July Book Warp Up 2021

Monthly reading review – July 2021

This July I have read:

The Hedge Knight: The Tales of Dunk and Egg by George R.R. Martin  ★★★★

Kako ste? by Barbara Matejčić  ★★★★

Time Weaver (Drakon #5) by Shana Abe ★★★

The Strain (The Strain Trilogy #1) by Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan ★★★

Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2) by Martha Wells ★★★★★

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller ★★★★

Antologija suvremene japanske novele by Kazuo Tanaka (Editor) ★★★★

Real World by Natsuo Kirino ★★★

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein ★★★

Elves: The Blue Elves’ Mission (Elfes #6) by Jean-Luc Istin, Kyko Duarte ★★★★★

Heartstopper: Volume One (Heartstopper #1) by Alice Oseman ★★★★★

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers ★★★★

Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries #3) by Martha Wells ★★★★★

Danse Macabre (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter #14) by Laurell K. Hamilton ★★★

1. How many books have you read last month? Are you happy with the amount you read?

This July I have outdone myself and read an amazing 14 books! I am actually surprised at the amount and the variety of genres and books that have been on my TBR for a quite a long time as well as some relatively new books for me.

2. What was the best of all the books you’ve read in July? Any scenes or characters that made a lasting impression?

Books I most enjoyed reading this month were from the Murderbot Diaries book series: Artificial Condition and Rogue Protocol . Usually I have some issues with reading science fiction books and following up with all the technical parts of the story but these are so easy to get into and I really love them!

3. Were there any not so good books for you last month? What made it hard or not enjoyable to read?

There were few books that were a let down this month and some were even a source of frustration. Time Weaver was the last book in the Drakon series and The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. Time Weaver was a messy ending to a book series that had me interested because of the unique dragon shapeshifter angle. Of this five book series each book I read was either a let down or really good and as a whole the series was a wild ride with high highs and low lows. The Strain belongs to a horror genre that I am not a big fan of. I had some serious issues with the translated edition and the general feeling was not good. The Strain is one series I will not be continuing.

I am glad that have read them and can move on from these.

4. How did the books you were reading last month fit in your reading plans if you had any?

For July I made plans for Bookopoly and Olympic Games reading challenge. I managed to read all the books for Bookopoly and all but one for the Olympic Games challenge. The only book I wanted to read and did not managed to read was Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow #3) by Rainbow Rowell because my preorder has not arrived yet. I am hoping to get it in time for some reading challenges in August!

Actually all the fourteen books I have read in July were a part of reading challenges!

5. Any updates on the series you are reading or are you starting any new series?

I have finished one book series and made a decision not to continue another – so that’s two book series cleared in July. I started one new graphic novel series I am very much enjoying. Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book series second reading is moving along and I’ve finished book fourteen out of current 28. which makes me halfway trough! I managed to read two books in the Murderbot Diaries series and can’t wait to for an opportunity to read the next book! July was a very good month for reading book series!

6. Would you like to recommend any books or authors you’ve been reading this last month?

This is a second month in the row that I am blown away with Martha Wells’s Murderbot Diaries book series and my whole outlook on science fiction is changing because of it. I love the short format, the artwork and the lovable main character. The main character has proven to be surprisingly insightful on everything about what it means to be human. So much story and emotion packed in less than 200 pages per book made these books best I have read this year so far and I hope the next books are at least as good!

Final thoughts on July 2021 reading

I have been working on making up for those spring months when I got a reading slump and I am still behind on my plans to read 100 books in a year. I am proud of how many books I have read this July and I have managed to cut the amount of books I needed to catch up by half!

In the fourteen books I have read 3656 pages. There were a lot of the genres I am not usually drawn to in July and four of the books were science fiction which is starting to be on my TBR more often recently. Only two of the books were graphic novels and only one book was over 500 pages long. Nine books I have read in July were under 300 pages.

I find this shorter format motivating and very satisfying.

