Hello everyone. As my twitter has stated, I’m on hiatus. Unfortunately my (and my child’s) health was weak to begin with, and then our household caught covid, despite taking extreme measures to isolate since Jan 2020. Luckily everyone in our household is more or less fine. However, I’ve been struggling really hard with it (while still taking care of a toddler with no assistance.) I’ve been on the cusp of hospitalization for the past week, and it’s really scary and awful. I do seem to be turning around, but I can’t really say definitively either way.

I had begun drafting my Wyrd & Wonder posts far in advance, and I worked with some writers and bloggers to complete a couple. But unfortunately I’ve decided not to participate this year, at least as things stand right now. I’ll post them when my health returns. I’m not sure when that will be, but I’m hoping it’ll be sooner rather than later.

Thanks for understanding everyone.

The Last Smile in Sunder City (The Fetch Phillips Archives #1) by Luke Arnold
[Goodreads | Bookshop.org]
Published: 2020
Genre, sub-genre: Fantasy: high, urban
Pages: 352

Keywords: dark past protagonist, alternating present/past narrative, first person, mystery
Notable aspects:

1 minute summary
A former soldier-turned-PI tries to help the fantasy creatures whose lives he ruined in a world that’s lost its magic.

My rating: 3.5 stars – an average book for me, but I fully expect others to enjoy it.
1 sentence review: A nicely complex protagonist, a great setting and an even better premise just manage to save a book with a lot of stylistic and writing issues.

Pros: great setting and premise, great main character.
Cons: uneven writing style, info dumps used instead of storytelling, quick pacing took away emotional affect of story.

Good for readers who: enjoy the wounded PI trope, straightforward storytelling, don’t mind info dumps, or are looking for a new and challenging take on the idea of magic.
Not so great for readers who: don’t like the wounded, self-loathing protagonist trope, don’t like info dumps or alternating past and present povs, or readers who are picky about writing style and having immersive depth to their stories

So I guess I’m in the minority, because although I really loved the whole idea of this book, I personally didn’t care for the experience of reading it. I don’t think it’s a bad novel overall, but I feel like the execution didn’t live up to its premise.

Read More

I’m going to read this month, I swear (that includes blogs.) I’m also going to post, like, actual stuff that book blogs are supposed to.

Above are the stories I want to get through in March. As a general rule, I don’t usually post monthly TBRs (for a variety of reasons, the most important of which is because I’m a hot mess.) But I want to draw a public line in the sand here, in a desperate attempt to shame myself into actually getting through a story in March. My 2021 Book List is set up so that I’m expected to clear at least one book and short story a month, and that didn’t happen in February, so it needs to happen now.

Come on, Rin. It’s not that hard.

What to Expect on The 13th Shelf this month
Reviews: a fantasy classic and a popular contemporary urban fantasy—both of which literally everyone has already read. So get excited. Or not, I don’t know.

Artist Showcase: a fantasy artist with a talent for both art and humor.

Music: a track that marries modern and traditional music in unconventional ways.

Reading Wrap-up
There isn’t anything here.

I read about 500-ish pages overall, but didn’t finish anything. Such is life, sometimes.

Since I’m here, I thought I might dump three bookish thoughts that have been banging around inside my skull for many months.

Read More

I’m feeling really discouraged. It’s one week to the end of the month, and I haven’t finished a single story. I suppose it would be different if I was just busy and other things got in the way of my reading. But I’ve been as persistent as I could be with my book time, and every thing I’ve tried to read has been so incredibly difficult to get through that I ultimately could not finish them.

I’ve tried my best to get through two novels this month. I’m really heartbroken because they’re self-published, and while I know there’s a fierce debate about how truthful reviewers should be with criticism of self-pub, I personally don’t feel comfortable laying too far into them. I also feel pretty terrible because I have a rule where I do not publicly announce I’m reading a self-pub book until I am absolutely sure I’m going to finish it. (This is so authors don’t anticipate a review and a bit of publicity unless I’m sure I’ll be giving it.) But I tripped up this month, and now I’m in a really crummy position, because I’m not sure I can finish this book.

I’ve had several people comment on how unconventional my current rule of “no books over 400 pages” is, and I’d like to make it clear: I get, AT MOST, four broken hours to read every week—if nothing unexpected pops up (and it often does.) I have ten pots on my stove top and four burners. If I decide to read a 300pg book, that’s half a month for me right there. Any day I spend reading a book that I ultimately don’t finish is a huge loss for me, because I end up with a month like this: a whole four weeks of blog hiatus, and absolutely nothing to show for it. The point of this break was to read enough books to give myself a posting cushion of six weeks so that this blog doesn’t become one more pot I need to attend to. (And also to finish playing WoW, which, for various reasons, has not happened either.)

DNFing needs to happen fast for me, but with self-published works, I always try to push as far as I can go because I want to be the kind of reader who gives the authors a chance. I had this idea that I was going to read one self-pub book a month, but now that’s no longer a secondary goal for me. I don’t think I can be the reader that these authors deserve. In fact, I’m just going to stay away from self-pub completely unless my life feels a little more stable.

I’m feeling really down about this. I have a weird compulsion to finish the current book I have, even though the characters make me want to scratch my brain out. I guess I want to show that I’ve finished SOMETHING this month, because as of right now, my reading list for February is completely blank, despite the fact that I scrambled and fought for every moment of reading time I could find.

I guess I’ll try some short stories or something so that the month isn’t a complete wash.