Top 5 books I almost forgot I want to finish before the end of 2018 (#Top5Wednesday)

It’s Wednesday again and time for another Top 5 Wednesday post. This week, we’re supposed to be talking about books we want to read before the end of the year.

I was going to skip this one because I sort of already did this with my end of year TBR. Then I sort of did it again with my Tome Topple TBR. But several other books have popped back up on my radar due to podcasts, end of year best of lists, Goodreads choice awards, etc. So, in an effort to not repeat myself, and because my TBR is insane right now, I thought I’d make this list about five books that I almost forgot about, but really want to read before the end of the year.

Here are the top five books I almost forgot that I want to read this year:

I’ve been really enjoying the “Lady Sherlock” series by Sherry Thomas. So, when I realized that I had the first book in her YA fantasy, The Burning Sky, on my Kindle, I boosted it to the top of my TBR. That was sometime earlier this year, and I haven’t had a chance to read it, yet. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to squeeze this in before the end of the year.

I’d almost forgotten about¬†Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne. I bought this when it was on sale because I try to read any YA sci-fi that sounds like it might be a space opera. Recently, I’ve been watching Alexa’s YouTube videos on writing and publishing, and now I’m even more curious about how I’ll like her book. I have to say, based on her writing advice and how she talks about her books, I’m sure it will be romantic and melodramatic, but I’m skeptical about her world building skills. Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised?

In contrast, the YA sci-fi that I’m most excited about right now is Light Years by Kass Morgan. I’m a big fan of the TV show The 100, but never read the books. So, when I saw that the author had a new series coming out, also sci-fi, I was all over it. I’ve got this book queued up on my hold list at the library, just waiting for me to release it so it can land on my Kindle.

Then, I just saw the trailer for Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, and it looks amazing. I happen to have a signed copy of this book sitting on my shelf, just waiting for me to dive into it. Maybe I’ll grab that today after I finish Seafire. Seems like a good pairing because I know Natalie and Julie are friends.

Another book that I was recently reminded of is Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone. This book is not like anything that normally makes it onto my TBR. However, I’ve been hearing so many people gush about this book that I snatched up a copy months ago, when it was on sale. Then, over the weekend, I listened to an interview with the author on one of my favorite podcasts, and that conversation bounced this back up to the top of my TBR. Or at least to the top five, anyway.

Now, I better get back to finishing my NaNoWriMo novel, or I’m never going to have time to read all these books! Which reminds me… If you’re looking for a fun, fast, winter-themed fantasy read to add to your end of year TBR, you should check out Eve of the Fae. ūüôā

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Largest Books on my TBR

It’s Wednesday! Time for a Top 5 Wednesday List! This week’s topic is “Longest books on your TBR” because there’s going to be a #TomeToppleReadathon later this month. Yay!

For this list, I’m only counting books that I actually own, and I’m excluding any multi-book compilations (like The Inheritance Trilogy, or the Southern Reach Trilogy) that I purchased in one ebook bundle or bound set. The individual books within these multi-book bundles may or may not all be over 500 pages.

That leaves these as the top five longest books on my TBR:

The funny thing is, I have no plans to read any of these anytime soon. It’s not that I don’t want to read them…well, most of them, anyway. I just don’t want to read them right now. I’m still excited about the Neal Stephenson books (Reamde and Anathem), but I’m just not in the mood for his writing style right now.

I really want to read The Wise Man’s Fear, but what’s the point when I don’t even know when book three will be available? I’m just going to have to re-read the entire series, anyway. So, I’m saving that.

I also really want to read Kushiel’s Dart, but not enough to bump it ahead of the rest of my end-of-year TBR. I’m going to save it for a different Tome Topple event.

And then there’s City on Fire… I got this in my Indiespensible subscription box. Unlike the others, this one I actually have on paper, and not just paper, but hardcover special edition in a sleeve and everything. It may even be signed. I really should just un-haul this or give it as a gift. I’m probably never going to read this book. But, who knows.

Sad to say, but none of these would make it onto my Tome Topple TBR. Not that I really have time to participate… This month’s¬†Tome Topple Readathon starts at midnight (in your time zone) on November 16th and ends at 11:59pm (in your time zone) on the 29th of November.

