January 2019: Reading Wrap Up

I read a LOT in January. A ridiculous amount. And, I even took a week off from reading. But, I also may have flunked one of my reading goals for the year, before the month was even half over… Before I get to that, let’s talk about the good stuff. Check out all the awesome books I read!

What I read:

The first book I finished in the New Year was Planetside by Michael Mammay. I love it when I find a new sci-fi author and their book lives up to the hype! This was a great military sci-fi book. I highly recommend it, especially if you like a little bit of a “who-done-it” alongside your military sci-fi. I think anyone who enjoyed Lock In by John Scalzi and/or Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty would enjoy this book, too.

I also started my re-read of The Queen’s Thief series and finished the first book, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. I’ve talked about this series a bit already in recent posts, but this was a formative YA fantasy series for me as a writer. It’s definitely the sort of series that I would love to be able to claim as a comp for my writing, but this first book was written over twenty years ago, so it’s definitely not eligible for comp title status on query letters any more. It’s still a great book, though.

January always brings with it an urge to read “self-improvement” books for some reason. To that end, I read The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll (the guy who invented the craze) and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Both were really useful books. It was helpful to hear the whole story of how the Bullet Journal system was created and how it was intended to work. I came at it through other people’s interpretations of the planning method, and Ryder’s website didn’t have much on it to explain the intricacies of how to use his method. I like to know how things are supposed to work before I start adapting them to fit my own needs. So, this gave me a lot of good ideas about how to improve my own Bullet Journaling.

The Power of Habit was an excellent companion to the Bullet Journal book. It had a ton of great information about how habits are formed, how to make them stick, and how to change habits you already have. It’s full of really fascinating science and interesting example stories. I also managed to find Read Harder tasks that applied to each of these books. So, they were useful in hitting one of my reading goals as well!

I also managed to finish Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot. This is a memoir that I found because of the Powells Staff Top Five Picks from  2018. I don’t usually read memoir (as I mentioned in that post), but I really enjoyed this book, especially after reading Jane Doe. I know that may seem like an odd connection to make, but parts of this book read like they could have been written by the best friend being avenged by the main character (Jane) in that thriller. And that’s not even the most interesting thing about this book. There’s a lot going on in this short memoir. I think it would make a great book club pick. And, it turns out that the author is currently a fellow at Purdue (where I went to college) and she’s going to be one of the authors at our 2nd annual Orcas Island Lit Fest happening in April. Pretty cool coincidences.

In addition to novels and non-fiction, I read a couple of novellas, Girl Reporter by Tansy Rayner Roberts and Tikka Chance on Me by Suleikha Snyder, and a trade paper volume of comics, Paper Girls Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang.

That would already be a HUGE reading month for me, but I managed to squeeze in two of the books I needed to read for the contest I’m participating in as a first-round judge. And that’s all I can say about that.

So I read TEN books in January. That’s crazy. The only problem with all this reading is that it somehow also resulted in a lot of ebook buying. I’m not sure if there were just a lot of ebook sales post-Christmas, or what, but the Amazon gift card I received got depleted pretty quickly. And, I added six more books to my Kindle backlog…

Here’s what I bought:

The first book I purchased in 2019 was Tikka Chance on Me by Suleikha Snyder. I turned around and read it almost immediately. But still, I didn’t even last three days without buying an ebook, folks. In my defense, this was only $.99 and I had a dollar free credit on Amazon for choosing the “I can wait” shipping option. I can’t exactly remember what prompted this purchase. It might have been a Smart Bitches post.

The book I’d thought was going to be my first purchase of 2019 was the novella I had on pre-order, Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole. This is set in the same series as A Princess in Theory and A Duke by Default, which were two of my favorite romances that I read last year. I’d intended to read this one right away, but I’d forgotten about my contest reading commitment. So, this is going to have to wait a bit.

I’d also pre-ordered The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi. This sounds like it is going to possibly be my favorite book by her so far, and I’ve read all her books so far. I can’t get to it right away because of the contest stuff, but I’m definitely going to read this in the next couple months.

