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!

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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…

June reading summary and July TBR

June turned out to be a pretty good reading month for me. Overall, it’s been a pretty stressful month. But, I made plenty of time for reading (and swimming) to help me manage and remain as chill as possible.

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

  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Kindle, library) — This was a satisfying conclusion to this two-book series. Overall, I really enjoyed it. I like the first book better, but I enjoyed seeing how these characters and this plot found resolution. The statute on spoilers for this series is probably over, but I still don’t want to say too much in case folks haven’t read it yet.
  • Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleze (Kindle, library) — I really, really wanted to like this book, and I did like it. I just didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. Space opera is possibly my favorite genre, but there were just too many loose ends and coincidences in this book that kept making me fall out of the story. I will say, it is jam packed with action and gets my full respect for pacing, tension, and structuring chapters to keep you turning pages. If you can squint past the plot issues, it’s a great read.
  • Ms. Marvel, Vol. 3: Crushed by G. Willow Wilson (trade paper) — This comic is the cutest. I love it. I especially love that this volume ended with a special issue of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. comic that paired Jemma Simmons with Ms. Marvel. I love Jemma, and I love Ms. Marvel. And this now reminds me that I *still* need to get caught up on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show.
  • Lux and Lies by Meg Collett (paperback) — This is the most recently published book written by a friend I met at Madcap Retreats earlier this year. She’s awesome. This book is action packed. The world is imaginative and intriguing. It definitely sucked me in and kept me wanting to know how the mystery would be resolved. So impressed! Yay, Meg!
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (Kindle, library) — This is seriously the cutest romance I’ve read in possibly ever. It’s adorable. And set in San Francisco in the “tech” community. Some of the tech stuff is a little less than realistic, but overall this is such a good read. If you like contemporary YA, definitely pick up a copy and read it at the beach/pool or on vacation this summer.
  • Kraken by China Miéville (Kindle) — Read this if you’re looking for a wacky romp through a well-imagined and highly creative urban fantasy world. But, if you’re here for a gripping mystery plot and/or fast pacing…well, like me, you may be disappointed. It was a slog of a read for me, but I stuck with it because the world and characters were so creative and vividly portrayed.

Six books isn’t shabby but, as I mentioned in my mid-year stats post, I didn’t put much of a dent in either my backlist of ebooks on my Kindle, or on my Read Harder challenge tasks. Not to worry, though. I have a LOT of reading time on the calendar for July.

I’ve been agonizing over my July TBR, and I almost didn’t make one, because I have not one, but TWO vacations planned for July. Both of these involve long plane rides and should allow for plenty of reading time, and I want to keep my reading options open.

So, I compromised and made a TBR of the books I really want to try to finish before the end of the month. Three of them are Hugo nominees. The awards are announced in August, and I really want to read as many of the “best novel” nominees that I can before then. The other three are books that are also on my backlist of Kindle books. Two of them will help me cross off two more Read Harder tasks. All of them, I think, will make excellent “summer reads.”

Here they are…the books on my July TBR (links go to Goodreads):

  • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (Kindle, library) — This one is at the top of the Hugo nominations. I’m not sure if that means it got the most votes, but it already won the Nebula for best novel, so it’s probably pretty darn good. Somehow this one wasn’t really on my radar until the awards nominations started rolling in. So, I’m excited to see what the fuss is about.
  • A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers (Kindle, library) — This one also made the Hugo best novel short list, but it was already on my TBR because I read (and really enjoyed) the first book by this author set in this world (Long Way To A Small Angry Planet). The Hugo nomination just means that I’ve bumped this companion novel to the top of my TBR.
  • Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee (Kindle) — Also bumped to the top of my TBR due to its Hugo nomination is this hard sci-fi novel. I’ve had this one for a while on Kindle, and I keep hearing amazing things about it. I also keep hearing that it’s really hard to get into at first. So, I’m hoping some dedicated vacation reading time will let me sink into this world long enough to get sucked in and see what all the fuss is about because it definitely has some of my reader catnip in the descriptions and reviews.
  • The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman (Kindle) — I picked this up to read for the “travel memoir” task in my Read Harder challenge. Since I’m already feeling the vacation vibes, I think it’s a good time check off this task.
  • Hold Me by Courtney Milan (Kindle) — Another one I’ve been meaning to get to for a while, this will also help me check off a Read Harder challenge task. Plus, everyone needs a little romance on their vacation TBR.
  • A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet (Kindle) — I can’t resist a good sci-fi / fantasy romance, and this one comes highly recommended by the Smart Bitches. Seriously, they don’t throw around their “A” ratings lightly. I’m really looking forward to finally getting a chance to read this.

