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 read TEN books in April!!! I also finished all my Orilium subjects, plus did a few extra that may or may not help me if I decide to try a for a new career path in August (during the Orilium Autumn Equinox Readathon)!
Here’s everything (fiction) I read that fit one of the Orilium Readathon prompts:
The Last Ride to Love by Kearney Wentworth (Astronomy) — This is a super cute short story written by a friend of mine. It was previously part of an anthology, but now it’s been released as a stand-alone story that will eventually link to her forth-coming contemporary romance series featuring rugby players!
Even Though I Knew the End by C. L. Polk (Inscription) — I really enjoyed this novella. The world-building is really rich and immersive for such a short book.
A Tempest at Sea by Sherry Thomas (Psionics & Divination) — This wasn’t my favorite of the Lady Sherlock books, but I always enjoy these stories because I really love the characters. The murder mystery was pretty good, too.
This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede (Lore) — The strength of this book is really in its two main characters and their love story. I really wanted to like it more because of that, but the side characters were not that interesting, and I wanted a lot more from the world-building than what I got. It was good, but ultimately kind of disappointing for me. I probably won’t read the companion novel.
Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Faeries (Art of Illusion) by Heather Fawcett — This book, on the other hand, was excellent. It had the kind of fae and fairies that I prefer (think Enchantment of Ravens), crossed with a main character that reminded me a lot of Veronica Speedwell. Definitely recommend this one.
What the Hex by Alexis Daria (Elemental Studies) — I really enjoyed this cute novella about a witch returning to her island home for her sister’s wedding and having to team up with her former high school nemesis to fight off a demon who has possessed the groom. A fast, fun read!
I also read some others that didn’t fit any of the prompts:
Atomic Habits by James Clear — I listened to this one on audiobook. I kind of hate self-help books because they tend to be very repetitive, and this was not an exception to that rule. However, I feel like the concept of “habits” is one of those things that gets watered down so much through pop-productivity media (like the BuJo community, for example), that a lot of the science gets lost. Sure, habit trackers are great, but habit trackers alone aren’t going to help you build or change your habits. This book explains how to build (or break) habits in a really helpful way (if you can get past the “basic bro” examples).
Dragonholder: The Life and Dreams of Anne McCaffrey by Todd McCaffrey — This is less of a biography and more of a rambling blog post in book form. I picked it up because one of the pieces of advice in Steal Like an Artist is to read biographies of your favorite authors (or people who influence your creative work). In that regard, this was interesting, but not exactly what I was looking for…
Ultimately, I think I read so much in April because I was limiting my computer/phone use to only necessary stuff. This was because I read Digital Minimalism in March and wanted to give his digital detox a try. It’s kind of shocking how much more time you have when you’re not checking email, Discord, and social media on repeat. I have relaxed my restrictions a bit now that April is over, but not by much. We’ll see if that leads to more books read in May as well.
What I’m really hoping my attempts at digital minimalism will lead to is more focused writing time. One of the reasons I gravitated toward that book (after reading Deep Work) was because I was realizing that nearly every time I context switch, I get pulled into a distraction loop checking all the things before I can settle back down and get back to work (if I ever get back to work). This leads to me getting an hour or so of solid writing in the morning and then struggling to get back into it after I take a break. Not ideal. So, I’m learning and playing with process to try to figure out what works for me.
That said, I’ve had a lot of (mostly legitimate and irl) distractions in my life over the past few months. In general, I’m feeling really scattered. So, taking a break from all the online noise is really nice.
I’m still working on my April reading wrap-up post. I read a LOT in April, so it’s taking a while. In the meantime, I already have my May TBR figured out. So I thought I’d share that today.
You may remember that my one reading goal for this year was to read through (or DNF and donate) my FairyLoot special edition hardcover backlog. I’ve been chipping away at it over the past few months. BUT I’ve mostly been reading the new stuff and ignoring the ancient stack of YA books from before I switched to the adult subscription. And those are the ones I’m supposed to be reading by the end of this year.
So this month, it’s time to make a dent in that stack.
