There are so many books I want to read right now, but I’m limiting my TBR to just the four that I know I will be starting as soon as I finish the book I’m currently reading.
First up is Pretty Dead Queens by Alexa Donne. I am in the mood for some murder mystery thrillers, and this one resurfaced from somewhere deep in my TBR because I saw the author announce that it is a finalist for the 2023 Edgar awards. It’s also going to be this month’s buddy read book with L & S.
Then, since I’m participating in the Magical Readathon’s Adventure in Aeldia challenge, I’ll probably start the book I’ve picked for the February prompt. January’s options were to either start or finish a series. I decided to use one of my FairyLoot hardcovers to fulfill the first prompt, and that gave me the idea that maybe I could use those FairyLoot hardcovers for ALL the prompts this year! Then I would be sure to read my hardcovers. Right?
I think this is a genius plan. Since I “turned left” and chose the “start a series” prompt for January, my next two options were to either “go to the forest” (trees on the cover) or “go towards a lake” (water on the cover). None of my FairyLoot hardcovers have water on the cover, so I went with trees and picked Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young. I am definitely curious about this one, especially because it adds to the “small town secrets” vibe that I’m getting from Pretty Dead Queens.
After that, I really want to read books six and seven in the Veronica Speedwell series (more mystery novels!) so that I’m caught up before book eight comes out in March. And, I really REALLY want to read Sweep of the Heart, which just came out in December, because I love Ilona Andrews’ Innkeeper series.
After that, who knows? I’m thinking I’ll do another mid-month inbox-outbox check-in update to let you know what I decide. I just got my January FairyLoot hardcover in the mail, and it is a book that I have been VERY much looking forward to. So, I may want to start that next. But, I won’t say what it is so I don’t spoil the box for anyone who hasn’t opened theirs, yet.
In my last post I said I was getting rid of my reading journal, and I am. But that’s only because I’m moving the reading journal stuff to a new home. See, I’ve nearly filled up the notebook. It’s getting super chonky, and I don’t think there are enough pages left to last me through 2023.
So, I had to decide. New notebook? Or something different?
I opted for something different, because I wasn’t really using that journal for more than a fun monthly art project. I haven’t been writing deep thoughts about the books I’m reading like I’d planned to do. While having a dedicated notebook just so I can do monthly reading spreads is a totally valid choice, I also wanted to consolidate the number of journals I’m using at any given point in time.
My solution? Do the same thing I’ve been doing, but do it in the blank pages at the end of the Passion Planner I bought to use as my 2023 writing and publishing planner.
Now I have two journals instead of three.
I’m still using a bullet journal (A5 Dotted Leuchtturm 1917) to do all the usual bullet journaling things (Ryder Carroll style). But, I realized in 2021 that trying to use “collections” to track my writing and publishing projects just wasn’t working. So I spun all that off into a dedicated project planner at the start of last year. Unfortunately, the notebook I picked (monthly overviews with a bunch of blank pages at the end) was a little too unstructured. After much consideration, I decided I need both monthly and weekly spreads for the full year in order to stay on top of my project plans.
Result: the return of the Passion Planner for 2023.
I say “return” because in 2021 I tried abandoning bullet journaling and moving entirely to a Passion Planner. It didn’t work because I need my daily logs, and the Passion Planner weekly doesn’t have a good place to do that. But I don’t need daily logs for my project planning and tracking. I just needed a place to do future planning and a way to break bigger goals into smaller tasks and assign them to specific weeks. And I’m using the days in the weekly layout to track how I’m using my time.
So far, this combo of notebooks is working really well for me. And, since I know I’m going to have it for the full year, I decided it’s also a great place to plan and track my reading.
I made a bookcase where I can draw in and color code the books I read this year.
And I made a cover page with a key for the bookshelf color code. Opposite my cover page is the page I made to track the one goal I have for my reading this year. Can you guess what that goal is?
If you guessed “read or DNF/donate my backlog of Fairy Loot special edition hardcovers,” then you are correct!
As I mentioned in my 2022 wrap-up post, I did a terrible job reading physical books last year, even though I didn’t really travel anywhere, and I don’t have a commute. I seriously have no excuse. Well…except that I hate reading hardcovers in bed. Mostly because I don’t have (or want) a bedside reading lamp.
Since I don’t expect this year to be any different, I’m making some changes. My plan is to add one of these books to my TBR each month. I know there are only nine on that page, but I have ten, total. These are just the nine oldest, so they are the ones that I MUST get through this year. But I don’t necessarily have to finish all of them. DNFing is an option. If I read at least 25% of the book and am not sucked in, I will count that book as “done” and DNF/donate.
