June Reading Wrap-up

June turned out to be a HUGE reading month for me. I read nine books!

What I read in June

I started off the month on a mystery kick. I got my mom into Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell series because she (and I) liked Sherry Thomas’s Lady Sherlock series so much. She’s been devouring all the Veronica books while I’d only read the first one, and she’s coming for a visit soon, so I thought it was time to catch up. I read books two, three, and four in June. Of those, I liked book two (A Perilous Undertaking) the best (such good tension between Veronica and Stoker!) and book three (A Treacherous Curse) the least (too much unexamined colonialism). Book four (A Dangerous Collaboration) had a very exciting ending that made me want to immediately dive into book five, but I had to pause while I waited to get the next two books from my library.

I also borrowed two YouTube celebrity memoirs on audiobook from my library as a source of character research for my next Modern Fae book. I started with Lilly Singh’s How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life, which was a Goodreads Choice Award winner in 2017. In addition to getting a lot of good info about what it’s like to be a YouTube superstar, I found myself really appreciating her advice about life and the self-employed career hustle.

I considered stopping after that one, but I had already downloaded Jenn McAllister’s Really Professional Internet Person, so I decided to listen to the first few chapters and see what I thought. Her book was a little repetitive in places, but focused more on what it’s like to be growing your YouTube audience when you’re in middle school and high school, which was really interesting. Neither of these women is exactly like I imagine my character, but their experiences gave me a lot to think about.

Somewhere in between devouring mystery novels and listening to audiobooks while washing the dishes, I read C. L. Polk’s romantic fantasy The Midnight Bargain and Addie Woolridge’s contemporary romantic comedy The Checklist. Both of these were really good, as I expected they would be. I really love the worldbuilding in The Midnight Bargain. And the characters in The Checklist were so full of life, I loved every minute that I got to spend with them…even when everything started to go sideways and made me super anxious. Addie did a great job crafting an ending that tied everything up perfectly.

As much as I liked those two books, my favorite of the month was The Space Between Worlds. This book blew me away. It is just so good. I mean, I’d heard it was good, but it was even better than I expected it would be. The plot is twisty, the characters are superbly crafted, and the worldbuilding is just off the charts excellent. I loved it so much that I searched out a special edition signed hardcover to buy so that I can add it to my “favorites” shelf and reread it in physical form. Seriously, if you like sci-fi and have not read this book, go get a copy immediately and start reading. I can not recommend it highly enough.

Just before the end of the month I managed to squeeze in one last book. Technically, I didn’t finish Spaceside by Michael Mammay until the second of July, but I read most of it in June, so I’m counting it. Here’s the thing about this series, it’s marketed as “military sci-fi” which is a genre that I enjoy (depending on the author), but the series is so much more than that. At their core, each book is really a mystery novel. The “detective” is a veteran soldier, and the mysteries he ends up getting pulled into solving involve the military, but the novels aren’t really all about guns and fighting and stuff like that. And the author is a veteran who writes about the military in what feels like a very authentic (and respectful) way. So, if you like sci-fi and mystery novels, you should really check out this series.

As for July, I am looking forward to reading Colonyside (which I already started) and book five in the Veronica Speedwell series (A Murderous Relation). I also plan to read A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine and Wild Seed by Octavia Butler for my Camp Book Club buddy reads. Even though I have a sort-of TBR this month, I decided to stick to the same simple monthly layout that I’ve been using in my reading journal.

I went with a red and blue color scheme for July in honor of Independence Day. I added some gold star washi tape and some silver dots (using my metallic Kuretake Clean Color Dot marker) to give a sort of fireworks effect. It’s not my best work, but it’s not bad.

I also got some new sparkly bookshelf washi tape that I couldn’t resist using on the “books read” page. And I printed out a couple of the covers for the books that I plan to read this month. I didn’t glue them down, though. I’m using that star paperclip to attach them to the page as a visual reminder of the books I want to read this month. That “books read” page will be a list, and I’ll glue the covers of the books I actually did read to an “outbox” page at the end of the month.

I’m still not doing a great job of writing down my thoughts on each book while I’m reading them, or even right after I finish, even though I added a pen loop to my reading journal. I’m going to keep working on getting better at that because I’m finding it really useful to look back on. My brain nearly instantly forgets the details of a book after I’ve read it. I remember the feelings I had while reading the book, but not the plot. That’s probably one of the reasons why I can happily re-read my favorite books. Writing down my thoughts helps me to remember the bits of a story that I don’t want to forget.

What are you reading in July? Are any of these books on your TBR? Let me know in the comments.

