Catching up on what I’ve been reading

I really did plan to do a month-end round up of everything I’ve read in February. But somehow it’s now the middle of March, and I’m only now sitting down to write the post. And that’s only because I got to a sticky part in the novel I’m currently writing, and writing a blog post seemed a lot easier than writing the rest of the scene I got stuck on.

Outbox

What I’ve read since my last post:

  • Seasparrow by Kristin Cashore — I liked this one more than I thought I would after slogging through all the ship facts in the first third of the book. By the time the whole ship part was over, I was really invested in the characters, especially the telepathic foxes. The survival journey was really well written, and made even better by showing the shared trauma from enduring such an ordeal. Seems like a weird thing to say, but Kristin Cashore doesn’t shy away from the trauma caused by fantasy plots, and she writes characters recovering from trauma really well.
  • Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young — This book is set on an island near Seattle, not far from where I live. Some people in their reviews think it’s set on the San Juans, but there’s no way they’re doing day trips to Seattle from any of the islands up here. Based on how it’s described, I think it most closely resembles Vashon Island, but with magic. Not that any of that matters to the story itself, which is a small town secrets, unsolved murder plot with magic. And the writing does a beautiful job setting the mood and the scene. Usually I’m one of those readers who skips long descriptions, but the ones in this book were so well done they actually added to the story.
  • From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper — I think I liked this one even better than the first book in this series. I listened to it on audiobook, and the main (point of view) character had a very distinctive narrative voice that I enjoyed. Very contemporary. I think this is still my favorite series of all the small-town-witch-romance books I’ve read so far.
  • Built to Last by Erin Hahn — I’ve read all of the books published by this author, and this is her first adult romance. As contemporary romances go (at least the ones I seem to read), it’s really low stakes. There’s no third act break-up, which is an interesting choice, and one that I think works given the fact that this is a second chance romance. Still, there wasn’t a lot keeping these characters apart. You’re mostly just watching them become more and more attached to each other in the midst of a low stakes external plot. Which, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate. It just wasn’t what I was expecting given how much she seems to put her YA characters through the ringer. I feel like this is “cozy contemporary romance,” if that’s a thing. (And if it is, I like it.)
  • Every Tool’s a Hammer by Adam Savage — Unlike probably most people who read this book, I’ve never watched Myth Busters. The only thing I knew about this guy was that my husband watches some of his videos on YouTube and wants a shop like his. When I was searching for an audiobook we would both enjoy listening to on a brief road-trip, I stumbled onto this one. I picked it because it’s about being a maker (aka someone who creates and/or invents things). What I discovered was, even though there’s a lot in here that wasn’t really directly relevant to me (a writer who never really got into cosplay), I was surprised at how much I did find really thought provoking and useful in terms of the creative process and mentality. Overall, I really enjoyed it, and it sparked a lot of interesting conversations with my maker husband on our trip.

Now that we’re all caught up… I finally updated the bookshelf spread in my Passion Planner to show the books I read in January and February.

Inbox

What I’m currently reading (and trying to finish by the end of this month)…

  • On my Kindle: An Impossible Imposter — I am not happy about the backstory reveal in this one, and I’m really glad I waited to read this until the next book in the series came out because as of right now, I might have stopped reading the series after this book if I didn’t have the next one ready to go. That’s how much I hate this twist. But we’ll see how I feel when I finish it…
  • On audiobook: Unraveling: What I Learned about Life While Shearing Sheep, Dyeing Wool, and Making the World’s Ugliest Sweater — I’ve just barely started this one, and it may end up being a DNF because the introduction was a real downer, but the interview I heard with the author was compelling, and people seem to really like this one, so I’m going to plow ahead (probably at a faster listening speed, though).
  • In hardcover: Babel — Another one I’ve barely made a dent in, and I’m supposed to have it finished for a buddy read by next weekend. Oops. I have vowed to finish it by the end of the month at the absolute latest because…..

