March 2020: Reading Wrap Up

Well, March was an interesting month. I spent almost the whole month sheltering in place, even though we didn’t get the official order to do so until mid-month. I live near Seattle, which is where the outbreak started in the U.S. So, we started voluntarily social distancing around the 3rd of March. Even though I’ve been home, I didn’t get much reading done. I was way too distracted by the news. But, the second half of the month was better than the first half. It’s too soon to say, but maybe I’m getting the hang of balancing connection with isolation. Maybe.

Outbox

I finished three books in March. The first was the audiobook of Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen. The audiobook was read by the author, which was cool. I really enjoyed these essays, even though they are a bit dated at this point (pub date was in 2017). Since I don’t watch reality TV, or any TV that’s not available on Netflix, I’m wasn’t really aware of some of these women, even though I’m very aware of the topics and societal norms discussed. There aren’t a lot of answers here, but there is good analysis. So, if that’s something you’re looking for, I would recommend this essay collection.

I also read two very similar YA sci-fi books. Both featured heroines in a space military academy. Both were outsiders with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. Both of them love to fly. I connected with the main character in Skyward by Brandon Sanderson a little more than the main character in Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan, but Ignite the Stars had better supporting characters (more fully developed) and had a much better plot and deeper, more developed world-building. That said, I’m a sucker for the space military academy trope. So, it’s no surprise that I enjoyed both of these books.

Inbox

This was my month to grab a new batch of ebooks from the library. So I stocked up on all sorts of good ones before flipping my Kindle to airplane mode. Some are backlist books I’ve been meaning to read for a long time (Blood Rose Rebellion, Frost Like Night, Ice Like Fire, Grimspace, Shades of Milk and Honey, Fablehaven, Blanca & Roja, and The Bitter Kingdom). Others are new(ish) books that I’m super excited to read (The Stars We Steal, The Bride Test, The Deepest Blue, War Girls, The Blacksmith Queen, Steel Tide, A Madness of Sunshine, and Starsight).

I did buy one book this month. That was The Shadows Between Us, which came in my Fairy Loot subscription box. I hadn’t heard of it before seeing it in the box, but it sounds like one I will enjoy.

I also downloaded a free flash fiction anthology called Nevertheless She Persisted with stories by a bunch of sci-fi and fantasy authors whose work I enjoy. It’s currently being offered from Tor for free on Amazon, if you want to grab a copy.

Currently Reading

It’s O.W.L.s time! If you missed it, you can check out my O.W.L.s TBR here. The first two books I’m reading for the O.W.L.s are Sourdough by Robin Sloan (for Aritmancy) and The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite (for Astronomy). So far, I’m loving Sourdough. Lady’s Guide… is off to a slow start, but I’m reading it before bed (per the “read mostly at night” Astronomy prompt), which may be effecting my attention span a bit.

How did your reading go in March? Were you able to finish the usual number of books? Did you get distracted by everything going on in the world? Or did being stuck at home mean that you read even more than you usually do? No matter how your March went, I hope you and your family are healthy and safe, and I wish you all the best for April. ❤

Reading list for the O. W. L.s Magical Readathon (#OWLsReadathon2020)

Yay! It’s time for the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon again! I love this readathon. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, or if you missed Book Roast’s announcement video, you can check that out here. The links to her awesome wizarding career guide and this year’s prompts for the O.W.L.s subjects are in the description box of that video, and can also be found on her website.

Last year I completed O.W.L.s in Charms, History of Magic, and Muggle Studies, then went for a career as a Writer during the N.E.W.T.s because that was my only option based on the O.W.L.s I completed (and also because that’s my actual career in real life).

When I first watched the announcement video, I had all these big plans. I was going to pick my career first and then figure out what O.W.L.s I needed to do for that career. I poured over the career options and decided to be a Wandmaker, or maybe a Metal Charmer. I planned my TBR. I had a whole blog post written, but I delayed posting it because it was still early in March.

Then the pandemic really got going.