In line with the “self-improvement” theme for January, I’d borrowed The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron from my library. Only, I didn’t realize it was a thing you’re supposed to do over twelve weeks. I was interested enough in the first half of the book that I decided to just buy a copy so I could return my copy to the library. The reviews all said it was very “woo woo,” but I’m actually finding it to be pretty traditional as far as the spirituality stuff goes. I’m not as interested in that aspect of the book, but it’s not as off-putting as the reviews made it out to be.

Then I saw that one of the YA space opera books I had my eye on went on sale. So, I snagged Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan. Could I have got this book from the library? Probably. If not now, eventually. Was I planning on reading it immediately? Uh…nope. Reading goal fail. Oh well.

After I bought that book, I swore that was going to be it, but then one last ebook on sale caught my eye, Sinner by Sierra Simone. It was $0.99, and it’s not the sort of book that my library is inclined to purchase (self-published, erotica where the heroine is getting her sexy times on before planning to become a nun). I’ve read Priest by this same author, and I like that her books are hot but also have a story. I could justify this purchase by using this book for the self-published Read Harder challenge task, come to think of it.

I suppose we should have a look at the math on how I’m doing against my Kindle backlog reading goal, huh?

Net impact on my Kindle Backlog:

Books purchased on Kindle this month: 6

Kindle books read from my backlog list: 1

New Kindle backlog total: 129 (+5)

Yep. I’m not off to a great start on this reading goal. But, it’s only the first month of the year. Plenty of time to develop new book buying habits and improve this stat.

Speaking of reading goal stats, let’s also have a look at how I’m doing against my Read Harder Challenge goal.

Read Harder Challenge Status:

Tasks completed this month were:

  • Task #8: An #ownvoices book set in Oceania (Girl Reporter)
  • Task #13: A book by or about someone that identifies as neurodiverse (The Bullet Journal Method)
  • Task #17: A business book (The Power of Habit)

Three down and twenty one to go, which means I’m ahead of schedule on this one. Go me!

That leaves that massive first half of 2019 TBR to check in against. Let’s see how I’m doing on that one.

First half 2019 TBR Status:

Total TBR: 33 books

Books read: 5

Books remaining: 28

Not bad. Looks like I’m on track on this goal as well. Phew.

Huge reading months make for really long recap posts. I guess some might say that this is a lot to keep track of, but I’m enjoying what I’m reading and how I’m tracking and tackling my reading goals so far this year. It’s actually a little bit of a relief to know that I’ve got a checklist for all this stuff so that I don’t have to stress about forgetting to read something that I really wanted to get to. Maybe this year of reading is going to be a little much, but I’m determined to plow through that Kindle backlog so that I don’t have to do this again next year.

As for what’s next, I’ve already finished reading my first book in February. I have a feeling it’s going to be another good reading month. How about you? How are you doing toward your reading goals for this year? Did you also go on a book buying binge in January, or was it just me?

Top Five Wednesday: Top of my TBR (#T5W)

What’s this? Another TBR post? Well, as it turns out, the topic for this week’s Top Five Wednesday discussion is sharing the top five books on your TBR. As I explained in my post earlier this week, I just created a pretty ambitious TBR for the first half of 2019 that includes over thirty books! I’ve already read a few so far this year, and I have a few more in-progress. So, what I focused on for this post are the top five that I plan to start next.

The top five books on my TBR are:

I currently have I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara and The Hollow of Fear by Sherry Thomas out on digital loan from the library. I haven’t started either, and I can’t turn my Kindle off airplane mode until I finish reading them. So those two are definitely at the top of my TBR.

But the very next book I read will likely be, The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (aka the second book in The Queen’s Thief series). I think my reading buddies will be ready to start this one any day now. I’m looking forward to this re-read because, as I realized while re-reading the first book, I’ve forgotten a lot of what happens in this series.

I also want to get started on at least one of the six books I put on my Kindle backlog bust reading list. I think that’s probably going to be Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne. I thought I might want to start with Vengeful, but my attention is very scattered at the moment. So, I think I’m going to put that one off for a bit longer and read something shorter and fluffier instead. Brightly Burning is billed as “Jane Eyre in space,” and while I’ve never read Jane Eyre, I think an angsty YA space opera sounds pretty good right now.