April is the Orilium Spring Equinox (aka the April Magical Readathon hosted by G at Book Roast)! I’m already working on my TBR, but it’s a bit up in the air still because there are several directions I could go. I’ll do a separate post on that closer to the end of March after I decide if I want to attempt a new Calling, or if I’m going to study the same subjects as last year and continue to advance as a Story Weaver.

Speaking of weaving stories… It’s time for me to get some sleep so I can get back to the writing bright and early tomorrow… If you want the scoop on what I’m working on, sign up for my monthly newsletter. That’s where I talk about that sort of thing.

Until next time, happy reading!

Weekend Reading Update

I just finished a couple of books, which means it’s time for another Inbox / Outbox post!

Outbox

  • Sweep of the Heart by Ilona Andrews — Another highly enjoyable installment in this series that I love.
  • An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn — Really enjoyed the mystery in this one. Even though I figured out one of the twists really early on, I didn’t figure out the murderer until just before they were revealed.
  • The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope — I really hope this book wins all the awards, including one for best audiobook narrator. The heist plot is really well done, the characters are fantastic, and the world-building is incredibly rich (both the magic and the incredibly well done historical fiction aspect of the story). So good. Highly recommend.

Inbox

I am currently reading Spells for Forgetting and really enjoying it. My brain is hooked, wanting to unravel the small town secrets, and my senses are engaged by the prose.

My next Kindle read is going to be Seasparrow by Kirstin Cashore, because that’s the book we picked for our buddy read this month. And my next audio book is going to be From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper, because I can’t get it on Kindle from my library for some reason, but they do have the audio book available.

What are you reading?

Reading Wrap-up for 2022

One more 2022 recap post from me, then it’s on to the 2023 stuff…

To start, here’s my 2022 bookshelf from my reading journal:

The two shades of purple are fantasy and sci-fi, and the little hearts on the spines represent romances.

Now, remember how I said this in my 2021 wrap-up post?

Okay. That’s it. Data tables and spreadsheets have been officially banned from my reading life in 2022.

Then, later that month, I posted my 2022 goals and said I’d decided to go back to using a spreadsheet. So that “resolution” lasted almost three weeks. Because seriously? Who was I kidding?

Of course I went back to tracking my reading in a spreadsheet! I’ve been tracking my reading stats since 2017. You can pry my spreadsheets from my cold dead hands. I’m a data geek for better or worse. What can I say?

Upside? Hey! I have some reading stats to share! Woo hoo!

I read 66 books in 2022 with no DNFs (though I did have a few books I started and then put aside to come back to at a different time). In total, I read 20,525 pages, which averages out to about 311 pages per book.

The fiction to non-fiction split was almost exactly the same as it is every year: 83% fiction and 17% non-fiction.

92% of the books I read were on my Kindle. That’s the largest percent of digital reads since I started tracking stats. By far. Print books made up only 5% of my reading (despite my love of special edition hardcovers) and audiobooks accounted for only 3%.

Coincidentally, 92% of the books I read were categorized as adult. This stat was also a big surprise to me. For what it’s worth, I may keep a spreadsheet of the books I read, but I don’t monitor my reading stats throughout the year. That stuff is all on a separate tab, and I mostly ignore it until it comes time to do a year-end wrap-up like this.

Anyway… In 2021 the split between adult and YA books was 76% / 24%. So this is a big change, year over year. This is by far the largest percent of adult books read since I started tracking stats. I can’t say I really missed the YA books this year… BUT… I do have a stack of Fairy Loot hardcovers I want to either get through or officially DNF this year. More on that when I get to my post on goals, though.

38% of the books I read in 2022 were romances (this includes all subgenres of romance). That’s just a bit more than 2021 at 34%. but 2021 was almost double what it had been in previous years, so romances continue to trend upward as a percent of total books read for me.

