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!