I think this is a nice, well-rounded TBR with a lot of books on it that I’m really excited about reading. I can’t wait to get started. What’s on your “summer reading” list?

May reading summary and June TBR

Lately, I feel like all I can think about, all I want to think about, is books and writing. Seriously. I’ve become a bit obsessed.

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

  • A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (Kindle, pre-order) — I hate to say it, but I was really disappointed in this book. I had a LOT of issues with the first book in this series. I LOVED the second book in this series. And this one, the third book (but, oh no, not the last… why not? why do we need more? ugh.) disappointed me. I never felt like any of the characters were in any real danger. There wasn’t a lot of tension. The plot was incredibly linear with no real surprises. Even the “surprise betrayal” at the end wasn’t really a betrayal, or even a surprise. I don’t know. I think I’m just done with SJM for a while. She does what she does well, but I’m just not that into what she does anymore, and I think there are others out there who may be doing it better, or at least taking this type of story in new directions. I think it’s time for me to go find those books.
  • Act Like It by Lucy Parker (Kindle, library) — This one took me a while to get into. The voice is very British (it’s set in the London theater scene and the characters are British), which I enjoyed, but it took me a minute to adapt. Also, I know almost nothing about the theater, so all theater references were completely lost on me. Still, this is a really well written romance novel and, once I got into it, I devoured it and really enjoyed it.
  • The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi (Kindle, library) — Oh, man did I ever love this book. I loved it more than I thought that I would, and it gave me the worst “book hangover” after I finished it. All I wanted to read was more books with these characters set in this world and that doesn’t yet exist, which completely bummed me out. In case you were wondering, (unsurprisingly) Kiva Lagos is my favorite character. And, if you’ve read the book and loved it, you should check out this “fan-casting” post for an excellent take on who should play what part in the inevitable movie version of this book.
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Kindle) — I am so late to the party on this book. I’ve had it forever, but never got around to reading it. I still haven’t read her Shadow and Bone series that came before this and is set in the same world. It was a good choice to follow The Collapsing Empire and helped pull me out of my “book hangover” because it’s a very good heist novel and adventure story with excellent characters. I immediately reserved the companion book from the library so I could find out what happens next.
  • Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy (Kindle, library) — I really, really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. There’s so much to enjoy here, the characters are well crafted, the setting is vivid and unique. But one thing I was particularly pleased by was the swimming. I’m always nervous reading books that feature characters who are swimmers. But, I have to say, as a competitive swimmer through high school who now participates in Masters Swimming, the author did a GREAT job with the swimming stuff.

I certainly crammed a lot of reading into this month. Over 2,200 pages, if you count my in-progress books. Nice work, me!

I will say that having a relaxing beach vacation in there with no internet connectivity and a hammock in the shade really helped. Alas, I have no beach vacations planned for June. Oh well.

At least having several days without internet helped ween me off my obsessive Twitter addiction. The downside is that I am feeling like I have no idea what’s going on in the world. The upside is that I don’t really mind taking a bit of a break from knowing what’s going on in the world… and also, more reading time.

Assuming that I can continue to steer clear of internet distractions, I’d really like to check off some more of my 2017 Read Harder challenge task list in June. Plus there are so many awesome new releases that I’d like to read. But, rather than list all the books I *might* read in June, I tried to narrow my TBR down to just the books I think it’s very likely that I’ll read in June.

So far, these are the books on my June TBR (links go to Goodreads):

  • Kraken by China Miéville (Kindle) — I started this for #TomeTopple back in April, and I’ve been chipping away at it since then. I’m enjoying it, but it is NOT a fast read.
  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Kindle, library) — I started this but didn’t have time to finish this before the end of May. It’s a library loan, so I need to finish it before Our Dark Duet comes out on 6/13 or else I won’t be able to take my Kindle off airplane mode to get my pre-order on release day. (#ReaderProblems)
  • Lux and Lies by Meg Collett (paperback) — I met Meg at Madcap earlier this year. She’s awesome, and I’m so excited to read this first book in her new series that just released in May. It’s being pitched as “Mr. Robot meets UnReal in a story of celebrities and anarchists,” and it sounds fantastic. I’m hoping I have time to sneak this in between Crooked Kingdom and Our Dark Duet.
  • When Dimple Met Rishi (Kindle, library) — I requested this from my library, but I’m not sure if I’m going to get it this month or not. If I don’t get a notification soon, I may just break down and buy a copy because I really, REALLY want to read this book.
  • Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab (Kindle, pre-order) — This one is going to be a “drop everything and read immediately” book. I am SO excited for this companion book to This Savage Song, which was one of my favorite books I read last year. Oh, and in case you didn’t notice, it’s written by one of my favorite authors.
  • Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Trade paper) — I’ve been waiting FOREVER for volume 2 of this comic. I *think* it’s finally going to ship this time. Fingers crossed, it arrives on 6 June. Woo hoo!

