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Welcome to my book blog Eclectic Reads!

My name is Shaun. I am an avid reader of many different genres.  Science Fiction/Fantasy, Literary Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Horror, Non-Fiction, True Crime, Biography/Memoir. Of those my primaries are SFF, Mystery/Thiller and Horror but I still read a fair amount in the other genres as well.  I am willing to give most things a chance.

I have a channel of the same name that is part of the BookTube community on YouTube.  This blog is meant to be a companion to that channel. Here I will post text versions of video reviews that I do on the channel.  But that is not all.  My current plan as I start this blog is to review each book I read here starting in August 2017, whereas I will not record separate reviews for each book on the channel.  Separate reviews on the channel will be reserved for ARCs and books I feel especially passionate about one way or the other. Otherwise they will just be talked about in my weekly wrap ups.

Reviews will not be all that I post here.  There will be other bookish content as the mood strikes me.  Some ideas I have right now are Top 5 lists, discussions, anticipated releases and just anything bookish I might have on my mind.

Thank you for taking the time check out my little space in the blogosphere.  I hope that you will follow me along on this journey!

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My Week in Books – February 9, 2018

Not a lot to report this week.  I am still working on “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett and “Before They Are Hanged” by Joe Abercrombie.  I am finally more than halfway through “Pillars of the Earth”, 61% to be exact.  I am hoping to be able to finish it by the end of the Weekend or Monday night.  My time to read greatly reduces in the last half of the month as the musical my wife and I are directing starts going into tech runs leading into performances.  I have switched to the audiobook of “Before They Are Hanged” to make that one easier to get through with my lack of reading time.

I am also working on a couple of books from my “Horror Books I Want to Read” post.  “Bird Box” by Josh Malerman and “Seed” by Ania Ahlborn, which I picked up for Women In Horror month.  These have been nice, quick-reading books to pick up when I do not have a lot of time to devote to reading.  If I only have 15-20 minutes to spare I can pick up one of these and get through two or three chapters and feel like I have accomplished something.

On deck is a couple of translated works, which will appear in an upcoming post about translated fiction I want to read.  “I Hear Your Voice” by Young-Ha Kim and translated by Krys Lee, and “Frankenstein in Baghdad” by Ahmed Saadawi and translated by Jonathan Wright. These are both for different Goodreads reading groups that I am a part of, one being a new one focused on works in translation.  I, of course, have one or two other things that I am thinking of picking up so we will see where my moods take me.

I hope you all have had a fantastic reading week.  Let me know in the comments what you have been reading?

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My Week in Books – Feb. 2nd 2018

How is it February already?! Can’t believe we are already into the second month of the year and another week as gone by.  Well I guess it’s time to talk about my week in books.

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Books I finished

I have not finished any physical books this week, but I did get to a couple of audiobooks.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

I’m late to the party on this one I know.  If you don’t already know, this book is about what happens when kids who go through a magical doorway to another world come back. There is school for these children who can not cope with the real world and only long to return through their doorway.  When after the arrival a new student, Nancy, other students start being murdered eyes point to the new kid.  I really loved this book. I knew that it was about kids that returned from magical lands, but I was not expecting a murder mystery wrapped in a fantasy.  The depth of character and story that Seanan McGuire was able to achieve in a novella makes me really excited to read some of her novels.

Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley

This I read for the Book Riot Read Harder challenge prompt of “A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author”.  This book set in the 40’s is about Easy Rawlins, an African-American WWII veteran who has recently been fired from his job. When a well dressed white man offers him money to simply locate a girl he cannot turn it down, he has a mortgage payment to make.  Of course the job is not that simple when bodies start turning up and police want to pin it on the black man whose name keeps popping up.  This was a really good book.  The plot moved along a nice pace, the characters were well drawn out and Walter Mosley really gave a sense what it would have been like for African-Americans living in the dirty south (or anywhere) during the post war 1940’s, before the civil rights movement.

What I’m Currently Reading

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

I am still working on this buddy read with Robyn at The Driftless Reader.  I am almost halfway through the book (about 42%) and still really enjoying it.  It’s just slow going because of how busy I am.  I don’t like to pick it up unless I can devote a decent amount of time to reading.

Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie

I am also still working on this buddy read with Julie at A Girl and a Book.  I am only around 100 pages into this one.  Again I don’t like to pick it up unless I have a good chunk of time to read and I just don’t lately.  But I am really enjoying this second book in The First Law trilogy.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

If you saw my “Horror books I want to read” post you will recognize this book.  I decided to pick this up, even though I have two buddy reads I am behind on, because the chapters are short and it reads quickly.  So when I only have 15 minutes or so to read I can get through a couple of chapters of this.  Something is out there, and if you see it you kill yourself.  I am really enjoying this so far, I’m about 25% of the way through and the concept is something I have not read before.

Seed by Ania Ahlborn

What?! A fourth book?! Are you crazy?! You don’t have time to read the other three! That is what I said to myself when I picked this up today. However I found out yesterday that it is Women in Horror month, so I really wanted to pick up an Ania Ahlborn and like Bird Box the chapters are short and it reads quickly.  So I don’t need a ton of time to read a little bit.  I just picked this up today so I don’t know too much yet what it is about.  Going in kind of blind on this one.

What have you been reading this past week? Have you read any of these?  Let me know in the comments.

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Horror Novels I Want to Read

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

bird box

 

I have heard so many good things about this book.  Plus the author is from the Metro Detroit.  So I feel I need to support the hometown horror author.  I don’t know too much about it other than it has something to do with not being able to look at things.  But I have wanted to read it since I heard about it last year.

 

 

 

Seed, Brother, and The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn

 

I loved Ania Ahlborn’s The Bird Eater.  It was on my Top Books of 2017. I have also read her novella The Pretty Ones, and loved that too.  Ania Ahlborn is very quickly becoming one of my favorite authors and really I want to read all her stuff that I haven’t this year. However I’m realistic and know I will probably only get to a few, so these three are the ones I want to prioritize.

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Lovecraft Country

This book sounds really interesting. A black man’s father goes missing and he has to travel from Chicago to New England during the Jim Crow America of the 1950’s to try to find him. So not only does he have racial terrors to deal with there is also Lovecraftian supernatural terrors.  My friend Stephanie of the Booktube channel That’s What She Read and co-host of the Books in the Freezer podcast really enjoyed this book so that made me want to read it even more.

The Manitou by Graham Masterton

manitou

There are actually several Graham Masterton books I would like to read but I decided I would start with his debut novel.  In this a malevolent Native American spirit comes back to destroy the white race that oppressed the it’s people, and of course it can only be stopped using an ancient Native magic.  I like ghost stories and this sounds like a take on it I have not read before.

 

Audition by Ryu Murakami

Audition

Okay so I have wanted to see this movie for a while now and have never gotten to it.  Now I am glad that I never got to it, because I only recently learned that it was book first.  I really don’t know much about the plot other than it stems from someone auditioning women to be his perfect wife. I have had many friends tell me I need to see this movie and I am really looking forward to reading the book and then finally checking out the movie.

My Best Friends Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

My Best Friends Exorcism

Again this a book I keep hearing such good things about.  I think this is more a horror comedy, which I believe is kind of Grady Hendrix does. I have his book Horrorstor which is designed like an Ikea catalog, so I get the impression he is very tongue and cheek about his horror writing.  With this one the hardcover looked like a yearbook, and the paperback has this cool, old school VHS cover.  This one might happen soon, I am really looking forward to it.

Beneath by Kristi DeMeester

Beneath

This came on my radar after hearing my friend Rachel, the other co-host of the Books in the Freezer Podcast and also a booktuber at TheShadesofOrange channel, rave about it.  On the reverse a friend of hers that we did a buddy read with hated it.  I don’t even really know what this book is about, just with two such polarizing opinions this is one I have to check out for myself. I actually just bout Kristi DeMeesters story collection, Everything That’s Underneath, so I will get a feel for writing soon.

Kill River by Cameron Roubique

Kill River

I just learned about this book last night.  Rachel (same one as mentioned above) posted a tweet showing this book and one other by the author.  The cover alone told me what it was, and then researching it confirmed it.  This author writes 80’s style slasher books. Those were the horror movies I grew up on, the ones that made me love horror, and the ones I still re-watch today.  I immediately followed the author on Twitter, and he even reached out to me and thanked me for the follow and the like of Rachel’s tweet. I need to get my hands on this one soon, and if it’s as good as I think it might be I will do everything I can to help him out. Not that my reach is that wide, but it is growing.

