Pop Update: What I’ve been reading, watching, and listening to this week

I’ve been keeping a list of what I’ve been reading, watching, and listening to this week and making note, especially, of the stuff that makes me happy and feeds my creative soul. I’m going to try to post on this weekly. We’ll see how it goes.

Here’s what pop culture I was consuming in the final week of 2016:

  • On the way home from Christmas in Portland, I listened to the final Writing Excuses episode of the year. I loved their Elemental Genre podcasts this year, and I have to say, this is possibly my favorite podcast.
  • I also been loving the second season of the Sub Pop Podcast. On that same trip, I listened to the first of the final two episodes, featuring the first half of a two-part interview with Sub Pop artist Father John Misty.
  • I tried a few episodes of a new-to-me swimming podcast, and it’s okay. Not a ringing endorsement, I know, but for a podcast called “Swimming Science,” I don’t feel like there’s enough science or data driven info in these episodes to make it worth it a listen.
  • I am, however, finding a ton of useful, educative content in the pages of SWIMMER Magazine (free with membership to USMS, but also available online if you can deal with the crummy website design…). While cleaning up, I found a stack of these laying around that I hadn’t read. So, I caught up on all my back issues this week.
  • I’ve also been catching up on my back issues of the RWR (Romance Writers Report) magazine (free with RWA membership). If you write romance, you should really join the Romance Writers of America. The community is fantastic, and this magazine is chock full of useful and encouraging content.
  • As for other news, Alyssa Rosenberg’s article about all the celebrity deaths this year really resonated with me. It put into words a lot of the feelings I’d been having about all the great entertainers we lost this year.
  • I caught up on TOR’s “Women of Harry Potter” series and was reminded of Luna Lovegood’s relentless optimism and awesomeness. She really is possibly the best underrated character in the series… I highly recommend this post and all the other posts in Sarah Gailey’s series: the evil Dolores Umbridge, the fierce Molly Weasley, my hero Hermione Granger, and my favorite Ginny Weasley. They posts make me want to re-read the entire series with fresh (older) eyes.
  • After that, I finally got around to reading an article by Anil Dash that I’d had open in my browser for a couple weeks. The title pretty much sums up what it’s about: “It’s time for Asian American men to stop being the “Model Minority” in tech.” He makes some very interesting points that I hadn’t previously considered, or even realized, but that make a lot of sense to me based on some things I’ve experienced working in the tech community. If you’re at all interested in diversity in the technology industry, I highly recommend this read.
  • Because I had some extra time on my hands this week, I caught up on some of the YouTube channels I subscribe to… my two favorite videos this week were 1) this Vlogbrothers guest post from Tessa Violet on fear in art, and 2) Jenna Moreci’s “10 Worst Female Character Pet Peeves.” Note: I also liked Jenna Moreci’s “holiday writing tag” video, but I’ll save that one because I might respond to her question prompts as a separate post.
  • I finished two books and two comics trades this week. Here’s what I read (links take you to my Goodreads reviews):
    • Alterations by Stephanie Scott (Kindle, pre-order) — This book was so fun! I really enjoyed seeing how the author adapted the original (and re-make) movie, Sabrina, into this modern-day romance. Definitely recommend.
    • The Magician King by Lev Grossman (Kindle, library) — This book was a slog. I really enjoy the world building in this series, which is why I keep trying to enjoy these books. But, I hate the characters and the plot is way too predictable. There’s just too much snark and not enough sincerity for me in this series.
    • Saga, volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (trade paper) — I am so late to the party on this one, but I LOVED this so much. If this has been on your list for a while and you haven’t read it yet, go check it out immediately. It hits the trifecta of excellent world-building, characters you care about, and compelling story/plot. Highly recommend.
    • Monstress #1 by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda (trade paper) — The art in this is stunning. The story was a little hard to follow at times. However, you definitely get the sense that there is depth to the plot and complexity to the characters, and that pulls you through the narrative until you start getting more of the backstory. I’m still unclear on a few points, but otherwise very much enjoyed this. Definitely recommend.
  • My first issue of my new Teen Vogue subscription arrived while I was in Portland. No, I am not regressing to my teenage years. I have a lot of respect for teenage girls (having been one myself and knowing how tough it can be), and I think Teen Vogue and Rookie Magazine are providing the quality journalism that their audience (and really everyone) deserves. I love the December issue just as much as I thought I would. An annual subscription is only $5 and well worth the money.
  • And, finally, I watched two documentaries. The first was a graphic, disturbing, but ultimately important documentary about the US policy on torture called Taxi to the Dark Side. The other, called Grizzly Man, was about a guy who spent 13 summers living out in the Alaskan wilderness with grizzly bears, before finally being eaten by one at the end of his final summer. Both were fascinating, thought provoking, and probably not films I would have selected if left to my own devices, but I’m glad I watched them.