If I don’t complete (or DNF/donate) at least one of these each month, then I am going to suspend my subscription for a month. If I miss two months in a row, I’m going to cancel my subscription. I REALLY don’t want to do that because, even though it makes no sense whatsoever, I love special edition hardcovers. And the books that Fairy Loot picks are usually really good ones. So, I think the threat of cancelation is going to be enough to make this plan work.
It may also help that I just purchased a clip-on, rechargeable LED book light that I can use to read in bed. It’s not here yet (ordered online), but I’m hoping that helps as well.
So, is that really my only goal for this year?
I have a stack of writing craft books I want to read for a project I’m working on. Plus I still want to read more books about social justice issues so I can expand my knowledge and awareness (target = 4 total). I’ve already identified several and added them to my TBR, but I’m on the lookout for a few more options in very specific areas.
I also want to continue to read books by diverse authors and with diverse main characters and from diverse publishing paths. I have some targets in mind that I’d like to hit, but I’ve been doing pretty well on that stuff organically. So I’m not going to focus on stats for those until mid-year. If I check in July, and I don’t like the look of my stats, then I may have to focus on that a bit more.
But the current priority is determining if there’s a place for special edition hardcovers in my life or not. So that’s my primary reading goal for 2023. Read in print. Specifically, the books I’ve already purchased.
I’m curious, do you also have a backlog of hardcovers from subscription boxes that you haven’t read but want to? Do you track how much you read in print vs. e-reader vs. audiobook? Does it matter to you? Are you trying to change any reading habits this year? Let me know in the comments.
It is the second of November, and I should be writing words that actually count towards the 50k I need to write in order to hit my National Novel Writing Month goal, but I’m here, procrastinating, instead. That, plus the fact that I only wrote 1150 words yesterday doesn’t bode well for me “winning” NaNoWriMo this year. But there’s still plenty of time to make up for a slow start.
This week has been kind of a mess for multiple life reasons. Sometimes you just have to do all the adulting stuff. But I did manage to finish seven books in October AND complete my revised draft of Heir of Gods! Plus, my October reading journal spread is possibly my favorite of the year…
Here’s what I read in October:
Boss Witch by Ann Aguirre — This book kicked off my small town witchy romance reading binge. It’s an enemies to lovers trope (witch and witch-hunter), except only one half of the couple is aware of the fact that the other person is an enemy. She (the witch) starts a “no-strings-attached” hook-up with him (the witch-hunter who doesn’t know she’s a witch) in order to distract him from finding her coven and eliminating them. Since the timeline of this book overlaps a good deal with the timeline of the first book in the series, I’d recommend reading both pretty close together. That is NOT what I did, and I kept feeling like I was missing something because I couldn’t remember how some of the things happening in this book fit with the first book.
Midwinter Magic & Mayhem — This is an anthology of winter-themed fantasy stories. I have a Modern Fae story in there along with eight others that are all excellent little tales that will put you in a wintery mood, especially if you enjoy them by the fire with a warm beverage.
Witchful Thinking by Celestine Martin — This is a really cute and cozy small town witchy romance that is really not for folks who like magic systems to be well defined and plots to be complicated. This is sort of like the Halloween equivalent of a Hallmark Christmas movie, except the hook-ups don’t fade-to-black. In other words, an excellent addition to this sub-genre.
The Ex-Hex by Erin Sterling — This was the last of the small town witchy romance books I read in October. I loved the magic and the small town and the characters. The plot was good, too. My only (teeny tiny) gripe was that it was a second chance romance, which is a REALLY difficult trope to write (in my opinion), and I just didn’t feel like there was enough reason for them to not be together. That said, I still really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading more in this series.
Dare to Be a Duchess by Sapna Bhog — I don’t read much historical romance because I’m not really into the whole “must find a husband before the season ends” thing. This one didn’t have that trope as a driver for the romance. The primary trope was more of a best-friend’s brother thing, which I enjoyed. There’s a lot of pining, which I also liked. But, it was sort of lacking a B-plot, so the pining got a little too drawn out and repetitive in places. Still, the characters were so vivid and well crafted that they stuck with me for days afterward and made me want to read the next book in this series.
A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby by Vanessa Riley — This was a fun, fast-paced historical romance about a recently widowed Lady from a British colony (Demerara) who has to pretend to be a nanny in order to be close to her infant son after his wounded war veteran uncle comes to take over as guardian of the estate. And of course, the Lady and the Duke fall in love. I really liked the particular lens this story was told through. I especially enjoyed the hero and his band of wounded vets that take over the estate to protect it from someone who is trying to get their hands on all of it (including the baby).
