20 Books of Summer 20 Reading Challenge

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Image thanks to 746 Books

Today marks the 1st day not only of June but of the 20 Books of Summer 20 Reading Challenge! I learned of this challenge over at Fictionophile’s blog. Thank you so much! I understand this is not the first of this summer challenge but it’s certainly the first time it’s sounded so cool! 😉

I’ve never done this challenge, nor do I expect to complete it. However with my new (as of last year) habit of listening to audio books I think I will get closer to finishing than not. Regardless, I will give it a shot, and my best shot! My list – which follows the rules and link to the creator – will include audio books, physical books, e-books, non-fiction and fiction. This feels like a great challenge and I’m excited to try. I am going to include the books I’m currently reading…cheat or not I’m gonna do it!

This challenge 20 Books of Summer 20 Reading Challenge – is brought to us thanks to Cathy at 746books.com.

The Rules:

Visit Cathy’s blog at 746books.com and grab the 20 Books of Summer image (seen above). Next pick your own 20 books you would like to read. Then link back to her Master post from 1 June to let her know that you are taking part.  When you visit her site you’ll see that she offers images for 15 & 10 Books of Summer as well. I like the sound of 20 of 20 so I’m going for that (even if 15 or 10 would be guaranteed success(HA!)). She would love to hear about your participation so be sure to skip on over!

(By the way, I’m super excited about being able to pick my own 20 books!)

She also urges us to follow along with the #20booksofsummer20 hashtag, and tweet along on Twitter there if you do that.

The challenge starts off on Monday 1 June and finishes on Tuesday 1 September.

Let’s go!

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20 Books of Summer 20 Reading Challenge: My Books

Here is my list of 20 books I hope to finish by September 1, 2020. They will include fiction, non-fiction, a lot of different genres, audio and physical books, AND the books I’m currently read. (Well they are still books that I’ll finish in the time frame. 😉 ). They are in no particular order other than the ones at the top (as noted) are currently being read.

If you decide to do this challenge – yeah let’s do it! – I would so love it if in addition to linking to the creator you link back here as I would love to read along with you and hear how you’re doing. 🙂 Don’t forget 10, 15 or however many books is also an option!

Currently Reading

The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) by Jenn Lyons – audio book, epic fantasy

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Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor – hardcover, fantasy

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Kind of Coping: An Illustrated Look at Life with Anxiety by Maureen Marzi Wilson – hardcover, non-fiction, sequential art (graphic novel but non-ficiton?)

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Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom – hardcover, non-fiction

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The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman – paperback, non-fiction

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Voyage of the Basilisk (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #3) by Marie Brennan – paperback, fantasy

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Non-Fiction Books I Hope to Read for this Challenge

The Art of X-Ray Reading by Roy Peter Clark – hardcover, non-fiction

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Story Physics: Harnessing the Underlying Forces of Storytelling by Larry Brooks – paperback, non-fiction

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Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation by Kyo Maclear – hardcover, non-fiction

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Courage is Contagious: And Other Reasons to Be Grateful for Michelle Obama by Nicholas Haramis (editor) – hardcover, non-fiction – **In case you’re wondering why this and not Becoming (her memoir, which I want to read), because I bought this before Becoming was written

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On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King – paperback, non-fiction, memoir

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Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah – audio book, non-fiction, memoir

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Fiction Books I Hope to Read for this Challenge

Akata Warrior (Akata Witch, #2) by Nnedi Okorafor – hardcover, fantasy, YA

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A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1) by V.E. Schwab – paperback, fantasy

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A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2) by V.E. Schwab – paperback, fantasy ***I will read #3 as I have the box set, just not priority for summer

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Interference (Semiosis Duology, #2) by Sue Burke – hardcover, sci-fi/fantasy, first encounter

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Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst – audio book, fantasy

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Bluebird, Bluebird (Highway 59, #1) by Attica Locke – audio book, mystery, thriller

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The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – audio book, fantasy

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The Ice House (The Honours, #2) by Tim Clare – kindle e-book, fantasy

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Bonus Book

The Storm Crow (The Storm Crow, #1) by Kalyn Josephsonversion undecided audio or physical?

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This list is subject to change. 🙂 Especially the audio book side of things. Creating this list makes me think I could really complete this challenge! (Lol, smh…)

It never ceases to excite and disappoint me when I make book lists. Why disappointment you ask? Because this list feels so incomplete! There’s a bookshelf in front of me as I type and to think I will barely touch the TBR books on that shelf…wow.

Alas, my own book is most important. However as I write reading provides a good break from writing when I need it, and a place from which I can learn because books are my craft.

Now, your turn…

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My Review of Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor – 5 Stars

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Information from Goodreads:

It’s up to a famous rapper, a biologist, and a rogue soldier to handle humanity’s first contact with an alien ambassador—and prevent mass extinction—in this novel that blends magical realism with high-stakes action.

After word gets out on the Internet that aliens have landed in the waters outside of the world’s fifth most populous city, chaos ensues. Soon the military, religious leaders, thieves, and crackpots are trying to control the message on YouTube and on the streets. Meanwhile, the earth’s political superpowers are considering a preemptive nuclear launch to eradicate the intruders. All that stands between 17 million anarchic residents and death is an alien ambassador, a biologist, a rapper, a soldier, and a myth that may be the size of a giant spider, or a god revealed.

Hardcover, 304 pagesPublished July 14th 2015 by Gallery / Saga Press (first published April 10th 2014)

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My Rating: 5 Stars

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My Review of Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

5/5 stars

I know I say a lot of stories are unique, maybe it’s just because I’ve been fortunate enough to come across such jewels but this book deserves such a description more than most.

Ayodele smiled and nodded, gazing into the camera. Adaora shivered. If there was any strong hint of the alien in Ayodele’s appearance, it was in her eyes. When Adaora looked into them, she felt unsure… of everything. A college friend of hers used to say that everything human beings perceived as real was only a matter of the information their bodies recorded.

From Lagoon

Nnedi Okorafor is a very talented and imaginative writer. I will continue to look forward to and gravitate towards her work. Much like one of the main characters in this book, a female marine biologist resident of Lagos Nigeria, Okorafor is an explorer and scientist of “what if”.

But the air really did shiver. And as I stood there, it came right at me. There was no physical breeze; it came like a ghost. Then it washed over me like a great wave of water. When it passed, I felt drenched, heavy.

From Lagoon

This story takes place in Lagos, Nigeria with an almost completely Nigerian cast. I loved this opportunity to visit far outside the world I know. I’m so happy that she went ahead with including large amounts of Pidgin English and other slang as I really enjoyed being fully transported to another time and place. Aliens have landed in the ocean off Lagos with the goal of making contact with the locals, among other things. What will they do? What do they do, the Lagosians and the aliens? Such stories as this really make you wonder, what would we do? Do you think people would panic? Who do you know who might at least try to welcome them? Who might outright reject their existence even as they stand before you?

His aunts were excited to have so many to cook for, and they happily went to the kitchen to get to it. Nevertheless, his mother’s face looked pained. She must have had a feeling that this situation went beyond the family. Beyond their beliefs. Beyond their religion.

From Lagoon

Her story is not one I’ve ever read before, not the aliens or their mission, or their skills. If I have heard such a story it would only be similar, but not anywhere the same. I really enjoyed her focus on the ocean as well as the sea creatures interaction with the aliens. That detail alone is unlike other first contact stories.

This story is an accessible easy read and it feels real even as I’ve never seen or met aliens nor have I been to Nigeria. The author is herself Nigerian-American so we have the privilege of reading an own-voices story. I read with a new perspective since I read this during the Covid-19 pandemic. There is violence, mention of sex acts, and strong language.

The story’s structure and voice are also different. I liked the bits from the perspective of animals or various people out and about on the street in addition to switching between main characters. I also enjoyed all of the characters even if we didn’t dive all that deep into them. This story didn’t seem to need that. Even if you find fault in some parts of the story I think you will enjoy it and its originality. Also it’s fast-paced, something is always happening. This book has interesting curves and angles. I recommend this to all fans of sci-fi/fantasy especially first contact, African culture, and ocean stuff. 🙂

Aman iman, Adaora weakly thought. The phrase meant “water is life” in the Tuareg language of Tamashek. She’d once worked with a Tuareg man on a diving expedition. “Aman Iman,” had been his answer when Adaora asked how a man of the Sahara Desert had become an expert scuba diver.