The Olympic Games reading challenge 2021

This year I am happy to participate in The Olympic Games reading challenge second year in a row. I had a lot of fun last year and I like the thematic ties with Percy Jackson universe by Rick Riordan no matter how small they may seem – anyone who did not read the books would have no trouble participating. You can check out the YouTube Challenge Announcement HERE and give Ishi Time and her channel some love and attention.

I like the mythology theme a lot! Last year I went with Hades as a patron god of choice. You can check out my thoughts and experiences for it HERE. Some of the prompts this year are a bit more tricky to fit a book in but I decided to stick with Hades once more! There is a bit less focus on the undead in the prompts this year and my choice of books is all over the place.

Hades prompt 1 – Read a stand alone

Kako ste? by Barbara Matejčić

This book has a relatively dark cover and is a stand alone. It is also my book club pick for the month of July so I’m fitting it in here as well! The theme is a bit on the heavy side and deals with life issues and stories from people who are dealing with hurt, pain and prejudice in general. I was warned of the content being hard and serious. This is definitely not a light summer read but I hope the book discussion on our meeting is worth it.

Hades prompt 2 – Read a book with a dark cover

Time Weaver (Drakon #5) by Shana Abe

The last book in a fantasy series about dragon shapeshifters. Some of the books from the series I absolutely loved and some were underwhelming. I stayed with the book series and I am hoping this last book will be a good one! The cover has a dark background with a pale hand and some dark read flower and some jewelry in the center. It looks dark enough for me.

Hades prompt 3 – Random TBR book

The Strain (The Strain Trilogy #1) by Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan

I pulled this book out of my long forgotten TBR Jar Draw. I am not that pleased with this choice but it fits the dark undead theme. I am not a fan of horror genre and this book might prove a real challenge for me in July! What worries me the most is the Croatian translation that is considered beyond bad. I might even be tempted to find an edition in English and get rid of my copy of the book permanently if I find it to be that bad.

Hades prompt 4 – Book with a character that hides their identity

Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2) by Martha Wells

The main character of this book series is a AI unit that has hacked its module and escaped. It refer to itself as “Murderbot” and likes to procrastinate and watch futuristic soap opera. It is unlike any other SF I have read and I liked the first part a lot! Murderbot is incognito and is on a journey across the wast space in the distant future. If anyone is to find out that its module has been hacked they would probably hunt it down and reprogram it back again. I think this fits the category of a hidden identity.

Hades prompt 5 – Book with a wealthy character

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Of all the prompts and books for this reading challenge this one I had the hardest time choosing. In the end I went with the main characters being a king and a future queen as a point of them being wealthy. I got this book for my Kindle when it was on sale because I had it on my wishlist for a hardcover edition. The reviews are either hate it or love it mostly. I like when the books have that kind of range among audience. This book has a dark cover, is a stand alone and has what I consider wealthy characters.

Like last year there are some bonus challenges to be read after these first five books. There is only one change in prompts for them from last year. But unlike last year they are not limited to certain patron gods – last year each patron god had two offered bonus challenges and now they are all available to everyone no matter what patron god they choose.

I chose a few books that fit the bonus challenges I liked and added them to the list below. I have listed them in the order I want to read them in. I am also aware that I might not get to read all of them and will probably read them in completely different order by the time I start reading them at all…

Bonus challenge prompt: Pegasus Riding – A book published within the last 5 years

Heartstopper: Volume One (Heartstopper #1) by Alice Oseman

This book is a graphic novel created and self published as a Kickstarter project back in 2018. That was less than 4 years ago and it fits the prompt. I like seeing a Kickstarter project do so well and get published and translated like this one did. I bought the printed version and I hope I will like it!

Bonus challenge prompt: Archery – A book shorter than 200 pages

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

I had to look hard to find a book under 200 pages on my book shelves. The one I was going to pick was just slightly over with 208 pages! Then I had another choice but in the end I went with this one since it is one of the never books on my shelf and I am curious about it.

Bonus challenge prompt: Climbing the Wall – The next book in the series

Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries #3) by Martha Wells

I decided to add another book from this series to this month! I have first four books in The Murderbot series and at this pace I might be buying some more sooner than expected!