I also updated my bookshelf spread. I think it’s looking pretty cute. Lots of sci-fi and fantasy (the purple/blue spines) this year. And a whole lot more writing craft and publishing business (yellow spines) books than I’d planned on reading this year. Hard to believe that we only have two months to go!
And, because it’s NaNoWriMo, I’m keeping things simple for November. I did a set-up flip through video, but I’m not sure when/if I’ll get around to posting it because it’s mostly focused on the bullet journal trackers I made for NaNoWriMo. There’s only this one cover page that I made in my reading journal where I used up a bunch of stickers instead of drawing something. I didn’t even do a TBR for this month!
I have been noodling on an end of the year TBR, though. I keep adding books to the list and then taking others off. There are so many books I want to read before the end of December. I’ll probably make it official at some point in the next couple of weeks and do a post. In the meantime, if you want to spy on what’s there, have a peek at this shelf of mine on Goodreads. And feel free to make suggestions in the comments if there’s something you see on there that I DEFINITELY need to read, or if the thing you think I definitely need to read is NOT on that shelf.
Okay. I really better get some official NaNoWriMo writing done. Happy reading!
I’ve also added one non-romance book with bone magic to my TBR (The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst). Plus one dark academia book (Babel by R. F. Kuang). I may also add The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik, but it depends on whether or not I get it from the library in time to read this month.
There are a few other (non-spooky) books I’m hoping to read this month as well. I mentioned the others in my reading journal set-up video, if you’re curious. But I have a feeling I won’t be able to get to them all.
If you have more witchy small town romance books that you think I should check out, definitely let me know in the comments. Those are my favorite fall reads.
As you may have guessed from the title of this post, I found another readathon to participate in during the month of September! This one was created by Becca and the Books, and it’s based on the game Monopoly. Be sure to check out her video for the full description of the game board and rules and whatnot. It looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun.
It sounds like there are two ways to play the game. Either you can pre-roll your entire TBR to select however many books you think you will read in September. Or you can roll as you go.
I’m going with the roll as you go option. If you want to see my board set-up and find out what my first book is going to be, check out my reading journal set-up video.
I mostly chose the “roll as you go” option because I am not sure how much reading I’ll be able to get done this month. I have had two really excellent reading months in a row, so I feel like I may be overdue for a slump. I really hope that doesn’t happen, but it’s possible.
Also, I am trying to finish up edits on my new writing project so that I can send it to beta readers before the end of September. So I’m not going to have as much time for reading, and I’m probably going to focus on reading outside the genre I’m writing in while I finish edits. That means digging into the fast-paced contemporary, historical, and mystery options on my TBR.
Now that I’ve mentioned my writing project, I suppose I should also mention that, if you want to be a beta reader (aka someone who reads an early draft of the book and provides feedback on character, plot, and world-building), please sign up for my monthly newsletter, because that’s where I’m going to be giving folks all the info about beta reading and ARC opportunities for Heir of Gods (the first book in my new series).
Because I’m “rolling as I go” for this readathon, I am planning on doing more frequent reading updates this month. Kind of like back when I used to do the weekly “Inbox / Outbox” posts. Whenever I finish reading a book, I’m planning to do a quick video of my next roll and book selection. I’ll probably post them as reels on Instagram, but I’ll also post a quick “Just finished… / Now reading…” post here on the blog as well. So that should be fun!
Are you playing Bookopoly this month and participating in Bookoplathon? Let me know in the comments if you pre-picked your TBR or if you’re rolling as you go.
It’s time! The Orilium Readathon is back in August for the Autumn Equinox session, which means my August reading journal set-up got done early this month!
If you want the full flip through and discussion of which books ended up on my TBR and why, check out the video linked below.
If you don’t want to watch the video, here’s a sample of what one of my TBR pages looks like:
Originally, I’d planned to finish the rest of the Hugo finalists for best novel and best novella in July and August. Last month, I mentioned that I was going to try to get through some of the novellas in July. However, once I remembered that the Autumn Equinox edition of the Orilium Readathon was coming, I thought it might be better to focus on the best novel finalists and save the novellas for the readathon. I just hoped that I could make them match up with the prompts I needed to complete in order to achieve my Story Weaver calling.
I have six levels across three courses that I need to complete in order to achieve Story Weaver, and I have five novellas and one novel I need to read to complete my Hugo finalist project. I managed to do a pretty good job getting the two aligned, but I did have to add a few non-finalist books to make it work. I think I’ll be able to fit the other two in under one of the readathon quests.