From Lagoon

You might recall my review of Binti, another of Nnedi Okorafor’s books that I loved. I shamefully admit I kind of forgot about it just after I was in the midst of planning to order it. (That felt complicated to say. That’s probably how I forgot. 😉 ) Don’t worry, I will, oh yes I WILL make my way back to it. I’m still planning to re-read The Book of Phoenix (Who Fears Death, #0.5) Mainly because it deserves it, I read it a while ago and I forgot I’d already read it when I came across Binti. Yes that’s all weird of me, don’t be surprised.

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But never mind that, check this information out in the author’s bio on Goodreads:

Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian-American author of African-based science fiction and fantasy (Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism). Okorafor has won a Hugo, a Nebula, a World Fantasy Award, and a Locus Award, and her many fans include Neil Gaiman, Rick Riordan, John Green, and Ursula Le Guin. She is writing a series for Marvel about Shuri, Black Panther’s sister, and has a number of book-based projects in development for film and TV – including HBO’s adaptation of her novel Who Fears Death, with George R. R. Martin signed on as executive producer. Okorafor is also co-writing the screenplay of an adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed with filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu for Amazon Prime Video, with Viola Davis producing. Her novel Akata Warrior (of the Akata Series) is the winner of the Lodestar and Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/588356.Nnedi_Okorafor

Wow and heck yeah! This woman is making some waves and I am enjoying having the privilege of experiencing them. I encourage you all to check out some or all of her work. Upon finishing this book I’ve started Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1), her YA/children’s fantasy series. I already have both books in the series and am looking forward to reading them. Stay tuned for my reaction to Akata Witch later this month.

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And don’t forget to visit Nnedi Okorafor’s website and add her books to your TBR, Goodreads and otherwise.

Also if you do add her and her books to your list as a result of recommendation, I would so appreciate it if you could give me a shout-out, link back here. I’m all about giving credit where credit’s do, so if you refer me to a book I do not hesitate to give you credit. I do my best to keep notes when I visit other bloggers, listen to podcasts, read articles, talk to people, friends, family and they interest me in books and/or authors. Then I link to and/or mention said person/group/publication when I post about adding the book/author. As I said above I read the Book of Phoenix a while ago and later heard of Binti through at least one podcast, including Writing Excuses.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts. I’d love to hear yours, whether you liked the book or not, or are just now adding this to your TBR. Or maybe you’ve read other books by Nnedi Okorafor, let’s chat! 😀

If you want to know what I think about other books I’ve read please VISIT THIS PAGE. Or if you want to know what my upcoming reading plans are CLICK HERE. I try to keep everything up to date as best I can, so stay tuned, follow me, for updates. 😀

Bye for now. I hope you and yours are safe and well.

My Review of Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee (A Novel)

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info from goodreads:

Two Chinese-American sisters—Miranda, the older, responsible one, always her younger sister’s protector; Lucia, the headstrong, unpredictable one, whose impulses are huge and, often, life changing. When Lucia starts hearing voices, it is Miranda who must find a way to reach her sister. Lucia impetuously plows ahead, but the bitter constant is that she is, in fact, mentally ill. Lucia lives life on a grand scale, until, inevitably, she crashes to earth.

Miranda leaves her own self-contained life in Switzerland to rescue her sister again—but only Lucia can decide whether she wants to be saved. The bonds of sisterly devotion stretch across oceans—but what does it take to break them?

Everything Here Is Beautiful is, at its heart, an immigrant story, and a young woman’s quest to find fulfillment and a life unconstrained by her illness. But it’s also an unforgettable, gut-wrenching story of the sacrifices we make to truly love someone—and when loyalty to one’s self must prevail over all.

Paperback, 368 pages – Published January 16th 2018 by Pamela Dorman Books

Goodreads Choice Nominee for fiction and for Debut Author (2018)

Contemporary fiction, mental illness, mention of sexual acts

My rating: 5 stars

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My Review

I know there are a number of other books I’ve read and said I’d review but never have. But I’ve decided I’m not going to put this off only to add it to the queue of reviews I owe you. 😉

Contemporary fiction is not my usual choice of reading. It’s still not, but I easily make exceptions for certain topics. In this case, it’s the matter of mental illness, as one of the main characters, the younger sister has a serious mental illness. I don’t recall how I first discovered this book but I got a paperback copy from Book Outlet over a year ago. In 2019 I said I’d read it, in 2020 I finally did and I’m so glad. I’m not sure what I expected but I got more than what I could have. Let’s just say I almost cried, almost because I resisted the urge to but it was there.

On the cover author Celeste Ng (author of Little Sparks Everywhere) calls this story, “A tender but unflinching portrayal of the bond between two sisters.” This story is that and so much more. My take home message was there’s always more than one side to a story and you don’t know just what another person is going through internally.

I was curious during and after reading this about Mira T. Lee’s experience with mental illness. She writes intense scenes of the younger sister experiencing psychosis. The younger sister in this story does not receive a pinpointed diagnosis rather they say it might be schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, maybe both. As I do not have experience with either, I had to wonder. So when I finished it last night I did a tiny bit of research about her.

On her website she provides links to interviews she’s done. On the site Bloom, Terry Hong interviewed Mira T. Lee in January 2018. Please follow THIS LINK to read the whole Q&A interview. When asked why she chose a taboo subject and how she researched Mira said this:

Mental illness is a subject matter that’s extremely close to my heart, since I’ve seen members of my own family struggle with it. Schizophrenia, in particular, is still one of the most misunderstood and stigmatized illnesses out there, and I’d rarely seen a well-rounded portrayal of it in literature – particularly one that addresses how it affects family members, in addition to the individual with the illness. I wanted to explore the conflicts that this illness can cause, and the ways it can wreak havoc on families… I pulled a lot from my own family experiences with mental illness, but I also read a lot of memoirs, as well as online blogs, particularly firsthand accounts of psychosis. And I spoke with medical professionals about the more technical aspects. I’d also attended a lot of family support groups, so I had a strong sense of the issues and frustrations experienced by loved ones.”

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This story is told from multiple perspectives, the older sister, the younger sister, boyfriend, husband. It’s really interesting to read about this subject and the characters’ experiences from their various points of view. It’s such an intense story particularly because the author succeeded in showing how the different people are affected. It’s true that your heart will break for them all even as they might frustrate you at times.

Mira T. Lee’s cast of characters include two Chinese-American sisters, a one-armed Russian Jew, a Swiss man, and an Ecuadorian man, among others. But she said in the above interview that:

At some point early on, I did wonder if I should make my characters non-Asian (i.e. white), but that didn’t feel true to me. These multicultural worlds are what I’ve known in my own life, so it made sense that it should be reflected in my writing.

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It’s fair to say, IMHO, that she also succeeded in writing a well-rounded portrayal. Parts of this story take place in NewYork, Switzerland, and Ecuador (among a few others). Here are some excerpts from pages I dog-eared.

In Crote Six, they said I “suffer” from schizoaffective disorder. That’s like the sampler plate of diagnoses, Best of Everything.

But I don’t want to suffer. I want to live.

Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee – from the perspective of Lucia

When we reach the playground, Nipa confides to me that her doctor thinks she’s suffering from postpartum depression.

I’m floored. First, she is telling me. Second, she’s wearing makeup and her hair is clean, and her Natey is perfectly cherubic with his rolls of chin fat and cream bun cheeks.

“It’s weird,” she says. “In all these years, no one’s ever told me I suffered from cancer. I’m a fighter. A survivor, you know.”

Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee – from the perspective of Lucia, listening to her friend Nipa

I’m flustered, confused. For a second my brain feels like it’s full of holes. She waits expectantly. But what would it be, I wonder, to conduct one’s life as a Chinese life instead of just a life? I speak Chinese, I cook Chinese food, practice tai-chi on occasion and drink oolong tea, but to flaunt one’s authenticity seems terribly gauche. I’m human first, aren’t I? Aren’t we all?

Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee – from the perspective of Lucia, in a job interview

There are many more pages that I dog-eared because of what the scenes mean to me, how she wrote them and turned the story so the reader could see from a different angle, of course, among other things. But I think this is long enough, hopefully I’ve made my case as to why you might want to check this out and learn more about the human experience. Also, those excerpts could spoil the story for you and I don’t want to do that.

If you’ve already read this, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Or if you’re going to read this, let me know, then come back and let’s talk about it. In my humble opinion, it’s a great book, full of intense emotions and scenes, some sexual bits and talk here and there, talk of pregnancy matters (not a spoiler), moments of psychosis, and matters of immigration.

Imbolo Mbue, author of the PEN/Faulkner Award-winning Behold the Dreamers is quoted on the back fo the book saying, “A compassionate debut…an aching yet hopeful story.” Jean Kwok, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Translation, is also quoted calling it “A heart-wrenching novel. Powerful and unforgettable.”

Yes, it is all those things.

To read more reviews of mine CLICK HERE. If you like the style of this review over the others, you can let me know that too. I don’t usually include excerpts. Maybe this was a product of reading contemporary and being so emotionally impacted. Maybe I’ll do this more often when I really like a book.

Okay I’m off. Stay safe and well. WAIT, one more thing, this book comes at just the right time for me. Being under a stay-at-home order and reading about all that is happening has taught me a lot. I’ve learned that it’s really easy to be selfish (that’s not a new lesson, but one that needs re-learning from time to time) and that we have to be more compassionate. This isn’t about any one of us, this is about ALL OF US. We have to be careful and safe for each other, not just ourselves. You might think you or your town isn’t affected, really, but the truth is, your community is. Can your small town handle an outbreak if it happened? What about immune-suppressed folks who can’t leave the house? Don’t you think they want to go back to life too? But they really can’t until they’re more sure than not the coast is clear. If you’re upset about how your life has been impacted, remember this isn’t all about you or any one person or family.

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If you or someone you know is mentally ill or might be struggling with their mental health please visit NAMI – The National Alliance on Mental Illness. This is one of the great resources Mira T. Lee uses.

Anticipated Reading & Recent Book Haul & Thyroid Update Apparently…

Hello there, how are you? Alright here. Little bit of stress and anxiety, little extra I mean because I had to have a blood test to check up on my thyroid levels. This is a new thing for me. Admittedly I feel strange, like I’m airing dirty laundry talking about it here. I’m thinking about family reading it, like wow that’s personal. But guess you can’t be too surprised seeing as I talk about my anxiety right? And yet… What makes me want to share for sure is thinking about Ritu at But I Smile Anyway and the piece she wrote for the site Cysters. Her piece is titled PCOS-er And Proud! She shares her experience living with polycystic ovaries, how she didn’t know as a teen and then struggled as an adult trying to start a family. It’s a really interesting and eye-opening piece, I encourage you to read it. I knew nothing about PCOS, though I’d heard the words I didn’t know what it can be like for women living with this condition. Her story reminds us, it’s good to share. It’s good to be heard.

So I’m saying it here, I have recently been told I have an under-active thyroid. I don’t really have a story to tell just that this was almost relieving. It helped to explain why I felt a little extra depressed, extra tired all day, and have been having more trouble losing weight than what is my usual experience (my weight fluctuates a lot…my diet fluctuates a lot 😉 Lol.) Of course no one wants to hear your body isn’t doing something right on its own, that it’s kind of malfunctioning but answers are nice. I’m in the beginning of dealing with this situation so we’ll see.

Doctor said start Levothyroxine and get your blood checked again in six weeks. Now that was before Covid-19 took over and the call to stay at home was put in place. It didn’t take me long to say, well I’ll just wait this out and get my blood drawn once it’s safe. But, well you know, this big ole virus situation ain’t such a small ordeal and ain’t going away soon. So I’ve been wondering what I should do. The reason they need to draw my blood again, and probably often if this is a thing, is so they can see if my current dosage is working or if I need more. Today I finally called the doctor’s office and asked if I needed to get this test. Triage nurse said yes. We need to know if it’s working. Okay, thanks. (Anxiety said: SHIT!)

Luckily there are walk-in labs for diagnostic matters, I don’t have to go to the actual hospital, but still. With my mask on I went. Got it done. Nervous the whole time wondering if my mask would keep me safe, if the hand sanitizer would keep me safe, if I should do extra things like take my fleece off before I go home (I did but I think that was overkill). But I thought too about all the women in there (didn’t see any guys, sorry). Soldiers for real. Here I am shaking in my boots for the quick in and out visit I’m conducting. Were there sick people here today? They’re in there every day. They’re in there all day. They see us all. They have to watch us nervous, and probably think how do you think I feel? I stood at check in after questioning my relaxed position in the chair in the waiting room, which was like 10 feet from the check in point. I feel really stupid, standing there like the chair would kill me if I sat in it. I apologized. She thanked me for staying standing. That simple, I felt better.

Now I wait. I wait for my thyroid function cascade panel (something to that effect, the whole shebang) and for time to pass and tell me I’m not going to develop Covid-19. I think about my symptoms (thyroid, not Covid cause I don’t have that). I am still having what feels like trouble losing weight but I’m not quite as tired throughout the day as I was. Nor am I as depressed but my irritability, hm, that’s something that’ll fight you (or me and everything in my circle) like an angry badger. The science me is looking forward to the results, see where this thing takes me. Why? Because what if I do need a stronger dose, if my thyroid is still being lazy (that’s probably not the best way to describe it)? Then they might up my dose. Okay you’re waving your hand, come on what’s the point Elpy? What if feeling better is that close to me? Get it now? Cool.

😀 Okay so that’s the important part of my day. (A small, no his voice is loud. Okay a loud voice in my head, that of one of my characters who recently visited the Saloon at The Carrot Ranch, is reminding me I’m still making excuses for not focusing on my book. He thinks I should mention that to you guys.)

The rest of this post is the light, fluffy stuff I want to share: anticipated reading for the rest of April and May and my recent book haul from Book Outlet! I did not open that box for three days by the way, so I feel good about that, and I sanitized my hands after touching it. 😉 The books are on my shelf now and happy to breathe again. The books I plan to read next are from a Book Outlet haul last year (I recently found them after wondering what happened to all those books…) Oh wait, one book is from Book Depository because it’s an Australian publication and at the time that was the only place I could get it. Let’s get started. I’ll post the pictures then list them with links to Goodreads.

What I plan to read after I finish Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee (really interesting contemporary fiction novel about a character with mental illness) and in the order I show them:

  • Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina & Ezekiel Kwaymullina – 2019 – YA Fantasy, mystery – It was thanks to Books and Tea with Brittany (her blog has since been deleted) that I discovered this book written by an Australian Aborigine and has won awards. Yeah! I am now learning that this book was given a different title (?) in the U.S.: The Things She’s Seen. Apparently because they didn’t understand it? That frustrates me…ugh. But this is up next, it’s short and I’m excited.
  • Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor – 2015 – Sci-fi, fantasy – This is the author of Binti (OMG why haven’t I finished that series!) and The Book of Phoenix, both of which I’ve read and enjoyed, especially Binti. Naturally, you find an author you like you follow them and go back for their other stuff. 😉
  • Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor – 2011 – YA Fantasy, children’s middle grade – As I said above, I’m a fan of this author. I saw she wrote this interesting sounding book (nominated for Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel 2012) and I was curious. Curious in part too to see if might be a cool rec for my niece.
  • A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1) by V.E. Schwab – 2016 – YA Fantasy – I learnt of this author from her interview on the Writing Excuses Podcast (awesome podcast btw). I’ve also heard her mentioned it seems everywhere else. She is a prolific writer. V.E. Schwab is her pseudonym for her adult work, while Veronica Schwab is for her young adult and middle grade work. This will be the first of her work I’ve finally read. I picked up the box set from Book Outlet last year, so I hope I like it as much as other people because I have the trilogy!
  • Stay tuned as I read them in this order!
And these are the books I picked up recently (for cheap!).

So there you have it, some personal updates (I promise to keep you updated) and some bookish updates. Now let’s see if I can get some of MY BOOK work done and hear from my characters. Wouldn’t that be nice, if I could talk about my own freaking book? Yes, yes, be patient little one. 😉

Let me know if you’ve read any of these, plan to or are interested (please don’t leave any spoilers). If you add something to your TBR thanks to me I’d really appreciate it if you give me a shout out for it. 😀 Oh and if you want to partake in some kind of buddy read, let me know in the comments. I hope to start Catching Teller Crow this weekend or next week. Alright, onward!