I stacked them according to page count, and yes, I know Poster Girlis technically an adult fantasy not a YA, but I’m including it here because it’s the last of the adult fantasy books I received last year that I haven’t read yet…
My plan is to start at the top of this stack (least number of pages) and work my way down. I’m going to use the “Nancy Pearl Rule of 50” for DNFing. Because I’m under fifty, that means that, after fifty pages, if I’m not into the book, I’m going to DNF and move on. If I’m on the fence, I may be generous and give it 100 pages before deciding to give up on it.
Here are my predictions about which ones I’m going to like and which ones I will likely end up DNFing:
Poster Girl by Veronica Roth — I never made it through the Divergent series, nor was I tempted to pick up any of her other books, so I have very low expectations about this book. However, it’s also very short. So I will probably end up reading it to the end.
The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller — The premise is mildly interesting. I just really hope it’s not written in first person present tense (<– that goes for all of these). If it is, it may be my first DNF.
Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez — This is possibly the only book in this stack that I wanted to read, so odds are good I’ll finish it.
This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria — I never heard of this book before receiving it, and I’ve heard nothing about it since then. The average rating on Goodreads is…not great. So, this one may end up being a DNF. We’ll see, though. I can sometimes be a very contrary reader. I like things that aren’t popular, and vice versa. So, maybe this will pleasantly surprise me.
Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco — I’m here for all the Italian magic, so I really want to like this one. My fingers are crossed that this will be good.
Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie — I have no thoughts on this one except that it is pretty long for a first book in a YA fantasy series. It’s really going to have to grab me in the first fifty pages to make me want to stick with it.
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong — Another long one. The premise seems like something I might like. I’d say that I’m pretty likely to finish this one, even if it’s not my favorite.
One thing that I will also predict (and this goes for any of the ones that are first books in a series, which are almost all of them), is that, even if I don’t DNF, I’m not going to continue with the series. I’m really going to have to fall in love for that kind of commitment. There are just too many other books that I want to read.
Okay, what predictions do you have about what I’m going to like and not like in this stack? Let me know in the comments.
I know we’re already a week into April, and I’m only now sorting out my TBR for the Orilium Spring Equinox, but I’m still participating! It took me a while to get myself organized because I was visiting friends and family last week, and I didn’t have any time for reading. But I’m back now, and I’ve got my plan together, so it’s time to hit the books!
Before I get into my TBR for April’s readathon, let’s recap how my “Year in Aeldia” is going…
You may remember that I decided to use this Magical Readathon challenge to work my way through my backlog of Fairyloot special edition hardcovers. So far, I’m doing pretty well. I just finished the March prompt to read a book over 500 pages. Yes, I technically finished reading it in April, but I’m still counting it because my end of March travel plans messed up my schedule more than I anticipated.
Now that that’s done, I can officially start the April readathon!
I decided to focus on the subjects I need to advance to the next level in my Story Weaver calling. Mostly this decision was based on the fact that I’m starting late, and I only need four courses for that calling.
Here’s what’s on my TBR:
Art of Illusion –> match clothes color to cover color –> This is a pretty flexible prompt, and I want to get in at least one Fairyloot hardcover this month. So, I’m going with Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett. The dust jacket on my copy is cream, but I prefer to read without the dust jacket. The naked hardcover is purple, which is a bit harder to match given that my wardrobe is mostly grey and black. But I do have one purple long sleeve shirt and one purple t-shirt I can wear while reading this book. If I’m feeling extra, I’ll try to find an appropriately cream colored sweater to wear over my purple shirt (you know, like a dust jacket, get it?).
Inscription –> book from your highest shelf –> The highest shelf on my bookcase is reserved my favorite books, and I don’t really want to do a re-read of any of those, so I’m interpreting this prompt as the book I most recently hauled, which was an option given in the video that went over all the prompts. I just downloaded Even Though We Knew the End by C. L. Polk to buddy read with friends, so that’s going to be my book for this course.