Here’s what I have planned:
O Level: Read a childhood favorite –> An Acceptable Time by Madeline L’Engle — This was the first book that came to mind when I read this prompt. I debated using this one for the time travel prompt, but I don’t want to do two re-reads in a month when I have a lot of other new-to-me books I want to get through.
O Level: Book with colors similar to my country’s flag –> A Spindle Splintered by Alix Harrow — This is one of the books I need to read for my Hugo finalist project, and it happened to have red, white, and blue on the cover. So I’m using it for this prompt.
Q Level: Story featuring betrayal –> Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire — This is another Hugo finalist that I wanted to get onto my TBR this month. I am going off the synopsis for this one, which made it sound like there was a friend betrayal as part of the setup for this story. If I’m wrong, oh well, I need to read it anyway, and I’ll pick something else that better fits this prompt.
D Level: Book with a desert setting –> Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri — I have been meaning to read this book for a while. So, when none of the Hugo finalists looked like they’d work for this prompt, I decided to go with this option. I’m pretty confident that I will enjoy it. The only risk is that it will make me want to immediately read the second book, and I don’t have that one on my Kindle (yet).
Psionics & Divination
O Level: Story featuring time travel –> Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield — None of the Hugo finalists fit this prompt, and I really REALLY struggled to find something I wanted to read that did fit. I am really picky about time travel books. In general, I don’t like them. The ones I can think of that I like are all more multiverse than time travel (except for An Acceptable Time, oh the irony). I did some browsing and found a few books that I might like to read, but this was the only one that was both short and available at my library. It was not my top choice (that was Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel), but I’m putting my trust in the magic of the Tor.com novella. They haven’t failed me yet. Let’s hope that trend continues.
D Level: Book with the same word in title as your last read –> The Past is Red by Catherynne M. Valente — This one is going to be mostly about timing. In order for this book to work (which I need to read for my Hugo finalist project), I need to read it directly after Across the Green Grass Fields. Yes, I’m using “the” as my same word.
There are also quests that you can get points for in this readathon. I talk about my plans for those more in my set-up video. Based on the first set of open-to-everyone quest prompts, I think I should be able to get points for most, if not all, of the other Hugo finalist books I want to read this month, AND earn some extra points for the Mind Walker guild.
Let me know in the comments if you’re participating in the Orilium Readathon in August and what’s on your TBR.
My July reading journal set up video is posted on YouTube! If you want the flip through, the video is linked below.
Because this is going up so late in the month, and I neglected to film the final July cover page and outbox spreads until today (!), I end up revealing the first two books I read this month at the end of the video. Just skip that part if you don’t want spoilers for my end of month wrap-up. But really, does anyone care about spoilers for a reading wrap up? I can’t imagine that’s an actual thing.
If you don’t want to watch the video or if you just want the non-spoiler version of my July cover page and don’t care about my Hugo nominee spread or the weird little TBR pockets I made, here’s a photo for you.
While I didn’t really mention any specific reading plans in the video, I did mention my plan to read the Hugo nominees for best novel and best novella. I also showed how I’m going to track and rank them. I just never said when I planned to read them.
I don’t plan to fill my entire TBR with Hugo nominees this month, but I do want to make a large dent in that reading list before August.
Roughly, these are my reading goals for July:
Don’t waste time on books that are bogging me down! If I feel like I *have* to finish them for some reason (like the Hugo nominees), then set a daily page count target and alternate with something fun and fast paced at the same time.
It’s an ambitious reading plan, but I think I can work through the novellas pretty quickly, and I like quick wins.
If I can manage to check off all my goals this month, then I’ll only have two best novel nominees left to read in August. One of those is kind of intimidating, but it is the novel I think I will end up liking best of the bunch. The other is one I definitely expect is going to drag for me (given how I’ve felt about other books I’ve read by that author). So the more I can read this month, the better.
That said, the priority for the month is that first goal. I want to be immersed and enjoying what I’m reading as much as possible. The theme for the month is beach vibes after all!
What are your reading goals for July and/or the second half of this year?
The first is the companion novel in a YA space academy duology (Supernova by Kass Morgan). I picked up the first book a while back because “space fleet academy” is one of my favorite tropes and Kass Morgan wrote The 100 (which I never read but did watch and enjoy as a television series…at least for the first few seasons).
The other sci-fi book I’m reading is book three in an adult space opera adventure (Engaging the Enemy by Elizabeth Moon). The first two books were really good, and so far, I’m really enjoying book three.
