June 2021 Reading

If I thought May was a challenging month, it had nothing on June. I put my nose in a book whenever I could. Life is stressful and I escape by reading fantasy. Therefore, I managed to make good progress in both the October Daye and InCryptid series by Seanan McGuire. I also finished a few other books bringing the total for the month to twenty-two books. I’ve read 123 titles so far this year!

NetGalley Reviews

There is only one NetGalley review this month. I’m working on the others.

Cover for Knit Hats by Woolly Wormhead. Shows 6 designs in collage.

Knit Hats: Styles for the Whole Family by Woolly Wormhead

Showcasing Woolly’s unique style, this book has a hat for every member of the family. Pre-order your copy today.

You can read my complete review at little acorn creations.

Read in series and parallel

I don’t yet have coherent thoughts about either the InCryptid or October Daye series. I am enjoying both very much. I’m reading The Winter Long today and feel very much seen in/by/as Toby. Earlier this week I finished Calculated Risks, now that I’m caught up on the InCryptid series and I’ll write up my thoughts.

Cover: The Ministry for the Future. A tunnel/silo showing a blue sky, silhouette of a person, a blimp.

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

I started this book last summer and finished it mid-month before the record-breaking heat wave hit the Pacific Northwest.

This needs to be required reading to understand the big picture and how everything we do impacts the climate.

I highly recommend it with the caveat that the storytelling format, switching between characters, was sometimes distracting.

cover: My Remarkable Journey. An early to mid-career Johnson shown with a paper collage in the background, some showing graphs and formulas.

My Remarkable Journey: A Memoir by Katherine Johnson with Joylette Hylick and Katherine G. Moore

I thankful to read these histories before they are lost to time. This is a beautiful memoir and I’m thankful her daughters helped complete the manuscript. Yes, I most wish for a time machine so I could have read it as someone who loved math in high school (but didn’t know what one could do with it other than teach, and I’d planned to teach music) or as a very young computer science major in college.

Cover: Beyond The Founding of Valdemar. A man with a blue badge and a white winged horse is prominent.

Beyond (Founding of Valdemar) by Mercedes Lackey

Wow. Yes. You must read this book. I’d forgotten this book was arriving. I’d recommended it to the library long ago and the automatic fulfillment of my hold on a copy was a pleasant surprise.

Some longtime readers of this world are apparently thrown by the first chapter. I loved it for telling it true (or as true as can be in a fantasy world). Lackey is writing the story as it needs to be written. This establishes how the Founding of Valdemar came to be. I also believe this is a book written in reflection of a world that is not as gentle as it wanted to seem was years ago. In addition to graphic detail, there are f-bombs. If you know me in real life, my language is incredibly salty. I may have shouted “Yes!” more than once while reading as I encountered them.

I loved this new book of Valdemar and am already impatiently awaiting the next one.

July Reading Plans

Shadow finally had surgery this morning to remove his sarcoma after delaying for additional tests. It went well and now we begin his path to recovery. Once he’s home (he’s in kitty ICU tonight), he’ll need to keep quiet for two weeks (not too hard for a 12-year-old lap cat). It should be no surprise that I plan to sit and reread the entire Valdemar series with him.

Last week he and Dot shared some of the packing paper. It made for a good napping spot.

Black cat with one front leg shaved and a tuxedo cat both laying and napping on packing paper in a living room that has other cat-friendly boxes and packing paper.
packing paper is the best

May 2021 Reading

May was a challenging month for reasons not related at all to my reading. There were, however, two exciting reading related events. First, I set foot inside my local library branch for the first time since March 2020! It was delightful to browse the shelves and check out books. The second was shopping at two library book sales and finding some interesting new-to-me titles.

Even with all these distractions, I managed to finish reading eighteen books.

Read in series, not parallel

The Psy/Changeling Trinity Series is a subtle shift to share more of the Psy/Changeling world by Nalini Singh. It explores new areas and meeting new characters. I enjoyed Silver Silence, perhaps the most out of any of the books in this world.

I also read the Peter Grant/River of London series by Ben Aaronvitch. Adrienne Martini introduced me to the existence of these books in her newsletter. As an Anglophile myself it was a good way to pretend travel to London. I will not confirm or deny watching reruns of Endeavor during my devouring of these books. It’s impossible at this time to state a favourite book, I’m hoping the library licenses What Abigail Did That Summer soon, she is a fascinating character and I’d like to get to know her better. While Aaronvitch claims he’s not comfortable with the form, I found Tales from the Folly to be a remarkable short story collection and wish I hadn’t read it all in one evening!

