April Birthday Books – A belated post

Since the start of the global pandemic, I’ve written almost exclusively about books on this blog. That’s largely because I’ve spend the last year plus either furiously drafting manuscripts or furiously editing them, and when I get done, I don’t have many words left. Instead, I’ve been reading or going for walks around my neighborhood to recharge.

And yes, it’s almost June. I actually drafted this blog post back in the first week of April and then, well, it’s sat because life came and swept me away for a bit. Still, I wanted to share my birthday collection with you, so here it is!

Back in early April I masked up and went to one of my favorite local independent bookstores and bought myself some books in celebration of being alive for another year, crazy year that it was. Not all of the books I picked up are new. In fact, I don’t think any of them are recent releases. The new releases I had on my list, weren’t available yet in the store, so I ordered them online from my independent bookstore, and it was exciting to have them arrive later like little late presents to myself stretched over the month.

And now, here’s what I’ve added to my physical to-be-read that first week of April during my celebratory outing. I hope you find at least one title that interests you.

A Thousand Ships – Natalie Haynes

I’ve had this on my list since I read Circe. Totally different author, but same fantastic idea of retelling classics from a woman’s perspective. I picked up this particular book in part because I’d had it on my list so far in advance of the publication date, that I kept assuming it wasn’t yet out, and in part because the book itself is gorgeous.

This book is a retelling of the Trojan War from the perspectives of the various women involved. If you’re jonesing for more Trojan War retellings, I highly recommend The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

Docile – K. M. Szpara

I was pulled in by the tagline “There is no consent under capitalism.” And I nearly bought this when it first came out, with it’s beautiful rose-gold hard-cover. But then I saw my library had it, and I held off. Except I still haven’t read it , and this came out a year ago. Browsing the shelves at the bookstore, my husband found this title and decided it sounded interesting. I figured if we both wanted to read it, it was time to own it.

Rogue Protocol and Exit Strategy by Martha Wells

These are two novellas, and are books three and four, respectively, of the Murderbot Diaries series. I received a free digital copy of All Systems Red from tor.com as part of a promotion for one of the books in this series. I loved All Systems Red so much that I couldn’t wait for the library to get me Artificial Condition (book 2), so I bought it. Foolishly, I didn’t buy books three and four at the same time. I ate up Artificial Condition in two nights and then moped about because the wait to get Rogue Protocol from the library was going to be at least a month. That wouldn’t do. You might be wondering why I didn’t buy the rest of the series. I had, actually. I preordered the latest book, Fugitive Telemetry, and when I got home from the bookstore, I found the hardback version of Network Effect on the bookstore’s website and ordered that. All my copies so far are hardback, so I wanted them to match.

Yes, the series is THIS GOOD that I ordered ahead based on two books. I absolutely adore Murderbot, the grumpy but loveable android just trying to make it on his own. I’m wasn’t previously a huge Sci-Fi reader (well really turns out I’m just particular in my Sci-Fi), but I’m in love with this series.

This is How you Lose the Time War – Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

This novella has won a ton of awards (BSFA, Nebula, Hugo), and although it came out in 2019, I haven’t yet had a chance to read it. The cover is very pretty, but when I flipped open the cover, I was enticed by the use of the negative space in the paperback. Overall, it was pleasing to hold and I have this sense it will be more enjoyable to read in the physical format than in digital. Can’t really explain it yet, but that’s the feeling I had when I picked it up, so it came home with me.

Washington Black – Esi Edugyn

I’ve been flirting with buying this book for three years now. Seriously, I’ve seen it in the bookstore so many times marked by booksellers as a must-read. I’ve picked it up, I’ve skimmed copy. I’ve carried it around with me. And for some reason, I’ve never taken it home. But no longer!

The Wanderer – Peter Van den Ende

This is a short picture book, with illustrations in stark black and white. And it’s another book I’d been wanting to read for a few years. I don’t have children, so I try to pick up children’s books from the library rather than buy them (shelf space is limited). But this book, with its small white paper boat on the cover, and soothing night sky stretched overhead felt like an experience I’d want to have over and over. Flipping through it in the store drew me in deeper with promises of staring at the page for long beautiful moments of wonder. When I originally drafted this blog post I wrote: I can’t wait to boil some water, prepare a dark tea, and curl up in my velvet reading chair for story-time with this beauty. Well, I did that and it was such a magical journey. I highly recommend this book, to people of all ages.

The Hill We Climb – Amanda Gorman

I was so moved by Amanda Gorman’s Inaugural poem that I wanted a copy of it on my shelves. This was a surprise gift waiting for me at the bookstore. My in-laws had ordered it ahead of time and told me to pick up their order when I arrived. It was exciting to stand in a bookstore and unwrap something so beautiful. Re-reading, I could hear her strong clear voice, and I was moved all over again.

Fence Volume 4 – C.S. Pacat, Johanna the Mad, & Joana LaFuente

This is a tale of sadness. Not the graphic novel. But rather that I bought this copy.

You see, I was very excited about this series and had read all but one volume online via my library. When I got to the store, I desperately wanted the next volume. My best friend and I had discussed how we couldn’t find it. So when I saw Volume 4, I got very excited. I’d found the volume we both wanted to read! I checked Goodreads and I hadn’t read it!!

Except I had. In my haste, I looked up issue four, not volume four, which was marked as unread because I hadn’t been reading the issues, I’d been reading the bound volumes. And while you might think I’d recognize the cover and know I’ve read it, I read a lot and I did recognize the cover. I assumed I recognized it because I’d been looking for it.

Happy ending to the story I suppose is that I supported a local bookstore and the authors, but…I still have not seen a volume five.

I’ve previously posted about this series, and after having finished it, I still don’t know why I love it so much. I mean, I’m not really into fencing. I didn’t really think about fencing before reading this series, and I haven’t thought much about the sport since. But the characters are engaging and the competitions are really fun.

Heartstopper Volume 2 – Alice Oseman

I have a tendency to read the first book or first volume of something via a digital library loan, and then I grow very impatient waiting for the next in the series and race off to buy it from my local indie bookstore rationalizing that I’m supporting local businesses. The result is that I often have nearly complete series no my shelves, save for the first book or issue.

And that’s precisely what happened here. I read volume one very quickly online and then absolutely had to have volume two because Heartstopper is a warm sweater, or a hug from your best friend, or just generally a wonderfully wholesome feeling of joy and warm fuzzies, which after the last 1+ year of pandemic and general blah-ness of the world, I very much wanted and needed.

I’m very excited to know that this is going to be picked up by Netflix because it’s a gentle and sweet love story about two teen boys. Low drama. Just good feels.

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