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.

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.

Book Review – Master of Sorrows

Master of Sorrows by new author Justin Travis Call is the first book in a fantasy series (The Silent Gods). I received an e-book of this novel from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. Please click on my Amazon affiliate links to help support this blog.

I picked this book up because I loved the cover and the description in the blurb sounded very unique.

You have heard the story before – of a young boy, orphaned through tragic circumstances, raised by a wise old man, who comes to a fuller knowledge of his magic and uses it to fight the great evil that threatens his world.

But what if the boy hero and the malevolent, threatening taint were one and the same?

What if the boy slowly came to realize he was the reincarnation of an evil god? Would he save the world . . . or destroy it?

This concept was in line with some ideas that I’ve had for some of my own fiction and I love to subvert some of the typical fantasy plots and themes. However, I found that this book didn’t do enough in that respect.

Annev is a young man who lives in a strangely isolated village, where he studies and trains to become an Avatar of Judgement, along with some of his best friends. This training involves solving obstacle course-like puzzles, practicing combat skills, and learning about artifacts and magic. However, the use of magic is forbidden, so the goal of the Avatars is to search out dangerous magic items and lock them away so that no one can use them.

As Annev nears the end of his training, the rivalry between him and other students heats up, as the rules state that only one acolyte can graduate to the level of Avatar. Annev has to pass his trial, but feels guilty that if he succeeds, then his friends must fail. He searches for a way to bend the rules while keeping ahead of his enemies.

This part of the book took much longer than I had thought it would. Most of the story occurs in Annev’s village, and we never get to see much of the outside world. The main narrative is broken up by short sections that relate the mythology of the gods, but I had trouble making this relevant to the current events in the book (although it does come together more at the end).

Overall, Master of Sorrows read more like a traditional fantasy quest-style tale than I had wanted. And while Annev has some dark aspects to his character and a huge secret, he is still a good person at heart. He tries to do the right thing all along, and while that engenders sympathy and makes me want to root for him, I’ve read that story many times before.

Master of Sorrows is the first book in a series but still reaches a satisfying conclusion to most of the events relevant to this volume. The greater story still needs to be told, and Annev’s ultimate fate is still unknown.

Read more of my book reviews here.

Book Review – The Last Human

Well since I’m stuck at home more than normal with the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m going to catch up on writing some book reviews. This one is for a new release, The Last Human, by Zack Jordan. I received this book through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. Follow my Amazon affiliate links to help support this page.

I thought this book sounded like fun, but I went into it knowing little more than that. Sarya is the last human in the galaxy and her existence has been hidden, since humans are notorious as one of the most dangerous species in the universe. Her “mother” (as far as she knows) is one of a violent protective insectile species and has kept the secret of Sarya’s true nature.

One day, trouble comes looking for Sarya, and she must flee this unknown hunter while trying to hide her true identity. She ends up on a renegade ship with strange aliens and searches through her mother’s memories for clues about her past.

I wanted to like this book, but I struggled to maintain my interest, giving up about a third of the way through. The protagonist, Sarya, was engaging and appealing, but then the point of view of the story changed and I couldn’t connect to the rest of what was going on at that point. While I may have been able to push on and get back to Sarya, I was having such a hard time getting through this one that I gave up.

The writing was clear and easy to follow, and the society in which Sarya lives was inventive and amusing. So this book may appeal to many, it just didn’t work for me.

Find more of my book reviews here.

Book Review – Salvaged

Salvaged is a science fiction novel that features more biology than physics, with a touch of romance. Author Madeleine Roux is new to me, but I was interested in this book because I’m always looking for stories that explore the implications of biotech or biochemistry in fictional setups. I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. If you’d like to support this blog, you can pick up your own copy using my Amazon affiliate link here.

Rosalyn Devar has fled her family and her problems and has found a new life working for a salvage company in space. But when her excess drinking is reported, she is given one last chance before being cut loose from employment.

Strange deaths have been reported on a couple of ships recently and now another ship, the Brigantine, has seemingly gone down. Rosalyn is sent to investigate and salvage the vessel, but things are not exactly as expected.

The crew on board the Brigantine has been infected with a strange parasite that has put them into some sort of suspended animation as it tries to control their minds. Rosalyn struggles to discover the source of the parasite while staying alive and uninfected herself.

This was a fun book to read, but the basic plot reminded me a lot of Julie Mao from The Expanse. I’ve only seen the show, so that is what my comparison is based on. This isn’t really a criticism because the plot takes the characters in a different direction that The Expanse story.

I enjoyed this book and read it pretty fast. It also functions well as a stand-alone novel and the ending kept me guessing with how it would end. There aren’t any devastatingly new science ideas here, but it was still a nice exploration of how biology can play a role as a speculative element in fiction.

Read more of my reviews here.

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