Bout of Books Sign-Up and TBR

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 8th and runs through Sunday, January 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 21 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

It’s time for one of my favorite readathons–Bout of Books! I love Bout of Books because it’s low-pressure but usually does motivate me to read a lot more than I normally would in a single week. My TBR is a mixture of books I’m already in the middle of but don’t see myself finishing before the readathon starts, and some new, shorter books that I think will make for good readathon reads.

So here’s my TBR:

I’m currently reading these two books:

The Dark and Other Love StoriesAn Unkindness of Ghosts

I always like having a short story collection going during a readathon to help break things up, so The Dark and Other Love Stories by Deborah Willis should work well. I’ve read the first two stories so far and really enjoyed them; they’re stories focused on difficult relationships by a Canadian author. And I thought I’d still be reading If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio during this readathon since I’ve been reading it for the past week, but was able to finish yesterday. So instead I’m going to get started with An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon so that I can have a science fiction book to dip in and out of during the readathon; I’ve been craving some good SciFi for awhile.

And I’d like to pick these up:

Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children, #3)Witches of Lychford (Lychford, #1)The Female of the SpeciesWe Are Okay

In terms of books I have yet to start reading, I’ve got a few really good options in mind. I pre-ordered Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire, which comes out on Tuesday the 9th, and I’m really hoping I’ll get it in time to read it for the readathon. Usually books from B&N don’t ship until the release date, so fingers crossed that it comes in by Friday or so. I have another Tor novella, Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell, on deck in case it doesn’t, or in case I’m in a very fantasy novella-ish mood. I’m also very interested in starting The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis, which follows three teenagers, one of whom I believe has the urge to kill? Possibly? And deals with issues of feminism as well. Lastly, for an audiobook option, I checked We Are Okay by Nina LaCour out of my library; it’s only five hours or so long and deals with a friendship/romance while one of the main characters is coming to terms with her grief.


Is anyone else participating in Bout of Books? Let me know!


2018 Reading Goals

It’s a new year, and we bookish people know what that means–it’s time to set our reading goals! I won’t say that I always do a wonderful job sticking to my reading goals (my post about how I’ve done with my 2017 goals is upcoming), but I do like setting some ambitions to kick off my reading year. This year, I’m trying to make my goals realistic, but still push myself to read some great books.

So here are my 2018 reading goals!

Read at least one Catherynne M. Valente book. I recently finished The Refrigerator Monologues, and it was one of my favorite books of 2017. It made me want to read lots more from Valente, so in 2018 I’m hoping to pick up either Radiance, Deathless, or Palimpsest. I own all three, because BookOutlet.

Read at least one Octavia Butler book. I have an ongoing goal to read everything that Octavia Butler has ever written; I’m currently only at 5, so I have a ways to go. I have a few options on hand: I own a copy of Kindred and a bind-up of the Lilith’s Brood trilogy (I’ve only read the first book, Dawn), and I also have the ebook of Unexpected Stories, which is a bind-up of two previously unreleased stories. I’ve also made a deal with myself that I can’t buy the bind-up of her Patternmaster series, Seed to Harvest, unless I read one of the books of hers I already own, so hopefully that will give me some motivation.

Read at least one Margaret Atwood book. Again, one of my favorite authors and I would ideally like to read all of her books. I’m at 8 so far, and I have two on my TBR shelf: Stone Mattress and Hag-Seed. I meant to read both in 2017 and didn’t (oops). At least one of these is getting read this year.

Read more short story collections. This was a goal that I failed at in 2017. It’s not that I didn’t read any short story collections (I think I read 6), it’s just that I tend to absolutely love short story collections and give them super high ratings, but I rarely gravitate towards them when I’m browsing my shelf. I also own a ton of unread short story collections that have been on my self for awhile that I really need to read.

Read more than one classic. This is another repeat goal from last year, and I think is a good yearly goal in general. I don’t read a ton of classics nowadays, but reading a few every year is a good way to try to stay in touch with the classics even if I’m reading mostly contemporary literature. The two I’m most interested in getting to this year are Persuasion by Jane Austen and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte.

Read big books. There’s nothing better than reading a giant book that you’re able to get sucked into. I have a bunch of these chunksters on my physical TBR shelf, and I’m hoping to read several in 2018. Particularly, I’m looking at reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara, The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber, The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera, and/or Little, Big by John Crowley.

Read more diversely. This is an ongoing goal; essentially, I want to keep trying to read more and more LGBTQIA+ authors and authors of color in 2018.

