ARCs Update: Reviews (Vladimir, Our Wives Under the Sea)+ Received

Hello readers!

Some interesting titles this week, as I try to read a few ARCs to compensate for the stuff I just received, and now I’m back to 80% rating! Success.

Reviews

Vladimir by Julia May Jonas

Pub Date 1 Feb 2022

This is a dark, provocative debut, and I LOVED it. Vladimir is the story of a woman in her 50s whose husband is being investigated for his relationship with students in the past, and she becomes obsessed with a new professor in her University (the eponymous Vladimir). This novel has such an incredible, addictive voice and it’s just such fun to read. I could hardly believe this is a debut, the writing was just so electrifying and bold.

One of my my favorite things was how the main character is this complex, unlikable, self-absorbed woman and how her relationship with Vladimir is about her objectifying him and projecting her own desires on him, which is an interesting shift from so many novels where it’s the male protagonist obsessing over a younger, beautiful woman. She is stuck in her thoughts and learned behaviors when it comes to sex, politics and power, from a time when women were trying to become sexually liberated, and this often comes in conflict with the views on sexuality and power dynamics from younger generations (like her daughter and her students). It’s just such a perceptive look into generational differences and gave this novel a depth I was not quite expecting. Vladimir really got me thinking and adjusting my perspective and getting into the headspace of the main character – which is always the sign to me of a brilliant novel. There was no way I was going to give this less than 5 stars. It was just such an enthralling read that had me talking about it nonstop for days. I just recently got a physical copy of it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022 Longlist Prediction

Hello readers!

So it feels like I JUST reacted to the winner of the 2021 prize (Piranesi by Susanna Clarke! Fantastic choice) but here we are again, trying to guess this year’s longlist! Looking forward to failing catastrophically at predicting anything yet again!

[The list below has been edited to include more lists as I find them]

A couple lists are already out – check out:

Longlist Prediction

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ARCs Update: Reviews (The Wolf Den, Cherish Farrah, Matrix)+ Received

Hello readers!

I finished a couple ARCs this week and received a few more, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about what I read and what I added to my shelves!

Reviews

The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper

Pub Date 29 Mar 2022

This novel was a wonderful read. I could not put this down and missed out on some sleep to read it. Who needs to be awake at work? I NEEDED to read this. First of all, it’s one of those stories that could easily be a heavy read that makes you feel ill and depressed reading, and while the author does not sugar coat any of the horrors of the life of a prostitute in Pompeii, neither does it become too gruesome to read on. I think Elodie Harper found a good balance between being sensitive about difficult topics and still presenting a faithful image of reality.

I read Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker a while ago and while I liked it, I did not love it really. The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper gave me exactly what I kind of hoped for from SotG – a main character who is vulnerable but smart, a bit cold and very resourceful. Amara is a wonderful main character to follow and I loved seeing the world of Pompeii through her eyes, and I also enjoyed that while the people of Pompeii believed in gods, they (the gods) don’t make an appearance at all, giving you the impression of a realistic and well-built world. I also loved the secondary characters in their flawed personalities and how they brought this story to life.

Also! I need to look up Pompeii’s history because I’m pretty sure a lot of historical references are going over my head.

I’ve been lucky enough to receive this as an ARC and I absolutely loved it. I cannot really think of any complaints about this novel, although I was wondering at times if some of the characters didn’t fall a bit too much on the usual tropes, but I think they have been written in a beautifully human way and the tropes didn’t bother me much at all.

Highly recommend this!

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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ARCs Update: Reviews (This One Sky Day, The Odyssey)+ Received

Hello readers!

I finished a couple ARCs this week and received a few more, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about what I read and what I added to my shelves!

Reviews

This One Sky Day by Leone Ross

Pub Date April 13th 2021

I was a bit in an audiobook mood this week so decided to pick this up in audio since I have tried before to read it and was so supremely bored I considered DNF-ing it (which I did), but then saw so many 5-star reviews from bloggers I admire that I decided to give it another chance (which I now did). And, well, it was fine.

I am shamefully late with this one, but in my defense… I didn’t want to read it. This is one of those books where I can see its merits, and I can objectively admire how vivid and viscerally this is written, the characters coming alive in Leone Ross’ brilliant writing. I also thought I’d like it because it was a magical realism literary fiction, which is something I absolutely love reading, but I just did not click with it at all. I am not able to articulate exactly why, but something about the storytelling did not grasp me, and even when I enjoyed the writing, I could not enjoy the story itself. This is a slow-paced novel, which made the chore of finishing this drag on even more. It just never seemed to really pick up steam and then the Big Event that happens around half or two-thirds in was just so weird and absurd. It just really put me off.