This list is a little longer than usual because I had more time on my hands this week than I usually do… I definitely don’t expect every week to have this much content.

As for what I’m looking forward to diving into… Queued up next:

September in Review

September did not exactly go as planned. This is the first time in a long time that’s happened. I’d created some fairly ambitious goals for September, and I accomplished ~3/5, barely.

You may not be able to tell from this blog, but I’ve been pushing myself pretty hard this year. It’s gone beyond “burning the candle at both ends.” Between work stuff, writing stuff, and personal stuff (swimming, reading, social, etc.), it feels like I’ve cut the candle into a bunch of smaller pieces so I could burn each of those at both ends. As a result, this month I may finally have snapped.

Mid-month, I decided to dial it way back and re-set my expectations about what I want to accomplish for the rest of this year. More on that (maybe) in a future blog post. This one is just meant to be a September wrap-up.

Let’s recap each of my goals (since I posted them for ya’ll to see…)…

1. SWIM at least 4 x 3300 yards per week

This would have resulted in ~52.8k yards swum in September. I actually ended up swimming 15 days for a total of 53k yards. So, I did okay on the yardage, but 15 days isn’t quite 4x per week. Still, I’m considering this one accomplished, but just barely.

2. READ at least 1 book per week on average

There were four weeks plus three days in September, and I read three novels, one short non-fiction book, one comic trade, and one “quarterly almanac” of short stories and book/movie reviews. So, I’m calling this one accomplished as well, but also just barely.

Here’s what I read this month (links take you to my Goodreads reviews):



  • This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (Kindle, pre-order) — Supposedly this is VES in her “YA” mode. It’s the first of her “YA” books I’ve read. That said, it didn’t really feel much more “YA” than her Shades of Magic series. This may have something to do with the fact that it had that gritty almost-real-world feel to the world-building, plus the dark complexity around what makes someone a hero vs. a villian that Vicious did. So, yeah. I loved it and want more, please.
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (Kindle) — This book is like if you took the anthropological world building of an Ursula Le Guin book and crossed it with the TV show Firefly. I had a few small quibbles with parts of this book when I thought about it critically (see my Goodreads review for more on this, if you’re curious). But, overall, I loved it and I can’t wait to read more stories set in this world. Apparently, there is a new one coming out in October! Woo hoo!
  • A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab (Kindle, library) — Book two in the series, and it ends on a massive cliff-hanger. Most of this story takes place around VES’s equivalent of the “tri-wizard tournament” in Harry Potter. In the process, we get to know our main characters better, and we learn a little more about magic in this world. I’m looking forward to the final book in this series, and I’m bummed that I have to wait until next year for its release. NOTE: my Goodreads review contains spoilers. Don’t click on the link above if you don’t want to be spoiled.
  • Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates (trade paper) — I know nothing about Black Panther except that he was in the latest Captain America movie. I do know that I really like Mr. Coates’s writing (I took note of his articles in The Atlantic and started following him long before Between the World and Me). This comic was really dense and satisfying because of that. There is definitely a much more complex story building here than I feel like you usually get in most Marvel comics. This feels more like volume one of Bitch Planet or The Wicked & The Divine than any of the recent X-Men volumes I’ve been consuming. This is a good thing. Our superhero stories could use more depth.
  • Making It Right: Product Management For A Startup World by  Rian Van Der Merwe (Safari Books Online) — I’ve been thinking about my day-job a lot and realizing more and more that what I really want is to get closer to the engineering side of the world. I should have been a software engineer. I may still, someday, become a software engineer. But, in the meantime, I wanted to learn a little more about the difference between Program Managers and Product Managers. This book did a great job explaining what makes a great Product Manager and what great Product Managers do to ship great products. Highly recommend this one if you are considering becoming a Product Manager.
  • The Book Smugglers’ Quarterly Almanac: June 2016 edited by The Book Smugglers (Kindle) — This collection had a “superhero” theme. It included some excellent reviews for some books I want to read and some superhero movies (one I saw and one I skipped). Plus, there were a few short stories and essays. All were very good, a few were fantastic. The only hang-up I had was the copy editing. For some reason there were a ton of copy edit errors in my Kindle version.