20 Questions Book Tag

Hello there peoples of the world, how are you? How was your weekend? Mine was good, simple and quiet. I’m healthy and I’m happy, it’s just that there have been some up and down days this week. Mood jumps can be exhausting. It’s like my mind is doing jumping jacks sometimes, but when I jump up and limbs go out they fly off into the room! Lol. Anyways onto a fun and light post for Easter Sunday. And Happy Easter to you all by the way. 🙂

Lois @LoisReadsBooks felt like doing a book tag so she went ahead and found and completed this one. I thought it was such a good idea I decided to go ahead and do it myself! Yeah! Thanks Lois!

20 Questions Book Tag

How many books are too many for a series?
  • I’m not sure I’ve ever really thought about whether or not there can be too many in advance. On the other hand I most certainly have watched some movies (*clear my throat* Fast and the Furious) that should have ended many movies ago. I’ve also seen some shows that were awesome the first season or two then started to feel kind of watered down. So I’ll say I’m totally fine with three, and I might get nervous about more than that.
How do you feel about cliffhangers?
  • I really enjoy cliffhangers when they’re done well. What’ s done well? When a book ends on a cliffhanger without any plans for another book I’m often not happy. Once in a while you’ll find a story that does this well but usually I don’t like it. If you know there’s going to be another book I’m cool with it, I expect it but I also want a big reveal. Meaning to me a good story gives you something that you’ve been reading to find out all along. Maybe they don’t give you the big big reveal (is Raymond Reddington in the show Blacklist Elizabeth’s father? They have long since revealed the answer btw but it wasn’t after the first season), but they provide you with other big answers that you’ve been asking throughout the book. To leave me with few answers but a cliffhanger? Oh no…
Hardback or paperback?
  • Hm…both? Hardback feels so official and yet paperbacks are lighter and cost a lot less. So hardback, or hardcover books are sexy let’s say but you don’t want to wear a cocktail dress all the time.
Favorite book?
  • I don’t love favorite least favorite questions, mostly because I have a bad memory and a really hard time making solid decisions, committing to ONE answer. Lol. A series I really really like and might be a favorite is Wool by Hugh Howey. I highly recommend that series. I’m going to leave it there although….nope…moving on…
Least favorite book?
  • Well can I pick a book I DNF’d? Maybe that’s not fair… Oh well among my least favorites is a book I DNF’d after receiving it as part of a giveaway. The book is Downdrift. I was super excited to read this book which made it that much more of a let down when I found it to be extremely uninteresting. I tried hard to get into it and felt guilty giving up on it, but clearly it wasn’t for me.
Love triangles, yes or no?
  • More often than not, no. I’ll likely stray from a book when I hear there’s a love triangle involved.
The most recent book you COULDN’T finish?
  • I almost couldn’t finish Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare. It was better than the above named DNF’d book but it just drug on and on and on. However I finished it. Voyage of the Basilisk (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #3) I’ve apparently been reading since oh I don’t know, last year, early last year maybe? It’s not bad but it’s just not as interesting as I thought I remembered the first two to be. Maybe too I’ve been reading a lot of other fantasy books that make this one less than interesting. I still plan to finish it, plus I have the last two books in this series (unless there’s been more published I don’t know about). Everfair was probably the last book I DNF’d, so the most recent one but that was last year as well.
What are you currently reading?
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What’s the last book you recommended to someone?
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Oldest book you’ve read by publication date?
  • Oh gosh to be honest I don’t even know. I’m skipping this, sorry. 😉
Newest book you’ve read by publication date?
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Favorite author?
  • Geez, another one of these favorite questions 😛 I really enjoy Hugh Howey’s work, he’s a very talented writer (although I don’t even know what he’s been up to!). Michelle Baker, Deborah Harkness, really enjoy some of their books too. Oh and I really like Maggie Stiefvater as well.
Buying books or borrowing books?
  • I don’t know why, sure I do, but I feel embarrassed saying I like to buy books. Not that I do that A LOT but I like going to bookstores or even just receiving a new book. I also don’t visit the library a whole lot. I’ve been there for research but I’m not good about making a list of books I want to read and then going and getting them. I would say I’ll change this, but quarantine tells me I won’t for a long time.
A book you dislike but everyone seems to love?
Bookmarks or dog-ears?
  • I’m laughing thinking about all the people who are going to cringe, and I think they’re going to cringe because I’ve heard/read other people answer this question. I dog-ear. *Catches book thrown by invisible person.* Look I’m sorry, not sorry. I don’t have enough bookmarks nearby me when I want to save a page to come back to whether it’s because they did something right or bad. If the book wasn’t mine, I wouldn’t dog-ear. Funny story, I lent a book to my aunt once, with loads of dog-ears. When I got it back I was so confused because I could have sworn I’d dog-eared a lot of pages. I asked her later about it and she nonchalantly said she’d bent them all back. Lol…
A book you can ALWAYS re-read?
  • I don’t re-read. I’m sure there are some I would like to but I don’t. There’s too many books out there that I’ve never read for me to read books I’ve already read. That said I could probably read Wool by Hugh Howey (sci-fi) again.
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Can you read while listening to music?
  • Sometimes I have the radio or the TV playing in the background but I don’t think it does me any good. It distracts me more than not, but I also like the sound around me.
One POV or multiple?
  • Both. I think multiple points-of-view can be awesome when done well.
Do you like to read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?
  • I wish I could read a book in one sitting! That would be SO great! 😀
Who do you tag?

Folks if you’ve already done this tag and I am clearly unaware of that fact I apologize in advance. And if you’d be so kind to send me your link to said post I’d love to read it!

There you have it! Feel free to ask me anymore questions or comment on my answers, or even do your own 20 Questions Book Tag post and link back to me. I’ll gladly stop by.

Have a great start to your week everyone. I hope you’re staying well and healthy.

February TBR Additions 2020

Hello again all you fine people. I am here as promised to bring you my February TBR Additions 2020. Perhaps you’ve already read my January TBR Additions list also posted this week (well Sunday). That was a really long list and I thank you for reading it. If you haven’t, know that even though it’s very long it’s also really interesting because the books are quite varied, in my humble opinion that is. This list is not short – there’s 16 books – but it’s not as long as that one (26 books). ***It’s not 20 books because I added four just before midnight. Here I thought it was the 1st already. 😉

As always, I thank you for riding along and sharing any thoughts you might have of this list. Do not be afraid – do be kind and respectful – to tell me if you think a book is bad or yuck it doesn’t appeal to you. You will not hurt my feelings. In fact I’d be interested in picking your brain about the matter assuming such a discussion can be done without spoilers. 😉 That said, let’s get to it!