Find some new great YA authors/books. I tend to be really picky with YA and DNF books a lot due to my pickiness. However, I also have a lot of love for YA, and get super excited when I find a new great book or series. Lately, however, I feel like I’ve been sticking to a few key authors and not branching out enough with my YA reading, and in 2018 I’m hoping to find some new gems. Books I have high hopes for include The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis and The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco.

Read the ten books from my “Top 10 2018 TBR” list. I went through my physical bookshelves and picked out 10 books that I’m super excited to read in 2018 (pictured at the top of this post), and my goal is to actually get to all of them. I’ve done this the past two years and somehow never made it through more than half of my picks, but this year I aim to break that pattern.

#readmyowndamnbooks. This one’s pretty self-explanatory; I’d like the majority of my reading to be from the books I actually have on my bookshelves, since I am a book buying fiend and really need to read what I’ve purchased.


And I think that’s it! Wish me luck on my 2018 goals; I’m hoping to start strong with a lot of great books in January.


Do you have any reading goals for 2018? Let me know!

Ten Best Books I Read in 2017

I thought about it a lot, and here are my top 10 favorite reads of 2017! (Not all of them were published in 2017, although a surprising amount were.) Nine of these were five-star reads; #10 on the list was a high four-star. I would highly, highly recommend all of these; these were the books that stuck with me the most throughout the year, and the ones that I’ll want to read again in the future.

10. Borne by Jeff Vandermeer – Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy made my favorites list a few years back, as it was so wonderfully weird and well-written. This standalone book was fantastic–so imaginative and strange, yet with powerful emotional resonance and a main character you wanted to root for.

9. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit – this was one of my first reads of 2017, and it had a huge impact. I also read it around the time of the Women’s March on Washington, which cemented it in my memory and made me want to go on to read more feminist works during the year.

8. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin – I finally finished the Broken Earth trilogy in 2017, and every book from that trilogy made a yearly favorites list. It’s fantasy at its most creative and well-fleshed-out, yet never lacking in emotion.

7. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado – this lyrical magical realism short story collection also packs a lot of punches in its discussion of how women are treated.

6. Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin – this extremely weird short novel reads like an actual fever dream, and that’s why I loved it.

5. Difficult Women by Roxane Gay – this short story collection included realistic fiction as well as magical realism, and basically just demonstrated how amazing Roxane Gay is at everything.

4. The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente – such a cool and creative take on female comic book characters; this book was biting and impactful and fantastic.

3. Bloodchild by Octavia Butler – this short story collection contained one of my new favorite novellas (the title story) and also included two fantastic essays. I love everything I’ve read by Butler, and this was another great step towards reading all of her published works.

2. Among Others by Jo Walton – the book I didn’t know I needed about the power of reading and books. There’s also magic, done in a beautiful way.

  1. Hunger by Roxane Gay – the most powerful book I’ve read this year. I think I’ve recommended this to approximately one million people, and the ones who’ve read it have all also loved it.


What were your favorite reads of the year? Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments!








December Reading Wrap-Up

That’s a wrap for December! I had a fantastic reading month in terms of quality of books, and I was able to catch up somewhat with my Book of the Month Club picks by reading three of them this month. Two of those even ended up being two of my favorite BOTM picks overall! And while I did only read one 5-star book, the quality of the 4-star books I picked up was fantastic, and December ended up hosting some of my most memorable reads of the year.

Number of books read: 7

#readmyowndamnbooks: 5

When did I acquire the books I read? August 2017 (The Bear and the Nightingale), October 2017 (Her Body and Other Parties, The Power), November 2017 (Turtles All the Way Down, Future Home of the Living God)

Her Body and Other PartiesTurtles All the Way DownAir Awakens (Air Awakens, #1)We Are the AntsThe Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine ArdenThe PowerFuture Home of the Living God

Here are my reviews:

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (5 stars) – this short story collection absolutely lives up to the hype. If you like gorgeously written magical realism short story collections and you are also a feminist, I’d highly recommend this book. It’s unsettling and also beautiful. One of my favorites of the year, for sure. Machado uses magical realism to tell stories about women’s bodies and the everyday violence inflicted upon them; she explores what it means to be a woman in a variety of creative settings. My favorites of the collection were “The Husband Stitch,” “Inventory,” and “Real Women Have Bodies.”

