The books I’m gifting this year

The past month has gone by in a flash, and now we’re somehow at the end of 2022. I’m nowhere near ready for this year to be over, but only because I have a lot I want to do before midnight on the 31st. In addition to all my usual end-of-year reflection and goal planning for the New Year, I am also trying to release a new book! The first book in a new series!

I’m keeping the book release pretty low-key because I’m still working on a firm date for when I’ll have the second book in the series ready to release. At the moment, it’s looking like this time next year. But, if the past few months have taught me nothing else, it’s that I’d really like to avoid another end-of-year book release, if at all possible.

But, while working on ebook layout today, thinking about the book I’m currently reading, I realized that I’ve missed blogging. So, here I am writing a whole procrasti-post just to tell you which two books I would be buying for everyone on my holiday shopping list this year, if I were buying books for other people this year. Which I’m not. Mostly because I am way too maxed out at the moment to put my usual loving care into matching one of my favorites from this year’s reading with the particular reading tastes of each family member.

I saved all that energy for picking out books for my niblings. They’re all getting books this year. And since I am fairly certain that they don’t read my blog (yet), it’s probably safe to tell you what I got them.

For my Stranger Things loving niece, I got a signed copy of Lucas On the Line by Suyi Davies. And for her little sister who has been getting interested in programming and video games, I got a signed copy of his Minecraft tie-in novel, Minecraft: the Haven Trials. Mostly, I want to introduce them to Suyi’s writing, because I think he’s great.

For my nephew, who loves sci-fi, slightly inappropriate jokes, and graphic novels, I got the first book in the Schlock Mercenary series, The Tub of Happiness. And his sibling got a paperback box set of the first three novels in Kirstin Cashore’s Graceling series. I can’t even tell you how delighted I am to FINALLY be able to have a nibling who is old enough to maybe be interested in what is possibly my favorite (if not favorite, definitely in the top five) YA fantasy series.

My other niece has a holiday-adjacent birthday, and she has been devouring fantasy novels recently. But she’s (maybe) still a bit young for Graceling. So, I’m gifting her the first novel in three different (lengthy) series so she can try them and see which one(s) she wants to continue with. She’s getting Artemis Fowl, Keeper of the Lost Cities, and The School for Good and Evil.

I really hope there’s something in there that they enjoy.

Now… as for the adults on my list, there are two books that I really want to be gifting this year. As it happens, one is the book I just finished, and the other is the book I am currently reading.

The book I just finished is Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn, who writes excellent mysteries. This one puts the focus on a quartet of retired assassin heroines, all in their sixties and still kicking butt, which I found refreshing and delightful. The way I described it to my newsletter subscribers was basically, if you liked the movie RED, but thought it needed a lot more Helen Mirren, then you should definitely put this book at the top of your TBR!

The book I am currently reading is A Merry Little Meet Cute, and it is (so far) the best holiday romance I’ve either read or watched. Possibly ever. Assuming these authors can stick the landing, and who am I kidding? This is Sierra Simone and Julie Murphy, folks. I have no doubt in their skills. I want to shove this into the hands of all my contemporary romance reading friends. I mean, just read the blurb and then tell me you don’t want to read this book. I dare you.

Okay. Your turn. What book(s) are you gifting this season? Let me know in the comments.

End of Year TBR

There are a lot of books I could put onto an end of the year TBR. But the truth is, what is time? I mean, I don’t HAVE to finish anything by some arbitrary date on the calendar. It’s not like the books are going to expire or turn into a pumpkin at midnight on New Year’s Eve. So why bother making an end of the year TBR?

These are the thoughts that have been going through my head when I look at the many MANY books on my carefully organized Goodreads shelves and shake my head at myself for adding even MORE books to read. I don’t really need more stress or obligation in my life. I’ve been actively trying to do away with both of those things for the better part of this year. So, again I say, why bother?

Well, the short answer is, I like to plan and organize things.

The longer answer is… *gestures to the rest of this blog post*…

You know how sometimes there are books that you keep saying you want to read but then never get around to actually reading? There are a few of those on my TBR that have been needling me lately because I remember being really excited when I first heard about them. I bought (or was gifted) them and added them to my (virtual) shelf. And then, for some unknown reason, I just kept passing them over for something else.