Here’s how my reading breaks down by genre:

  • Fantasy — 28 books (42%)
  • Sci-Fi — 14 books (21%)
  • Contemporary — 7 books (11%)
  • Mystery — 2 books (3%)
  • Self help / writing / business — 8 books (12%)
  • General non-fiction — 2 books (3%)
  • Memoir — 1 books (2%)
  • Historical — 4 books (6%)

As for my 2022 reading goals, here’s how I did:

  • Read at least 52 books — Done. I read 66.
  • Read at least 12 books by Black authors — Done. I read 12. (but in 2021 I read 13, so…)
  • Read at least 12 books by other authors of color — Not quite… I read 8. (same as in 2021)
  • Read at least 12 books with LGBTQ+ representation (main character) — Done. I read 16. (increased from the 13 I read in 2021)
  • Read at least 5 indie published books — Done. I read 17! And they weren’t all by the same author!
  • Read at least 6 non-fiction books about anti-racism and/or social justice — Nope. I read 2. Better than zero, but not great.
  • Read or donate at least 3 of my unread physical TBR — Hahahahaha. No. I only read 2 books in print and both were brand new books purchased in 2022. Sigh.

So, there you go. Overall, not a bad reading year. A couple of misses, but I read a lot of books I loved. I achieved most of my goals. And my spreadsheet is back.

That said… I am planning on making a few changes in 2023. Including, ditching my reading journal.

WHAT?!?!

I know. Sorry. More on that in my upcoming 2023 goals post! Until then, happy reading!

The books I’m gifting this year

The past month has gone by in a flash, and now we’re somehow at the end of 2022. I’m nowhere near ready for this year to be over, but only because I have a lot I want to do before midnight on the 31st. In addition to all my usual end-of-year reflection and goal planning for the New Year, I am also trying to release a new book! The first book in a new series!

I’m keeping the book release pretty low-key because I’m still working on a firm date for when I’ll have the second book in the series ready to release. At the moment, it’s looking like this time next year. But, if the past few months have taught me nothing else, it’s that I’d really like to avoid another end-of-year book release, if at all possible.

But, while working on ebook layout today, thinking about the book I’m currently reading, I realized that I’ve missed blogging. So, here I am writing a whole procrasti-post just to tell you which two books I would be buying for everyone on my holiday shopping list this year, if I were buying books for other people this year. Which I’m not. Mostly because I am way too maxed out at the moment to put my usual loving care into matching one of my favorites from this year’s reading with the particular reading tastes of each family member.

I saved all that energy for picking out books for my niblings. They’re all getting books this year. And since I am fairly certain that they don’t read my blog (yet), it’s probably safe to tell you what I got them.

For my Stranger Things loving niece, I got a signed copy of Lucas On the Line by Suyi Davies. And for her little sister who has been getting interested in programming and video games, I got a signed copy of his Minecraft tie-in novel, Minecraft: the Haven Trials. Mostly, I want to introduce them to Suyi’s writing, because I think he’s great.

For my nephew, who loves sci-fi, slightly inappropriate jokes, and graphic novels, I got the first book in the Schlock Mercenary series, The Tub of Happiness. And his sibling got a paperback box set of the first three novels in Kirstin Cashore’s Graceling series. I can’t even tell you how delighted I am to FINALLY be able to have a nibling who is old enough to maybe be interested in what is possibly my favorite (if not favorite, definitely in the top five) YA fantasy series.

My other niece has a holiday-adjacent birthday, and she has been devouring fantasy novels recently. But she’s (maybe) still a bit young for Graceling. So, I’m gifting her the first novel in three different (lengthy) series so she can try them and see which one(s) she wants to continue with. She’s getting Artemis Fowl, Keeper of the Lost Cities, and The School for Good and Evil.

I really hope there’s something in there that they enjoy.

Now… as for the adults on my list, there are two books that I really want to be gifting this year. As it happens, one is the book I just finished, and the other is the book I am currently reading.

The book I just finished is Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn, who writes excellent mysteries. This one puts the focus on a quartet of retired assassin heroines, all in their sixties and still kicking butt, which I found refreshing and delightful. The way I described it to my newsletter subscribers was basically, if you liked the movie RED, but thought it needed a lot more Helen Mirren, then you should definitely put this book at the top of your TBR!

