Sunday, August 22, 2021

Becoming Crone (The Crone Wars #1) by Lydia M. Hawke

A cover of Becoming Crone showing an older woman with shoulder-length silver hair in jeans and a long-sleeved blue top, her arms crossed over her chest. She's illuminated by white-blue light from behind. On her left, a large crow flies above her and there are many smaller ones in the air. There are fir trees in the background
Becoming Crone deserves 5 stars for getting me out of reading slump alone, because this year has not been my reading year at all, but this story managed to keep my interest.

Starting with a refreshing concept where the main protagonist is a 60 year-old grandma who suddenly comes into her power as a witch - or, a Crone and continuing with assembling a cast of mismatched, quirky characters (and a cat), it follows Claire through discovery and acceptance of her new reality without a boring moment, from funny to scary and heart-wrenching ones.

I very much appreciated the real, tangible stakes and consequences, from the magic's impact on the real world to inflicted injuries that do not magically disappear.

And with the way it ended and my trust in the author, I one-clicked the sequel pre-order without a second thought. 

Monday, January 04, 2021

Bout-of-Books 30

The Bout of Books readathon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It’s a weeklong readathon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 4th and runs through Sunday, January 10th in YOUR time zone. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are daily challenges, Twitter chats, and exclusive Instagram challenges, but they’re all completely optional. For Bout of Books 30 information and updates, visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I'm participating on Twitter (@strangenewwords), but I decided to have a summary-of-everything post on this blog after all.

Monday, 4/1/2021

Reading: The Idea of You by Robinne Lee (finished) and A Winter Symphony by Tiffany Reisz 
Pages/words: 39 + 81 = 120
Tuesday, 5/1/2021

Reading: The Star of Lancaster (Plantagenet Saga #11) by Jean Plaidy, Poly by Lesli Richardson
Pages/words: 12 + 68 = 80
Challenges/other: /

Wednesday, 6/1/2021
Reading: Poly by Lesli Richardson
Pages/words: 99

Thursday, 7/1/2021

Reading: The Star of Lancaster (Plantagenet Saga #11) by Jean Plaidy
Pages/words: 64
Challenges/other: /

Friday, 8/1/2021

Reading: The Star of Lancaster (Plantagenet Saga #11) by Jean Plaidy (finished), Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life by Gary John Bishop
Pages/words: 33 + 31 = 64
Challenges/other: /

Saturday, 9/1/2021

Reading: /
Pages/words: 0
Challenges/other: I participated in the twitter chat! 

Sunday, 10/1/2021

Reading: Angel's Blood (Guild Hunter #1) by Nalini Singh, Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life by Gary John Bishop
Pages/words: 31 + 24 = 55
Challenges/other: /


What I read: 

I finished four books! That is, the following:
  • The Star of Lancaster (Plantagenet Saga #11) by Jean Plaidy, 
  • Poly by Lesli Richardson, 
  • The Idea of You by Robinne Lee,
  • A Winter Symphony by Tiffany Reisz,
and I made a dent in: 
  • Angel's Blood (Guild Hunter #1) by Nalini Singh and
  • Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life by Gary John Bishop
Pages/words: 482
Challenges/other: Current Reads on Day 1, and I also participated in always great Saturday Twitterchat. 

All in all, another successful Bout-of Books! These are such a great way to make a head-start into the reading year. 

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

A cover of The Idea of You with a face of woman with large tinted glasses
The Idea of You
 drew me in with the premise of a reverse age gap trope with having an older heroine and a younger hero. 

I basically devoured it in one day – I started with a few chapters on Saturday and couldn't stop reading on Sunday and I was going to give it 5 stars up until about 50 pages before the end when I started suspecting that it wouldn't have a happy ending. 

Which it didn't. And it is such a shame, because otherwise it is such an excellently written story, full of emotion, and the author really makes these two characters work. 

I love the age gap trope, but even in older-man-younger-woman version it is a hit-and-miss to find a story that really works out emotionally and shows the compatibility between the characters, much less in the reverse case of older-woman-younger-man, which there are also fewer books about. 

