Reading for free: resources and recs

If you follow this blog it’s likely you don’t really need me to praise books’ power of escapism during tough times. Not just books but fiction in general. I think we all need a little break from reality right now, but things can get expensive pretty quickly if you’re consuming more fiction than you can buy.

Over the years of being a blogger and a reader I’ve come across a few resources to get that sense of escapism for free (and legally), and I thought I’d share them all in this post.

flower separator

🎧 It seems to be a little known fact that Spotify actually also has audiobooks: this post my friend wrote should guide you through it + it gives you a few audiobook recs!
📚 For reading YA, Riveted has a lot of free books that are available for a certain amount of time. There’s full books and excerpts of newer books published by Simon Teen and they rotate often enough, so even if you don’t find anything you’d like to read right now, you can check again regularly and see what else they have.
📘 If you want to browse a huge range of SFF short stories and novellas, Tor.com is the place to look. You can browse by author’s name and find short stories by your favorites or discover new authors. One story I’ve read recently and that I loved is Water: A History by KJ Kabza.

📚 There are also a few stories on B&N SFF originals, where I found one of my recent favorite short stories, If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again by Zen Cho.

📗 If you are a reviewer and have a NG account you can read and review a lot of books from the Netgalley read now list. I do recommend only getting the books you think you will read, because you don’t want to be stuck with 100 books that were free to read and realize you have to read and review them all (or forever ruin your chance at getting ARCs you really want because your ratio is too low).
📕 The same goes for the Edelweiss to download list: remember once you get them you have to review them! To make things easier on yourself you can browse the books per category, just like on netgalley. Edelweiss doesn’t have the most user-friendly interface, but thankfully my friend once again has a guide! (thanks, E.!!!)
📘 Prose isn’t the only kind of entertainment! If you’re into graphic novels, you must check out the many webcomics (IMO the best type of graphic stories) available for free. Many creators post them on their own sites, but there are apps that let you browse thousands of them, you won’t really know where to begin (thankfully I have recommendations! Check out here and here for my favorite webcomics). The apps are tapas, webtoon, wecomics.
📕 As much as I don’t love helping big corporations, I can’t not mention Amazon’s top 100 free reads list. This probably varies from country to country so make sure to check your own country’s website.

📚 There’s also probably a lot of lists of free books on goodreads: I’m going to link this one with only LGBTQ+ books (which also has a few more linked resources for free queer books), but you can look for more by searching key words on the top right corner of that page.
📘 There’s also many paid services that offer you free trials and you can opt out if you don’t want to continue onto a paid subscription. I’m currently trying Scribd for the first time because they opened up a free trial (without you needing to share your credit card with them) because of the huh, circumstances we’re all under.

divider-2461548_960_720

I really hope this post was useful! Please let me know if you know of more resources to read for free, or tell me if you use / have used any of these in the past! Stay healthy everyone and remember to lose yourself in fiction for a while when everything is too much.

How many of my most anticipated books of 2019 have I actually read? (Part 2)

Read the first part of this post here!

I’m back with the second part of this, I think it’s interesting to see how just within half a year I had more than half the books from the first part of 2019 in my most anticipated reads. Maybe that’s also because it feels like generally speaking there are a lot more books that get published in the first half of the year? But I also think that because I was going through a bit of a slump AND I was more attuned to my shifting tastes I was able to reduce the number of books I put on those lists.

divider-2461548_960_720

Key:

✅ = read

❌ = not read, still on TBR

🚫 = not read, removed from TBR

😔 = DNF’d

Third trimester

(original post here)

Wilder Girls by Rory Power – 🚫

 The Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Lee – ❌

 A Little Light Mischief by Cat Sebastian  – ✅

 The Last Hope by Krista Ritchie and Becca Ritchie – ❌

➣  Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff – ✅

 Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – 🚫

 How to be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters  – ✅

➣  The Tyrant’s Tomb by Rick Riordan – ❌

 Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell – ❌

flower divider

Fourth trimester

(original post here)

➣ Crier’s War by Nina Varela – ❌

➣ Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo – ❌

➣ Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert – ❌

➣ The Impossible Contract by K.A. Doore  – ✅

➣ Reverie by Ryan La Sala –  😔

➣ This Will Kill That by Danielle K. Roux – 🚫

divider-2461548_960_720

TOTAL BOOKS: 15

✅ = 4

❌ = 7

🚫 = 3

😔 = 1

While I wasn’t surprised that the amount of books was less, I was surprised to see how few I’ve head. Less than a third!! And out of those four, three were ARCs that I read months before their releases.

