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.

May 2020: Reading Wrap Up

It’s a new day, and Black Lives Still Matter. All of them. And, as you’re about to find out, I didn’t read any books by Black authors in May. One third of the books I read in May had own voices queer representation, but none were written by authors of color.

So far only 16% of the books I’ve read this year have been written by authors of color. My goal for 2020 was to hit at least 33% with a stretch goal of 50%. I’d love to hit 40%, because that would be more or less in line with the percent of non-white people in the United States according to current census estimates. So, it’s time to focus a little harder on improving that stat. But more on that in my TBR post.

Let’s talk about what I read in May, shall we?

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First up was The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst. This was the last book in the Queens of Renthia series (but she’s writing other books set in this world). I wish this series got more attention. It’s really good fantasy with great characters and world-building. One of the main characters in the series (she gets introduced in book two) is a mom with two kids who are pretty well fleshed out characters (not plot moppets), and the conflict between her role as a mother and as a queen is really well explored. In fact, there are at least five different female characters of different ages and with different values and strengths who are all wielding different types of power throughout this series. Sometimes they are on the same side, sometimes they are in conflict. But this series is definitely about the women, and it does not shy away from showing the brutal parts of living in a world where the elemental spirits are trying to kill you. I highly recommend checking out this series. I think it’s an excellent YA/adult cross-over fantasy series.

After finishing that, I did a little Innkeeper Chronicles binge and read books three (One Fell Sweep) and four (Sweep of the Blade), plus the recently published novella (Sweep With Me) over the course of one weekend. I still love this series. I really REALLY hope that there is more. I love the concept. I love the characters. I love the sci-fantasy world-building. I love the light touch with the romance elements (it’s more romantic fantasy than fantasy romance). I think book four (Sweep of the Blade) is my favorite so far because I really like the vampire culture, and I love Maud and her daughter. I want more books set in that vampire world. It’s such a good and unique take on vampires. I can not say enough good stuff about these books. Just go read them already!

Next up, I read A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine. I really liked this book a lot, too. It reminds me of the Hainish Cycle books by Ursula K. LeGuin crossed with something like Planetside by Michael Mammay. The pop culture elements built into the world building is so good. I love it when world building is so well thought out that it includes things like how a poetry slam might be used for political maneuvering. Or considers which novels and other stories might spread and disperse throughout a far-reaching empire, and which would be of interest to people who have recently been assimilated and are maybe not huge fans of the empire, but maybe appreciate the pop culture. I also think the author did a great job describing what it feels like to have studied a culture and a language to the point where you are passably fluent, but how you still can feel like an outsider who will never be a true part of that culture once you finally get a chance to visit and spend time there. I seriously though this was going to win the Nebula. Now I need to go read the novel that did win (A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker), because if it beat this book and Gideon the Ninth, it has to be good.

Then I took a short break from reading novels to read the first of the five books that make up the novel Wool by Hugh Howey. The first book was originally published as a stand-alone novella. The novella made me slightly more interested in reading the full book, but I found out that the main character shifts after this first book to follow someone else’s story. That makes sense given how the novella ends, but it also makes me slightly less inclined to bump Wool to the top of my TBR. I feel like, if I’m going to be switching perspectives anyway, there’s no big rush.

And finally, I read Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. I know everyone loves this book, so this is going to probably be an unpopular opinion, and I hesitate to even write this, but this was my least favorite of all the books I read this month. It was good. I liked it. I just didn’t love it as much as everyone else I know did. I blame this on the current political environment and not on the book. I really struggled with immersing myself in this world with its female president. It kept reminding me what we should have had and making me sad. Overall, this book just wasn’t a good fit for me right now, but I’m really glad everyone else seems to have loved it. Maybe if I’d read it before the trash fire that is 2020, I would have liked it more.

And on that super positive note… Ugh. Seems like a bummer to leave it there. I should really be jumping in to talk about what I’m currently reading, or my TBR for June, or something. But this post is super long already, and I need to go write some Modern Fae words so that I can get book four in that series out sometime this year. You’ll have to wait until this weekend to hear about my Hogsmeade Mini Magical Readathon TBR. Until then, stay safe and wash your hands. ❤

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 Tor.com 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. ❤

April 2020: Reading (and #OWLsReadathon2020) Wrap Up

Turns out that “shelter-in-place” has been great for reading through my stash of hardcovers and paperbacks. I made a huge dent in my physical TBR stack this month. But don’t worry. There’s still a tower of books on my dresser. I’ll need a few more months of this to get through them all.

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April was the OWLs Magical Readathon, and I completed ten of the twelve subjects! I’m so excited because this gives me so many career options for NEWTs, later this year!

In the interest of keeping this post relatively short, I’ll just list what I read with a few brief comments on each book.

  • Ancient Runes – Wrong to Need You (Forbidden Hearts #2) by Alisha Rai – Solid middle book in this series. I loved the new characters and the bond between the sisters.
  • Arithmancy – Sourdough by Robin Sloan – I liked this more than I thought I would, mostly because it’s set in the San Francisco tech community, and I really bonded with the main character. The plot is a little weak, but I was so into the character and setting that I didn’t mind.
  • Astronomy – The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite – This one was a cozy story featuring embroidery as art, women in astronomy, and ladies in love.
  • Divination – Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Taki Soma, and Valentine De Landro – This volume offered some more insight into the world and the various tensions. The ending left me thinking there might be more? But I can’t seem to find anything about that on the internet.
  • History of Magic – The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson – Solid characters and world-building, but the plot meandered a bit. If you like modern-day witches, you’ll probably dig this series.
  • Muggle Studies – Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy – This is such a heartwarming story, and that Dolly Parton quote about figuring out who you are and doing it on purpose has been really resonating with me lately.
  • Potions – Saga Vol. 3 by by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples – Volume three continues to entertain, though this one seemed to be a little more “exposition” focused than the first two.
  • Transfiguration – Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston – If you’re looking for heat, you’re probably going to be disappointed. The hero and heroine don’t really get together until about 75% of the way through the book. But, if you love shifters and sister bonds, you probably won’t mind. The characters are great and the plot is fast paced and bonkers (in a good way).
  • Herbology – Marque and Reprisal by Elizabeth Moon – I really like this series. It’s written in a very traditional sci-fi / space opera style, which may turn some people off, but the plot and world-building is so good. I love the addition of Stella and Rafe in this book. Ky’s crew is really coming together, and she’s finding her footing as captain.
  • Charms – Other Minds by by Peter Godfrey-Smith – There is some really cool science in this book mixed in with a lot of anecdotal tales of swimming with octopus and cuttlefish. Enjoyed the exploration of a different evolution of consciousness.

In addition to all that, I also had the good luck to get my hands on a copy of The Last Emperox, the final book in John Scalzi’s Interdependency Series. This was a very action-packed and emotionally satisfying ending to the series, and that’s all I’m going to say about that because I don’t want to spoil anything.

And, just before falling asleep on the final day of the month, I decided to dig into a flash fiction anthology, Nevertheless She Persisted. The stories were written by some of the top names in SFF right now (Charlie Jane Anders, Brooke Bolander, Amal El-Mohtar, Maria Dahvana Headley, Kameron Hurley, Seanan McGuire, Nisi Shawl, Catherynne M. Valente, Carrie Vaughn, Jo Walton, Alyssa Wong). I picked this up because of the authors and because it’s being offered for free from Tor right now.

I also read a bunch of flash fiction written by my writing group because decided to publish a pandemic themed flash fiction anthology called Fever Dreams. The piece I wrote for that is called “The Howlers.” There are six stories in total. They’re all super short and explore what a hopeful post-COVID-19 world might look like. It’s available for free. You can even download an ebook version, if you don’t like reading in a browser.

Inbox

I did not buy or borrow any books this month. But, I think May will probably be a big haul month because I have a lot of ebooks coming off hold at the library, and it’s also my birthday month.

Currently Reading

Once the OWLs Readathon ended, I started The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst so that I can discuss it with my reading buddies L. and S. who are reading the series along with me.

There is going to be another round of Tome Topple in May. I don’t think I’m going to participate this time, though. All of my TBR Tomes are on my Kindle, and I’m really enjoying reading paper books right now. We’ll see. I may just start over with Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds, which I abandoned at about 10% during the last Tome Topple.

How did your April reading go? Did you participate in the OWLs Readathon? Are you going to participate in Tome Topple? What are you reading? Let me know in the comments.

March 2020: Reading Wrap Up

Well, March was an interesting month. I spent almost the whole month sheltering in place, even though we didn’t get the official order to do so until mid-month. I live near Seattle, which is where the outbreak started in the U.S. So, we started voluntarily social distancing around the 3rd of March. Even though I’ve been home, I didn’t get much reading done. I was way too distracted by the news. But, the second half of the month was better than the first half. It’s too soon to say, but maybe I’m getting the hang of balancing connection with isolation. Maybe.

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I finished three books in March. The first was the audiobook of Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen. The audiobook was read by the author, which was cool. I really enjoyed these essays, even though they are a bit dated at this point (pub date was in 2017). Since I don’t watch reality TV, or any TV that’s not available on Netflix, I’m wasn’t really aware of some of these women, even though I’m very aware of the topics and societal norms discussed. There aren’t a lot of answers here, but there is good analysis. So, if that’s something you’re looking for, I would recommend this essay collection.