Lore –> book with a map –> I was a little worried about this one because I feel like a lot of books that have maps are also tomes, and I don’t have time for another tome this month. After browsing the first pages of several books on my Kindle, I realized that This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede, which has been hanging out near the top of my TBR for a while now, has a map!
Psionics & Divination –> book with clouds on the cover or in the title –> The most recent addition to the Lady Sherlock series is one of my highly anticipated 2023 releases. It just came out in March, and it has clouds on the cover! So, I’ll be reading A Tempest at Sea by Sherry Thomas for this course.
If I have time, I may try to squeeze in a few other courses to see if I can qualify for any of the other callings in August. I have several books I’d like to read this month that didn’t make it onto my official TBR. Almost all of them will fit with a prompt for one of the other subjects. Either that, or I’m going to at least start the Alchemy side quest. It’s just a matter of how much time I have for reading in April.
Are you participating in the Orilium Readathon this month? Either way, let me know in the comments what you’re reading in April!
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.
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.
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.
What are you reading? Should be a simple question, right?
You know that moment when you realize that you’ve bitten off way more than you can chew? I think I’m having whatever the reading equivalent of that is right now.
I started reading six books at the start of the year. Not all at the same time. It just sort of happened over the course of about a week. I think I was up to about four in progress before I managed to finish one of them (the only novel). But then I immediately started another one (also a novel) and then a couple more.
So at the moment, I’m reading six books.
What are they?
The Fantasy Fiction Formula — Okay, this writing craft book is kind of a cheat because I actually started reading it in 2022, but I put it down during the last couple months of the year with only a few chapters left to read. I picked it up again in January, determined to finish it. But, I read non-fiction slowly, and I read craft books especially slowly, because I either get annoyed by them and set them aside, or all my highlighting and note taking slows me down. This one started with the latter problem. It gave me a ton to chew on, which is why I set it aside. But the final third is more of a review, so it’s taking a little longer to get through.
The Anatomy of Genres — As long as we’re on the topic of craft books, I purchased this beast in December, really excited to read it, but put off starting it until the New Year. I dove in on day one, and it is definitely blowing my mind, but I think it’s possibly going to take all of 2023 for me to get through it because it is DENSE. There’s a lot to think about here, and I’m taking a lot of notes.
Italian Folk Magic — I picked this up because I write fantasy, and I was curious about what sort of magical traditions might come from my own ancestors. I think a lot of this tradition in my family got lost a couple of generations back when everyone was trying to assimilate to acceptable white middle class culture in the US. My grandparents all died when I was really young (one long before I was even born), and I grew up far from our extended family, so I feel really disconnected from this sort of thing. I think I may need to buy a copy for my mom so we can discuss.
The Spare Man — This is the novel I started after finishing the only book I’ve finished reading so far this month. I bumped it to the top of my TBR because Writing Excuses (podcast) is going to do a deep dive case study on this novel with the author in February, and I wanted to be able to follow along.
Finding Me — Memoir is one of those genres that I always forget that I enjoy. When I was going over my stats, I remembered to go check what’s new in memoir (since it doesn’t usually organically pop up in places where I look for books to read). I started with the Goodreads Choice nominees and saw that a friend of mine HIGHLY recommended this memoir, so I picked it up. The audiobook is fantastic.
Spare — Of course this came up in my search for what’s new in memoir. At least half of my author friend group is reading it right now (we are all team Harry and Meghan). So, I decided to request it from my library on audiobook. I was shocked that I got it almost immediately after release. Now I’m alternating between this and Finding Me while doing stuff around the house.
Those of you who are paying close attention might realize that none of these are Fairy Loot special edition hardcovers. I thought I was going to read Babel this month. I read the first 10ish pages at the very start of the month, and I was excited about continuing. Then I lost track of it and didn’t pick it up again. Now I don’t think there’s any way I’ll finish it before the end of the month. So… I think I may pick up one that I suspect (based on others’ reviews) will be a fast read. Then I can get a quick win. Let’s hope by this time next week, I’ve finished some of these and at least started a Fairy Loot book.
I’ll check back in at the end of the weekend and let you know how it’s going. In the meantime, I’m curious, how many books are you currently reading?
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