May Reading Wrap-up and Birthday Book Haul

May was not a great reading month for me, but I did get a lot of awesome new books for my birthday! Read on to find out more…

Sad little monthly spread for May.

The first book I read in May was The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein. This is another novel in her Code Name Verity world, but it features different characters. I really liked Code Name Verity but never got around to reading any of her other books. So when my book club buddies suggested that we read this, I read the blurb and agreed. Turns out that it was good, but I didn’t love it. The pilot scenes and the scenes between Louisa and the old German lady she’s in charge of caring for were some of my favorites. The rest required a bit too much suspension of disbelief for me.

I also read Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui. I started on the first of the month, and it took me almost the next thirty days to finish it, which is a little embarrassing because the book is only 277 pages long. And I love swimming! I really enjoyed all the information about why swimming is awesome. Some of it I knew before, but there was a lot of new stuff as well. I definitely recommend this for folks who love swimming or who are curious about the benefits of open water swimming (especially in cold water). It motivated me to get into our local lake a lot sooner than I might otherwise have. The author did a lot of research for this and sites a lot of science, so it’s not just a series of essays with a some personal anecdotes thrown in.

Birthday book haul!

Here are the books I received (thanks, Mom!) and/or purchased for myself for my birthday:

  • Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa — I met Suyi at Futurescapes a couple of years ago. We were in a critique group together, and I got to read the first chapter of this book and totally wanted to read more. When I found out that it was getting published, I was so excited! I can’t wait to read the rest of the story.
  • Lady Hotspur by Tessa Gratton — The blurb for this book gives me big “Brienne of Tarth” vibes, and I already know that I love Tessa’s writing and world-building. This is going to be epic.
  • The Dreamblood Duology by N. K. Jemisin — I have been wanting to read this since I finished the Broken Earth trilogy, and now I can! Hooray!
  • Drowned Country by Emily Tesh — I really enjoyed Silver in the Wood. (Seriously, if you haven’t read it and you like magical woods fantasy stories, go get your hands on a copy.) This is the second book in that duology. I am really looking forward to seeing what’s next for Henry and Tobias.
  • How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole — If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you already know that Alyssa Cole is pretty much an auto-buy for me. After getting a glimpse at one of the heroines of this book in the first book in How to Catch a Queen, I knew I had to read her story. Beznaria just leapt off the page and into my heart. I needed to read her love story.
  • The Checklist by Addie Woolridge — Addie is funny and smart, and I am just so excited to read her first published book! This rom com is already starting to get all the summer book buzz, so you better grab a copy and check it out for yourself.

What do you think? See anything in my book haul that is also at the top of your TBR? Let me know in the comments.

Next, it’s time to set up my reading journal for June…

April Reading Wrap-Up and May Reading Plans

April was an unexpectedly busy month. I was supposed to be focused on editing the Modern Fae novella that I’m publishing in June, but all I wanted to do was read. My creative brain was hungry, and it devoured seven books this month! Yikes!

Seven books!

Here’s what I read in April:

  • Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells — Murderbot helps solve a murder mystery? What could possibly be better than that? I love Murderbot, and this novella did not disappoint.
  • Hollywood Ending by Kellye Garrett — The murder mystery part of the Murderbot novella had me wanting to read more cozy mysteries. This book definitely scratched that itch. I really like this series, and I really need to know when / how to get my hands on the third book!
  • More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn — I’ve been trying to get to this one for a while, and I’m so glad I finally did. It’s such a cute YA contemporary romance. If you were/are someone who attempts to communicate your feelings to your crushes via music (other people’s or your own), you are going to really like this book. I was/am one of those people and did/do love this book.
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo — I read Six of Crows (and liked it a lot), but I never read this series. So I figured that I better at least read the first book before watching the Netflix show. It has all the elements of a 2000s YA fantasy. Feisty heroine who discovers she has special powers, love triangle that pits sweet boy from her youth with dark and brooding mysterious hot guy, plus a training montage. There is a point in my life when I would have eaten this up with a spoon. That point is not now, and that’s too bad because I liked it, I just don’t really feel the need to read the rest of the series. I’ll just watch the show.
  • Dragon Called by by Kara Lockharte and Cassie Alexander — This was a fun, fast paranormal “romance.” I am putting romance in quotes because I feel compelled to warn you that the two main characters do not reach an HEA or even an HFN by the end of this book. I’ll admit, I was more than a little disappointed when I got to the end. But it has some great action and some steamy scenes. So, if you’re into alpha dragon shifters, you should definitely check this one out. Just grab the whole series when you do.
  • Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold — This is my first Bujold read. It’s a super cute and warm-hearted novella set in the usual secondary medievalesque fantasy world. However, what’s interesting and unusual about this is the demon possession. I’m not going to spoil it, but it’s charming, creative, and well crafted. There’s a little bit of plot that’s somewhat predictable and resolved quickly, but it’s a novella, and it’s mostly about Penric. And his demon. And it’s a heartwarming read.
  • David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa — This book is different in such a refreshing way. The main character directly interrogates his role as the “chosen one” and the idiocentric behavior of the gods he’s dealing with in a way that is usually glossed over or shrugged off in other novels. I loved it. The world-building and the action were also really, really good. I am looking forward to my pre-order of Son of the Storm (new series, different characters) landing on my Kindle next week!