Bonus challenge prompt: Sword&Shield – A book featuring a character I would not get along with

Danse Macabre (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter #14) by Laurell K. Hamilton

This is a part of my second reading trough the Anita Blake book series and my attitude toward the main character is very complicated. I would definitely not get along with the main character but I do love reading this series! This book is a bit on the chubby side and I might not be bale to finish it in time or even get to it.

Bonus challenge prompt: Capture the Flag – One of your most anticipated books

Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow #3) by Rainbow Rowell

Now we are threading deeply into the territory of wishful thinking! This book is coming out in the first week of July and I have preordered it. I have no clue if it’s going to even arrive by the end of the July let alone if I am going to read it by then. I just wanted to add it to the list because I could!

I hope I get trough all of the books I want to read this July. They make a really big pile and I still have to add the books from Bookopoly and my next posts! Wish me luck for I will need it!

Bookopoly TBR game – September and October 2020

This October I’m deciding to continue last months Bookopoly TBR game with my friend and we will probably try to make it a permanent TBR game each month. We got the idea from Becca and the Books and her Bookopoly Readathon for September. You can give her YouTube channel some love HERE. We decided to make five rolls each month.

Here is what I got to read so far in September for Bookopoly TBR:

My first roll was a six and I landed on a Dark Cover prompt! The book I chose for the prompt was Obsidian Butterfly (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter, #9) by Laurell K. Hamilton ★★★★★.

My second roll landed me to a prompt for Audio or E-Book. Since I don’t really listen to audio books I was happy to go with and e-book! I picked out a novella Father Mine (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #6.5) by J.R. Ward ★★★ I’ve been meaning to read this novella since I’ve read the third book in the series. While I decided that it was not a series for me I was interested in the main characters of the novella!

Third roll got me Adult prompt. There were a lot of books I could have picked out for this prompt but since lately I’ve been reading less digital books than I used to I decided to go with a Kindle freebie Snow: A Reverse Harem Fairytale Romance Series by Plum Pascal ★★★

Fourth roll landed me with a Sad book prompt. This got me really frustrated since I really did not want to read sad books. I was thinking on revising the whole Bookopoly board and remove this prompt completely. In the end I let it stay since I rolled it and went with a book I tried reading once before but it was to depressing to continue. It was Push by Sapphire ★★★★

Last roll for September was a Community Shelf spot. Out of the sixteen specific prompt cards I pulled out one labelled Poetry. For my poetry book I went with another library book I was interested a while back but never actually got to it: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur ★★★★

These were my five books I choose to read in September with the help of a Bookopoly TBR game. Since it turned out a to be a game both my friends and I were looking forward to at the start of the next month we decided to keep it going and see how we gonna do for October!

Here are my five rolls for October:

Moving on from last spot I rolled a five and landed on a Chance card spot. From the sixteen cards with a specific book from my TBR I pulled an older classic which intimidates me: Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos

My next roll made me pass GO and land on a Lowest Rated spot. According to Goodreads I have quite a few not so well known or liked books on my bookshelves. My choice from the prompt ended out to be U krevetu s vješticom – Najljepše ljubavne horor priče by Milana Vuković Runjić. It is a short story collection with a trashy cover and a cringey horror theme.

Third roll for October got me a second Chance card spot. My Chance card deck had fifteen cards left and I pulled a graphic novel The Chosen Half-Elf (Elfes #4) by Éric Corbeyran, Jean-Paul Bordier. It is the fourth instalment in a digital graphic novel series I only recently discovered!

Once again my roll got on the E-Book or Audio prompt. I was browsing trough my kindle library and ended up choosing Stone and Fire (Magical Kingdoms #1) by Marie Robinson. I was in the mood for some fantasy and dragons are most appealing right at the moment!

My last roll for October got me a Young Adult prompt. I used this chance to finally read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I borrowed this book from a friend months ago and since I’ve been doing reading challenges most of the time I just never managed to get to it. I hope to be able to give it back with a chocolate and an apology for keeping it unread for so long!

