mysteries and death and steampunk creatures and British comedy // #JuneJulyReadTower

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I read fifteen books in June and July. Cue happiness!

It’s been harder to fit in the time to devour books ever since I started working my day job back in March. Do any of you Wrenlings have a similar struggle? Listen up, bookworms. I have the perfect solution: read. on. your. lunch. break. I don’t know what I’d do without that precious half hour to eagerly drink in all the doings of good-natured Wodehouse characters and try to guess Whodunits.

(if I didn’t have that half hour I’d probably be smashed to dust by my toppling TBR tower. at least, this way I can keep it from tipping too far. danger is still imminent. protect your young.)

#JuneJulyReadTower

Might have mentioned this before, but I FOUND MY FAVORITE SERIES OF THE YEAR WOOT (why, yes, all-caps are completely necessary for this announcement). The Jackaby books make my heart sing because:

— Doctor Who-esque Sherlock Holmes.

— an amazing guy-girl friendship without a drop of romantic feeling.

— fantastical creatures, witty humor, chill-creeping-over-my-bones scenes, and more awesome that I can’t mention because spoilers.

I read Dreamtreaders. I liked it. I want to own it. I am going to start the Sequel this weekend. (take note, Youngest Sister. be pleased, Youngest Sister).

I honestly don’t know why it took me so long to read Behemoth except for the fact that it’s far too ginormous (in size, not number of pages) to stuff in a bag and read at work during lunch. Now that I’ve finally finished it, I like it more than the first book and also less. Which doesn’t make sense, I am aware. In a nutshell: more things I enjoyed (stronger steampunk vibe, new and fun characters, etc) and more things I didn’t like (the fabricated creatures continue to get on my nerves + a few squeamish moments when it comes to the romance. Barking spiders, they’re basically children still. Hold your horses.)

If you were wondering if it’s possible for me to be even more in love with Wodehouse’s books… yes, yes it is. Indiscretions of Archie is a book I actually had to stop reading at lunches since it made me laugh too hard. Archie’s well-meaning, lovable, irrepressible self is the best. I want to adopt him and take him everywhere with me. On second thought, that might be a bad idea. *carefully places all precious belongings in a seaworthy chest and anchors it in the ocean*

Give me all the Whodunits, please and thank you. Honorable mentions: Towards Zero I read in one day at the beach and the suspense was killing. Also pleasing to my mystery-loving self. The Secret of Chimneys  is aadventurous, fascinating book that i want to read again. Definitely recommended.

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One word: phenomenal. 

I am reserving all my thoughts and excitement and love for this book for another blog post, methinks.

More Whodunits. All delicious. Wodehouse at his best again in The Mating Season. Bertie sneaking into Madeline’s house to retrieve that letter is a scene I will never weary of.

 And last, but not least my favorite Wodehouse read of July: Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit. It has Aunt Dahlia which accounts for half of my affection for it already, but toss in Bertie making hilarious hash of situations, missing necklaces, imminent danger of being knocked out and/or engaged and you have the perfect read for a summer afternoon.

“Love is a delicate plant that needs constant tending and nurturing, and this cannot be done by snorting at the adored object like a gas explosion and calling her friends lice.”

Great Expectations was my most recent Dickens read and, although I didn’t like it as much as his other works, I’m glad I read it–if only for Pip and Herbert’s friendship, sweet Joe, and the eerie atmosphere of Miss Havisham. I learned a goodish amount about writing character arcs and that makes up for all the irritation I felt for Pip during the first half of the book. The ending leaves a warm glow in your bones.

Now I’m in the mood for a delightful re-read of David Copperfield. #alwaysloveDickens

Tell me, Wrenlings: what did you read last month and what books did you fall in love with? What books do I need to make my TBR tower still taller and more dangerous?

//bookish survey of 2015

Prepare your minds for much flailing and fangirling, humans. Because I love books with all the love and I’m about to talk about allll the books I read last year.

*maniacal laughter*

Batten down the hatches.

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Speaking of books, last year I devoured a grand total of 101. I am quite pleased with myself over this. *gives Self chocolate chips*

(I’m borrowing The Perpetual Page Turner’s end of the year book survey.)

2015 Reading Stats

Number Of Books You Read: 101. But I think it’s actually more like 103 because Goodreads sometimes turns sulky when I try to add books to my Currently Reading shelf. which is why this year I must also keep a tangible list.

Number of Re-Reads: Five. But I know that’s inaccurate because, as I said, Goodreads likes to misbehave. Tsk. Tsk.

Genre You Read The Most From: Apparently Mystery wins out (with Fantasy as a close second). It would seem I read stacks and stacks of Agatha Christie over the summer and autumn. O.o Not to mention, I fell in love with Chesterton’s Father Brown. Also, I read my first Mrs. Meade and Anon, Sir, Anon.

