April 2020: Reading (and #OWLsReadathon2020) Wrap Up

Turns out that “shelter-in-place” has been great for reading through my stash of hardcovers and paperbacks. I made a huge dent in my physical TBR stack this month. But don’t worry. There’s still a tower of books on my dresser. I’ll need a few more months of this to get through them all.

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April was the OWLs Magical Readathon, and I completed ten of the twelve subjects! I’m so excited because this gives me so many career options for NEWTs, later this year!

In the interest of keeping this post relatively short, I’ll just list what I read with a few brief comments on each book.

  • Ancient Runes – Wrong to Need You (Forbidden Hearts #2) by Alisha Rai – Solid middle book in this series. I loved the new characters and the bond between the sisters.
  • Arithmancy – Sourdough by Robin Sloan – I liked this more than I thought I would, mostly because it’s set in the San Francisco tech community, and I really bonded with the main character. The plot is a little weak, but I was so into the character and setting that I didn’t mind.
  • Astronomy – The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite – This one was a cozy story featuring embroidery as art, women in astronomy, and ladies in love.
  • Divination – Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Taki Soma, and Valentine De Landro – This volume offered some more insight into the world and the various tensions. The ending left me thinking there might be more? But I can’t seem to find anything about that on the internet.
  • History of Magic – The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson – Solid characters and world-building, but the plot meandered a bit. If you like modern-day witches, you’ll probably dig this series.
  • Muggle Studies – Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy – This is such a heartwarming story, and that Dolly Parton quote about figuring out who you are and doing it on purpose has been really resonating with me lately.
  • Potions – Saga Vol. 3 by by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples – Volume three continues to entertain, though this one seemed to be a little more “exposition” focused than the first two.
  • Transfiguration – Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston – If you’re looking for heat, you’re probably going to be disappointed. The hero and heroine don’t really get together until about 75% of the way through the book. But, if you love shifters and sister bonds, you probably won’t mind. The characters are great and the plot is fast paced and bonkers (in a good way).
  • Herbology – Marque and Reprisal by Elizabeth Moon – I really like this series. It’s written in a very traditional sci-fi / space opera style, which may turn some people off, but the plot and world-building is so good. I love the addition of Stella and Rafe in this book. Ky’s crew is really coming together, and she’s finding her footing as captain.
  • Charms – Other Minds by by Peter Godfrey-Smith – There is some really cool science in this book mixed in with a lot of anecdotal tales of swimming with octopus and cuttlefish. Enjoyed the exploration of a different evolution of consciousness.

In addition to all that, I also had the good luck to get my hands on a copy of The Last Emperox, the final book in John Scalzi’s Interdependency Series. This was a very action-packed and emotionally satisfying ending to the series, and that’s all I’m going to say about that because I don’t want to spoil anything.

And, just before falling asleep on the final day of the month, I decided to dig into a flash fiction anthology, Nevertheless She Persisted. The stories were written by some of the top names in SFF right now (Charlie Jane Anders, Brooke Bolander, Amal El-Mohtar, Maria Dahvana Headley, Kameron Hurley, Seanan McGuire, Nisi Shawl, Catherynne M. Valente, Carrie Vaughn, Jo Walton, Alyssa Wong). I picked this up because of the authors and because it’s being offered for free from Tor right now.

I also read a bunch of flash fiction written by my writing group because decided to publish a pandemic themed flash fiction anthology called Fever Dreams. The piece I wrote for that is called “The Howlers.” There are six stories in total. They’re all super short and explore what a hopeful post-COVID-19 world might look like. It’s available for free. You can even download an ebook version, if you don’t like reading in a browser.

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I did not buy or borrow any books this month. But, I think May will probably be a big haul month because I have a lot of ebooks coming off hold at the library, and it’s also my birthday month.

Currently Reading

Once the OWLs Readathon ended, I started The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst so that I can discuss it with my reading buddies L. and S. who are reading the series along with me.

There is going to be another round of Tome Topple in May. I don’t think I’m going to participate this time, though. All of my TBR Tomes are on my Kindle, and I’m really enjoying reading paper books right now. We’ll see. I may just start over with Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds, which I abandoned at about 10% during the last Tome Topple.

How did your April reading go? Did you participate in the OWLs Readathon? Are you going to participate in Tome Topple? What are you reading? Let me know in the comments.

My TBR for the #TomeTopple Readathon

Round ten of Tome Topple starts on 7 February (officially begins at 00:00 in your timezone), and it’s time for me to decide which tomes I want to topple this time around. As I mentioned in my post on series I want to finish this year, I have several books I’ve been saving just for this event. Unfortunately, I doubt I’m going to get through all of them before 11:59pm on 20 February.

I started by narrowing my list of eligible books and coming up with the following options.

