May Reading Wrap-up and Birthday Book Haul

May was not a great reading month for me, but I did get a lot of awesome new books for my birthday! Read on to find out more…

Sad little monthly spread for May.

The first book I read in May was The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein. This is another novel in her Code Name Verity world, but it features different characters. I really liked Code Name Verity but never got around to reading any of her other books. So when my book club buddies suggested that we read this, I read the blurb and agreed. Turns out that it was good, but I didn’t love it. The pilot scenes and the scenes between Louisa and the old German lady she’s in charge of caring for were some of my favorites. The rest required a bit too much suspension of disbelief for me.

I also read Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui. I started on the first of the month, and it took me almost the next thirty days to finish it, which is a little embarrassing because the book is only 277 pages long. And I love swimming! I really enjoyed all the information about why swimming is awesome. Some of it I knew before, but there was a lot of new stuff as well. I definitely recommend this for folks who love swimming or who are curious about the benefits of open water swimming (especially in cold water). It motivated me to get into our local lake a lot sooner than I might otherwise have. The author did a lot of research for this and sites a lot of science, so it’s not just a series of essays with a some personal anecdotes thrown in.

Birthday book haul!

Here are the books I received (thanks, Mom!) and/or purchased for myself for my birthday:

  • Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa — I met Suyi at Futurescapes a couple of years ago. We were in a critique group together, and I got to read the first chapter of this book and totally wanted to read more. When I found out that it was getting published, I was so excited! I can’t wait to read the rest of the story.
  • Lady Hotspur by Tessa Gratton — The blurb for this book gives me big “Brienne of Tarth” vibes, and I already know that I love Tessa’s writing and world-building. This is going to be epic.
  • The Dreamblood Duology by N. K. Jemisin — I have been wanting to read this since I finished the Broken Earth trilogy, and now I can! Hooray!
  • Drowned Country by Emily Tesh — I really enjoyed Silver in the Wood. (Seriously, if you haven’t read it and you like magical woods fantasy stories, go get your hands on a copy.) This is the second book in that duology. I am really looking forward to seeing what’s next for Henry and Tobias.
  • How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole — If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you already know that Alyssa Cole is pretty much an auto-buy for me. After getting a glimpse at one of the heroines of this book in the first book in How to Catch a Queen, I knew I had to read her story. Beznaria just leapt off the page and into my heart. I needed to read her love story.
  • The Checklist by Addie Woolridge — Addie is funny and smart, and I am just so excited to read her first published book! This rom com is already starting to get all the summer book buzz, so you better grab a copy and check it out for yourself.

What do you think? See anything in my book haul that is also at the top of your TBR? Let me know in the comments.

Next, it’s time to set up my reading journal for June…

September Reading Wrap-Up

September was a lot. Not a lot of reading, but a lot of other stuff, like finishing writing book four in my Modern Fae series, plus some life stuff, not to mention all the other things going on in the world right now. I am really, REALLY looking forward to taking a bit of a break in October. But first, let’s talk about what I read and what I hauled in September.


I caught up on Murderbot in September. I finished the third and fourth novellas (Rogue Protocol and Exit Strategy), plus read the short story that is set between the fourth novella and the first novel (Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory), and the first novel (Network Effect). I really love Murderbot. In a month where I regularly found myself overwhelmed by emotions (ugh, emotions), I found I could totally relate to just wanting to bury myself in consuming stories to make myself feel better. Especially old favorites. I’ve been really craving returning to some of my favorite movies and books.

The only non-Murderbot book that I read in September was You Should See Me In a Crown by Leah Johnson. This is a contemporary YA novel with a big prom theme, set at a high school in Indiana, featuring a bisexual main character who is also Black. It was really good. I really enjoyed it, even though it is definitely written for Real Teens (aka not adults, like me). I wish I had more teens in my life to share this with.


I did another epic library haul and filled my Kindle up with ebooks. What do you see here that you think I should read first? The one I’m probably most excited for is Erin Hahn’s More Than Maybe, which sounds like a book that teen me would have LOVED. I’m also hoping that I’ll get sucked into some of these series now that I have more time for reading. It’s always when you get to read books in a series back to back.

Currently Reading

I am currently in the middle of A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy and Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose. The first is a YA fantasy novel with cool magic and world building. The second is a cozy mystery set in Regency London. It is similar in style to the Lady Sherlock series and the Veronica Speedwell series that I like. Lucky for me, this is also the first in an ongoing series.