You’d think, being stuck at home, I’d be reading lots of books. Nope. It took me over two weeks to finish the book I started reading at the beginning of the month (Ignite the Stars). It’s not the book’s fault. I think any book would have a hard time competing with the 24/7 news cycle of a pandemic. But, after a two weeks at home, I’ve finally managed to train myself to tune out the news so I can write or relax with a book.

I’m assuming our shelter-in-place order will continue for a few more weeks, possibly through the end of April. Since I’m home, I’ve decided to make an extra effort to read through my paperbacks and hardcovers before picking up my Kindle. Also, rather than trying to complete specific prompts, I made a stack of books from my paper TBR and am going to pick up whatever I feel like reading at the time and see how many I can complete before the end of the month.

I’ve listed each of the O.W.L.s subjects reading prompts below, along with a book from my paper TBR that fits the prompt:

  • Ancient Runes (heart on the cover or in the title) <–Wrong to Need You (Forbidden Hearts #2) by Alisha Rai
  • Arithmancy (read something outside your favorite genre) <– Sourdough by Robin Sloan
  • Astronomy (read majority of the book when it’s dark outside) <– TBD (this one will probably be on Kindle)
  • Care of Magical Creatures (creature with a beak on the cover) <– Woven in Moonlight by by Isabel Ibañez
  • Charms (white cover) <– Other Minds by by Peter Godfrey-Smith
  • Defense Against the Dark Arts (book set at sea/coast) <– TBD (I didn’t have a good paperback for this prompt, so I may have to go with something on my Kindle)
  • Divination (use a random number generator to pick your book) <– Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Taki Soma, and Valentine De Landro
  • Herbology (title starts with an M) <– Marque and Reprisal by Elizabeth Moon
  • History of Magic (book featuring witches / wizards) <– The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson
  • Muggle Studies (contemporary genre) <– Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  • Potions (book under 150 pages) <– Saga Vol. 3 by by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  • Transfiguration (book that includes shapeshifting) <– Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston

I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to track my progress, yet. I don’t want to overpromise and not deliver. I’ll probably post about my book selections on this blog, and probably also on Twitter and Instagram. I may also do a reading vlog. I’m definitely going to wear the Harry Potter socks I got for Christmas all month long. Maybe I’ll do a readathon specific BuJo spread. Oh! And if you didn’t notice in the TBR photo above, I’m planning to use the awesome bookmarks I ordered from Book Roast last year (which look like they are currently sold out). Can you tell I’m excited?

The only problem with all these lofty reading goals for April is that I’m also planning on participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. And I will be continuing to post weekly episodes of my Modern Fae serial novella, Rogue Assassins, for subscribers. But, keeping busy with fun projects seems to be working for me right now.

Are you participating in the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon? If so, did you make a TBR? What are you reading? What career are you going for? Let me know in the comments, or link me to your blog post or video so I can check it out.

Rogue Assassins — a FREE Modern Fae Novella

Stuck at home and looking for something to read? If you already love my Modern Fae series, or if you’ve been curious about it but haven’t quite gotten around to reading any of my books yet, this post is for you.

Growing up, I got an early introduction to serial storytelling via Days of Our Lives. I was way too young to be watching it, but my mom was a huge fan. Sometimes she let us watch along with her (but we had to close our eyes during the “sexy times”). She’d talk to my sister and I about the various plot threads and speculate on what was going to happen in the story. I think somehow this early exposure planted the idea in my head that someday I wanted to try writing a story in a serial format.

Well, friends, that day has come. I’ve been playing with this story idea for a while now, and I’m making it happen. The first episode is dropping TODAY.

I spent a lot of time (probably too much time) trying to decide how best to distribute these episodes. Since this blog is mostly about what I’m reading, I didn’t want to post episodes here. I also didn’t want to spam my mailing list with weekly episodes in case some might prefer to read the whole thing after it’s complete rather than reading a chapter a week. So, I ultimately decided to have a dedicated mailing list for this story. You can sign up for that here: http://bit.ly/RogueAssassins.