While I used to be a lot more demanding in my reading – I preferred to read around ten books a month at least! – this Bookopoly TBR game lets me enjoy fun TBR game and share it with a friend who actually has a job and a life and would have a hard time reading so many books in a month. I’m happy to have a friend I can share this type of activity with. And I can always find time and more books to read aside this TBR challenge. For October I have already chosen another reading challenge and we can both try to fit in with this one.

But that is a topic for another post!

Trying out Inkitt / Galatea

If you like trying out new things there are many reading apps out there for brave readers. So far I tried a few apps that help with e-books organisation and provide a platform for reading in general. Years ago before I tried out Kindle I used Aldiko and Cool Reader on an old tablet I used then.

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Lately my Facebook feed has been clogged with adverts for various new reading apps and after ignoring them all for a while I decided to try some out just to get rid of the adds. I went for the most annoying one first – Inkitt. The reason I though of it most annoying is because the add I was getting was for a supernatural werewolf themed story with questionable morals. Basically what jumped out as an add was a message communication in chat form between a girl and an alpha werewolf type going all abusive-possessive. To top it all out the add has an audio of howling wolves to it. The story it advertised is called The Millennium Wolves Series by Sapir Englard.

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The first few chapters are available on Inkitt and after that there is a note that Galatea app has picked up the story and the rest is available there. Both Inkitt and Galatea apps are connected and Inkitt serves as a sort of testing grounds for the stories that get picked for Galatea app.

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So naturally I went and downloaded another free reading app on my phone. Galatea is promoting the stories (I have issues with calling them books for some reason) as “an immersive experience”. And to some extent that is what they are – experience. The most notable difference is the sound system that is in the background of the stories you read. There were sounds one could hear as a background noise in cities, places where people gather and cheer, creepy places, forest sounds and many more. The sounds usually creeped me out and thankfully there is a mute option for those.

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What I was not prepared for were the vibrating effects! In scenes where there is some kind of chase involved or other situations where the character’s pulse is speeding the phone starts to vibrate. And in case of some stories the whole screen would start changing color and sort of pulse during the sexually charged scenes.

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All special effects of the immersive experience aside, the thing that bothered me more is that this app is making the reader feel like an addict. The chapters were very short with reading time around 15 minutes per chapter or less. Each chapter is noted with the amount of “spicy” content.

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While the app is free there are some other ways the creators have found to make money by offering what I refer to in most video game as – in game purchases. You get access to one small chapter a day – there is a clock timer that lets you read next chapter at the same time each day.

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You can skip the wait by paying with points provided trough the app. You can buy bundles of points or earn 1 point per day by commenting on a chapter. There are also few other ways to earn points.

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There are a lot of annoying things that bother me regarding this app. For one – the content of the first three chapters I read on Inkitt was a bit different than what was available in first three chapters on Galatea. The characters reacted a bit different. Point of view was available form another character and the whole story had a different feel to it. The ending of the chapter was the same but the story went a bit different overall.

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This discrepancy annoyed me more than the “pay for a chapter” policy. I even tried calculating how much it would cost for skipping all the chapters to get the whole story and the amount ended up so high it was unacceptable for me. I sometimes binge and get an e-book on Kindle but refuse to spend more than 10$ for an e-book in general since I prefer the paper copy on my shelf.

I ended up frustrated since the story I was interested in is not available anywhere else and the platform of the app did not appeal to me. Another issue is I have trouble with adding the story I’m reading to my Goodreads profile. Finding the actual title takes some time and I find it ludicrous that reading of one “season” of the story takes a whole month unless you pay for access.

This app treats the story as a streaming service would a TV show or another video content. I understand that immersive experience effects make it a package deal and a different multimedia experience, but this type of “reading” just isn’t “my cup of tea”.

What do you think?

Have you tried it?

Would you try it?

Book a Day – The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Book a Day I read because of my reading club – August 2018

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We have mentioned The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery as a book assignment in our book club more than once. It finally came up for November 2017. I did not know much about this book but was pleasantly intrigued by what I learned about it before reading.

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Once I started reading there were elements to the book that made me very glad we picked it up. Some of the characters had quirks that were very dear dear to me. Also reading about multicultural elements in urban cities like Paris is always fascinating to me. I managed to connect this book with some other graphic novels and books I’ve read before.