As you can see, some of them were also victims of The Massive TBR Removal Of January 2020, while others I simply haven’t gotten around to yet. The DNF was an ARC that I could’ve finished but decided it wasn’t worth my time.

I guess there’s not much else to say, so that’s it for this small series. Thanks for following along and I hope it didn’t come across as self-indulgent as it probably was!

flower separator

Have you read all of your most anticipated books from last year? 

How many of my most anticipated books of 2019 have I actually read? (Part 1)

Okay so I got the idea for this post from Naty’s blog and I am having fun looking at my old posts.

I’ve been posting four “Most anticipated releases” posts a year since 2018 (with releases from each trimester) and I always know I’m not going to read all of those and that after my post has been published I will inevitably discover something else that I will want to read coming out in those months. But now I want to do some math and see how many books I’ve read and how many I’ve even kept on my TBR.

divider-2461548_960_720

Key:

✅ = read

❌ = not read, still on TBR

🚫 = not read, removed from TBR

😔 = DNF’d

 

First trimester

(original post here)

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy (Reluctant Royals #2.5) by Alyssa Cole – ✅

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi – ✅

Song of the Dead (Reign of the Fallen #2) by Sarah Glenn Marsh – 🚫

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo – ✅

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas – ❌

Bloom by Kevin Panetta & Savanna Ganucheau – 🚫

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson – ✅

The Fever King by Victoria Lee – ✅

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl – 🚫

You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman – 🚫

The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum – ✅

The Perfect Assassin by K.A. Doore – ✅

Miranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett – 🚫

flower divider

Second trimester

(original post here)

➣ The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman – 🚫

➣ Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan – 🚫

➣ Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi – ❌

➣ The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston – ✅

➣ Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner – ❌

➣ King of Fools by Amanda Foody – ✅

➣ A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole – ❌

➣ Belly Up by Eva Darrows – 🚫

➣ Chosen Champion by Elise Kova – ✅

➣ Reverb by Anna Zabo – 😔

➣ Middlegame by Seanan McGuire – ❌

➣ Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins – ✅

➣ Kings, Queens and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju – 🚫

➣ We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal – ❌

➣ Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – ✅

➣ I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver – ❌

➣ Going Off-Script by Jen Wilde – ❌

➣ A Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite – ✅

➣ Wild and Crooked by Leah Thomas – 🚫

➣ Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi – 🚫

➣ All of Us With Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil – 🚫

divider-2461548_960_720

TOTAL BOOKS: 34

✅ = 13

❌ = 8

🚫 = 12

😔 = 1

So that was…interesting to see. Also from my part not really unexpected at all! I really go through phases of wanting to read something but then realizing I don’t care enough and there are way too many books to read anyway.

I will also say that I finally admitted to myself that I am a little bit over YA as a whole and I think this has impacted the way I saw some of my most anticipated (especially of the first part of the year).

Earlier this year I also did a massive removal of more than two hundred (!!) books from my digital shelf. I went from 414 to 182 in one evening, and by now I have removed a few more, getting down to 172.

It was only thanks to some internal work (admitting genres I don’t like anymore etc) that I managed to do such a massive removal, so I’m not really counting this post and the fact that I didn’t really read most of my anticipated releases as a negative thing, on the contrary! I am now more in touch with my likes and dislikes, and that’s always a good thing.

I divided this post in two parts because there were just too many books, the next part will come out sometime in the future (read: when I’m out of ideas on what to post fsdhjsh).

flower separator

Do you always manage to read your most anticipated releases? 