  • The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood – fiction, dystopia
    • I love the podcast The Garrett, hosted by Astrid Edwards. It’s an Australian based podcast. She interviews so many interesting authors, diverse authors, and they’re really good interviews. Astrid, you’re great. I recommend this podcast for sure. Recently I heard the interview with Charlotte Wood and actually made a note, I believe I was waiting in line at the grocery store and added it on Goodreads right there. 😉 I think that’s a beautiful cover too.
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  • Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara – fiction, mystery
    • I discovered this book thanks to an NPR interview. The author, a journalist, was talking about the outrageous fact that in India 150 children go missing A DAY. The vast majority of these young people are forced into some kind of labor, like working in people’s homes and sex work among others. She said it’s not well reported on or managed so she decided to write a novel about it, her debut in fiction. Her protagonist is a young boy. She chose a child so as to take the edge off the story from time to time.
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  • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides – mystery, thriller
    • I think this is the first in a long time for which I can say I heard of from another person in person! Lol. I was at a family member’s birthday party when I got to chatting with an older woman I’d just met. She told me her book club read this book (a debut novel) and loved it. She said they were split down the middle in terms of predicting how it ended.
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  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner – classics, fiction
    • I found that my grandmother and/or great-grandmother (don’t know whose copy it was) had an old copy of this book and well, it appeals to me so I think I’ll give it a shot, one day. 😉
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  • Mr. Sagittarius by M.J. Mallon – poetry, photography, fiction
    • I think it was thanks to Carrot Ranch and a blog tour? Oh shoot I’m sorry I didn’t put this information in my notes. But this is a new a poetry, prose and photography collection by Indie author M.J. Mallon. Interestingly enough my poetry has photography mixed throughout it but no prose, however we clearly have similar interests in that respect. Anywho, I’m excited to be able to support a fellow Indie Author.
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  • Can You See Me? by Libby Scott & Rebecca Westcott – children’s middle grade, contemporary
    • C.G. Drews (author and blogger) over at Paper Fury talks about this book in one of her latest posts. The blurb on Goodreads says this book is for fans of Wonder by R.J. Palacio. While I haven’t read Wonder I’m interested in reading this “coming-of-age story about learning to celebrate yourself…”. Ann M. Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Rain Reign said, “This glimpse into the world of a young autistic girl is astonishingly insightful and honest. Tally’s struggles to ‘fit in’ are heart-wrenching, and her victories are glorious.” This is fiction but it is own-voice in that Libby Scott is a young autistic author and this story is inspired by her experiences.
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  • The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) by Patrick Rothfuss, narrated by Nick Podehl – Audible Audio edition – fantasy
    • So this is kind of a funny story. I told you before that Audible just had a sale on many series; each book in the respective series was marked down. I saw this and believed it was one I’d added to my TBR this year. I know I’ve heard of this before and it’s hugely popular. This series has two books and they’re long, so good candidates for Audible books I thought.
    • Low and behold, this series was not already on my TBR; I was somehow confusing it with The Lies of Locke Lamora I’d heard of from Inside my Library Mind and SilverWolfReads in January. Lol, well they’re added now!
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  • The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2) by Patrick Rothfuss, narrated by Nick Podehl – Audible Audio edition – fantasy, epic fantasy
    • The sequel to the above book. The one downside and/or upside depending how you see it, to Audible editions is I wind up reading/listening to books I wouldn’t otherwise have picked up so soon. But hey this book has 392,856 ratings on Goodreads with a 4.57 star rating. It was published in 2011. Wow!
    • AND Nnedi Okorafor, an author I follow, the woman who wrote Binti, speaks highly of this series on Goodreads. 😉
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  • The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) by Jenny Lyons – epic fantasy
    • Okay, so, I’m listening to this book on Audible right now and IT’S AWESOME. It’s really long, certainly an epic like Lord of the Rings but well worth the time. Here’s the thing, I did not know this was a series! Last night I was just browsing browsing, clicked on Jenn Lyons and there you go, there’s more! Then I saw there’s actually a third!!! Wow. So I don’t know that the Audible version is available for the 2nd as it just came out October 2019 but I’ll keep an eye out.
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Wow, okay that’s it. Phew! Twenty-six books added in January and 20 added in February bringing my Goodreads’ TBR to 336! Holy moly, I think I need to slow down on adding books but then how will I remember new finds? Maybe I need to cull my list as many other bloggers have, at least review it to see if I’m really still interested in all these books. God knows I don’t have the time to get through all the books I want, especially not with my own novel on the fire! What do you think about this list?

And as I said in my January TBR Additions 2020 post:

It’s super important to me to give credit where credit’s due. So I try to make a point to take notes when I’m reading other people’s blogs or listening to podcasts (I’m not as good with the latter). Whenever I actually do take notes, be it NPR interviews, blogs, podcasts, talking to people, I will certainly mention it when I mention my interest in the book (assuming I find the notes 😉 ). It’s really a great practice to tip your hat to others and their efforts to spread the word about books they like. Not only does it help the authors of these books, but it also helps other bloggers and podcasters. So I ask humbly please, if you discover books thanks to my blog – lists like this one – that you give me a little shout out. Thanks in advance!

January TBR Additions

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Well how are you today? Not too shabby over here. I’m working on blog stuff so I’m in a happy place. Reading is a funny thing you know? But even more so is the hobby of collecting books. I’ve always loved the idea of collecting things although admittedly I’m not such a good collector. Of course it comes as no surprise that it started in childhood with toys (My Little Pony, Breyer Horses, Littlest Pet Shop, Polly Pocket, Marvel collector cards, the list goes on). I didn’t have grand collections of all these things (I wished!) but I LOVED looking at the catalogues of all the toys that were out there and the new stuff, gah, so wonderful.

When it comes to books I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily a collector. I guess you might say I am because I don’t exactly get rid of books I’ve read, and I’ve got a boat load of old books from relatives. Compared to other book bloggers though and what I’ve read in their posts, I am not a book collector. Hats off to you who love your various editions – lots of people collect multiple copies of books that are each a different edition – but I can’t wrap my head around having more than one copy of a book. Alas, I get it, I feel the love you have for your collections. I once had a fabulous collection of Orchids (most died from brown rot) and I will slowly but surely rebuild for I am at heart an Orchid collector.

Anyways, I shall move on with this post and get to the point. While I might not be a true book collector, I do love me some TBR action! I like discovering new books and adding them to my TBR. Then I like going through my TBR and seeing all the covers; it’s like a mini version of going to a bookstore or the library and seeing all THOSE BOOKS! It goes without saying, TBR posts can be fun to create (sometimes daunting too). My question to whomever is reading this, do you enjoy TBR posts? Do you enjoy seeing what other book blogger/reader people are interested in reading?

Last time I left you guys with a three part TBR additions post (Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE, Part 3 HERE). That encompassed Fall & Winter additions since I was behind. I’ll admit I was a little burned out after those posts so I’m behind again, but it’s all good. Today I bring to you: January TBR Additions.

***As I was building this post I realized what I kind of already knew/remembered, that this is going to be really long. Therefore, February TBR Additions will be its own post following on the heels of this one for January. But read on because there’s loads of different books here you might not have seen elsewhere and plenty you have. The book’s title is linked to the book’s Goodreads’ page (for more information).

