January 05, 2019

It's That Time of the Year Again...A.K.A. The Big Annual Book Haul 2018-19

 Hello sweeties! and Happy New Year again!


Today I'm doing that thing I usually do in January...that is, showcasing my big annual book haul.
Some of you might remember that my birthday is close to Christmas - just 11 days before it. So, as per my usual birthday/Christmas tradition, every year I order a bunch of books from this Italian site that sports a wide selection of books in English as well. And I post the list on here for the world to admire...and wonder why I'm so late on all these books LOL. Well, but NOT so late as I used to be this year. There are SEVEN EIGHT 2018 BOOKS in here, folks!!! SEVEN EIGHT OUT OF FIFTEEN!!! And one has been reissued in the same year. And it's actually eight instead of the original seven, because I won a Twitter giveaway generously offered by Sam @ We Live and Breathe Books, so I included that book in my list as well! Here goes said list, broken down by genres/Reading Rooms...(P.S.: all the books are YA unless otherwise stated).

Afterlife Room: Sparrow Hill Road (2014- reissued 2018) & The Girl in the Green Silk Gown (2018) by Seanan McGuire | I Stop Somewhere (2018) by T.E. Carter | The Girl from the Well (2014) & The Suffering (2015) by Rin Chupeco



(Please look past the hideous covers of McGuire's novels LOL. Seriously - I understand that they're from a different publisher and in a different genre, but WTF?!? The Wayward Children ones from the same author are so exquisite...).
Seanan McGuire's books are the first two installments in a series called Ghost Roads. It came highly recommended by my friend Carrie at Bright, Beautiful Things - though she's openly biased when it comes to McGuire 😉 😂. But she's also a fine critic, even with the things she loves, so...Also, you know me and dead/undead characters LOL. This is the story of Rose, a hitchhiking ghost girl, and the once-man who killed her in 1952 and is set to do it again for good. While the first installment is a collection of short stories reissued in book form, the second has been written as a standard novel. This series has got a great Supernatural feel (if Supernatural were told from the point of view of an otherworldly creature instead of the brothers who hunt her kind, that is) and a premise I couldn't pass up.
Being the ghost fanatic that I am, I Stop Somewhere first drew me in with its afterlife premise. Back when I first heard of this novel, the blurb was more cryptic than it is now. But it only means that at this point I have not one, but two reasons for reading this book: the ghost girl forever trapped in a nightmare, and the same girl, from before, living it. ISS not only is a variation on the ghost theme, but also explores toxic relationships and rape culture. I'm so on board for this. (BTW, I participated in a book blitz for I Stop Somewhere back in August 2017, with an excerpt. The book "only" came out last February though).
The Girl from the Well duology by Rin Chupeco has been on my TBR list for a few years now - actually, since it came out. It's based on the Japanese folklore, and recounts the story of a dead girl who hunts child murderers and of her teen-boy apprentice (for lack of a better word). Some reviewers say it's too slow, some lament the lack of sheer horror...or REALLY scary horror (though some say the complete opposite 🤔 - like my friend Carrie above, whom I trust), but again, even if it were the case, I'm on board. My guts say yes.

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Supernatural Room: Beneath the Sugar Sky (2018) by Seanan McGuire | Lucid by Jay Bonasinga (2015)


Yes, more McGuire. Three books out of fifteen in this haul are by her (and it should have been four, but see below). Pure coincidence though...it's not like I'm sold on everything she writes (which is just fortunate, since she writes up a storm), but these are two series I'm interested in, for different reasons. BTW, Chapter 3 of the Wayward Children trilogy is the only book in this haul that's HUGELY popular. LOOK AT ME, READING A POPULAR BOOK (SERIES) 😮 😂.
OK, so - Sugar Sky reunites us with the Wayward Children at Eleanor West's school, and plays with time travel and absurdities, all while showing us another of the worlds these kids once were (or sometimes will be again) able to travel to. This series is very unique, and despite a few hiccups, keeps me captivated enough to continue with it. I even hoped to be able to add Book 4 (In an Absent Dream) to this haul, but my webseller didn't have it yet when I placed my order 😢.
Lucid is the story of a Goth girl who has been seeing the same door in her dreams for ages, and one day decides to investigate what's on the other side - only to get plunged into the world of lucid dreaming and to find herself battling monsters. Apparently, the telling-not-showing syndrome rears its head a few times, but the concept has me intrigued, and since this book has been lurking from my TBR list for three years, I'm finally willing to open this particular door 😉.