What are you reading? What do you recommend from my book haul?

May 2020: Book Haul

Hello, friends! Before I get into this post, I’d like to be clear about something that should be obvious to anyone who has been reading my blog for a while. For the record, I believe Black Lives Matter. Make an effort to read books by Black authors. Listen to what Black authors say about the books meant to represent them and to what they say about the publishing industry.

If you haven’t been reading any books by Black authors, or you’ve only read books by Black authors that were about characters dealing with racism (The Hate You Give is considered required reading around these parts, but please don’t stop there), check my Twitter for some recommendations and stay tuned for an upcoming post with my all Black author Hogsmeade Magical Readathon TBR.

That said, let’s move on to our second bit of housekeeping. I’ve decided to split my usual monthly reading wrap-up into two (maybe three?) posts this month. My May book haul was just too much, and it was making my May reading wrap up post too long. So today you’re getting the “inbox” portion of the post and tomorrow you’ll get the “outbox” portion. Then the “currently reading” and TBR stuff will follow.

Are you ready for an epic book haul? Good. Let’s dive in.

Library Haul

This was a particularly large library haul month. I stocked up on some middle and end of series books that I’ve been meaning to read: Hurts to Love You (Forbidden Hearts), Sweep With Me (Innkeeper Chronicles), In a Badger Way (Honey Badger Chronicles), My Lord and Spymaster (Spymasters), Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover (The Rules of Scoundrels), Eclipse the Skies (Ignite the Stars), Engaging the Enemy and Victory Conditions and Command Decision (Vatta’s War), Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children).

Then there are a few new-to-me series that I’ve been meaning to check out: the Poison Study series by (Poison Study, Magic Study, and Fire Study are the first three books) and the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. I was only able to get Mistborn this time, but I’ve got the other books in the series reserved to get in my next book haul.

I got Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase after reading this Twitter thread by a romance author I follow. It’s technically book two in the series, and I’ve never read anything by this author, but that thread really sold this book for me.

Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer, Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin, The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White, and Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi are all new(er) releases that have been getting a lot of buzz. I’ve had these on hold for a while, and I’m excited to check them out.

Then I grabbed a copy of It’s Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan after listening to an interview with her on the Code Switch podcast. And when I saw that Susanna Clarke has a new book coming out, I also noticed that she had a short story anthology that I’d missed. So, I grabbed a copy of The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories as well.

I think that’s it from the library. Hopefully I didn’t miss any from the cover snapshot above. If you think that’s a lot of ebooks for one haul when I only have twenty one days to read them, don’t worry. My Kindle is on airplane mode while I work through this batch. That also means, there probably won’t be another big book haul for a few months.

Birthday Haul

May was my birthday month. It was a pretty mellow “stay-at-home” birthday, but it was made extra special by Zoom chats with friends and family and a delicious dinner made by my husband. Plus a steady diet of homemade pie and cake and cookies consumed throughout the month. Yum! 🙂

In addition to good eats, I got three ebooks I’ve been looking forward to reading and can’t get from my library. Thanks, Mom! ❤

The first is Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim, which is a gender swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo. You may remember that I listened to the audiobook of The Count of Monte Cristo (~50 hours of audiobook!) and unexpectedly loved it. When I saw this retelling, I knew I had to check it out.

I also got Strange Love by Ann Aguirre. I first heard about this on the Smart Bitches Trashy Books blog. I’m always on the lookout for sci-fi romance with great world-building, and I like that the aliens in this one are actually alien and not humans with green skin or something. If you also like sci-fi romance, I recommend checking out the SBTB review for more detail on this book (hint: they gave it an A!).

And finally, I got Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen. This one is billed as The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Jane Austen in the Goodreads blurb. I first heard about it on Alexa Donne’s YouTube channel. She raved about it (and blurbed it), so I added it to my wishlist, but I haven’t heard any buzz about it since then. If you’ve read it or heard anything about it, let me know in the comments.

Other Stuff

Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton was the free book in May. I’ve been meaning to read something by Jo Walton, and I’ve heard this is a really good dragon book. So, I grabbed a copy for my Kindle.

