May saw the wrap up of my final two classes for graduate school, so the long awaited Master’s Degree is on the horizon. I also buckled down on my Hub Challenge books (15 read in May), and kept picking away at my Amazon TBR. PopSugar is pretty much on hold until Hub is over at the end of June.
I felt the urge to revisit Sookie Stackhouse, though this time I listened to them instead of reading them. I really do enjoy this series – the first 6-7 books, at least. After that, the quality went down (coinciding with the release of True Blood). Book Sookie and TB Sookie are completely different people, and I did not like how the show portrayed her or how it twisted the various plots. Plus, as the series progressed Harris seemed to take sadistic pleasure in torturing/killing her characters and ruining their lives.
Novels (6) / Novellas (7) / Nonfiction (3) / Poetry (1)
Still on my alien/dragon romance kick, I enjoyed the two Celestial Mates novellas. The others were not very good. Ruby Dixon worlds are interesting as are the overall plots that connect the individual books in her series together, but she tends to get bogged down in the sex and hero/heroine’s self-reflection. As an example, a good 30% of Fire in His Kiss could have been axed because it didn’t forward the plot or the characters’ relationship. The first book, Fire in His Blood was decent, but I couldn’t make it even a quarter of the way through the third book.
Read Aloud (1)
I read Phantom to my girls in preparation to see the Broadway musical. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack for years, but have never actually seen it. The book provided a decent overview, and the musical was freaking amazing. In both, however, Raoul and the Phantom didn’t see Christine as her own person, only an object they wanted to possess. I wanted to throttle both of them.
April was a middle-of-the-road kind of month for books. I had two major projects due on the 23rd, which meant I didn’t had the wherewithal to focus on challenge books. I did, however, have the wherewithal to read alien/dragon romances, but that was more of a coping mechanism than anything.
Audiobooks Fiction (13) / Nonfiction (2)
Furious Flames is the third book in a series, and the narrator completely changed how he voiced the main character. He went from a radio-play-hardboiled-detective to a normal guy. It was very jarring. I was ambivalent about Son of the Black Sword for most of the book, but I wanted to finish it because I’d DNF’d several books right before listening to it. I was glad I did because about 2/3 of the way through, things finally started to happen – and they were interesting. I’m looking forward to the sequel to see how it plays out. I love the Awaken Online series. It takes the RPG subgenre and plays with it on the gray-scale continuum of good and evil. So many of the characters are gray, and what makes something good or evil is jumbled up. Retribution, a side quest focusing on Riley, was equally good. I loved watching her grow as a character, and start to come into her own within the game.
Books / Novellas (13)
The bulk of my book books in April revolved around dragon and/or alien romances. Crunch time at school equals my brain checking out because I just can’t. I’ve read Enemy of Mine several times (a time travel romance – no aliens or dragons). I enjoy Erva and Will, both as individuals and as a couple. The storyline is fun, though towards the end it gets a bit schmoopy. For alien romances, Eve Langlais writes entertaining stories. They are campy, funny, and don’t take themselves too seriously. The Dragons of Valdier are alright as long as you don’t try to binge read them. The heroines are fine for the most part (with only minimal stupidity for the sake of the plot), but there is only so much “me caveman dragon, you mate, me protect” and the over use of tiny/little as descriptors for the heroines that I can take before my eyeballs start hurting. I also don’t think the author has a strong grasp of the US military and how it works.
Read Alouds (2)
I finished up the Fog Mound trilogy, much to the disappointment of Bug and Max. I wish there were more books in this series, or that there were other graphic/novel combos similar to this. I will most likely pick up some Brian Selznick books to read to them.
My reading totals increased in March, up to 32 books. However, 11 of those books were either graphic or early chapter read alouds, both of which tend to be quick reads. I also continued to read non-challenge books in an attempt to stave off burnout and to knock down my ever growing Amazon and Audible (new list forthcoming) TBR lists.
April Reading Goals
Audible TBR – 8 books (5 books in March)
PopSugar – 4 books (5 books in March)
Hub – 12 books (11 completed / 1 DNF in March)
Audiobooks Fiction (13) / Nonfiction (2)
The Bobiverse trilogy by Dennis E. Taylor is great. I love the creativity and originality for the basis of the Bobs, and how they grow into their own. All These Worlds is the weakest book, mainly because it felt rushed. I would love to see Taylor revisit this series at some point in the future because there is still so much potential. Forging Hephaestus took about three hours to get going, but once it did, it was fantastic! It was a hot mess (in a good way) of the supers vs. villains trope – supers with a perverted sense of justice, and villains with morals. I cannot wait for the sequel to come out. No Good Deed was entertaining, but not near as good as the author’s other book, Kill the Boy Band. I liked the satirical take on turning humanitarian work into a knock-down, drag-out competition. A Beautiful Work in Progress was alright. Most of the information in it can be found in various interviews online. Valerio spent a lot of time on her personal history as compared to her journey to running ultras. I was expecting a stronger focus on her running story.
Novels (5) / Nonfiction (1)
Read Alouds (6)
After a long drought of read alouds, we made it through six books in January. Eerie Elementary is a hit with both Bug and Max, and since they are not painful to read, it’s a win-win situation. Both also loved Travels of Thelonious (I read this to Bean years ago, and she loved it). This is the first book in a trilogy set in a post-apocalyptic/post-human world focusing on the adventures of a chipmunk who ends up a long way from home. The chapters alternate between prose and comics, and is a happy medium for Max who does not like books without lots of pictures. The Battle of the Boss-Monster was the final book in The Notebook of Doom series, and was honestly the weakest book in the series. It somewhat anti-climactic.
