Hi! I temporarily decided to not write wrap-ups in the last two months of 2019 – I wasn’t reading much anyway – and here they come back, just a little different from before.
How Reading Is Going
I’m still not reading much anyway! It’s exam hell time, that hasn’t changed and won’t change at least for a few weeks either. At the moment, I’m getting most of my reading done through audiobooks, which I would have never thought possible, but then in January of last year I wouldn’t have thought I’d be able to cook either, and that’s when I listen to audiobooks. Can’t feel guilty about reading if I wouldn’t be studying anyway! Somehow, doing two things at the same time helps me focus on both.
I also spent a significant part of the month trying to get through two non-audiobook tomes I struggled with: House of Sundering Flames and Tiān Guān Cì Fú. I won’t be posting a full review of either on this blog – I don’t feel like it’s needed – but I will talk about them a little on here.
It’s really sad when the finale of a series is disappointing, but the more I go on, the more I find that – especially when it comes to fantasy – it’s unusual for me to not end up deeply disappointed by sequels. In House of Sundering Flames, the problems were a combination of inflated length (…if a final book is over 500 pages when the rest of the trilogy was far shorter, one has to start worrying), lack of subtlety in the delivery of the message (this book feels really strongly about a lot of things and is not afraid to sacrifice anything as long as it gets to preach at you) and it being more action-focused than the rest of the series (action scenes have never been this author’s strength). I still don’t think it’s a bad book, and for a more in-depth discussion of the themes, I will point you to my goodreads review, as we need more fantasy that interrogates power structures as this one does. I just don’t think it succeeded in the delivery.
I had the opposite experience with Tiān Guān Cì Fú, and with that I mean that for the first time in a long while, I found a story in which my interest grew as it continued instead of declining. To give you some context, this is a Chinese fantasy novel that puts the “epic” in “epic fantasy”, and with that I mean that it has incredibly high stakes as the story progresses and it’s longer than 1500 pages. I did struggle with the length and feel like some parts of it were unnecessary – yes, I skimmed – but on a mental level, it still felt a lot shorter than House of Sundering Flames, which doesn’t get to 600 pages. Its bright sense of humor, the intricacies in the relationships, the sheer scope of this kind of story, the amount of foreshadowing – I’m in awe, even though there were times in which I just wanted it to be over. To know a little more, I have a goodreads review of this one too.
How Life Is Going
Apart from books and exams, I’m now mostly doing ok. This was a really weird month for me – after all, it’s the month in which the lessons of my marine ecology class ended, and it hardly gets weirder than having to witness a very detailed and very enthusiastic shark dissection (I guess they really had to end the class in the most memorable way possible).
It kind of went like this: [CW: animal death, decomposition, all that]
“It’s a mackerel!”, the prof cheerily proclaims, as if announcing a newborn’s assigned gender, while taking out the half-digested fish corpse from inside the stomach of the rotting shark carcass. “Look at what it ate!”
Just another day as a natural sciences student! I will spare you the pictures. The good news is that I’ll never be grossed out again while cleaning fish in the kitchen, it’s… a great way to build up tolerance? I’m still disgusted by some of the things I saw.
In significantly less gross news, January has been warmer than it should have been. Sad, yes, but at least you get flowers!
A dwarf Iris (Iris reticulata hybrid) and hyacinths!
No, it’s not normal for them to bloom in January, and probably the rest of my balcony will be done with blooming by the end of February when that should happen in April. However, pretty pictures? And there’ll probably be even more in the February Wrap-Up.
What to Expect from February
Maybe! Maybe I’ll be so busy I won’t be able to do anything.
I won’t be doing TBRs, but that doesn’t mean I have no plans! They’re just not chained to netgalley anymore, which is so freeing. Some things I already know I want to do in February are:
↬ I’ll complete my audiobook reread of the Wayward Children series.
So far, this is all I’ve been (re)reading on audiobook, which is easier to me than reading a completely new book – I don’t have to wonder about the spelling of any name if I’ve already read them. And it’s going really well! This fairytale-like series works a lot better when it’s told to the reader instead of read. It made me reevaluate Down Among the Sticks and Bones, confirmed that Come Tumbling Down was a great addition, and strengthened my love for Every Heart a Doorway (review upcoming!). I have already listened to In an Absent Dream through audiobooks in May, so I don’t feel the need to do that again, but I really want to get to Beneath the Sugar Sky. At the moment, I consider it my least favorite in the series; I want to know whether that will change.
↬ A new series of posts involving short fiction will begin this month
I don’t want to say too much yet because everything will be in an upcoming post, but expect my short-story-reviewing self to be back soon! A small and mostly secret-post-unrelated spoiler is that in February, among other things, I’ll be for sure reading How Long ‘Til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin, but that won’t be the only short stories to be reviewed on here if everything goes according to plan.
↬ Hopefully, a review of Machina?
I’ve started the Serial Box original Machina by Fran Wilde, Malka Older, Curtis C. Chen & Martha Wells and I’m currently following the first episode both on audio and on text. Serial Box was kind enough to reach out and ask me if I wanted to review it, so here I am. [Yes, ARC I don’t request don’t count towards my ban, as that almost never happens.]
How was January for you? Do you have any plans for February? Have you read any of these?