 

There are a lot more horror books I want to try and read this year, but there are a lot of other books in multiple genres I want to read. So I had to narrow and prioritize.  I’ve already posted my Series I Want to Finish and the Series I Want to Start.  If SFF and horror is not your thing, not to worry I will also be posting the historical fiction, literary fiction and non-fiction I want to try and get to soon. So be on the lookout for those posts, and be sure to follow so you don’t miss them.

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Series I want to start in 2018

Along with the series I want to finish or catch up with in 2018 there are of course a bunch of series I want to start reading too.  These are just some of the series I would like to at least read the first book of in 2018.

Song of Shattered Sands by Bradley Beaulieu

 

This series, like a lot of the ones on this list, came to my attention last year through watching BookTube videos.  I was going to use this for Reddit fantasy bingo until I abandon doing that.  I would love to read the first two before A Veil of Spears comes out on March 20th, but I do not think I see that happening.  I would at least like to read the first book before then so I know if I even like the series.

The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett

 

I picked up the first book of this series on the freebies table at a con last year, and I was told by someone standing nearby that it was really good.  It sounded so much like something I would like that I bought the second book on sale one day.  I really wanted to get to it last year and it just didn’t happen.  So hopefully this is the year.

The Shadow Campaigns by Django Wexler

 

I think I got the first of this series on the same freebies table as The Warded Man, I don’t really remember but I think that is right.  I have heard good things about this series though and it really sounds like something I would get into.  I even bought the kindle version of the first book on sale last month, so I have a physical and digital copy, no excuses.

Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams

Memory sorrow and thorn

I ended up getting the old mass market paperbacks of this entire series on that same freebies table (I do good at the freebies table at this particular con, I scored good this year too).  This is a classic of epic fantasy and Tad Williams has returned to this world in a new series he is putting out.  So I think it is about time I read the first series.

The Inheritance Trilogy and The Dreamblood Duology by N.K. Jemisin

 

If you come to my blog from my BookTube channel than you are probably already pretty aware of how much I loved The Broken Earth trilogy.  So now it is time to go back and read N.K. Jemisin’s previous two series.

Imperial Radch by Ann Leckie

Imerial Radch

I have heard so many good things about this series. I even met the author at Penguicon a couple years ago.  But I have never started reading this series. Now that she is starting a new series set in this world, that again I am hearing great things about, I really need to get stuck into this.

The Indranan War by K.B. Wagers

 

A buddy of mine told me about Behind the Throne about a year ago and said he was really enjoying it, and since he is the friend that turned me on to John Scalzi I trust his opinion on what he thinks I would like.  Since then I have heard even more great things about this series, and it really does sound like something I would get into.  I just got the first book on a Kindle deal so hopefully soon.

The Passage Trilogy by Justin Cronin

The Passage Trilogy

When I found out about this series last year I was so confident that it was something I would like that I bought all three books in the trade paperback editions.  I still have not read the first book, but I am fixing that this year.

I definitely will not get all of each of these series read this year, I may not even get to the first book of all these, as this is really just a sampling of the series I would like to get into. But I figure maybe if I share it with all of you it will inspire me to start them and report back with my thoughts and if I am going to continue with them.

What series are you looking to start this year?  Have you read any these?  Let me know in the comments.

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Weekly Update – January 26, 2018

Welcome to my first weekly update post.  I wanted to go back to doing weekly update videos on my Booktube channel, but lately I just have more time to blog than I do to film.  So I have made the decision to move the weekly updates to the blog, which will help me have consistent blog content too.  Once my schedule frees up some (HA!) maybe I will start filming them again as well.

 

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Books I have finished

I have finished three books this week and one short story.

The Changeling by Victor LaValle

This was the first book I finished this week. I read this as part of Russell at Ink and Paper Blog’s Around the World in 1000 Pages read-a-long.  Each month through June he is reading a book from an author on a different continent (not including Antarctica) and this month to kick it off was North America and this was the book he chose.  I have full a review post for this book here, so all I will say in this post is that I ended up enjoying Victor Lavalle’s writing more than the story.  Not say I didn’t enjoy the story, but there were some things that bothered me.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