The book I am currently reading is A Merry Little Meet Cute, and it is (so far) the best holiday romance I’ve either read or watched. Possibly ever. Assuming these authors can stick the landing, and who am I kidding? This is Sierra Simone and Julie Murphy, folks. I have no doubt in their skills. I want to shove this into the hands of all my contemporary romance reading friends. I mean, just read the blurb and then tell me you don’t want to read this book. I dare you.

Okay. Your turn. What book(s) are you gifting this season? Let me know in the comments.

October Reading Wrap-up

It is the second of November, and I should be writing words that actually count towards the 50k I need to write in order to hit my National Novel Writing Month goal, but I’m here, procrastinating, instead. That, plus the fact that I only wrote 1150 words yesterday doesn’t bode well for me “winning” NaNoWriMo this year. But there’s still plenty of time to make up for a slow start.

This week has been kind of a mess for multiple life reasons. Sometimes you just have to do all the adulting stuff. But I did manage to finish seven books in October AND complete my revised draft of Heir of Gods! Plus, my October reading journal spread is possibly my favorite of the year…

I added some Halloween stickers from Procrastiplanner… Did you notice?

Here’s what I read in October:

  • Boss Witch by Ann Aguirre — This book kicked off my small town witchy romance reading binge. It’s an enemies to lovers trope (witch and witch-hunter), except only one half of the couple is aware of the fact that the other person is an enemy. She (the witch) starts a “no-strings-attached” hook-up with him (the witch-hunter who doesn’t know she’s a witch) in order to distract him from finding her coven and eliminating them. Since the timeline of this book overlaps a good deal with the timeline of the first book in the series, I’d recommend reading both pretty close together. That is NOT what I did, and I kept feeling like I was missing something because I couldn’t remember how some of the things happening in this book fit with the first book.
  • Midwinter Magic & Mayhem — This is an anthology of winter-themed fantasy stories. I have a Modern Fae story in there along with eight others that are all excellent little tales that will put you in a wintery mood, especially if you enjoy them by the fire with a warm beverage.
  • Witchful Thinking by Celestine Martin — This is a really cute and cozy small town witchy romance that is really not for folks who like magic systems to be well defined and plots to be complicated. This is sort of like the Halloween equivalent of a Hallmark Christmas movie, except the hook-ups don’t fade-to-black. In other words, an excellent addition to this sub-genre.
  • The Ex-Hex by Erin Sterling — This was the last of the small town witchy romance books I read in October. I loved the magic and the small town and the characters. The plot was good, too. My only (teeny tiny) gripe was that it was a second chance romance, which is a REALLY difficult trope to write (in my opinion), and I just didn’t feel like there was enough reason for them to not be together. That said, I still really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading more in this series.
  • Dare to Be a Duchess by Sapna Bhog — I don’t read much historical romance because I’m not really into the whole “must find a husband before the season ends” thing. This one didn’t have that trope as a driver for the romance. The primary trope was more of a best-friend’s brother thing, which I enjoyed. There’s a lot of pining, which I also liked. But, it was sort of lacking a B-plot, so the pining got a little too drawn out and repetitive in places. Still, the characters were so vivid and well crafted that they stuck with me for days afterward and made me want to read the next book in this series.
  • A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby by Vanessa Riley — This was a fun, fast-paced historical romance about a recently widowed Lady from a British colony (Demerara) who has to pretend to be a nanny in order to be close to her infant son after his wounded war veteran uncle comes to take over as guardian of the estate. And of course, the Lady and the Duke fall in love. I really liked the particular lens this story was told through. I especially enjoyed the hero and his band of wounded vets that take over the estate to protect it from someone who is trying to get their hands on all of it (including the baby).
I dabbled with adding notes to my “Outbox” reading spread…

I also updated my bookshelf spread. I think it’s looking pretty cute. Lots of sci-fi and fantasy (the purple/blue spines) this year. And a whole lot more writing craft and publishing business (yellow spines) books than I’d planned on reading this year. Hard to believe that we only have two months to go!