The Power by Naomi Alderman (4.25 stars) – The Power won this year’s Bailey’s Prize, which first put it on my radar awhile back. Since then, I’ve been reading a lot of “meh” reviews that made me really hesitant to pick it up; I’m really glad that I did. I tend to be a fan of near-future female-centric SF, and this one ended up being no exception. The premise of The Power is that women evolve an organ that gives them the ability to deliver an electrical shock through their hands, not unlike an electric eel. This ability first arises in tweens, who are able to transfer the power to older women as well, and once it becomes widespread society begins to rapidly change. It’s told from multiple perspectives: there’s the daughter of a crime lord in England; the mayor of a city in New England; a foster child who becomes a religious prophet; and a male journalist from Nigeria. From each of these characters, we’re able to see gender roles flipped on their heads and an exploration of what would happen if all women were able to easily physically overpower men. It’s a fast-paced novel, and although there are many sentences and paragraphs that pack meaningful and emotional punches, I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s beautifully written. The other issue I had was that I kept thinking that this story could be told in so many different ways; you could take the premise of The Power and imagine hundreds of different ways the course of history could go. You could even take the exact same events of The Power but present the story differently by focusing on only a single character, perhaps, or with entirely different leads. I definitely thought this was a good book, but I’m just not certain that this was the best version of the story that could have been told.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (4 stars) – this is one of those books that I knew I’d like as soon as I started hearing about it. It’s a historical fantasy set in Russia that focuses on the clash between Christianity and the older folk religion of the region. It’s told in a mythical, fairytale-ish way and focuses on Vasilisa, daughter of a rural nobleman, who possesses magical abilities that set her apart from everyone around her. I really enjoyed it and will definitely be looking to pick up the next book.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (4 stars) – I’ve only read one John Green book previously (The Fault in Our Stars; none of his others have sounded that interesting to me) but I knew I wanted to read this one after I heard that the main character had anxiety and OCD. This is definitely the kind of book that has strength in the characters rather than the plot; I loved Aza, the main character, and I thought that Green wrote her very well. The subplot about searching for the missing billionaire, however, did not make a ton of sense for me, and I had a lot of issues about how certain things were handled. Overall, though, the strength of the writing and Aza herself carried me through the book, and I definitely enjoyed it.

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson (4 stars) – throughout this entire book, I just wanted to give the main character a hug. He’s going through a lot–his boyfriend killed himself, his father left, he’s being bullied at school, his grandmother has Alzheimer’s, and his brother treats him terribly. Oh, and he’s being repeatedly abducted by aliens, who are giving him a choice whether or not to save the world. The problem is that he’s so depressed because of everything else in his life that he just doesn’t really see the world as worth saving. Over the course of the story, he has to confront and work through various emotions and issues, and also meets an intriguing new love interest in the new kid in town, Diego. It’s a serious contemporary YA with a science fiction twist, and I thought it was very well-written; I rarely read contemporary YA, but this was great.

Air Awakens by Elise Kova (3 stars) – this is the first book in a romance-heavy YA fantasy series about elemental magic, and I liked it okay. The writing had a LOT of structural issues, but it was still fun and I liked the love interest, who sort of reminded me of Loki from the Thor movies. I’m not sure yet if I’m going to continue with the series, though, because although I enjoyed it, I definitely wasn’t blown away.

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich (3 stars) – In this book, Cedar, a pregnant young woman with Native American heritage who was raised by a white family, has to contend with the unbalancing of the world once evolution appears to start moving backward and pregnant women begin giving birth to genetic throwbacks from earlier types of humans. Unfortunately, this was mostly a miss for me. Louise Erdrich is definitely a very good writer, and I liked the family dynamics that she set up in this book, but the near-future SF premise is something that I’ve seen done so much better in other works. The plot was disjointed and full of plot holes; the worldbuilding in terms of what was actually going on was really under-developed. I really wish another author had taken this premise and written it in a better way, because it could have been so much more interesting.

And here are the books that I purchased in December:


November Reading Wrap-Up!

I participated in NaNoWriMo (for the first time!) this November, so I went into the month not expecting to get much reading done. I thought that setting aside time to write every day would cut into a lot of the time I normally spend reading, but I was really pleasantly surprised at how much I was able to read while getting a large chunk of writing done. Most excitingly, I read TWO five-star reads this month! I’m so picky that this is almost unheard-of for me, especially for a relatively lower-reading month. Don’t get me wrong, I’m impressed with how much I read this month, but it wasn’t quite as many books as I hit in a typical month. But TWO FIVE-STAR READS! Dang. I feel like a big part of the reason for that was that I didn’t set a big solid TBR for the month; I feel like maybe I read better books when I mood-read and don’t plan in advance. I’m going to be doing more of that going forward, although I did make a list of ten books I really want to get to this winter.