If you read my blog, you know my November is already pretty booked up with NaNoWriMo. I think I’m going to participate by reading at least one of the “tomes” on my end-of-year TBR (see previous post), specifically Our Dark Duet and/or Muse of Nightmares. I probably won’t finish one, let alone both, of these 500+ page books during Tome Topple. But, I thought I’d make a Tome Topple TBR anyway…

If I had more time to read, this would be my full Tome Topple TBR:

As you can see, I’m a little bit behind on the Throne of Glass series. Looking through the books over 500 pages on my Kindle reminded me of that. So I added Empire of Storms and Tower of Dawn. At this point, I really need a refresher on what happened in the first four books, because I’m not sure I remember where things left off. How sad is that? This was once one of my favorite series… Since the last book in the series (Kingdom of Ash) just came out, it’s probably time to get caught up.

I also added Jade City to my pretend Tome Topple TBR because I’ve been meaning to read this book all year and haven’t gotten around to it. This was one of the Hugo/Nebula nominees that I wanted to try to read before the awards were announced. At this point, it’s not likely I’ll get around to reading it until next year. But, it would definitely be in my top five for Tome Topple.

Are you planning on participating in Tome Topple this month or are you too busy with NaNoWriMo? Are any of these books on your TBR? Let me know in the comments…

October reading recap and end of year TBR

It’s officially NaNoWriMo time, and I should be writing my novel right now. So, I’m going to try to keep this post short. But I wanted to get my October reading recap out there and share my end of year TBR. Yep. That’s right. I’m doing a TBR. Because there are still two more months to go in this year, but I’ve already hit 2018 my reading goal!¬†Whoohoo!

First, what I read this month:

I started the month already in the middle of reading Obsidio and¬†Aru Shah and the End of Time. These two took me a little longer than normal to read. The first (Obsidio) because of the format. I don’t like to carry paper books around with me, and I especially don’t like carrying around large hardcovers. Plus, I couldn’t read it in bed at night without a light on. So, it limited my reading opportunities. But, ultimately, I thought this was a great end to a really fun series. These are some of the best YA sci-fi that I’ve read recently. I highly recommend them. But I also highly recommend you get paper copies because the interior layout takes the form of a compiled file of documents (hence the series title: The Illuminae Files).

Aru Shah took me even longer to finish reading, but not for the same reasons. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but middle grade books are getting increasingly harder for me to read. No matter how good they are, they just don’t hold my attention. Which should be expected. I’m an adult. But, it’s kind of a bummer because most of the kids in my life are just getting to chapter books and breaking into middle grade books, and I like to be able to read whatever I recommend to them so we can talk about it and share favorite bits of the story. I enjoyed Aru Shah and the End of Time, and if you have a kid in your life that loves the Percy Jackson books, but you maybe want to expand their world-view and toss some heroines their way, you should definitely get them a copy of this book.

Somewhere in there, while I was finishing up those books, I read the third book in the Three Dark Crowns series, Two Dark Reigns. I’ve been gushing about this series for a while now, and I also really enjoyed this book. But…the plot has taken a couple of turns that I’m not fully into, and I’m reserving judgement until I see what happens in the next (final?) book. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I feel like at this point in the series we should be reducing the number of contenders for the crown instead of adding more to the mix. If you’ve read this series, let’s discuss in the comments.

In preparation for NaNoWriMo, and because I’m still learning how to do this whole “indie author” thing, I also read a few writing books in October. The only one that I read cover to cover was Marketing Steamy Romance. My books aren’t super steamy. The potentially super steamy scenes fade to black, and I like to try to find a 50/50 balance between romance and fantasy plot in my stories. But, I still found this book super helpful. Finding your readers is really hard. I write what I like to read. But the world is full of great books. Every time I consider my TBR, I’m reminded of that. So, you really have to work to convince readers that they want to try your book next. This book offers a lot of great options that I hadn’t necessarily considered. Plus the author offers pros and cons for all the things she discusses, so you can sort of “choose your own adventure” based on what you’re willing and able to do from a time, talent, and/or budget perspective. If you’re an author, I highly recommend you check out her book, even if you don’t write “steamy romance.”

