January Reading Update

Since I set my reading goals pretty high for 2023, I thought it might be interesting to check in at the end of each month to see how I did. For January, I had hoped to read these 9 books (which was also a completely unrealistic goal for me):

So – how did I do? I finished reading and reviewed 4 of these:

As for the others, I have literally 49 minutes left in the audiobook for The Lady of the Lake, the final book in The Witcher Saga, so I should finish that one today. I’m really curious but also anxious and a little scared to see how the series ends because of lines like this:

Because a story where the decent ones die and the scoundrels live and carry on doing what they want is full of shit.

– Geralt of Rivia

I have also started volume 2 of The Sandman graphic novel by Neil Gaiman. I had expected this to be a faster read, but the second installment is significantly longer than the first one.

I also started The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan, but I don’t expect to have time to finish that one until at least next week. I have to say that it was nice to jump back into The Wheel of Time and refresh my mind about where the story left off with all the characters.

I did not have time to start Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales or the audiobook of Season of Storms (a Witcher series prequel), but those will be my next reads as I start off February.

What else is on my list for Februrary? Nine more books!

I’m planning to get back to reading all of the Dune series written by Frank Herbert with God Emperor of Dune. I have two books on my list for book clubs: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip and The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix (an author new to me).

Perilous Times by Thomas D. Lee is a new release that I obtained courtesy of NetGalley, while The Middling Affliction by Alex Shvartsman is a novel that I helped support via Kickstarter, written by a local author friend of mine. I have previously reviewed his earlier novel, Eridani’s Crown (review here).

I enjoyed the first book in Naomi Novik’s Scholomance series (A Deadly Education) so much that I need to finish that series with The Last Graduate and The Golden Enclaves. And lastly, I’m planning to read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo in audiobook format because I need to expand my knowledge of the Grishaverse.

Otherwise, my computer is limping along but takes about 10 minutes to start up. I should probably start shopping for a new system. And… I have just started a fitness challenge (week 1) and I have a fencing competition in Manhattan this weekend so I’m staying busy!

How are your reading goals going for 2023 so far? Have you read anything really good yet? Let me know in the comments (above).

Book Review – In a Garden Burning Gold

When this book was released, I was immediately attracted to it by the gorgeous cover, but I wasn’t familiar with the author, Rory Power, at all. This isn’t her first novel, but she is a relatively new author, so I thought I’d take a chance and pick up In a Garden Burning Gold.

This is the first book of The Wind-Up Garden series, which appears to be a duology. I read this book in 2022 and this is one of my back log of books to review. I also want to thank Net Galley for providing this copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Here is the blurb:

Rhea and her twin brother, Lexos, have spent an eternity helping their father rule their small, unstable country, using their control over the seasons, tides, and stars to keep the people in line. For a hundred years, they’ve been each other’s only ally, defending each other and their younger siblings against their father’s increasingly unpredictable anger.

Now, with an independence movement gaining ground and their father’s rule weakening, the twins must take matters into their own hands to keep their family—and their entire world—from crashing down around them. But other nations are jockeying for power, ready to cross and double cross, and if Rhea and Lexos aren’t careful, they’ll end up facing each other across the battlefield.


The world found in this novel contained some fascinating magic, where certain rulers have magically enhanced lifespans and gain powers in a very specific sphere that help to run their world. Rhea’s power is that she helps to bring on the change of seasons by choosing a consort for a short time, then eventually murdering them. While it is supposedly an honor to be chosen as her consort, politics also plays a huge role in this system.

I enjoyed seeing how this story unfolded, and the plot took some surprising twists. However, I felt like these long-lived nobles (especially Rhea) acted far more naive than I would have expected for people with so much worldly experience. I probably won’t read the next book.

Have you read this book or any of the author’s other works? Let me know in the comments (above).

Find more of my reviews here.

Books to Read in 2023

I like to start my reading year by updating my Goodreads lists with all the books I want to read for the year ahead. Usually this means taking the list from the previous year and pushing it over into the next one since I never get everything read that I had wanted to.

This is how I started my plan for 2023, but there were just too many books! I solved this problem by creating lists for 2024 and 2025, and then rolling some books onto those. For the rest of my 2023 choices, I am continuing a past theme of trying to finish some series. Of course, I tend to start a lot of new series, so this keeps the list continuously growing.