I also read two very similar YA sci-fi books. Both featured heroines in a space military academy. Both were outsiders with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. Both of them love to fly. I connected with the main character in Skyward by Brandon Sanderson a little more than the main character in Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan, but Ignite the Stars had better supporting characters (more fully developed) and had a much better plot and deeper, more developed world-building. That said, I’m a sucker for the space military academy trope. So, it’s no surprise that I enjoyed both of these books.

Inbox

This was my month to grab a new batch of ebooks from the library. So I stocked up on all sorts of good ones before flipping my Kindle to airplane mode. Some are backlist books I’ve been meaning to read for a long time (Blood Rose Rebellion, Frost Like Night, Ice Like Fire, Grimspace, Shades of Milk and Honey, Fablehaven, Blanca & Roja, and The Bitter Kingdom). Others are new(ish) books that I’m super excited to read (The Stars We Steal, The Bride Test, The Deepest Blue, War Girls, The Blacksmith Queen, Steel Tide, A Madness of Sunshine, and Starsight).

I did buy one book this month. That was The Shadows Between Us, which came in my Fairy Loot subscription box. I hadn’t heard of it before seeing it in the box, but it sounds like one I will enjoy.

I also downloaded a free flash fiction anthology called Nevertheless She Persisted with stories by a bunch of sci-fi and fantasy authors whose work I enjoy. It’s currently being offered from Tor for free on Amazon, if you want to grab a copy.

Currently Reading

It’s O.W.L.s time! If you missed it, you can check out my O.W.L.s TBR here. The first two books I’m reading for the O.W.L.s are Sourdough by Robin Sloan (for Aritmancy) and The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite (for Astronomy). So far, I’m loving Sourdough. Lady’s Guide… is off to a slow start, but I’m reading it before bed (per the “read mostly at night” Astronomy prompt), which may be effecting my attention span a bit.

How did your reading go in March? Were you able to finish the usual number of books? Did you get distracted by everything going on in the world? Or did being stuck at home mean that you read even more than you usually do? No matter how your March went, I hope you and your family are healthy and safe, and I wish you all the best for April. ❤

Reading list for the O. W. L.s Magical Readathon (#OWLsReadathon2020)

Yay! It’s time for the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon again! I love this readathon. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, or if you missed Book Roast’s announcement video, you can check that out here. The links to her awesome wizarding career guide and this year’s prompts for the O.W.L.s subjects are in the description box of that video, and can also be found on her website.

Last year I completed O.W.L.s in Charms, History of Magic, and Muggle Studies, then went for a career as a Writer during the N.E.W.T.s because that was my only option based on the O.W.L.s I completed (and also because that’s my actual career in real life).

When I first watched the announcement video, I had all these big plans. I was going to pick my career first and then figure out what O.W.L.s I needed to do for that career. I poured over the career options and decided to be a Wandmaker, or maybe a Metal Charmer. I planned my TBR. I had a whole blog post written, but I delayed posting it because it was still early in March.

Then the pandemic really got going.

You’d think, being stuck at home, I’d be reading lots of books. Nope. It took me over two weeks to finish the book I started reading at the beginning of the month (Ignite the Stars). It’s not the book’s fault. I think any book would have a hard time competing with the 24/7 news cycle of a pandemic. But, after a two weeks at home, I’ve finally managed to train myself to tune out the news so I can write or relax with a book.

I’m assuming our shelter-in-place order will continue for a few more weeks, possibly through the end of April. Since I’m home, I’ve decided to make an extra effort to read through my paperbacks and hardcovers before picking up my Kindle. Also, rather than trying to complete specific prompts, I made a stack of books from my paper TBR and am going to pick up whatever I feel like reading at the time and see how many I can complete before the end of the month.

I’ve listed each of the O.W.L.s subjects reading prompts below, along with a book from my paper TBR that fits the prompt:

  • Ancient Runes (heart on the cover or in the title) <–Wrong to Need You (Forbidden Hearts #2) by Alisha Rai
  • Arithmancy (read something outside your favorite genre) <– Sourdough by Robin Sloan
  • Astronomy (read majority of the book when it’s dark outside) <– TBD (this one will probably be on Kindle)
  • Care of Magical Creatures (creature with a beak on the cover) <– Woven in Moonlight by by Isabel Ibañez
  • Charms (white cover) <– Other Minds by by Peter Godfrey-Smith
  • Defense Against the Dark Arts (book set at sea/coast) <– TBD (I didn’t have a good paperback for this prompt, so I may have to go with something on my Kindle)
  • Divination (use a random number generator to pick your book) <– Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Taki Soma, and Valentine De Landro
  • Herbology (title starts with an M) <– Marque and Reprisal by Elizabeth Moon
  • History of Magic (book featuring witches / wizards) <– The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson
  • Muggle Studies (contemporary genre) <– Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  • Potions (book under 150 pages) <– Saga Vol. 3 by by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  • Transfiguration (book that includes shapeshifting) <– Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston

I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to track my progress, yet. I don’t want to overpromise and not deliver. I’ll probably post about my book selections on this blog, and probably also on Twitter and Instagram. I may also do a reading vlog. I’m definitely going to wear the Harry Potter socks I got for Christmas all month long. Maybe I’ll do a readathon specific BuJo spread. Oh! And if you didn’t notice in the TBR photo above, I’m planning to use the awesome bookmarks I ordered from Book Roast last year (which look like they are currently sold out). Can you tell I’m excited?