 

 

Discussion: What affects your reading?

discussion

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it even means to enjoy a book or not, and how there are a lot of factors that may influence your experience with a particular story in a positive or negative way.

There are so many books I think about and wonder: would I have liked this less/more if […]? So I wanted to talk about some of the things I’ve noticed have an effect on my reading. I also want to say beforehand that not all books will be affected the same way, and if a book is meant to be for you then not much else will matter.

flower separator

Mood & time

Mood is a given: if I’m sad or angry and the book doesn’t manage to make me forget the cause of my mood, of course I won’t enjoy it. The opposite is also true: if I’m relaxed and happy, then I will be more lenient of things I would maybe find annoying under other circumstances.

I am a slow reader. Reading a book takes a lot of time and sometimes I become so hyper aware of time passing that I just can’t enjoy reading anymore. This happens randomly sometimes and I don’t know if it’s an ADHD thing, but most of the time it’s because I know there’s something else I could (or should) be doing, be it homework or chores around the house.

The genre that’s most affected by my sense of time passing is contemporary, especially if it’s YA. It’s one of the reasons I’m not enjoying this genre so much anymore, unless I’m truly relaxed and give myself permission to read it.

Don’t get me wrong, I never think that reading is a waste of time, but sometimes the book just isn’t good enough for me not to feel bad about not doing something else, and it’s mostly just my ADHD/anxiety-riddled brain that’s telling me I should feel like this while reading.

flower divider

Format

I think since discovering audiobooks, format has been THE biggest factor that influences my enjoyment of a book.

I’ve listened to so many books that ended up being some of my favorites and that I know I wouldn’t have had the patience to even start in the conventional way, and if I had started them I would’ve felt like it was taking me too long, taking me on a spiral of why am I sitting here reading this (see section above). With audiobooks not only is the reading speed (I usually listen on 1.5x or 1.6x) higher than my own, I also can’t really get distracted and go on twitter like I do when I normally read, because I listen to them while doing something with my hands (usually chores or cooking, sometimes phone games if I’m done with everything but still want to keep listening).

I also don’t feel like I’m wasting my time because I’m usually reading them while I’m doing something I would’ve needed to do anyway, in fact I feel like the books are increasing the quality of my time because it’s literally just me multitasking and getting things done, while getting me closer to that goodreads reading goal.

It sounds silly maybe but audiobooks made me rediscover liking books even when they don’t end up becoming my favorites. I used to feel sad if a book was “only” four stars for me, and thinking back I know some of the five stars I’ve given were actually four stars that I just didn’t know how to rate, because hey, I liked the book, so why shouldn’t it be five stars?, but then I realized if I really enjoyed my experience it didn’t matter that it’s not a five stars. I started rediscovering that with audiobooks and now it’s happening with books I read the “normal” way too, and it makes me so happy. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving a lot of five stars and I’ve done that a lot in the past but I’m seeing my ratings now are getting more fair and I’m a bit truer to what I really think about the books I’m reviewing.

flower divider

Spoilers (and what does that mean?)

Spoilers are… a funny thing. Everyone sees them differently and there’s always some recurring twitter discourse around them.

I am personally really picky sometimes: with some books, for whatever reason, I want to know nothing before reading. I even avoid reading the blurb. Not because I think having a general idea of what the book is about is a spoiler, but some books just give me this vibe that I will enjoy them more if I don’t know a single thing about them.

Sometimes though I actively look for some spoilers (especially things like………who ends up with who if it’s not clear from the start lmao) and knowing makes reading more enjoyable in these cases.

Something that actually affects how emotionally involved I am in a book is people telling me how much something is going to make me cry, to prepare paper tissues and so on. I am definitely guilty of doing this myself, but when people do it to me I am much more emotionally detached by the time I reach the part they were talking about. I still process what’s going on and feel for the characters and maybe even cry about it later or when/if i reread, but while reading I feel like I’ve already built myself a mental wall and I can’t even cry. (Again, I’m so guilty of doing this to my friends and if it’s as annoying to you as it is to me please let me know and I will refrain from it in the future!)