3. NaNoWriMo Prep

Well, I picked which project I’m going to work on. But I didn’t write a plot synopsis for any of the ideas I was considering. So, I should maybe just get partial credit for this goal. I’m pretty excited about this idea though… and I’m excited to dive into prep and research in October. It feels good to be back in “creation” mode again after months and months and months of editing.

I’ve also been working hard on getting my region ready for NaNoWriMo. I’ve been scheduling write-ins and the kick-off and TGIO parties. I’m working on prizes and prep sessions. I’ve already hit my first fundraising goal, and now I’m trying to see if I can raise a little more so I can bring a guest. I’m probably completely over-committing, but I’d rather start strong and see how it goes. I think I can make it work. It’s just a month. How bad could it be? (Famous last words…)

4. Re-read “Falling” and decide next steps

I didn’t even try to do this. I had too much else going on and decided that I didn’t want to try to push another project through before NaNoWriMo starts. I decided that I needed a break. So, all non-NaNoWriMo writing projects are officially on hold until January.

5. “Good clean living…” (no sweets, no alcohol except for one “cheat day” per week)

Yeah…. this did not happen. I bailed on this one pretty early. I don’t know what I was thinking. September is my husband’s birthday month, and if he was eating pie and drinking a beer, I certainly wasn’t going to just sit there and watch him! Plus, I had no real solid motivating factor here to keep me on the wagon. It’s not like I’m trying to lose weight or anything. This activity is best reserved for January as a post-holiday “cleanse” of sorts.

Oh, and this wasn’t exactly in my goals, but I totally bailed on that Instagram challenge (#IGAuthorLifeSept) that I said I was going to do in September.

Still, for a month where nothing seemed to be going as planned, I got the important stuff done. And, I definitely learned my lesson. Sometimes you just need a month to relax and re-group. I’m making a note of this and mentally scheduling December as my next “relax and re-group” month. After NaNoWriMo, I have a feeling I’ll need it!

September goals (#IGAuthorLifeSept)

I posted this photo of my goals for the month for today’s #IGAuthorLifeSept post.


To expand on item #3 in the photo, also hinted at by the piece of paper underneath my planner in the photo… I’m participating in the YA Buccaneers NaNoWriMo prep fall bootcamp. I’ve decided my goals for this bootcamp (September through November) are as follows:


I have a bunch of ideas that have been tumbling about in my brain for the past year or so while I’ve been working on getting my two finished novels query-ready. They are:

  1. A private school, mother/daughter, all-girl super-hero gang ensemble story… I kind of want it to feel like the Taylor Swift “Bad Blood” video…
  2. A space opera romance that I’ve been meaning to write for almost ten… this one has space pirates, adventure, and female “coming of age” MC, pining after an unrequited love (that ultimately ends “happily ever after”)…
  3. A sequel to “Eve of the Fae” that will dig more into why the demons teamed up with Lord Edric against the Fae… Ari will be the star of this story and there will be a “stuck in the snow,” forced-proximity romance…
  4. The sequel story for “Lost Empire” that will flip between the drama at home (as Zane, Kilm, Katz, and Jace try to keep the tribes united) and the drama abroad (as Mia, Vlad, and Isla face the Koto on their turf).

I’m planning on nailing down the basics for each of these (protagonist, antagonist, goal, conflict, stakes, other key characters, some basic plot points, etc.). Then I want to pick one to write in November. If you feel strongly about any of these ideas, definitely let me know. If there is a lot of interest in one of these ideas over the others, I could be swayed in that direction. Otherwise, I’ll probably go with one of the first two because I really don’t want to write a sequel for a book that doesn’t even have a home yet.

