Thoughts on my April 2022 Reading

It was a weird month … but doesn’t every month feel weird these days? I completed 17 titles, many of which were under 250 pages. There’s a lot of continued and new Life and Stuff going on within both my immediate circle and the greater beyond. I’m thankful for my public library systems – they help keep me in books and semi-balanced throughout all the things I can’t control.

In the one more thing department, my favorite library ebook app is going away soon. I don’t like it’s replacement as I feel there’s too much stuff between me and the book I want to read. However, this month I made myself switch over cold turkey. The app is getting easier to use as I gain familiarity with it, but I still find the other app better for how I prefer to read.

One benefit to the new app is it allows magazine access in-app. That means I finally read a bunch of magazines including that never ending virtual pile of New Yorkers instead of books. I need to start writing about some of the amazing short stories and articles I read, we’ll see what happens here in the next few weeks.

This month I’ve grouped the books I read by general subject and sorted by author. Please note that a star (★) preceding the title indicates that I received the book with the hope that I’d write a review, the FTC wants you to know.

Fiction, standalone titles

Haven: A Small Cat’s Big Adventure by Megan Wagner Lloyd (forthcoming, August 2022), 144 pages, Children’s Fiction, book.

This is a beautiful middle-grade title exploring love, loss, grief, and friendship. My complete review is at Library Thing.

The Employees by Olga Ravn (2020), 125 pages, Science Fiction, Library book.

I saw this title mentioned in a Guardian review, and despite my mostly-miss luck with any title on a Booker Prize short list, decided to give it a try when I saw it on the library shelf. It’s definitely unique! While my first take was “how is this a novel”, weeks later I’m still thinking about it.

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi (2022), 272 pages, Science Fiction; Urban Fantasy, Library ebook.

Scalzi himself calls this a pop song of a novel. Yes, it is. It’s a fun read and the kind of light and quick story I needed the day I read it. The only fault I have right now is that this is the only story (I believe) set in the world for now. I want more!

I appreciate the authors who admit somewhere how bloody hard writing is in general and how the pandemic specifically and life in general screwed with their plans. But also how they love writing. I grew up believing a) all authors were dead [which was weird because I was in an author of the month writing club at school] b) they were mythical perfect beings. I like my revised view and that there’s a greater admittance that we’re human!

Fiction, series

Ruby Fever by Ilona Andrews (forthcoming, August 2022), 384 pages, Urban Fantasy, Catalina Baylor (#3)/Hidden Legacy (#6), ebook.

Ruby Fever is the satisfying conclusion of Catalina’s story in the Hidden Legacy series. With long kept family secrets revealed, the story is well paced from start to finish. There’s a good deal of responsibility on Catalina’s shoulders and this book shows she’s able to handle it. My complete review is at NetGalley.

Deepest of Secrets by Kelley Armstrong (2022), 341 pages, Urban Fantasy, Rockton (#7), Library book.

I love this series. The path this book takes wasn’t unexpected and it is yet another a good read set in Rockton. If you’re fearful this is the last time you’ll read of Casey and Eric, Armstrong has hinted you’ll see them again. I’ll leave it an exercise to you to find that hint on her website.

Flame in the Dark by Faith Hunter (2017), 342 pages, Urban Fantasy, Soulwood (#3), reread, ebook.

Circle of the Moon by Faith Hunter (2019), 399 pages, Urban Fantasy, Soulwood (#4), ebook.

I read Flame in the Dark last year before lots of Stuff and Life happened. It’s no surprise my brain couldn’t remember enough details for Circle of the Moon to sit right in my head. So, I reread it after feeling a bit lost in the chapter of the 4th book of this series. These stories are closely twined, and I think these two are good to read together. Nell grows quite a bit over these two books and it’s delightful to read. I’m also rooting hard for her sister Mud and hope to read more about her.

Dragon’s Dawn by Anne McCaffrey (1988), 384 pages, Science Fiction, Pern (#1, Chrono), reread, Library Audiobook.

I was testing a pair of headphones and needed a quick easy listen. It’s an interesting story and a series I’ve not reread for a few years. I am curious my thoughts about all of it today but want to make my way back through more of the series before I write my thoughts.

Business

Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port (2006), 258 pages, Business, reread, book.

Beyond Booked Solid by Michael Port (2008), 240 pages, Business, Audiobook.

I first read Book Yourself Solid back in 2007 and never commented much about it. I liked the framework and never had the focus to make my way fully through the process and implement it. Speaking with current clients and a vastly different world today had me rereading it and thinking about it this past month. Because I’d never fully implemented the process, I hadn’t read Beyond Booked Solid until now. For me this is a much better book to wrap my brain around and unstick and hopefully get me working on moving forward. Yes, much of it is now dated and many (most) of the links no longer work. My belief is that Port’s overall guidance is still useful especially if like me you hate thinking about sales.

