How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2021

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to do this tag and to do a check in of my reading this year so far as I have been pretty much in a sixth month reading slump. But this tag is like a booktube/book blogger stapple so thought I’d check in and see just how my reading has been this year.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2020
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
I just loved this book a lot. The characters, their relationships, how everything comes together, it’s all so good. I would highly recommend the audiobook too, it was excellent.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
I liked Shadow and Bone well enough but then I loved Siege and Storm. Was everything I’d want in a sequel; adds new and great characters, gives old ones more development, more action and drama – it’s just so good!

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to
Monstrous Design by Kat Dunn
I did something which I have not done in a long, long time – bought the sequel even though I’ve yet to read the first book. Yes, I’ve not read Dangerous Remedy but I got that in a subscription box last year and then they were doing a special edition of the sequel so I ordered that so then hopefully when I finally read this series, they’ll match and both look pretty.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
Beka Lamb by Zee Edgell
I’m so bad at keeping up with new releases and technically this isn’t a new release as it was originally published in 1982 but there’s a new edition being released at the end of July that I already have on preorder. It will be my read for Belize in my Read the World Project.

5. Biggest disappointment
The Good Life Elsewhere by Vladimir Lorchenkov
I haven’t really had any disappointing books so far this year (guess that’s the perks of not reading a lot) but I did find The Good Life Elsewhere very odd. Just it wasn’t what I expected based on how it was described and it was a very odd book with some really dark humour.

6. Biggest surprise
In Praise of Love and Children by Beryl Gilroy
Again, haven’t really read enough to be truly surprised by a book but I did enjoy In Praise of Love and Children more than I thought I would. It was a really engaging immigrant story and it was set in a time of UK history I had vague knowledge of so I found that interesting too.

7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)
Besides Leigh Bardugo (who I had read before this year) I haven’t read multiple books by the same author so far in 2021. I did like Uršuľa Kovalyk’s writing style in The Equestrienne and I was very impressed by how Svetlana Alexievich wrote non-fiction so I wouldn’t be opposed to checking out more of their work.

8. Newest fictional crush and 9. Newest favourite character.
Sturmhond aka Nikolai Lantsov – Grisha’verse by Leigh Bardugo
I’ve not yet read King of Scars and Rule of Wolves but from his first appearance as Sturmhond in Siege and Storm I absolutely loved Nikolai and he became my favourite character in the original trilogy. I don’t know if he is a fiction crush, as I don’t have them often, but he is a new favourite and he’s so charming and funny and a perfect scoundrel while also being a great tactician.

10. Book that made you cry.
The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich
This didn’t make me proper cry or anything but I did feel myself get really say or get a sort of pain in my chest as I listened to the audiobook. It was just really vivid in its descriptions of the brutality and reality of war.

11. Book that made you happy.
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
While Crooked Kingdom does have it’s sad or bittersweet moments, I just really enjoyed how everything came together and the final reveal of the con was exceptional. Having characters from the original Grisha trilogy was a huge bonus too.

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)
The Beast Player and The Beast Warrior by Nahoko Uehasi
You’re getting two for this answer. I saw The Beast Warrior when browsing a Waterstone and immediately fell in love with the cover. After realising it was a sequel (book two in a duology I believe) I had to pick up the first book which was also stunning so I came home from Waterstones with these two beautiful books that I’ve yet to read.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
All of them? I’m pretty sure I say that every year I do this tag. I want to focus on my Read the World Project. There are a few books I’ve started but only read a few pages or maybe a chapter or two (told you in a big slump) so they’re probably going to be my priority. There’s  by Ali Al Saeed, How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone by Saša Stanišić and The Madwoman of Serrano by Dina Salústio to name a few.

Now for some reading stats. I want to read 52 books this year and I’m current at 20 so I’m 5 books behind schedule which isn’t terrible and I do think if I actually pick a book up instead of watching a load of TV shows, I’ll soon get back on track.

I think the pandemic reading slump is hitting me now rather than last year like it seemed to hit a lot of people. Maybe now things are starting to open up a bit that’s what’s occupying my brain whereas before when there was very little to do I could focus on reading. Who knows!

Thanks to the Grisha’verse books I’ve read this year my most read genre is fantasy followed by short story collections and historical fiction. I’ve read more books by women than men (just) which I’m happy with but feel that might become more equal as I think I have more books by men on my TBR than women – or at least more books on my Read the World Project TBR are by men.

 

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books I Meant to Read In 2020 but Didn’t Get To

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. I love to look back at previous TBR’s and see what books are still waiting to be read. There were definitely a lot of books for my Read the World Project I didn’t manage to get to and my reading slump at the end of 2020 (which I’m slowly getting out of) didn’t help matters.

The first five on this list are books that featured on various Top Ten Tuesday’s or readathon TBR’s in 2020, and the other five are books I was looking forward to reading but I don’t think I’ve mentioned them here before.