But Robinne Lee, despite the age difference, establishes the connection between her protagonists and makes us see the things they have in common that make them fall in love with each other. And then she ruins it.

What grates is that throughout the book the author pontificates on the invisibility of women above a certain age, with them and their work being underappreciated and undervalued, and emphasises the benefits of knowing oneself that aging brings. 

And all of that is great and necessary to be pointed out more often in our day and time, be it in everyday life or fiction, because it is the truth: women of certain age do not stop living and mattering. 

However, as nice and fine as the author putting all these notions in the story is, it is completely negated by the unhappy ending, which slams the point straight back into the stereotype: that an older woman can only find happiness within conforming to the role of a mother, putting her child and other people first, with perhaps a bit of a career on the side, but she most certainly cannot find happiness in an unconventional relationship, or, god forbid, define herself and her happiness on her own terms.

And that is highly ironic, considering that earlier in the book  the author explicitly points out the hypocrisy of people not batting an eye at all the 40-and-older-something men dating and marrying 20-somethings, but condemning a woman for it. Yet, Robinne Lee does the same to her own character in the end. 

So, I am mad at this book. It could have been everything, but with that ending it is a huge disappointment. 

All in the name of being realistic, I suppose. But, guess what? A 20-year-old boy band star falling in love with a twice-as-old, even if (or even more so if) sophisticated, art-gallery owner, is in itself unrealistic. It is all fantasy. That is why we have fiction. F*ck realistic. 

And now I need to find – which is so hard to do – another one with a similar premise but an actual happy ending to make myself feel better. See, that is how my TBR grows. BTW, recommendations welcome. ;)

Saturday, January 02, 2021

New Year, A New Tradition?


I read 48 books in 2020 and I set the same goal for me in 2021, but as in the last few years, I'm taking it very flexibly with potential adjustments as the year progresses. 

Nevertheless, I am very much in the reading mood right now, so much so I want to read ALL the books at once. 

Usually, when that happens, I can't decide which one to read, so I procrastinate and then choose a completely different one from those I initially crave and forget about them.

Hence, I though why not make a list? And why not make a list in a blog post on my book blog? Isn't it why it's here, even if little used in recent years? (Which would also take care of said little use.)

Therefore, this is not a January TBR, because that kind of pressure is usually counter-productive for me I'm posting a list of books I want to read, like, right now, but with no obligation or deadline of actually doing it, more like a checklist for myself. As if in a journal. Except that it's public. (For those 5 people that may still stalk this blog?)

I have The Star of Lancaster (Plantagenet Saga #11) by Jean Plaidy to finish.

Then there is the unholy trinity of smutty holiday novellas:

  • My Dad's Best Friend (A Touch of Taboo #3) by Katee Robert
  • A Winter Symphony by Tiffany Reisz
  • When She Was Naughty by Tessa Dare
I want to do some rereads:
  • Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2) by Deborah Harkness, which I planned to do before S2 of the TV show and then got distracted and the show is returning within the week, but I think I should be able to manage 1/8 a week to keep in step
  • I've been wanting to do an IAD series reread for a while now and what better time than a new year to start with A Hunger Like No Other (IAD #1) by Kresley Cole, although The Warlord Wants Forever is technically/chronologically the first, but I'll read that afterwards because it worked great in this order the first time around. 
  • Angel's Blood (Guild Hunter #1) by Nalini Singh because after years of my incessant nagging my bestie is finally starting it (and I hope it lives up to my hyping it up) and I could use a refresher (not that it's any hardship ;))
I have two nonfiction/self-help books I want to slowly go through and hopefully find something useful for my depressed & anxious brain:
  • Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life by Gary John Bishop
  • Learn To Live: The Book That Can Change Your Life by Mats and Susan Billmark

And I also stumbled upon The Idea of You by Robinne Lee on New Year's Eve (because what else would I be doing then than adding new books to my TBR?) and it sounds so intriguing I want to start it right away.

I'll be crossing out the ones I finish (as you can see, I've already already done one since I started writing this post yesterday) and I might do more of this kind of posts when the need arises.