Last, but possibly most important, I have to keep up with my RITA reading. As I said in my previous post, I have seven books to read in seven weeks. I’ve finished one already. But rather than wait, I’m going to keep plowing through them so that I don’t get behind. I’m awful at keeping secrets, and it’s hard for me to keep my mouth shut about what I’m reading. But, I’m a professional, so that’s what I’m going to do. My lips are sealed.

There you have it. The top five books on my TBR. Are any of you also doing a Queen’s Thief re-read before book six comes out in March? Or are you planning to read any of the other books on my list? Let me know in the comments!

TBRs and reading lists for the first half of 2019

I’ve been doing a LOT of reading and not a lot of blogging this month. I just opened Goodreads and my Google Sheets spreadsheet to log the seventh book I’ve finished this month, and I realized that I haven’t done a post on my 2019 TBRs. So, I thought I’d take a minute and write a post about my reading plans for the first half of 2019.

You may remember that one of my top five reading goals for 2019 is to put a dent in my backlog of purchased Kindle books. I don’t want to spoil my end of the month wrap up, but I will hint that I may be starting the year in the red on that goal…More on that after the month is over. For now, I’ll say that I decided that in order to get serious about this goal, I needed to pick six books and make a TBR for books I plan to read in the first half of this year. So I did. The lucky winners are the following books:

For anyone who has been reading my blog for a while, these covers probably look pretty familiar. When I scrolled through the 124 books on my Kindle backlog list, these were the ones that jumped out at me as ones I wanted to read first.

All but one of these are new releases that I purchased and then didn’t read right away (Vengeful, The Belles, Thick as Thieves, Brightly Burning, and Our Dark Duet). The last book on the list (The Queen of Blood) is book one in a now complete fantasy series. I’ve been meaning to read this book for at least two years, but keep putting it off. One benefit of waiting is that if I get into it I can binge the rest of the series. I already own book two.

The only problem with this list is that, in order to get to Thick As Thieves, I’m going to have to complete my re-read of the first four books in The Queen’s Thief series. I just finished my re-read the first one. Now I’m waiting for my reading buddies to be ready to get started on book two (and maybe do a brief chat about book one, first). But, that means I’ve essentially just added another four books to my first half of 2019 TBR.

Total TBR count so far for those keeping score: 10 books.

I also remembered that I signed up to judge the Romance Writers of America RITA awards this year. That means I have a panel of books assigned to me that I need to read and score by the 7th of March. Seven books in seven weeks. Unfortunately for you, this list is top secret. I’m not even going to add them to Goodreads. But I still have to read them, and that’s going to take some time.

Updated TBR count, including RITA submissions: 17 books.

I’ve also decided to attempt to complete the 2019 Read Harder Challenge. To stay on track, I’ll need to read twelve books in the first six months of this year. I’ve already finished three, and I have the rest picked out from books that I already own (or have out from the library) that meet one of the challenge tasks. Here’s a sneak peek at that TBR…

The tasks covered by these books are:

Total TBR count after all that: 29 books.

But that’s not all… As if that wasn’t enough “required reading” for the first half of the year, I’m going to a writing workshop in April, taught by a bunch of authors, agents, and editors who I admire. Unfortunately, I haven’t read books by some of the authors, and I want to make sure I do before the workshop. So, I’ve added the following books to my TBR:

I’ll probably shoot for reading one book by each author (Dan Wells, Ted Chiang, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Fran Wilde). So, four of the six pictured here. Which ones I read will likely depend on what’s available first at the library. And, there may be more I need to add depending on who else is announced as participating.

That puts the total TBR count for the first half of 2019 at 33 books. Or almost six books per month, on average. It will probably be almost exactly six books per month once you take into account the rule I’m putting in place about reading books I buy this year (more on that in my January wrap-up).

< cue nervous laughter >

Ambitious much? Yeah. This is maybe a bit crazy. But… Is it weird that I’m actually really excited to read all of them? And I don’t even mind that I’ve completely booked (so to speak) all my available reading time for the first half of this year. Right now, I’m pretty excited about this TBR. I guess we’ll see how I feel in a few months.

Now I should probably go make a tracker in my “BuJo” to keep track of all this reading…

Serendipitous #TomeTopple Timing — Summer Vacation Edition

I just found out that the 6th round of “Tome Topple” (hosted by one of my favorite BookTubers, “Thoughts on Tomes”) will be taking place at the perfect time for me to join in and tackle some of the big books on my Kindle that I’ve been meaning to get around to reading! Yay for good timing!

