enough choice on my owned bookshelves…
  8. Don‘t overthink it, more mood reading!

That‘s it for now. How about you? Do you have any new goals, besides the usual „read x books this year“, „read more classics“, „read more non-fiction“, etc.?

Top Ten Tuesday — most anticipated books releasing in 2023

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week‘s topic: top ten most anticipated books releasing in the first half of 2023

Another meme that I haven‘t done in a really long time. And I doubt that I will get together ten books. I don‘t check and plan ahead a lot for my reading. It‘s more of an accidental affair. So, anyway, let‘s see what I have planned already in terms of new books for this year…

I do not actually have anything newly published on my list until late April. So the title of this Top Ten Tuesday is right out of the window. Anyway, April!

In the Lives of Puppets
by T.J. Klune

This one is a maybe, I have plenty of other books on my T.J. Klune backlog.

In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees, live three robots–fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson, a pleasantly sadistic nurse machine, and a small vacuum desperate for love and attention. Victor Lawson, a human, lives there too. They’re a family, hidden and safe. 

Inspired by Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio, and like Swiss Family Robinson meets Wall-EIn the Lives of Puppets is a masterful stand-alone fantasy adventure from the beloved author who brought you The House in the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door.

Next one. I am not even sure this here will be published in May, as I can‘t find any dates about it anywhere besides its Goodreads bookpage:

Moon of the Turning Leaves (Moon of the … #2)
by Waubgeshig Rice

Twelve years have passed since a widespread blackout triggered the rapid collapse of society, when the constants of the old world—cell service, landlines, satellite and internet—disappeared. Twelve long years since the steady supply of food and fuel from the south became a thing of the past.

The sudden end of the world as everybody knew it, and the horrors of that first winter since everything became dark, only steeled the resolve of Evan Whitesky and the other members of the Anishinaabe community to survive on their own terms. Because the world wasn’t ending, as the community elders reminded them. It had already ended with the original displacement of their people to the far north by colonial authorities. They have seen this “apocalypse” before. They’ve seen it—lived it—over and over. But they had always survived. And they will survive this too.

The book was supposed to come out last year. Maybe Corona threw a wrench into the works? On Rice‘s Twitter he posts about a Fall 2022 draft, so work is still going on, fingers crossed. Sequel to MOON OF THE CRUSTED SNOW. My review of that book wasn‘t too favourable, when I read it in 2019. But the story has lingered, so it can‘t have been that average.

And another one for May:

Lords of Uncreation (The Final Architecture, #3)
by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Arthur C. Clarke award-winning author of Children of Time brings us the third and final novel in an extraordinary space opera trilogy about humanity on the brink of extinction, and how one man’s discovery will save or destroy us all.

Loved the first one, struggled with the second one, have to read the third one to get closure.

The final book to come out in May, not sure yet if I will get it. Barring another Murderbot, I can settle:

Witch King
by Martha Wells

“I didn’t know you were a… demon.”
“You idiot. I’m the demon.”
Kai’s having a long day in Martha Wells’ WITCH KING….

After being murdered, his consciousness dormant and unaware of the passing of time while confined in an elaborate water trap, Kai wakes to find a lesser mage attempting to harness Kai’s magic to his own advantage. That was never going to go well.

Doesn‘t sounds all that different to dear old Murderbot, right?

And we finally move into June. ANOTHER IMPERIAL RADCH!!! Boy, did I wait long for this one! I got so fed up with waiting, I re-read the first Imperial Radch trilogy in 2021. Tea did not help with the waiting, dear!

Translation State (Imperial Radch)
by Ann Leckie

The mystery of a missing translator sets three lives on a collision course that will have a ripple effect across the stars in this powerful new novel by award-winning author Ann Leckie. 

Qven was created to be a Presger translator. The pride of their Clade, they always had a clear path before them: learn human ways, and eventually, make a match and serve as an intermediary between the dangerous alien Presger and the human worlds. The realization that they might want something else isn’t “optimal behavior”. It‘s the type of behavior that results in elimination. 

Squeee! Presger translator! So looking forward to this one!

At some point in 2023 there should be Mercy Thompson #14 by Patricia Briggs. That‘s all I know. No title or cover art yet. But I will definitely read it, when it comes out.

That was only six books, sorry! We‘ll see what other books will sneak up on me in the next few months! And then back to my owned pile of TBRs….

Six Degrees of Separation, the romance edition

Welcome to #6degrees. I haven’t done one of these memes in a year!. On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book. I mostly use this meme to work on my backlog, aka reviews that I haven‘t yet posted to my blog here. Or to give myself a reminder of the books on my TBR pile or want-to-read-shelf.