What can you expect if you sign up? Here’s what I’ve got planned:

  • One episode per week, for about 20 weeks, total
  • A fantasy adventure with some kissing
  • A heroine who will do whatever it takes to save her sister from the toxic love of a power hungry man
  • An ambitious shapeshifting hero whose future depends on the heroine’s success
  • An explanation about what was going on with that pair of gargoyles who made a brief appearance in Eve of the Fae
  • Answers about what actually happened to the Faerie Queen Godda when she disappeared
  • Much drama! Some characters will die, some will find love, all will be changed forever
  • An interactive approach to story-telling (I welcome your comments and feedback on each episode)

This is going to be as much of an adventure for me as it will be for you. I am so excited to try this! I hope you love the first episode and decide to subscribe and join me on this journey.

Oh, also… if you want to grab a copy of the first book in my series, Eve of the Fae is on sale for only $0.99 this weekend. Buy one for yourself, or for a friend, or just help me get the word out. I’d really appreciate it.

Bookish Friends are Gold (and a TBR for March)

I got to hangout with my “Camp Book Club” friends (L. & S.) this morning over video chat. We talked about the books we’ve been reading, the two series we’ve been working our way through as a group (The Queens of Renthia and The Innkeeper Chronicles), and the books we want to read next. We also talked about current events and politics (“as you do”). It was the best. I love my Camp Book Club friends, and not just because I now have a plan that might extract me from my reading slump, but that part is good, too. 🙂

I’m putting this here so that I don’t forget. Sort of like a “to do list.” After talking it over with L. & S., here’s what I’m planning to read (and hopefully finish) in March:

  • Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds — This one is already in progress, but it’s going to be a slow read.
  • The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst — I’m even more pumped to finish this series after talking about book one with L. & S.
  • Skyward by Brandon Sanderson — This has been on my list for a while and has been bumped up so I can discuss it with L. & S. next month. I’m past due to read some Brandon Sanderson and feel a bit weird that this is going to be my introduction to his writing, but L. read it, recommends it, and wants to discuss it, so I’m in.
  • Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan — I read the first chapter after posting my reading wrap-up for February, and it was compelling enough that I think I’m going to keep going.
  • Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen — This book has been on my radar for a while now, and I needed a new audiobook to listen to while doing chores and whatnot. So I added this and two others to my holds list at the library. This one came up first, so this is going to be my audiobook selection for March.
  • The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite — Another one that I’ve been planning to read for a while, but it keeps getting pushed off the first screen of books on my Kindle, so I forget about it. This one is also getting bumped up so I can read it for next month’s Camp Book Club hangout.

That’s six books for March. Too many? Possibly. I’m not sure I’ll finish all of them, but I’m feeling good about this list.

February 2020: Reading Wrap Up

February went by in a flash, even with the extra day. Since I’m already a little late with this post, let’s dive in and talk about what I read in February.

Outbox

You may remember from my January wrap-up post, that my in-progress book at the start of February was Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. This was such a fun book, and totally different than anything else I’ve been reading recently. While I really enjoyed the characters and the mystery aspect of the plot, I did have a lot of questions about the world-building. For the most part, those questions didn’t interfere with my overall enjoyment of the book because I was too absorbed in Gideon. I really loved her character and voice. Gideon was my hook into this series, but book two appears to pivoting to Harrow’s perspective. So, I’m not as interested in reading it right away.

Since it took me most of the first week of February to finish Gideon the Ninth, I only had a small window to read something short before Tome Topple started. In other words, the perfect opportunity to dip back into the Innkeeper series by Ilona Andrews with book two, Sweep in Peace. I pretty much devoured this book in two days. Even though I have the next two books in the series already on my Kindle, I resisted the urge to jump right into book three. I’m trying to pace myself on this series because I really love the characters and the world, and I’m worried that it will all be over too soon.

