And just like that, my birthday month is over. I had a lot of fun with friends and family this month, and I got some excellent new books to read! I’ll have to do a birthday book haul post soon. I’m just waiting for a couple that I ordered with my gift card to arrive in the mail.
Meanwhile, my stack of physical books is growing and threatening to topple off my nightstand. But, we’re not planning on traveling much this summer, so I think I may be able to work through a few if I start sitting outside in the sunshine each day for a little reading break. The spring weather here in the upper left corner of the US has been perfect for that kind of thing, and if it gets too hot, there’s always our nice shady deck to hide out on and read.
Before I get too far ahead of myself making future reading plans, let me jump into my May reading recap.
What I read in May:
I started the month with Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne. This was exactly as fluffy and fun as I’d anticipated. I love it when that happens. You can tell that Alexa used to write fan fic because she does a great job with tension and angsty romance. The world-building was a little more “hand-wavy” than I like in my sci-fi, and I the ending didn’t feel quite right to me, but other than that, I really liked this book and am looking forward to reading her next one.
After that, I switched gears pretty dramatically. I’d forgotten that I’d put a hold on the audiobook for The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight. This was a book that I’d planned to read for the Read Harder Challenge. It’s short and funny, a parody on The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (which I haven’t read). The audiobook turned out to be the perfect thing to listen to it on my walks. The author reads her own book, and I enjoyed hearing her words in her voice. I know this is meant to be funny, but there’s some good messages in here for people like me who still haven’t mastered the art of not caring what other people think about them. I’m half-tempted to go buy a copy so I can refer to it for reminders when needed.
Somewhere in there, I decided to dive into The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. I’d been meaning to read this forever, and I’m so glad that I finally did. The world-building is really interesting, and I’m curious where the story is going to go from here. But, I don’t think I’m going to continue with the series. I’m just not that into fashion and beauty. Since the entire theme of this series has to do with beauty, there are lengthy descriptions of in-world fashion from clothing to make-up to hair and everything in between. This is critical to the story because it’s all about how the Belles have the power to create whatever image is requested by the regular people in this world and what that means for their world. It’s really well done, but my eyes start to glaze over after too many descriptions of fancy dresses. I much preferred the political maneuvering.
I needed a quick read after finishing The Belles. Something that I knew would be a page turner, either from romantic tension or from plot. So, I decided to check off another Read Harder Challenge task and picked up The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan. I loved the first book and the two novellas I’ve read enough to guess that this is a series I could pretty much devour in a week. . Because of that, I’ve been rationing the remaining books because I don’t want to be done with the series. As expected, I really, really liked this book. Something about the internal conflict for both the heroine and the hero really struck a cord with me. I highly, HIGHLY recommend this series, even if you think you don’t like historical romance. It’s not the genre I usually turn to for a variety of reasons, but Courtney Milan is an excellent author. Conveniently enough, the ebook box set of the series happens to be on sale for $2.99 on Kindle right now. So, if you’re reading this shortly after I posted it, you should go buy the set.
And, last but not least, I got caught up on my Queen’s Thief re-read and finished A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner. Of the first four books, this was the book I liked the least when I first read this series ten-ish years ago. I think that’s because there’s just a lot of political maneuvering in this book. There’s some action and some romance, but Sophos isn’t as naturally charismatic of a character as Gen. This story is all about him learning to become a leader. It’s a lot like story of The Lion King in that way. In fact, come to think of it, there are a lot of similarities between A Conspiracy of Kings and The Lion King. Huh. I definitely liked this book more on the re-read. Now I’m really excited to get to the first “new” book in this series (released last year).
What I bought:
I didn’t buy any new books this month! Again! Amazing! But I did pre-order my friend Rebecca’s book that’s coming out in July, Shatter the Sky. Because she’s awesome, and I read an early version of the book and can’t wait to read it again and see how the story has changed. If you like dragons, you should go pre-order this book, or request it from you library.
Net impact on my Kindle Backlog:
Total Kindle backlog books read in 2019: 4
Total new *unread* Kindle books in 2019: 8
Getting closer to net zero, but still need to read some more backlog in order to catch up to what I’ve already purchased (and haven’t read yet) this year. Assuming that I catch up by the end of next month (as I plan to do), I’m going to drop this goal in July and just add any remaining unread new books to my second half of 2019 reading list.
Read Harder Challenge Status:
Tasks completed this month:
- Task #4: Read a humor book. (Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck)
- Task #16: An historical romance by an AOC (The Heiress Effect)
Total tasks completed: 10
Total tasks remaining: 14
Looks like I’m still on track with this goal. Go me!
First half 2019 TBR Status:
Total TBR: 33 books
Books read to date: 26
Books remaining: 7
Turns out that I miscounted last month. I forgot that I had swapped out two of my Read Harder Challenge books for two different books than what were on my original list. So, I actually wasn’t as far off as I thought. It appears that I have four more “backlog” books to read, plus two more Read Harder books, and one book of short stories that I meant to read before Futurescapes. I might be able to finish all those in June. We’ll see…
I’m also starting to think about my TBR for the second half of 2019. Right now, I’m planning to include the following:
- Six more “backlog” Kindle books…
- The final twelve books I need for the Read Harder challenge…
- Any new books that I bought in the first half of this year and haven’t read yet (as of 1 July)…
- Three books I’m planning to read for a buddy read…
- Plus any books I haven’t read yet (as of 1 July) in the Hugo award categories for best novel, best novella, and best YA novel…
It’s looking like that list will end up somewhere between 30-36 books, just like my first half of 2019 TBR. That’s another five or six books per month, on average. Hahahaha. Yeah. Not leaving myself much room for spontaneous reading in the second half of the year. Plus I have a whole lot of writing planned for this fall, which means less time for reading.
Someday maybe I’ll be slightly less ambitious with my reading goals. Maybe. There are just too many books I want to read. And I keep finding more that I want to buy or borrow. This year, the TBR list seems to be working for me. It’s keeping me focused on the books I have wanted to read for a while, but that keep getting shuffled to the bottom of my stack as I bring in bright new shiny books to read.
Having a TBR is also helping me stay on track with the Read Harder challenge. For the first time, I think I may actually be able to finish all the tasks by the end of the year. So long as I can manage to find books I want to read for the following three challenges:
- Task #20: A book written in prison
- Task #21: A comic by an LGBTQIA creator
- Task #22: A children’s or middle grade book (not YA) that has won a diversity award since 2009
So, if you have suggestions and recommendations for me that would help me check these tasks off my list, please leave them in the comments.
Until next time, happy reading!