Quiet, but Still Reading

I know it has been a while since I made a post here – but that doesn’t mean I’ve slowed down in the reading! My goal of 20 books read for 2021 is almost complete, and while it’s a far cry from the 50 books that I used to read pre-kids, it’s still something. I am a firm advocate for reading – period. It doesn’t matter what you’re reading, so long as you read. Comics, romance books, magazines, they all count in my eyes. I’m currently making my way through The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, and I am absolutely loving it. I knew a bit of what to expect since I read (and loved) the Night Circus many years ago, and while this novel is a bit confusing (it involves many timelines that sort of merge into a central one) the world building is constantly what draws me in.

It’s exquisite, to put it bluntly. I always feel like the world is alive, that the author is able to create a flow that just speaks to me. Even if the story itself is something that I find difficult to follow along with, the writing is superb. I appreciate that.

2021 has been a particularly lucrative one as far as reading ‘good’ books goes (for me, personally). Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan was fantastic, and I had a great time reading The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso. I was able to delve into a handful of novellas by Martha Wells that were all great reads of their own merits, and the comic ‘Sunstone’ by Stjepan Šejić was beauty on every page.

I was also able to take some time to read some ‘just for me’ books, The Book of Hedge Druidry, by Joanna van der Hoeven, and The Witch’s Shield, by Christopher Penczak. While these books were not exactly what I was looking to find, it was nice to round out some knowledge and there were portions of each book that spoke to me.

My TBR pile keeps growing, and that’s always a great thing. Up next I’m hoping to read The Hidden Palace, by Helene Wecker (#2 to the Golem and the Jinni), and The Color of Dragons, by R.A. Salvatore and Erika Lewis. I even managed to read a few Canadian authors this year, something I attempt to remind myself of as often as I can. They’re not always books I completely enjoy, and I know that life is too shore to waste it reading bad books – but they don’t have to be 5 star reads in order for me to complete them and learn from them. I’ve branched out a little bit but of course there is always more room when it comes to reading. With any luck I’ll discover even more authors that I’ve never heard of who have gems to share with book worms like myself.

In any case, I’m sorry for the lack of posts. Some days are more difficult than others when it comes to reading (I’ve had to put my physical books away during multiple sclerosis relapse days because it is too painful to hold them) and sometimes it just slips my mind. That being said, books are (and have always been) an important part of my daily routine, even if blogging is not, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Review: Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan

I’ve never been one to write a review where I talk about the entire contents of a book because I really don’t want to spoil it for people. I know plenty of people who write those types of reviews, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them, but it’s just not my jam. I just wanted to put that out there.

When a book enters my TBR pile it usually happens one of three ways. One, a friend recommended it. Two, I read about it some place online. Three, I happened to be browsing ‘what should I read next’ lists or recommendations off of sites like StoryGraph or even here on GoodReads. ‘Age of Myth’ entered my pile from all three of these methods. I was searching for an epic fantasy book to read because I hadn’t read one for some time, and this one popped up on my feed. After I purchased the book I noticed that the back cover has a brief review from Mogsy over at the BiblioSanctum, who I adore and have been friends with for a number of years. We don’t always like the same books, but when she gives a 4.5/5 star review, I know it’s going to be a good read.

I was not disappointed at all with Age of Myth. It was everything I wanted – but not perfect. It was a book I found hard to put down, beautifully written (the world building is absolutely top notch) with a fascinating story. There are multiple story lines going at once, so if that’s something that doesn’t interest you, you might want to take a pass – on that same note, the stories do converge fairly early on, making it much easier to keep track of everyone.

Female protagonists, epic deities, a ‘big bad’ – and let me say that’s one thing that I actually think the book did not need. Further on you meet ‘a big bad’ on top of a few other ‘bads’ wandering around. You’ll know who I’m talking about when you meet him, and it is a very stereotypical ‘big bad’ and one that I think the book absolutely did not need. It felt a bit like HBO trying to force blood/gore/elicit emotion that I was already feeling before the ‘big bad’ even showed up. I’m not even sure their role was needed at all. I might be alone in that feeling, but it seemed unnecessary.