And, because it’s NaNoWriMo, I’m keeping things simple for November. I did a set-up flip through video, but I’m not sure when/if I’ll get around to posting it because it’s mostly focused on the bullet journal trackers I made for NaNoWriMo. There’s only this one cover page that I made in my reading journal where I used up a bunch of stickers instead of drawing something. I didn’t even do a TBR for this month!

I have been noodling on an end of the year TBR, though. I keep adding books to the list and then taking others off. There are so many books I want to read before the end of December. I’ll probably make it official at some point in the next couple of weeks and do a post. In the meantime, if you want to spy on what’s there, have a peek at this shelf of mine on Goodreads. And feel free to make suggestions in the comments if there’s something you see on there that I DEFINITELY need to read, or if the thing you think I definitely need to read is NOT on that shelf.

Okay. I really better get some official NaNoWriMo writing done. Happy reading!

August Orilium Readathon Reading Wrap-up

I’m a little sad that the Orilium Autumn Equinox Readathon is over. But, the readathon really got me reading more than I might otherwise have in August! I finished all my required reading for my calling, and I even finished a couple of quests!

My month started off strong. I finished three novellas in the first week. Then I caught the evil plague and really wasn’t feeling up to reading for a few days. When I was finally feeling like I had enough focus to read again, I decided to jump back in with the childhood favorite re-read prompt. It turned out to be an excellent way to ease back into my TBR. After that, I just kept on reading, and finished almost everything on my TBR!

Here’s a recap of my course prompts:

Inscription

O Level: Read a childhood favorite –> An Acceptable Time by Madeline L’Engle — Oof. Well, I remember what I loved about this book (basically the grandparents’ indoor pool is still #goals), but there was also quite a bit of cringe. Just going to shelve this under “did not age well” and moving on….

Lore

O Level: Book with colors similar to my country’s flag –> A Spindle Splintered by Alix Harrow — A nice twist on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. I liked it.

Q Level: Story featuring betrayal –> Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire — Another solid addition to the series. I liked this, but I the ending felt off to me based on the themes in the rest of the book. Or maybe it just ended too abruptly?

D Level: Book with a desert setting –> Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri — Both main characters suffer a lot of really awful abuse throughout most of this book, which was hard to read. But the magic and the world-building was really cool, and once the plot got moving, the second half was great.

Psionics & Divination

O Level: Story featuring time travel –> Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield — This had a lot of similarities to This is How You Lose the Time War, which I didn’t expect. I think TiHYLtTW did it better, but this was good, and if you liked one you might also like the other.

Q Level: Book with the same word in title as your last read –> The Past is Red by Catherynne M. Valente — I liked this more than I thought I would. It’s an interesting take on the post-apocalyptic genre, and I liked what it had to say (the grass is not always greener and returning to “normal” should not be the obvious and automatic goal) and how it said it (the POV character voice).

I also finished my buddy read quest (She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan, which was excellent). And I finished the morally grey characters quest (Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard, cool story that felt more like a snippet than a complete novella).

I started The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen, but only got about halfway through it before bed last night. I finished it today, so I can report that I loved this book. But, I can’t count it for the “Amphibian Wranglers” quest (author name starts with B or F) because I technically didn’t finish it before the end of the Readathon. So, I guess it counts toward September, but I’m including it here anyway because you should definitely read it if you like fantasy romance. Especially if you like T. Kingfisher’s fantasy romance books.

Speaking of September… I am putting a few finishing touches on my reading journal set-up and planning to participate in another readathon. More on that tomorrow (probably).

How was your readathon adventure in August? Did you finish your prompts and achieve your calling? Or did you prioritize questing instead?

July reading wrap-up

July was a great reading month for me. I read eight books and one short story! EIGHT books!