Since April is over, I’ve updated my 2021 “What I Read” bookshelf overview. Remember, this bookshelf overview is color coded by genre. The small heart on the spine indicate books that would be also categorized as romance (has an HEA or HFN).

So much purple (fantasy)…

And since we’re already a few days into May, I might as well show you what my month overview for May looks like. Don’t be fooled. Those flowers are bleed through from the “April Outbox” page. I haven’t bothered to decorate my May spread (yet). I also haven’t made a TBR. Again.

It’s not that I’m not excited about May. My birthday is in May. I am getting my second COVID vaccine shot in a few days. I will be able to hug vaccinated friends and family before the end of this month! I love May. It’s just that I can feel myself losing steam on this whole reading journal thing…

As you can see in the photo below, I’m still trying to catch up on writing down my thoughts on several of the books I read in April. I’ve written more in this blog post about these two books than I have in my actual reading journal.

I’m still finding the exercise to be valuable. I just don’t seem to be finding much time to actually sit down and DO IT. So, I need to think about this a bit and figure out if there’s something I can change to make this more interesting or at the very least, to make me more compelled to actually write down my thoughts while I’m reading or within a day after I’m done reading. If I don’t do that, I forget all the stuff I wanted to write down (like the execution of tropes that I particularly liked or didn’t like, world-building details that I thought were particularly good or that frustrated me, etc.).

Take, for example, the “but Kazi…” reminder I have up there under the More Than Maybe entry. I remembered to scribble that down real fast one day while I was reading as a reminder to complete my thought later. It’s a good thing I did, because I wouldn’t have remembered that character’s name if I hadn’t written it down. I do remember what I was going to say about him because it chafed me while I was reading, but I almost never remember side characters’ names, let alone main character names, once I’m a few weeks out from finishing a book.

Maybe the answer is to find a way to keep my reading journal (and a pen) WITH my Kindle so that it’s there and ready to go when I have a thought and want to make a note.

If you have ideas or suggestions to keep me engaged with this reading journal exercise, let me know in the comments. Or, if you’re similarly finding yourself losing interest in your reading tracking system, let me know if you’ve decided to stick with it, or how you’re changing your approach.

March Reading Wrap-up and Q1 Goal Check-in

I read four books in March. Two were tomes (> 500 pages), but only one of those was actually during Tome Topple. I read a super hyped new release. I finished reading a writing craft book that I have been reading on and off since January, and I did a whole lot of critique / beta reading for fellow writers. Not bad for one month.

Here’s what I read (that I can tell you about) in March:

  • Story Genius by Lisa Cron — I have been recommending this book to all my writer friends. It’s exactly the craft book I needed in my life right now. I read it on Kindle, but I think I need to get a paperback copy for easier reference. If you’re a writer who wants practical advice on how to really connect your plot to your character, get your hands on this book.
  • Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore — I was expecting to love this long awaited addition to the Graceling series, and I did. No surprise. This book is full of whimsical world-building which is a bit of a departure from the other books in the series. That my turn some folks off, but I enjoyed it. As an example, my favorite character in this book might have been the telepathic fox, who is one of the main POV characters.
  • Lore by Alexandra Bracken — This one was all over BookTube because it was in pretty much all the book subscription boxes in January, I think. Also, I think that the author writes other books that are very popular, even though I hadn’t heard of her before. This is the first book I’ve read by her. I was really impressed with the pacing. It’s definitely a page turner. Lots of action. That’s good because you don’t want to stop too long to look at the plot. Or dig too deep on the characters. I enjoyed it, but now I’m sending it to some young reader friends because that is who this is meant for, and I think they might really love it.
  • Master of One by by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett — Why isn’t all of BookTube talking about this book? Seriously. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in except for what it says on the cover. A heist story with fae and sorcerers. Turns out this is sort of like Six of Crows crossed with Throne of Glass, but gay. Is that over-selling it? I don’t know. There’s a slow burn grumpy/sunshine romance arc between a master thief from the city slums and the beautiful fae prince he wakes from a long magical sleep. There are magical creatures created by the fae who are telepathically bonded with their humans. There’s an evil sorcerer and an evil queen. And… it’s great. If any of this sounds good to you, please go read this book. I want more in this world and publishing will only give it to me if you all go read this one.