An African in Greenland by Tété-Michel Kpomassie
This is my book for Togo in my Read the World Project. I think it’ll be really interesting to see how a Togolese man becomes fascinated by Greenland and his determination to go there.

Beyond the Rice Fields by Naivo
This is the first novel from Madagascar to ever be translated into English and it’s set in the nineteenth century and it’s about the relationship between a slave and his master’s daughter.

How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone by Saša Stanišić
I actually started to read this before 2020 but I only got a few pages before I realised I wasn’t in the mood for it. I always meant to get back to it soon.

Mama Hissa’s Mice by Saud Alsanousi
This will be my Kuwait read for the Read the World Project and is about friendship and protest.

Palestine+100 edited by Basma Ghalayini
This is a short story collection which has a range of genres, science-fiction, dystopia, noir and is about what the future of Palestine might look like.

The Ultimate Tragedy by Abdulai Silá
This is the first novel to be translated into English from Guinea Bissau and is about a girl who leaves her village to seek a better life in the capital, finding work as a maid for a Portuguese family.

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix
The Old Kingdom series is one of my favourites and is a formative influence but I haven’t really read any of his recent books and I want to fix that.

The Madwoman of Serrano by Dina Salústio
The first novel by a female author to be published in Cape Verde, and the first to be translated into English. Serrano is an isolated village where a madwoman roams. But is she really mad or is she marginalised because she is wise and a woman?

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
While I have heard this book isn’t as good as the first, and I’m unsure if this series is a duology or more it has more books to come, I did really like Children of Blood and Bone (except the romance/love interest) so I’m interested in seeing what happens next.

The Cost of Sugar by Cynthia McLeod
It follows two Jewish stepsisters, Elza and Sarith, descendants of the settlers and their pampered existences become intertwined with the fate of the plantations as the slaves decide to fight against the violent repression they have endured for too long.

What books did you mean to get to last year?

Reading Rush TBR

The Reading Rush starts next week, and I’ve finally got my TBR together. The Reading Rush is the revamped BookTubeAThon (a readathon that will always have a special place in my heart as it was the first readathon I ever took part in) and takes place from midnight your time zone on Monday 22 July and finishes at 11:59pm on Sunday 28 July. They have a YouTube channel and Instagram, and a brand-new website (I’m ElenaSquareEyes over there as well) for people to meet and there will the usual Twitter chats and sprints too.

The Reading Rush comes with some challenges you can try and complete but really the aim is to read as much as you can during the week. There are video challenges too but that’s far too technical for me. The reading challenges are;

1. Read a book with purple on the cover
2. Read a book in the same spot the entire time
3. Read a book you meant to read last year
4. Read an author’s first book
5. Read a book with a non-human main character
6. Pick a book that has five or more words in the title
7. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation
Bonus: Read 7 books!

You know me when it comes to readathons, I’m always look for as many options as possible because I’m such a mood reader. I know I won’t read seven books but with the books I do have, I could potentially complete all but one of the challenges as the books I have on my TBR fit more than one challenge.

Purple on the cover
I have three books that fit this – Viper by Bex Hogan, Hawkeye: Avenging Archer by Jim McCann, David López, Duane Swierczynski, Manuel Garcia and Paco Diaz and West Coast Avengers Vol. 1: Best Coast by Kelly Thompson, Stefano Caselli and Tríona Farrell. Viper has an incredibly purple cover and there’s bits of purple on characters costumes on the two graphic novels.

Read in the same spot
Obviously, I will complete this by reading one of the graphic novels (probably West Coast Avengers as it’s the shorter one). The spot in question will probably be my bed.

Book you meant to read last year
This is The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I was meant to read this for Sci-Fi Month last November (there was a buddy read of it and everything!) and I did read 30 pages but then I stopped even though I was liking the characters and the setting I’d been introduced to so far.

Author’s first book
I’ve got a couple of options for that; Viper and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.

Book with a non-human main character
I’m pretty sure in the first 30 pages of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet that I read there were a few non-human characters in the shape of different aliens, and as it’s a sort of ensemble cast type book, that’ll count.

Book with five or more words in the title
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet fits this one again, as does How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone by Saša Stanišić. I don’t actually have many books with five words or more, so this was a bit of a struggle to find some options.

I won’t be able to complete the final challenge to read a book and then watch the film/TV adaptation as I don’t currently have any books to read that have been adapted.

Looking at my TBR and the challenges they fit, I only need to read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and West Coast Avengers to complete six of the seven challenges! I could totally read them both in a week! I think my plan is going to be to read them two first and then any of the other books I read during Reading Rush will be a bonus.

Are you taking part in the Reading Rush? There seems to be a few readathons going on at the minute so if you are taking part in one, I hope you are achieving your goals and are enjoying what you’re reading!