Goal #4 in the photo above is a bit of a “stretch goal.” I’d like to re-read and figure out what to do with one of my old WIP novels (code name: “Falling”). More on that next week because I’m planning on using this for one of my Instagram photo challenge posts…

Oh yeah! One goal I didn’t list in my planner is the #IGAuthorLifeSept Instagram challenge! I’m attempting another Instagram photo challenge in September. I did one back in May and another one back in December. This time I don’t think I’m going to cross post the photos to this blog unless the topic seems blog worthy (like today’s and tomorrow’s prompts). So, if you want to follow along, go check out my Instagram feed.


I think that’s probably enough to keep me busy this month… What do you think?

Don’t forget… Leave me a comment and tell me if you have strong feelings about any of my NaNoWriMo ideas.

If you donate to my fundraiser, I will reward you by sending you a link to read some of my post-NaNoWriMo draft chapters via a secret link for donors…

Or, if you’re not into that, you can sign up to be a beta reader… I’m always on the lookout for awesome beta readers!

August in Review

August is over. The summer is over. It’s officially “Back to School” time, and somehow I have resisted buying new notebooks and pens. Maybe it’s this very un-Fall-like Bay Area weather. I’m not a fan. Fall is my favorite season. I need the crisp, cool air! I need the hayrides and the football games! I need cozy sweaters and boots! Maybe what I really need is a trip to the homeland… Excuse me while I check prices for flights to the Midwest…

Oh, never mind. Who am I kidding. I used up all my vacation on summer adventures. I’ll just have to sit here in my new fall jacket and pretend that there’s a chill in the air. (Did I mention that I have the wanderlust real bad? Because I do. I really, really do.)

What was this post supposed to be about? Oh, right. August recap. Let’s talk about August, then.

As I mentioned in my last post, I didn’t get into PitchWars this year. But, it’s okay. Oddly enough, I’m not that bummed about it. I feel good about the work I put into this novel. It’s a really hard contest to get into. I had requests (which is better than last year). Now, it’s time to get back to work. I’m going to have one more look at my MS (for you non-writer people, that stands for “manuscript”). Then I’m going to query and see what happens.

The other significantAugust event was that I competed in US Masters Swimming Summer Nationals. I raced five events, total. Two were events I’d never previously raced in long course (1500m free and 400m IM). In two others, I dropped significant chunks of time off my personal best times (6 second improvement in the 200m IM and 3 second improvement in the 200 breaststroke!). And, in my fifth event, I proved (once again) that I’m not a sprinter (my 100m breaststroke time was the same as the first 100 of my 200m race…). I ended up bringing home 3 medals: 4th in the 1500m free, 6th in the 200m breaststroke, and 7th in the 400m IM. I have to say, I’m pretty damn proud of myself.

So, if you’re keeping score, that’s one disappointment and one major accomplishment. Though, even without getting selected for PitchWars, I think you can count the writing, finishing, and polishing a second novel squarely in the “accomplishment” category. So… two accomplishments and one disappointment? Sounds good to me.

I will say, though, I didn’t get many books read while I was busy doing all this accomplishing. (That might have also had more to do with the time I spent obsessively checking my PitchWars mentor lists on Twitter hoping they’d drop hints about how much they loved my novel… Pathetic. I know.).

I did manage to read a few books. Not many, but don’t worry. I’m still on track for my annual goal of 50 books (35 finished so far). I started a bunch of different books, but I had a lot of trouble focusing on anything. Somehow, I managed to finish these three in August.


  • I Shall Not Want by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Kindle) — This shouldn’t even count because I started it on vacation in July and finished it on August first. But I didn’t include it in my July recap. So, I get to count it here. Ha! What? You wanted to know about the book? Fine. It’s another of those Adirondack mystery stories with a side helping of romance. I’m making myself wait until next year to start the next one. It’s an Adirondack thing.
  • Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (ebook, library) — I read this one so I could see if a young reader I know might enjoy it. I liked it and thought he might as well. So, I gave him a copy for his birthday, but it turns out he already had one. I should probably have saved my money for buying marked up candy from his “store.” If only he knew how much he has in common with the boy genius that is the “hero” of this novel… 😉
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two by Jack Thorne (hardcover) — Thanks, Mom, for buying me this hardcover! If you haven’t heard of this and you’re a Harry Potter fan, you must be living under a rock. I won’t say anything else because: no spoilers! Also, don’t click that link if you don’t want to read my review which may contain spoilers. Just saying.