So, I decided that part one of my end of the year TBR is just going to be reading the first chapter of three of these books and making a decision. Do they stay at the top of my TBR? Or do they get shuffled back into the murky middle with the other hundreds of books I mean to read one day but realistically will probably never get to in this lifetime?

Here’s what’s on the evaluation short list:

The next part of my end-of-year TBR is seasonal reading. This year there are two winter holiday themed books I want to read. They are:

Part three (the final part) is where the guilt kicks in. I’ve been hording Fairy Loot hardcovers. I signed up for their adult fantasy subscription box, and I read the first book I received. Then the next few months (August, September, and October) started to stack up. I’ve decided that if I don’t read at least two of them before the end of the year, then I am going to have to admit that subscription boxes aren’t actually for me and suspend or cancel my subscription. Here are my options:

There are a couple of other books I want to read, but those aren’t ones that I feel any real sense of urgency around. If I don’t get to them until January, it will be fine. There are also a lot of new releases from October and November that I am REALLY excited about. Hopefully, I’ll also get to those before they end up like the first set of books on this list… lost in the TBR shuffle.

This isn’t really that much of a commitment. Three first chapters (with the possibility of more), two holiday books, and two hardcovers. Let’s see how I do, shall we?

Are any of these on your TBR? Let me know in the comments. And if you’ve read any of the above, tell me if you have thoughts or predictions on which I’m going to like and/or which I should prioritize.

October Reading Journal Set-up

Spooky season is here and my reading journal is ready!

I tried to add all the witchy small-town romance books that I could find to my TBR this month. Here’s what I ‘ve got so far:

  • Boss Witch by Ann Aguirre — I read the first book in this series last year. I don’t remember much about it, but this book was available at the library, so I decided to give it a try.
  • The Ex-Hex by Erin Sterling — I’ve had this on my Kindle for a while now, so I’m bumping it to the top of my spooky season TBR.
  • Witchful Thinking by Celestine Martin — This is a new release that I managed to get from the library!
  • The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna — Another new release, but this one is still on hold at the library. We’ll see if I get it in time to read this month, or if I have to wait…

I’ve also added one non-romance book with bone magic to my TBR (The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst). Plus one dark academia book (Babel by R. F. Kuang). I may also add The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik, but it depends on whether or not I get it from the library in time to read this month.

There are a few other (non-spooky) books I’m hoping to read this month as well. I mentioned the others in my reading journal set-up video, if you’re curious. But I have a feeling I won’t be able to get to them all.

If you have more witchy small town romance books that you think I should check out, definitely let me know in the comments. Those are my favorite fall reads.

September Reading Journal (#Bookoplathon) Set-Up

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, I found another readathon to participate in during the month of September! This one was created by Becca and the Books, and it’s based on the game Monopoly. Be sure to check out her video for the full description of the game board and rules and whatnot. It looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun.

It sounds like there are two ways to play the game. Either you can pre-roll your entire TBR to select however many books you think you will read in September. Or you can roll as you go.

I’m going with the roll as you go option. If you want to see my board set-up and find out what my first book is going to be, check out my reading journal set-up video.

I mostly chose the “roll as you go” option because I am not sure how much reading I’ll be able to get done this month. I have had two really excellent reading months in a row, so I feel like I may be overdue for a slump. I really hope that doesn’t happen, but it’s possible.

Also, I am trying to finish up edits on my new writing project so that I can send it to beta readers before the end of September. So I’m not going to have as much time for reading, and I’m probably going to focus on reading outside the genre I’m writing in while I finish edits. That means digging into the fast-paced contemporary, historical, and mystery options on my TBR.

Now that I’ve mentioned my writing project, I suppose I should also mention that, if you want to be a beta reader (aka someone who reads an early draft of the book and provides feedback on character, plot, and world-building), please sign up for my monthly newsletter, because that’s where I’m going to be giving folks all the info about beta reading and ARC opportunities for Heir of Gods (the first book in my new series).