Similarly to this, when people say there’s a big plot twist coming, it kind of defies the whole purpose of the twist. Especially if this is a goodreads update where you can see the page or percentage of the book, so by the time you get there you’ll know it’s coming and it’s just no fun.

flower divider

Narrator

An audiobook narrator can make or break a book. I’ve had mostly positive experiences, but there are some narrators that just don’t work for me or give off a different vibe than what the book is trying to achieve.

If we’re talking about the internal narrator or POV character, that can also be a factor that makes me enjoy the book less or more. It’s tricky because I almost never go “hey, this book would work best if it was in another character’s perspective,” but sometimes even though the book is interesting I just don’t like the POV character and how their train of though works (especially in 1st person YA contemporaries).

There are other times when a narrator is absolutely delightful and even if they only get a few chapters it makes me want to read a whole book in their POV. And speaking of which, I adore when books have multiple POVs (another reason why I’m getting Really back into adult fantasy).

flower divider

Expectations

Generally speaking, having expectations about a book is not always a great thing. It might be that the book is really good and you love it but it’s simply not what you were in the mood for because the blurb/reviews made you think it was something different.

Although having low expectations and ending up loving the book can be one of the best feelings when reading.

flower divider

Fandom (fanart, memes…)

This is something we don’t always get in western book fandoms unless the book is really popular and/or slightly older. But being in fandoms where there’s a lot of fanart and memes can be such a fun experience and it makes you relive the book over and over and the more you see it on your timeline the more you can’t get it out of your head, sometimes even ending up in your favorites when maybe it wasn’t at first.

On the other hand, a book you loved that has no fandom will stay in your memory but it’s not the same as seeing it every day on twitter, and eventually you’ll forget a lot of it to the point where you’re not even sure if it still classifies as one of your favorites.

divider-2461548_960_720

What do you think? Do any of the things I mentioned affect how you will feel about a book? What is an external factor that will always ruin a book for you? Or make the book better? Let me know!

F/F February TBR

Today I officially decided to join next month’s F/F February readathon! I am so excited for this, first of all I have a lot of F/F books I own and especially a lot of novellas that were free at some point and I just never get to them, so this is going to be my chance to read some of them. And then any even that celebrates not only F/F relationships but sapphic books in general (like the announcement post explains) obviously is going to own my whole heart.

I decided to just focus mostly on what I already own so I am not joining the challenges, although some of these books definitely meet some of them.

If you want to join but don’t know what to read, make sure to read Charlotte’s announcement that also has A LOT of awesome recs, divided both by genre and by readathon challenges! I also have F/F recommendation posts here and here so make sure to check them out if you need inspiration for joining in on the fun.

I will try not to read anything else, but I am in the middle of my tgcf reread (that’s like, probably 2000+ pages if it was a physical book) and I don’t want to pause it for a whole month, so I will also be reading that although it’s not f/f.

I am sharing here a tentative TBR where I basically just dumped all the books I found in my kindle/audible/shelves that meet the criteria for the challenge and that I think I might read. I definitely know I won’t be able to read all of them but that’s okay! The titles in bold are the ones I definitely count on reading, the other ones are options I’m giving myself in case I finish the ones I want to get to first.

flower separator

Books:

👭 Female General and Eldest Princess by 请君莫笑 

👭 Lesbisch für Anfängerinnen: Willkommen in der WG! by Celia Martin

👭 Long Steady Distance by Helena Hill

flower divider

Novellas:

👭 A Lady’s Desire by Lily Maxton

👭 That Could Be Enough by Alyssa Cole

👭 Learning Curves by Ceillie Simkiss

👭 Deadline by Stephanie Ahn

👭 Special Delivery by J.A. Armstrong

flower divider

Short stories:

32480487._sy475_

👭 Swelter by Jules Kelley

flower divider

Audiobooks:

👭 Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

👭 Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger

flower divider

Graphic novels:

25326619._sy475_

👭Sunstone vol. 3 (and possibly also volumes 4—6) by Stjepan Šejić

divider-2461548_960_720

Are you joining the readathon? What’s your TBR? 