Oh! I almost forgot! I’m more than halfway through my Gilmore Girls re-watch in preparation for the new episodes that are going to be released in November on Netflix. (Really, if you don’t know this already you must be living off-grid or something…) I’ve finally reached the episodes where Luke and Lorelai start kissing (finally!) and Rory is nearly ready to dump Dean for good. And, perhaps the accomplishment I’m most proud of this month is that I introduced my hubby to the show (in the middle of season four) and now he’s actually into it! Hooray! I knew he’d like it if he just gave it a chance!

Woah. Look at the time. This post has gone on forever, and I haven’t even started talking about my goals for September yet. I guess I’ll save that for my next post… Right now it’s time to get to bed. Those swimming medals don’t just win themselves. (Translation: I have to get up at 5am to go to practice). ‘Night!

July in Review

So, my “make July awesome” plan worked. Partly, this was due to a last minute change of travel plans. To quote Ferris Bueller’s famous words of wisdom: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you might miss it.” These words of wisdom took on even more meaning due to a death in my extended family. Nothing like a little mortality in your face to remind you to get out there and live.

But, enough deep thoughts from me. What you really want to know is what I read in July, right? (links take you to my reviews on Goodreads)


  • Storm Vol. 2: Bring the Thunder by by Greg Pak and Victor Ibañez (trade paper) — Enjoyable second volume. Storm is pretty freaking awesome. I kinda wish there were more in this series.
  • The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante (Kindle, library) — Took me forever to get around to reading this second book in the series, but once I started I couldn’t put it down. And, of course there is a cliff-hanger ending. So, now I need to go get the next one off my digital holds at the library.
  • Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur by Cara Alwill Leyba (Kindle) — Not my usual read, but it came highly recommended and it sounded like it contained some useful advice. It definitely delivered on the promise of the subtitle, and had the added bonus of reading like a pep talk from a (much more stylish) girlfriend.
  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Kindle) — I really liked this little novella. I loved the concept (boarding school for children who’ve returned from magical worlds and wish they could return). I love the way they’ve created a sort of “map” of the various magical worlds these children disappeared to (logical vs. nonsensical, good vs. evil, etc.). And I really enjoyed the mystery that drove the plot.
  • Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn (Kindle) — I pre-ordered this one based off an early sneak-peek (maybe this one?). As expected, I definitely enjoyed it. It’s a really fun and really cute book. The romance was well done and the characters were all fully fleshed out and engaging. I felt like the mystery that drove the plot wasn’t executed as well as I’d like, but it worked, even if the double-ending ending was a little less than satisfying.
  • The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston (Kindle) — If I had to sum this one up in three words, I’d say: Vikings, sisterhood, and rescue-mutts. So, if you like those things (plus romance), you’ll probably like this book. The characters, world-building, and romance are all very well done. I really enjoyed the first ~75%, but I had some issues with the plot development of the final ~25%. I still really enjoyed it. I was just a little annoyed by some distracting sub-plots that didn’t really add anything to the main plot and would have preferred more focus on the main mystery, or at least to have the sub-plots tie in to the main plot better.

My current plan for August is that it will be more of a reading month than a writing month. But, I’m resisting the urge to adding a ton of books to my August TBR right now. Instead, I plan to leave things open and read exactly whatever I feel like reading.

Here’s what I’ve got on my August TBR:


Most of these are carry-overs from last month’s TBR or books that I’m currently reading but haven’t finished yet… I decided to leave my hardcovers and paperbacks at home when I traveled. So, I never got to finish Homegoing, and never started School for Good and Evil. Instead, I started The Iron King while I was traveling, but I didn’t get the chance to finish it.

I’ve been really looking forward to diving into This Savage Song, but I decided to save for after I submit my novel to PitchWars this week. And Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is back on the list because I saw a review on Booktube that reminded me how much I want to read this book.

I think Artemis Fowl is the only new addition to this list. I bought this when we stopped at Literatti in Michigan because I couldn’t go in without buying a book, and I had to limit myself to just one so that it would fit in my luggage on the way home. The booksellers recommended this to me when I told them I was looking for a gift for a middle-grade reader. But, it seems to get mixed reviews on Goodreads. So, I think I might read it first, just to make sure.