Here’s what I read in July:

  • It Takes a Villa by Kilby Blades — This was a fun travel romance with a mystery subplot. I enjoy contemporary romance when there’s more going on in the story than just the romance, and that’s always the case in Kilby’s books. Made me want to go back to Italy and spend a lot more time there.
  • How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole — So glad I finally got around to reading this book. I really enjoy this series (and her other series that is connected to this one). The characters and the unique setting were what made this book extra enjoyable for me.
  • In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire — It’s been a while since I read the first three novellas in this series. Prior to reading this, Jack and Jill were my favorites, but I think Lundy’s story may be my new favorite in this series.
  • Juice Like Wounds” by Seanan McGuire — This is a short story that tells what happens on a side quest that takes place during In An Absent Dream. Definitely worth reading if you liked that book.
  • Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon — Finally got around to reading this book. It was mostly what I expected it would be. What I didn’t expect was that there was going to be an attempt at sci-fi world building. Most alien romances like this don’t spend much time trying to make the world make sense, so that was cool. At it’s core though, this is basically a Beauty and the Beast trope, which is why I think it really appeals to a lot of people. Unfortunately, it’s just not really my jam.
  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir — I finally finished reading this. I almost definitely wouldn’t have if I hadn’t decided to do the Hugo nominee reading project. I’d started it once and bailed because I didn’t like the main character or the amnesia plot device. I still don’t like the main character, and the more I read it, the more I got frustrated with the story because I never once believed that this mission was actually at any risk of failure. Every obstacle was pretty easily and quickly overcome, which made it just seem like the whole thing was an elaborate excuse to watch someone do science. Which, if you like that, awesome! You’ll probably love this book. It just wasn’t for me.
  • A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark — I really enjoyed this mystery. The world and the characters were great. My only complaint was that I feel like the detectives should have figured out the mystery sooner than they did. The “whodunit” should have been obvious to the detectives given the experiences of those characters. That said, it was really cool to read something that was like the inverse of all the John Bellairs mystery novels that I enjoyed when I was younger.
  • Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire — I was really looking forward to returning to the Moors with two of my favorite Wayward Children characters, and this novella didn’t disappoint. I think this was a solid ending to that arc of the story that is unfolding in these novellas.
  • The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers — I described this novel to someone as “cozy alien anthropology with a side of infrastructure collapse,” and I think that’s a pretty solid summary. I enjoyed it more because I’ve read enough of this author’s books to expect that it’s just going to be a bunch of different alien types talking about the similarities and differences in their cultures and getting over their preconceived notions about others and dealing with interpersonal conflict. But she does that really well, and this is a really good cozy, slice of life, fantasy novel.

Now, it’s time to get back to my Orilium Readathon TBR! I have another eight books I want to finish this month. So, we’ll see if I am lucky enough to have two really great reading months back to back!

If you’re also reading the Hugo nominees for best novel and/or best novella, which have been your favorites so far? Let me know in the comments.

June reading wrap-up

Yes, I know. We’re over a week into July, and I’m just now getting a chance to post my June reading wrap-up.

I meant to get this out earlier, but after my book release in June and all the series promo stuff I was doing, I just really needed a break. I ended up taking the first week of July as a pseudo-vacation. Or maybe it was more like a “stay-cation?”

After a very active (for me) month of social media in June, I just had that moment where I was like, “Hey, I just want to do stuff without telling the world about what I’m doing.” Shocking, right?

So, I played tourist in my own town (with my mom, who was visiting) for the week, and I read a LOT. I mean, no spoilers for my July wrap-up post, but I’ve already finished two books this month! And they were books that I started *and* finished in July! This clarification is important because I started a lot of books in June, but I only finished reading three. Which brings me to…

Not pictured: the non-fiction book I read.

