September Reading Wrap-up

The first part of the best Magical Readathon ever is over, and now it’s time for spooky season and writing lots of words. But first, let’s recap what I read in September.

I participated in G’s Magical Readathon and completed three of the six prompts along The Novice Path. I can not even begin to tell you how creative and fun this readathon was. I loved every minute of it, right down to the wrap-up video where we found out what the choices we’d made during The Novice Path narrative (which was released in the Discord group in parts throughout the month) meant. The work that went into this… I am in awe. So good.

I adapted my notes pages for the books I read for this readathon to include the challenge prompt at the top.

The books I read / prompts I completed are:

  • Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell for The Mist of Solitude (Read a standalone) — I really loved this book. It’s a m/m arranged marriage in space, and there’s also a murder mystery. Just beware of the content warnings. One of the pair was in an abusive relationship and is still working through the trauma from that.
  • Witch, Please by Ann Aguirre for Ruin of the Skye (Read a book featuring supernatural elements) — This was a light and fluffy read. I liked it, but didn’t love it as much as I thought I would given the premise and the fact that I really enjoyed a previous book by this author. I feel like the pacing was off (which, if you’ve been reading my NaNoWriMo Prep posts hints at plot issues, but I’m not going to be more specific because spoilers). That sort of ruined things for me.
  • Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price for Obsidian Falls (Read a thriller or mystery) — Since I have been on a murder mystery kick lately, I was super excited to see this cozy mystery retelling of the beloved Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice. It’s set in the Victorian era, but it’s not an exact retelling. I mean, Bingley is accused of murder, and both Darcy and Mr. Bennett are lawyers in competing law firms. I liked the choices the author made and how she twisted this tale to adapt it to a different genre while still keeping a lot of everyone’s favorite beats (and in some cases, lines) from the original.
I ended up not putting the book cover print outs next to the appropriate prompts because they were too big.

I also read two non-fiction business books. The first was We Should All Be Millionaires by Rachel Rodgers. The second was 7 Figure Fiction by T. Taylor. They were both really good reads.

I never did make a cover page for September. I just started with the Magical Readathon stuff. And I pasted the book covers for my Magical Readathon books onto the map, so I decided not to do an “Outbox” page for September. Instead, I just added my usual summary page to the end so I could easily collect my book stats from the month, and pasted the two non-readathon book covers onto the bottom of that page.

Fun fact about my September reads, they were all published in 2021!

I will be doing a cover page for October, though. I’ve been checking out Draw So Cute‘s “How to Draw Fall / Autumn Art” playlist on YouTube for inspiration. I’m planning on having a little Sunday Funday art session later today and will post photos once I get it all set up. Until then, happy reading!

November Reading Wrap-Up and End of the Year Book Tag

This is it. Last month of 2020. Last chance for me to finish all my in-progress reads, read all the books read that I meant to read this year, and figure out my reading goals and tracking system for next year. But first, let’s do a brief wrap up of what I read and what I bought this month.

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I read three books in November. They were:

  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid — This novel was so good. REALLY good. Like, possibly best book I read in 2020, good. Bump it up to the top of your TBR right now. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia — Oh boy did this author nail the Gothic novel vibes. Wow. That said, the setting is a lot more English than Mexican, even though it’s set in Mexico, which wasn’t quite what I was expecting. But, if Gothic novels are your thing, definitely check this one out.
  • Mating the Huntress by Talia Hibbert — This was a really cute novella that gave me Buffy and Spike vibes, except with consent. I really liked it.

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I bought books this month! I’m not even going to feel bad about it. Here’s what I got:

  • Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco — My October Fairy Loot box finally arrived towards the end of November (there were COVID-related shipping delays), and this was the book of the month. The stenciled edges on this special edition are so pretty, and the story sounds great. I have it in my reading nook because I want to start reading it very soon.
  • The Under a Winter Sky anthology — There are so many amazing authors with stories in this Anthology. I almost always neglect the short story collections on my Kindle, but I am determined to read this one soon. Hopefully while it’s still winter.
  • Warrior Wench by Marie Andreas — So, I’m basically a sucker for a mercenary space captain. I saw this on sale, read the description, realized that it sounded like fun and campy sci-fi romp, which was exactly what I was in the mood for, and I had to grab a copy.
  • Rescue Her Heart by K. C. Luck — Another sci-fi adventure involving a space captain, but this time a lesbian sci-fi adventure!
  • House of Scepters by Anne Zoelle — Anne is one of the writers in my Tuesday writing group, and the organizer of that group has been gushing about this book ever since she got to beta read it. This is the first book in a three book series that Anne rapid-released. Based on what I’ve heard, I probably should have gone ahead and bought all three because I suspect I’m going to want to keep reading once I start.