If you’ve read any of these and have thoughts, or want to share what you’re reading this month, leave a comment. Happy reading!

June in Review

Half the year is over. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that. I’d be a lot happier about it being the 1st of July if I were leaving for vacation today. But, I’m not. So, I guess that kind of puts me in a crummy mood.

However, I have a plan to fix that and it involves books. Reading them and writing them. Also swimming. I’m determined to make lemonade from these lemons, even if I’m not going to be drinking it sitting on a dock staring out at a lake with my friends… :/

I didn’t get much reading done in June — only four books. Well, technically, it was one novel and one audiobook plus a novella and a comics trade. So, maybe that only counts as three books?

Anyway, here’s what I ended up reading in June (links take you to my reviews on Goodreads).


Part of my “make July awesome” plan includes doing a lot of reading — just as soon as I finish edits on Godda’s War. I’m not going to let a little thing like ruined vacation plans put a dent in my summer reading. To cheer myself up, I’ve gone a bit crazy with my TBR and basically thrown out what was left of previous lists and started over with a (mostly) new one. Here’s my new and highly eclectic July TBR:


  • Storm vol. 2: Bring the Thunder (comics trade) — I’m planning on reading this tomorrow after swimming while I’m enjoying my tea because that’s what I did last weekend with vol. 1 and it turned out to be an excellent idea. Saturday morning cartoons, but in print. Genius!
  • Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur by Cara Alwill Leyba (Kindle) — I saw a review from someone whose opinion I trust that said this was a really good book. I was intrigued by the title, so I decided to get it and give it a try.
  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Kindle) — I can’t remember how I found this book but, once I read the premise, I was hooked. It’s about all these kids who, at one time, stumbled into a fantasy world and then returned to the “real world” and how they can’t really let go and are trying to get back. I have high hopes for this one…
  • George by Alex Gino (Kindle) — I didn’t get a chance to read this last month, as planned. But I will definitely be reading it this month.
  • To Ride Pegasus by Anne McCaffrey (Kindle) — This one is a re-read that I started re-reading a while ago and then put down to read something else. I’m not really sure that I’ll actually read it this month, but I want to read it for research, so we’ll see what happens…
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Hardcover, signed) — I’ve already started this one and it’s so good. I’m hoping I’ll have time to finish it this weekend.
  • Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt (Hardcover, signed) — I’m determined to read through my growing stack of Indiespensible books, and this one looked especially cool. So, I’m thinking I might try to read this sometime this month.
  • Peter and the Star Catchers by Dave Barry (paperback) — This was a Christmas present from our best friends’ son. It comes highly recommended, and I can’t resist a Peter Pan re-telling.
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (Kindle) — I can’t watch the movie until I read the book…
  • This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab (Kindle, pre-order) — This book is all set to deliver to my Kindle on release day (Tuesday, 7/5). After reading only one of her books (Vicious), Schwab instantly became an auto-buy author for me. I am looking forward to dropping everything on Tuesday to start this book immediately.
  • The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante (Kindle, library) — Okay, okay. How many times has this been left un-read on my TBR? Yeah, I know. But I’m actually reading it right now (I started it yesterday), and I’m completely sucked in. So, I predict this will finally be read by the end of this weekend (if for no other reason than my library loan is expired, and I can’t turn my Kindle off airplane mode until I finish this or this book will disappear, and I need to turn off airplane mode to get This Savage Song… #readerProblems)
  • The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani (paperback) — Our best friends’ son is letting me borrow this one. He says it’s really good, but what he didn’t know was that I’d had my eye on this one before he recommended it to me. I mean, magic boarding school for fairy-tale heroes and villians? Yes, please!

So, that’s an ambitious list of books for this month, huh? What in the world am I thinking? Aside from the obvious (books make everything better), I’m realizing that my creative well needs some re-filling and it needs re-filling outside my usual genres. So, in addition to my usual stuff, I’ve added a lot of literary fiction and middle grade on this list. Plus, I’ve made sure there is a healthy dose of diversity (because diversity is life). What may be less obvious is that I’m gearing up for some serious writing and I need fuel to support me on my journey. Bring on the books!