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January TBR Additions

  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah – Audible Audio edition, narrated by Trevor Noah – non-fiction/memoir
    • I first heard of Trevor Noah as many of us did, when it was announced he was taking over The Daily Show for Jon Stewart. I’ve since become a fan (not that I watch the show much). What tipped me to the book was an interview with him on NPR. And of course the audio version sounds great since he’s the narrator, talk about own voices.
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  • The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates – Audible Audio edition, narrated by Joe Morton – fiction, historical fiction, magical realism
    • Honestly, I can’t recall the first time I heard of this book but I’m pretty sure it was through a podcast. Since then I’ve heard about it all over the place, including Oprah. I’m going for Audible version because it’s a book available through it.
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  • No Walls and the Recurring Dream by Ani DiFranco – Audible Audio edition, narrated by Ani DiFranco – non-fiction/memoir
    • I used to listen to folk singer Ani DiFranco quite a bit, over 10 years ago. I fell off mainly because my life changed, my directions changed. Recently I’ve gone back to some of her songs (like Little Plastic Castle). But I saw mention of her new book in an article, maybe newspaper (?), and thought it sounded interesting. And of course seeing it on Audible narrated by herself, I had to go that route. Cool cover, ironically similar to the last.
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  • A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews – contemporary, YA
    • SilverWolfReads mentioned The Boy Who Steals Houses in her post HERE. She raved about this author so I had to at least look into C.G. Drews. I’m not sure I want to read The Boy Who Steals Houses but I’m intrigued and going to check this one out.
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  • Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1) by Leigh Bardugo – Fantasy
    • Another appealing book thanks to SilverWolfReads. We might do a buddy read one of these days, not for this one but something. She mentioned it to me recently and I must get back to her. I’ve never done any buddy reads (well I did with my great-aunt), but I think it’d be fun. 😀
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  • The Never Tilting World (The Never Tilting World, #1) by Rin Chupeco – Fantasy, YA
    • Yup another one thanks to SilverWolfReads. I was thinking maybe I’d read back through blurbs for all these books and remind myself (so I can share with you) what interested me most about these books but do I have time? Ugh…I should do it first thing…perhaps next time, this list is long enough.
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  • Infinity Son (Infinity Cycle, #1) by Adam Silvera – Fantasy, YA
    • Yet another shout-out to SilverWolfReads at the aforementioned link. Yes these were all in one post of hers as well. I like this cover quite a bit too.
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  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Fantasy
    • Much like the previous book I added this after SilverWolfReads post but I’d heard of it many times before. Sometimes I stray away from popular books just because they’re popular. And I wasn’t immediately sold on it. Sounded cool but I have SO MANY books on my TBR. Well okay people are raving and raving, let’s do it. (And I just saw YouTube video by Destiny at Howling Libraries in which she mentions the sequel to this and how she has to get to it.)
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  • Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World, #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse – Audible Audio edition, narrated by Tanis Parenteau – fantasy, post-apocalyptic
    • I added this book because I listened to the first one – read my review of Trail of Lightning HERE – and LOVED it. Having listened to that I had to listen to this. But this is the book SilverWolfReads had picked up though she hadn’t read the first. I find myself putting off listening to this because…um, hm…I guess I feel like maybe it’s too soon to go right back and then have it be over! And sometimes it feels right to explore around since I know I’m coming back here.
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  • Dark Constellations by Pola Oloixarac, translated by Roy Kesey – fiction, sci-fi
    • This book and many that follow are more books I found thanks to LitHub’s The Bookseller’s Year in Reading Part 1-3. I’ve linked you to Part 1 and you can go from there. But my 2019 TBR New Additions Part 1-3 consist of a lot of books from this list (I also link you here to my own Part 1). What’s here is me finally finishing those articles. I’m excited that most of these books I’ve never heard of and they’re pretty representative, across genre, culture, geography and more. I might have to be more intentional in picking different books from my TBR (when the time comes).
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  • The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams – historical fiction
    • Fictionophile writes “Cover Love” posts in which she posts lists of books with regards to their covers. She directed me to some older versions of her posts and I found a bunch of books I really like. For example, she did a post about covers she liked that had birds…thus these that follow. By the way, I did read the blurb after I found the cover appealing and then added them. 😉
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  • Burial Rites by Hannah Kent – historical fiction
    • Inside My Library Mind wrote an interesting post titled If You Liked This, Try This. And that’s where this book and few others come from. She said if you like this one (below) try Cala by Laura Legge. Well the latter didn’t interest me but this one did.
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  • Inkheart (Inkworld, #1) by Cornelia Funke, translated by Anthea Bell – fantasy, YA
    • Here’s another book thanks to Inside My Library Mind’s post linked to above. This was one in which she says if you like this try The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Well I have already added the latter so, why not this one too? Though I’ve read neither. 😉
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  • The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1) by N.K. Jemisin – fantasy
    • Inside My Library Mind then wrote a post, 2020 TBR Backlist, and here she listed this gem. Mind you this is not the first I’ve heard of N.K. Jemisin, no she is mentioned all over the place. In fact, I just learned that she is the first author ever to win a HUGO award three years in a row and for books of the same series. Translation, all three of the books in this series won Hugo awards.
    • These books were just on sale, all three, at Audible. I so badly wanted to get them but Patrick Rothfus’ duology was also on sale, there’s two of those, they’re huge apparently and I can’t buy all five. I was tempted but I sighed and did the right thing and only bought the two Rothfus books. Plus I couldn’t decide if I should READ and see the words on the pages of N.K. Jemisin’s work.
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  • Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst – fantasy
    • You might recall that my review of Sarah Beth Durst’s last book, The Deepest Blue, was kind of harsh. I was disappointed, I’m sorry. But don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Sarah Beth Durst. I’m still hoping she keeps writing in the world she introduced us to in her series The Queens of Renthia. And her book Lost (not related to any of these) is fabulous; I was so sad to discover she will not be publishing the second but there’s a chance it’ll be made for TV. That said, this book is her latest adult fantasy, I think available April 2020, and it sounds awesome. Not to mention the cover is beautiful. I’m in!
    • Here’s a piece of the blurb from Goodreads: an imaginative new world in which a pair of strong and determined women risk their lives battling injustice, corruption, and deadly enemies in their quest to become monster racing champions.
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  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – historical fiction
    • Yet another from Inside My Library Mind’s above post link. Colson Whitehead’s writing reputation precedes him and this book, meaning he’s another author I’ve heard a number of times.
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Oh my gosh we made it! You’re still here right? Phew, that’s great, thank you so much. What do you think? Have you or do you plan to read any of these? Will you now?

It’s super important to me to give credit where credit’s due. So I try to make a point to take notes when I’m reading other people’s blogs or listening to podcasts (I’m not as good with the latter). Whenever I actually do take notes, be it NPR interviews, blogs, podcasts, talking to people, I will certainly mention it when I mention my interest in the book (assuming I find the notes 😉 ). It’s really a great practice to tip your hat to others and their efforts to spread the word about books they like. Not only does it help the authors of these books, but it also helps other bloggers and podcasters. So I ask humbly please, if you discover books thanks to my blog – lists like this one – that you give me a little shout out. Thanks in advance!

And thank you again and again for following along with this long post. I hope I was able to add to your list or poke your brain. I’d love to hear what you think. And stay tuned because I’m going to post February TBR Additions this week as well. 😀 Then we’ll be caught up!

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My Review of A Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse, narrated by Tanis Parenteau

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Info from Goodreads:

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.

Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is its last, best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel the reservation, unraveling clues from ancient legends, trading favors with tricksters, and battling dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.

As Maggie discovers the truth behind the killings, she will have to confront her past if she wants to survive.

Welcome to the Sixth World.

Audible audio book – August 7th 2018 by Audible Studios – Listening time: 8 hours and 58 minutes

My rating: 5/5!!!

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I found this book thanks to SilverWolfReads and her post My Great American Book Haul in which she shares the 30+ books she picked up during her visit to NYC. She got the sequel to this book, Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World, #2) but of course you gotta start at the beginning right? So I did and I’m so happy.

This is why it’s not great to write reviews so long after the fact because it’s difficult to keep track of all your thoughts on the book. This is also why I said I was going to start taking notes. Lol. Anyways, I had been thinking a little while ago that I would change my review format to Pros/Cons of the story/book/narration/style etc. I likely will do that in the future however for this particular review I will not.

Reason being, I was really happy with this story as well as the overall narration. It starts off all in the action. Being post-apocalyptic you would expect just that, for a lot to have already happened and happening. But I don’t always love post-apocalyptic stories because they’re so much the same dreary burnt up world. There’s definitely some dreary world stuff going on here but the flavor, I found, to be different. I like how right from the start you know there’s some weird stuff going on underneath it all. That makes me feel like I need to sit up and pay attention.

Much of that is thanks to the story being built around Native American lore, which I admittedly do not know but find fascinating all the same. This story stands out among the crowd of post-apocalyptic stories centered around white culture. Out of respect I believe we ought to all be paying more attention to all the histories of our nation, including the stories, mythical and factual.

Not to get all political or politically correct or incorrect or passively political or pascifistically politically corrected!

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This telling is fabulous and provides a stimulating albeit rather unknown to me, background. You do spend a fair bit of time wondering and waiting for just what happened to the world. However, I think Roanhorse is clever with her writing and gives enough for you to hold on to the reins and stick with the story without falling off as a result of impatience. There’s a lot, I hear, that will continue to unravel about the world and the underlying story in the next book. Which I agree with a review I saw that that makes for some great storytelling and world building when done right. Which it is, IMHO.

I don’t know if it’s worth noting but I will agree with some other reviewers about almost (in my case) being annoyed at the part where Maggie the MC has to get dressed to go to this place which would of course require that she be a little provocative looking. But I mean, I don’t know, it’s not terrible in this context considering she has to do so to fit in (not a spoiler btw). So I have to give it a pass but I can see where people might feel that way. Because of course many of us can’t help but wonder why bad ass women are always half-naked? But Maggie doesn’t get “half-naked”. Moving along…

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I’ve also heard people say that some of the paragraphs are long in description which is not something I typically enjoy. However, I listened to this as an audio book so I can’t say it bothered me, or at least I don’t remember if it did! Lol. Which says a lot about the story. If it’s fast moving and interesting I don’t tend to get too hung up on specifics that might normally annoy me. Basically, slow me down long enough to think a lot and I might likely get frustrated. Okay not always but you get the point. 😉 This book is first person, present tense and I think it all worked for the most part.