See what I mean? Not a bad reading month. Right?

Since March is also the end of the first quarter of the year, it’s time to check in on my reading stats and see how I’m doing vs. the goals I set for myself at the start of this year.

Goal #1 was to read a total of 52 books this year. So far I have read 13 books, which is exactly 25% of my goal. Looks like I nailed this one.

Goal #2 was all about author demographics. I wanted to read 12 books by Black authors, 12 books by other authors of color, and 12 books by queer authors this year. To be on track for this one I need to have read at least 3 of each. So far I’ve read 5 books by Black authors, but only 1 book by a non-Black author of color. And I’ve read 7 books by queer authors (or that featured queer main characters). NOTE: This is all calculated with the usual caveat that this is based on how the author identifies online, if that information is available.

Overall, not bad, but I need to step it up my reading of books by non-Black authors of color.

Oh! And I started drawing in (and color-coding) the books on my “Books Read in 2021” spread. So far it’s mostly sci-fi and fantasy with a couple of contemporaries and one mystery novel in there. The hearts on the spines are for books that are also romances. I’ve decided to do two months at a time so that I can get the books spaced properly on the shelves. That means I’m going to wait until April is over before I draw in the books I read in March.

Isn’t this all so delightfully overcomplicating my reading hobby? Yes. Yes, it is.

Is it worth it? Hmmm. I don’t know? Maybe? It’s mostly still fun. I’m not hating it, yet. I do like having a (relatively) private place to gather my thoughts about what I’m reading before sharing them with the rest of the world.

I’ve been thinking about whether or not I want to make any changes to my journal. So far the answer is no, but we’ll see. As I think I said in my post about setting up April, I am losing some of the spontaneity in my reading. That’s not entirely a bad thing, but I’m feeling like rebelling against it at the moment. I’m also currently in a bit of a slump, so that may have something to do with why I’m questioning all my reading life choices this week.

Don’t worry, though. I think I may have found the cure for my slump on my Kindle, and I plan to go test that theory as soon as I’m done with this post.

Are you using a reading journal to track your reading? How’s it going? Are you still enjoying it? What would you change about your process, if anything?

February reading wrap-up

The shortest month of the year is over. I wish I had something more interesting to say about the past month, but…meh. We’ve been living with this pandemic and staying at home for a year now. I’m getting a little sick of it, and I’m not going to qualify for a vaccine anytime soon. So, I mostly have more staying at home to look forward to. At least I have good books to read and plenty of ideas for stories I want to write.

I may have gone a bit overboard with the hearts…

Here’s what I read in February:

  • Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots — I expected to like this book, and I did! I love a data geek heroine and a fresh take on the superhero trope. If you’ve ever thought that maybe superheroes were more trouble than they’re worth, you should definitely check out this book
  • Fumbled by Alexa Martin — I didn’t feel like watching the Super Bowl, so I picked up this NFL romance novel instead. I read the first book in the series (Intercepted) last year and really enjoyed it. I think I liked this one even more. It’s a second chance romance featuring a pretty awesome single mom. Her son’s dad is her high school ex-boyfriend who now plays for the NFL. I love how he is 100% into her from the start (and his son, too, once he finds out the kid exists). I read the whole thing in almost one sitting.
  • How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole — Another data geek heroine! Two in one month! What luck! I love Shanti, but her man was just okay. It takes him a long time to pull his head out of his butt. Possibly a bit too long. But, I devoured this in a couple of days, so I think that means I liked it.
  • The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow — I read this one for the Tade Thompson prompt in the Blackathon readathon. Once again I really liked the heroine, but wasn’t a big fan of the hero. This time it wasn’t because he kept messing up. Morris (or M0Rr1S) is an alien, but one of the good ones. He’s 100% into the heroine from the start of the story. The fact that he’s so into her is kind of why there is a story in the first place. And it’s a fun story. There’s a road trip across a post-alien invasion (read: dystopian) United States. Both characters are completely crazy for music and books. Teenage me would have really liked this book. Adult me was kind of annoyed by how gushy Morris is about his insta-love. And I didn’t like the aliens’ “leetspeak” names. But that’s just me being old.
  • The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull — This was the SFF group read for the Blackathon readathon. This is a sort of “first contact” story that is set in the Virgin Islands. I had never heard of the book before, and I probably wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for this readathon. I’m really glad I read it, though. The alien civilization is unique. The struggle with aliens living among humans on a populated island where everyone pretty much already knows everyone else is definitely believable. I definitely recommend checking this out. Especially if you like first contact stories, or if you’re a sci-fi fan who lives or has lived in the Virgin Islands. I’ve never been there, but the setting is definitely an important aspect of the story, and it made me want to go visit. You know, when we can travel again. Sigh.