I was, very loosely, buddy reading this with booktuber James Chatham but we ended up really out of sync with each other on it.  He finished it weeks ago and I finally just finished the audiobook Monday, and as I am typing this I still haven’t sent my final thoughts because I haven’t had time to fully process my thoughts LOL.  However I did really enjoy this book, though I felt it was a bit longer than it needed to be.  I thought it was interesting take on a vampire novel. Instead of a creature that sucks blood, it is more of a mental draining.  Joe Hill always throws in nods to his father and some of his favorite authors and those are always fun to find too.  I listened to the audiobook of this and I highly recommend it.  Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway – ST Voyager/Red – OITNB) narrates it and she is just fantastic. Her voice for the antagonist Manx gave me chills. I do plan to do a review post of this book, so be on the lookout for that.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

This one was a re-read for me, though I have not read it since I was a kid.  I read this for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge prompt of a children’s classic published before 1980.  I actually just finished the audiobook of this about an hour before I started writing this post.  This really is a classic.  Listening to it just gave me all the warm childhood nostalgia feels.

Short Story  – Sour Milk Girls by Erin Roberts

This is short story was published in Clarkesworld Magazine issue #136, January 2018.  A group of orphans whose memories have been taken, to be replaced when they turn 18 and are released into the world, are in disbelief when a new orphan arrives claiming to still have her memories. When it is discovered to be true, one of the others needs to find out why.  This was just a great short story and the ending just punched me right in the gut.

Currently Reading

Before They are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie

I am buddy reading this with Julie at A Girl and A Book.  We read the first book in this series together and both loved it.  I am only on Chapter 4 right now but it feels so good to be back in this world.

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

I am buddy reading this with Robyn at The Driftless Reader.  I am currently in the middle of Chapter 5.  This book is a chunker, the Kindle edition comes in at 1044 pages.  I am hoping conquering this book really helps me get over length intimidation.  I am really enjoying this book so far.  It is long but Ken Follett’s writing is very easy to read, though a little over descriptive at times.

Robots vs. Fairies edited by Navah Wolfe and Dominik Parisien

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll know that I was tweeting pretty hard about this book as it’s release was coming up.  This is a short story collection with half the authors writing robot stories and half writing fairy stories. I currently have only read one of the stories in this book, so I’m not very far in at all.  However, I was at the ConFusionSF convention in Novi, MI last weekend and six of the authors and both editors were there. So I got my copy signed by Navah Wolfe, Dominik Parisien, Delilah S. Dawson, Max Gladstone, Annalee Newitz, Jim C. Hines, Sarah Gailey, and John Scalzi. I also got to hear each of them read a five-minute sample of their stories, and as a bonus in a different reading session I got to hear Sarah Gailey read her full story, which was amazing. So now I am even more pumped to get into these stories.

The Dude

I am hoping to make some decent progress in all three of these over the next week, especially since I never know what else I may end up picking up.  Struggles of being a mood reader.  Also deciding what audiobook I am going to start next, since I just finished one.

Have you read any these books?  What you currently reading?  Let me know in the comments.

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The Changeling by Victor LaValle – Review

changeling by victor lavalleBook Description (taken from Amazon)

“When Apollo Kagwa’s father disappeared, all he left his son were strange recurring dreams and a box of books stamped with the word IMPROBABILIA. Now Apollo is a father himself—and as he and his wife, Emma, are settling into their new lives as parents, exhaustion and anxiety start to take their toll. Apollo’s old dreams return and Emma begins acting odd. Irritable and disconnected from their new baby boy, at first Emma seems to be exhibiting signs of postpartum depression, but it quickly becomes clear that her troubles go even deeper. Before Apollo can do anything to help, Emma commits a horrific act—beyond any parent’s comprehension—and vanishes, seemingly into thin air.

Thus begins Apollo’s odyssey through a world he only thought he understood, to find a wife and child who are nothing like he’d imagined. His quest, which begins when he meets a mysterious stranger who claims to have information about Emma’s whereabouts, takes him to a forgotten island, a graveyard full of secrets, a forest where immigrant legends still live, and finally back to a place he thought he had lost forever.”

Review

First of all let me say that Victor LaValle’s writing is fantastic.  He has a way with words that just grabs you from the first sentence and pulls you right into his world. The world he creates in this book really becomes like another character in the story, and he has multiple worlds in this book a couple of which exist within the fabric of the first, which is our own.

