June Wrap-Up and Reading Goals Update

Since the year is half over (what? how? and also… only half? seriously?), I thought it might be a good time to catch up on how I’m doing with my reading goals in addition to bringing you the usual Inbox / Outbox summary. This is going to be a long one. Ready? Here we go…

Outbox

Here’s what I read in June:

I managed to finish four books in June, even though I spent the first fifteen days of the month trying to get into a book that I was buddy reading with friends. After realizing I was staring at social media instead of reading, I gave up and decided to read something else. I may come back to it eventually, but I just wasn’t enjoying it.

To get my reading groove back, I picked up Never Judge a Lady By Her Cover, the last book in Sarah MacLean’s Rules of Scoundrels series. It’s been a while since I read book three, and even longer since I started reading this series. I thought this would be a sure thing to get me out of my reading funk. I have been really looking forward to this book ever since I began to suspect Chase’s secret back in book two or three. But, when a character has a secret that big, it’s hard to make a believable romantic arc work. As much as I loved the characters in this book, I did start to get annoyed that there didn’t seem to be a strong reason for the secret keeping. It was a small quibble. I still devoured this book, and I think it was a solid (if a bit “old-school romance”) ending to this series.

After that, I read The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole. I’ve been wanting to listen to this on audiobook since I first heard it announced, but I wasn’t about to go and get an Audible subscription just to listen. So, I waited patiently until it came out on ebook. Folks, I am here to say, it was worth the wait. This book had the perfect mix of plot and romance for me. In the SFF genre, this would be considered “hard” sci-fi (meaning plausibly science-based sci-fi). I just do not see very many (any?) romance books with a hard sci-fi setting and plot. So good. If you’re a sci-fi fan who wants to dip a toe into romance, start here.

Then I read Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett. I’ve never read any of the Stephanie Plum books, but I imagine that if you like books in that genre, you would also enjoy this book/series. I loved it and immediately downloaded book two in the series. This was such a fun read! If you like cozy mysteries that don’t feature cops as the main characters, definitely check out this book.

I also read The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark. This is one of the novellas that has been nominated for a Hugo award this year. I read his other Hugo nominated novella (The Black God’s Drums) last year, and it was my favorite of the bunch. I also really enjoyed this novella, which is set in an alternate history version of Cairo that is populated with magical creatures and futuristic technology. So cool. The world-building and characters are fantastic. Another one I highly recommend reading.

Inbox

I already mentioned three of these books in my June TBR update (Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden, Stormsong by C. L. Polk, and The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole). The other three were books I bought after reading Hollywood Homicide and remembering that there were a bunch more “light and fluffy” ebooks by Black authors on my wishlist that I’ve been meaning to buy.

I had some gift card money left over from my birthday, so I grabbed Mating the Huntress by Talia Hibbert (I haven’t read anything by her, but I’ve been following her on Twitter for a while, and I think she’s great, so I thought this would be as good a place as any to start), Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny by Rebekah Weatherspoon (the subtitle says it all, plus I’ve heard so many folks have raving about this book, unfortunately my library hasn’t bought a copy yet, so I decided to just buy it already), and In Tune by J.N. Welsh (I added this to my wishlist after an interview with her on Smart Podcast Trashy Books because one of the main characters is an EDM artist and the author was talking about all this research on EDM for the book, and I listen to quite a bit of EDM, especially while writing, so I really want to read this).

Mid-Year Goals Update

I had to go look up my reading goals for 2020. I had a vague recollection that there were four of them? But I didn’t remember what they were. Turns out that there were five. I’d conveniently forgotten about goal #4. Probably because I hate goal #4.

Here’s my brief update on how I’m doing toward achieving my reading goals this year:

  1. Read at least 52 books. (or book-like things). — So far this year I have read 35 books, which is 67% of this goal. I’m ahead of schedule, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to increase my goal. I have a LOT of writing that I’ve been procrastinating on that needs to get done in the next few months, and that is going to cut into my reading time. So the goal is staying at 52 books total.
  2. Finish at least 5 series that I’ve already started. — I have finished 4 series so far this year (Queens of Renthia, The Interdependency, Monsters of Verity, and Rules of Scoundrels). Only one of these was on my list of series I’d planned on finishing this year, but I’m very close to checking this one off, so I’m not going to worry about that small detail. 🙂
  3. Read all purchased books within six months of purchase. — Hahahaha. I currently have 5 books that are “overdue” for reading according to this goal. One of them is the third book in a series where I still need to read book two, but I have no excuse for the rest. This goal needs a little more focus in the second half of 2020. But I still think it’s totally manageable. Unlike the next goal…
  4. Read at least one owned book for every book I purchase. — Why do I create goals that are annoyingly difficult to track? This took me way too long to figure out, but I’ve purchased 6 books this year (I’m not counting gifts or books purchased with gift card money), and I’ve read 2 books that I purchased prior to 2019 (the ones I bought in 2019 are covered under goal #3). So, I am 4 books behind on this goal. But the thing is, if I prioritize goal #3 (which I think is a better goal for me than this one), then the likelihood that I’ll achieve this goal is slim. There are just too many new books I want to read, and I’m able to get almost all of them from the library. So, I don’t have much incentive to read pre-2019 backlist stuff, and I’m not sure I care. Ugh. I’m going to keep tracking this, but someone please stop me from making this goal next year.
  5. Read more books by marginalized authors (measured by % of total books read). — My targets and actuals are as follows:
    • At least 33% books by “non-white” authors. Currently: 23% (8 books)
    • At least 15% books by queer authors. Currently: 17% (6 books)
    • At least 10% books by indie authors. Currently: 17% (6 books)
    • At least 50% of books written by female-identifying authors. Currently: 73% (29 books)

