Rejoice, rejoice: my motivation is back!!! (Of course, having said that, I also feel obligated to add that it’s been in hiding for the last three days, but I read 111 pages last night and I’m feeling good.) I also broke my no-bookstore-visits streak, which was probably a lot shorter than I think it was, because sooner or later everybody cracks. Look, I couldn’t help it. The books jumped into my arms. They wanted to come home with me. How can I say no to that? I mean, sure, I didn’t actually get what I went to the bookstore for but I still walked out with three books, so that’s something, right?

Mid-Month Reading Stats

4 books finished // 1,470 pages

Currently Reading

WARNING: Spoilers.

A Game of Thrones
George R.R. Martin


Life After Life
Kate Atkinson

This is one of my favorite books of all time, and I find it fairly shocking that I’ve only read it once. (My listens have been countless since I bought the book on Audible, but as far as reading goes I haven’t been quite as dedicated. Somewhat unsurprisingly, I now hear Fenella Woolgar’s voice in my head while I’m reading.)

I remembered that there were aspects of the writing I didn’t care for the first time around, but the reread is driving me mildly crazy because I had a bad break-up with comma splices several years ago and seeing so many of them on every page is really triggering. I am currently 60% of the way through my reread, and at this point I can safely say that, while I still love the book to an almost insane degree, I do feel that the audiobook is a better experience because I don’t keep getting hung up on the run-on sentences. Not only is Fenella Woolgar the best possible Ursula, she also inserts pauses at strategic moments that feel very natural, which I really appreciate.

For those not familiar, Life After Life is the story of Ursula Todd, an English woman who lives the same life over and over again while slowly realizing that her purpose in life is to assassinate Hitler before he kicks off World War II. It sounds a little hokey, but don’t let that stop you, because the book is amazing. I have not been paid to say that. I would take this book to a deserted island every time. It does drag in places – it takes her a while, for instance, to figure out how to survive the Blitz – but for the most part it moves very quickly as Ursula runs into various life-ending obstacles that inevitably result in her rebirth. As she goes, she starts to remember bits and pieces of her previous lives, which allows her to strategize in later lives. It’s so good.

House of Salt and Sorrows
Erin A. Craig

I’ve finally read enough of my official TBR to start dipping into my bonus TBR!!! This year I set a goal of 72 books but a TBR of 79, which doesn’t seem particularly well thought-out, and also I keep buying new books because I am a fucking mess. To combat the swell of the list, I have decided that books 80 through infinity will be added to my bonus TBR, also known as the “nice to haves.” I have additionally decided, because I literally am not to be trusted, that I will only be allowed to read one bonus TBR after having finished three regular TBRs. All of which is to say that, as I have read three regular TBRs over the last two weeks, I have now started on House of Salt and Sorrows.

Full disclosure: This was a maybe-unhaul. I considered getting rid of it during my mid-autumn unhaul, but I’m a sucker for sea-themed stories and fairy tale retellings and this promised me both, so in the end I kept it. Now that I’ve finally cracked it open I don’t think I can ever get rid of it, because this was stamped on the cover.

If there was one thing the publisher could’ve done to make absolutely sure I would never get rid of this book, it was putting an octopus on the cover. I don’t know if they’ve been spying on me or what, but the octopuses are everywhere and I am so sorry I lost faith omfg this is my book and we are never getting rid of the precious.

As for the book itself, it’s great. It’s a nautical retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” which I actually am not familiar with, so how it’s going to end is anyone’s guess. (Also it is currently taking every ounce of my tenuous self-control not to read the original fairy tale first, because I really like the story and I don’t want to spoil it for myself.) The book is narrated by Annaleigh Thaumas, one of twelve girls born to the nineteenth Duke of Salann. Her mother passed away some years ago, and her father has since taken a new wife, Morella, who is about the same age as Annaleigh. In the years since her mother’s death, Annaleigh’s elder sisters have been dying like flies, which has led to rumors that her family is cursed.

I’m only on page 53, but I really like what I’ve read. I love the setting and the world-building. I love Annaleigh, who seems smart, feisty, and relatable. I don’t like Morella, who so far is an annoying, attention-seeking bitch, and I really want to suspect her of being an evil enchantress in view of how thoroughly she seems to have brainwashed Annaleigh’s father. idk, maybe he just really loves her a lot but his behavior is somewhat out of step with the way Annaleigh views him, which has me incredibly suspicious. On the other hand, Morella is so obviously suspicious that I also have to wonder if she’s actually the antagonist, or if she’s just an ordinary girl. Maybe she’ll turn out to have been secretly good all along. It seems just a little too easy to suspect her, and I feel like something bigger must be moving behind the scenes, which brings me to Cassius, who seems equally suspicious. I’m torn on whether Cassius is actually trustworthy: his meeting with Annaleigh was the most basic YA romance set-up you could possibly imagine, which to my mind means that either they’re going to solve the mystery together or he’s going to turn out to be, if not the primary antagonist, then at least a sub-boss who must be defeated before the Big Bad can be reached. From the way he’s described in the synopsis (“a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own”), I’m guessing it’ll be the former, though I’m personally hoping for the latter. However, I’ve only just met him, so it’s too early to start guessing anything. Whatever the case, I’m glad I didn’t unhaul this, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

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