End of the Year Book Tag

Rather than talk about what I’m currently reading, or what’s on my TBR for December, I thought I’d do the End of the Year Book Tag that has been going around over on Booktube. I did this last year and thought I might try it again, even though the year is nearly over. The questions pretty nicely cover what I have planned for the rest of this year…

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish? YES! I like to finish all my in-progress reads before midnight on New Year’s. It’s kind of a weird quirk of mine. Right now I have three books in progress. They are:

  • Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds — I abandoned this one earlier in the year and have yet to get back to it. It’s been so long that I may need to start over…
  • Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott — This is non-fiction and interesting, but a pretty slow read. I am going to need to pick up the pace a bit if I want to finish before the end of December.
  • Eight Will Fall by Sarah Harian — This one I should be done with in a couple of days. I had to put it down for a bit to read The Return of the Thief (so good! more on that in my December wrap up…), but this one is pretty fast paced, and I am finding myself excited to pick it up again.

Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year? The short answer is yes. See last year’s post for which book(s) and why. I never did re-read either last year, and I still probably won’t re-read them this year, though I really want to re-read them at some point.

Is there a new release you’re still waiting for? YES! The third (and last) book in Michael Mammay’s Planetside series is scheduled to be released at the very end of December. It’s called Colonyside, and I’ve pre-ordered it so that I can read it right away. I plan to start book two in the series any minute now so that I am ready to go when book three drops onto my Kindle.

I’ve said this before, but if you like military sci-fi, OR if you like the idea of a something like the movie A Few Good Men, but set in space with a retired “one last job” protagonist, then you need to get your hands on this series. Do it.

What are three books you want to read before the end of the year? Okay, aside from all the ones I already mentioned in this post, here are the three that are calling to me the most right now:

  • Aurora Burning by by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff — This one is kind of a cheat because my friends and I just decided this was going to be our buddy read book this month. I didn’t love the twist at the end of the first book, but I did like the characters, especially my favorite space fae.
  • Stormsong by C. L. Polk — I promised myself that I would get to read this as my reward for finishing (and publishing) Hunter of the Fae. I am so excited to read this one.
  • Strange Love by Ann Aguirre — I’ve been super curious about this author for a while. She has a ton of books that seem like they would really appeal to me. This one is giving me Anne McCaffrey vibes for some reason, and I really want to see if it lives up to that.

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year? Possibly Strange Love, or maybe Stormsong, or Spaceside… Huh. Apparently books that have a title that starts with an “S” are most likely to be my new favorites at the moment.

Have you already started making reading plans for 2021? YES! But, this post is already very long, so I’m going to save that for my next blog post, which should be very soon. Here’s a hint, though, it has to do with the solution I came up with for the problem I mentioned in a previous blog post

Talk with you more soon. Until then, happy reading!

October Reading Wrap-Up

Yikes. We’re already a week into November, and I am only now posting my October reading wrap-up. The past few weeks have been a busy and stressful blur. I’m still feeling a little overwhelmed, honestly. All I really want to be doing is reading, but my to-do list is keeping me too busy. At least I had a good reading month in October…

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I started the month with Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose. I picked this up because it looked like it might have a similar vibe to the Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas and the Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn. I am happy to report that it did, and I enjoyed it. I’ll definitely be checking out the rest of the series.

After that, I read Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst. You may remember that I read her Queens of Renthia series earlier this year and really enjoyed it. Well, I liked this book even better than that series, and that’s saying a lot. This may be my favorite fantasy release of 2020. It may even make my top five books I read this year. We shall see…

I listened to the audio book of The Unexpected Spy by Tracy Walder. This one was a memoir about her life in the CIA and FBI. It was really interesting, but also infuriating, at times. Her experience with the FBI was extremely frustrating to listen to, but it has a really heartwarming “girl power” ending that made me very happy.

Then, inspired by all the Halloween horror and thriller TBRs, I decided to read When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole. It was a very disturbing yet entertaining contemporary thriller. I mean, the story is based on historic and current events, and (as has been said before) truth is sometimes stranger and way more scary than fiction. If you like her other books (the revolution-era ones especially) don’t miss this one.