I’d originally planned to finish the Throne of Glass series during the first Tome Topple of 2020. That would mean reading Empire of Storms (704 pages), Tower of Dawn (668 pages), and Kingdom of Ash (984 pages!). I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, but… I have a lot of writing and editing to do in February, and, in addition to these being fantasy novels, there’s a Fae aspect to this series. Since the projects I’m currently working on are in my Modern Fae series, I think I’m going to have to save the remaining Throne of Glass books for a future Tome Topple.

That leaves me with option two: reading Poseidon’s Wake (609 pages) and Our Dark Duet (533 pages). I like this option because and neither of these books are likely to interfere with what I’m writing (one is sci-fi, the other is fantasy but with monsters). Also, I can get Our Dark Duet on audiobook from my library (even though I already have the ebook on my Kindle). Listening to it on audiobook, and/or being able to switch back and forth between ebook and audio, will help me to maximize my reading time. Being able to listen to one of my books on audiobook will also help me check off more squares on this round’s bingo card.

The bingo card is new this round, and I love it. Each book you read can only be used to check off two squares (max) on the bingo card. The yellow circles around “read 1 tome” and “tome from a series” can be checked off by reading either book on my TBR. I get to check off the box with the pinkish circle around “adult tome” if I read Poseidon’s Wake. And, I can check off the box with the blue circle around “tome audiobook” if I listen to Our Dark Duet, on audiobook. If I read both books, that will mean I get to check off 4 categories in total, which will just barely qualify me for “Scholar” status.

I’m not sure if I should also be trying for an actual bingo, or not. If I wanted to try for a bingo, I’d need to also read one of the following: the “tome that has been on my TBR longest” (that’s The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss), or “the tome on my TBR with the most pages” (that’s Reamde by Neal Stephenson), or a “tome for Black History Month” (the only one on my TBR that’s over 500 pages is Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi). If I finish Poseidon’s Wake and Our Dark Duet, maybe I’ll do a Twitter poll asking folks to vote on which one of these three I should read. If you have thoughts on which one I should prioritize, let me know in the comments.

Are you participating in Tome Topple this round? What’s on your Tome Topple TBR?

Reading list for the O. W. L.s Magical Readathon (#OWLsReadathon2019)

There’s an awesome Harry Potter themed readathon coming up in April! You can check out the original video and get all the details here. It’s modeled off the twelve main subjects tested on during the Hogwarts O. W. L. exams in the Harry Potter books. Oh man, this is so geeky and so cool. I love it! I’m so excited that I dropped everything to make a TBR. (Good thing I’m up extra early this morning…)

Readathons are a super fun way to bust through unread ebooks I’ve been collecting on my Kindle. So, I tried to limit myself to create my TBR from just those books and the books on my first half of 2019 TBR. I also found out that the next round of Tome Topple is coming up in April as well. So, I tried to pick a mix of short books that I can read quickly and books over 500 pages that qualify for Tome Topple.

Here’s what I came up with for my TBR:

The link in the photo above goes to my Magical Readathon Goodreads shelf so you can get more details on these books and/or add them to your own TBR.

Here’s the detail on the prompts, what they translate to, and what book I picked for each:

Of these, Leviathan Wakes, Our Dark Duet, and The Queen of the Tearling all qualify for Tome Topple. So, I’ll be saving those to read during the Tome Topple dates, which should be announced soon.

I probably won’t do all these tasks, and I don’t plan to attack them in any particular order. I’m not going after a specific wizarding career, yet. Instead, I’m going to keep it casual and use this as a general TBR for April.

Let me know in the comments if you plan on participating in this readathon (or in the April Tome Topple), and let me know what’s on your TBR, especially if you’re also planning to read any of these books next month!

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…

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! 🙂

#TomeTopple Recap: books read, challenges completed

Books read: 2.2

(such nice blue covers…)

Total pages read: 1,305

Challenges completed: 2.2/5
1. Read more than 1 tome — DONE!

2. Read a graphic novel — nope 😦
3. Read a tome that’s part of a series — DONE! (Gemina)
4. Buddy read a tome (use goodreads and twitter to find buddies!) — nope 😦
5. Read an adult novel — Started… (Kraken)

I’ve never participated in a readathon before, and I’m so glad that I decided to do this! It was REALLY fun!

Did anyone else out there participate? If so, what did you read? Feel free to link your blog post or recap video in the comments below. I’d love to check it out.

Let the #TomeTopple Begin!

It’s Tome Topple time!

Well… technically, Tome Topple started about seven hours ago in my time zone, but I was sleeping… But now I’m up and ready to start my first “tome.”

Once again, these are the books on my Tome Topple TBR:

I’ve decided that I’m starting with Strange The Dreamer and probably moving on to Empire of Storms once I’m done. After that, who knows…

Are you participating in Tome Topple? What are you reading?