If you don’t know about Tome Topple, it’s a two week readathon challenge where you read books that have > 500 pages. Graphic novel omnibuses count, but short story anthologies do not. There are a five challenge tasks you can tick off in the process, but mostly it’s all about the pages read. Definitely check out the video linked above for more info.

In anticipation of this bookish event, I’ve been sorting my Goodreads “tbr-kindle” shelf by number of pages to see if any of the books I want to read next happen to qualify. I am sure you will not be shocked to learn that I have more than a few qualifying books just hanging out, waiting to be read. And by “more than a few,” I actually mean an embarrassingly large number. Okay, there are 30. I have 30 books over 500 pages long. And that’s only counting the ones I have on Kindle. I have more if you count paper books sitting on my physical TBR shelf.

Please note, these are books that I’ve purchased at one point or another. Maybe I happened to buy them on sale. Let’s hope so. But, it’s entirely possible that I paid full price for at least some of these. Actually, I know I did. One or two of them I even pre-ordered.

But I’m not going to feel guilty about any of that. The rule for this year was no guilt reading. Instead, I looked through the list of books on my Kindle with more than 500 pages and picked out the ones that I’m most excited about reading right now.

Here’s my short list (or Tome Topple TBR, if you prefer):

What I chose and why:

  • The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen — I’ve been trying to get to this for years. Based on everything I’ve heard, I think I will love this book. I really want to see what all the fuss is about and if it lives up to the hype. Also, isn’t there a movie coming out at some point?
  • Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey — Similarly, I’ve been delaying my enjoyment of what sounds like an excellent Syfy series (The Expanse) because I really want to read the book first. I’ve heard the books get better as you go on, but I have to read book 1 to get to book 2 (and so on). Also this is squarely in my sci-fi, space opera wheel house.
  • The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton — I pre-ordered this because I really like Tessa Gratton (the human / writer) and this book sounded great. The book release was right in the middle of a very busy and stressful time for me. So, I held off on reading it. Now, with two weeks of (mostly) uninterrupted reading time on the horizon, I think it’s time to dive into this world.
  • Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab — I really liked the first book in this duology. I pre-ordered this one because I was so excited about it. Then I let it sit and didn’t read it right away. I honestly can’t believe I’ve let this one sit for so long.
  • Jade City by Fonda Lee — This book sounds so good. Plus, it was nominated for a Nebula this year. I’ve been trying to get to it for the past few months, and it happens to be over 500 pages. Hooray!
  • The Tiger’s Daughter by K Arsenault Rivera — This has also been on my radar for a while. I recently watched Sam from “Thoughts on Tomes” gush (spoiler-free) about this book in several videos. So, it seems fitting that this be one of my Tome Topple choices.

There are at least six more that I could substitute for any of the ones on this list. In fact, I made a list of 18 candidates (including these 6) in my BuJo for reference. Can you tell that I’m excited for vacation time and (mostly) uninterrupted reading time? I’m also excited to start drafting my next novel. But after a month of serious editing on Eve of the Fae, I need a break to refill the creative well, first.

If you’re planning on participating in this round of Tome Topple, let me know in comments and link to your TBR (booktube, blog, or whatever). And, if you plan to read any of these books and want to do a “buddy read” with me, let me know!

Bring on the Tomes! And the summer vacations! 🙂

Book stack

I made a stack of physical books I have on my shelf that I haven’t read yet, but want to read.

I always find it hard to read physical books when I’m traveling a lot. So, it may take me a while to get through these. But I’m definitely excited to dive into this delicious stack of books.

November reading summary and December TBR

Well, I did it!

November was a very busy month with a TON of travel and very little stability (we’re moving, location TBD after the holidays). But, I still managed to push through and write 50k words in 30 days. Phew. I have to say, as cool as it is to have “won” NaNoWriMo again — this is my 6th win — the thing I’m most proud of this month is that I wrote every day. Regardless of how crazy life got, no matter what got in the way, I put my butt in the chair and typed. Even if it was just 79 words (my worst day: the day after Thanksgiving). Even if it meant that I had 6 days where I wrote at least double the daily “par” word count of 1667 words in order to catch up.