Finally, it took me all month to finish A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy. This is no fault of the book, which I really enjoyed. I was reading a hardcover edition of this book, and I do most of my reading these days on my Kindle just before bed. So I had to change my routine a bit in order to squeeze in more early morning and late evening reading time. This got a lot easier to do once we moved into the new house. I have an excellent reading nook now that is very cozy and perfect for curling up with a good book. I may finally be able to put a dent in my paper TBR.

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I didn’t buy or borrow any new books in October! Wow!

Currently Reading

I started the non-fiction book Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott in October. I’m enjoying it, but I’m only about a quarter of the way into it. I haven’t been reading much (at all?) in this first week of November. There have been too many other distractions (the elections, moving in to a new house, finishing copy edits on Hunter of the Fae, and getting started on NaNoWriMo, just to name a few…). But, I’m hoping to get back into my reading groove next week.

I’m also planning to start reading either Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid or Mexican Gothic by Silvia Morena Garcia next. I’ve already read two books by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and liked both of them, so I’m pretty sure I’ll also like Mexican Gothic. But, I’m buddy reading Such a Fun Age with my friends L. and S. So, I think I’ll start that one, first.

In general, I am really hoping that this year chills out a bit and lets us all get a little rest and relaxation before it’s time to ring in the New Year. Since it’s winter where I live, and the pandemic is getting worse again, I think it’s a great time to hide out with a good book.

Happy reading, everyone!

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.

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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.

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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?

August Reading Wrap Up

I didn’t read much in August, but I did do a lot of writing, and I made an effort to get outside and enjoy the last few weeks of summer. Most of that outside time was pretty active, though. I haven’t spent nearly enough time just sitting outside and reading. I’m going to work on getting in a little more of that in September.

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I finished the audiobook of F*ck No!: How to Stop Saying Yes When You Can’t, You Shouldn’t, or You Just Don’t Want To by Sarah Knight at the start of the month. I think that the first half of this book was much better and more useful (to me, anyway) than the second half of this book. What I realized from reading this is why I have such trouble saying no to things / people and also how to short circuit that thought process in my head. I didn’t really need the “how to say no” part in the second half, but some of the examples that she used were illuminating and made me think of more times that I probably should have said no and didn’t. Overall, I’m really glad I read it and recommend it to others who find themselves saying “yes” when they really should or want to say “no.”

After that, I (finally) picked up A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn. I wanted to read something like the Lady Sherlock series that I love while I wait for book five, and this seemed like a good option. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t like the main character as much as I enjoy Charlotte Holmes. I am hoping that she evolves as the series progresses, and I plan to read at least the next book in the series to find out. I sort of forgot how much I like cozy mysteries with plucky heroines, and it’s nice to know I have at least one other series I can go to when I am in the mood for that.

The last book I read this month was Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. I wanted to check this one out because it had been spoken of in glowing terms by several romance authors I admire. Unfortunately, I was not impressed. It’s fine, but nothing special. The main conflict keeping the pair apart essentially boils down to their inability to be honest with each other about their feelings, which is a romance pet peeve of mine. I also really didn’t like the fact that the hero is considered ugly (big nose, large body, and dark skin) and a scoundrel because of his half-Italian ancestry. The term “blackamoor” (which I was unfamiliar with until I Googled it) was used repeatedly in connection to his appearance and his lustfulness and brutish behavior. Not okay. Especially not considering the 2009 pub date. I am really not sure that I understand the appeal of this one, or why everyone seems to love it so much.

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I bought two ebooks this month. One is a book that I’ve had on my wishlist forever that finally went on sale. Milady by Laura L. Sullivan is supposed to be a Three Musketeers retelling, but from the perspective of the villainess of that story, Milady de Winter. I’ve never read The Three Musketeers. I’m not even sure I’m familiar with the general plot of the story, but this sounded really good.

The other book I bought is one I’ve been anticipating since I first heard about it months ago. Seven Devils by by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May. First off, the title is a nod to a song by Florence and the Machine, which I love. Then there’s the team of women and the sci-fi setting. I have very high hopes for this book and really, really want it to be a five star read.

Currently Reading

I’m just over halfway through You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson. YA Contemporary isn’t my favorite age-group / genre combination, but I’m enjoying it. So far, I think the hype is justified.

Next up I’m planning to (finally) finish the Murderbot novellas. I’ve been saving the third and fourth, but now that there’s a novel to read (and more coming), I feel like I can safely read these. Plus, S. and L. want to buddy read the novel with me, and I can’t read that until I read these.