It did not work for me, I was simply not the right audience – so I guess it will be a better match for other readers, perhaps if you enjoy absurd humor and magical realism. Don’t let me my uninspired review stop you from reading it if this book interested you.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
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Books I Want to Read Until the Women’s Prize Longlist Comes Out

Hello readers!

Okay so I’m writing this post mainly as a list I can come back to in the next month or two, because I think all the books below have a chance of making it to the longlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022. I like to read as many books as I can before the longlist is out so that I can write a well-informed prediction for it a few days before the announcement – I still always end up failing spectacularly, but it’s fun to try anyway.

I started writing this post a while ago so I actually already read a couple of these, but I’ll include them anyway because why not.

This One Sky Day by Leone Ross is well-loved in my circles but did not really work for me – this is a fantasy lit fic set in an island and it follows the lives of several characters. This is vivid, wonderfully written and I think it’s perfect for people who just want to get sucked into its world and while I admired the craft, this just didn’t quite resonate with me. I wouldn’t be mad to see it in the list, though!

The Odyssey by Lara Williams is a bonkers litfic about a woman making bad decisions, so it has a good chance of making it to the list. I get the feeling it won’t actually get listed, but I am reading it at the moment and really enjoying!

Second Place by Rachel Cusk might actually be too short to qualify, I am not sure. But it’s an introspective look into human relationships and male privilege, so it sounds like the kind of stuff that would be in the list.

To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara was endlessly long and boring and while it is beautifully written, I will not be too happy if this is in the list.

Matrix by Lauren Groff is one I have mixed expectations for – it seems like a given that this will make it into the list, it just seems to tick all the WP boxed: retelling of something nobody asked for through the eyes of a forgotten woman, girl power, flowery writing. I do love Lauren Groff – her novel Fates and Furies will forever be one of my favorites – but this sounds a bit like too much black-and-white view of a historical setting for the sake of showing how progressive the main character, the embodiment of girl power which doesn’t fit with society’s expectations. I just feel a bit wary of this novel.

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield is a Sapphic horror/litfic that sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to read it – I REALLY hope this makes it to the WP, it would be cool to see more horror in the prize (except for my usual ~horror at the titles they neglect).

ARCs Update: Reviews + Added to the shelf

Hello readers!

I haven’t been writing reviews a whole lot lately, but I wanted to talk more about the ARCs that I receive, as they’re usually recent releases that my readers might be interested about and I have to review them for Netgalley / Edelweiss anyway. December 21 and January 22 I basically decided to read every brick I received, which means it took me weeks to write this (brilliant planning, as usual) even though there are only a couple reviews. Anyway!

Reviews

Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee
Pub Date 2 Dec 2021

The Green Bone Saga is one of my favorite series of all time, and I can say with no hesitation that it’s one of the best fantasies out there. I adore Fonda Lee’s ability to bring the stakes higher and higher, keeping me on my toes during the entire book. This was about 700 pages long and yet I was never bored. Politics, family drama, so much scheming, martial arts, plots twits, this really has it all. I cannot express enough how much this world is vibrant, complex and so wonderfully crafted.

This final book of the series completely blew my mind. I gave 5 stars to every single book of the trilogy, but this might just be my favorites. The author did NOT hold back and I had to fight tears very often (I was reading this in buses and trains a lot) and take breaks to fully absorb what had just happened. Really, this is even more explosive and incredible than the other two books. Highly recommend for fantasy fans!

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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eARC Review: Nine Lives by Peter Swanson (Rant Review) (LOTS OF SPOILERS)

Nine Lives by Peter Swanson


Okay, so if you clicked by accident on this review without reading the full title, I warn you: this post is dedicated to spoiling the hell out of Nine Lives! If you are looking for a spoiler-free review, I just posted one: eARC Review: Nine Lives by Peter Swanson (NO SPOILERS)

I’m writing a full-on spoiler-y review after it got a very positive reaction on Twitter:

Lots of spoilers ahead!

