August & September #MountTBR Progress

This is my fifth progress post for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge. I’m aiming for the Mount Blanc level: reading 24 of my owned TBR books during 2017. That means reading two books every month, and I would prefer at least one of them to be from my physical TBR shelf. All of them have to be bought before 2017.

In August and September I managed to read 3 owned TBR books, out of which 1 was a physical book. So I would’ve preferred one more physical book, but I’m still on track. Here is what I thought of the books I read.

Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones
138 pages / hardcover

A collection of four short stories set in the Chrestomanci universe: Warlock at the Wheel, Stealer of Souls, Carol Oneir’s Hundredth Dream, and The Sage of Theare. The short stories were weaker than the Chrestomanci novels, but hey, it’s still Diana Wynne Jones!

The Sage of Theare was probably my favourite, and I would give that one about 3 stars. I loved how the Chrestomanci turned up with the flu! My least favourite story was Warlock at the Wheel. I found it quite uninteresting, and btw, shouldn’t that dog have been poisoned by that chocolate cake it ate?

2.5 out of 5 stars

Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani
152 pages / ebook

A lovely surprise! I got this indie YA fantasy book when it was available for free on Amazon. I was hesitant when reading the first two chapters, because I felt that some elements were introduced a bit clunkily. But the more I read, the more I found myself enjoying the story.

The main character, Hitomi, has a great moral compass. I enjoyed her strong sense of justice and doing what’s right at the expense of herself. Also, the book has both mages and vampires, two things that I love reading about! I want to know what is going to happen to Hitomi next, so I will continue on with this series.

3 out of 5 stars

Engraved on the Eye by Saladin Ahmed
110 pages / ebook

A collection of short stories written by Saladin Ahmed, the author of Throne of the Crescent Moon. The ebook is available for free.

Unfortunately no story in the collection was a huge hit with me, and I have forgotten most of them already. All of the stories were OK: interesting when I was reading them, but nothing spectacular. My favourites were the ones set in the Crescent Moon Kingdoms.

3 out of 5 stars

Those were all the books from August and September that qualified for the challenge. I also read a couple of my own comics that I bought in 2017 (so they don’t qualify), and those were The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 5 by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie,Tokyo Tarareba Girls Vol.1 by Akiko Higashimura, and Water Baby by Sophie Campbell. I hope your reading is going well, and I will catch you with my next progress post!


The Reading Quest – TBR & Progress Post

I missed the official sign up for The Reading Quest, which is a video-game/fantasy quest based reading challenge. The Quest started on Sunday the 13th of August, but I was at Worldcon 75 the whole of last week (had two of my Robin Hobb books signed, eek!), so I didn’t have time to make my TBR post until now. It’s a month-long readathon, though, so I have plenty of time to read despite missing one day.

From the official page:

Welcome to #TheReadingQuest! I invite you to join me on a reading adventure based entirely on a video-game quest. In this challenge, you’ll be embarking on a journey to conquer your TBR pile through a series of stages. You’ll read new stories, gain experience, and level up a character of your choosing.

The Reading Quest runs from August 13th to September 10th. It is hosted by Read At Midnight and the cute artwork is done by CW of Read, Think, Ponder. The challenge rules about gaining XP and completing quests are here – you can still read along for fun, even though the official sign up for winning prices is closed.

My Character

MAGE: As wielders of spells and witchcraft, these players will conjure and summon their way through the First Down path on the quest. Their tomes contain magic and whispers of alternate lands.

My Quest (click to enlarge)

Completed quests:

A book with a one word title: Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani
A book that contains magic: The Magicians of Caprona by Diana Wynne Jones
A book based on mythology: The Wicked + The Divine Vol.5 by Gillen & McKelvie
A book set in a different world: Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
The first book of a series: Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw
Animal companion: Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee
Expansion: Stealer of Souls (short story)

Planned Mage TBR

A book with a one word title: Steelheart (The Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson
A book that contains magic: The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth #3) by N.K. Jemisin)
A book based on mythology:  Silver on the Tree (The Dark is Rising #5) by Susan Cooper
A book set in a different world: Mélusine by Sarah Monette)
The first book of a series: The Just City (Thessaly #1) by Jo Walton

Experience Points:

Completed book (physical, eBook, audiobook): +10 XP
Completed book by marginalized author: +20 XP
Completed graphic novels: +5 XP
Completed character quest: +50 XP
Additional character quests: +30 XP
Level up at every +50 XP