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Sci-Fi Room: Afterimage (2018) by Naomi Hughes | The Echo Room by Parker Peevyhouse (2018) | Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks by 'Nathan Burgoine (2018)


In Afterimage, a girl suffering from panic attacks tries to uncover the truth behind her mother's (and many others') demise in a horrific explosion, with the help of a transparent boy that might (or might not, which I have reasons to suspect it's the case) be a figment of her imagination. I love the premise so much, I don't even mind that this one has a touch of romance. "The fabric of time and space is at stake"? How Doctor Who is that?!? 😃 I believe I'm taking a small risk here, not only because of the romance, but also because some reviewers mentioned a few implausibilities and execution hiccups. Still...I'm a sucker for sci-fi (though of course afterlife will always be my first love), so what the heck. Also, based on the reviews I read, this one has good rep when it comes to panic disorder...
I read Peevyhouse's debut Where Futures End last year, and I did enjoy it. The Echo Room is a Groundhog-Day type of story (and I LOVE everything that plays with time, so 😍) bathed in mystery and coupled with a survival/imprisonment theme. I heard there's also romance, but not overwhelming and slow-burning, so I'm on board.
I was hoping that Exit Plans was more sci-fi (or even supernatural, for that matter) based than it apparently is - according to my friend Karen @ For What It's Worth - with its story of a teenage boy accidentally teleporting. But even if there's not THAT much of it...I feel the pull. Plus, it's different...and you know how much I love different 😉. Besides, queer and disabled characters and a coming-of-age theme. What can go wrong? (I mean...I hope...).

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Contemporary Room (Contemporary with a Twist section): The Gallery of Unfinished Girls (2017) by Lauren Karcz


For those who don't know it already - by "Contemporary with a Twist" I mean, more or less, "Magical Realism" (I wasn't familiar with the term when I started my blog...shame, I know), but not only. I also use it for those books where you can't tell if there's a reliable narrator, so that some of the events (or maybe all of them) might be supernatural/paranormal in nature - or those other books where the narrator sort of creates an alternate reality, if only with her/his mind.
Unfinished Girls is the story of a latina (I think? her name's Mercedes Moreno...) queer girl with painter's block, who finds a place where her art can flow again, except she can't bring her state-of-grace and experience back to the outside world. It sounds like the writing's top-notch, too. And so is the atmosphere...

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Unwalled Room: The Dark Beneath the Ice (2018) by Amelinda Bérubé | A Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma (2018)


TDBTI has been labeled as supernatural/paranormal, mystery, horror, you name it - and yet seems to have a strong contemporary bone. So, I suppose it fits in my blog room for all the books that defy categories, or mix a bunch of them together. Marianne is possessed - or is she? Or is her sanity at stake? You might think "been there, done that", but I heard that TDBTI is a much more complex and nuanced story than it might sound. I have it from a reliable authority (my friend Carrie again) that this is an atmospheric read with top-notch scariness, and some other reviewer on Goodreads mentioned that the mental health aspect is done well. Oh, BTW - like Mercedes above, Marianne is queer.
I wanted to include ARAFTW in my haul, except that my webseller didn't have it (which was odd, since I bought all my Ren Suma books from that place in the past). But the first day of the year brought me a wonderful surprise - as I said, I was announced as the winner in Sam's giveaway for a book of choice, and I jumped at the chance of laying my hands on this one! Running from an abusive family, Bina finds shelter in a mysterious residence for young women and...I don't exactly know LOL. What I know is, this one has all the trademarks of a classic Ren Suma novel - magical realism, a haunting atmosphere, a story centered on girls - plus it seems to straddle the line between supernatural and contemporary, which is why I placed it in my Unwalled Room for now. I don't care about the reviews that talk about confusion, loose ends or lack of answers. I mean, I'm sure that those reviewers are telling the truth, but I'm also pretty sure that I will like this book nonetheless. Ren Suma has established herself as an auto-buy author for me (unless I can't locate a copy of her books via my usual channels from now on 😱), so...I'm fully prepared to love this one.

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Adult Room: Man in the Empty Suit (2013) by Sean Ferrell | How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu (2010) | Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks (2012)


Empty Suit got mixed reviews, but what the heck. A time traveler meeting a bunch of his past and future selves once a year, plus solving the mystery of his own murder - his next future self's murder - oh well. I'm ready for the headache. And in case you're wondering, this book has been on my TBR list since FAR earlier than I became a Doctor Who fan 😉. Side note: I had already ordered this book for my 2017-18 haul, but my webseller wasn't able to locate a copy via their usual vendors. Now they seem to have it in store again, so finger crossed...
Live Safely is another book that got mixed reviews, but I CAN'T escape its pull. A time-travel technician, the son of the man who invented time travel itself (and then vanished) and of a woman stuck in a time loop where she's always making dinner (how many elder housewives can relate to that? LOL), goes in search of a day where he and his father can meet in memory...oh, and the blurb hints at much more than that.
Memoirs of an Imaginary Friends is exactly what its name promises: Budo, 8-year-old Max's imaginary friend, is waiting to disappear (which of course will happen when Max stops believing in him), all while trying to protect the kid, who has Asperger's Syndrome, from all the things that scare or trigger him. I shelved this one as "adult" because the narrator (Budo) seems to have an adult quality to him (though he's technically only 5 year old LOL). And on a side note, I believe this is one of the oldest books in my TBR list. See, I never give up on my old titles - and well, it was time 😉.