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If you like post-apocalyptic urban fantasy for sure check this out. If you like bad ass female characters check this out. If you’re interested in Native American lore check this out. And if you want all of that wrapped up with a bow, yeah this is the book for you. She might fall into some of the bad ass female tropes, including her relationships, but it’s worth it. This story is super unique and well worth the time it takes to enjoy. Rebecca Roanhorse is on my radar now.

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My debate then was do I read the next one to get a feel of the writing, the words or do I continue on with audio? My answer: I will continue listening to this series. The reason I will go with Audible Audio again is because I like Tanis Parenteau and her reading of this book. The next book as noted above is Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World, #2).

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I will add here as well that SilverWolfReads is responsible for my reading/listening to Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1) by Laini Taylor. Read my review here. Great story also!

Okay, your turn! Read this? Reading it? Want to? Feel free to agree or disagree with me here, albeit respectfully please. 😀

If you want to read some of the other things I’ve had to say about books I’ve read then go to THIS PAGE and read what reviews I have available. If you want to know what i’m reading CLICK HERE.

I would so love and appreciate if you’d like to follow me (there should be a button around the bottom right corner somewhere…) as well as your feedback. I am a chatty Cathy although I am not a Kathy or a Cathy. And if I write those names a few more times I will swear that is not how they’re spelled!

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My Review of Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1) by Laini Taylor, narrated by Steve West

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Audible Audio edition

Info from Goodreads:

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

Audible Audio – Published March 28 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton

My Review

Ok how do I rate this after being so conflicted at the beginning? Easy!!!

5/5 stars

I discovered this book thanks to SilverWolfReads and her giant book haul from her trip to NYC. I believe I added these in June 2019, you can find these additions in TBR New Additions Part 1. There are a whole host of other books I added to my TBR thanks to her blog, including Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse which I listened to before this book and loved. That moved a lot faster from the start and made it that much more difficult to survive Strange the Dreamer’s slow start. But thanks so much for sharing what you read!!!

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Funny thing is I’m listening to the last chapter as I write this or at least start writing this. That’s how impressed I am with where this story went and ended. Some endings can change how you feel about the whole story, be it book or movie. I saw Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri and was all wrapped up in it until…the ending. Then I was pissed because I did not think it was a satisfying end to such a movie. This book however just kept getting better and better.

In my post Currently Reading (which will change as my reading does) in January/early February, you might have read that I was not enjoying the beginning of this book. Here’s what I said:

I’m in about Chapter 10 I think? So far I’m disappointed because this book is taking so long to be interesting. Lazlo, the main character (MC), really feels flat to me at this point. Given the number of roaring reviews I’ve discovered there to be (saw, didn’t read just glazed over a few) I have faith that this book improves but if I was given an ultimatum I’d be tempted to DNF this.

You know a book is taking too long to really grab you when you almost forget you’re actually supposed to be paying attention to what you’re listening to and you struggle to want to.

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I wish I could remember exactly what chapter it was that changed things for me. I know what happened in the story that did it but I don’t want to tell you anything more than what the summary from Goodreads does. My reviews will not contain any more of a summary than that because I don’t want to spoil the story. Some people like the standard review in which people provide their own summary, the kind we were taught in school. However, I have found that I don’t usually want to know too much more because I like the surprise of discovering the details myself. I know that people warn you if they’ll be spoilers but sometimes just knowing too much before you start is a spoiler, not unlike a movie trailer that shows you all the best parts of the movie.

For instance – the following example is made up and has nothing to do with this book – let’s say a summary tells you the story is about a mystical mountain covered in fog all year long except for two weeks in the summer. No one has visited the mountain ever since a hiking party of 10 disappeared save one individual who came back mute and blind. But then a small boy gets lost, last seen walking in his sleep towards the mountain. Who will brave the mystery to find him? Then let’s say I write a review that doesn’t “contain spoilers” per se, but I tell you that the people have rumored there’s a herd of magical ponies that live midway up and that’s what they’re afraid of. That might be a common detail but you wouldn’t have known until you read the story or someone’s review. I wouldn’t have minded discovering the ponies for myself like a fun little prize in my cereal box; I know it’s in there but if my brother gets it out and shows me, the surprise is done.

That said how I feel about the book now does not change how I feel about the beginning. Don’t like, not gonna like it but this story is a testament to the power of word of mouth. Were I any less patient with books, quicker to DNF I would have quit this early on. But I can thank all you lovely fellow readers out there for letting us know it gets better because HECK YEAH it does!

It took a long time for me to get into Lazlo as well. I still think he kind of feels flat, not the most dynamic and fleshed out of characters, in my humble opinion but he grew on me. There are other characters that appeal to me and appeal to me more. But I can almost promise you (almost because I don’t know you so I could be wrong) that once this story gets going you’ll find it hard to resist.

I respect Laini Taylor’s creativity and imagination. This book could do without a lot of the information – IMHO – especially in the beginning but the story (I think I’ve said that enough) as a whole is emotionally intense and magical with themes true to real life. You might start off uninterested or less than interested but you reach a point where you have to know what happens next. Then you can’t put it down or push pause. The progression this story takes is like climbing a mountain, once you get to the top it is breathtaking. There’s plenty of tension and mystery, wonder and perceived terror. And there is heart ache and super cool twists and turns. Yes there is violence and talk of horrible acts, including rape and murder. However, I absolutely recommend this story and will without a doubt continue with this series. The next book is Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer, #2).

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While I can’t complain about the beginning enough, I also can’t tell you enough how much I like the ending. Great cliffhanger but also so grating! AH! Laini, you have a new fan. 😉

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Hardcover edition (cover)

Have you read this? Are you planning to? Let me know if I introduced you to this book or tipped the scales for you, maybe even give me a nod on your own blog if that applies. Giving credit to my fellow bloggers, aka sources, when they’ve introduced me to a book or books is super important to me. I do my best to take notes when I add books thanks to them. In fact I have a unpublished post draft that is just for notes of this kind.

Thanks for your visit, please come again! Follow me if you like what you’ve read here and elsewhere because there’s plenty more to come. 😀

2020 Currently Reading

Okay instead of having my TBR page (like I did in 2019) telling you what I’ve read, what I’m reading, and what I plan to read this year, I’m going to have this post “sticky”. Here, always found at the top of my blog, you’ll see what I’m currently reading and/or listening to and what I just read. If I know for sure I’ll tell you what’s next. There might also be some notes about how I’m feeling while reading/listening. Feel free to comment.

Currently Reading/Listening to:

  • Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor – Hardcover – YA, fantasy, children’s middle grade
    • Just started this 8 May after finishing Lagoon by the same author. I’m about 3-4 chapters in and interested. The main character is a young albino girl born in New York City to Nigerian parents who moved back to Nigeria. She gets bullied and makes new friends, so far and there’s something going on, something different about these kids. Even though Sunny gets bullied for being albino, which some in their culture affiliate with witches, she is touch and sassy. It’s great.
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  • The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) by Jenn Lyons, narrated by Saskia MaarleveldDan BittnerLauren Fortgang – Audible audio version – Adult Epic Fantasy
    • I actually started this at the very beginning of May. I think the third book comes out this fall so I decided I should go ahead with this.
    • So far I don’t love that the main narrator is new, well different from the last book. I get it, it’s someone else reading the story of what happened but from an audio book perspective it isn’t great to now hear your main character with a totally different voice. That said I’m enjoying it, four chapters in. Looks like this book is going to be a lot more about dragons than the first.
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  • Kind of Coping: An Illustrated Look at Life with Anxiety by Maureen Marzi Wilson – harcover – nonfiction, graphic novel
    • This is a cute but interesting little book. I’ve read half of it so far. I appreciate the light-hearted nature of this book though the subject is something very serious. I do recommend it to anyone with anxiety or who knows someone with anxiety. It’s nice to laugh while relating about something that’s not so funny, and sometimes drop a tear to know I’m not alone when feeling X.
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  • Thick: and Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom – Hardcover
    • This find is thanks to the podcast Reading Women. Do check out my page about the podcasts I listen to, mostly about reading and/or writing. Those lovely women raved about this book. There have been others talking about it as well and then I saw it on display at a local bookstore. I said okay, let’s go, you’re coming with me. It’s been looking at me ever since and well, today I figured what the heck, they’re essays so I can read them as I please. So far, so good. I’m looking forward to seeing the life of a person so different than me through their lens.