So that’s where things stand for me going into the second half of 2020. I plan to continue to focus on reading more books by authors of color (especially Black authors), and I plan to catch up on the books I bought this year and last year.

How are you doing on your reading goals for 2020 (if you have reading goals)? Let me know in the comments. I’m curious. 🙂 And, until next time, have a great 4th of July weekend! Stay safe and wear a mask! ❤

TBR Update for June

I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump this month, and I was really looking forward to the Hogsmeade Magical Readathon next week. But, JRK has been out there spouting hateful stuff on the internet (again), so we’re not going to Hogsmeade. Which is a bummer, but basic human rights are more important than Hogwarts. Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Gender is not binary, and Black Lives Matter.

I may not be participating in the readathon, but I am still planning to read as many of the books by Black authors that I put on that TBR as possible. I also decided to go ahead and start a few days ahead of schedule. And, I expanded my list. In addition to what I had already, I added every unread book written by a Black author that is currently on my shelf or on my Kindle. Plus, I got a few new books.

There’s been a push this week to buy books by Black authors. So, I decided it was time to break my “no buying new books” rule. I purchased a few that have been on my wishlist for a while: Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden (after Prey of Gods, I’m here for the weirdness, and this promises to deliver with a spacer society that travels in ships that are giant space beasts), Stormsong by C. L. Polk (after enjoying Witchmark, I am looking forward to reading the second book in the Kingston Cycle series), and The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole (it’s the new Alyssa Cole, need I say more?).

I also got my Hugo Award packet, so I added The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark and The Deep by by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes. And, I got an ARC of The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna! I don’t usually like reading ARCs because I prefer to read the finished book, but I think I am going to make an exception in this case.

Are you ready for the full list of all the beautiful books by Black authors on my Kindle or my bookshelf? Feast your eyes on these covers:

Oh, and I also have the ebook box set Seed to Harvest by Octavia E. Butler and the ebook box set of the Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin on my Kindle. That’s two full series from two powerhouses of SFF! My reading slump going to be crushed.

Let me know in the comments what book by a Black author you are reading this week. Or if you need a recommendation, feel free to comment with what genre / age category of book you’re interested in, and I’ll reply with a suggestion.

Happy reading!

Reading books by Black authors for the Hogsmeade Mini Magical Readathon (#HogsmeadeReads2020)

Book Roast has organized another mini Magical Readathon, and it’s happening in June! This is a one week (22-28 June) readathon with reading prompts based on the shops in Hogsmeade (the town near Hogwarts in Harry Potter). You can find a link to the map of Hogsmeade that G made with all the reading prompts and everything else you need to know in this video on Book Roast.

I know this is Pride month, but Pride wouldn’t have happened without Black women. So, for this readathon, I decided to create a TBR of books written only by Black authors. The point of this is to normalize Black stories by Black authors. There are books written by Black authors that fit every single one of these prompts. Multiple books. Reading a book by a Black author doesn’t have to be the one book you read to fill the “read a book by a POC author” prompt in a readathon. If you don’t believe me, check out this Twitter thread list of almost 200 (or more?) books by Black authors for more inspiration. I guarantee you’ll find something amazing to read.

Because there are so many options, I decided to try to stick with books that were already on my TBR. I started there because I’m trying not to buy more books right now. But there were two prompts where I didn’t have books that fit: horror/thriller and steampunk. I don’t usually read those genres. So, I did a bit of searching and reminded myself of two books I’d seen before but never officially added to my TBR. Luckily, both were available to borrow at the library, and my readathon TBR was complete.

Below, I’ve listed each of the reading prompts from G’s Hogsmeade map along with a book from my TBR that is written by a Black author and fits the prompt.

Ten books in one week is a LOT of reading for me. I tried to pick books that were shorter, or that I think might be faster reads, but still think it’s going to be a challenge to read all these in one week.

Total page count for this TBR is 2866 pages. That means I’d have to read about 410 pages per day on average to read all these books in one week. I highly doubt that’s going to happen. But, as I said, (almost) all these books were already on my TBR. So, I plan to keep reading until I finish this stack of books, even if it takes me longer than this one week readathon.

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