What I read in June:

  • Engaging the Enemy by Elizabeth Moon — This is book three in the Vatta’s War series. I’m still really enjoying this series, but I felt like this book was a little slower paced than the first two books. The narrative is split between several perspectives. One is Ky’s badass fly-fishing great-aunt who is still back on their home world and going all Arya Stark on the Vatta family’s enemies. The other is the continued story of Ky and her cousin Stella (mostly told from Ky’s perspective) who are out in the universe trying to rebuild the Vatta empire. Because of that, the story felt a little scattered at times, and it took me way longer to finish this one than either of the first two books in the series. I’ll definitely be reading book four, but I decided not to start it right away after finishing this one.
  • The Elf Tangent by Lindsay Buroker — This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I really liked it! The characters and the world were great, but I did struggle with the pacing a little bit. I think that’s because the “promise of the premise” for me (based on the blurb) was that the math-geek, puzzle-solving heroine was going to spend more time using her brains to help save the elves. But the road trip section of the book (getting to the elf kingdom) seemed to drag on way too long compared to the puzzle solving / kingdom saving part, which felt really rushed. But the slow burn romance was really good (even if I did figure out the hero’s big secret WAY before the official reveal). I definitely want to read more in this series, and I may even check out the other stuff she’s written (but probably not until after I finish my Hugo nominee reading project).
  • Writing and Marketing Systems by Elana M Johnson — This was the non-fiction craft book I read in June. In case you didn’t know, I’m a process geek. This is the first book I’ve found on setting up writing and marketing systems for authors, and I had to check it out. There’s a lot of info here. It’s kind of like the productivity classic, Getting Things Done, but specifically for authors. I definitely picked up some things that I wanted to try right away. But there’s so much that I think I’ll have to continue to revisit this one as I work set up my own systems based on what I learned.

Not mentioned above (because I didn’t finish reading them, yet), are the other three or four books that I started in June and got about halfway through before the end of the month. I will probably finish most, if not all, of them this month, if I can keep my non-work time focused on reading. After a week of just chilling with a good book, I’m definitely feeling my urge to devour books returning.

I have more to say about my July reading plans, but I’ll do that when I finally post my July reading journal set-up. I already filmed the set-up video (back a the end of June). Now I just need to edit it and post it to YouTube. I’m going to try to get that blog post up this weekend. In the meantime, let me know in the comments what you’re reading this weekend!

May Reading Wrap-Up

May turned out to be an excellent reading month for me. I read four fiction and three non-fiction books. Plus, since it was my birthday month, I got a whole bunch of books that have been on my wish list! Some I received as gifts and others I bought with gift card money. Combined, I have so many stories to read that I should probably do a book haul post!

What I read in May… Starting with the fiction books:

  • Legendborn by Tracy Deonn — I think this was my favorite book I read in May. It’s the first YA fantasy I’ve read in a while, and it reminded me of all the stuff I love about YA fantasy. The feelings. The magic. The adventure. The friendships. The love triangles…. I especially love this new take on the Arthurian legends. I can not wait for the next book in the series!
  • The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake — Okay. I definitely get what all the hype is about. I think if someone had said this is a “one of us must die” secret society book, I might have picked it up faster. I was absolutely loving this book up until the last few chapters. Then some stuff happens that kind of felt like it came out of nowhere. I don’t know. I need someone to talk to about this book, and none of my bookish friends have read it yet. Overall, I really liked it, though, and I’ll definitely be checking out the next book.
  • Never Saw You Coming by Erin Hahn — I love this series of loosely connected stand-alone YA contemporary romances. Erin Hahn has become an auto-buy author for me, and I am incredibly picky about contemporary romances! Maybe it’s that Midwest vibe I get from her books (I grew up in the Chicago suburbs). More likely it’s the characters. I also really love the complexity she packs into these books. Even though they are definitely written for a young adult audience, they don’t shy away from the difficult topics. Her characters are going through stuff, but you know (because it’s romance) that they’re going to be okay in the end, and I’m here for it.
  • Supernova by Kass Morgan — I really wanted to read this so that I could complete the duology. I mean, it’s a young adult space academy adventure! This type of story is my jam. Usually. I wanted to love this book, but I just didn’t. I liked it. I just didn’t love it. I don’t think it was necessarily the book’s fault. I just wasn’t vibing with any of the characters. But it was still a fun read.