I finished this book within a week, it was that good. It was a great epic fantasy read, and exactly what I was hoping for. Thankfully the second book is already out, and I’m thinking of picking it up as an audio book because Tim Gerard does the reading and apparently it’s quite amazing.

5/5 stars

My TBR Pile

One of my favourite books is The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wrecker, and I first read it way back in 2013. Much to my excitement, I learned that there is now a follow up book, The Hidden Palace. I instantly added it to my ‘want to read’ pile, which varies little to my TBR (to be read) pile. I don’t really plan out which books I want to read, or what order I want to read them in. I tend to go by emotion / mood alone, and if I find that I’m not actually into that book after all, I’ll speed my way through it or it will fall by the wayside. I do tend to continue on with books even if I don’t enjoy them – except for one book that I just couldn’t read any further and I just gave up. I think I even wrote a review for it here some place. I know time is valuable, but I’ve always felt like in some weird way I almost owed it to the book to finish it. I know that makes absolutely no sense, but that’s how I felt.

Any way, my TBR pile is quite short these days because I haven’t the faintest idea of what books are releasing, or when. I haven’t actually browsed for books in a while and most of what I add to my pile is word of mouth and suggestions from others more than actually looking for myself. I’ve also wanted (once again) to get into some audiobooks but most of them are very expensive, and I just don’t see myself being interested long term. I know there are some sites that offer free trials of their audiobooks and I might look into that, and NetGalley also now has some audiobook options. It would be nice to be able to listen to a book while I knit, I’m curious if it would have the same effect on me it usually does – when I listen to audiobooks I tend to fall asleep almost instantly.

In any case, this is definitely a book that’s very high up on my ‘next to read’ list, if not at the very top. I’ve finished a few more books that I’ll get reviews up for in the future (we’ll see about that) and I’m currently reading Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan which is fantastic so far (I’m only a few chapters in, as a word of caution). What’s everyone else reading these days? What does your ‘to read’ pile look like? Do you have a physical collection or are you more likely to keep a digital collection of books? Let me know in comments, and happy reading!

August Book Goals – 2021

How did I manage with those July book goals? Well:

  • I completed reading volume 3&4 of Sunstone
  • I completed reading Rogue Protocol (Murderbot #3)
  • I finished reading The Book of Hedge Druidry: A complete guide for the Solitary Seeker

I actually managed to complete all of my goals for July! I made sure to spend time each night reading before bed, and fit in some reading here and there throughout the day, too, which is no easy feat with a 3 year old and a 5 year old constantly underfoot (side note, I should add the kids books to my reading goals too, we read every night together before bed).

The goal to update my book pledge on the Canadian site I’m a part of completely fell through because they announced that they’re shutting down and moving on to a new project! I was heartbroken to hear that, but I understand. They were running the site in their spare time, and I don’t imagine it was much of a money maker for them. I’ll be interested to see what they come up with next.

My August goals include:

  • Finishing 5&6 of Sunstone
  • Completing Age of Myth
  • Starting a new book
  • Posting at least 5 book related blog posts for the month of August

I think this should be a fairly manageable list to acomplish. I might slack a bit on the blog posts because I tend to be bad about that, but I’m trying to stick to it and make it a positive habit. Age of Myth is a joy to read, aside from the fact that I decided to purchase a physical copy, which means it’s not quite as easy to sneak into bed and read (I tend to use my kindle more than anything else) especially when my 3 year old daughter still has her crib in my room. I feel like this is a good year for reading, and I’m proud that I’ve been making time to enjoy it again. It’s important to me, even if it does end up being just a few pages here and there.

Happy reading!

Review: Desperate Duchesses, by Eloisa James

When the Netflix series of Bridgerton came out, people flocked to it. I didn’t realize it was actually a book well before it ever became a series, and while looking at the reviews I noticed that Felicia Day (who I happen to follow on GoodReads) had a recommendation for people who enjoyed these types of historical romance – and that’s how I came to find Desperate Duchesses. I attempted to read Bridgerton and I did NOT enjoy it at all. This book though? This book was magical.