I did not read as many books as I thought I was going to read in March. I had wanted to read one for every line in my rainbow, but alas that did not happen. On the bright side, I really liked everything I read.
Here is what I read in March:
Hunt the Stars by Jessie Mihalik — This book gave me serious Firefly vibes. There’s a crew of mercenaries. The Captain falls for the alien who hires them for a job. I enjoyed it, and I think I liked it better than I liked her Consortium Rebellion series. If you’re looking for some sci-fi romance that’s not of the blue aliens kidnapping Earth women variety, you should give this one a try.
The Misfit Soldier by Michael Mammay — This book was great. The author has become one of my auto-buy authors, and I think I liked this book even better than his first series. Currently, this is a stand-alone. I could totally see this becoming book one in a series (and I hope that it does). The voice of the main character had me laughing out loud. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I was practically giddy when I realized that this wasn’t just a military sci-fi mystery novel. Another, somewhat unexpected genre has been sandwiched in here, and it’s done very well. This one is definitely my favorite that I read this month.
The Bounce Back by Addie Woolridge — Another REALLY good novel. Again, I think I liked this one even better than I liked her first novel. This book is funny and heartwarming, and there is so many wise nuggets about day jobs and sibling relationships and female friendships. I highly recommend checking out this book, even if you haven’t read The Checklist (but you should totally read that one, too).
If you want to watch the flip-thru video, you can check that out here:
I am still working on adding some background music to my April set-up video. Once I get that figured out, I’ll get that posted, too! Until then, happy reading!
April why do you have to be so full of events I want to participate in? The first few days of this month (and the last few of last month) have already been so jam packed with stuff that I’m late getting this post up. Somehow I don’t think that the pace is going to let up this month, on either the work or leisure side of the life equation.
Something is going to have to give in order for me to make that happen, but that will be a problem for me to figure out when I sit down to plan my month. Today we’re going to pretend like I have all the time in the world for ambitious reading TBRs. Ready? Let’s go.
When making my TBR for April, I started with the Magical Readathon prompts because I am super into the whole Orilium thing that Book Roast has created. In the process of picking books, I added a couple of chucky tomes (books over 500 pages) that will also allow me to participate in Tome Topple, which is happening in the second half of the month (15-28 April).
Part of me thought it might be too much to try to do both events. I considered skipping Tome Topple (again), but I have tomes that are piling up and desperately need toppling! I need the added incentive of this event to tackle those long reads. Plus, I kind of had to pick one long one for one of the Magical Readathon prompts, so there’s that, too. You’ll see what I mean when I get into the TBR, below.
Here’s what I picked out and why:
Paladin’s Strength by T. Kingfisher — This is my buddy read book for the month, and it also fits the prompt of “book with a trope you like” to check off my “Art of Illusion” Orilium coursework. Judging from the description, I believe this book has at least three of my favorite tropes: a fake relationship, forced proximity, and competence porn! So excited.
Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa — This is my “intimidating read” for my “Inscription” coursework. As I hinted at above, basically the only books I tend to think of as “intimidating” reads are the ones that are over 500 pages (aka “tomes”). Books considered “classics” and anything non-fiction can also be intimidating for me, but I don’t have any “classics” on my TBR at the moment, and I like to stick with sci-fi and fantasy reads during the Magical Readathon events. I was debating between this book and Lady Hotspur by Tessa Gratton, but ended up going with this one because I have it in both hardcover and ebook. Sometimes I’m picky about format with longer books.
Legendborn by Tracey Deonn — This is another tome that has been hanging around at the top of my TBR for a while. I’ve tried to fit it into my reading schedule for the last couple months and never quite got to it. Now I’m kind of glad I didn’t read it yet because it works perfectly to fulfill my “Mythology Inspired” homework for the “Lore” course. I’m don’t really have another good option for this prompt, so I’m really hoping I can manage to read two tomes this month.
Goldilocks by Laura Lam — This book “set in the future” was my pick for the “Psionics and Divination” coursework. But, there was a last minute change of plans this morning. Now I am pretty sure that I’m going to be changing this to Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha. My buddy read friends wanted to read that next, and it just so happens to work for this prompt, so I think I’m going to switch.
For those of you who are interested, I did film my reading journal set-up, but editing that is taking forever, and has been keeping me from getting this post up. So, that will be posted soon. Keep an eye on my YouTube channel if you want to watch that.
That’s all for now. I will be back very soon with my March reading wrap-up post. Until then, happy reading!
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