I finished reading Poster Girl by Veronica Roth, and I liked it more than I thought I would. I got real burnt out on dystopian novels back during their height of popularity. To the point where I ‘ve been pretty much avoiding them since then. But this was a nice addition to the genre. I can’t say much without spoiling it, but I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the story. And I always enjoy it when characters are struggling with moral issues. So I enjoyed this.
I started reading The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller. I’m past the 50-page decision point and still going, even though I don’t really like the main character, or the detailed descriptions of what everyone is wearing. I kind of wish this story was adult instead of YA so that we could get into the political stuff a little more. But I’m still reading it.
I also started reading The Murder of Mr. Wickham, which is basically Jane Austen fan fiction. I have a ton of respect for how much work the author put into figuring out how old the characters of Jane Austen’s novels would have been in relation to each other, and how they could have been connected, just so that she could get them all into a house party together. I’m not very far into it yet (Mr. Wickham is still alive), but so far it seems like the characters from the novels just aren’t quite behaving the way I would expect them to behave, which is frustrating.
I really did plan to do a month-end round up of everything I’ve read in February. But somehow it’s now the middle of March, and I’m only now sitting down to write the post. And that’s only because I got to a sticky part in the novel I’m currently writing, and writing a blog post seemed a lot easier than writing the rest of the scene I got stuck on.
What I’ve read since my last post:
Seasparrow by Kristin Cashore — I liked this one more than I thought I would after slogging through all the ship facts in the first third of the book. By the time the whole ship part was over, I was really invested in the characters, especially the telepathic foxes. The survival journey was really well written, and made even better by showing the shared trauma from enduring such an ordeal. Seems like a weird thing to say, but Kristin Cashore doesn’t shy away from the trauma caused by fantasy plots, and she writes characters recovering from trauma really well.
Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young — This book is set on an island near Seattle, not far from where I live. Some people in their reviews think it’s set on the San Juans, but there’s no way they’re doing day trips to Seattle from any of the islands up here. Based on how it’s described, I think it most closely resembles Vashon Island, but with magic. Not that any of that matters to the story itself, which is a small town secrets, unsolved murder plot with magic. And the writing does a beautiful job setting the mood and the scene. Usually I’m one of those readers who skips long descriptions, but the ones in this book were so well done they actually added to the story.
From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper — I think I liked this one even better than the first book in this series. I listened to it on audiobook, and the main (point of view) character had a very distinctive narrative voice that I enjoyed. Very contemporary. I think this is still my favorite series of all the small-town-witch-romance books I’ve read so far.
Built to Last by Erin Hahn — I’ve read all of the books published by this author, and this is her first adult romance. As contemporary romances go (at least the ones I seem to read), it’s really low stakes. There’s no third act break-up, which is an interesting choice, and one that I think works given the fact that this is a second chance romance. Still, there wasn’t a lot keeping these characters apart. You’re mostly just watching them become more and more attached to each other in the midst of a low stakes external plot. Which, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate. It just wasn’t what I was expecting given how much she seems to put her YA characters through the ringer. I feel like this is “cozy contemporary romance,” if that’s a thing. (And if it is, I like it.)
Every Tool’s a Hammer by Adam Savage — Unlike probably most people who read this book, I’ve never watched Myth Busters. The only thing I knew about this guy was that my husband watches some of his videos on YouTube and wants a shop like his. When I was searching for an audiobook we would both enjoy listening to on a brief road-trip, I stumbled onto this one. I picked it because it’s about being a maker (aka someone who creates and/or invents things). What I discovered was, even though there’s a lot in here that wasn’t really directly relevant to me (a writer who never really got into cosplay), I was surprised at how much I did find really thought provoking and useful in terms of the creative process and mentality. Overall, I really enjoyed it, and it sparked a lot of interesting conversations with my maker husband on our trip.
Now that we’re all caught up… I finally updated the bookshelf spread in my Passion Planner to show the books I read in January and February.
What I’m currently reading (and trying to finish by the end of this month)…
On my Kindle: An Impossible Imposter — I am not happy about the backstory reveal in this one, and I’m really glad I waited to read this until the next book in the series came out because as of right now, I might have stopped reading the series after this book if I didn’t have the next one ready to go. That’s how much I hate this twist. But we’ll see how I feel when I finish it…
In hardcover: Babel — Another one I’ve barely made a dent in, and I’m supposed to have it finished for a buddy read by next weekend. Oops. I have vowed to finish it by the end of the month at the absolute latest because…..
April is the Orilium Spring Equinox (aka the April Magical Readathon hosted by G at Book Roast)! I’m already working on my TBR, but it’s a bit up in the air still because there are several directions I could go. I’ll do a separate post on that closer to the end of March after I decide if I want to attempt a new Calling, or if I’m going to study the same subjects as last year and continue to advance as a Story Weaver.