If you read my Tome Topple TBR post, you’ll already be familiar with my rather realistic plans for Tome Topple. Everything kicked off according to plan. I started reading Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds on Kindle and Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab on audiobook. I made steady progress on both, but neither were sucking me in or making me eager to return to them. By the time Tome Topple officially ended, I hadn’t finished either of them. In the days after, I completely lost motivation and just didn’t really feel like reading anything. So, I decided I needed the reading equivalent of a “palate cleanser.”

I scrolled through my Kindle TBR and landed on Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins. It’s a short contemporary YA romance about a girl who does a study abroad in Scotland for her senior year of high school and ends up falling for a princess. It’s a cute, fast read with great queer representation, a f/f love story with the familiar and beloved “oops, I fell for a Royal” tropes (one of my favorite tropes). I read it in two days and enjoyed it. It refreshed me and pushed me out of my reading slump enough to at least go finish Our Dark Duet.

I’m sad to report that I didn’t like Our Dark Duet nearly as much as I loved This Savage Song. For some reason, this book seemed to be much more gore-filled and violent than the first book. Possibly because all the graphic descriptions seemed to just be there for atmosphere building purposes and not really necessary to drive the plot or character arcs. And it was repetitive. There were so many scenes where nothing important happened to move to plot or characters forward. I thought the new monster was cool, but completely unexplained and almost entirely unnecessary to the plot (except as a device to bring Kate back to Verity). I’m glad I read it, but I almost think This Savage Song would have been better as a stand alone. Overall, this one was kind of a disappointment and left me in a bit of a slump.

Inbox

I didn’t buy or borrow any books this month, and my Fairy Loot box is delayed. So, I guess I’ll have to wait until next month to share what I got…

Currently Reading

I still want to finish reading Poseidon’s Wake. I’m really happy to be returning to the world of Poseidon’s Children, but the story starts slowly, and I’ve forgotten a lot of what happened in the first two books because it’s been so long. Plus, I’m finding it difficult to stay engaged in a long, meaty sci-fi story right now because I have a lot of other things going on in my life at the moment that are causing no end of distractions. So, I may set it aside and read some more short, fun books that don’t require as much of a time investment. I definitely need something to get me back into the reading groove.

I’ve been thinking about switching things up and putting down my Kindle to read a hardcover book. I’ve got A River of Royal Blood and Eight Will Fall in hardcover, and both of those sound like they’ll be good. Or maybe I need some sci-fi in my life (Spaceside or Ignite the Stars)? Or maybe I should finish the Queens of Renthia series and read The Queen of Sorrow?

If you have thoughts or recommendations, leave them in the comments. I’d love to know which of these you think might drag me out of my reading slump.

My TBR for the #TomeTopple Readathon

Round ten of Tome Topple starts on 7 February (officially begins at 00:00 in your timezone), and it’s time for me to decide which tomes I want to topple this time around. As I mentioned in my post on series I want to finish this year, I have several books I’ve been saving just for this event. Unfortunately, I doubt I’m going to get through all of them before 11:59pm on 20 February.

I started by narrowing my list of eligible books and coming up with the following options.

I’d originally planned to finish the Throne of Glass series during the first Tome Topple of 2020. That would mean reading Empire of Storms (704 pages), Tower of Dawn (668 pages), and Kingdom of Ash (984 pages!). I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, but… I have a lot of writing and editing to do in February, and, in addition to these being fantasy novels, there’s a Fae aspect to this series. Since the projects I’m currently working on are in my Modern Fae series, I think I’m going to have to save the remaining Throne of Glass books for a future Tome Topple.

That leaves me with option two: reading Poseidon’s Wake (609 pages) and Our Dark Duet (533 pages). I like this option because and neither of these books are likely to interfere with what I’m writing (one is sci-fi, the other is fantasy but with monsters). Also, I can get Our Dark Duet on audiobook from my library (even though I already have the ebook on my Kindle). Listening to it on audiobook, and/or being able to switch back and forth between ebook and audio, will help me to maximize my reading time. Being able to listen to one of my books on audiobook will also help me check off more squares on this round’s bingo card.