If you’re a fan of The Queen’s Gambit (another Netflix show, what can I say) then you’ll appreciate this book even more, because there are some intense chess scenes in the book that will take you right back to that show. The author has a fantastic way with words, and this book was an incredible way to relax that did not require very much brain power but still kept me interested enough to turn the pages. It was like listening to a conversation take place instead of reading.

You’ll follow the story of Lady Roberta St. Giles as she tries to meet the man of her dreams (who she thinks is Duke Villier) but spread throughout the story is a number of other interesting characters, including her father (a poet) known as the Mad Marquees, and her distant cousin, Jemma, who is a bit of a calculating fiend, to be honest.

Without spoiling any of the book, I will say that the reviews of it can be quite harsh, so I’d give it a go yourself if you’re interested in those types of books and not rely solely on the public. Otherwise, I might not have given it a chance at all – and I’m so glad I did.

4/5 stars

July Book Goals – 2021

One thing I do on another blog where I write about video games and fiber arts (because those are related..) is post a monthly update / goals in order to give myself a bit of direction when it comes to these things. My life runs better with direction, otherwise I can spend hours just sitting and doing nothing at all, completely lost with whatever I had intended to do. That doesn’t meant I can’t go off track, it just means that during times when I need direction, it’s there.

July goals:

  • Finish reading volume 3&4 of Sunstone
  • Finish reading Rogue Protocol (Murderbot #3)
  • Finish 50% of The Book of Hedge Druidry: A Complete Guide for the Solitary Seeker

I have some non-reading but still book related goals to work on, too. I want to properly set up StoryGraph, which I’ve never used before but has come highly recommended by some friends. I also just downloaded their app, so I’d like to explore that in more depth. Maybe even do a post about some great book apps.

I’d also like to update my ‘My Book Pledge‘ page, which is a Canadian site sponsored by some of the larger publishing companies. They host a lot of competitions and I’ve been adding my books there for a number of years, very similar to the GoodReads book challenge that is hosted yearly.

These are not lofty goals, and I should be able to complete them with very little issue so long as I consciously make the time to read. The way I tend to work is that the more tired I am the less I want to read, which means in June I did very little reading because I was incredibly tired. In fact for the entire month of June I only finished reading one book, which was Sunstone volume 2.

I want to do better this month.

Have you set yourself up with any reading goals?

Review: ‘Millionaire Teacher, The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should have Learned in School’ by Andrew Hallam

Not everything I read is for pure pleasure, though personal development books do tend to fall under that category for me most times since they’re actually a lot of fun. When Cryptocurrency began to gain traction this year and was being talked about all over the place, I decided to look into old school stocks. I’m not always patient, but when it comes to money I’m a fan of slowly putting some away over time until you look back 20 years later and see what has amassed. This book, Millionaire Teacher, looks at something called Index Funds that you can invest in to do just that. Index funds are little bits of all sorts of publicly traded stock. Instead of buying into just one company (that might fail) you buy small bits and pieces of many companies. Some fail, some do well. It boats a 10% return each year, so depending on what you invest, you could gain a fair amount. It takes time, but you don’t have to be a stock market wizard.

The book was great at explaining the ins and outs of this method of making money to me – but the author also spent a whole lot of time talking about things that could have been summed up faster, or just left out all together. I did like the way they explained how to think about money, the information they had about fancy cars, and little useful tidbits here and there.

Do I think it will make me a millionaire? Probably not. I think people who read this book and assume they will get the exact same results need to step back and take a little bit of caution. Sure, if you’ve been investing since you were a child, you can certainly amass a good amount of money over the years – but most of us are well into our 30s or even 40s before we start to suddenly realize that ‘saving money’ each pay is a good thing. I don’t know about everyone else, but in school I didn’t learn anything useful about budgeting, or how to actually function in the real world when it comes to money. It’s something that could have really helped me out.

Overall? I don’t regret spending any time reading this, I learned a lot, and I feel like less of a dunce when it comes to money and investment.

