What I’m Reading Now: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

Diana and Matthew are back to the future. Haha I couldn’t help myself. I’m excited to have them reunited with the rest of the gang but devastated that one of them is already gone. How dare Deborah Harkness drop the news like that so casually. *tears*

Re-reads

Since Beth and I set ourselves a summer challenge of re-reading the Twilight books (that neither of us completed), we are obviously not opposed to re-reads. I found out over Christmas that our Mother re-reads a book every year. It is the last book of a romance series in which a couple is getting married and all the couples from the previous books attend the wedding. I think, for her, it’s like checking on in old friends. I have, for the past few years, re-listened to the audiobook of the Hogfather. I enjoy it, but I also find myself, at the end of the year, thinking about Death giving a young girl a real sword for Hogswatch. (Perhaps it is that, around Yule, I am often doing a lot of grading and find myself thinking, “May this F be an important lesson to you.” I get pretty petty at the ends of semesters ;))

So, now I’m wondering: What do you re-read? What are your favorite worlds to revisit? What characters to you find yourself wanting to catch up with? And, do you catch up in other ways? Do you find yourself, instead of re-reading, diving into fan art/fan fiction? Let us know in the comments!

To Make a Reading Goal or To Not Make a Reading Goal.

I’ve debated over and over with myself whether or not I wanted to participate in this year’s Goodreads Reading Challenge. I’ve made a goal every year since 2011 and have reached it every year. (I made an adjustment to my goal midway last year because things only just barely made it) Last year was my lowest book count in ten years and even though I’m back to work and such doing more commuting to work where I do most of my reading, I’m only going in to work 3 or 4 days a week. The other days I’m working from home. Also it maybe a new year but the troubles of 2020 didn’t just go away when the calendar changed and the events of the world can be make things hard to concentrate. (See Re: yesterday) So do I make a reading goal this year or not? On one hand, it’s good to have a goal and to have something to work towards but it also can add extra stress that we all don’t need. I only read 20 books last year which is good considering last year but I also can’t help but think that is some kind of a failure when I usually read twice as many. In 2012, I read 90 books! Over the last couple of years, I’ve scaled back my goals. Allowing myself more time to really read them but also have a life. I do feel like it has given me a little more of a life balance. I could go a couple of days without reading and not freak out that I was now 2 books behind in my goal. So what should I do this year? I think it would be understandable to just take the year off. It’s not like you get a prize for making your goal. It is after all supposed to be fun and if it just adding stress then it’s not worth it right. I’m going to read anyways, so why do I need to set a certain number of books I have to read? However it is an easy way to keep track of what I’m reading and what I’ve read. I use my challenge when I do my year end lists to remind myself what books I really loved and were a disappointed. In the end I decided to set my goal at 20 like last year. I think this is fair. If I can somehow manage 20 last year I should be able to do this year right? If I don’t make it I don’t make it.

What about you? Are you making any reading goals or participating in any challenges this year? I want to hear what your reading plans are.

Our Favorite Books of 2020!

Well 2020 was a dumpster fire of a year. Thank goodness it’s about to end. We’ve been pretty open with our struggles we had this year when it came to our reading lists. We didn’t read as much as we wanted and don’t have as many books to pick from. So this year we are going to do something different this year. Instead of picking our Top 5 or 10 books we are just going to list our favorite books we read this year. So here we go.

  1. Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 – by Cho Nam-Joo This was such a powerful book to me. Like the main character Kim Jiyoung. I was also born in 1982 and can identify with so many of her struggles. The fact that she is Korean and I am American just goes to show how alike we are all no matter where we are from. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
  2. Deathless Divide – by Justina Ireland The sequel of Dread Nation about a Zombie apocalypse after the US Civil War. In this one we see more the aftermath of what happened and the hardships they all have to endure. Jane is the best protagonist. She’s funny, strong, and damaged but she never gives up. She’s who we all would want if a zombies ever attack and considering how 2020 went, I’m surprised they didn’t. (Beth don’t jinx it)
  3. The King of Crows – by Libba Bray The final book in The Diviner’s series was ever the sweeping epic I wanted it to be. It brought all of them together and made them all work together to defeat the King of Crows. The sad thing about this series is how so many of the problems of the 1920’s are still too relevant today. Racism, poverty war and greed all played a part in the novels and the last couple of years. I’m truly going to miss all of these characters.
  4. Midnight Sun – by Stephenie Meyer Controversial choice I know because I wasn’t very kind to it or to Edward and Bella. It has not aged well and I’ll never read it again but It was kinda fun to reminisce back to a time when I loved these books and when I was excited to go see the movies in theaters. (Remember when we could do that?) No matter what I feel about the now, I’ll always be grateful to them and Stephenie Meyer because they introduced me to a whole new genre of books that I probably wouldn’t have sought after before. So yes, It wasn’t a good book but it brought back some good memories.
  5. There’s Something about Sweetie by Sandhya Menon Sweetie is an awesome main character. Her development is amazing. The romance is adorable. I totally forgot I had read that one.
  6. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz This was such a beautiful novel about a friendship between two teenagers. I loved it so much. It broke my heart and lifted me up. It was just so great. Plus, Lin Manuel Miranda reads the audiobook.
  7. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro This novel was so horrifying. The quiet romance that hid the dark realities that Ishiguro created in the novel made it such an amazing piece of speculative fiction. I was so disturbed by it.
  8. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness The world building here is neat and I’m interested in where the story is going. I didn’t read a whole lot this year, but this one did get me into the sequel. So, even though there are things that definitely annoy me, I am adding it to the list. 

Quick Review: Dividing Eden and Eden Conquered by Joelle Charbonneau

I believe I bought Dividing Eden because it was on sale and I had read other books by the author and thought why not? I finally got around to reading it thanks to USPS delivery The Tower of Nero to the apartment building across the street. (Yeah, tenant association email chain for the assist) I’m glad that I got around to it because it was a fun read. The premise is that Eden was at war with a neighboring kingdom, the previous royal family still had influence in the kingdom and the power of the wind that kept the power going to the kingdom and the threat to the terrors of the night at bay was failing. Twins, Carys and Andreus were not expected to ascend to the throne thanks to having an older brother but when he and their father, the king die they must compete against each other for the crown. Once inseparable, their loyalty gets out to the test when power is on the line. At least for one. Carys never really wanted to be in power but she is clever. You see, when she and her brother were born the seer made a prediction that one of them is cursed and would be the downfall of the Kingdom. It was assumed that the cursed one was Andreus because he was born sickly. Carys has always stepped in to protect him. When he has one of his episodes, she’ll do something to draw attention away from him so no one will be the wiser. It was her role and she thought it would always be. That was until Andreus met the new Seer, Imogen and his brother was dead and he could be king and out of everyone’s shadow. But who was behind the deaths of their brother and father? Wasn’t the Neighboring Kingdom? The ousted royals? The members of the council? