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!

January #MountTBR Progress

This is my first 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 January I managed to read 6 owned TBR books, out of which 1 was a physical book! I acquired 3 books during the month, so I’m still ahead. Go, me!! Here is what I finished.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
154 pages / ebook

I had started this book last year, but since I read the last 50% in 2017, it still qualifies. This is a collection of Sherlock Holmes short stories, and while I did find it to be a weaker volume than the previous one, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, I enjoyed being introduced to Mycroft, and of course, The Final Problem is a very good and dramatic story.

3 out of 5 stars

The Lost Child of Lychford
The Lost Child of Lychford by Paul Cornell
144 pages / ebook

The second novella in the Lychford series, this continues the story of three witches in the small town of Lychford. An apparition of a small boy appears in Lizzie’s church, and the witches have to figure out what this means. Is it a ghost? A vision of the past or an omen of the future?

This one was a lot creepier than the first novella, The Witches of Lychford. I enjoyed the creepiness, but I thought that the plot was a bit more confusing and less coherently written than the first one. There was also less Judith than I would’ve liked.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Forest of Memory
Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal
92 pages / ebook

In a future where everyone stores their memories as video files, antique dealer Katya is kidnapped and goes off the grid. Weird stuff happens, but since she is not recording, there is no proof. Katya can’t even trust her own memories, since she can’t visit them in vivid detail on video like she’s used to.

This is a high concept science fiction novella about memory that never really clicked with me. I really enjoyed the future memory tech, but didn’t connect with the story.

3 out of 5 stars

Borderline by Mishell Baker
400 pages / ebook

A fast-paced and highly readable urban fantasy book with fey! Millie has borderline personality disorder and is paraplegic after a suicide attempt that got her kicked out of film school. She gets recruited to an organization that oversees relations between Hollywood and Fairyland.

The book is Own Voices as far as the Borderline personality disorder goes, and I felt like this was well handled in the book. Millie tends to lash out at people, while being incredibly vulnerable herself, and I liked that it makes her a complex, not-perfect character. Also I love unpredictable fey in books, so…. that’s a pretty big plus.

4 out of 5 stars

Queers Destroy Fantasy!
Queers Destroy Fantasy! Anthology
272 pages / ebook

An anthology of fantasy short stories and non-fiction entirely written and edited by queer creators. This one I’d also started reading in 2016, but had 50% left for 2017.

Like most anthologies, some stories I enjoyed more and some less, but the quality was pretty high. My favourite original short story was Catherynne M. Valente’s The Lily and the Horn, which was about the preparations for an irregular, poisonous feast, written in gorgeous prose. My fave reprint was Caitlín R. Kiernan’s The Sea Troll’s Daughter, a story about a hero killing a troll that didn’t follow the expected, familiar, well-worn paths of revenge stories.

4 out of 5 stars

The Blue Sword
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
249 pages / paperback

Harry Crewe gets kidnapped by the Hillfolk King for reasons mysterious even to the King himself. She learns the ways of the Hillfolk, as well as about her own magic and heritage.

I probably would’ve inhaled this book as a kid, but found it very hard to get into as an adult. I have never read anything from McKinley before, and found her writing style pretty dry and an effort to read. It took about a 100 pages of a little more than 200 page book for things to start happening and for me to become a little interested. There was also some pretty bad POV skipping in between paragraphs, which always confuses me. This book might need some nostalgia behind it.

2 out of 5 stars

Those were all the books from January that qualified for the challenge. I also read two novels and two comic trades from the library, so all in all I had a pretty good reading month. How are your 2017 challenges going? Are you taking part in the Mount TBR Challenge as well? Let me know!

2016 Wrap-Up and 2017 Goals #MountTBR

In 2016 I failed at most of the goals that I had set for myself, so I will only go with two goals for 2017!

2016 Wrap-Up

In 2016 I read 117 books, thus smashing my original Goodreads reading goal of 66 books!

Of those 117:

  • 59 were books, 38 graphic works, 18 pieces of short fiction, and 2 audiobooks
  • 64 were books by women, 37 by men, and 16 by male/female teams
  • I rated 13 books five stars.