Because I’m “rolling as I go” for this readathon, I am planning on doing more frequent reading updates this month. Kind of like back when I used to do the weekly “Inbox / Outbox” posts. Whenever I finish reading a book, I’m planning to do a quick video of my next roll and book selection. I’ll probably post them as reels on Instagram, but I’ll also post a quick “Just finished… / Now reading…” post here on the blog as well. So that should be fun!

Are you playing Bookopoly this month and participating in Bookoplathon? Let me know in the comments if you pre-picked your TBR or if you’re rolling as you go.

August Reading Journal Set-Up and Orilium Readathon TBR

It’s time! The Orilium Readathon is back in August for the Autumn Equinox session, which means my August reading journal set-up got done early this month!

If you want the full flip through and discussion of which books ended up on my TBR and why, check out the video linked below.

If you don’t want to watch the video, here’s a sample of what one of my TBR pages looks like:

Originally, I’d planned to finish the rest of the Hugo finalists for best novel and best novella in July and August. Last month, I mentioned that I was going to try to get through some of the novellas in July. However, once I remembered that the Autumn Equinox edition of the Orilium Readathon was coming, I thought it might be better to focus on the best novel finalists and save the novellas for the readathon. I just hoped that I could make them match up with the prompts I needed to complete in order to achieve my Story Weaver calling.

I have six levels across three courses that I need to complete in order to achieve Story Weaver, and I have five novellas and one novel I need to read to complete my Hugo finalist project. I managed to do a pretty good job getting the two aligned, but I did have to add a few non-finalist books to make it work. I think I’ll be able to fit the other two in under one of the readathon quests.

Here’s what I have planned:

  • Inscription
    • O Level: Read a childhood favorite –> An Acceptable Time by Madeline L’Engle — This was the first book that came to mind when I read this prompt. I debated using this one for the time travel prompt, but I don’t want to do two re-reads in a month when I have a lot of other new-to-me books I want to get through.
  • Lore
    • O Level: Book with colors similar to my country’s flag –> A Spindle Splintered by Alix Harrow — This is one of the books I need to read for my Hugo finalist project, and it happened to have red, white, and blue on the cover. So I’m using it for this prompt.
    • Q Level: Story featuring betrayal –> Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire — This is another Hugo finalist that I wanted to get onto my TBR this month. I am going off the synopsis for this one, which made it sound like there was a friend betrayal as part of the setup for this story. If I’m wrong, oh well, I need to read it anyway, and I’ll pick something else that better fits this prompt.
    • D Level: Book with a desert setting –> Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri — I have been meaning to read this book for a while. So, when none of the Hugo finalists looked like they’d work for this prompt, I decided to go with this option. I’m pretty confident that I will enjoy it. The only risk is that it will make me want to immediately read the second book, and I don’t have that one on my Kindle (yet).
  • Psionics & Divination
    • O Level: Story featuring time travel –> Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield — None of the Hugo finalists fit this prompt, and I really REALLY struggled to find something I wanted to read that did fit. I am really picky about time travel books. In general, I don’t like them. The ones I can think of that I like are all more multiverse than time travel (except for An Acceptable Time, oh the irony). I did some browsing and found a few books that I might like to read, but this was the only one that was both short and available at my library. It was not my top choice (that was Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel), but I’m putting my trust in the magic of the Tor.com novella. They haven’t failed me yet. Let’s hope that trend continues.
    • D Level: Book with the same word in title as your last read –> The Past is Red by Catherynne M. Valente — This one is going to be mostly about timing. In order for this book to work (which I need to read for my Hugo finalist project), I need to read it directly after Across the Green Grass Fields. Yes, I’m using “the” as my same word.

There are also quests that you can get points for in this readathon. I talk about my plans for those more in my set-up video. Based on the first set of open-to-everyone quest prompts, I think I should be able to get points for most, if not all, of the other Hugo finalist books I want to read this month, AND earn some extra points for the Mind Walker guild.

Let me know in the comments if you’re participating in the Orilium Readathon in August and what’s on your TBR.

July reading journal set-up

My July reading journal set up video is posted on YouTube! If you want the flip through, the video is linked below.

Because this is going up so late in the month, and I neglected to film the final July cover page and outbox spreads until today (!), I end up revealing the first two books I read this month at the end of the video. Just skip that part if you don’t want spoilers for my end of month wrap-up. But really, does anyone care about spoilers for a reading wrap up? I can’t imagine that’s an actual thing.