I also started reading David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa, but didn’t have enough time to finish it before the end of this very short month. It’s set in Lagos, Nigeria (where the author is from), and I am really enjoying it so far. More on that in next month’s recap, after I finish reading it. 🙂

That’s it for February. Have you read any of these books? Did you like them? Are there any you’d recommend to me based on what I read and liked? Let me know in the comments.

Oh, and the next round of Tome Topple was just announced. It’s starting on the 15th of March, so there may have to be some adjustments to my March TBR. Stay tuned for more on that, coming soon…

January Reading Wrap-Up

I read four books in January, two that I really enjoyed and two that were good but not as good as I’d hoped they’d be. Can you guess which are which?

The January Outbox page in my reading journal…

Here’s what I read in January:

  • Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas — I love these characters and this story world so much. This was easily my favorite book I read in January. There’s not much I can say here without spoiling earlier books in the series, so I’m probably going to leave it at that. But there better be more coming soon because I need more Charlotte Holmes and friends in my life.
  • Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds — I FINALLY finished this book. It was a bit of a slog, but I was determined to complete the series because I liked the first two books. This one moved really slowly, though. The story didn’t feel like it really got started until (small spoiler) Eunice returns near the middle of the book. My biggest frustration was that the relationships between the characters felt really wooden (I didn’t care as much as I probably should have when bad or good stuff happened to them, except one part at the very end) and the pacing seemed off. The story was good, but not my favorite of his books.
  • Deadly Education by Naomi Novik — I wasn’t expecting to like this one as much as I did, especially after the first chapter was basically one big world-building info dump. There is a lot of info-dumping throughout, but I think it all works because it’s always discussed and revealed in a way that directly connects it to the main (POV) character’s goals, worries, and other feelings. There has been some (a lot) of discussion in the reviews about cultural inaccuracies and problematic racial depictions in the book. While I appreciate that the author was trying to create a diverse world, I think too much of that came at the expense of leaning on (potentially harmful) stereotypes, and that’s especially frustrating in a book where the main theme is about reckoning with privilege within the school, and in the wider magical world. The author has responded to the criticism with an apology, and I believe that the paragraph that was most often cited as being harmful has been removed from later copies of the book (mine still had it). So I think she’s listening. I’m curious to see what changes in the next book.
  • Stormsong by C. L. Polk — I liked this book, but I didn’t like it as much as the first one in the series. That said, I am definitely planning on reading the last book in the series, which comes out this month. The world and atmosphere is still so good, the plot is well paced to keep you turning pages, but I just wasn’t a fan of the main (POV) character in this story. She’s going through a journey in this book where she’s discovering her privilege and learning that she has a responsibility to help others, and that’s great, but I’m always more partial to following the story of the underdog. The first book was from Miles’s POV (her brother, who ditched all the problematic stuff that she embraced), and that may be why I liked that one better. Oddly, Grace’s love interest in this book is someone from their class who (like Miles) ditched everything to go her own way. I probably would have liked this book better if she was the main character instead of Grace, but that probably wouldn’t have worked for the plot. Anyway, book three looks like it’s Robin’s story, so we’re back to an underdog again. I’m excited for that.

In other news, my reading journal is still going strong. I’m enjoying having a place to dump all my disorganized thoughts about what I’m reading. The month title pages and TBRs as well as the month summary pages have also become fun craft projects. I never did much collage in my actual bullet journal. So it’s fun to try that in my reading journal.

I’ve already finished reading my first book of February (Hench). So today I get to pick something new to read. Out of nowhere I got this urge to re-read These Broken Stars, but I think I’m going to hold off on that and pick up one of the books on my Blackathon TBR instead.

What are you reading and enjoying this month?

2020 Reading — All The Numbers

We are several weeks into the new year, but those weeks have been rather…eventful. Perhaps that’s why it’s taken a bit longer than usual for me to complete my 2020 reading wrap-up? Or maybe it’s because I just haven’t been that excited about sharing my reading stats and goals recap?

I think the ongoing pandemic plus the frustrating political situation (in the U.S.) has been taking its toll on me (like it has on everyone). Most days it feels like: “reading goals? who cares. what’s the point?” I suppose the point is that I will not let existential dread get the better of me. So, even though I considered just skipping this post, I’m going to put it up anyway.