Now, about that TBR…

I’ve suspended all my library holds for the rest of the year so that I can focus on writing book two in the Modern Fae series. November is going to be mostly writing, and I have a feeling that may bleed into December as well. But, there are a handful of 2018 and 2017 releases that I bought (or received as a gift) that I haven’t had a chance to read, yet. I was (and still am) really excited about these books, and I’d really like to try to finish at least a few of these before the end of the year.

So, when I need a break from writing, this is my end of year TBR:

I’m also starting to think about my reading goals for 2019, because tracking my reading the way that I’ve been doing it is starting to feel like a chore, and it’s sucking some of the joy out of reading. I really love keeping track of what I’m reading and various other related stats (book lengths, genres, diversity of authors and main characters, etc.). But, managing a spreadsheet, plus my Goodreads shelves, plus tracking in my bullet journal is getting to be way too much. Also, library hold availability has started to drive when I’m reading books instead of me just reading what I want to, when I want to.

Now that I’m writing full time, reading has definitely become part of my job, but it’s still also something I do for fun and pleasure. So, I want to try to find a better balance next year. I may do a post on that as we get closer to the end of the year, or once I decide on my 2019 reading goals.

As for what I’m writing for NaNoWriMo this year…If you like Pride and Prejudice, and if you liked the magic competition in book two of V. E. Schwab’s¬†Shades of Magic series, you are probably going to love book two in my Modern Fae series. I highly recommend that you read book one now because there are two novellas coming out very soon, and book two will be out in Spring 2019. Click on the image below to read the first chapter and get links to buy at all retailers.

That’s it from me, for now. This post turned out to be much longer than I’d planned. Time to get back to writing. Talk with you more in the comments!

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Books Featuring Witches

It’s another Wednesday in October. Last Wednesday we talked about monsters. Since I love top 5 lists, and Top 5 Wednesday is awesome, I decided to it again. This week’s topic is about favorite books featuring a paranormal creature of your choice. So, let’s talk witches!

You thought I was going to pick Fae, huh? I considered it. But it’s nearly Halloween, and I have witches on my mind (possibly for costume-related reason but maybe also for book-related reasons…). So, I’ll save Fae for later. Today let’s talk about humans who use magic.

First, I feel like I need to draw a fine line between witches and magicians. Both are magic wielding humans. But to me, magician magic feels more like a showy thing, something that maybe someone has an aptitude for, but has to learn and study to figure out how to do it. I love magician magic, especially schools for magicians, warring magicians, and evil magicians. All excellent fantasy tropes that will most often result in me clicking “add to shelf” on Goodreads. But I associate magicians with classic fantasy. They’re not “paranormal” to me.

Witch magic, on the other hand, seems more primal. Like you’re born with the ability and you just figure it out. Or you have a family tradition that’s passed down with a spell book or something. Witch magic feels more like a practical thing for some reason. It also always seems to involve a lot of blood.

I’d also like to point out, most of the so-called magicians we see in fantasy are men. Which is a bummer. If a woman wields magic in a fantasy world, she’s usually a witch. I refuse to buy into this gendered nonsense. This is why I’m drawing my fine line between magic as a discipline and magic as a primal skill (I feel like The Magicians series, books and show, come the closest I’ve seen to a similar distinction).

In general, I want more¬†female magicians in fantasy, especially of the evil magician and warring magician varieties. So if you have good recommendations (aside from Uprooted and The¬†Night Circus, both of which I’ve read and enjoyed), let me know in the comments. And, similarly, I’d also like more male witches. Maybe as love interests for paranormal heroines (that may or may not be a hint for a future Modern Fae book…).

I think as a kid I read more “witch magic” books, especially ones where you find out you’re a witch on your sixteenth birthday (loved those). But, as an adult, I seem to find myself more often reading “magician magic” books for some reason. I like both types of magic. Honestly, I like all magic. But, I’m going to drop some of my favorite witchy books below, and then you can tell me in the comments if you have any recommendations for me based on my witch/magician rant and my faves. Deal? Cool.