In the end, here is a graphic of all the books I’m hoping to read in 2023:

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Looking at overall numbers, last year I read 39 books from my Goodreads goal of 89. That was 44% of my goal. For this year, I’m not backing down! I set my goal for 100 books for 2023. My current 2023 list stands at around 90, so I can even add a few more.

To break that goal down, I’ll need to read 8.3 books per month, or roughly 2 per week to meet that goal. I’ve already picked out the first month of books I’m planning to read and these are my January choices:

I’m already a third of the way in to The Lady of the Lake, the final book in The Witcher series, and I’ve been listening to these as audiobooks. I also have Season of Storms queued up next for audio – this is a prequel in The Witcher universe.

I’d like to read more graphic novels this year, so I’ve put Demon in the Wood on here as a stand alone from Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse, and then the next volume of The Sandman (vol. 2) since I just finished volume 1. Noor is for a book club discussion in about 2.5 weeks so I started to read that yesterday. I need to get back to my read-through of The Wheel of Time, so I stuck the next book (#4 – The Shadow Rising) on here for January.

For the rest of these, I’ve been staring at Stephen King’s recent release – Fairy tale – since I picked it up at NY Comic-Con a few months ago. It is a longer book, but likely a fast read. Since I also just finished a re-read of The Silmarillion last year, I’d like to continue working my way through the less well-known Tolkien stories, so Unfinished Tales is up next.

The last one on here (Never Say You Can’t Survive) is a series of essays by Charlie Jane Anders about how to write when the world is seemingly falling apart. I grabbed a copy at an earlier NY Comic-Con (2021?). I started this book yesterday and I think it may provide a helpful perspective to get my fiction writing back on track for 2023.

Forging further ahead from January, I’m excited to get back to the Dune series, NK Jemisin’s The World We Make, the Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal, and the second two books in the Scholomance by Naomi Novik.

Lastly, I just received my first backer reward from Brandon Sanderson’s secret projects where he confessed to writing a ridiculous number of extra books during his pandemic confinement. The first one is Tress of the Emerald Sea and seems to have an interesting premise.

What are your reading plans for 2023? Have you read any of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments (above).

Books Read in 2022

Every year, I start out with a list of books I’d like to read. Inevitably, that list evolves as the year progresses, and I never get to read everything I had wanted. But however it turns out, I like to look back at what I did read during the past year. Here is my graphic showing all 39 books I read in 2022:

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I became too busy to get all the reviews written that I had planned to. But overall, here are my favorite books that I read in 2022:

While I loved the unique story of Gideon the Ninth (review here), I wasn’t as enamored with the sequel, Harrow the Ninth (review here). I am still planning to continue the series with the latest release, Nona the Ninth. This is the kind of series where I may need to read it a second time to understand all the nuances.

Dark Matter was the first book I have read by Blake Crouch and was an exciting science fiction thriller (review here). I believe this is getting made into a series or movie. I liked it enough that I’d definitely read something else by this author.

The River of Silver is a book for fans of the Daevabad Trilogy and is a collection of short stories that is meant to be read after the first three books. However, if you have read The City of Brass, The Kingdom of Copper, and The Empire of Gold, then this book reads like a director’s cut of missing scenes from the main trilogy.

With the release of The Rings of Power, I had to reread some Tolkien and it was time to delve into The Silmarillion. This book also isn’t for everyone, but if you want to read all of the myths of Middle Earth, this is an essential volume. I recently ordered the new edition of The Silmarillion that contains Tolkien’s own illustrations and I can’t wait for it to arrive.

Lastly on here is a book I just finished a few weeks ago – A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik. I have been a fan of her writing for some time despite the faltering ending on her Temeraire series. Her latest stand-alone novels (Uprooted, Spinning Silver) were some of my favorites reads and I still recommend them to people. In A Deadly Education, she ventures into a magic school tale, but this place is very sinister, and the school is a character of its own. I’m planning to post a full review soon.

I also read much of The Witcher series of books in 2022, but I’m going to reserve judgement on those until I find out how it ends.

Coming soon – my reading plans for 2023!

An Update on Books and Reading Goals

I just realized that we are halfway through 2022, so I thought this might be a good time to stop and look back at how the year has been going.