I also read a handful on non-fiction books related to the business of writing. Those were (in order of most to least helpful): The Book Marketing Audit: Get Better Results with a Better Plan by Kilby Blades, Secrets to Selling Books on Social Media: Social Media Marketing for Writers – How to Get Readers to Buy Your Book by Bethany Atazadeh and Mandi Lynn, and A Book A Week: How I Outline and Draft a Full Novel in Just A Week by Kate Hall.

Here’s what my “Outbox” spread ended up looking like:

Notes covered up to avoid sharing spoilers.

I started trying to put notes next to each of the books I read. As you can see, that lasted for only the first two. Then I got lazy. So lazy that I didn’t even bother printing out the covers for the non-fiction books I read. I tried to use a star stencil for the ratings, but they are not lined up or spaced very well at all. Probably not going to try that again.

Your turn! What was your favorite book that you read in May? Have you read Atlas Six? If you did, what did you think of the ending? Let me know in the comments.

April Reading Wrap-Up

It’s time for another reading wrap-up post! I participated in both the Magical Readathon and the Tome Topple Readathon in April. I managed to complete all my “coursework” for the Magical Readathon’s Orilium Academy spring session, and I finished one tome for Tome Topple! So, I’ll call that a successful reading month.

Here’s what I ended up reading in April:

  • Paladin’s Strength by T. Kingfisher (for the Orilium’s “Art of Illusion”) — I started the month with this fantasy romance. I really loved the first book in this series (Paladin’s Grace). This book is the second in the series and shifted focus to follow a new pair of characters, which I expected from the blurb. I really liked this new couple. One is another paladin from the first book, and the other is a new character we meet in chapter one. Part of the plot expands on the mystery plot from the first book, but the majority of this story pushed things in a different direction and ended up being more of a rescue mission. I really enjoyed it (though I think I liked the first one a tiny bit more than this one), and I’m looking forward to reading book three.
  • Deal With The Devil by Kit Rocha (for the Orilium’s “Psionics and Divination”) — This was a near-future sci-fi romance featuring the leaders of two bands of mercenaries who end up having to work together for plot reasons. Mercenaries are kind of hit and miss for me. These were super-soldiers with biological enhancements in a post-apocalyptic world. Neither of those things (super-soldiers or post-apocalypse) are my favorite. Still, I ended up liking this book. Not enough to jump immediately into the next one in the series, but enough that I might read book two at some point.
  • Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa (for the Orilium’s “Inscription” and also for Tome Topple) — This book was so good! Epic fantasy at its absolute best! I ended up listening to this on audiobook even though I own the ebook and the hardcover. I had a bunch of spring cleaning projects to do in the second half of April, and the audiobook was available from my library, so I switched formats. I have to say, I’m really glad that I did because the audiobook narration is fantastic. Sometimes I find it hard to stay engaged in fiction when it’s being read to me, especially when the book has a lot of complex world-building like this one does, but the narrator (Korey Jackson) did a great job. I can’t wait for the next book in this series!
  • Drowned Country by Emily Tesh (for the Orilium’s “Lore) — This is a novella and a companion story to Silver in the Wood. I love the folklore and atmospheric, lyrical prose of these books. I also love the sort-of grumpy / sunshine pairing of the two main characters. This was a fast and very enjoyable read, and I highly recommend these two books.

Originally, I’d planned on reading Legendborn for the “Lore” prompt in the Magical Readathon because it was also a tome, and I thought I might be able to finish two tomes in one month. But I ran out of time. I might have been able to finish it before the end of the month, but I didn’t have enough days left in the Tome Topple Readathon by the time I finished Son of the Storm. So I decided to switch to Drowned Country (which also fit for the prompt and was only 160 pages long). Then, I started reading Legendborn as soon as I finished Drowned Country. I am LOVING it, so far. If you haven’t read it, yet, go find a copy and check it out. This is possibly some of the best YA fantasy that I’ve read in a while. But I’ll save the rest of my gushing until my next reading wrap-up post…

Now that we are officially in May, I’m working on setting up my reading journal for the new month. I’ll have that update posted soon (probably with a video). Until then, let me know in the comments what you’re reading this month!