The bingo card is new this round, and I love it. Each book you read can only be used to check off two squares (max) on the bingo card. The yellow circles around “read 1 tome” and “tome from a series” can be checked off by reading either book on my TBR. I get to check off the box with the pinkish circle around “adult tome” if I read Poseidon’s Wake. And, I can check off the box with the blue circle around “tome audiobook” if I listen to Our Dark Duet, on audiobook. If I read both books, that will mean I get to check off 4 categories in total, which will just barely qualify me for “Scholar” status.

I’m not sure if I should also be trying for an actual bingo, or not. If I wanted to try for a bingo, I’d need to also read one of the following: the “tome that has been on my TBR longest” (that’s The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss), or “the tome on my TBR with the most pages” (that’s Reamde by Neal Stephenson), or a “tome for Black History Month” (the only one on my TBR that’s over 500 pages is Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi). If I finish Poseidon’s Wake and Our Dark Duet, maybe I’ll do a Twitter poll asking folks to vote on which one of these three I should read. If you have thoughts on which one I should prioritize, let me know in the comments.

Are you participating in Tome Topple this round? What’s on your Tome Topple TBR?

January 2020: Reading Wrap Up

Wow! The first month of the year flew by so fast, I can hardly believe it’s already February! Ready for a recap of what I read (“Outbox”), what I bought/borrowed (“Inbox”), and what I’m currently reading? Cool. Let’s talk about books!

Outbox

First accomplishment of the New Year: I finished all the books I needed to read to complete all my prompts for the Winter Magical Readathon! Hooray!

I started the year with The Reluctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst. This is the second book in a trilogy, and I loved the first book. This one started off so good. I mean, I was LOVING this book… until the end. Because of the brutality of the first book’s ending, I was expecting an equally brutal end to this book. I mean, the story was building to it from the opening chapter. It had to happen. And then… something else happened. I don’t know how to discuss this without being spoilery, so if you want to know more, hit me up in the comments, and I’ll answer any spoiler questions there. I’m now very curious how this is going to get resolved in the final book. Luckily, I already have it on my Kindle.

Rather than diving right into book three in the Queens of Renthia series, I decided to continue with my Winter Magical Readathon prompts. I was more than ready to dive into The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas, and I plowed through it in a couple of days. Seriously, people. If you like Sherlock Holmes and you’re not reading this series, you are missing out. It’s so good! I will say that I highly recommend you have some pastries or delicious cookies and tea on hand while you read this.

And, the last book I read for the Winter Magical Readathon was The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai. This turned out to be exactly what I’d expected in the very best way. The heroine is the CEO of a dating app startup. The hero is an ex-football player with a passion for getting assistance for players with medical issues caused by concussions. They’re brought together by his very eccentric aunt. It’s sexy and heartwarming and romantic. Chapter eighteen is a playbook to my heart. If you are looking to dip your toe into contemporary romance (or if you already know you like it), definitely check out this book.

After that, I read Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik so that I could talk about it with my “Camp Book Club” friends in our virtual book club this weekend. I liked this second book better than the first, mostly because both the hero and the heroine were extremely competent spies who have a history of pining for each other and a decent enough reason to be kept apart. Although, I will say that I called the secret that the hero is keeping back when he made his first appearance at the end of book one. Still, I’m really enjoying this sci-fi romance series and looking forward to the next book.

Inbox

Aside from borrowing The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai from the library, I bought two books this month. Well, technically, I bought the subscription box that they came in, but I bought the boxes because they come with books, so…

Two more boxes from Fairy Loot arrived this month! First up, in my December box (which arrived at the start of January due to holiday shipping delays), I got Eight Will Fall by Sarah Harian. I hadn’t heard of this book, but after reading the blurb and the letter and the interview with the author, I’m pretty excited to read it.

In my January Fairy Loot box, I got Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez. I know the author of this one from the Pitch Wars community on Twitter, but I’d completely forgotten that her debut novel was coming out this year. I was very pleasantly surprised and excited that this turned out to be the Fairy Loot pick for January! I can’t wait to check it out.