I only managed to read three books out of the 8 SFF books and classics that I had set for myself in the 2016 Reading Goals & Challenges post. Those were:

  • The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner (5 stars)
  • The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker (4 stars)
  • A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan (4.5 stars)

I also only finished one more book, Lord Edgware Dies, in my quest to read Agatha Christie’s Poirot books in order – but I’ll blame the library, who had lost their only English language copy of Murder on the Orient Express, which would’ve been next on the list. I also failed in the TBR Triple Dog Dare, since all of my library reservations came in at the same time, and I focused on those instead of reading mostly my own books like the Dare specified.

2017 Goals

2017 GR Challenge
My first goal is to read 55 books for the Goodreads reading challenge in 2017. Since I’m on the job hunt and also want to draw more, I’m not aiming for more than that.

Mount TBR Challenge
I want to read two of my own books per month – preferably from my physical TBR shelf, but Kindle books will also do in a pinch (All the Unread Books I Own). This way I’ll read my own books, but can still use the library.

To achieve this, I’m taking part in the Mount TBR Reading Challenge run by My Reader’s Block. I chose the Mount Blanc challenge level, which is to read 24 books from my TBR pile. If I do well, I might consider upping it to Mt. Vancouver, reading 36 books. I will keep a list of the books I finish right here. Physical books will be marked in bold, the rest are ebooks. I want to read at least one physical book every month.

Mount Blanc

  1. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (50% in 2017)
  2. The Lost Child of Lychford by Paul Cornell
  3. Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal
  4. Borderline by Mishell Baker
  5. Queers Destroy Fantasy! Anthology (50% in 2017)
  6. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
  7. Broom with A View by Gayla Twist & Ted Naifeh
  8. The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 4: Rising Action by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie
  9. Clay’s Ark by Octavia Butler
  10. Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter
  11. The Man with Two Left Feet by P.G. Wodehouse
  12. The Martian by Andy Weir
  13. The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson
  14. Fool’s Fate by Robin Hobb
  15. The Grey King by Susan Cooper
  16. Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
  17. Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones
  18. Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani
  19. Engraved on the Eye by Saladin Ahmed
  20. The Fire’s Stone by Tanya Huff
  21. The Sun King: Louis XIV at Versailles by Nancy Mitford
  22. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
  23. Patternmaster by Octavia E. Butler
  24. Nine Goblins by T. Kingfisher

I hope your 2017 is off to a good start, and happy reading!

2015 SFF Challenge Wrap Up

Ooops! I had completely forgotten to post the wrap up for last year’s reading challenge! It’s been sitting in my drafts all this time. Here it finally is in all it’s glory.

I had set myself 10 SFF books to read for the year 2015. I only managed to read six, but I really enjoyed all of them. The covers take you to my reviews.

The books I read (click the covers for reviews)

Ancillary Justice The Mad Ship The Goblin Emperor The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms Swordspoint A Stranger in Olondria

The books I didn’t get to

City of Stairs The Magicians The Mirror Empire Feed

Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot Readthrough
I also made good headway in my project of reading all of Christie’s Poirot books in order. I read:

The Big Four – 2 stars
Poirot’s Early Cases – 3 stars
The Mystery of the Blue Train – 3 stars
Black Coffee – 2 stars
Peril at End House – 4 stars

Bout of Books 16

It’s been a year since my last Bout of Books Read-A-Thon, so I decided to take part in Bout of Books 16. I will also be posting on Twitter @maijareads.

My goals: Read a 100 pages a day.
Pages read so far: 507 | Books finished: 2

Wrap Up: Read 72,5 pages a day, finished The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, and Batgirl Vol.2: Family Business.

Reading Progress


It was Eurovision Song Contest Finals day, so I didn’t spend a lot of time reading…


I caught up a bit in my reading my finishing a Batgirl comic trade.