NetGalley Reviews

There are two NetGalley reviews this week! Hopefully I’ll share more soon. I finished reading several titles and now have to write something more coherent than “I liked it”.

Paper & Blood (Ink & Sigil #2) by Kevin Hearne

Book cover of Paper & Blood

This second book of the Ink & Sigil series caused me to break my moratorium on requesting new ARCs before I finished a few more reviews. I love this new series set in the world the Iron Druid introduced ten years ago.

Is it a perfect book? It’s close. Is it remarkable that Hearne completed the manuscript during this global pandemic? Yes! Will we be reunited with beloved characters? SAUSAGE! (That’s a yes–Oberon and Starbuck are a key part of this story as are Al, Buck, Nadia, and yes Atticus).

Paper & Blood is wonderful read with Hearne’s signature wit and wordplay. You can read more thoughts in this NetGalley review. It’s available now for pre-order with a signed bookplate from The Poisoned Pen.

Adventure Cables by Meghan Jones

Book cover of Adventure Cables

This is a book I’ll write more about at little acorn creations tomorrow.

It is a pattern collection with extensive tips and tutorials. It’s geared toward intermediate knitters.

Pre-order today, it will be released in September.

June Reading Plans

I’m working through the October Dayne and InCryptid books by Seanan McGuire. It’s unclear to me why I’ve not completed these series yet. I think they’ll be good escapes this month.

There are more NetGalley reviews in the queue and I hope to make it to at least a 50% review ratio by the end of this month. If I stopped requesting new books faster than I can review them, it would be a much easier goal to reach!

piles of books

April 2021 Reading

My reading in April was predictable. If I was awake and not working, I pretty much had my nose in a book. I read Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changlings series quickly. This was aided by a library license to omnibus editions of several books so I could pretty much read continuously. I’d borrow 1-5 and place a hold for 6-10; the second volume became available as I finished the first, and I repeated this with the third. This also let me conserve the number of books I checked out at one time.

The first book, Slave to Sensation took me a while to get into. This series came highly recommended by a good friend — we enjoy many of the same series. I sent her a message, I’m not sure I’m going to like this. The reply was to keep reading. I did was rewarded with a rich story and world that I can’t stop thinking about. I’m now mid-way through the Psy-Changeling Trinity series and have lots of thoughts on the world and characters. I’m going to try to write something up when I finish the fourth book. These sorts of reviews are challenging for me to write, but I am going to try!

Over at little acorn creations I wrote about four knitting books I borrowed from the library. I didn’t intend to do such a deep dive into the concept of modular knitting, but it happened, and I’ve learned a lot. You can find the reviews at my post, Blanket Thoughts.

Review Reads

I’d set a personal rule that I couldn’t request more netgalley titles until my review ratio was a bit higher. It’s still below fifty percent. That flew out the window the moment Kevin Hearne’s next book was offered. I loved Ink and Sigil when I first read it last year (see also this mini review). I can now say that Paper and Blood is even better. I’m working on a proper review, we’ll start with this preview: I stayed up late to finish. I can’t think of an accolade higher than that. Ok, I stay up to finish just one more chapter of what I’m reading almost every night. In this case I stayed up with the intent to finish the book (I had 3 chapters left). It was worth it the next day grogginess. This second book features many returning characters and has a few surprises up its sleeve (or do books have two because of the front/back covers? Hmm.) If you haven’t yet read the Iron Druid Chronicles, you really should. It begins with Hounded, published ten years ago!

What I’m reading next

I have a large stack of paper books on my nightstand I really should read but I’ve said that for a year. I have a very long list of netgalley titles to review. But I’ve said that for a year as well. All of those may get ignored because in a few weeks, my local library branch is due to open for in person browsing. I’m excited. I can do a good deal with catalog searches, there is even a “shelf browser” feature. But nothing can compete with doing so in person.

Why? I received my second vaccine dose last Sunday and will be considered fully immunized by that time. Please, help protect your community and get vaccinated (both doses if applicable), continue to be thoughtful about wearing a mask properly (cover your nose), maintaining social distance, staying home if you’re unwell, and washing your hands.

March 2021 Reading

March was the month of both record high temperatures and snow. I needed a mental vacation. I continued my binge of urban fantasy/romance series. Years ago I found it challenging to admit to reading these sorts of books, now I don’t really care what anyone else thinks.