My reading volume dropped dramatically in February, from 41 books down to 20. Graduate school is back in session, and my attention has been on getting into the school groove after winter break. Honestly, I’m still spending too much time reading and not enough on schoolwork. My husband and I also spent a week’s worth of evenings watching American Gods. It is one of my least favorite Neil Gaiman books, but the show is fantastic.
March Reading Goals
Audible TBR – 9 books
PopSugar – 6 books
Hub – 10 books (at least half will be graphic novels/audiobooks)
Audiobooks Fiction (13) / Nonfiction (3)
Only five of the audiobooks I listened to were for Popsugar. Because school is back in session, the challenge has been put on the back burner. Instead, I decided to 1) reread The Others series, and 2) start chipping away at my Audible TBR. I loved The Others when I listened to them last year, and I am still enamored of them with my second listen. Bishop does an amazing job with her world building, character identities/development, and politics. Sometimes it feels like there isn’t as much development as there should be across five books, but then I have to remind myself that the series spans only around 6-7 months of the characters’ lives. Bishop also doesn’t pull any punches, and each book seems to ratchet up the tension. Then you get to Marked in Flesh (book 4) and realize that shit just got real. Etched in Bone feels like a let down only because it follows one hell of an intense climax from Marked in Flesh, and it’s hard to top something like that. Etched in Bone is a good book in its own right because it starts the process for what life will be like from there on out. I really hope Bishop revisits this universe and writes stories about some of the supporting characters.
From my Audible TBR, What Doesn’t Kill Us was an interesting look at how complacent our bodies have become because of our cozy, sedentary lives, and how shocking it into action can be healthy for us in the long run. I Am Legend was short, but very good. I liked how the dynamic of human versus vampire was tilted on its head, as well as Neville’s ending realization. Cosmos was also fascinating, though it threw me off at times because of how many discoveries and advancements have happened since it was originally published in 1980. This doesn’t make the book obsolete, but it felt like a window back in time. I wish my dad was still around to talk to about Cosmos, as Sagan was a (philosopher) scientist he greatly admired.
Read Alouds (1)
My read aloud rate to my children has been dismal recently. Max isn’t a fan of chapter books that aren’t accompanied by a large amount of pictures, and it’s caused arguments between him and Bug. Bed time would drag on forever if I had to read separate books for each child. We ended up either reading nothing or reading picture books. Bean has also been moving away from read alouds (something I want to rectify once I’ve graduated) and has been listening to audiobooks before bed (she’s moved from graphic novels to audiobooks as her format of choice – she still does not like reading book books).
With 2017 finished, I managed over 400 books, about half of which were audiobooks (which is why I managed 400 books in the first place).
Most of my audiobooks were not for Amazon TBR. Dad is Fat was hilarious. Jim Gaffigan has a good peg on what it’s like to be a parent. Some Danger Involved was an interesting start to a late Victorian era murder mystery series. I liked it enough that I would read more books, but not so much that I would buy the books. The same goes for Fated, though this was urban fantasy. Rebel Queen was surprisingly good. I liked that the main character was not the rebel queen herself, but was one of her security guards. On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service was surprisingly good, in large part because Queenie wasn’t in it. She is one of the most obnoxious characters, and I hope she does not return as Georgie’s maid. Mermaids and the Vampires Who Love Them was alright – a YA mystery involving mythical creatures. It would have been a better read than listen as I do not particularly care for the narrator. She is good as part of an ensemble, but not as the sole narrator. I have mixed feelings on God is Disappointed in You. On the one hand, it was a a funny, but accurate interpretation of the Bible. One the other hand, there were parts that were not entertaining and felt like a chore to get through. There were times that God came across as an emotionally/physically abusive spouse.
Most of the books were read for my Amazon TBR. As for the two books that weren’t TBR related, The Strange Case of Finley Jane was decent – better than The Girl in the Steel Corset; and Eternally Yours was a somewhat disappointing finish to an otherwise good trilogy.
I did a whole lot of listening in November. There was much overtime, and I can listen while I work. I also had a run on alien romances and started reading Happy Marriage ?!, both of which are sure fire indicators of extreme school stress. Why do school work when I can read drama and escapism?
Audiobooks Fiction (22) / Nonfiction (3)
My audio reads for the month were split between my Amazon TBR and just because books. I listened to another novel and novella by Jodi Taylor – love St. Mary’s but after my initial binge, need to space them out or I’ll get burned out on the tone/style. I relistened to the first three Magisterium books in anticipation of the fourth book, which I will hopefully be able to listen to in December. I’ve heard complaints that they are a rip-off of Harry Potter, but other than the “magical boarding school and the harbinger of the evil one”, it really is different. The rules of magic are different, and Callum’s relationship to the “evil one” is different as well. Stalking Jack the Ripper turned out better than I was expecting. Audrey was self-sufficient and intelligent. While she bucked the norms of Victorian society, did it in a way that was believable and not as a modern woman plunked down in an earlier age (one of my gripes with this kind of book). I liked it the rules of magic in Holly Black’s Curse Workers trilogy, and the moral tug-of-war Cassel had to deal with. I also liked how it ended, though I would have preferred to have a bit more post-story character information.
This section screams “Emma is overwhelmed and needs to escape reality.” Quality literature it is not, but it is great for escaping. The Space Pirate Chronicles ended up being less romance and more sci-fi. Interesting sci-fi actually, and I liked that she didn’t pander to the HEA and wrote an ending that made sense within the context of the story. I like Grim because while I was in my alien romance phase two years ago, I wondered what would happen if any of the kidnapped women had children. Grim was the answer. It is not without some serious editing flaws. Serious editing flaws. And Lisa and her daughters are total Mary Sues, but I still like it all the same.