So, as usual, this month starts the chain link with a book I haven‘t read or ever heard about.

Beach Read
by Emily Henry

They’re both broke.
They’ve got crippling writer’s block.
They need to write bestsellers before the end of the summer.

The result? A bet to see who can get their book published first.
The catch? They have to swap genres.
The risk? In telling each other’s stories, their worlds might be changed entirely…

From the book blurb

It sounds mildly interesting. When I pick romcoms, which I very occasionally do, it usually involves marriage-of-convenience or some other fake-relationship thing. Or sourdough or… It‘s a mood thing. For example something like this:

Link #1 — The Love Hypothesis
by Ali Hazelwood

So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. 

From the book blurb

I haven‘t actually read this one, but it sounds like the kind of romance I enjoy. Fake boyfriend takes me to a book that I definitely want to read at some point. Some of my reading buddies liked it:

Link #2 — Boyfriend Material (London Calling, #1)
by Alexis Hall

To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.

From the book blurb

Right down my alley! Links # 3, 4 and 5 are three other LGBTQ+ romcoms that I did actually read:

Conventionally Yours (True Colors, #1)
by Annabeth Albert

When two “big name fans” go head-to-head at a convention, love isn’t the only thing at stake.

I read this in November 2020. It was a Netgalley. I gave this New Adult enemies-to-lovers M/M romance the benefit of the doubt, rounding it up to three stars. It was ok. Full review is here.

One Last Stop
by Casey McQuiston

All hard edges with a soft smile and swoopy hair and saving August’s day when she needed it most. The person August looks forward to seeing on the train every day. The one who makes her forget about the cities she lived in that never seemed to fit, and her fear of what happens when she finally graduates, and even her cold-case obsessed mother who won’t quite let her go. And when August realizes her subway crush is impossible in more ways than one—namely, displaced in time from the 1970s—she thinks maybe it’s time to start believing.

This one I read in the summer of 2021. Or rather, I attempted to read… The blurb reminded me of Kate & Leopold, the movie that put Hugh Jackman on my radar as an actor. After reading the first three chapters, I put the book away. Not bad, but I couldn‘t work up much interest. August (Kate) mets Jane (Leopold) in the subway and eventually realizes that something fishy is going on, namely that Jane is from the 1970s. Nice idea, I just wasn’t feeling it. DNF at 19% and 70-odd pages. It was probably me.

Red, White & Royal Blue
by Casey McQuiston

Same author, read in January 2020 (my review) and much better. I really liked this one. It was a lot of fun.

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations. The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. 

From the book blurb

That leaves me with Link #6… four of the above book have been with LGBTQIA couples. So I can‘t possibly leave out this big hit from last year — printed as well as the Netflix adaptation for the little screen. I have neither read or watched it yet though, so no idea if it is as good as everybody says. Too YA for my taste.

Heartstopper: Volume One (Heartstopper, #1)
by Alice Oseman

Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore. Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him.

They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…

This is a comic, btw… maybe I will pick it up at my local bookshop after all one of these days…

Spell the month in books — August

I came across this meme last month and thought why not use it to look at some of my owned, unread books as a reminder that I still have them?

Reviews From the Stacks

The goal is to spell the current month with the first letter of book titles, excluding articles such as ‘the’ and ‘a’ as needed. That’s all there is to it! Some months there are theme challenges, such as “books with an orange cover” or books of a particular genre, but for the most part, any book you want to use is fair game!

Long month! No theme though, phew. So…

AAfter the Cure (After the Cure, #1) by Deirdre Gould

„Eight years ago the December Plague swept through the human population of earth. The Infected were driven mad by the disease, becoming violent and cannibalistic, killing even those closest to them without hesitation. Six years ago, the tiny surviving community of Immune humans found a cure, and the Infected began to wake up and realize what they’d done. And what had been done to them. Over time, society began to rebuild itself. Now it is ready to judge those responsible for the Plague.“

I don‘t recall why or how I got a copy of this book. It‘s been on my shelf for a while. It sounds familiar as well, as if there maybe was a movie along those lines? The blurb sounds a bit like a courtroom thriller, which is not really my cup of tea. Not sure I still want to read this.