After finishing both the Jane Yellowrock and Soulwood series by of Faith Hunter, I jumped into Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series. This morning I started the twelfth book of that series, it’s been fun to get close to a different character in each book. Steamy romance isn’t my thing; characters who are broken and trying to navigate life while kicking series arse appeal to me.

Two other books I read last month are Tiny But Mighty and the new translation of Beowulf by Maria Dahvana Headley.

Last week I reviewed this great book on learning how to care for kittens and community cats.

I last tackled Beowulf in the mid-90s and was the type of student who wanted to see the original text. Now it’s much easier, thanks technology! I listened to the audio book and didn’t pay close attention so I know whole parts washed over me — and that’s a good thing! The translation was easy to listen to. I’ll probably return to it in print soon, it sparked ideas and I want to read closer.

This month? I’m planning on reading Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changlings series next, then we’ll see what else. There is a library reorganization in my near future. I hope reshelving will help me both start and finish books I’ve been meaning to read instead of constantly borrowing new titles from the library.

piles of books

Longest Month (2021) Reading

If your February was anything like mine, you’re probably feeling as I am this first week of March, exhausted and drained of all energy. It’s Thursday so there’s light at the end of the week. All last month the only thing I really wanted to read was book candy. I’d much rather read than watch TV, but I still want a quick read that doesn’t require me to think a good deal. What I want is a twist on reality. I turned to whatever books I could borrow digitally from my library systems.

First up are two non-fiction titles, both are approachable but for different reasons.

I love stitch dictionaries and will flip through them again and again looking for inspiration. I want to swatch almost every stitch in Norah Gaughan’s Twisted Stitch Sourcebook. For more about it, please read my post at little acorn creations.

During the academic year, a semi-local lab holds lectures for the public and attended for years. Now we can attend without leaving the house, but we seem to keep missing them. It was nice to scratch my astrophysics itch by finally reading, The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) by Katie Mack. It’s incredibly readable and interesting. You can find an adapted excerpt about the Big Rip at “Tearing Apart the Universe”.

Now to the fiction.

Sabrina Flynn’s Ravenwood Mysteries hooked me in and would not let me go until I finished the series. Riot and Bel are the stars but it’s Flynn’s writing of all the rest — the time period, other characters, locations, weather, clothing that made this such a compelling read.

One of the digital systems my library uses started offering “bonus borrows” that didn’t count toward limits. It’s how I picked up G. A. Aiken’s Scarred Earth series. It is categorized as Fiction > Romance > Paranormal – Shifters and Fiction > Fantasy > Humorous. It’s true, I often couldn’t hold in my laughter and scared the cats more than once. It was a nice fun read even with the obvious twists on convention. It felt good to laugh.

I’ve become an Ilona Andrews Reader, in that I read everything they publish. (My gateway was Kate Daniels.) I wanted to read the Hidden Legacy series for a while, but the library didn’t have a license for the first book and checking out real-copy books is not easy at this time. So, I waited and last month Burn for Me was finally available to borrow. Then I devoured the rest of the series. As an only child I was incredibly fascinated by the Baylor siblings. I finished the series two weeks ago and am still thinking about the characters. That’s a good thing.

It’s well established that I’ve been a Mercedes Lackey Reader for years. I read all the Valdemar books, as well as her other series (and am still looking for some of the titles). My hold request for the fifteenth book in the Elemental Masters series was filled and I read it last Sunday. It’s an interesting series and I’d like at some time to reread the first books and see how the world and characters have grown and evolved. This book isn’t perfect, but it was nice to see how the series could shift to a land and ocean away from where the earlier books are set.

Since finishing Hidden Legacy I’ve been drawn into the world of Jane Yellowrock by Faith Hunter. I’m likely enamored with very different aspects of the stories than most readers. It’s time to confess that I’ve been scribbling stories, characters, and places in my notebooks for months. So, I’m reading differently lately and paying attention to how characters develop and (urban) fantasy worlds are shaped. Plus, there’s something about reading this book when a purring cat is making biscuits on your lap with her razor-sharp claws.

I also read the first in the Clockwork Century series by Cherie Priest. This was as an audio book narrated by Kate Reading and Wil Wheaton and while I found the two voices jarring and parts of the story a slog, I’m still curious enough to read the next book.

What am I reading next? I’m trying to break my borrow only from the library habit while the books I have here that are gathering layers of dust. Unfortunately, few of those are what I’ve wanted to read for the past year, so we’ll see what happens.