Creating Things That Matter: The Art and Science of Innovations That Last by David Edwards (2018), 288 pages, Business, Library book.

This title makes a bold promise, and while well intentioned is a little shy of the mark. While there is no simple checklist that can guarantee creative – and lasting – results, over the course of the book, Edwards guides the reader through the creative cycle. My complete review is at NetGalley.

Grief

Welcome to the Grief Club: Because You Don’t Have to Go Through It Alone by Janine Kwoh (2022), 128 pages, Nonfiction, Library book.

I wish this book existed back in 1989. While I think the ball and box is a really good analogy to explain grief, Kwoh unfortunately has the experience to write this remarkable book that shares other thoughts about grief. Everyone should read it.

Crafting

The Tunisian Crochet Handbook: A Beginner’s Guide by Toni Lipsey (2021), 175 pages, Crafting, library book.

Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide by Kim Guzman (2013), 96 pages, Crafting, library book.

I checked a bunch of Tunisian crochet books out from the library after seeing the technique pop up more. The basics have been part of my tool kit for years, but it’s not a technique I thought much about. I feel that these are the best for learning the basics (Lipsey) and seeing the vast array of stitch possibilities (Guzman). Lipsey’s Handbook is a beautiful and modern book that brings the technique to today’s crocheter. With clear photos and the projects are modern. She has succeeding in helping to make it accessible. It is the type of book I wish existed when I first started to crochet (a very long time ago). Guzman’s Stitch Guide by contrast is deceiving book – it looks small and unassuming. Inside it is a fully thought-out stitch dictionary.

Together these two books remind me of an experience in AP Biology (a very long time ago). The preferred text was the classic Campbell. It was a very good book but one that it was easy to fall asleep to. I love clear diagrams and we also had a second book we were allowed to borrow. It was a newer text laid out in a more modern manner and to my delight it had amazing color drawings. Both were amazing textbooks, and together helped level up my studies. It’s the same with Lipsey and Guzman. I recommend both for anyone interested in Tunisian Crochet.

Cooking

Graze: Inspiration for Small Plates and Meandering Meals by Suzanne Lenzer (2017), 205 pages, Cookbook, Library ebook.

#EATMEATLESS: Good for Animals, the Earth & All by The Jane Goodall Institute (2021), 168 pages, Cookbook, Library ebook.

Plants-Only Kitchen: Over 70 Delicious, Super-Simple, Powerful and Protein-Packed Recipes for Busy People by Gaz Oakley (2020), 244 pages, Cookbook, Library ebook.

I’m at a seasonal change meal planning slump crossed with the post-pesach I don’t want to cook anything blahs. Lenzer is a great concept (especially for those who need to feed aging relatives), but it’s not the book for me. It features meat and shellfish a bit too heavily for me to make significant use of it. Both vegetarian books have tempting photos and have helped inspire our meals. I plan to make the Strawberry “Cheese” Cake from #EATMEATLESS this weekend.


It was an interesting collection of titles last month as I dipped into this and that. I’m in the mood for a long series that I can binge. I’m not sure what I’ll read – maybe a reread of Pern or The Laundry Files. Or I may find myself reading something new. We’ll see. I’m also trying to work my way through more review titles. I’ve set aside daily time to focus on reading them, if I don’t request any more titles, I’m eight books away from 50% at NetGalley. Is there something specific you’d like me to read?

Thoughts on my March 2022 Reading

Technically it’s now spring, though I’m still adding extra layers of wool. The weather tempted me to find more moments to curl up with Dot, a blanket, and a book, also known as my preferred state. Last month it allowed me to finish reading nineteen books; they had an average page count of 357 pages, and were published between 1962 and 2022.

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Thoughts on my January 2022 Reading

I felt as if I didn’t read much last month. It was a pleasant surprise to check my notes and discover I’d read 17 books. Last week, my friend and I had a laugh over this article about reading spreadsheets. We’ve tracked our reading in a shared one for a long time (after years of each having our own) and use it to recommend books to each other and comment on our reading.

This year I adjusted what I track; I’m curious about publication dates and number of pages. Do I read only recent books or is there a range? I like big books. While I still have this bias in digital books, is that actually true of what I read? Thanks to my data, I can attest that in January, the average publication date of books I read was 2015 and with an average page length of 351, the shortest was 100, and the longest book only 432.

The Book List

Steel’s Edge by Ilona Andrews (2012), 388 pages, The Edge Series (#4), Urban Fantasy/Paranormal, reread, library book. As I mentioned last month, this is a good series. Perhaps it’s not as popular as some of their others but I like the world building in a different way than the Innkeeper Chronicles.