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Have you read any of these books? or do you plan to? Are you already familiar with any of these authors? or are you going to read any of their books in the future?

17 comments:

  1. Imaginary Friend caught my eye, and it has high ratings too. I have to look closer. I read, cried, and raged over I Stop Somewhere. It's a tough read. I hope you enjoy all your new books. Quite an impressive haul.

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    1. I expected I Stop Somewhere to be a tough read, but it's for a good reason, isn't it? And I'm writing mini reviews (or pre-reviews) on Goodreads for each book before I do the long version, so you'll read my thoughts on Imaginary Friends soon enough! Thank you again for the givvy, I'm so excited to read Ren Suma's book!

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  2. I'm working on a huge haul post as well. I have stuff from back in OCTOBER I want to talk about finally! And ...Live Safely sounds great - can't wait to hear what you think of it.

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    1. Looking forward to your own haul post! Do you only buy books for your own pleasure, or you slip in a few that you think might be relevant to your job?

      I'm a sucker for sci-fi, so I hope Live Safely will work for me!

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    2. I read a lot of things that are relevant for my job, but I rarely purchase them. I did recently get into the Throne of Glass series for work, but purchased the last one because I knew it would otherwise take months for me to get a hold of it through the library.

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  3. Aargh! I dislike it when they change the covers for books I like, especially when the original covers are amazing. They've done that with two of my series so far, and it's obnoxious. I have to buy new books so the covers match, or suffer through mismatched images. *cries* A Room Away from Wolves is one I'm really looking forward to! I had a hard time with Imaginary Girls, and I'm hoping I have better luck with this one. :)

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

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    1. To be precise, the original cover for the first book in the Ghost Roads series was very different (and much, much nicer) than the ones the two books in the series have now, but it wasn't anywhere as nice (or even remotely similar) to the Wayward Children covers. The publisher is different, too, so I suppose it's understandable. Still...the Ghost Roads covers are plain UGLY, while the Wayward Children ones are STUNNING. Even a cover-blind person like me can see that LOL. I wish the author had had more say in that...Ah, and I hear you about this bad habit of changing covers mid-series. At least wait until the whole thing gets reissued!

      I seem to remember your Imaginary Girls review...Ren Suma is not for everyone. If you need a bit of solid ground to your stories, they're not the kind of thing that will work for you. But I love how eerie they are...and the writing is top-notch, you have to give Ren Suma that 😉.

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  4. THE GIRL FROM THE WELL!!!! I haven't read that one but I adore her newest series The Bone Witch. 😂 Also I see Lucid. 👀👀👀

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    1. Haha, I remember your on-the-fence review for Lucid. I promised I'd read it one day nevertheless because I was too curious...and here we go 😂.

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    2. AH HA SO IT WAS ME AFTER ALL. 😂😂😂

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    3. Actually, I'd heard of this book before you reviewed it...but your review did make an impression 😉.

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  5. I love so many of these books! Thanks so much for the lovely shoutouts. <3 It looks like you're in for an amazing reading year! The Rin Chupeco and Bérubé are some of my favorite YA horror, and you're right that I'm totally biased toward all McGuire. 😂

    I'm excited to see what you think of them and the new Suma book! I think "confusion, loose ends or lack of answers" kind of characterizes her stuff, so that shouldn't be a problem. I remember reading good things about The Gallery of Unfinished Girls as well, and Memoirs of an Imaginary Friends has a compelling premise. I'm looking forward to reading your reviews!

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    1. I've read the first pages of the new Suma, and it has all her trademarks. I'm already confused, but in a good way 😂.

      I'll do Goodreads mini reviews for all those books as soon as I finish one...but the longer reviews will definitely come later.

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  6. Eeeeeee! I'm so excited for you to read THE DARK BENEATH THE ICE and I STOP SOMEWHERE. Those were two of my fave 2018 debuts. And I really need to get a copy of Nova Ren's new book at some point...

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    1. LOL, I know. I read your GR reviews/tweets about them.

      Suma's writing is just so lovely - it creates an atmosphere without being purple. It's like an added character in her books. Her stories might not be for everyone, but I love them. And since you five-starred The Walls Around Us, I'd recommend any other of Suma's books to you, because her trademarks are always there, though each and every book has its distinct voice and story to tell.

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  7. That's quite the haul! I hope you love each and every one of them. Teenage Freaks was good - just not what I was expecting and that always leaves you a but disappointed if that's what you were in the mood for.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. I can only treat myself with books once a year, thanks to my parents' birthday/Christmas gift and the holidays bonus at work...so I'm taking good advantage of those LOL.

      And thanks to your review, I think I'm prepared for Teenage Freaks being...whatever it is, though I have to admit that my main reason for reading it is still its quirky premise...🤔

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