4/5 stars

Graphic Novel Review: Sunstone, Vol.1

I’m not really a huge fan of graphic novels, to be honest, but every once in a while I attempt to give them another go and see if they’ll stick. This one was recommended to me by a friend, and then I noticed that a bunch of other friends on GoodReads had also read it. It happened that the author was releasing the series for free since it started out as a web comic and that’s how I found myself picking up the first seven volumes. Purchasing the physical copies came next, because the artwork and the story is just that great.

The author is Stjepan Šejić, who is known for all sorts of things that I had never heard of (thank you GoodReads author blip). The novel is about Lisa and Ally, and their less-than-vanilla relationship. If you’ve ever read 50 shades of Grey and thought that was what actual BDSM was about, I implore you to give this novel a read instead. It’s about how their relationship developed, what insecurities they each had, and how they ultimately were able to be themselves very naturally thanks to open communication. That, folks, is the key to a good relationship, whether it is vanilla or otherwise.

The book is steamy, let’s not try to cover that up – but it presents the reader with a realistic view into a BDSM relationship and I absolutely love that. If you’re uncomfortable with nudity, or BDSM just isn’t your thing (it’s not for everyone, no shame in that) you may want to give it a pass. However, if you’re hoping to read about two people who might potentially be falling in love with each other, because of the intense and often times overwhelming sensations that are experienced while exploring BDSM – then give it a read. I was pleasantly surprised.

5/5 Stars

Oh Look, I’m Back

It has been over three years since I’ve done any writing on this blog, and yet I’ve kept it active and kept the domain name thinking that one year I might actually get back to it, and do some writing. Kids and life in general have kept me pretty busy without a lot of extra spoons kicking around. I haven’t given up reading by any means, but I rarely spoke about what I was making my way through, let alone wrote about it.

A friend recently started writing about their book adventures over on Dragons and Whimsy, and it inspired me to brush off the dust on my own, and start writing about the adventures I have in other peoples’ worlds. I’m hoping for one post a week, for now. Maybe that will keep me motivated enough to post more frequently. Not everything will be a review (this post is a good example of that) but it should all be book-ish.

With a 3 year old and a 5 year old under foot, a new puppy, and the pandemic still lingering, I have cut down my GoodReads Challenge quite significantly this year. I used to aim for anywhere between 30 and 50 books a year, and now I’m quite pleased if I manage 20. To me a book is a book is a book and it doesn’t matter if you’re reading graphic novels, novellas, or 1,000 paged books – at least you’re reading. I count everything on my challenge list for this very reason.

So far I’m at 12/20 books for the year and I’ve read some fascinating (and some not so fascinating). I’m trying to add variety to my reading, whether it be from Canadian authors (I try, but I just don’t seem to connect) POC, or a unique genre. Branching out of my comfort zones through books is really important to me. I’ll do a more in-depth look at each book that I’ve read this year, and hopefully toss out a few fluffier posts in between. In any case, it’s just nice to be talking about books again.

Goodreads Challenge – Progress Update

While I may not have been keeping up very well with the site, that doesn’t mean I haven’t managed to read a few books this year! I’m still hoping to get more detailed reviews up, but in the meantime this is what my 2018 GoodReads Challenge looks like. I really wish I were the type of person who could do audiobooks, but for some reason they continue to put me to sleep, no matter who the reader is or what I’m reading. If you have a suggestion for me about audiobooks I’d love to hear it! I feel like I could optimize my time better if I were listening along to a novel instead of just filling that space with xyz background noise.

One of my goals this year was to read books written by Canadian authors, and as you can tell by my list, I’ve managed a couple. My favourite would have to be American War, but there’s lots of time left in the year for that to change. I’ve been using CBC reads to find Canadian authors that I’ve never heard of before and so far it’s working out wonderfully.

I love branching out with my book genres and I hope I continue to find amazing new authors that I’ve never read before. What are you currently reading and how is your GoodReads challenge stacking up? I do hope to complete 50 books this year, but with a new baby on the way (due end of July) we’ll just have to see how things go.