If you don’t want to watch the video or if you just want the non-spoiler version of my July cover page and don’t care about my Hugo nominee spread or the weird little TBR pockets I made, here’s a photo for you.

While I didn’t really mention any specific reading plans in the video, I did mention my plan to read the Hugo nominees for best novel and best novella. I also showed how I’m going to track and rank them. I just never said when I planned to read them.

I don’t plan to fill my entire TBR with Hugo nominees this month, but I do want to make a large dent in that reading list before August.

Roughly, these are my reading goals for July:

  • Don’t waste time on books that are bogging me down! If I feel like I *have* to finish them for some reason (like the Hugo nominees), then set a daily page count target and alternate with something fun and fast paced at the same time.
  • Finish reading Project Hail Mary and A Master of Djinn since I’ve already started reading both.
  • Read In An Absent Dream and Come Tumbling Down so I can get caught up on the Wayward Children novellas. (The one that comes after these is on my Hugo nominee for best novella reading list.)
  • Start working through the nominees for best novella, starting with the shortest one (Fireheart Tiger) and moving through them in order of shortest to longest (Across the Green Grass Fields).

It’s an ambitious reading plan, but I think I can work through the novellas pretty quickly, and I like quick wins.

If I can manage to check off all my goals this month, then I’ll only have two best novel nominees left to read in August. One of those is kind of intimidating, but it is the novel I think I will end up liking best of the bunch. The other is one I definitely expect is going to drag for me (given how I’ve felt about other books I’ve read by that author). So the more I can read this month, the better.

That said, the priority for the month is that first goal. I want to be immersed and enjoying what I’m reading as much as possible. The theme for the month is beach vibes after all!

What are your reading goals for July and/or the second half of this year?

Reading the 2022 Hugo Nominees

It’s that time of year again!

I missed my opportunity to read the Nebula nominees before the Nebula award ceremony because I was busy writing and editing, but I’m planning on taking a bit of a summer break before diving into writing and editing my next series. So, I’m setting myself a little summer reading project.

It’s time to read the 2022 Hugo Award nominees!

I’ve done this for the last couple of years because I was signed up to participate in the conference and vote. However, this year I’m just going to do it for fun. I’m also motivated by the fact that all the books look fantastic, and most were on my TBR anyway.

The Hugo Award nominees for best novel and best novella

The books nominated for best novel are:

The books nominated for best novella are:

I guess this means I’m going to have to make a Hugo TBR spread for my reading journal, huh? I’ll be sure to add that to my July reading journal set-up.

Predictions

Just for fun, I’m going to make a couple of predictions about which book in each category will be my favorite before I’ve read them all. Then I’m going to make an initial guess at which one will win each category. Once I’m done reading them all (or at the very least, before the ceremony on 4 September), I’ll post an update.

I’ve already read two of the nominees for best novel (Light From Uncommon Stars and A Desolation Called Peace). Both were really good, and I liked them a lot! I started Project Hail Mary and abandoned it because I just wasn’t in the mood for that particular narrative voice at the time. And I’m currently reading A Master of Djinn and enjoying it. So there are only two here that I don’t really have a sense for (She Who Became the Sun and The Galaxy and the Ground Within).

My prediction is that my favorite of the best novel nominees is going to be She Who Became the Sun. Even though it’s one of the two I haven’t read/started, I just have a feeling based on the synopsis and the little bit of buzz I’ve heard that this one has strong potential to be my favorite of the bunch. Plus the blurb reminded me a lot of The Tiger’s Daughter, which was a book I really liked.

The novella category is a bit more of an open field for me because I’ve only read A Psalm for the Wild-Built. The two I’m most excited about reading based on the blurbs are A Spindle Splintered and Fireheart Tiger. If I have to pick one, I’d guess that I’m going to like Fireheart Tiger the best of the bunch, but we shall see…

Regardless of what I like best, as of right now I think Project Hail Mary will win best novel and A Psalm for the Wild-Built will win best novella. I’m basing this mostly on their current Goodreads ratings (4.52 and 4.28 averages respectively). We’ll see if I change my mind on this after I’m done reading.

I’m curious, which of these do you think I’m going to like best? Which were your favorites and/or which ones do you think will win?

That’s what she said…

Since it’s “Teaser Tuesday” today, how about a snippet from chapter four of Ash of the Fae, book five in my Modern Fae series?

This is one of my favorite bits! Here’s the quote from the image:

I sighed. “That’s never going to work. Fun always gets complicated. You were right the first time. Best to lay down the ground rules now and then stick to them.”

“Okay, but I’m still voting for fun. It’s not like I am going to get to find out what it’s like to make out with a ripped Fae who can turn into a dragon. I need to live vicariously.” Angie tugged on the handle of my suitcase as she resumed walking.

I laughed. “You suck.”

“That’s what she said,” Angie called back to me in a low voice.

Ash of the Fae by E. Menozzi

If you’ve read book four (Hunter of the Fae), then you are already familiar with Angie and her love of “that’s what she said” jokes. And if you haven’t met Angie, yet, there’s still time to catch up before Ash of the Fae‘s release, later this month!

Angie is Eve’s best friend. She’s the main character in book four in the series, but she also appears briefly in book one, and again in Eve the Immortal, the Eve of the Fae epilogue novella. Hannah and Ved (aka, Ash) are the main characters in book five.

In this snippet, Angie is talking to Hannah about the Dragon Fae who has just been assigned as Hannah’s bodyguard. Hannah is determined not to hook up with him, regardless of how hot he is, and despite the fact that there’s only one bed at the weekend party he’s attending as her fake boyfriend. (Good luck with that, Hannah. Bwahahaha…)

This was seriously one of my favorite books to write. I can’t wait for you all to read it! And it will be on shelves in just TWO WEEKS! Eeeeek! I am so excited!

In the meantime, if you want to check out the first chapter, you can do that here.

Okay. Now I need to get back to editing Petals and Runes. While I’m working, let me know which June new releases your excited about picking up this month!

June reading journal set-up

My June reading journal set-up is live!

Below is the link to the full video on YouTube…

In the video I mention the four books that are on my TBR for June. They are:

  • Engaging the Enemy by Elizabeth Moon — my current in-progress read
  • Intuitive Editing by Tiffany Yates Martin — a writing craft book to help me with my current project (which I promise I’ll talk more about in a future post)
  • A Dance With the Fae Prince by Elise Kova — my pick for International Fairy Day on 24 June
  • How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole — a book I’ve been wanting to read for a long time that keeps getting put off

I also mentioned that there are a whole bunch more that are at the top of my TBR, I just didn’t have the covers printed out. So I didn’t add them to the pocket. One of those is the book that I’m planning to start this weekend: A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark.

The SFWA Nebula Conference was a couple weeks ago, and I was reminded again how much I’ve been looking forward to this book after reading the novella set in the same world (The Haunting of Tram Car 015). They’re basically mystery novels set in a sort of steampunk alternate Cairo. I really loved the novella and can’t wait to read the novel.

So that’s my plan. Now it’s your turn. What are you reading this weekend? What’s on your TBR for June?

May Reading Journal Set-Up

Is it nearly the middle of May already? Yes. Yes, it is.

Did I just finish editing and posting my May reading journal set-up video? Also, yes.

Better late than never, right?

Here’s the video if you want to check it out:

It’s short (less than four minutes)…

Since the video was late (and really short) this month, I’m adding an in-progress photo. This is the book stack list of books I’ve read this month, plus what’s currently in my TBR pocket.

So far, I’ve read three books: Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake, and Never Saw You Coming by Erin Hahn. I really enjoyed them all. This month’s reading is off to an excellent start!

After those I started two different sci-fi books.

The first is the companion novel in a YA space academy duology (Supernova by Kass Morgan). I picked up the first book a while back because “space fleet academy” is one of my favorite tropes and Kass Morgan wrote The 100 (which I never read but did watch and enjoy as a television series…at least for the first few seasons).

The other sci-fi book I’m reading is book three in an adult space opera adventure (Engaging the Enemy by Elizabeth Moon). The first two books were really good, and so far, I’m really enjoying book three.

How about you? What are you reading this month?