How I did on my 2020 reading goals:

  1. Read at least 52 books (or book-like things). — Done! I read a total of 68 books in 2020. That’s less than I read in 2019, but above average based on the past ten years.
  2. Finish at least 5 series that I’ve already started. — Done! I completed seven series this year, including:
    1. Monsters of Verity
    2. The Interdependency
    3. The Queens of Renthia
    4. The Brothers Sinister
    5. Forbidden Hearts
    6. Consortium Rebellion
    7. The Queen’s Thief
  3. Read all purchased books within six months of purchase. — Nope! This did not happen. I think I have nine that I purchased between early 2019 and end of June 2020 that I should have read by now and haven’t. Nine isn’t terrible, but it is still a lot more than zero.
  4. Read at least one owned book for every book I purchase. — Nope! And, as expected, this was a pain to keep track of.
  5. Read more books by marginalized authors (measured by % of total books read).
    • At least 33% books by “non-white” authors with a stretch goal of 50%. — Almost but not quite… 28% (nineteen) of the books I read were written by non-white authors. Of those, eleven were written by Black authors. If I hadn’t been tracking this reading stat for the past four years, and I didn’t know that this is the lowest this stat has been since I started tracking, maybe I’d feel better about almost hitting my goal. But, I have been tracking it, and this is the lowest this stat has been in four years, so I’m disappointed with myself.
    • At least 15% books by queer authors with a stretch goal of 33%. — Almost but not quite… 12% (eight) of the books I read this year were written by an author who does not identify as “straight. This is best as I can tell. As I’ve said before, I’m not always sure how an author identifies, and I don’t think that I need to be. To that end, I will note that 19% (thirteen) of the books I read had at least one main (POV) character that was LGBTQ+.
    • At least 10% books by indie authors with a stretch goal of 25%. — DONE! 15% (ten) of the books I read were indie published books. However, I feel compelled to note that the only reason I hit this goal was because I read the Innkeeper series this year, which appears to be indie published even though (I think) Ilona Andrews’ other books are traditionally published.
    • At least 50% of books written by female-identifying authors. — DONE! 81% (fifty-five) of the books I read were written by female-identifying authors. Another six were written by a team of writers that included one male-identifying and one female-identifying person. And I read one book by a non-binary author. (Note: I have to make some assumptions for this stat because not all authors are clear about their pronouns.)

In general, I’m not super thrilled with how I did on my reading goals this year. Sure, I read more books than I planned to read. But I didn’t read as many books by marginalized authors as I have in previous years. And all my attempts to read the books that I purchase keep failing.

Based on this, I’ve decided to make some changes for 2021. The first is that I’m going to stop focusing on reading my backlist or keeping up with the books I’ve purchased. Buying books supports authors. I’ll read them eventually, or I won’t, but regardless, I’m happy to be supporting authors so they can keep creating. So enough with making myself feel guilty for buying books that I want to read and creating stats that are annoyingly complicated to track.

In general, I’m keeping my 2021 reading goals simple. I have only two, as I mentioned in my post on setting up my reading journal. The first is my “Goodreads goal” to read at least 52 books. The other is to make sure I’m reading marginalized authors every month.

I want to read at least twelve books by Black authors, at least twelve books by other non-white authors, and at least twelve books with queer main characters and positive queer representation (ideally written by a queer author). Twelve books and twelve months. The queer rep can be in a book written by a BIPOC author. So this means at least two books I read every month should be by a marginalized author. I hope that tracking it this way will help me meet (or exceed) this goal.

Other Fun Facts about my 2020 reading:

  • I had one DNF in 2020. This may be a book I come back to later, but it just wasn’t holding my attention like I thought it would. So, I set it aside.
  • Seventeen of the books I read (25%) were published in 2020. Two were published on 31 December 2019. So, if I count those two, that brings my total to nineteen (or 28%).
  • Sixty of the sixty-eight books I read (88%) were fiction.
  • I read fifty-one (75%) ebooks, eleven (16%) print books, and six (9%) audiobooks.
  • I only read twelve young adult books this year (18%) and no middle grade or children’s books. Everything else (82%) was adult.
  • Genre breakdown as follows:
    • Sci-Fi/Fantasy = 53%
    • Romance/Erotica = 19%
    • General/Contemporary Fiction = 13%
    • Self-Help/Business = 5%
    • Historical Fiction = 4%
    • Current Affairs / Politics = 4%
    • Science / Nature = 1%
    • Memoir/Biography = 1%

And that’s it. I’m finally done with all my 2020 wrap-up posts. Unless there’s something else you’d like me to write about? If so, let me know in the comments.

I’m curious, do you track your reading stats? If so, do you track these same types of metrics? What do you like to keep tabs on, and why? I’m always looking for ways I can improve my process, so I’d love to know your thoughts.