Currently Reading

I am currently reading Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. The thing is, necromancers aren’t really something I’m super into, and I am really loving this book. I think it’s because the world-building is just weird enough, and completely unexplained enough, that I’m turning pages just trying to figure out what’s going on. Plus the characters are excellent, and the plot is basically a locked room mystery (which is a trope I love). If you have this on your TBR but you haven’t read it yet, pick it up. Believe the hype. It’s really good.

Beyond that, I’m working on my TBR for round ten of Tome Topple (starting on 7 February at 00:00 in your timezone). So, stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on that, once I’ve decided on what I plan to read.

Until then, have an excellent and extra special Groundhog’s Day! (It’s 02.02.2020!) Cheers to an early spring!

Happy Book Birthday to Will of the Fae!

Book three in my Modern Fae series is out today!

Wondering if this is a book you might like? Well, it’s a snowed-in, contemporary fantasy, with a f/f romance, set in Alaska, with humans learning magic, three factions of supernatural creatures vying for control of magic, and a complete “happily ever after” even though the plot of the series continues for at least two more books.

Want to know more? Awesome! Here’s the full cover copy:

Families are complicated. Magic can’t fix everything. And sometimes love has the worst timing.

Arabella, commander of the Faerie Queen’s Guard, Sworn to protect the Fae against all threats, would do anything for her cousins. Anything, including agreeing to give birth to a Faeling who might someday inherit the throne, even though there’s a war brewing against the demon clans and it’s her responsibility to protect the Fae.

After months of isolation, wintering over as caretaker for her family’s lodge in the Alaskan wilderness, Willow is ready to return to civilization. Just as the snows start to melt and the new caretaker is due to arrive, a string of strange occurrences and a best friend in trouble might cause her to change her plans.

When Arabella ends up on the wrong end of some Elemental blood magic and finds herself powerless and knee deep in snow, Willow discovers the Fae commander lurking in the shed at River Pines Lodge. To get home, Arabella must hide her magic, swallow her pride and ask a human for help. A human who reeks of magic but who appears completely unaware of her powers. Snowed-in and depending on each other for survival, it’s only a matter of time before secrets are revealed and hearts start to melt.

If you’re interested in checking out book three but worried about starting in the middle of the series, the first two novels and two novellas are all available for half price through the end of January. You can also request them on ebook through your local library! My recommended reading order for the series is as follows:

Eve of the Fae (Book 1)
Vivian’s Promise (Prequel Novella)
Eve the Immortal
(Book 1.5)
Dawn of the Fae
(Book 2)
Will of the Fae (Book 3)

Still need more convincing? You can read the first chapter for free over on my website. Or, you can check out this cool LGBTQ book fair and read the first three chapters when you sign up for my monthly newsletter.

Happy reading!

Series to Finish in 2020

It’s been snowing here on Orcas Island for the past few days, and I’ve been enjoying some excellent quality reading time. Now that I’m almost done with the books I wanted to finish reading for the Winter Magical Readathon, I’ve started thinking about the series I’d like to finish this year.

I mentioned in my 2020 reading goals post that I want to finish at least 5 series that I’ve started but not yet finished. I’m focusing on series that are now complete. So, most of these are older series. Some were hugely popular. Some I initially loved and then bailed on for whatever reason. Now I want to revisit them and see how the rest of the stories play out.

I started to make a Goodreads shelf to track them, but I’m not even sure I’ve got everything, yet. It turns out that there were more than I’d thought. So many that I had trouble narrowing it down to just 10 that I want to finish, but I did it. Below are the top 10 series that I’d most like to finish reading in 2020.