Number of books read: 6

#readmyowndamnbooks: 4

When did I acquire the books I read? March 2017 (Crosstalk), June 2017 (Norse Mythology), August 2017 (The Stone Sky), November 2017 (The Refrigerator Monologues)

CrosstalkThe Awakened Kingdom (Inheritance, #3.5)Norse MythologyThe Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3)Girls Will Be Girls: Dressing Up, Playing Parts and Daring to Act DifferentlyThe Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente

The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente (5 stars) – This book could not be more incisive or more timely. I don’t understand why it’s not more popular. Essentially, this book takes on sexism in the world of superheroes, by highlighting women whose lives (and deaths) have been used solely as plot devices to motivate the male main characters. If, like me, you really enjoy superhero movies and are also a feminist, this book will resonate with you. You don’t have to have extensive comics knowledge to enjoy this book or to get most of the references (I certainly don’t); I’m not familiar with every character they referenced, but enough of it is mainstream, like riffs on Batman and Harley Quinn, that you’ll get it regardless. The book’s premise is that in the afterlife, here called Deadtown and expressed as this gorgeously banal yet macabre city, women who have been involved with superheroes gather as what they call the Hell Hath Club and tell their stories one by one. These stories are interspersed with life in Deadtown, which on its own would make a great book. I really wasn’t expecting to love this as much as I did. I both laughed and cried while reading this, and it’s very short. Highly, highly recommend. I need to read more from Valente, stat.

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin (5 stars) – I definitely don’t want to give away anything about the plot of this book, since it would spoil the first two in the trilogy, but this was a very well-done and fitting end to the series. The world-building was incredible, and I was tearing up at the end.

Crosstalk by Connie Willis (4 stars) – this is a cute, funny, fast-paced, highly entertaining SF rom-com. It was a lot of fun to read; the dialogue is great, and you really end up loving the main characters. This was my third Connie Willis book, and my second of her “lighter” books; I have two others on my physical TBR shelf and a bunch more on my hypothetical one.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (4 stars) – I’ve always loved reading about mythology, although Greek mythology has always been my favorite, and this book was no exception. It was well-done and Gaiman also gave a great introduction talking about his connection to Norse myths. The parts about Ragnarok were particularly well-done.

The Awakened Kingdom by N.K. Jemisin (3 stars) – this novella takes place after the Inheritance trilogy, and the entire plot is a huge spoiler. It was cute and fun to read, but it wasn’t as awesome as most of Jemisin’s work tends to be.


And here are the books I acquired in November:


Most Anticipated 2018 Book Releases!

There’s only about a month until the end of the year?! What?!

As 2017 winds down and new releases become fewer, I’ve started looking ahead to the books I’m most excited about for 2018. My picks only cover the first half of the year, because not everything has been announced yet, and they include sequels and also books from authors I’m not yet familiar with. I’ve included links to all of their Goodreads pages in case you want to check them out. This list is not at all exhaustive–it’s just a few titles that I’m particularly psyched about. Let me know in the comments what new releases you’re looking forward to in 2018!


Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children, #3)

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (release date January 9th) – the third installment in the Wayward Children series comes out really soon; this series is a great look at (and commentary on) portal fantasy from an author I really like. And this cover is amazing. I’ll be pre-ordering this one for sure.

The Night Masquerade (Binti, #3)

The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor (release date January 16th) – this is the third (and final, I think) novella in Okorafor’s Binti series, which is YA science fiction dealing with culture clashes and a young woman eager to learn and explore while still holding onto family and tradition.

Red Clocks

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas (release date January 16th, also) – I’m always on board for Handmaid’s Tale-esque dystopias, and I’m hearing good things from early reviews of this book. From the Goodreads synopsis: “In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom.

Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories

Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill (release date February 20th) – I have a good feeling about this short story collection. Fantastical short stories written by women are very much in my wheelhouse, and Goodread is calling this “a stunning collection of stories, teeming with uncanny characters whose lives unfold in worlds at once strikingly human and eerily original.” Sounds right up my alley. Also, the cover is quite pretty. Black and gold is my favorite book cover color combination.