So, what do I have to show for it? I have just over 50k words of something that is starting to become novel-shaped. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It has a (very weak) plot. It has one or two scenes that I’m particularly proud of and a TON of holes that need to be filled in. Gaping holes. Now, I just need to actually *finish* this first draft. But before I do that, I need to tinker with last year’s NaNoWriMo project so that I can send it out for a developmental edit.

Because of all this writing (and life) craziness, I didn’t read much in November. I finished one book. It was a really good book — The Sisters of Alameda Street by Lorena Hughes. It’s a family drama with some romantic sub-plots and an underlying mystery driving the story, and it takes place in Ecuador — a country I lived in for about two months back in 2008. I’d recommend it for anyone who liked My Brilliant Friend.

On my way to Thanksgiving, I bought myself an autographed copy of Kirstin Cashore’s new novel, Jane, Unlimited. I started it, but I didn’t have much time to read over Thanksgiving. I’m almost to the end of the first branch of the story. If you aren’t familiar with this book, it has a kind of “choose your own adventure” or Sliding Doors (though I haven’t seen that movie) premise to it. There’s a base story that sets things up and introduces the characters. Then there are five (I think) possible branches for what happens directly after that base story. Apparently, each of those branches is a different genre of story. It sounds really creative, and I loved her Graceling series, and the story has a lot of elements that I love (huge, creepy house on a private island, odd rich people behaving badly, lots of references to ocean creatures). I’m planning on spending the better part of my weekend curled up with this book.

I’m not sure what else I plan to read in December. I have a “kinda sorta” TBR list, but it’s basically just a list of the books I was going to read for the remaining Read Harder Challenge tasks. I have eight left to read. They’re mostly all books that I really want to read. Some of the ones I picked are really short. So, we’ll see how it goes.

More than anything, I have a lot of reading-related thoughts floating around in my head that I’m going to work on organizing into blog-posts for December. I have a lot of thoughts, folks. Especially about book buying and Goodreads and TBRs and life. So, stay tuned for more on that.

And, I know I don’t talk about writing a lot on my blog (on purpose). But, if you want to hear more about what’s going on with my writing, I’m starting a newsletter. You can sign up for it here. It will contain content that I don’t offer anywhere else on the internet (or at least newsletter subscribers will get that content months before everyone else). I’m shooting for a monthly schedule to be sent each month on or around the 15th, starting in December. This month’s newsletter may just be a giant photo of me watching The Last Jedi with my friends. Plus a few other writing-related tidbits. We’ll see…

Happy holidays, everyone!

October reading summary and November TBR

Hello, readers! Happy Halloween and happy NaNoWriMo-Eve!

There’s a LOT going on right now in my world, and October was not a great reading month for me. I only managed to read TWO books. I know. Scary.

Here are the books I read in October (links go to Goodreads):

  • Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia — This was not exactly what I expected, but it was also even better than I’d anticipated. I think it’s shelved as “YA,” but the chapters are split evenly between the 1980s and the late 2000s. The characters are fifteen in the flashback chapters and in their thirties in the “present day” chapters. I’d thought it was going to be more definitely YA, but I actually liked this format better. Another thing I wasn’t expecting was the romance, but the romance in this is SO GOOD. It’s a sweet “reuniting with your childhood best friend who broke your heart at fifteen by not returning your affections” kind of story. There are a LOT of references to music, not all of which I’d heard of before, and it definitely made me wish there were a playlist for this book. If anyone knows of a playlist for this book, please let me know. If you like magical realism, records/music, and/or childhood friends who are destined to be soul mates, you should check out this book.
  • Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn — This is the follow up to Heroine Complex and is a SFF romance series featuring a group of friends with super powers who live in a house together in San Francisco. It’s a very fun and very cute read. It’s way more about friendships and relationships than “saving the world,” though there are some fun (and funny) action scenes as well. I loved the hero in this one, and I found the heroine very relatable. I definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a light sci-fi romance. This book does stand alone, but you may want to start with the first book in the series or the plot of the first book will be spoiled for you.

Now that there are only two more months in this year, I think I have a TBR dilemma. To make matters worse, I’m not sure I’m going to have a ton of time to read in November. The next two months are going to continue to be VERY busy for me, and my outside of work priority is switching over to writing from reading, at least for the next 30 days (NaNoWriMo Time!).