My Level: 4
My Progress: 155 XP
Starter experience points: 10 XP
Completed Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee: +20 XP
Completed The Wicked + The Divine by Gillen & McKelvie (GN): +5 XP
Completed Down Among the Sticks and Bones: +20 XP
Completed The Magicians of Caprona: +10 XP
Completed Hammers on Bone: +20 XP
Completed Sunbolt: +20 XP
Completed The Mage Quest! +50 XP

Health Points:

Every 10 pages of a book: +1 HP
Every 20 pages of a graphic novel: +1 HP
Tweets with #TheReadingQuest: +1 HP each
Photos of your books or TBR: + 1 HP each
You can have a maximum of +20HP from Social Media interactions (tweets & photos combined).

My HP: 126 HP
Starter health points: 10 HP
Tweeted about my participation: link +1 HP
Read 355 pages (Raven Stratagem): +35 HP
Read 144 pages (The Wicked + The Divine GN): +7 HP
Read 176 pages (Down Among the Sticks and Bones): +17 HP
Read 256 pages (The Magicians of Caprona): +25 HP
Read 58 pages (Stealer of Souls): +5 HP
Read 112 pages (Hammers on Bone): +11 HP
Read 152 pages (Sunbolt): +15 HP

June & July #MountTBR Progress

This is my fourth progress post for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge. I’m aiming for the Mount Blanc level: reading 24 of my owned TBR books during 2017. That means reading two books every month, and I would prefer at least one of them to be from my physical TBR shelf. All of them have to be bought before 2017.

In June and July I managed to read 2 owned TBR books, and both were physical books! I read so many more owned books, especially in July, but since all of those had been bought in 2017, they sadly did not count for this challenge. It was 3 ebooks and 4 comics. Bummer! But let’s talk about the challenge books.

The Grey King
The Grey King by Susan Cooper
205 pages / an omnibus paperback

The fourth book in The Dark is Rising series sees Will travel to Wales. I read the Finnish edition from a two book omnibus that contains the fourth and fifth books. I pretty consistently give the books in this series three stars, and this one is no exception. I’ve never been a huge fan of Arthurian legends. I liked the latter half of The Grey King a lot better than the first half, though! It actually gripped me. Now I only have the fifth book left to go in this series.

3 out of 5 stars

Heroine Complex
Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
378 pages / paperback

A fun superhero urban fantasy novel. Evie Tanaka is her superhero bestie’s assistant, but something forces her to take the more heroic role for a change. Heroine Complex is in the genre of usually paranormal urban fantasy where the kick-ass heroine clad in leather battles baddies and meets a hot guy – except in this one it’s the protagonist’s bestie who is the leather-clad, kick-ass one. There are sex scenes, so if that’s not your thing…

This was an enjoyable, fun romp with a message about respecting your friends, but not a new favourite. Look at that cover, though!

3.5 out of 5 stars

Those were all the books from June and July that qualified for the challenge. The bought-in-2017 ebooks that I read were The Dream-Quest of Vellit Boe, Summer in Orcus, and The Book of Phoenix, and the comics were The Girl From the Other Side Vol.1, Giant Days Vol.1, Goldie Vance Vol.1, and Night’s Dominion Vol.1. Check them out if you are interested (the links take you to Goodreads). I especially recommend The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor and The Girl from the Other Side Vol.1 by Nagabe. Happy reading!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge | Mid-Year Update

We’re halfway through the year, and it’s time to take a look at how I’m doing with my 2017 Mount TBR Reading Challenge, which is hosted by My Reader’s Block. I chose the Mount Blanc tier, so I’m trying to read 24 of my owned TBR books during 2017.
(Note: I’m not taking part in the Mount TBR book giveaway.)

Tell us how many miles you’ve made it up your mountain (# of books read).

I’m currently at 15 books, so I am three books ahead of the halfway point! Go me!

Choose two titles from the books you’ve read so far that have a common link.

The Lost Child of Lychford by Paul Cornell and Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter are both novellas about witches! Although the former takes place in a modern day English village and the latter in a historical-feeling fantasy village.

Tell us about a book on the list that was new to you in some way.

Borderline by Mishell Baker was by a new-to-me author, and it was a fun, highly addictive, fast-paced urban fantasy book! I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series.