Speaking of weaving stories… It’s time for me to get some sleep so I can get back to the writing bright and early tomorrow… If you want the scoop on what I’m working on, sign up for my monthly newsletter. That’s where I talk about that sort of thing.
I just finished a couple of books, which means it’s time for another Inbox / Outbox post!
Sweep of the Heart by Ilona Andrews — Another highly enjoyable installment in this series that I love.
An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn — Really enjoyed the mystery in this one. Even though I figured out one of the twists really early on, I didn’t figure out the murderer until just before they were revealed.
The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope — I really hope this book wins all the awards, including one for best audiobook narrator. The heist plot is really well done, the characters are fantastic, and the world-building is incredibly rich (both the magic and the incredibly well done historical fiction aspect of the story). So good. Highly recommend.
I am currently reading Spells for Forgetting and really enjoying it. My brain is hooked, wanting to unravel the small town secrets, and my senses are engaged by the prose.
My next Kindle read is going to be Seasparrow by Kirstin Cashore, because that’s the book we picked for our buddy read this month. And my next audio book is going to be From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper, because I can’t get it on Kindle from my library for some reason, but they do have the audio book available.
Italian Folk Magic by Mary-Grace Fahrun — This was really interesting. I have no real frame of reference for “authenticity” of the content, but some of it definitely reminded me of things I’ve seen or heard in my extended Italian-American family.
The Fantasy Fiction Formula by Deborah Chester — There’s a lot of good stuff in here. Probably my biggest take-aways were the idea of testing your premise with her SPOOC formula (a summary sentence you create using your story’s Situation, Protagonist, Objective, Opponent, and Climax) and her chapter on scene conflict.
Spare by Prince Harry — I enjoyed hearing Harry’s thoughts about his life, which I was not really familiar with because I pay almost no attention to celebrity drama. There’s a lot to think about here, and I’m still processing my thoughts. I will say that I’m annoyed at the negative reviews that seem to focus only on poking fun and nitpicking what he said and how he said it instead of engaging with the bigger issues he raises.
A Dowry of Blood by S. T. Gibson — This was an entertaining read, but I’ve never been a big fan of vampires. The book is well written. The prose is engaging and even lyrical at times. I liked it. I just didn’t love it. Which makes me feel a bit like an outlier, because lots of people seem to really love this book. So don’t listen to me. If you like vampires and none of the content warnings are deal-breakers for you, you should definitely check this out.
Pretty Dead Queens by Alexa Donne — I love a good murder mystery, and this one had me turning pages and trying to solve the puzzle before the big reveal. It’s well done. I liked it. I thought I was sure I knew whodunit, but the story kept me questioning myself until the end.
Since reading multiple books at once seemed to work out pretty well for me, I am probably going to keep that up. Except, my current plan is to have at least one fiction book in every format (audio, paper, and digital) going at any time. Plus one non-fiction book in addition to those, in any format.
On audiobook, I’m listening to The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope. I’m only a few chapters in, but the narrator is killing it, and I am really enjoying the story so far.
My current ebook is the most recent addition to the Innkeeper series by Ilona Andrews, Sweep of the Heart. I absolutely love the worldbuilding in this series and am so excited to be back in this world.
As promised, it’s time for a mid-January reading update!
I’ve made some progress on the books I mentioned in my last post, and I’ve even managed to finish a few! Here’s the inbox / outbox update…
Since my last post, I finished reading:
The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal — I enjoyed this, but didn’t love it. It’s been positioned as “The Thin Man in space.” I’d never seen that old movie, or read the book the movie was based on, so I waited to watch the movie until after I read this reimagining of the story. Now that I’ve read this book and seen the movie, I think I’m a little disappointed that the detective couple in The Spare Man isn’t quite as charming and charismatic as the detective couple in the movie. Without the movie, I wouldn’t have known what I was missing, but if you’re familiar with the movie, I guess that’s just something to be aware of going in. You’re not really getting Nick and Nora. Then again, maybe The Spare Man is meant to be riffing off the original source material (the book by Dashiell Hammett)? I’m really curious to hear more about this when the Writing Excuses podcast does their deep dive on this book in February.
Finding Me by Viola Davis — This audiobook was riveting! If you like Viola Davis’s work (and seriously, who doesn’t?), I highly recommend checking this out. I also recommend it to anyone pursuing any sort of artistic endeavor. It’s so good. And, if you like audiobooks, definitely listen to this one because she reads it herself.
I picked this because it’s short, and I’d heard a lot of glowing reviews for this book. Plus, it is technically the first book in a new series, so I can use it for the January prompt in the Choose Your Own Adventure: Year in Aeldia Magical Readathon 2023 Challenge. And yes, I started a Magical Readathon spread in my Passion Planner. More on that when I do my February set-up post. 🙂
Until then, happy reading! Talk with you more soon.
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