When I think of witches, here are the top 5 books I think of:

  1. The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton — This is the witchiest book I’ve read since…I don’t know when. It’s great. Only a handful of characters in this book are dabbling in witchcraft, but the entire book feels witchy. That’s why I’m giving it the number one slot on my list. If you like witches, you should definitely check this one out.
  2. Signal to Noise by¬†Silvia Moreno-Garcia — Mixtape witches! This book is told in alternating sections between past and present. The witchy bits are mostly in the flashback sections, but if you ever imagined that you and a group of your friends stumbled on a way to do magic, and if you also happen to really like High Fidelity (source of my love of top five lists) you should check out this book.
  3. Harry Potter (series) by J. K. Rowling — The fundamental witches and wizards series for the modern age. Books one through seven, that is. I’m less invested in all the various spin-offs and side-stories.
  4. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell — The thing I like best about this book is how the magic works. I love that their spells are song lyrics. I also love that this is basically a Harry Potter / chosen one spoof and that it grew out of a side story in possibly my favorite Rainbow Rowell book (Fangirl).
  5. Dune (series) by Frank Herbert — You may be asking yourself why I’ve included a sci-fi book on a list about witches. Fair question. But, if you’re asking that, then you probably haven’t read this book. The¬†Bene Gesserit, a group of females with special spice-enhanced powers, are called witches throughout the book for the sort-of magic they practice. There are good ones and evil ones and they are all highly political. Basically, they’re space witches, and I love them.

That’s what I’ve got. What do you think? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

Top 5 Wednesday: Monsters

I’m feeling like a blog post, and it’s still Wednesday for a few more hours, at least here on the West Coast. And that means that it’s “Top 5 Wednesday” and this week’s topic is “monsters.” So, let’s talk monsters!

I don’t read (or watch) a lot of scary stuff because I don’t like to be creeped out, but sometimes a really good monster is a good addition to an otherwise light and fluffy story.

Here, in no particular order, are my top 5 monsters:

  1. The Dementors from Harry Potter. Those things are freaky. As far as fictional monsters go, I think they may be pretty much perfect. The kind of damage they do to a person is pretty miserable, and the way you get rid of them is pretty awesome. Plus, chocolate. ’nuff said.
  2. The Gentlemen from season 4 episode 10 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is possibly my favorite Buffy episode. It’s definitely in my top 5, at least. I love to watch this one at Halloween because it’s so scary. And funny. And really well acted. And the Gentlemen are terrifying.
  3. AIDAN from the Illuminae Files series. He’ll be the first to tell you, he’s a monster. But, oh such a complex monster. He’s very hard to hate. But he is pretty creepy.
  4. The Stone Eaters from the Broken Earth trilogy. They’re not all bad, but I think they qualify as monsters. I mean, they eat human flesh, but only after it turns to stone from using the obelisks…Which some of them are trying to get the humans to use to destroy the Earth. So…yeah, probably monsters. But incredibly cool and unique monsters.
  5. Shelob, the giant spider from Lord of the Rings. Ugh. Spiders freak me out enough. I do not need them to be that large or that scary. No thank you.

There you go. What cool monster(s) did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

September Reading Recap and NaNoWriMo Prep

September flew by. I read some books. I wrote a lot of words. I got the first book in my “Modern Fae” series ready to publish. I also finished the first draft of a prequel novella in that series. Oh, and it was my husband’s birthday. Phew.

Here’s what I read in September:

I started off the month with a re-read of The House With a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs. This book was one of my favorites as a kid. However, on my re-read, I’m not entirely sure why I liked it so much. The mystery is pretty weak, and there’s a lot of name calling. Plus I didn’t really like the main character. I know I read a LOT of books by John Bellairs as a kid. This is likely the first one I read, but maybe it wasn’t my favorite? Unless my tastes have changed enormously in the past thirty years (maybe, but I don’t think so), I honestly can’t figure out why I remember liking this book. Oh well. I’m still interested in seeing what they do with the movie.

After that disappointment — seriously, I hate it when a childhood favorite doesn’t live up to the memory — I read From Twinkle, With Love. This was another really cute book by the author of When Dimple Met Rishi. This author does adorable heart-warming teen romance between smart, passionate girls and sweet cinnamon roll boys better than any other YA author I’ve read. This is one of those books you read with a dopey grin on your face. I liked her first book a little better than this one, but only because I think the heroine’s character arc gets a bit muddled at points in this book. But this is still a really fun read, and I recommend it if you liked Dimple and Rishi.