  • Fire and Thorns Series by Rae Carson — I read the first book in this series shortly after it came out and enjoyed it. Then I never read the rest of the series. I think there are more books in this series coming out now, so I’d like to at least finish the original trilogy and see if I want to keep going.
  • Poseidon’s Children Series by Alastair Reynolds — I read the first two books in this trilogy, and loved them. Then I never read the final book. I bought this last one on ebook when it came out, but I still haven’t read it. So, this is one I definitely want to finish this year. I think this will be a good one for a Tome Topple readathon.
  • Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples — I really love this comic series. I own the bind-ups through volume 7, but I’ve only read the first 2. It’s possible that this series isn’t done yet, but I’m going to at least catch up to wherever the most recent volume released is by the end of 2020.
  • The Amberlough Dossier Series by Lara Elena Donnelly — I read the first book in this series, and I own the other two books. The problem is that I have them all in paperback, and I keep forgetting about them. I’d really like to remember to finish this series this year.
  • Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas — This used to be my favorite series. I devoured the first four books. Then I started souring on SJM’s writing style. At this point, I’ve pretty much completely forgotten what’s happened, and the series is done. So, I’m going to have to go back and refresh my memory with some recaps. Then I think it’s time for me to finally finish this series, for better or worse.
  • Brothers Sinister Series by Courtney Milan — I’ve been taking my time reading these because I love them so much. I have the rest of the series on ebook now, so I could read through them all. The only problem with finishing them is that I’ll need to find a new series for pulling me out of reading slumps.
  • Monsters of Verity by Victoria Schwab — I’ve been dragging my feet about reading book two in this duology because I’ve heard it’s not as good as the first book. The problem is that I bought this on ebook when it first came out, so I’m determined to read it. My plan is to save it for a Tome Topple and then read it and see how I like it.
  • Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet — I didn’t love the first book in this series, but I wanted to give book two a try, so I bought it when it was on sale. Then I bought book three when it was on sale. Now I’m committed to finishing this series. I liked the world-building and was curious to see what happens with the plot. I just didn’t like the characters or the relationship between them. Here’s hoping they grow on me as the series progresses.
  • The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante — It’s been a while since I read the first two books in this series. I have two more to read, and I really want to finish them. They just keep getting bumped off my TBR. Not this year. This year they’re getting read.
  • The Folk of the Air by Holly Black — Out of all the series on this list, the last two books in this series are possibly the two books I’m most looking forward to reading. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the first series I end up finishing this year.

Given the fact that there are several series in that list that I’m not super excited to read, you may be asking yourself why in the world I’m bothering to put these on my TBR and make a goal out of finishing them. To that I say: I don’t have to read all of them. I only said I’d finish five. As for the rest, well… I like to finish things. I find it really hard to DNF books, and almost as hard to DNF a series once I’ve started it.

If I pick up reading the Kingmaker Chronicles, or the Throne of Glass Series, or even the Fire and Thorns series and just do not like the next book, I may bail on reading the rest. But, I only have one book left to read in Poseidon’s Children and Monsters of Verity. So, I’m going to finish those, even if I’m not loving the book.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Do you feel compelled to finish every series you start? What series have you given up on? Or which one do you really want to finish reading this year?

2020 Reading Goals

Now that I’ve pretty much reviewed all aspects of my 2019 reading life, it’s time to focus on the year ahead. I decided a couple of things while reflecting on 2019. The first was that I am tracking my reading in way too many places. I know. I say this every year. Or at least, I definitely said it last year, and then went and did pretty much the exact same thing I’d been doing. I am making a few changes this year, and I’ll talk about that at the end of this post.

The other thing I decided was that I’m taking a year off from reading challenges. I’m not saying I’ll never do one again, but I am saying that I realized I like readathons with reading prompts WAY better than reading challenges. It’s a lot easier for me to put personal constraints on readathon prompts (ex: it has to be a book that’s already on my Kindle or bookshelf). This is probably because the entire point of reading challenges is to get you reading things that you probably don’t already have on your TBR.

What I will miss from not doing reading challenges is that extra push to read outside my comfort zone. Instead, I’m just going to have to push myself. To that end, one of my goals includes some reading metrics that I want to keep an eye on throughout the year (plan is to check in quarterly) to make sure I’m continuing to read books written by people with different perspectives than mine.