May in Review

May was a bit crazy this year. It didn’t feel much like a birthday month, and I didn’t get much writing or swimming accomplished due to a massive road-trip vacation that took up most of the second half of the month. But, I did read a lot and think a lot. So, even if I feel like I’ve fallen behind on everything, I feel rested and a little more grounded going into the second half of this year.

Below are the books I read this month (links take you to my reviews on Goodreads).


  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (Kindle, pre-order) — I was worried that I would be disappointed by this book because I had some issues with the first book in this series. But, I loved it! Feyre is only annoying through the first third of this book. Then she really comes into her own with a little help from her new friends and her swoon-worthy soul mate. I’m so much happier with the romance plot in this book compared to the first.
  • Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (Kindle, library) — I’m a sucker for Jane Austen retellings, and I also like this author. So when I saw this book announced, I knew I had to read it immediately. Luckily, I got a digital copy from the library within weeks of the release, and it turned out to be everything I’d hoped it would be. I had some issues with the ending, but other than that, highly recommend for Austen fans looking for a modern spin on a classic.
  • The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (Kindle) — This one did not live up to the hype for me, unfortunately. I couldn’t get past what felt like a character inconsistency that contributed to a weakness in the plot and the romance aspect of the story.
  • Lady Susan by Jane Austen (Kindle) — I couldn’t fit this into the photo above, but I also read this short, unfinished Austen story in preparation for seeing Love & Friendship at some point (hopefully soon).
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (Kindle) — It took me forever to finally get around to reading this book, but it definitely lived up to the hype. I only wish the ending wasn’t such a massive cliff-hanger.
  • Serpentine by Cindy Pon (Kindle) — I’ve had this book on my TBR forever and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. It’s a short, fast read with unique world-building and an excellent female friendship at the core of the plot.
  • Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein (audiobook, library) — I’m probably not the right audience for this book, because I’m not really a fan of Sleater Kinney or Portlandia. It’s not that I don’t like her band or her show, it’s just not my thing. I think I just missed the Riot Grrl craze (a little too young), and I never heard of Sleater Kinney until I moved to the PNW. I’ve watched a few episodes of Portlandia. It’s really funny, but it didn’t hook me enough to keep watching. So, I’m not even sure why I picked up this book except that I’d heard on several blogs that it was really good. I enjoyed it because I love learning more about the punk movement and reading about the creative process. I’d highly recommend this book if you’re a fan of punk and/or Sleater Kinney, or if you’re a music geek. If you’re thinking of picking it up because of her role in Portlandia, you’ll be disappointed because there’s almost nothing of that in here.

I’m not sure how much reading I’ll get done in June, but these are the books I’d really like to read if I can find some time:


A couple roll-over titles from previous TBRs (Lagoon, Slow Bullets), and a few new titles to shake things up a bit. I’ve been craving a novel with a solid mystery / thriller element, so I decided to add The Swimmer and Three Parts Dead to my TBR. I’ve also been neglecting my comics, so I added Vol 1 of Storm, which will (hopefully) compliment the new X-Men movie I’m looking forward to seeing this weekend. I added George because I’ve been meaning to read it for a while, and I thought June, since it’s Pride month, might be a good time to do that.

Now that I’m back from vacation and refreshed, I’m looking forward to diving back into my writing (and into the pool). I’m hoping to finish edits on “Godda’s War” (which really needs a new title) and then get to work on finishing a draft of my 2014 NaNoWrMo story (“Augmented“). I had some pretty decent ideas for both of these over vacation and I’m eager to start making progress again.

It may be a bit quiet around here in June, but I have a few blog post ideas planned. So, stay tuned! Oh, and if you’re disappointed that I stopped posting my “MayIGAuthor” photos here, you can check them out on Instagram. It was easier to just post them there while I was on vacation (vs. posting to both locations).

#MayIGAuthors Day 3: #WhereIWrite


Technically, I have a desk, but this has been where I’ve been doing most of my writing and editing recently. It’s comfy, but not too comfy. It’s close to my hubby’s work space (for company) and to the kitchen (for tea refills and snacks). I have my awesome headphones for music, or just to muffle noises so I can focus. And, these days at least, I have a printed copy of the edit letter for the novel I’m working on. Besides my trusty laptop, that’s basically all I need.