December Reading Wrap-Up

I’m going to keep this post short because I’m working on my end of the year wrap-up with all my reading stats and whatnot. But before I can post that one, let’s recap what I read and bought in the final month of 2020.

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I read four books in December. They were:

  • Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner — I already posted about how this was one of my top five reads of 2020. This was an excellent end to a series that I love. I really hope, based on the ending of this book, that we get a spin-off series.
  • Strange Love by Ann Aguirre — The characters in this book are fantastic, especially the talking dog. I am really looking forward to reading more in this series and more books by this author.
  • Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff — This was exactly the sort of action-packed, sci-fi romp that I’ve come to expect (and enjoy) from this author pair. I liked this book more than the first in the series and will definitely be checking out the next (and final?) installment.
  • Eight Will Fall by Sarah Harian — I received this in my Fairy Loot subscription box forever ago, so it’s not exactly the sort of book I’d normally pick up, at least not based on the description. It was enjoyable, but a little too much gore for me. I’ve passed it on to a YA reader in my life who might enjoy it more than I did.

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I bought two books this month: Colonyside by Michael Mammay, which I think is the final book his military sci-fi series, and Master of One by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett, which I knew very little about before it arrived in my Fairy Loot subscription box.

Currently Reading

I didn’t finish Poseidon’s Wake before the end of the year, but I’m still enjoying it and continuing to make slow progress through it. But the day after New Years was particularly grey and stormy, and I was really feeling like reading a cozy mystery. So, I started Murder on Cold Street. Also, per my usual tradition, I’m starting off the year by reading a writing craft book. This year I picked up Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere).

More coming soon… Until then, happy reading!

November Reading Wrap-Up and End of the Year Book Tag

This is it. Last month of 2020. Last chance for me to finish all my in-progress reads, read all the books read that I meant to read this year, and figure out my reading goals and tracking system for next year. But first, let’s do a brief wrap up of what I read and what I bought this month.

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I read three books in November. They were:

  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid — This novel was so good. REALLY good. Like, possibly best book I read in 2020, good. Bump it up to the top of your TBR right now. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia — Oh boy did this author nail the Gothic novel vibes. Wow. That said, the setting is a lot more English than Mexican, even though it’s set in Mexico, which wasn’t quite what I was expecting. But, if Gothic novels are your thing, definitely check this one out.
  • Mating the Huntress by Talia Hibbert — This was a really cute novella that gave me Buffy and Spike vibes, except with consent. I really liked it.

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I bought books this month! I’m not even going to feel bad about it. Here’s what I got:

  • Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco — My October Fairy Loot box finally arrived towards the end of November (there were COVID-related shipping delays), and this was the book of the month. The stenciled edges on this special edition are so pretty, and the story sounds great. I have it in my reading nook because I want to start reading it very soon.
  • The Under a Winter Sky anthology — There are so many amazing authors with stories in this Anthology. I almost always neglect the short story collections on my Kindle, but I am determined to read this one soon. Hopefully while it’s still winter.
  • Warrior Wench by Marie Andreas — So, I’m basically a sucker for a mercenary space captain. I saw this on sale, read the description, realized that it sounded like fun and campy sci-fi romp, which was exactly what I was in the mood for, and I had to grab a copy.
  • Rescue Her Heart by K. C. Luck — Another sci-fi adventure involving a space captain, but this time a lesbian sci-fi adventure!
  • House of Scepters by Anne Zoelle — Anne is one of the writers in my Tuesday writing group, and the organizer of that group has been gushing about this book ever since she got to beta read it. This is the first book in a three book series that Anne rapid-released. Based on what I’ve heard, I probably should have gone ahead and bought all three because I suspect I’m going to want to keep reading once I start.

End of the Year Book Tag

Rather than talk about what I’m currently reading, or what’s on my TBR for December, I thought I’d do the End of the Year Book Tag that has been going around over on Booktube. I did this last year and thought I might try it again, even though the year is nearly over. The questions pretty nicely cover what I have planned for the rest of this year…

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish? YES! I like to finish all my in-progress reads before midnight on New Year’s. It’s kind of a weird quirk of mine. Right now I have three books in progress. They are:

  • Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds — I abandoned this one earlier in the year and have yet to get back to it. It’s been so long that I may need to start over…
  • Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott — This is non-fiction and interesting, but a pretty slow read. I am going to need to pick up the pace a bit if I want to finish before the end of December.
  • Eight Will Fall by Sarah Harian — This one I should be done with in a couple of days. I had to put it down for a bit to read The Return of the Thief (so good! more on that in my December wrap up…), but this one is pretty fast paced, and I am finding myself excited to pick it up again.

Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year? The short answer is yes. See last year’s post for which book(s) and why. I never did re-read either last year, and I still probably won’t re-read them this year, though I really want to re-read them at some point.

Is there a new release you’re still waiting for? YES! The third (and last) book in Michael Mammay’s Planetside series is scheduled to be released at the very end of December. It’s called Colonyside, and I’ve pre-ordered it so that I can read it right away. I plan to start book two in the series any minute now so that I am ready to go when book three drops onto my Kindle.

I’ve said this before, but if you like military sci-fi, OR if you like the idea of a something like the movie A Few Good Men, but set in space with a retired “one last job” protagonist, then you need to get your hands on this series. Do it.

What are three books you want to read before the end of the year? Okay, aside from all the ones I already mentioned in this post, here are the three that are calling to me the most right now:

  • Aurora Burning by by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff — This one is kind of a cheat because my friends and I just decided this was going to be our buddy read book this month. I didn’t love the twist at the end of the first book, but I did like the characters, especially my favorite space fae.
  • Stormsong by C. L. Polk — I promised myself that I would get to read this as my reward for finishing (and publishing) Hunter of the Fae. I am so excited to read this one.
  • Strange Love by Ann Aguirre — I’ve been super curious about this author for a while. She has a ton of books that seem like they would really appeal to me. This one is giving me Anne McCaffrey vibes for some reason, and I really want to see if it lives up to that.

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year? Possibly Strange Love, or maybe Stormsong, or Spaceside… Huh. Apparently books that have a title that starts with an “S” are most likely to be my new favorites at the moment.

Have you already started making reading plans for 2021? YES! But, this post is already very long, so I’m going to save that for my next blog post, which should be very soon. Here’s a hint, though, it has to do with the solution I came up with for the problem I mentioned in a previous blog post

Talk with you more soon. Until then, happy reading!

October Reading Wrap-Up

Yikes. We’re already a week into November, and I am only now posting my October reading wrap-up. The past few weeks have been a busy and stressful blur. I’m still feeling a little overwhelmed, honestly. All I really want to be doing is reading, but my to-do list is keeping me too busy. At least I had a good reading month in October…

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I started the month with Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose. I picked this up because it looked like it might have a similar vibe to the Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas and the Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn. I am happy to report that it did, and I enjoyed it. I’ll definitely be checking out the rest of the series.

After that, I read Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst. You may remember that I read her Queens of Renthia series earlier this year and really enjoyed it. Well, I liked this book even better than that series, and that’s saying a lot. This may be my favorite fantasy release of 2020. It may even make my top five books I read this year. We shall see…

I listened to the audio book of The Unexpected Spy by Tracy Walder. This one was a memoir about her life in the CIA and FBI. It was really interesting, but also infuriating, at times. Her experience with the FBI was extremely frustrating to listen to, but it has a really heartwarming “girl power” ending that made me very happy.

Then, inspired by all the Halloween horror and thriller TBRs, I decided to read When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole. It was a very disturbing yet entertaining contemporary thriller. I mean, the story is based on historic and current events, and (as has been said before) truth is sometimes stranger and way more scary than fiction. If you like her other books (the revolution-era ones especially) don’t miss this one.

Finally, it took me all month to finish A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy. This is no fault of the book, which I really enjoyed. I was reading a hardcover edition of this book, and I do most of my reading these days on my Kindle just before bed. So I had to change my routine a bit in order to squeeze in more early morning and late evening reading time. This got a lot easier to do once we moved into the new house. I have an excellent reading nook now that is very cozy and perfect for curling up with a good book. I may finally be able to put a dent in my paper TBR.

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I didn’t buy or borrow any new books in October! Wow!

Currently Reading

I started the non-fiction book Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott in October. I’m enjoying it, but I’m only about a quarter of the way into it. I haven’t been reading much (at all?) in this first week of November. There have been too many other distractions (the elections, moving in to a new house, finishing copy edits on Hunter of the Fae, and getting started on NaNoWriMo, just to name a few…). But, I’m hoping to get back into my reading groove next week.

I’m also planning to start reading either Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid or Mexican Gothic by Silvia Morena Garcia next. I’ve already read two books by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and liked both of them, so I’m pretty sure I’ll also like Mexican Gothic. But, I’m buddy reading Such a Fun Age with my friends L. and S. So, I think I’ll start that one, first.

In general, I am really hoping that this year chills out a bit and lets us all get a little rest and relaxation before it’s time to ring in the New Year. Since it’s winter where I live, and the pandemic is getting worse again, I think it’s a great time to hide out with a good book.

Happy reading, everyone!