The only problem with all these lofty reading goals for April is that I’m also planning on participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. And I will be continuing to post weekly episodes of my Modern Fae serial novella, Rogue Assassins, for subscribers. But, keeping busy with fun projects seems to be working for me right now.

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

Rogue Assassins — a FREE Modern Fae Novella

Stuck at home and looking for something to read? If you already love my Modern Fae series, or if you’ve been curious about it but haven’t quite gotten around to reading any of my books yet, this post is for you.

Growing up, I got an early introduction to serial storytelling via Days of Our Lives. I was way too young to be watching it, but my mom was a huge fan. Sometimes she let us watch along with her (but we had to close our eyes during the “sexy times”). She’d talk to my sister and I about the various plot threads and speculate on what was going to happen in the story. I think somehow this early exposure planted the idea in my head that someday I wanted to try writing a story in a serial format.

Well, friends, that day has come. I’ve been playing with this story idea for a while now, and I’m making it happen. The first episode is dropping TODAY.

I spent a lot of time (probably too much time) trying to decide how best to distribute these episodes. Since this blog is mostly about what I’m reading, I didn’t want to post episodes here. I also didn’t want to spam my mailing list with weekly episodes in case some might prefer to read the whole thing after it’s complete rather than reading a chapter a week. So, I ultimately decided to have a dedicated mailing list for this story. You can sign up for that here: http://bit.ly/RogueAssassins.

What can you expect if you sign up? Here’s what I’ve got planned:

  • One episode per week, for about 20 weeks, total
  • A fantasy adventure with some kissing
  • A heroine who will do whatever it takes to save her sister from the toxic love of a power hungry man
  • An ambitious shapeshifting hero whose future depends on the heroine’s success
  • An explanation about what was going on with that pair of gargoyles who made a brief appearance in Eve of the Fae
  • Answers about what actually happened to the Faerie Queen Godda when she disappeared
  • Much drama! Some characters will die, some will find love, all will be changed forever
  • An interactive approach to story-telling (I welcome your comments and feedback on each episode)

This is going to be as much of an adventure for me as it will be for you. I am so excited to try this! I hope you love the first episode and decide to subscribe and join me on this journey.

Oh, also… if you want to grab a copy of the first book in my series, Eve of the Fae is on sale for only $0.99 this weekend. Buy one for yourself, or for a friend, or just help me get the word out. I’d really appreciate it.

Bookish Friends are Gold (and a TBR for March)

I got to hangout with my “Camp Book Club” friends (L. & S.) this morning over video chat. We talked about the books we’ve been reading, the two series we’ve been working our way through as a group (The Queens of Renthia and The Innkeeper Chronicles), and the books we want to read next. We also talked about current events and politics (“as you do”). It was the best. I love my Camp Book Club friends, and not just because I now have a plan that might extract me from my reading slump, but that part is good, too. 🙂

I’m putting this here so that I don’t forget. Sort of like a “to do list.” After talking it over with L. & S., here’s what I’m planning to read (and hopefully finish) in March:

  • Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds — This one is already in progress, but it’s going to be a slow read.
  • The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst — I’m even more pumped to finish this series after talking about book one with L. & S.
  • Skyward by Brandon Sanderson — This has been on my list for a while and has been bumped up so I can discuss it with L. & S. next month. I’m past due to read some Brandon Sanderson and feel a bit weird that this is going to be my introduction to his writing, but L. read it, recommends it, and wants to discuss it, so I’m in.
  • Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan — I read the first chapter after posting my reading wrap-up for February, and it was compelling enough that I think I’m going to keep going.
  • Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen — This book has been on my radar for a while now, and I needed a new audiobook to listen to while doing chores and whatnot. So I added this and two others to my holds list at the library. This one came up first, so this is going to be my audiobook selection for March.
  • The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite — Another one that I’ve been planning to read for a while, but it keeps getting pushed off the first screen of books on my Kindle, so I forget about it. This one is also getting bumped up so I can read it for next month’s Camp Book Club hangout.

That’s six books for March. Too many? Possibly. I’m not sure I’ll finish all of them, but I’m feeling good about this list.