Which book (read so far) has been on your TBR mountain the longest? Was it worth the wait?

I think The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley had been on my shelf the longest. Sadly, I found it quite slow and very hard to get into. I had wanted to try Robin McKinley for the longest amount of time, but now I really hope I’d started with a fairy tale retelling of hers instead of this old-fashioned fantasy adventure (which sounds good in theory, but didn’t grab me).

I’m currently acing the challenge, but wish me luck for the rest of the year! Below are all the books I’ve read for Mount TBR so far.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes The Lost Child of Lychford Forest of Memory Borderline Queers Destroy Fantasy! The Blue Sword The Grey King

April & May #MountTBR Progress

This is my third progress post for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge. I’m aiming for the Mount Blanc level: reading 24 of my owned TBR books during 2017. That means reading two books every month, and I would prefer at least one of them to be from my physical TBR shelf. All of them have to be bought before 2017.

In April and May I managed to read 3 owned TBR books, out of which 2 were physical books! So I was one book behind from my goal of two per month. But I’m still ahead in my challenge (thanks to January). I bought a lot of books during this time: five physical books and four ebooks! But here is what I finished.

The Martian cover
The Martian by Andy Weir
369 pages / paperback

Mark Watney is stuck on Mars. Despite a lot (A LOT) of technobabble and going into details, this managed to be a fun read! I didn’t even mind the technobabble, many times I even (gasp) found it interesting. The book was light in tone, which made it easy to read despite all the science thrown at you.

It did take me a month to read this book (I went on vacation in the middle of it), but my slow reading pace and long pauses didn’t seem to take anything away from the experience: the whole structure of it being Mark’s diary helped with that. I later watched the movie, and the book was a lot better.

3.5 out of 5 stars

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps cover
The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson
224 pages / ebook

A novella that mixes science fiction with fantasy. The main character, Demane, is a “demigod”, descended from beings from the sky, and is also a doctor who knows a lot about science. The story itself is more of a fantasy journey, a merchant caravan making its way through the Wildeeps. It took me a while to get into the writing style, but when I did, I really enjoyed it. Very interesting world and main character.

4 out of 5 stars

Fool's Fate cover
Fool’s Fate by Robin Hobb
805 pages / paperback

The final book in the Tawny Man trilogy, for a while Fool’s Fate seemed to be a culmination of the story of Fitz and the Fool – before Robin Hobb went on to continue their story years later.This was a re-read for me, but I’m still counting it for the challenge. It’s been ages since I first read this, and I needed a reread to remind myself of what exactly happened so that I can continue on with the series.

I’ve been in love with Robin Hobb’s world for years and years, and The Fool is my favourite character in anything, ever. I loved my reread as much I loved my first read. I laughed, I cried, I felt content at the end. This book definitely needs the background of reading all of Hobb’s previous trilogies first for the reader to get the full story. Love it.

5 out of 5 stars

Those were all the books from April and May that qualified for the challenge. I also read two other books that I owned but that did not qualify, since I had bought them this year. I really liked them both and would highly recommend them: The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, a science fiction/horror book from the fifties, and Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand, a horror novella that was published in 2015. Check them out if you are interested, and meanwhile, I hope your reading is going well!

Spring into Horror Readathon TBR

This is my sign-up and goals post for the Spring into Horror Readathon, which is hosted by Seasons of Reading. It is a two week long readathon taking place from April 17th to 30th, and the goal is to read at least one scary book during that time. It doesn’t have to be a horror book, if you aren’t into horror – you can also use thriller, gothic, mystery, etc.

I went through my owned books and picked up a few physical books, a couple of Kindle books, and added one library book to the pile. My goal is to read one or two of these books during the two weeks and, if possible, continue listening to a few chapters of the Dracula audiobook that I started all the way back in November! I will be mainly tweeting my progress @maijareads.

The TBR pile

The Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson
The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham – finished, 4/5 stars
Murder of Angels by Caitlín R. Kiernan

These are the physical books I own. Two of them are modern classics: Hangsaman is a book that I want to go in blind, so I don’t know anything about it, and The Midwich Cuckoos features that beloved horror staple: creepy kids. Murder of Angels, meanwhile, is a sequel to Caitlín R. Kiernan’s debut novel, Silk. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Silk, but since the sequel was written so many years later, I might like it better.

