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.

Recent Reads on Climate Change

Over the past several weeks I’ve written about what I read last year. I ask for patience as I figure out how I want to write thoughtfully about my more current reads. I’m going to try to continue grouping reads together. Overall I read fifteen books in January, so we’ll see how this new method holds up. Here are a few recent reads that address climate change in one way or another.

Non-fiction

The Fragile Earth: Writing from The New Yorker on Climate Change by David Remnick and Henry Finder (Editors) (finished in January 2021)
This made me realize how much I miss reading The New Yorker. It’s a good collection of important reads around climate change. A few of the pieces I’d read when they were published, others I’d read as part of other works (Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History). This isn’t an easy collection to read cover to cover — I’d read a chapter or two and then wait again for it to be my turn in the library hold queue.

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg (finished January 2020)
This is a collection of Greta’s speeches. While the message is repetitive, I think that is what makes this a useful read beyond the headlines. How often do the children need to repeat themselves until the adults act?

Fiction

Sea Change by Nancy Kress (finished in January 2021)
This pharma-bio techno thriller doesn’t focus on climate change, but it helps drive the story. What Renata experiences and discovers is all to plausible today, at least to my imagination. I would have enjoyed this more as a novel or a short story instead of the in-between novella; there are elements that beg to be expanded or tightened. It’s enjoyable and I plan to reread it!

Heavy Weather by Bruce Sterling (finished in December 2020)
I had to keep checking to confirm that this was published in 1995. Setting aside that I’m frustrated it didn’t get in front of me until very recently, this is an eco-tech thriller at its finest. Yes, the middle lags, it reminded me of the eye of a storm (as I mix meteorological metaphors).


Later tonight I hope to finish the Ravenwood Mysteries, I’ve enjoyed this series. I am not sure what I’ll read next, there are many books gathering dust because it’s easier (and warmer) to read eink when Shadow wants to snuggle.

more book thoughts: standalone & first starts

I know I’m not alone in freezing during this final week of January, the weather is helping me stay in and read even more. For some reason, it also feels extra-long, I thought it was Thursday — two days ago. I’m looking forward to curling up with the cats and books this weekend.

In this week’s post, I’ve gathered works of fiction (science, fantasy, and/or speculative) that are the first starts of standalone books or the first entry into a new series that I read and enjoyed last year.

Read More about more book thoughts: standalone & first starts

more book thoughts: urban fantasy series

What a roller coaster January has been (Wednesdays & Thursdays). Today it’s time to get back to the hard and necessary work. With that in mind, it is as important to continue the change we started over the past four years and remember to take time for ourselves and rest. For me, that means reading. I love to escape in urban fantasy, it’s nice to imagine a world that’s similar … yet different than our own.

Here are 5 worlds that I experienced for the first-time last year. They are series with more than one book currently published, some are complete. Each resembles the world that we know… with a few small magical differences.

by Ilona Andrews

I enjoy most everything this husband-wife writing team publishes! If you haven’t read any of the Kate Daniels books yet, I highly recommend them.

Innkeeper Chronicles (4 books). It’s a fun series with strong characters, both Dina and her sister Maud. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and it’s a good reminder for me to not to judge a book by its cover. This series is set the least on our world, but as Gertrude Hunt is physically in Texas (mostly) I decided to include it here. (September 2020)

The Edge (4 books). There is a small bit of character crossover and it’s set more on this planet (mostly). I really enjoyed getting to know each main character: Rose, Cerise, Audrey, and Charlotte and the way their stories interact across the series. (September 2020)

by Anne Bishop

The Others (5 books) + The World of the Others (2 books). I can’t recall how I discovered this series, but I couldn’t read them fast enough. After meeting Meg in Written in Red I needed to better understand her world and how characters and events all connected. (October 2020)

By Patricia Briggs

Mercy Thompson (12 books). A main character with an unconventional occupation struggling to better understand her friends, family, and her unique abilities? Yes! (November 2020)

Alpha & Omega (5 books). Set in the same world, I love how these books build on characters and places and explores the world differently. (November 2020)

by Kim Harrison

The Hollows (15 books). I wasn’t sure about this series based on the first chapter of Dead Witch Walking, but I kept reading and got hooked. Who drew me in? Was it a single character, Rachel, Jenks, or Ivy? Or was the comrade of these three friends and watching their relationship grow and change throughout the series? (November & December 2020)


Next week I plan to write about some of the single books and first book of a new series I enjoyed last year.

What are you reading? My best friend just got me hooked on Sabrina Flynn’s historical mystery series, The Ravenwood Mysteries. My library system has the first six books as digital download audiobooks. I’m halfway through the second book and loving it!

more book thoughts: bio thriller series & space opera sagas

What a decade we’ve experienced since last Wednesday! I’m slowly processing everything. When the world is turned upside down again and everything is changing rapidly, I like to find something that provides consistency. I’ll go on a read everything an author wrote binge, find the biggest books, or multi book series that I can (and often all of the above).

This week I’m writing about two types of book series I enjoyed reading last year, bio thrillers and space operas. I’m only including series here that have more than one book published to-date. Future posts will cover new-series and stand alone titles.

Biothrillers

I was not surprised to turn to this type of reading last March and April. It’s how I’m wired. McGuire is brilliant and these two series were exactly what I needed last year. Several friends responded with shock when they discovered what I was reading — and loving — and having very similar situations happening simultaneously in my reality. (For the comparison, I read The Hot Zone in high school while I sick with what I think was the flu.)

Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire). OMFG Yes! This series was exactly what I read last March while my city was becoming famous not for Mighty Mouse but the first COVID-19 case in New York State. Apparently, I needed to see what might happen twenty years after a fictional infection (caused by wanting to stop the common cold) spread uncontrollably.

I appreciated that McGuire includes books she used to guide the story, so it’s how I read The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic That Shaped Our History by Molly Caldwell Crosby and together they helped me prepare not to be very surprised by human and politician behavior over the past year.

You can pick up the entire trilogy in one book, The Rising which is 1200 pages.


Parasitology Trilogy by Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire). This is a different story and how the best of intentions can have an unexpected result, or do they? I inhaled this series last April. While I was disappointed by the ending, I want to reread it. Why? There’s multiple layers to this biothriller. On my first read I focused on how characters reacted to their environment. Now that I’ve spent the past year remembering lots of biology that I’d forgotten I want to see what I missed with that focus in mind.

Space Opera

I can’t fully explain my love of space opera, but I suspect it was formed by growing up watching TNG. It’s a type of comfort food book for me.

Wayfarers Series by Becky Chambers. This is really a duology with the third book a collection of interconnected short stories. It was a good quick read I’m still thinking about the characters and their challenges, both personal and societal. (April)


Jaran by Kate Elliott. This four books series is full of rich world and character building. I think it’s one that will go on the reread list, I wonder what I’ll discover about Tess and Rhui next time. The omnibus e-book edition clocks in at some 2232 pages, so there’s a good chunk of reading here. (June)


Next week I plan to write about the urban fantasy series I enjoyed. I’ll write about stand-alone titles, anthologies, and new series soon!