I also grabbed a free copy of book one of Wool by Hugh Howey to read for Short Story Club (organized by my critique partners and friends Amit, Scott, and James). The discussion with Hugh was great, and I’m really looking forward to this month’s discussion of “The Bookstore at the End of America” with Charlie Jane Anders. If you want to join, you can get tickets here (cost is an optional donation to Dog Eared Books in SF).

Then, I used some birthday money to buy a copy of my friend Karysa Faire’s first book, Take Two. It looks awesome, and I can’t wait to read it.

And, finally, I received my pandemic-delayed Fairy Loot box with a beautiful copy of Bone Crier’s Moon. This book wasn’t on my radar, but now that it’s in my hands, I’m very excited to read it.

Phew. I warned you. So many new (to me) books! I’m excited to get reading. What from this haul is really jumping out at you? Is there one of these books that you really want me to read and review? Let me know in the comments and maybe I’ll bump it up to the top of my TBR list.

Stay tuned to hear about what I read in May. Until then, be safe and wash your hands. ❤

Summer ebook and audiobook library haul!

I’ve just done another massive ebook download from the library. Yes, it’s true that I haven’t finished reading the ones I’ve already borrowed, but I’m not about to let that stop me.

What’s here and why…

It started with the holds I’d placed on some new books (The Disasters, The Fated Sky) and one that I need for Read Harder (Certain Dark Things). But, once I started, I decided to take a look at what books on my library “wish list” happened to be available. That’s how I ended up adding the remaining books in two series that I want to finish (The Brothers Sinister series by Courtney Milan and the Winner’s Curse series by Marie Rutkoski), a miscellaneous novella from a series that have mixed feelings about (A Court of Frost and Starlight), two fantasy romance books that were recommended to me (Empire of Sand and Slave to Sensation), a couple more books by the amazing Tessa Gratton (Strange Grace and The Lost Sun), and a few more that have been on my TBR for a while and happened to be available (Children of Blood and Bone, Genuine Fraud, Dryland, Across A Star Swept Sea, and My So-Called Bollywood Life).

Now it’s time to flip my Kindle back to airplane mode until fall and enjoy my summer reading… 🙂 If you have any recommendations about where I should start with this new book haul, let me know in the comments.

Birthday Book Haul

My mom sent me some excellent books for my birthday this year!

First up, two “book threes” in two different series: Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee and Amnesty by Lara Elena Donnelly. I’m not sure if these are the last books in their respective series or not, but now that I have them, I need to read their “book twos” so I can catch up!

Jean Grey was never my favorite of the X-Men, but volume one of the new Jean Grey X-Men comic (Nightmare Fuel) follows the teenage, alternate timeline Jean Grey, and it also features Psylocke in at least one of the issues. The covers I saw at a comic shop in Portland looked awesome. So, I thought I’d give it a try. If it also features Storm, I’m going to be very happy.

I recently added Art Starts With A Line by Erin McManness and Draw Your Day by Samantha Dion Baker to my wish list because I’ve been getting the itch to draw more, but feeling like I’m out of practice and attempting a doodle will just “mess up” my notebook. I used to love sketching. Then I found pen and ink drawing and started experimenting more with that medium. But I let my drawing practice slide over the past ten years. I’m hoping these two books give me the inspiration I need to start including more doodles in my journals, especially my BuJo. So, if you have any Instagram accounts you follow for sketching or doodling inspiration, let me know in the comments.

May recap and birthday book haul

May is over. I celebrated surviving another year around the sun. And, I got some awesome birthday books (and a somewhat bookish, totally lovely oversized mug) from my mama who spoils me. Check it out:

I’ve already read Night of Cake and Puppets on Kindle, and it’s adorable. But, I couldn’t resist asking for this illustrated hard cover edition. I’m definitely planning to re-read it, but I’m saving it for a dark and stormy night in front of the fire. That’s how I read it the first time, and it was the perfect book savoring atmosphere for this story.

Robots vs. Fairies landed on my wish list because I love both sci-fi AND fantasy, robots AND fairies. Plus some authors I love contributed stories to this anthology. I’m not usually a short story person, but I’m trying to read more to learn the craft. What I didn’t expect was the excellent cover art. It’s stunning. I love it. It made my new Pinterest board of favorite SFF covers. (Pinterest and I are not quite besties, yet, so feel free to follow my boards, but don’t expect much…)

Speaking of excellent cover art, did you notice Armistice in that stack? Book two in the Amberlough series released on my birthday, and it’s calling to me. I need to start this soon so I can find out what happens next. But…the thing that’s really calling to me is book two in Elizabeth Moon’s military space opera series, Marque and Reprisal. It’s been a while since I read Trading in Danger, but I really liked it. This sub-genre is my reader catnip. This series is a little old (like me) but, I found out that she’s written more books in this world. So, I need to get reading.