Basically, June looks like it’s going to be a big month for new releases. There are a few more that I haven’t even listed here that I’ve requested at the library. I’m hoping that I get them, but I won’t know if they ordered them or not until after release day. Somewhere in here I also have to squeeze in some more backlist books to check off Read Harder tasks. I could seriously make a full time job of reading. And writing. 🙂

Recommendations needed for what to read from books on my ebook TBR

One of my reading goals for 2017 was to stop buying more books (especially ebooks on sale) and put a dent in the backlist of books already on my Kindle.

So far, I’m doing pretty well with the book buying ban. Of the 16 ebooks I’ve purchased this year, only 5 are unread. One is a new release that I’ll probably read in June. The other four I bought on sale, but will almost definitely read this year.

But, because I’ve been reading (and buying) a lot of new releases, I haven’t put much of a dent in my backlist of ebooks. I’ve been pulling from my backlist wherever possible to meet my 2017 Read Harder Challenge tasks. A few of the books below are ones I plan to read for to-be-completed tasks, but there are still almost 100 fiction books on my Kindle TBR.

So, I’m putting the question to you, dear readers. What do you see below that is jumping out at you? What’s on here that, knowing what you know about me from my blog (or IRL), you can’t believe I haven’t read yet and absolutely need to read next? What am I going to love?

Comment below (or respond on Twitter) and tell me your thoughts on what I should read next and/or what I should put onto my upcoming vacation TBR. Alternatively… tell me which ones I can skip without feeling bad. 😉

April reading summary and May TBR

April started off great and then went downhill fast at the end of the month. I got really sick last week, and I haven’t had energy for reading or writing or pretty much anything. I’m still recovering and that means my birthday month is not off to a great start. More on that in a bit. First, let’s recap what I did manage to read before everything went sideways.

Here is what I read in April with my very brief assessment of each (links go to Goodreads):

 

  • A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi (Kindle, pre-order) — I liked this even more than her first book. I think that is because I liked the hero and the heroine more (their banter is great) and because I’m a sucker for a good quest/adventure story. As always, Roshani’s world-building is magical and her writing full of lush descriptions.
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (Kindle, pre-order) — I love, love, loved this book. Laini Taylor is #WritingGoals for me when it comes to world-building and telling stories that play with that grey area between “gods” and “monsters” (aka: what you think is good vs. what you think is evil).
  • Gemina by by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Hardcover) — I finally got around to reading (devouring, more like) this sequel to Illuminae. I liked it at least as much as the first book, if not more. I really enjoyed the characters in this one, and I can’t wait to read the next book in this series!
  • George by Alex Gino (Kindle) — Middle grade books are not my jam, but I really wanted to read this one to learn more about the experience of transgender kids (I’m pretty sure it’s written by #OwnVoices). I’m also using this one to count for my Read Harder challenge for the “read a frequently banned or challenged” book task.

I have several more in-progress books that I’d planned to finish last week. Now that I’m starting to feel better, I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to finish them. But, other than finishing in-progress (and library loan) books, I’ve decided that I’m not making a TBR for May. Instead, I’m planning on reading exactly what I feel like reading this month, when I feel like reading it.

So far, these are the books I’m interested in reading/finishing in May (links go to Goodreads):

 

  • Kraken by China Miéville (Kindle) — I started this one during Tome Topple, thought I’d finish it in April, but then I got sick. Now I’m planning on finishing this one in May. It’s different than what I usually read, which is good, and I’m enjoying it so far.
  • The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi (Kindle, library) — I meant to start this one last week (after I finished Kraken), but that didn’t happen. Since it’s on loan from the library, I’d really like to finish this before I have to return it.
  • Act Like It by Lucy Parker (Kindle, library) — I requested that my library purchase this on Kindle, and they just notified me that they did and my loan is ready to read. I wasn’t really expecting that, but I think this will be a light, fun, fast read, just the sort of thing to read when you’re not feeling well.
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (Kindle, pre-order) — I’ve been looking forward to this book, even though SJM has been squarely in my “problematic faves” category of authors since at least ACoTaR, if not before. I could write an entire essay on my issues with her books (and it’s why I’ve been putting off reading Empire of Storms), but I really want to know what happens in this series. So, I’m reading this, but I’m definitely not pre-ordering any more of her books.