In this book we follow Apollo from childhood, through his courtship with Emma, the birth of their child, and ultimately his search for her after her disappearance. It is after the aforementioned “horrific act” and disappearance that the dark fairy tale of this book really gets going.  The problem is we don’t get to those fantastical elements of the book until over halfway through. There are some little, creepy hints dropped in the first part of the book, but the first part really just reads like a modern love story and struggle with being new parents. So while I enjoyed it, and knew the darker stuff was coming, it was his writing that got me through the first part and I can see some readers giving up on it before getting to the true dark fairy tale portion of the book.

I also think the title of the book is slightly unfortunate if you know the folklore of a changeling.  The title gives away the major revelation of the book, in essence spoiling itself. Fortunately I did not know the folklore and could go along for the ride with Apollo, which really helped my enjoyment of the book.  If had known the folklore, I think I would have been a bit disappointed once I really got into the story.  So my advice, if you do not know the folklore of a changeling do not look it up before reading this book. You will get more out of it going in blind.

This book did something else that I did not even realize or think about until I heard it pointed out by another reviewer, What Cass Read over on YouTube.  She pointed out that Victor LaValle really created his own changeling with the story itself. Without spoiling anything all I will really say about that is it refers to what I mentioned above about worlds existing within the fabric of our own. But why I bring it up is it gave me a whole other level of appreciation for Victor LaValle’s writing and what he did with this book.

I did enjoy this book, but I think I enjoyed Lavalle’s writing and world building more than I enjoyed the story itself.  While most of the mentioned hints dropped in the first half do get explained, the more I think about the book there are holes that I find. There is an aspect of the book with Apollo’s father that I don’t feel was satisfactorily resolved in relation to the story, and there was another event that never got explained as to what really happened and how. I wish I could say more but it would be a major spoiler and if you read it, or have read it,  I think you’ll figure out what I am referring to.

I will definitely read more by Victor LaValle, as I said his writing is fantastic, and I am intrigued to see what else he comes up with because I know it will be beautifully told.

If you have read this book let me know in the comments what you thought of it?  Have read anything else by Victor LaValle? How does this compare?

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Series I Want to Finish in 2018

Like most genre fiction readers, I have a lot of series in process.  These are the series that I would like to finish or catch up to the current book of in 2018.  There are more I am working on, but these are the ones I want to give priority to.

The First Law by Joe Abercrombie

The_First_Law_covers

I started The First Law trilogy in September of last year, and have currently only read The Blade Itself.  I actually just started Before They Are Hanged today, so I am into the second book.  I know there a few stand-alone novels in this world but this year I am only focusing on the original trilogy.  If I get to the stand-alone ones great.

The Greatcoats by Sebastien De Castell

greatcoats

I also started this Three Musketeers style series last year and I absolutely loved the first book.  I am really looking forward to getting back into the world of Falcio, Kest, and Brasti.

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

farseer trilogy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This series I started a couple years ago and I am only on Book 2 Royal Assassin.  I eventually want to read all of the Realm of the Elderlings books but that is a lot of books, and I know I won’t get through them all this year.  So much more manageable is this first series featuring Fitz and the Fool.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

I have loved the first two books of this series, and I had every intention of finishing the first trilogy before Iron Gold came out and started the next saga.  That did not happen and I still have the third book to read.  But this series is high on my priority list this year, hence it’s inclusion on this list.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

binti trilogy

This is one that I loved the first book so much that I immediately pre-ordered book 2, and book 3 when that was available for pre-order.  I still have not read book 2 and book 3 just came out.  The sad part about me not being caught up with this series is that they are novellas, so there really is no good excuse why I didn’t just knock book 2 out one afternoon or over a couple of nights.  But hopefully within the next few weeks I will have this one caught up.

The Arcadia Project by Mishell Baker

Like Binti, I loved the first book in this series so much that I immediately pre-ordered book 2.  I think you know what is coming next. I was so excited for it that I have not read it yet.  Book 3 comes out in March and I have it pre-ordered, so I definitely want to get Phantom Pains read before Impostor Syndrome comes out.  I met Mishell baker over the weekend at a convention and she signed my copies of Borderline and Phantom Pains, and I got to hear her read from Impostor Syndrome, luckily she skipped over spoilery parts of the chapter.  But from what I heard of it I am super excited for it.

Those are the series I hope to get up with or finish in 2018.  What about you?  Are you caught up with all your series?  What ones are you focusing on this year? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

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