While I was waiting for my library hold on Two Dark Reigns¬†by Kendare Blake, I read the second novella in this series,¬†The Oracle Queen. I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this novella, but it happened to come off hold, so I thought I’d give it a try. Boy am I glad I did. This is a really good novella, especially if you’re already into this series. I didn’t know why I should care about the Oracle Queens after the first two books. You’re always hearing that there aren’t any more because this one when crazy. Then, in this novella, you read what really happened, and you’re like, woah. I won’t spoil it, but I can’t wait to see how this plays into future books. But…if this doesn’t change the game in some way, I’m going to be very disappointed.

After that, I dove into The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. This new contemporary romance has been getting all the hype. After reading it, I think that hype is justified. The book features a heroine with high-functioning autism who hires an escort to teach her how to be in a relationship. (Note: this is also written by a woman with high-functioning autism, and I’m all about #OwnVoices.) It’s kind of a reverse Pretty Woman, but only at a very basic level. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a heroine like this before in any book, and I have to say, it’s refreshing. I really liked Stella. At times I also got really annoyed with Stella. I plowed through this book up until it got to “the black moment” with the obligatory break-up scene near the end of the book. When it got to that part, I closed my Kindle. It took a few days to get back to it because I was so frustrated and disappointed with how that scene was handled. Everything else about this book felt fresh and awesome, but that last bit, from the dark moment to the end, wasn’t as satisfying for me. I still highly, highly recommend this book. I still gave it five stars. I just thought things got a little out of character at the end there.

This month, I just scored a bunch more new releases from my library (Seafire¬†! Two Dark Reigns¬†! Yay!). This has been a big digital library loan year for me, and that’s throwing off my reading plans a bit. But it reminds me…if your library let’s you recommend books to buy, would you mind requesting that they add my book (Eve of the Fae by E. Menozzi)? It should be available on Overdrive, and I would love it if people could borrow my book from the library, because libraries are awesome and not everyone has budget to buy books.

Now that the book launch is over, I was planning on spending some quality time reading my pre-order of¬†Vengeful by V. E. Schwab. I think I’m still going to, but first I need to catch up on my NaNoWriMo prep. Plus I’m¬†trying to finish up two short writing projects that I want to get done before November. My new plan is to carve out a chunk of “do not disturb” time in the next few weeks, because I have been waiting for that book for a long time, and I want to savor it.

Speaking of savoring…I hope you are all enjoying the fall! (Or spring, if you’re in the northern hemisphere.) For me, fall means “back to school,” which as an adult, translates into reading and writing. In case you can’t tell, I’m already getting excited for NaNoWriMo next month. If you’re also planning on joining this fun writing challenge in November, I’ve posted a link to a bunch of resources I like over on this page. I’ll probably also do a post on my bullet journal writing tracker once I’ve got that set up.

Until then, happy October and happy reading, everyone!

August reading recap and new books

I think summer is officially over, and I’m totally okay with that. Fall weather is my jam. It’s chilly in the morning and the evening, and I can finally wear sweaters again! Plus, the “back to school” vibe has me wanting to write and read and curl up with a cup of tea while I do both. I love fall.

What I read in August

I started off the month devouring¬†One Dark Throne¬†and¬†The Young Queens by Kendare Blake. These are the second book and a prequel novella, respectively, in the Three Dark Thrones series I was gushing about last month. I’m still in love with this series. The world-building is great. I love the characters. The plot is twisting in interesting directions. And I can’t wait to see what happens next. Luckily, the next book comes out on the 4th of September. (So soon! I can’t wait!) And, it looks like there’s going to be another (4th) book to come, according to Goodreads. I may not be able to drop everything to read Two Dark Thrones right away, but I’m definitely planning to get to it before the end of the year.

After I finished those books, I took a short reading break. I may have had a tiny book hangover because there were a few books I was hoping to get into, but I just wasn’t in the mood for any of them. After reading several first pages of novels on my Kindle, I tried¬†The Falconer by Elizabeth May. This book is like a Victorian era, steampunk Buffy the Vampire Slayer, except with fae instead of vampires and demons. I like the concept, but I’m sort of hit and miss on both Victorian and Steampunk, and this one ended up more miss than hit with me for some reason. It was a good, entertaining read, but I just wasn’t in love with the characters in the way that other fans of this series seem to be. Unfortunately, the plot didn’t really engage me, and I was super disappointed by the love triangle and the primary love interest. I probably won’t be continuing with this series, but I do recommend checking it out if you like the premise.