First – reading goals! I had set an unrealistic goal to read 89 books this year, when I normally struggle to get through 50 in that time frame. As of today, I have finished 23 books, which puts me at 23% of that original goal, but not far off the mark for reaching 50 this year.

Here is a graphic of what I’ve read so far in 2022:

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My plan to read one book from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series every month has gone astray, along with reading one Dune book every month. I have made it through half (3 of 6) of the Dune books by the original author, and only 3 of 14 of The Wheel of Time.

As always seems to happen, I have picked up books I didn’t originally have on my 2022 list, and then branched off into new series and authors. I think that for 2023 I will have to focus on finishing some series that I’ve started.

What am I reading now? Look – pretty covers! I am listening to the next book in The Witcher seriesThe Time of Contempt. On Kindle, I’m reading Lover Unbound, a book in The Black Dagger Brotherhood series which is sort of a guilty pleasure (sexy vampires, yeah), and In a Garden Burning Gold which I received courtesy of NetGalley for review.

After I finish those, next up are these options:

All of these are continuations in a series, except for The Water Dancer. I think I have a series problem!

Which should I read first? Let me know in the comments above. What other books and series have you read this year and enjoyed? Help me add to my ridiculous to-be-read list!

Find my book reviews here.

Reading Update – April 2022

Sooo… my reading goals for 2022 are probably not very realistic, judging by my current progress. For my 2022 Goodreads reading challenge, I have set a goal to read 89 books. So far, I’ve finished 12 of them, putting me 14 books behind that pace.

This graphic above shows those I’ve read. I’m not sure how I can read at any faster pace unless I quit my job, sleep even less than I do, or figure out how to bend time and space. I’m already listening to audiobooks to help make use of my otherwise useless driving time. At the end of the day, it isn’t truly about the numbers. It’s about the enjoyment of reading. But I agonize over my list of books and how there are so many that I feel like I will never get to, thus the attempt to set reading goals.

So what am I currently reading? I have started on Children of Dune by Frank Herbert but haven’t made it very far on this one yet. I’m about halfway through The Witch’s Heart by Genivieve Gornichec which I bought on a whim, and I’m a short way into Light by John M. Harrison in audiobook format for an upcoming book club discussion.

I’m enjoying Children of Dune and The Witch’s Heart but I’m struggling to get into Light. I haven’t found the characters very compelling and the futuristic cyperpunk-type of world is difficult to understand.

Coming up, the next few books on my to-be-read list are In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power (thanks to NetGalley), The Shadow Rising (Wheel of Time #4) by Robert Jordan, The Skull Throne (Demon Cycle #4) by Peter V. Brett, and Station Eleven (audiobook) by Emily St. John Mandel.

Hopefully I’ll get a review up by the end of the week for The Witch’s Heart. I have some travel planned and a 2-hour flight can help to create some uninterrupted reading time.

What are you reading? Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Let me know in the comments above.

March Reading and Writing Updates

Wow! Somehow it got to be March already! And of course I’m behind schedule from where I wanted to be on my reading, but I’m not surprised, given that I set a bit of an unrealistic goal.

Looking back at February, here is how it went: I managed to finish Magical Midlife Madness by K. F. Breene (review here) and All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai (review here). I just finished Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert this past weekend (technically in March) and I have a review coming up on that book later this week. With some work-related projects and other obligations, I got bogged down and didn’t get through all the other books I wanted to.

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The other books I’m currently reading are The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan and Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. With a long drive this weekend, I’m making solid progress on Harrow the Ninth because I’m listening to that as an audiobook. I also pulled out The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett (my physical non-e-book read) after I finished Magical Midlife Madness, but then decided I needed to catch up on The Dragon Reborn before starting it.

I haven’t given any writing updates recently. I hardly made any progress in February, but I’m expecting that to improve in March. Current projects include the first draft of a hard sci-fi stand alone novel with a working title of East of the Sun, continued work on a stand along sword and sorcery novel called Daughter of the Sun, and a rewrite of a short story involving dream magic. I don’t know why both novel projects involve the sun, but I think East of the Sun will get renamed at some point.

Also, if you haven’t seen it already, Brandon Sanderson sort of shamed all writers out there in regards to productivity last week. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out his video here. So clearly I need to up my writing game.

