Discovery Challenge 2017 and Tackling My TBR – June Roundup

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After reading Jo Hall’s post on the problems women authors have with getting discovered, I’ve been taking part in the challenge to read and review at least 24 books by female authors each year that were previously unknown to me for the last two years. During June, I read three books towards my 2017 Discovery Challenge, which brings my annual number of books written by women writers I hadn’t read before to nineteen. They are:

River of Teeth – Book 1 of the River of Teeth novella series by Sarah Gailey
In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true. Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two. This was a terrible plan. Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.
This is a real roller-coaster ride with plenty of mayhem and violence along the way. That said, there is also a large dollop of humour amid the tension – think of The Magnificent Seven set in a swamp with hippos. See my review here.

Sherlock Mars by Jackie Kingon
Molly Marbles runs a successful bistro on terraformed Mars. But a virtual restaurant opens near her place, offering the experience of delicacies from across the Solar System with none of the calories. What will this do to her business? Then its owner is murdered in her kitchen. Molly, an amateur detective, springs into action to help the police solve the mystery, while also planning her pop-star daughter’s wedding, keeping her kitchen staff from feuding, and protecting her cyborg friend from the humans-only mob. Meanwhile, the infamous Cereal Serial Killer has escaped prison on Pluto and has everyone worried. Things are getting hectic, but Molly is a resilient and resourceful woman. And her knack for mysteries sees her nick-named ‘Sherlock Mars’.
This is basically a cosy mystery set in space. It has the classic ingredients – a victim that no one seems to care all that much about; a quirky, successful restaurant owner who inexplicably has sufficient time to shoot off here, there and everywhere to run down a number of clues; a friendly law enforcement officer who is happy to let Molly have crucial details of the ongoing case; lots of foodie details along the way. See my review here.

The Invisible Library – Book 1 of The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Gogman
Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book. Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own. Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.
I really enjoyed Irene’s character – brought up knowing that she would eventually always work for the Library as her parents were both Librarians, she is slightly apart from many of her colleagues. She is also cool-headed and used to keeping her own counsel – quite different from many of the rather emotional protagonists we are used to seeing in fantasy adventure. Review to follow.

I also managed to clear two books from my TBR pile. They are:

The Dog Walker – Book 5 of The Detective’s Daughter series by Lesley Thomson
January, 1987. In the depths of winter, only joggers and dog walkers brave the Thames towpath after dark. Helen Honeysett, a young newlywed, sets off for an evening run from her riverside cottage and disappears. Twenty-nine years later, Helen’s body has never been found. Her husband has asked Stella Darnell, a private detective, and her side-kick Jack Harmon, to find out what happened all those years ago. But when the five households on that desolate stretch of towpath refuse to give up their secrets, Stella and Jack find themselves hunting a killer whose trail has long gone cold.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Thomson’s atmospheric writing this time around has taken us to another obscure corner of London – she seems to specialise in those – where a crime was committed that shatters one family and blights the lives of others, including the husband of the victim. See my review here.

The Invisible Library – Book 1 of The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman
See above

This means I’ve managed to clear thirty-two books from my teetering TBR pile so far this year – a lot better than last year so far. Have you read any of the above books? If so, what did you think?

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18 responses »

  1. Is this the Worlds Without End Women of Genre Fiction Challenge by any chance? The goals are similar, and if you haven’t checked it out, they have a really nifty tracking system where you can keep a tally on female authors you’ve discovered and reviewed (though their database is limited, which is the only downside). Awesome progress, I’m only about halfway to completion myself.

    • Yes – it looks stunningly similar – my hunch is that the wonderful Jo Hall is probably part of this challenge. I’ve bookmarked the page and I’ll start to add my books to the list when I get a chance – many, many thanks for the information, Mogsy:)).

  2. River of Teeth is the only one of these I’ve read, but I have plans to read The Invisible Library at some point. I’m doing a similar challenge but I think you’re way ahead of me!

    • I think you would LOVE The Invisible Library – I’m very glad that I got hold of this one and am looking forward to tucking into The Burning Page very soon. As for the challenge – I thank Netgalley for helping me to widen my reading scope. I became aware a couple of years ago that I was sticking to authors I knew and liked – visiting the dashboard, I’ve found a real assortment of new female authors I’ve loved:).

  3. I’m so impressed, Sarah… I’m ashamed to have such a low count for this year (I think I’ve managed around 20 overall. Writing and reading academic stuff is literally sucking out all my time). 😦 I’ll try to do better in the second part of the year. Thanks for those excellent suggestions, I took good note!

    • Oh PLEASE don’t feel ashamed! Do recall the context in which I’m reading like a fiend. I’ve been stuck in Editland for what seems like FOREVER. And getting a tad antsy about it to tell the truth… As you’ll know – the one think you can’t do is sit and edit non-stop – you have to keep breaking it up so you come back to the text really fresh. So I’m reading a lot more. I predict when I FINALLY start writing, my reading stats will drop like a stone.
      Writing and reading academic stuff is HARD and taking up all your thinking space. That’s fine, too. And there are all these scrummy books waiting for you when you have the headspace for them:)).

  4. This challenge sounds fun. I’m glad you enjoyed River Of Teeth. Read mixed reviews about it but I sure liked it. A couple of these are also on my reading list. You liked them and that gives me good vibes, Sarah:)

  5. I also took part in the Worlds Without End Women of Genre Fiction Challenge one year a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. It definitely contributed to my picking up some authors I wouldn’t otherwise have done so. I must go and check my own list and see how I’m doing!
    Lynn 😀

    • I’m delighted I’ve continued with this one, as it’s encouraged me to discover some absolutely fabulous authors – and as women don’t get the same publicity and recognition as their male counterparts in the SFF genre, it’s great to also give them a shoutout in the form of a review, too.

  6. Sounds like you’re doing great with both your discovery challenge and clearing your TBR file (unless, of course, you’re adding more books to it than you’re clearing! 😉 ). Sadly, I’m behind my reading, with only 11 books read this year. But when I read, I do tend to binge on books, so here’s hoping I’ll magically catch up!

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