Then I got my hold notification from the library for¬†A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole. I wasn’t necessarily going to read this right away because I wasn’t super invested in wanting to read Portia’s story, but then I read that the hero is a grumpy Scottish sword maker, and I was in. Boy am I glad that I picked this up. This book is pretty much a master class in slow burn romance. Plus, it turns out that I really like Portia after all. Who knew? There’s more in her character that I can relate to than I realized. In A Princess in Theory she’s just painted as an irresponsible party girl, but there’s a lot more to it then that. The party girl stuff is just her way of dealing with a bunch of underlying issues. Which leads me to the other thing I loved about this book. The character arcs in this novel are fantastic. There’s just so much to learn from here. The story is really entertaining, but from a craft perspective, I was blown away. The only quibble I’d make is that the ending feels rushed. But, it’s definitely an excellent follow-up to the first book in the series. You don’t technically have to read A Princess in Theory to enjoy this one, but why wouldn’t you? It’s really good.

This month, I’m planning to read another second book / sequel / companion novel that I have checked out from the library, From Twinkle With Love. This is by Sandhya Menon, the same author who wrote When Dimple Met Rishi. I’m also planning on doing a re-read of a book I loved as a kid that is being turned into a movie. Yep, that’s right. The House With A Clock in its Walls. I am pretty sure I read every single John Bellairs book as a kid, but I don’t really remember the content of any of them. So, I’m looking forward to trying to remember / figure out what exactly it was that younger me loved about these books.

I need to do a lot of writing in September in order to stick to my plan for when I want to have my next book out. But there are SO MANY new books coming out this fall that I am dying to read. Check this out:

Seriously. So much goodness. When am I going to find time to read all these, plus the books already on my Kindle, plus my physical TBR stack, plus write? Not to mention, half of these are the next book in a series that I already love! How can I resist? The answer is, that I must. At least until I get some writing done. Luckily, these books are going to make great rewards for hitting my word count goals!

Let me know if you’re planning on picking up any of the new releases above, especially Light Years, or Skyward, or Phoenix Unbound. Those are the three I know the least about.

  • Light Years is by Kass Morgan, who wrote The 100, which I haven’t read. But I love the TV show (I’ve been catching up on season 5 now that it’s on Netflix).
  • Phoenix Unbound is a new series by Grace Draven. I’ve read her first book,¬†Radiance, and it surprised me how much I enjoyed it. I have book 2 in that series, but I haven’t read it yet. This new one looks promising, as well.
  • Skyward is by Brandon Sanderson and is maybe his first sci-fi book. Don’t quote me on that. I’m embarrassed to admit, given how I’m a big fan of the Writing Excuses podcast and epic fantasy, that I’ve never read anything by him. This new series of his me hooked with space pilot school, but I’m concerned that it’s going to live up to the idea I have of it in my head.

Anyway, if you read any of those before I do, please let me know what you think. I’ll be over here in my writing cave (aka favorite window seat), trying to write all the words. Send productive vibes. And dark chocolate.

July Reading Recap and Epic Fantasy Book Recommendations

July was an action packed month filled with travel, vacations, friends, writing workshops, the beginning of a new writing project, a return to healthy eating (haha), and lots and lots of reading! Yay!

Here’s what I read in July:

This month started with Tome Topple. I decided my first Tome would be The Tiger’s Daugher by K. Arsenault Rivera, and oh boy. As you may already know if you read my “Mid-Year Book Freakout” post, this is my favorite book I read so far this year. The world-building is excellent. I loved the characters. The framing of the story (mostly told through a massive letter written by one woman to her best friend / love) made me want to go back and re-read the beginning as soon as I finished the last page. There is so much detail in those opening pages that takes on even more meaning once you’ve read the end. If you like epic fantasy, but you want something other than the usual medieval-based stuff, definitely check this out. It’s not getting near enough buzz considering how good it is.

After that, I dove into The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton. This is not Tessa’s first book, but it’s the first book I’ve read by her. You may remember that I attended a Madcap Retreat a while back where she was one of the organizers / instructors and was blown away by her awesomeness. I’ve been eagerly waiting to read this book for over a year, and it did not disappoint. I haven’t read King Lear, so I can’t speak to the retelling aspects of this story, but again, if you like epic fantasy, especially Game of Thrones type stuff, but think it would be even better if it was almost exclusively about the badass ladies and if there was a lot more magic and witchy vibes, then you definitely, definitely, need to read this book.