Enough drooling over new books, let’s talk about what I read in May…

First up, I listened to the audiobook of Poisoned Blade (book two in the Court of Fives series). I’m still very much enjoying this series, and planning to request the last book in the series on audiobook to keep me entertained on my upcoming summer trips. Also, I found out today (via Twitter) that the author of this series will be writing a new story for Magic the Gathering about Nicol Bolas and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. I know my MtG padwan (who has now surpassed me in MtG geekery and skill — this took about five days, btw — also, he’s nine) will be very interested in this news.

After some solid YA epic fantasy, a little YA space opera seemed like a nice change of pace. So, I picked up the Blood of a Thousand Stars ebook from the library. I liked the first book in this duology, and was curious to see what would happen in book two. There’s a lot going on in this series. I think I may have enjoyed book two more than book one. Still, I wonder why they tried to cram this whole story into two books. Why can’t YA have the same long-running epic space opera series books that you see for adults? It’s kind of a bummer. I’d have liked to see more in this world because I had almost started thinking of it as a less-funny (but not in a bad way), more romance-heavy, junior version of Scalzi’s new Collapsing Empire series. Teenage me (or even adult me) would have read the heck out of that.

Since that one didn’t quite quench my thirst for sci-fi, I decided to listen to the audiobook for Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty. Oh man, if you’re into clones and all the politics / ethics surrounding cloning, plus locked room mysteries, you’ll probably love this book. I’m always down for a mystery, and I love fiction that explores meaty ethical and philosophical ideas. So, yeah. I liked this book. If you need any more reasons to pick this up, it was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula. Which was why I’d originally picked it up. But then I remembered that I’d read one of her other books a while back (The Shambling Guide to New York City) and also enjoyed it. So, I checked out her blog and found out that she just finished writing the novelization for the Star Wars Solo movie! And it features more L3! The book comes out in September. I’ve never read a Star Wars book before, but now I’m seriously considering it.

Speaking of ideas-driven sci-fi, the book club I participated in back when I lived in Portland decided to read The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin in a month where I happened to be in town and available to join them. So, I re-read the book in preparation for the discussion. I’m so glad I did! I’d forgotten how meaty this book is — chock full of ideas. I loved it. It’s entirely possible that a lot of this went over my head the first time I read it. But, this time so much resonated with me and got me thinking. Le Guin is definitely one of my SFF heroes, and I’m so sad she’s gone, but thrilled that she left us with a mountain of excellent SFF, so much I haven’t read yet, enough to keep me entertained for the rest of my life.

After all this thinking, I decided to pick up something short, something fun, and something romantic. Enter, Game On by Nicola Marsh. I’d heard about this new contemporary romance series featuring heroines who play Aussie Rules Football (I have no idea what this is, but it sounds like rugby, maybe?) when one of my favorite podcasts (Smart Podcast, Trashy Books) interviewed the authors. I love a good sports romance when it’s the heroine who’s the sporty one. So, I thought I’d check this out. I didn’t realize it was going to be so short. It’s only about 70 pages. The other two in the series seem to be a little longer, but they’re all novellas. This is a bummer because I don’t like spending more that a buck or two on a novella. I’ll probably wait to see if the other books go on sale, because I can’t get them from my library, but I wasn’t so sucked into the series that I absolutely need to read the rest of the books. Still, if you love contemporary romance novellas, (and if you do, I’d probably wonder how you found my blog…but welcome!) you might love this series.

Well, that wraps up what I read in May. June may end up being a light reading month for me because I’m currently focused on getting my contemporary fantasy / romance novel ready to send to the copy editor. Stay tuned (or sign up for my newsletter) for more on that adventure. However, July is going to involve a lot of travel and a vacation. So, I’ve been pulling together a short list of books to choose from (it’s not a TBR, I swear, I just have so many books on my Kindle that I forget what’s there sometimes). You can check out that shelf on Goodreads if you’re interested. If you see anything there that you want to vote up to the top of my list, leave a comment here and let me know.