Given all that, these are the reading goals I decided on for 2020:

  1. Read at least 52 books (or book-like things). — This is my staple “Goodreads Challenge” goal. If it counts as a book on Goodreads, it counts as a book for this goal. Even after reading more than 80 books in 2019, I’m still keeping my goal at a book a week on average.
  2. Finish at least 5 series that I’ve already started. — A lot of the series that I’ve started over the past several years are now complete, but I haven’t had a chance to sit down and finish reading them, even though I own the books. So, this is where I’m going to focus my “bust my TBR” energy in 2020. I’ll do a post soon on which series I am considering completing for this goal.
  3. Read all purchased books within six months of purchase. — I’m changing my focus from trying to control the number of books on my Kindle (impossible) to reading what I buy instead of hoarding books. So, every time I buy a book (starting with my 2019 purchases), it goes on a list in my Google sheet (and I make a note of it in my bullet journal). I decided on six months as a time horizon because if I’m going to wait that long to read a book, I may as well have just reserved it from the library.
  4. Read at least one owned book for every book I purchase. — I’m probably going to regret this goal because it’s going to be really hard to track. I made space for a list in my 2020 Reading spread in my bullet journal, but I think I’m going to move this to a column in my reading spreadsheet, instead. Anything purchased prior to 2019 counts for this goal, because if I bought it in 2019 it should already be covered by goal #3.
  5. Read more books by marginalized authors (measured by % of total books read). — This is always a goal for me, but this year I’m quantifying it. In the past I’ve relied on reading challenges as a crutch to help with this, but even with nearly completing the 2019 Read Harder challenge, my stats for % of books read by marginalized authors were down last year. This year, I’m just going to focus on the numbers instead. My targets are as follows:
    • At least 33% books by “non-white” authors with a stretch goal of 50%.
    • At least 15% books by queer authors with a stretch goal of 33%.
    • At least 10% books by indie authors with a stretch goal of 25%.
    • At least 50% of books written by female-identifying authors.

So let’s talk about tracking. I’m going to make a few subtle changes this year and see if that helps. For starters, I’m not going to use my bullet journal to keep lists of what I read. My BuJo is my planner and my journal all wrapped up into one neat package. It’s not a spreadsheet, so I’m not going to use it like one.

I have this one spread to track new books I want to read, remind me of my reading goals, and list books I’ve purchased so that I can have to reference this info or make notes when I’m not at my computer. In my daily logs, I plan to note when I start or finish a book and maybe journal a bit about what I loved or write down a quote I particularly liked. But that’s it. This way, I can reference my daily logs for start/end dates when I update my spreadsheet.

My Google spreadsheet is going to be how I keep track of what I’ve read, and Goodreads is going to be primarily used to keep track of what I want to read. I’ve already invested a lot of time making Goodreads shelves for books I have on my Kindle, books that are on hold at the library, books I’ve borrowed from the library, and books I own in paperback or hardcover. In the past I’ve tried to keep track of my TBR in my Google sheet as well as on Goodreads, but it always ends in frustration. So, the only TBR I’m going to track in my Google sheet is my list of book purchases with purchase date and (calculated) read by date.

In case you can’t tell, I’m trying to keep things as simple and low maintenance as possible this year. If I thought I could accomplish what I want to accomplish without keeping track of what I read, I might try it. But even though reading fuels me and makes me happy, I’m aware that it’s also food for the creative compost heap in my brain. If I’m not reading, it makes it so much harder for me to write. Similarly, if I’m not reaching for things outside my comfort zone, I’m just consuming empty calories. So, I like to put a little structure around what I’m reading.

Maybe one of these years I’ll do a “no reading goals” reading goal. The idea of that completely freaks me out, so I probably should try it at some point.

Do you make reading goals? If so, are you doing anything new and different this year? Have you mastered the art of tracking what you’re reading and what you want to read? Let me know in the comments. (Really. I’m not kidding. You can talk to me. I read the comments.)