So my Bout of Books reading and updating has not really gone to plan. Instead I’ve been watching movies and TV shows during the last days of a streaming service trial, and watching the Eurovision song contest. My reading has been about trying out the first chapters of different books.

Wednesday’s challenge: 5 Favorites
Here are my 5 favorite book to movie/tv adaptations:

1. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Movie directed by Edgar Wright, comic by Bryan Lee O’Malley
2. Interview with the Vampire
Movie directed by Neil Jordan, book by Anne Rice.
3. A Room with a View
Movie directed by James Ivory, book by E.M. Forster
4. Game of Thrones, Season 1 (and only Season 1)
Produced by HBO, book by George R.R. Martin
5. Pride and Prejudice (BBC)
Produced by BBC, book by Jane Austen

Tuesday’s challenge: Show Off Your Shelves Photo Challenge
Here is my TBR shelf:
My TBR Shelf

Monday’s challenge: Introduce yourself, using exactly six words.

Finnish fantasy reader, Lord Golden trash.
I could have also gone with Regency fantasy trash, but my love for Lord Golden triumphed.

What is Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 16 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.
– From the Bout of Books team

Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

The Long Way to a Small Angry PlanetThe Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
By: Becky Chambers
Genre: Science Fiction
First published in 2014

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much. The patched-up ship that’s seen better days offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful – exactly what Rosemary wants.

Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. They’ll earn enough money to live comfortably for years… if they survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful.

Before I started reading this book, I knew so many people who absolutely loved it. Sadly I have to say that while I liked it, I didn’t fall in love. This is going to be a long review, so bear with me while I try to gather all my thoughts.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is pretty much about what the title says it is. It’s a character-focused book about a group of wormhole builders who get a big gig. They have to fly their tunneling ship a long way to a politically unstable planet, in order to punch a wormhole back to the more lively parts where they traveled from, basically creating a highway for other ships to use.

What I loved about the book was definitely the worldbuilding. Chambers has done a huge and thorough job with creating all the different alien races, their planets, and customs. It felt almost like when playing Mass Effect – and by that I don’t mean that the worlds are similar, but that all the aliens and their customs are clearly fleshed out and very varied (even more than in ME, I’d say). The world felt real, and it felt big, and all the aliens were clearly distinguishable from each other.

Instead of a big plot, this book has a lot different stories, or snapshots of the characters’ life. I’ve often said that I prefer characters over plot, and since I knew that this book was character-focused, I thought it would be exactly my cup of tea. Sadly, there were things that just didn’t quite work for me. The stories felt too compartmentalized, almost episodic. It felt like going through a list of characters: Now you get a story, and now you get a story, and now it’s your turn!

Funnily enough, I almost craved for more character-focused scenes, or at least differently focused scenes. I wanted more scenes (there were some) where many members of the crew would be gathered together, talking to each other while doing some everyday spaceship stuff, instead of spending time one-on-one with one character explaining their story or the customs of their species to another one, the dialogue acting as a not-that-organically embedded infodump. For example in the scene where Sissix is explaining about Aandrix family customs to Rosemary, some of that information could be given in the sort of Wikipedia-like entries that were used elsewhere in the book, giving Sissix the chance to speak about more personal matters.

The book focused a lot on the characters’ inner life, and sometimes the writing was a bit too heavy-handed. By that I mean that the characters spoke out their feelings to the point that it felt like the book was telling us what they felt, instead of showing us. The worst offender was the bolt-sorting scene, where Jenks makes a long speech about his feelings, even though the scene spoke for itself in my opinion. It spelled those emotions out loud by actions, without the speech being at all necessary.

Now this review might seem a bit harsh, but I actually liked reading the book for the most part! I really liked especially Dr. Chef and Sissix (while Kizzy mostly just got on my nerves). I loved the world and learning about all the different alien races. I just had too many little gripes about the book for me to give it more than three stars.

This was Becky Chambers’ debut novel, and I trust that she will iron out the more clunky parts as time goes by. She has what it takes, evident in the creation of this amazing world, and it is this huge potential in the world that leaves me craving to read her second novel, which is set in the same universe.

3 out of 5 stars