Last, but certainly not least, I set up a mailing list so you can get my blog posts sent directly to your email inbox, if you’re interested in that sort of thing. If that sounds good to you, sign up via this link. Also, I paid for the WordPress upgrade so you should no longer have to see ads on my blog. The URL changed slightly, but the old address will still work.

Okay, this post got long, fast. Time for me to get back to editing! Happy reading!

Birthday Book Haul

Check out all the lovely books I got for my birthday!

In case you can’t tell from the picture, I got the Penguin Galaxy special editions of Dune and The Left Hand of Darkness, both books that I’ve read and LOVED (Dune is one of my top five favorite books. The addition of this volume means I now own 2 hardcovers, 1 paperback, and 1 Kindle version of this book). Both have introductions written by Neil Gaimen and just look at them! They’re beautiful! I love them, and now I have an excuse to re-read them. 🙂

Also by Ursula Le Guin, author of The Left Hand of Darkness and a writer who I admire very much, is the classic writing book Steering the Craft. I’ve always wanted this one and now I have it! Hooray!

I also got the rest of the Saga comic trade volumes because, after reading the first volume, I fell in love with this story and had to have the rest.

I’ve been told by so many people now that Paper Girls (also written by Brian Vaughan) is really good. So, I put that on my wishlist as well and the birthday fairy (Mom) granted my wish.

Plus, just for fun and maybe some additional inspiration on days I’m feeling less than motivated to get my butt to the pool, I got this cute little book called The Joy of Swimming which features a bunch of fun swimming facts and pretty watercolor illustrations.

And, because I can’t resist (look at them! they’re so pretty!) Here’s another shot of the stack…

(Side note: Yes, the printing on the spines of the Penguin Galaxy books is upside down and backwards. I don’t know why. I’m assuming there’s a reason they made it that way? If you know the answer, post it in the comments, please!)

Thanks, Mom!

#BookHaul: First Three Months of 2016

I did say I was going to try to avoid buying books this year and use my library more, instead. But when books I want to read go on sale, I just can’t resist.

Here’s everything I snapped up (all at less than $3 per book) in the first three months of this year:

Book Haul for Q1 2016

  • The Revelation of Louisa May by Michaela MacColl (YA, historical fiction) — Little known fact about me, I dressed up as Louisa May Alcott and did a speech as her (in character) for one of my elementary school spirit days. I can’t remember the theme, but my mom probably does. There’s a picture in a box somewhere to prove it. Long way of saying: of course I had to buy this book.
  • French Concession by Xiao Bai (Adult, mystery/thriller) — Translated from Chinese. This one’s been on my list for a while. I saw “noir” plus “espionage” and “international intrigue” and said yes, please!
  • The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows (YA, fantasy) — Several of my writing buddies were raving about this one, and I know they have good taste in books. So I had to grab a copy when it was on sale.
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh (YA fantasy) — I’ve had this one on my “to read” list since before the release date, and the hype is through the roof at this point, but I’m hearing it is well deserved.
  • Winter Fae by Suza Kates (Paranormal Romance) — Now that I just finished writing a novel featuring Fae, I want to see what else is out there.
  • Trade Me by Courtney Milan (Contemporary Romance) — I’ve enjoyed Courtney Milan’s historical romances, and I don’t read much contemporary romance. I thought I’d check this one out.
  • Binti by by Nnedi Okorafor (Fantasy Novella) — I have a bunch of her novels on my TBR, but I heard someone raving about this in a podcast and I decided to check it out.
  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (YA Fantasy) — I’ve heard mixed things about this one, but it was on sale, and the premise interests me.
  • Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (YA Magical Realism?) — Magical mix tapes and 80s misfits in Mexico? Count me in!
  • The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev (Contemporary Romance) — I read her first book and loved it. This one is supposed to be slightly darker, but I don’t think I’ll mind. She’s a fabulous author.
  • Never Never by Brianna Shrum (YA Fantasy) — A Peter Pan re-telling, but I think in this one Captain Hook is the hero… Another little known fact about me: I played Peter Pan in the fifth grade musical.
  • The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (YA Fantasy) — Another one where I’ve heard mixed things, but the premise interests me and it was on sale.

Now… I just need more time to read!