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We all enjoyed the meeting and as per usual our discussions went beyond the scope of the book. I think only one reader did not enjoy reading this book. It was a very interesting evening in our book club. For me the endearing and sometimes frustrating characters are a bit of a blur because I was saddened by the end of this book. I know there is a movie version and for a while I really wanted to watch it but with time I’ve completely forgot about it.

Book a Day – Women Who Run With the Wolves

Book a Day I read because of my reading club – August 2018

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Women Who Run With the Wolves was one of the books I was very skeptic about. I’m vary of self-help books in general so this is most definitely not something I would have picked to read on my own. The fact that it is over 500 pages long does not help either. We picked out this book for our book club meeting back in September 2015. I made a review on this book and you can find it HERE.

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As it turned out I loved this book. The writing style is very down to earth and therapeutic. All stories and myths were interesting to read and some were even useful. I did not went all in with this book and bought it for myself but just barely.  Our meeting  could have gone better since due to the nature of the book and the number of pages some readers underestimated the time needed to go trough this book.

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And I suppose it is not to be read trough all in one go. This book inspires long periods of soul searching and reflections. It should be read little by little often or when needed. I don’t say this for many books but this one might be a good book to come back to at some point in my life. It is one of the top three books I’ve read for book club!

 

 

Book a Day – Soumission

Book a Day I read because of my reading club – August 2018

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Michel Houellebecq is a controversial and award-winning French novelist. Translated to English title of this book is Submission. It was our book club pick for December 2016. It was not exactly a happy holiday book. Back then our country was in the middle of EU migrant crisis. This book was published only one year earlier – 2015. I like to coddle myself with books and this is not something I would ever picked out on my own.  Here are my thoughts on the book and reading experience from my Monthly reading review – December 2016

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This thought provoking book was merciless in taking out the theme everyone was trying to handle very carefully. While some hated the author and his work others were inspired to heavy nationalist movements all across EU countries. The book club discussion was heated and we talked a lot about what we have seen and heard in news and in real life.

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This book was hard to read for me since the original is published in French and I was none to pleased with translations I could find. It was frustrating to read bad translations in a book where wording matters and where each word holds a heavy dose of satire mixed with real life possibilities. We agreed that fear and ignorance are the worst possible reactions and those can be remedied with a little effort. The world felt especially heavy place at that time and it reflected in our book club meeting as well.

 

Book a Day – The Uncommon Reader

Book a Day I read because of my reading club – August 2018

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One of the “lighter” books we picked out for our book club reading was The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. I’ve read this book exactly one year ago! When this book came out I was still working in a bookstore. I remember the promotions for Croatian edition but was never really drawn by it and would probably totally missed out on it if it were not for my book club. This book was shorter than most and the topic was very dear to all of us – the evolution of a reader from mild interest to passionate need.  You can check out my review HERE.

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In our reading group we have a system where each individual gets to pick a book to read at least once in a year. This way we all have a say in our reading choices. Sometimes life happens and people can’t make it in time to read their book and to prepare to lead the meeting and discussion. When that happens someone else steps in and proposes a shorter book so we can all read it in time. The Uncommon Reader was one of those choices.

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Main character is the Queen of England and trough the book she discovers a passion for reading! The theme and writing style were very enjoyable and we were able to share some of our reading habits and quirks. It allowed for a more personal book discussion and an easygoing evening.

Book a Day – Frankenstein

Book a Day I read because of my reading club – August 2018

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As someone who likes to read science fiction I am ashamed to admit that it took a book club assignment for me to read the first science fiction novel ever written – Frankenstein. I had strong impressions of this book and it inspired me to make a review when I read it two years ago. You can check out my initial review HERE.

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The book club meeting went good and we were all mostly pleasantly surprised by this book. I guess our expectations were extremely lowered since there were so many pop culture variations on Frankenstein trough the two hundred years it exists.

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I have grown to appreciate the structural form and even added it to my top ten science fiction classics. Later on I even held a show and tell lecture based on that list and put Frankenstein as one of the main science fiction novels ever to be written. You can find my post on the list HERE.