I really wanted to complete all 24 Read Harder tasks this year, but I also have five books that I REALLY want to read before the end of the year because I’ve really been looking forward to reading them and have a feeling they are going to be five star reads for me. Let’s compare and contrast and see if I can come to a decision about what to do…

These are the books I wanted to read for Read Harder challenge:

The problem is that there’s nothing on that list that’s jumping out at me as a book I know I’m going to love. There are some books that are supposed to be really good (ex: 1984, The Parable of the Sower, The Boys in the Boat, Reading Lolita in Tehran), and there are most likely going to be some surprise favorites in there (my money’s on Falling in Love with Hominids and/or Lagoon), but there’s nothing really jumping out at me and screaming “Read Me!”

Meanwhile, these five books are calling to me because I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time:

The first two (The Stone Sky and Our Dark Duet) were pre-orders that have been sitting on my Kindle, waiting for me to get around to reading them, but they’re both the last in their series, and I’m not really ready for those series to end. The middle one (Jane, Unlimited) is on hold for me at the library, but I put a temporary freeze on it because I didn’t think I’d have time to read it in November. The last two (Three Dark Crowns and The Queen of Blood) have been on my Kindle since nearly their publication dates, and now they both have sequels out this year. All of them sound like I will LOVE them and devour them.

So, do I do the responsible thing (Read Harder)? Or dive into these delicious SFF books that are calling to me?

I think the answer is obvious. The thing I should be putting a temporary freeze on is my Read Harder challenge so that I can pick one of the lovelies to read next. Except…any one of those books will definitely distract me from writing….Ugh. What do I do?

#ReaderProblems. 🙂

September reading summary and October TBR

It’s October and officially FALL! Now, if only we had some nice crisp fall weather around here so that I could break out my sweaters and boots… I love fall, and I love that we’re now only one month away from National Novel Writing Month! But, before I get ahead of myself, let’s catch up on what I read in September…

Here are the books I read in September (links go to Goodreads):

  • The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman (Kindle) — I chose this book to read for the “Read a Travel Memoir” Read Harder task, and it was even more enjoyable than I’d hoped. The only problem was that it stoked my wanderlust in a major way and made it very hard to get excited about going to work.
  • A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet (Kindle) — This, on the other hand, was less enjoyable than I’d hoped. On the surface, this appeared to be everything I’d ever wanted in a secondary world fantasy romance. I liked the characters and thought the world-building was good. However, I found it to be plagued with consent issues, and had a less than satisfying ending for both the plot and the romance. I’ll probably keep reading because I like the world and the characters, but I’m not feeling a burning desire to run out and get the next books.
  • Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron (Kindle) — This one was also a little disappointing. Again, I liked the world and all the side characters. It’s fine as a first book in a series, but the main character (Julius) is possibly the least interesting character in this book. For large swaths of the story I had a really hard time caring about what happened to him. I’ll definitely keep reading, not just because I happen to own the next two books in the series, but again I’m not feeling a burning desire to jump into the next one.
  • The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan (Kindle) — Now THIS is the romance that I wanted from my month of reading romance. This is a novella prequel to her Brothers Sinister series, of which I’ve read the first two and one other novella. The heroine in this book is excellent, the hero is just exactly reluctant enough in all the right (reasonable) ways. Their romance is perfectly paced, and I appreciated the hero’s handling of the heroine’s previous (bad) experience in the bedroom. This is a hot, fast, entertaining read. Now why can’t I find an author who writes romance like this for the (secondary world) fantasy and/or sci-fi genres?
  • Star Nomad by Lindsay Buroker (Kindle) — I thought this was a romance. I was wrong. It was categorized as romance on Amazon. There’s some romantic tension, but it’s mostly just a sci-fi adventure that is heavily influenced by Firefly and Battlestar Galactica. The crew that the heroine assembles for her ship is nearly a direct one-for-one copy of the characters Mal gets to join him on the Serenity. As for the not-quite-a-romance, it’s like the author swapped Mal and Zoe’s roles, making Zoe the pilot/captain (with a dead husband) and Mal the badass fighter (in this case a cyborg), then twisted their backstory so they were on the opposite sides of the war instead of fighting alongside each other. It’s not a bad sci-fi adventure. It’s just not what I was expecting, and the world-building was a little weak.

Overall, I really enjoyed focusing on reading romance this month. I’d hoped to read more sci-fi and fantasy romance, but I definitely need to do some more work to find new authors to read in those genres. To that end, I asked for sci-fi and fantasy romance recommendations on Twitter and ended up getting re-tweeted by Courtney Milan which landed me a TON of recommendations. I started a list on Goodreads. So, if you’re on Goodreads and have suggestions, feel free to go vote on what’s already there or add your recommendations. I’m probably going to start there when I create my next romance reading list.

Most of October is going to be consumed with work (day job), and NaNoWriMo prep (for myself and for my region). So, I’m not anticipating having much time for reading outside of my insane commute. I’ll probably use whatever reading time I have to catch up on my Read Harder tasks and the new releases I’ve purchased but haven’t had a chance to read yet.

Here’s what’s on my TBR for October:

I’ve already started Signal to Noise and one other book. I’m anxious to read both The Stone Sky and Our Dark Duet, but I am painfully aware that they are both the last books in their respective series, written by authors I love. Since I loved the earlier books in both these series (5 stars, all of them), I really want to savor these last ones. As far as I’m concerned, these aren’t really commute reading…these are more like “Do Not Disturb” binge reading. Finding time for that is going to be tough. Hence, the other three books on my list: Superheroes Anonymous (a book that’s been on my Kindle for a while), Falling in Love with Hominids (a book of short stories), and Heroine Worship (the recently released follow up to Heroine Complex that I read and enjoyed last year). I picked the two super hero books to help get me in the right mood for this year’s NaNoWriMo…for reasons that I’ll be ready to talk about more in November…maybe.

In case you can’t tell, I’m ridiculously excited about NaNoWriMo. This will be the ten year anniversary of the first NaNoWriMo I ever participated in (2007), and it will be my third year as Municipal Liaison for my region. Today I started setting up my Scrivener file for my new project, and updated my novel and bio on the NaNoWriMo website. It’s beginning to look a lot like Novel Writing Season!

If you want a behind-the scenes updates on NaNoWriMo and my other writing projects, you may want to sign up for my monthly newsletter. I’ll still post general writing updates here, but newsletter subscribers will be the first to know about new projects and get sneak peeks of what I’m writing.

If you’re not interested in that sort of thing, no worries. The blog isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s turning 5 this month! Happy almost-blogiversary to me!

Oh, and don’t forget to vote for or add your sci-fi and/or fantasy romance recommendations to my list on Goodreads, or just add them in the comments…. until next time, Happy Reading!

August reading summary and September TBR

I didn’t get much reading done in August because I was working on writing projects and busy with my actual work. I’d wanted to read more romance this month, but it ended up being a very sci-fi heavy month instead.

Here are the books I read in August (links go to Goodreads):

  • Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi (Kindle, library) — This one took me forever to read. I just couldn’t really get into it. I don’t blame it on the book at all. I did push through to the end but, I never got invested in the story. The characters were cool, but I think that the majority of the the plot happens to them instead of the other way around. It didn’t help that the plot had a few holes that left me a little frustrated and pulled me out of the story.
  • The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden (Kindle, library) — This book was wacky and entertaining. I really loved the characters and the setting and the creativity of the world building. I would have given it five stars, but the plot kinda went off the rails a bit at the end. Everything leading up to the huge climax scene at the concert is excellent. After that, things get a bit muddled. I think it’s because the villain’s ultimate goal and underlying motivations are a little murky. But, if you can squint past that, it’s a great read. I really enjoyed it.
  • A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers (Kindle, library) — This was, hands down, my favorite book I read this month. I really liked the first book (A Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet), but thought it felt a little more like a series of related stories than a cohesive novel. This one is much better in that regard. There are still a lot of very obvious world-building “data dumps” that feel contrived at times because they are completely unnecessary for plot/character development. But, I really enjoy learning more about this world, so I don’t mind (much).

I’m almost finished with one more, but I wasn’t able to find enough time last week to finish it before the end of the month. I’ll probably finish it tonight or tomorrow.