Experimental Film by Gemma Files
Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand
Musta kuu by Mia Vänskä

Two of these are ebooks that I’ve bought not that long ago. Experimental Film is a movie-themed horror novel, and Wylding Hall is about a band. I like horror books that tie into other artistic mediums. Musta kuu (translation: Black Moon) is a Finnish horror novel that I borrowed from the library. It’s about a varied group of people vacationing in some cabins near an ancient sacrificial ground, because of course. That’s just what you do.

Are you taking part? What sort of horror books do you like, or do you read horror at all? Let me know in the comments!

February & March #MountTBR Progress

This is my second progress post for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge. I’m aiming for the Mount Blanc level: reading 24 of my owned TBR books during 2017. That means reading two books every month, and I would prefer at least one of them to be from my physical TBR shelf. All of them have to be bought before 2017.

February wasn’t as great a success as January – I managed to read 4 owned TBR books, out of which 1 was a physical book (sadly only a comic trade). I acquired 2 books during the month. In March I went on vacation and only read 1 ebook from my owned books, and no physical books. I did start The Martian by Andy Weir, but didn’t get to finish it before my vacation. I also bought three ebooks that were on sale in March! ;_; I need to step up reading my physical books in April! Here is what I finished in the past two months.

Broom with a View
Broom with a View by Gayla Twist & Ted Naifeh
216 pages / ebook

This is a fantasy retelling of E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View, with witches and vampires. It’s entertaining and light, but nothing that memorable. I think the characters and their relationships relied on the reader knowing them from the original novel to make them feel fully fleshed-out. The biggest draw was in seeing what changes the writers made to the story.

2.5 out of 5 stars

The Wicked + The Divine 4
The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 4 by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie
144 pages / physical / comic trade

The comic series about reincarnated gods continues in a very action-packed volume! This is definitely the “action scene” of the series so far. Jamie McKelvie’s and Matt Wilson’s art continues to be divine.

I like that we finally got some answers, and that things weren’t as hopeless as they seemed to be at the end of Volume 2. With that said, although we did get some answers, the plot wasn’t the best in the series, since this volume was pretty much an action scene after action scene. Which can be fun sometimes!

3.5 out of 5 stars

Clay's Ark
Clay’s Ark by Octavia Butler
224 pages / ebook

A father and his two daughters are kidnapped to a colony with people infected by an alien disease, and told that they must now live there for the rest of their lives. This is the third book in the Patternmaster series, but its connection to the previous books is very loose, almost nonexistent, apart from a brief mention. I can only imagine that the first three books are more closely tied together in the fourth and final book.

This was a very difficult book, dealing with hard and harsh topics like Butler often does, including but not limited to kidnapping, rape, and incest. It also continues the series’ theme of free will. But the earlier books handled everything better: I could see no point to all the graphic sexual assault and violence in this one. The plot itself was too weak to carry the book, even such a short one as this is. I liked the previous books and hope that the final one gives a reason for this book to exist.

2 out of 5 stars

Of Sorrow and Such
Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter
160 pages / ebook

This novella tells of Mistress Gideon, the local witch of a small town called Edda’s Meadow, who wants to live a quiet life. She gets tangled up with a couple of shapeshifters, one of whom is reckless to the point of foolishness. And the trouble begins.

First off, what a great main character! I loved experiencing the story from Patience Gideon’s point of view and learning about her history. She has a lot of common sense, but is definitely no goody-two-shoes. There are dark things in her past. I liked how the story focused on the lives of women and the relationships between them, as well as talking about how they often have to be under the power of men in order to survive.

4 out of 5 stars

The Man with Two Left Feet by P.G. Wodehouse
168 pages / ebook

This is a short story collection featuring some of Wodehouse’s early works. I’ve been chipping away at it for a while now, but did finish over 50% of it in 2017.

Out of the stories, I loved At Geisenheimer’s, but hated Black for Luck. The early Bertie story, Extricating Young Gussie, is a fun story and also an interesting curiosity for Jeeves & Wooster fans: it’s the first Bertie story (no mention of his last name), although Jeeves doesn’t yet get any characterization. The other stories are just OK.

2.5 out of 5 stars

Those were all the books from February and March that qualified for the challenge. I also read one other owned ebook (The Convergence of Fairy Tales by Octavia Cade), but since I had bought it in 2017, it didn’t qualify. Then I read a bunch of library books, like always.

Onwards to April!