I desperately need to finish Voyage of the Basilisk – The Memoirs of Lady Trent #3 by Marie Brennan (started, oh, forever ago last year). So I’m kind of also currently still reading that though admittedly I keep forgetting about it…hm…what does that say about this series that I’ve liked but…ugh…

Recently Finished:

  • Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor – Hardcover – sci-fi/fantasy, first contact
    • Got another five-star read here! As I write this this was my most recent finish and it was great. Very unique and original first contact story that takes place in Lagos, Nigeria. I recommend this book and this author. To read my review CLICK HERE.
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  • Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World, #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse, narrated by Tanis Parenteau – audible audio book – Fantasy, post-apocalyptic
    • Awesome fast-paced story. I think it was even better than the first, not that the first was less than but rather this adds to what was already built there. Definitely a five-star read/listen. I really like listening to Tanis Parenteau read this story as well.
    • In this story you get new scenery as well as some really cool new characters. I highly recommend this story though I will be anxiously awaiting the 3rd book. The author says on Goodreads that she has two more books planned for this series, four total. HECK YEAH! 😀
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  • Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee – paperback
    • I don’t typically read contemporary fiction but this sounded interesting to me in part because of the mental health aspect. One of the main characters, one of the sisters, has a mental illness. One hundred pages in I’m intrigued even if it’s not my usual fare. So I’ll be mulling this over with a different set of eyes.
    • Update: I really enjoyed this book and gave it 5 stars. This story is intense and emotional. Read my Review HERE.
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  • What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra – hardcover
    • I’ll have to get back to you on how I heard of this book because I’m certain I heard it from a blogger or podcaster. I went right ahead and bought a copy and I’m really happy I did. My jaunt into long, long books, audio and one paperback, has been great (I am still listening to The Name of the Wind, epic fantasy), has left me satisfied, dissatisfied and longing for a shorter more fast-paced story. And I found it here. I’m about 60 some odd pages in and really really enjoying it.
    • I like the little insert pages that seem to imitate copies of letters, notes, and articles. They add to the story and are unique. There’s a lot of mystery here both to the reader and the main character. I don’t see this being a disappointment. I’ll bet it’s a 4-5 star reader, not ready to commit to 5 yet. 😉
    • And I finished it in just over a week (I think that’s good, at least for me). Yeah! I am going ahead with a 5-star rating. There’s not currently a sequel but from the sounds of it it’s not out of the question.
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  • The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss – Audible audio book, narrated by Nick Podehl
    • I won’t get into how this was an accidental purchase, because I do somewhere else. But here we have another epic fantasy. It reminds me a lot of Lord of the Rings. My patience for long long long stories is just not there. This is a good and interesting story, for sure, well-written and all that. But it’s really super long and probably, again I say this, wouldn’t be hurt if a lot of scenes were cut out or cut down.
    • All in all it’s no where near DNF, but when I think about how everyone complains that the third book in this series (this first book published in 2007!) has not yet even been ANNOUNCED, I get nervous. What if I love these first two and have to just sit empty handed? Okay maybe not empty-handed because I have so many books to read. Stay tuned…
    • Update: This story certainly is epic. It’s long and it’s very well-written. I give it four and half stars only because it’s SO DARN LONG. It’s great sure, think Lord of the Rings like I said before. The characters are dynamic and distinct. I could see and feel the events as they happened. But it really takes us through IT ALL. Lol. I do recommend it. I’m really glad I went with the audible version. The narrator puts on a great performance, different voices and all.
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Some of What I’ve Read this Year

  • Lady Midnight (Dark Artifices, #1) by Cassandra Clare – Paperback
    • This has been on my list since March of 2019. Ms. Victorious over at Victorious Pages is how I came across The Dark Artifices but I know I’ve also seen it elsewhere. I happened to see it for sale at Barnes & Noble, knew it was on my list and well I had to take a good deal. 😉
    • I’m about halfway through. It’s interesting. Cassandra Clare is a talented writer however this isn’t really my speed. So much time is spent on the day to day of the characters it just feels too drawn out. In my opinion this book would not have suffered from being shaved down. Of course it doesn’t help that I’m reading this and listening to Strange, the Dreamer, both books that…are…d.r.a.g.g.i.n.g. Maybe I should put ellipses in between each of those letters…
    • Upon finishing: I will not be continuing this series at this time. There are some sample chapters at the end of the book for the next in this series, the first in the ShadowHunters series, and the first book about the characters Tessa & Jem. Of those samples I almost like the first in the whole series but for now I’m moving on.
    • I give this book a 3 because I do not like the pacing. There’s a lot of repetitive thinking going on in terms of character relationships. By this a mean, a lot of talking about how much one character cares for another though we already know this. This is a character driven book, even then I think it would be better served with a little bit more weight put on the overall plot, the thing that keeps it moving. The reason it doesn’t really feel like it moves enough for me.
  • The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons, #1) by Jenn Lyons, Audible Audio edition narrated by Feodor Chin, Vikas Adam, Soneela Nankani
    • So I went back through my notes to see how I found this book. It does not appear I learned of it through any book bloggers. Honestly I don’t know how I found this book! I think she was on a podcast but I can’t find the one. It could have also been NPR but I don’t think so. Maybe it was a fellow blogger and I didn’t write it down…? Ugh…notes are great…
    • This is an epic fantasy, which means it’s a really big book. Which is also part of the reason I chose to listen to it: not a heavy book and much cheaper because I used the book “credit” I get from audible for the month. I’m in Chapter 26 and still have 19 hours to go. So if you need a big long story, here you go.
    • It is a long drawn out storytelling that’s for sure. But I don’t say drawn out in a bad way. It’s getting more and more interesting. I won’t be surprised if in the end I say it could have done without being this long but we’ll see. So far I like it, not super in love with it, but it’s cool. 😀
    • Upon finishing: What I said above came to be, I really liked this book. However, I don’t feel that it would necessarily be served by cutting it down. This is a journey and taking the journey makes for a complete story. Could some sections have been shorter and the story still great? Sure thing. But it’s still an excellent book. I’m giving it 4 stars. I do recommend it and I will continue with the series THAT I DIDN’T KNOW WAS A THING! 🙂
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  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor , narrated by Steve West- Audible audio book
    • [Here’s what I said before:] I’m in about Chapter 10 I think? So far I’m disappointed because this book is taking so long to be interesting. Lazlo, the main character (MC), really feels flat to me at this point. Given the number of roaring reviews I’ve discovered there to be (saw, didn’t read just glazed over a few) I have faith that this book improves but if I was given an ultimatum I’d be tempted to DNF this.
    • You know a book is taking too long to really grab you when you almost forget you’re actually supposed to be paying attention to what you’re listening to and you struggle to want to.
    • This book I found thanks to SilverWolfReads after her trip to NYC and her giant book haul. Please do visit her blog (click the link above) and read my review of this book. I most recently finished this book & after what I’ve said above you’ll be surprised to know I’m rating this 5/5 stars.

We’re just getting into May and the sun is shining more and more. This last month has been pretty good for reading. However, as the weather warms I won’t be inside as much but I will need to get some sun – time to read and write – and I’ll be doing yard work which is conducive to listening to audio books and podcasts. 😀

A little while ago I wrote a post for anticipated reading among other things. I’ve since finished some of those, altered plans a little bit and added on to it.

Reading Plans for May & June

  • At the time of writing I’ve just started Akata Witch (see above). I was going to read the first then some V.E. Schwab but since I already have Akata Warrior I will read that immediately following Akata Witch.
  • After those two I’ll start A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (finally 😉 ).
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  • I don’t know what I’ll listen to when I’m finished with The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) but I have The Wise Man’s Fear (sequel to The Name of the Wind), The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow;
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  • Let’s see what else? Hmm… do you think I should just read A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy in a row? I also have Planetfall by Emma Newman on my mind and Where the Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward. Any thoughts?

I really love engaging with folks in comments. I’d love to hear what you think about this list and I really thank you for taking the time to read this.

Stay safe & well!