F/F romance recs: 2019 edition

best ff 2019

Last year I ended up reading more f/f than m/m for the first time since I started reading queer fiction. If you’ve read my wrap-up post for 2019 you’ll see that out of 7 new favorites, 4 were f/f and 3 were m/m. I count that as a win on my part and in this post I wanted to mention the books that maybe didn’t make it into my favorites or in any of the other categories I mentioned in the above post, but I still want to recommend.

As with my previous post, I’m going chronologically with my recs, and the ones that I liked best are in bold. There are more f/f books I read than these but these are the ones I fully feel comfortable recommending!

See also the f/f rec post I wrote in 2018 

flower separator

Into the Drowning Deepby Mira Grant – ★★★★★ // review

The Afterward by E.K. Johnston – ★★★★★ // no review, just endless screaming

The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum – ★★★★★ // review

The Stars are Legions by Kameron Hurley – ★★★.5✩✩ // review

Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan – ★★★★✩ // no review, just read it for old sapphic ladies kicking some ass

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon – ★★★★★ // no review just pterodactyl screeches

Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins – ★★★★.5✩ // review

Never-Contented Things by Sarah Porter – ★★★★.5✩ // review

The Queen of Rhodia by Effie Calvin – ★★★★.5✩ // review

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite – ★★★★★ // review

A Little Light Mischief by Cat Sebastian – ★★★★✩ // review

Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon – ★★★★★ // review

Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler – ★★★★★ // no review but it’s a really nice college romance

The Impossible Contractby K.A. Doore – ★★★★.75✩ // review

Bloom Into You vol.1 by Nio Nakatani – ★★★★✩ // no review but it’s cute

The Deep by Rivers Solomon – ★★★★.5✩ // review

Tamen de gushi (Their Story) by Tan Jiu – ★★★★★ // no review but oh my god it’s my new favorite manhua

Being Hers by Anna Stone – ★★★✩✩ // no review but it’s good

divider-2461548_960_720

And this is it as for last year’s F/F recs! I hope this post was useful, I had a lot of fun going through last year’s books and I hope I can find a lot more recs this year.

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? How many f/f did you read last year?

Books I DNF’d in 2019

Hi everyone and welcome to the first post of 2020! Which is… still one of those wrap-up posts of 2019 because I got lazy during the holidays (and, to be fair, I was either chilling at my grandma’s with no internet or out with friends, so I don’t feel too bad about it).

I’ve been updating this post since the beginning of last year because I always tend to forget my DNF’s unless they’re really bad or there is something otherwise memorable about them. Note that not all my DNF’s have the same value or explanation and that I also not always rate them.

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke – no review/rating, I tried listening to the audiobook but I really didn’t care about anything that was happening.

American Queen by Sierra Simone – no review/rating, I loved the writing and the audiobook made me fall into it right away, the characters sounded very interesting and the concept of the plot intrigued me immensely. Unfortunately one scene made me very very uncomfortable (MC is 16 and future LI is 26) and I couldn’t continue.

Definitely, Maybe, Yours by Lissa Reed – no rating, review here

Island of Broken Years by Jane Fletcher – no rating, review here and discussion post inspired by this book here

Bloodlust & Bonnets by Emily McGovern – no rating, review here

The Second Mango by Shira Glassman – no rating, review here

Reverb by Anna Zabo – no rating (but it would’ve been a positive one), review here. This is probably the first book that I had to DNF although I was loving it because it made me too anxious, the stalking element can be very triggering and I personally decide to take care of myself by asking friends how the book ended but not finishing it myself. I would still absolutely recommend this book and this series to lovers of the contemporary romance genre!

Villains Don’t Date Superheroes by Hayden Archer – no rating/review, I barely read one chapter and it read way too childish for my tastes (I’m not trying to be the adult reading YA and complaining that it’s YA, just saying for me it was not something I’m interested in). I think teens would like this though, it sounds like it’s fun and it’s sapphic!

Reverie by Ryan La Sala – no rating, review here

flower separator

Do you DNF books sometimes? What do you think about DNF’ing in general?

I hope everyone has an amazing 2020 filled with good books!