Restore Me (Shatter Me, #4)

Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi (release date March 6th) – it’s sort of weird to include this book on here since I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. Mafi’s Shatter Me series holds a really special place in my heart; I read the books during graduate school when I was studying for a series of really intense exams, and they were such a stress reliever for me. I’ve since reread them several times and they haven’t lost their magic. So I’m nervous to see what’s going to happen in this second trilogy set in the same world–I honestly just can’t stand to see anything bad happen to these characters. But at the same time, I can’t not read them. Right? I don’t know. I wish she was writing a different series instead, or even focusing on side characters as the main characters in this new trilogy, but I don’t make the rules. Again, that cover. Love.

Obsidio (The Illuminae Files, #3)

Obsidio by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (release date March 13th) – again with the black & gold cover! Yesss. So this is the third book in the Illuminae Files series, which is YA science fiction told in unconventional formats, and I love them. Both of the previous books were so fast-paced, addicting, and fun, and I’m very interested to see how things wrap up. Pre-ordering the crap out of this one.

Impostor Syndrome (The Arcadia Project, #3)

Imposter Syndrome by Mishell Baker (release date March 18th) – another third book in a series! Why are there so many of these this year? Anyways, this is book 3 in the Arcadia Project series, which is UF and deals strongly with mental health issues. Our main character, Millie, has Borderline Personality Disorder, and has gotten dragged into the world of the Fae and the humans who help to police the boundaries between our world and theirs. I think in this book they go from L.A., where the first two are set, to London, which could be interesting. I love this series; it’s got dark humor and substance while still being very fast reads.

The Queens of Innis Lear

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton (release date March 27th) – this is a fantasy retelling of King Lear from Tor, one of my favorite publishers. I don’t know tons about it, so here’s the summary from Goodreads: “The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes. The king’s three daughters—battle-hungry Gaela, master manipulator Reagan, and restrained, starblessed Elia—know the realm’s only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign, proving a strong hand can resurrect magic and defend itself. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted. Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war—but regardless of who wins the crown, the shores of Innis will weep the blood of a house divided.” Female-driven high fantasy based on Shakespeare? Sounds cool.

A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.5)

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas (release date May 1st) – so this book is sort of random, because it’s a short novel that is intended to bridge the gap between the original ACOTAR trilogy and the new side characters-centric trilogy that is now going to exist. This is my favorite guilty pleasure romance/fantasy series, so I’m down for any new books. I believe this one is told from both Feyre and Rhysand’s POVs.

Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels, #10)

Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews (release date May 8th) – this is a bittersweet one, because it’s the tenth and final book in my favorite UF series. I really, really hope that none of my faves die. I love Ilona Andrews, and even though I’m really sad that the Kate Daniels series is ending, they are very prolific writers, so I can be confident that they’ll be releasing many more awesome books in the future.

Rage (Stormheart, #2)

Rage by Cora Carmack (release date June 5th) – I found a new fun YA romantic fantasy series in 2017, and that is the Stormheart series by Cora Carmack. This series involves people with the magic to control storms, which is cool, and I’m thinking the second book will also be more love-triangle-y as well as more action-packed, which I’m always down for. Is this the most amazing series in the universe? No, but it’s fun for sure.

Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers, #3)

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (release date June 14th) – I am just beyond excited for the third installment of Chambers’ Wayfarers series. (another third book in a series? wtf) If you like character-focused science fiction, you need to get on board with these books. I have no doubt that this one will be excellent.


Winter Reading Ideas

It’s Thanksgiving, which means I’m already starting to look ahead to the holidays and all of the Chrismakkuh fun (we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in my family). And with that, I’m also starting to look ahead to the books I want to pick up during the winter.

In general, I do like to read somewhat seasonally; some books seem to have a winter vibe to them. My picks for possible winter reads include a lot of fantasy; winter seems like the perfect time to dive into a cozy fantasy. I also have a few longer books, since cold weather and cozy nights mean I’m more in the mood to pick up a 500+ page book. I haven’t been in the mood lately to set firm TBRs as I feel like I find better books to read when I let myself mood-read, but these ten books are what I’m hoping to get to during the holidays and this next season!

The Bear and the NightingaleThe WanderersThe Bone ClocksFates and FuriesThe Lonely Hearts HotelThe Impossible Fairy TaleThe Starlit Wood: New Fairy TalesThe House of Shattered Wings (Dominion of the Fallen, #1)A Little LifeYou Too Can Have a Body Like Mine


Have you thought about what you might want to read this winter? Let me know in the comments!


I write about nontraditional beach reads for nontraditional readers