On the last day of my vacation (basically, on the very long trip across the country to home), I managed to squeeze in what I thought was the last book in the Adirondack mystery series I’ve been reading for years now. Unfortunately, Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer Fleming ends on a cliffhanger and there is no sign of if/when the series might continue. Even more unfortunately, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with this book. So, I think I’m done with this series, whether or not it continues. If you have a recommendation for a similar series (contemporary small town romantic mystery / suspense), please let me know. This is not a genre I’m very familiar with, but I think I’d like to read more. Bonus points to you if you have a recommendation that is written by an author of color.

I returned from vacation only to repack and get back on the road, this time to the annual RWA Conference in Denver, CO. For that trip, I decided to listen to the final book in the Court of Fives series, Buried Heart by Kate Elliott. Maybe you are super sick of hearing me gush about this series, but too bad! This series finale was so good! It was everything I wanted it to be and more that I didn’t even know that I wanted. But yeah, please read this series if you like YA fantasy along the lines of Ember in the Ashes and The Winner’s Curse (but even better than those, IMO).

Then, as though I hadn’t had enough epic fantasy this month, I finally read Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake! This book has been on my Kindle forever. It is one of two YA fantasy books that released in 2016 that I have been trying to get around to reading because now both series are almost complete (the other is The Queen of Blood). Three Dark Crowns sounded like a five star read for me from the moment I read the blurb, and it definitely delivered. Sometimes, when you write books, you read a book and you think, “Damn, I wish I wrote that.” This was one of those books. It’s exactly the kind of YA fantasy that I love to read (and want to write). This is also true about the Court of Fives series. So, check this one out if you haven’t already, because I’m about to devour the rest of the series, and you’ll probably be hearing about it a lot in the coming months.

Finally, I found out that Sherry Thomas has a short story in her Lady Sherlock series called Charlotte Holmes and the Locked Box. You can find it here, if you’re interested in getting a free taste of this series. It’s very short (6 pages), and I don’t think reading it will really spoil anything if you haven’t read the first book in the series. But, it will give you an idea of the voice / tone of the novels if you’re curious and haven’t been able to get the first one from your library. Reading a six page, free short story shouldn’t really count toward my reading goal, but whatever. I’m including it because I love this series.

I’ve been trying not to do TBRs, but I currently have three books on my Kindle from my library that will disappear if I take my Kindle off airplane mode. This is a problem because I just purchased a bunch of new ebooks on sale, plus I have some upcoming new releases pre-ordered. So, I really have to read/finish these three books in August so that I can get my new books onto my Kindle. Luckily, I have one last family vacation coming up that should allow me some quality lakeside reading time. Expect to hear more about those books next month.

I hope you are enjoying the last bit of summer (or winter) and that you have some excellent books to read. Until next post, Happy Reading!

Mid-year Book Freakout Tag

This post is what happens when I’m supposed to be writing my newsletter, but instead start watching BookTube videos and see a new tag video. In this case, you can thank Thoughts on Tomes because her video inspired me to write up my responses to the “Mid-year Book Freakout Tag.”

Questions and responses:

  1. Best book I’ve read so far this year:
    • The Tiger’s Daughter by¬†K.¬†Arsenault Rivera — I loved the setting and the world building. I loved the framing of the story, starting in present day and flashing back to the past for long stretches written as a letter from one woman to another. I loved the ending. When I finished it, I immediately wanted to go back and start reading it over again. Luckily, there’s a prequel coming out later this year.
  2. Best sequel I’ve read so far this year:
    • The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin — No surprise here. Excellent ending to a fantastic series. My fingers are crossed that she wins the Hugo for best novel for this one as well.
  3. New release I haven’t read yet:
    • The Belles by¬†Dhonielle Clayton — I pre-ordered this, but for a variety of reasons, haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I will definitely be reading this before the end of the year.
  4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year:
    • Vengeful by V. E. Schwab — Vicious is, hands down, my favorite book by Victoria Schwab. So, when I heard there was going to be a sequel, I may have squealed and flailed a bit. I’ve had Vengeful on pre-order for months. Of all the new releases coming out in the second half of this year, this is the one I’m most likely to drop everything to read immediately.
  5. Biggest disappointment so far this year:
    • Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming — If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that this book is part of a series of mysteries that take place in the Adirondacks. I’ve been reading one per year for the past few years on my annual vacation to “Camp” in the Adirondacks. I thought this one was the last in the series, but the ending appears to be a cliffhanger, leaving room for more. The weird thing is, this book was published in 2013, and it’s unclear if there will be any more books in this series, despite the ending. I’ve really enjoyed many of the books in this series, but this one, for a variety of reasons including what I felt were inconsistent characterizations and the previously mentioned cliffhanger ending, left me incredibly disappointed.
  6. Biggest surprise so far this year:
    • Definitely how much I enjoyed The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I listened to this on audiobook, which is about 47 hours long. It’s a LONG book. And initially, I thought I wasn’t going to like it. But the more I listened, the more I enjoyed it. So, yeah. This is the book that most surprised me so far this year.
  7. Favorite new (or new-to-me) author:
    • Kate Elliott — I finally got around to reading her Court of Fives series, and woah. It’s so good. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for new books by her.
  8. Newest fictional crush:
    • I rarely swoon over fictional characters, so I’m not sure how to answer this one. The first character that came to mind was Murderbot. From the first sentence of¬†All Systems Red by Martha Wells, I was instantly charmed by this genderless security android that doesn’t really want to be around humans. It’s not really a crush, but Murderbot has certainly carved out a warm little corner of my heart.
  9. Newest favorite fictional character:
    • Hands down favorite so far this year is Charlotte Holmes from the Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas. I may go so far as to say that I like this version of Sherlock even better than BBC Sherlock.
  10. Book that made you cry:
    • The Rose & The Dagger by¬†Renee Ahdieh — Which I listened to on audiobook and which made me cry when I was listening to a certain part at the end while eating breakfast at work. Only slightly embarrassing.
  11. Book that made you happy:
    • A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole — I have a weak spot for “I didn’t know I was a princess” stories. I especially like “I’m a scientist, and I didn’t know I was a princess” stories. This book is so charming and lovely, I think I grinned my way through most of it. Now I have a paperback copy that I can shove into the hands of all my friends so they can also enjoy it. Plus book two is coming out later this year.
  12. Favorite book to movie adaptation:
    • A Wrinkle in Time — Okay, so this was also the only book to movie adaptation that I’ve watched this year, and I have mixed feelings about the storytelling in the movie version. However, the cinematography and the cast were outstanding. Regardless of what I (an adult) think of the movie, I’ve heard that the target audience (middle graders) are loving it, and that’s all that matters to me.
  13. Favorite blog post I’ve done so far this year:
    • So far, the one I got the most “likes” on was my June recap and mid-year book stats post. Folks seemed to really like that one, which makes me happy. Thanks! ūüôā
  14. Most beautiful book I’ve bought or been given so far this year:
    • Oh man. I already talked about how much I love the new covers for the Amberlough series. They are so pretty!
  15. Books I need to read before the end of the year:
    • First off, I really want to do a full re-read of Megan Whalen Turner’s series, starting with The Thief, so that I can finally read Thick as Thieves in preparation for book 6 that’s coming out next year. Yay!!! I love this series. If you like secondary world fantasy and haven’t read it yet, get on it. You won’t regret it.
    • Then there are the “next in the series” books that I haven’t read yet and need to: Our Dark Duet, Raven Stratagem, Armistice, and Obsidio.
    • Finally there are the “first in a series” books that I’ve been meaning to read for a while now but haven’t started: Leviathan Wakes, The Queen of Blood, and The Falconer.
    • I expect all of these will be “five star reads” (or re-reads, as the case may be) for me, with the exception of Our Dark Duet which I’ve heard isn’t as good as This Savage Song.

I’ve spent WAY too long assembling this post with all the cover photos, etc. I suppose I should get back to writing my newsletter now. If you’re interested in hearing about the RWA conference I just returned from and/or want to know more about the adult contemporary fantasy book series I’m launching this fall, you should subscribe to my monthly newsletter updates. Subscribers will get cool stuff like freebies, giveaways, and swag. You can sign up here.

Stay tuned for my July reading recap. Until then, happy reading!