The Wild Girls: Plus … by Ursula K LeGuin (2011), 100 pages, Fiction, library book. I checked this out on a whim wanting something different and short but still LeGuin. “The Wild Girls” is a fascinating short story with lots to unpack. I also enjoyed the essay from Harpers (2008) “Staying Awake While We Read”, which I don’t know if I’d read before in other collections. There were also a handful of poems and an interview. I highly recommend this for the variety and depth of LeGuin’s writing in a mere 100 pages!

True Dead by Faith Hunter (2021), Jane Yellowrock (#14), 384 pages, Urban Fantasy/Paranormal, library book. This is an interesting series mostly because of all the character/plot threads that are in play. This newest book was published after my tear through the series last March. In the ten months between finishing Shattered Bonds and picking up a copy at the library, some of the details were forgotten. Thankfully there were reminders sprinkled through that helped make the story enjoyable.

Dune by Frank Herbert (1965), 412 pages, Science Fiction, reread, library ebook. I checked this out because we tried to watch the new movie and I was incredibly confused, the opening scenes didn’t match what I remembered of the story. It didn’t help that the laptop we were using crashed, so we haven’t yet made it past the first 30 minutes or so. As I was rereading it was surprising to me how fuzzy my memory was for this story, I last read it in 2006. It was interesting that I my recollection of many details wrong and it almost felt as if I was reading it for the first time. I don’t know if I really care enough to continue in the series. As it just received a slew of BAFTA nominations, I think we will try to watch the entire movie.

An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris (2018), 336 pages.
A Longer Fall by Charlaine Harris (2020), 291 pages.
The Russian Cage by Charlaine Harris (2021), 304 pages.
Gunnie Rose Series (#1-3), Urban Fantasy/Alternate History, Library ebooks. While overall this series could be a bit predictable, I enjoyed it. It had been on my to be read (TBR) list for a while and my friend reread it at the end of last year and nudged me to give it a read. I’m happy I did.

Cursed Luck by Kelley Armstrong (2021), 364 pages.
High Jinx by Kelley Armstrong (2021), 349 pages
Cursed Luck Series (#1-2), Urban Fantasy, Library ebooks.
This was a light series and is set in the same world as “Goddess of Summer Love”. A novella that I read in Shards and Ashes, last month. It was nice to have more of the characters back stories, and watch them develop. I hope there will be more.

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong (2016), 403 pages.
A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong (2017), 416 pages.
This Fallen Prey by Kelley Armstrong (2018), 432 pages.
Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong (2019), 384 pages.
Alone in the Wild by Kelley Armstrong (2020), 368 pages.
A Stranger in Town by Kelley Armstrong (2021), 356 pages.

Casey Duncan Series (#1-6), Mystery, Library books & ebooks. The first book took a little for me to get into, but the series had come with a strong recommendation so I persevered. Once I did, and I’m thankful for library e-books! This is a mystery series that feels like a desert island, but it’s actually set off the grid in the wilds of Canada. Honestly reading when the windchill read -11°F helped the story.

How the Other Half Eats : the Untold Story of Food and Inequality in America  by Priya Fielding-Singh (2021), 326 pages, Sociology; Nutrition; Public Health, Library book. It turns out I have a lot to say on this topic and may write that in a future post. The shortest version is I grew up on the edge of food insecurity, even if I didn’t fully recognize it at the time. But it may be why today I’m notorious in the family for my diligence to meal planning, budgeting, and trying to avoid highly processed foods. With all that in mind, I’m curious how others make choices on food and why. Fielding-Singh’s readable overview shares the story of modern society, food, and inequality in one small — yet diverse — slice of America.

Boundaries : all-new tales of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey (editor) (2021), 354 pages, Fantasy, Short Story Anthology (#15), Library Book. I still enjoy the stories written in the world of Valdemar. One day I’ll write about challenge of feeling seen in books and discovering the author or their partner was/isn’t the best of people. For now I’ll keep reading these stories.

Current Reads

I didn’t finish most of what I started reading last month. In fact, many of those were returned to the library after I removed bookmarks at chapter two. There’s nothing wrong with them, I just am not sure what I want to read right now. There’s a whole new batch of books that I’ve started. As always I have a few books I’d like to finish and review, but my main goal is to enjoy what I read.

Thoughts on my December 2021 Reading

Overall, I completed reading 201 books last year. Of those, ten were books I reread and six were NetGalley titles for review. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t reread more, especially in the days after losing my Shadow cat. I may write more about my complicated relationship to grief soon. For today, however, I will write a few thoughts about the ten books I completed in December.

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