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eARC Review: Nine Lives by Peter Swanson (NO SPOILERS)

Nine Lives by Peter Swanson

Categories: Thriller, Mystery

First Publication Date: March 15th 2022


Synopsis:

Nine strangers receive a list with their names on it in the mail. Nothing else, just a list of names on a single sheet of paper. None of the nine people know or have ever met the others on the list. They dismiss it as junk mail, a fluke–until very, very bad things begin happening to people on the list.

First, a well-liked old man is drowned on a beach in the small town of Kennewick, Maine. Then, a father is shot in the back while running through his quiet neighborhood in suburban Massachusetts. A frightening pattern is emerging, but what do these nine people have in common? Their professions range from oncology nurse to aspiring actor, and they’re located all over the country. So why are they all on the list, and who sent it?

FBI agent Jessica Winslow, who is on the list herself, is determined to find out. Could there be some dark secret that binds them all together? Or is this the work of a murderous madman? As the mysterious sender stalks these nine strangers, they find themselves constantly looking over their shoulders, wondering who will be crossed off next…

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eARCs I have yet to read

Hello readers!

I may have gone on a request spree a few months ago and got a bunch of ARCs from Netgalley that added up to the pile I already had to read. This is a post to publicly shame me into reading the ARCs, some of which I’ve had for over a year. They’re not so many (13 in total), but I hate the pending feedback list and I’d like to get to all of these rather soon. Let me know in the comments which I should read first!

These are three of the most recent books I requested and received.

The Odyssey by Lara Williams was an impulse request – before seeing it on Netgalley I had no idea this book was coming out! Supper Club was such a great book and I am very excited to read this new release by the author! What it’s about? No idea. But it was described as “mischievous” and I want to read it immediately.

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich is not a book I am very excited for, to be honest – I don’t know her work at all but I heard somewhere that this was good and impulsively requested it on Netgalley. Oops. I believe it’s set during the pandemic, some sort of contemporary story?

The World Does Not Belong to Us by Natalia Garcia Freire – I know nothing about this one but it’s a translated novel by an Ecuadorian author and I vaguely remember it was some sort of dark story with lyrical writing. Sold.

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My Reading Goals for 2022

Hello readers!

I like to set a few reading goals every year to make sure that I am getting to the books I want to get to and not only the stuff that I impulsively pick up (thrillers, it’s usually thrillers). There are many books that I love but need a bit of a push to get myself to pick them up, or I forget to finish series.

1) Get my TBR to 50 books

In 2021 I managed to get my TBR to 100 books (a bit lower, even!), so this year I want to get to my final goal: 50 books! I know that realistically I cannot get my TBR below 50 because there will always be a million things I want to read, but I want to make sure that my TBR consists of the books I am actively interested in reading soon, and not just a bunch of books I bought in the last decade and forgot about. Huge goal! Not sure I can accomplish this, but I can try!

2) Read 10+ non-fiction books, at least half must be NOT true crime

True Crime doesn’t even feature among my favorite categories, but somehow I always end up reading a lot of them (?). I guess it’s all the hype. There’s lots of nonfic I’d love to read, and I want to dip my toes a bit more into history (I’m eyeing The Romanovs: 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore since like, 2016), science, essays etc.

3) Finish the following series:

I’ve owned the entire trilogy of The Broken Earth by N.K. Jemisin for a couple years now and picked up book 1 in 2021, so I’d like to finish this series while it’s still rather fresh in my memory! I loved the first book and really want to read more from the author!

The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series by Rod Duncan is one of my favorite steampunk series but somehow I haven’t read book 3 yet! It probably didn’t help that I got an eARC for the follow-up series which is about the same characters and immediately read it, which means I got spoiled for the ending of this series, but still. It’s such a fun series and I just have to finish it!

I am not completely sure if the Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers is finished, but I have books 3 and 4 as ARCs, so I’d like to get those done and reviewed soon!

4) Read the following books:

I received Villette by Charlotte Brontë about a year ago and I just really enjoy the Brontë’s sisters books that I’ve read so far – I’d like to read this one to finally make a decision on whether I want to read the entire Brontë backlist. Plus it sounds really good!

I told my husband I’d only watch the movie based on The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro after I read the book, then I simply did not read the book and he’s been waiting forever until I do. I loved Never Let Me Go – I think I’ll really like this one too.

I’ve owned Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi for years now – my husband read my copy and loved it, plus I loved Yaa Gyasi’s new novel Transcendent Kingdom, so I think this will be a wonderful read!

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie was on my list of must-read-this-year in 2021 and it’s back on the list for 2022. I need to read it immediately before this becomes even more embarrassing.