As for September, I’m not really making a TBR. I’m setting more of a reading goal than a TBR this month. I want to cross off at least two Read Harder challenge tasks, but other than that, I’m dedicating this month to reading romance. I scrolled through all the books on my Kindle and tried to identify which ones might be considered “romance” and put them all on a list. I’m planning to just pick and choose based on what sounds good to me at the time.

Here’s my Romance Reading List for September:

There’s a good mix here of sci-fi romance, fantasy romance, historical romance, and contemporary romance. If you see anything on here that you’re also planning to read this month, let me know. Otherwise, I’m probably going to start with A Promise of Fire because it’s been on my Kindle for just over a year now (purchased 8/6/2016), and I’ve heard good things about it.

Happy Reading!

July reading summary and August TBR

I have been so busy since returning from RWA. Seriously. Last week was a blur. I spent most of it working on polishing up “Eve of the Fae” to submit to Pitch Wars. Plus, it’s been a very busy week at work. I’m hoping things calm down a little this week so that I have a little more time for reading.

Most of what I read in July was read on vacation. I miss vacation.

Here are the books I read in July (links go to Goodreads):

  • Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (Kindle, library) — This book was so good. I loved Every Heart a Doorway, her first book in this world, and I think this one is even better. If you grew up reading portal fantasy like The Chronicles of Narnia, and you haven’t checked out these books yet, you’re missing out. Run, don’t walk to your nearest library (or bookstore of choice) and get yourself a copy of this one and the first book.
  • Hold Me by Courtney Milan (Kindle) — I had no idea what to expect here except that I liked the first book in the series (Trade Me), and I love anything by Courtney Milan. So, no surprise, I guess, that I *really* enjoyed this book. Also, the heroine’s internal conflict hit home with me and unexpectedly hit me pretty hard in the feels.
  • Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee (Kindle) — I waited to read this until I had a solid chunk of time to immerse myself in this world because I’d heard it took a little effort to get into it. For me it wasn’t that different than any hard fantasy/sci-fi with good, immersive world-building, and I loved it from the start. But, then again, I’m also a fan of military space opera. This was possibly my favorite book I read this month. I can’t wait to read the next in the series.
  • One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Kindle) — For the past several years, I’ve been reading these romantic suspense books while on vacation in the Adirondacks (where these books are set). Unfortunately, I think this is the second to last one in the series. I’m saving the last one for next year, but unless the author decides to write more in this setting, I’m soon going to have to find a new romance series set in the Adirondacks for my vacation reading. So sad. I’m going to miss these characters.
  • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (Kindle, library) — Prepare for unpopular opinion time…I didn’t love this book. I know it’s winning all the awards, but it just didn’t sit right with me. I feel like it leaned a little too hard into literary tropes, and the writing felt like the author was trying to “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” poke fun at the SFF genre. I got a strong “look, I’m writing *literary* SFF” vibe from this book and it took away from my enjoyment of what, based on the premise, should have been a story I enjoyed.
  • Letters to a Solider by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Kindle) — This shouldn’t even really count, but I’m adding it here anyway. It’s bonus material from the author, meant to go along with One Was a Soldier. I read this first, but I think it might have got more out of it if I’d read it after One Was a Solider.

Now, on to August…How is it already the last month of summer? It’s “Fogust” here in the Bay Area, aka perfect reading weather. Unfortunately, my schedule this month is not leaving a lot of free time available.

Ignoring the realities of available reading time, here are all the books I put on my August TBR:

In general, there are WAY too many books on my TBR this month. This is a ridiculously ambitious list. Many of these have been featured already in previous TBR posts. So, I’m not even going to give you a breakdown. Instead, I’m just going to say that the priority this month is going to overdue library books (A Closed and Common Orbit, The Prey of the Gods, Raven Stratagem) and books for my Read Harder Challenge tasks (Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free, Falling in Love with Hominids, The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost, Signal to Noise). I’d like to work a little more romance into the rotation, especially fantasy romance (Nice Dragons Finish Last, A Promise of Fire, Heiress Without A Cause), but it will depend on how much time I have and what sort of mood I’m in. And damnit, when am I going to have time to read Our Dark Duet?! Not to mention the fact that (not pictured here) The Stone Sky comes out this month…

As always, so many good books to read, and so little time for reading. Oh, how I miss summer vacation…