Now I need to get back to writing so I can finish this novel and send it to my beta readers. Then I can reward myself by relaxing on the deck with a book. Happy reading!

July Reading Wrap-Up

July was a pretty good reading month for me. I managed to finish ten books. A couple were pretty short, but there were some definite keepers in this batch.

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Here’s what I read in July:

I started the month with It’s Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan. The only other book I’ve read by her is How Stella Got Her Groove Back, which I read before I saw the movie. I liked this one. It was a little meandering and repetitive at times, but I think it did a great job portraying a woman dealing with grief over losing her husband suddenly, and I really appreciate the way the author portrays female friendships.

After that, I read Intercepted by Alexa Martin. I wasn’t sure I was going to like this one because I’m not a fan of professional sports (other than swimming). I picked it up because the author was an NFL wife, and I listened to a podcast interview with her that I really enjoyed. I’m glad I finally read this because it was another solid win for female friendships, and I really liked the story and the romance. Definitely recommend this one for anyone who enjoys contemporary romance.

Then I read three more that I really liked. The first was Catfishing on Catnet by Naomi Kritzer, which was really cute and fun and light. Highly recommend. Then Chaos Reigning by Jesse Mihalik, which was book three in a space opera romance series that I’ve been enjoying. I think I liked this book the best of the three. If you like space opera you should definitely check out this series. And then I read another last book in a trilogy, Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai. I like all the books in the Forbidden Hearts series, each for different reasons, but I think this might have been my favorite.

My virtual book club decided to read Beach Read by Emily Henry and The Deep by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes. Both were really good with some superficial similarities, but they were otherwise very different books. Beach Read is (mostly) light romance about two writers who meet again after having secret crushes on each other in college. I really connected with the book-writing subplot and thought the romance was sufficiently swoony. The main characters in both Beach Read and The Deep are dealing with painful memories, but The Deep really dives into that and has only a small romantic subplot (which I wasn’t expecting, but was a welcome, hopeful touch). The other thing the two books have in common are incredibly interesting authors’ notes at the end. I love learning more about the story behind the story. I liked and recommend both of these books.

But wait, there’s more! I don’t know about you, but one of the biggest struggles I’ve had to deal with over the past few months of the “quarantimes” is all the FOMO from my decision to stay home and continue to do my socializing over the internet, or from a distance, outside. I’m kind of a people pleaser. It’s way easier for me to rock the boat on behalf of someone else than to speak up for myself. So, I’ve been working on setting and communicating boundaries. As such, I’ve found the Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight to be really helpful. I’m currently listening to her book F*ck No on Libby. When I saw she had a brief Christmas themed novella (How to Not Give a F*ck at Christmas), I thought I’d check it out. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that helpful. While I recommend the other two books, I don’t recommend buying the novella.

Last, but not least, I listened to two non-fiction books on Libby, White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio. Both were really good. I’d been putting off reading White Fragility because I was pretty sure it was all going to be review for me, and mostly it was review, but it was an excellent review and an even better resource for talking with friends and family about this stuff. I highly recommend bumping this to the top of your TBR if you’ve been putting off reading it, like I was. And, if you want to expand beyond how Black people are treated in America, definitely check out The Undocumented Americans. My husband and I traveled to Ecuador just over ten years ago and heard some stories like this first-hand from the folks we met there, but this book goes way beyond what I already knew. I love getting new perspectives!

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I got to load up my Kindle with more books from my library in July. There are so many gems in this haul, but there are a few that I’m particularly excited to read. Those are: A Song of Wraith and Ruin, The Sound of Stars, You Should See Me in Crown, and Race the Sands. We shall see which one(s) I read first…

Currently Reading

Speaking of what I’m reading right now… There are two readathons going on this month, but I’m not participating in either of them. The first is The other option is Tome Topple, which starts today. The other is the NEWTs Magical Readathon. I’m planning on skipping both because I don’t think I’m going to have a lot of time for reading this month.

This round of NEWTs is going to be the last of the Magical Readathons associated with Harry Potter. Since I completed all but one of the OWLs back in April. I was looking forward to getting my Animagus certificate, and I was all set to try for a number of different magical career options. I may still try to see what I can manage, but if it doesn’t work out, I’m excited to see what G comes up with for next year.

Okay, it’s past my bedtime, and this post is already very long (and several days late). So, I’m going to cut myself off and get to sleep. Until next time, stay home and read, and if you have to go out, please wear a mask! ❤

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.

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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.

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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. ❤