Best In Books

Best Book You Read In 2015?

This question should be outlawed. I refuse to answer with a single book. Therefore, I shall answer with six.

Pendragon’s Heir was rich, rich, rich and I think I wouldn’t mind being best friends with Blanche and Perceval. Plus, KING ARTHUR LEGENDS YUSSSS. The Phantom of the Opera broke my heart in the best way possible. Monster made the deep-thinking, philosophical side of me happy. And I cried quarts and am probably far more attached to Mir than is strictly healthy. Love books like that.

Peter Pan was utterly magical and whimsical and strangely soul-achy. Shadow Hand only strengthened my love for Stengl’s writing and fantastic charries and story-lines and worldbuilding — I am consistently in awe. Also pain because feels. The ending was so beautiful it gave me a brief flash of Sehnsucht. Anon, Sir, Anon satisfied the Annie who-adores-mysteries-and-is-perpetually-curious, and it had all of Heffington’s signature charm and vividry.

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

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This was a deliciously gripping mystery/police/plotsy thriller thing… and then halfway through it turned into something so deep and theological and quirky all I could do was squint at the pages and wish I was more clever so I could understand WHAT IN CREATION CHESTERTON WAS TRYING TO SAY. I may still be slightly bitter over this.

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

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I didn’t really know anything about this brilliant scientist when I started the book. I emerged full of story ideas, fascinated with Tesla and indignant with Edison and even more in love with science-y stuffage than I was before. (although, Author Chap, quit bashing conspiracy theorists already.)

Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

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Because everybody needs a generous dose of hilarity from the master of British comedy. You’re welcome, humans.

Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?

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Best series I started: I enjoy the superhero genre. I enjoy parodies. I enjoy stories with snap and fun and plenty of humor and unexpected angst. Cue Supervillain of the Day. 

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Best sequel: I still haven’t recovered from this book. Can I sneak into the future and steal Book Three, please?

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Best series ender: Need I say more? *gazes dreamily into the distance and murmurs “across the pale parabola of joy”*

Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

I DISCOVERED FAR TOO MANY NEW AND WONDERFUL AUTHORS. HALP.

Top Five:

P.G. Wodehouse. Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Kate DiCamillo. Suzannah Rowntree. Rosemary Sutcliff.

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

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Apparently The Phantom of the Opera is classified as horror. Okay then. o.O

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Steelheart. Woah. Talk about action! Dragonwitch had twists and turns and ACK. The Secret Adversary was impossible to put down. The Phantom of the Opera? NO WORDS TO EXPRESS ALL THE FEELS AND THRILL.

Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I don’t think I’ll ever not want to re-read The Tales of Goldstone Wood. The sheer amount of richness and beauty and emotional depth in these books…. my preciousssss.

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?

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I could gloat over this beauty all day long.

Most memorable character of 2015?

I encountered many memorable charries in my reading last year, but the first people that spring to mind is the little crew from Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. From Flora who is the cutest cynical, comic-book reading, squirrel-rescuing human ever to William Spiver with his “blindness” and love of Big Words, and Tootie who is one of my favorite adults in a children’s book. Not to mention, Ulysses himself — a squirrel who can fly and has an optimist spirit and a penchant for writing poetry. They are the most lovable cast of characters and I wish I could hug them all and share chocolate chips with them.

Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

All. The. Pretty.

Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

I’m still trying to gather my thoughts on Go Set A Watchman. The moral dilemmas of genetic manipulation and enhancement in For Darkness Shows the Stars were fascinating. The King’s Scrolls challenged me on how strong I would be if I had to withstand incredible temptation and pain for the sake of what I believe, and A Wish Made of Glass helped heal a part of me I didn’t even realize was still hurting.

Runner Ups: Monster, Firmament: Machiavellian. Pendragon’s Heir. Shadow Hand.

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?

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Need I say more?

 Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

I could write a whole blog post on this subject. Oh, look: I did.

Book That Shocked You The Most?

I will never recover from that moment between Eanrin and You Know Who. Talk about unexpected and wonderful and heart-breaking. O.O The plot twist at the end of The Unmapped Sea is not okay. The fact that Penelope is missing from the book cover is ALSO NOT OKAY. And grown-up Scout is shocking and I feel her, but still, GIRL.

OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Eanrin and Starflower (Tales of Goldstone Wood). Mir and Eva (Monster). Blanche and Perceval (Pendragon’s Heir). Kyrin and Jace (Ilyon Chronicles). I like to adopt ALLL the ships.

Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

 The friendship between Jack, a normal little boy, and Beth, a wind-up little girl, is sweet and touching (Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times). The love-hate relationship between Floyd and Adams in Supervillain of the Day is my favorite. Flora and William Spiver are the cutest. *hugs the babies* Marcus and Esca (The Eagle of the Ninth) remind me in a way of Frodo and Samwise. But more historical and with less ring-of-power-trauma.

Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously?

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This requires no explanation. *hugs book*

Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

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That would be this wonderful, quirky, magical read which I am ever so grateful I was told I absolutely must pick up. Looking at you, Amanda. *hugs*

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

One word: EANRIN. *fangirling so hard*

Best 2015 debut you read?

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Read it, cyberspacelings. READ THE BOOK IF YOU WISH TO LIVE. Ahem. Because you want to? I will bribe you with chocolate chips.

Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The world-building is, hands down, one of my favorite parts of Tales of Goldstone Wood. It’s amazing. Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times has some of the best steampunk worldbuilding I’ve encountered yet. Perfection, kind of.

Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Basically anything ever by P.G. Wodehouse.

Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

SO MANY. Sooooo many. I cry easily in books it would seem. *shoves box of kleenex under the sofa*

  • The Man Who Knew Too Much.
  • It Took A War.
  • Dragonwitch.
  • Shadow Hand.
  • Johnny Tremain.
  • The Two Towers.
  • Firmament: Machiavellian.
  • To Kill A Mockingbird.
  • Peter Pan.
  • The Bird in the Tree.
  • Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures.
  • A Wish Made of Glass.
  • Monster.
  • A Tale of Two Cities.
  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.
  • The Phantom of the Opera.
  • Pendragon’s Heir.
  • The King’s Scrolls.

Hidden Gem Of The Year?

All of these captivating, excellent beauties.

Book That Crushed Your Soul?

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 Let’s just say that this ends in such a unexpected manner that you wander about trying to collect your thoughts and wondering, “What do I do now?”

I cried. Goodness, that was a painful and beautiful ending. I’ll probably never recover.

Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

Oh, help, I don’t even know. Maybe Flora and Ulysses? After all, it’s not every day you read about a squirrel that gets vacuumed up and comes out able to fly and fond of writing poetry.

Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

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did dislike this actually. I rather wanted to drop it off a cliff. Flat characters and pages full of cliches do that to me. *deep breath*

MY BLOGGING/BOOKISH LIFE

(I know this is long. Bear with me, lovelies! Chocolate chips at the end, okay?)

New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?

I didn’t discover many new book blogs this year, but Cait is so lovable and fun, and her blog is an absolute favorite of mine. Plus, she has mad photography skills. And she’s just plain nice.

Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?

Ahh, yes. That would be this one. I’m rather fond of the book too.

Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I had far too much fun blathering on about all the secrets of my writing processes. And I really love all my Beautiful Books posts.

Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

By far that would be the short story contest I hosted with my fellow SEA Scribblers (which was an amazing experience), and the 2015 blogger awards were also grand fun.

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Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?

That would be all of you, actually. Since starting this blog I’ve been overwhelmed by all the love and support from each and everyone of you, my dear friends. I couldn’t be more thankful for it. I really don’t know how to express how glad I am to know you all, and as for my Shadow Readers (as I like to call you) I’m so happy you take the time to visit the Curious Wren house, even if I don’t know who you are.

You are all special to me.

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Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

“Time is not the boss of me.” *painful laughter*

Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

That would be my introductory blog post. And you all really loved my feelsy sci-fi flash fiction which made me beyond happy.

Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Honestly, I’ve had some serious amounts of love on all my blog posts so I don’t think I could wish for more. ❤

Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

My Dad found a tiny book shoppe near us that sells used books and let’s just say that the proprietors know us by name and every time I come in, the lady lets me know at once if they’ve picked up any Wodehouse recently. It’s the best.

Also The Book Depository is a nice place. Free shipping, peoples. On EVERYTHING. O.O

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I passed my challenge of 100 books. GO ME. And I ventured out of my comfort zone by reading more books published in recent years so that was fun.

This year I shall be unstoppable! Ahem. Anyway.

LOOKING AHEAD

(In which we dramatically look off into the middle distance)

One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?

Lots and lots and lots. 

(with the exception of The Wind and the Willows these would all be first reads.)

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Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?

I’m curious about Heartless mainly because Marissa Meyer wrote it — plus it’s Alice in Wonderland so there’s that. I can not wait until Resist comes out. Five Magic Spindles has the prettiest cover of ever and it’s fairytale re-tellings so yay!

Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?

I am dying to know how The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place ends.

One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?

Reading: I want to dig into more of the older classics like The Illiad and Shakespeare’s plays. Vice versus I am hoping to venture into the cleaner YA books.

Blogging: Be much more consistent with commenting. Both on my own blog and on others. And I really want to do more posts specifically about writing and the process of spinning Story. Also put up more book/film reviews.

Look, we reached the end. EVERYBODY CHEER.

*gives out handfuls of chocolate chips and chocolate chip cookies*

What do you think of my 2015 reads? What are a few books you hope to crack open this year? Let us chat!