UAn Unnatural Life by Erin K. Wagner

„The cybernetic organism known as 812-3 is in prison, convicted of murdering a human worker but he claims that he did not do it. With the evidence stacked against him, his lawyer, Aiya Ritsehrer, must determine grounds for an appeal and uncover the true facts of the case. But with artificial life-forms having only recently been awarded legal rights on Earth, the military complex on Europa is resistant to the implementation of these same rights on the Jovian moon.“

This is a fairly recent addition to me shelves. It‘s a novella, if I remember correctly. And I obviously didn‘t listen to myself about not liking courtroom thrillers. I do like to read about AIs though.

GThe Ghost Fleet: The Whole Goddamned Thing
by Donny CatesDaniel Warren Johnson (Illustrator), Lauren Affe (Illustrator), John Hill (Illustrator)

„For the world’s most valuable, dangerous, or secretive cargo, you don’t call just any trucking service…you call THE GHOST FLEET. When one of the world’s most elite combat-trained truckers takes a forbidden peek at his payload, he uncovers a conspiracy that will change his life, and the world, forever!“

This is a comic. I think it was in a Humble bundle of various things. Doesn‘t sound bad actually, maybe I should have a look when I finished my current TWD volume.

UThe Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood

„She will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice. On the day of her foretold death, however, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Csorwe leaves her home, her destiny, and her god to become the wizard’s loyal sword-hand — stealing, spying, and killing to help him reclaim his seat of power in the homeland from which he was exiled.“

Epic fantasy, a genre I have been delving into again more this year. I usually pick the sword fighters when I play RPGs, so I should like Csorwe.

SSomething to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

„Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time – threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie.“

Now this sounds like a fun romance romp. How could I have forgotten that I own this? If I wasn‘t reading three other books already, I would have started this already…

TTails of the Apocalypse by Chris Pourteau (Editor)

„The Doomsday siren calls on civilization’s last day. Natural disaster. Nuclear war. Pandemics. These are the ways the world ends. The Walking Dead meets The Incredible Journey in 14 incredible tales of nobility, self-sacrifice, and unconditional love as told by today’s most talented independent authors. Humans will learn an old lesson anew—that animals, the heroes in these tales, might just make the difference in their quest to survive one more day.“

Another short story collection. I do like reading about the apocalypse. So many books, so little time.

Spell The Month in Books — July

I came across this meme this morning and thought why not use it to look at some of my owned, unread books as a reminder that I still have them?

The goal is to spell the current month with the first letter of book titles, excluding articles such as ‘the’ and ‘a’ as needed. That’s all there is to it! Some months there are theme challenges, such as “books with an orange cover” or books of a particular genre, but for the most part, any book you want to use is fair game!

There is a “Summer Adventures“ theme to July, which I will simply ignore (sorry!), as I don‘t do seasonal reading or challenges anyway. Ok, mostly, I confess to some Halloween themed reading… Anyway, here we go.

Jade City (The Green Bone Saga, #1)
by Fonda Lee

In this epic saga of magic and kungfu, four siblings battle rival clans for honor and power in an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis.

Oh yes, this has been on my shelf since 2020 and I wanted to read it last year for that BIPOC challenge I had signed up for. And here we are, still…

Unshapely Things (Connor Grey, #1)
by Mark Del Franco 

In the alleys of the decrepit Boston neighborhood known as the Weird, fairy prostitutes are turning up dead. The crime scenes show signs of residual magic, but the Guild, which polices the fey, has more “important” crimes to investigate and dumps the case on human law enforcement. 

Oh boy, this has been on my shelf since 2015. Which was probably around the time when my obsession with UF started to fizzle out. Well, my recent revisiting of that genre was pretty entertaining, so who knows… perhaps my StoryGraph Reading Randomizer will pick it for me…

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion (Danielle Cain, #1)
by Margaret Killjoy

Danielle Cain is a queer punk rock traveller, jaded from a decade on the road. Searching for clues about her best friend’s mysterious and sudden suicide, she ventures to the squatter, utopian town of Freedom, Iowa. All is not well in Freedom, however: things went awry after the town’s residents summoned a protector spirit to serve as their judge and executioner.

No idea why I have this one. Maybe a freebie from Tor? Trans author, the blurb sounds vaguely interesting. Books on my kindle tend to vanish from view, so this is a useful reminder.

Y: The Last Man, Book One
by Brian K. VaughanPia Guerra (Illustrator), José Marzán Jr. (Illustrator)

No unread books starting with Y on my shelves, so let‘s have a look at the past. I read this in 2018 and ended up giving it only 3 stars. I‘ve been thinking about giving it another chance, to see if I changed my mind about it. Here is my review from 2018.