Here’s hoping that May starts to get better soon. I think the universe may be telling me that I need to just chill a bit more. I’m planning on taking the hint and taking it easy this month.

March reading summary and April TBR

March has gone by in a blur, filled mostly with work, but also with visits from friends, some editing, and a lot of reading.

Here is what I read in March with my very brief assessment of each (links go to Goodreads):

 

  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (Kindle, library) — This was a short and entertaining read — exactly what I’d expect from master storyteller, Neil Gaiman.
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Kindle, pre-order) — The voice, the characters, the family dynamic… everything about this book was amazing, and I LOVED it. Highly recommend.
  • The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin (Kindle) — Every once in a while you find a book/series that you just love so much that you want to shove it into everyone’s hands and make them read it because you want everyone to love it as much as you do. That’s me with this series.
  • The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman (Kindle, library) — I know I said I was giving up on this series, but I forgot to release my hold at the library. Lucky for me, I liked this final book in the series much better than the first two books.
  • Freedom’s Landing by Anne McCaffrey (Overdrive, library) — On a whim, I decided to re-read this favorite from my teenage years. The story definitely holds up, but the prose felt surprisingly old-fashioned at times.
  • A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab (Kindle, pre-order) — I’m glad I held off on starting this until I could savor it. Even though I ended up spreading out my reading over a full week, it still ended too soon (but in a very satisfying way). I’m going to miss this world.

I’d thought I’d have time to read A Crown of Wishes as well, but this week has been a blur of activity with very little time left for reading. So, that will be the first book I read in April, instead of the last book I read in March. As for the rest of my April TBR…

I wasn’t going to create a TBR for April because I’m planning on participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. It’s a more casual version of the real thing where you set your own word count goal for the month. I’m setting a goal of 30k words, which I think should allow me to finish the first draft of the novel I started back in November.

Writing 1k words/day on average isn’t that hard for me, once I get going. On a good day, that’s only about an hour of writing. So, I’m hoping I’ll still have time to read this month. The problem is, once I let myself start thinking about what I wanted to read, my TBR got a little out of hand…

Before I get into my list, let me reassure you, I have absolutely zero intention of reading ALL of these books in April. I fully expect that a lot of these will be flowing over into next month’s TBR. I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to use the #TomeTopple Readathon (books over 500 pages read during 4/7 thru 4/20, midnight to midnight in your timezone) and the 2017 Read Harder Challenge task list to help me bust some of my Kindle backlist.

Here’s what I put on my TBR for April (links go to Goodreads):

  • #TomeTopple TBR (listed from longest to shortest):
    • Reamde by Neal Stephenson (Kindle) — This book has been on my TBR forever. Seriously. I bought it on 7/30/2013. But guys… it’s over 1050 pages long. This book alone is equivalent to 2 Tome Topple books. It could take me the entire time just to read this one book, and there are so many others in this section that I really want to read. I’m not sure if I start with this one or save it until after I’ve read one or two of the others…
    • Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (Kindle) — I pre-ordered this and then never had a chance to read it. I started it and got a little frustrated because I was struggling to remember who everyone was (so many new names I’d forgotten!), and I set it aside. I plan to tackle it during Tome Topple, and maybe resort to Wikipedia if my memory doesn’t kick in and remind me who’s who after the first few chapters…
    • Gemina by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff (hardcover) — This is another that I’d pre-ordered and never got around to reading, mostly because
    • Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds (Kindle) — Oh, hey! Another pre-order that I didn’t ever read when it came out. (This is partly why I made new rules about buying books this year.)
    • Kraken by China Miéville (Kindle) — I got this one for Christmas from “Santa Mom.” I’m hoping I have time to get to it, but it’s definitely in the second half of my list for this Readathon. So, it may roll over into next month.
    • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (Kindle) — I pre-ordered this, but it came out the same day as A Crown of Wishes, and I had to make a choice. So, I decided to save this one for Tome Topple.
  • Books for the Read Harder Challenge:
    • The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (Kindle) — For the “Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative” task.
    • The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (Kindle) — For the “Read a book about sports” task.
    • Hold Me by Courtney Milan (Kindle) — For the “Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel” task.
    • Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor (Kindle) — For the “Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location” task.
    • Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Kindle) — For the “Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author” task.
    • George by Alex Gino (Kindle) — For the “Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+” task.

The books I’ve selected for the Read Harder Challenge are all ones that I already own (some that I purchased a LONG time ago). They’re all ones that I really want to read, and many come highly recommended, but I’m not 100% sure which to start with, yet. To that end, if there are any on that list that you think I should start with because they are your absolute favorite and you think I’ll love it, please let me know in the comments.

And that’s it for March. Bring on the spring!