Are you reading as much as you had hoped this year? Are you a writer? Tell me about your projects in the comments above.

Reading Update – 6-ish Weeks In

I wanted to stop to check in on my reading progress, given that I set a rather ambitious reading goal for the year of 89 books. It felt like I wasn’t making any progress at all for much of January. But part of that was because I tend to read several books at once.

How do I sort out what I’m reading when I’m tackling multiple books at once? I actually don’t have a good system, but I’m trying to come up with one.

For this year, I’m trying to choose my books partly by how I’m reading them. So at any given time, I’m going to read one e-book on my Kindle, one e-book on my phone, one physical book, and one audiobook. This graphic above shows what I have already read for the year.

I’m also trying to be a little more intentional about my reading. What I mean by this is that I’m using Goodreads to create multiple shelves. I already have a 2022 books-to-read list (and a 2023 one, but that’s a separate problem). But now I’m dividing it out into monthly shelves as well. I’m hoping this will help keep me on track with longer series by seeing how long it will actually take me to get through those books. Look below to see what is on my February 2022 list:

So you can see from these books that I’m gradually working my way through several series. One goal I have is to read one book from The Wheel of Time every month, as well as one Dune book each month. That by itself will keep me busy! And then there’s this darn Demon Cycle (The Skull Throne) I really want to finish but have a hard time continuing.

I also have set this up to work with the different formats. I have The Wheel of Time as e-books on my Kindle and Dune is an e-book on my phone. Harrow the Ninth and Instinct are audiobooks, and Magical Midline Madness and The Skull Throne are physical books. If I finish up by the end of the month I’ll throw in another short book or start on my March list.

This plan still doesn’t get me to my goal of 89 books for the year, but that’s okay! I do have a lot of long books frontloaded in my plan for the year. I’ll have to add some shorter novels or graphic novels as I go. I also delete books from my list once I’ve read them so I feel like I’m checking them off.

How do you organize your reading? How is your reading year going? Let me know in the comments above.

Read some of my book reviews here.

Book Review – Neverwhere

This was the second time that I read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. One of my book clubs had decided to read it and since it had been quite a while since I read it the first time, I picked it up again.

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Here is the blurb:

Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

I found this to be an odd little book. Richard Mayhew is cast into a secret fantastical world beneath London after he stops to help an injured girl on the street. He encounters rat-speakers, a fierce bodyguard, and numerous other strange beings in his pursuit of the girl named Door. Trying to reclaim his former life, he is caught up in Door’s quest and the mystery surrounding the death of her family as they flee enemies with an ever-changing agenda. I enjoyed this book, but I felt like I never quite knew what was going on. It lacked tension until the end but was otherwise enjoyable to read.

I’m always torn on Gaiman’s books. I really didn’t like American Gods, but found this book readable and intriguing, despite its flaws. Many years ago I read some of the Sandman graphic novels, but I don’t remember them well. So, I’m going to try to read The Graveyard Book soon because that is one that’s been recommended to me a few times.

Have you read Neverwhere? Do you have other books by Neil Gaiman you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments above.

Find more of my reviews here.

Book Review – Gideon the Ninth

I had heard a lot of buzz about this book and finally had a chance to grab the audio edition. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is the first book in The Locked Tomb series, and the audiobook is narrated by Moira Quirk.

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Here is the blurb:

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

Given that description, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. And even as I delved into it, I wasn’t on familiar ground in this story. Gideon and Harrowhark start from a place of long-standing enmity but are forced to work together to solve the mysterious challenge set before them by the Emperor amid strange necromancy, a crumbling tower of secret puzzles, and a competing cast of necromancers and cavaliers from the other houses.

As some of their number die mysteriously, suspicion between the houses increases and no one can be trusted. Does an ancient necromantic monstrosity stalk the halls of Canaan House? Are the necromancers and cavaliers stalking each other? Or is there something even darker going on?

The narrator in this audiobook is British and the accent adds an archaic flair to what is supposedly a science fiction story (given that each house occupies a different planet).

I really enjoyed this book and I’m planning to read the second one (Harrow the Ninth) soon.

Have you read Gideon the Ninth? Let me know in the comments above.

Find more of my reviews here.

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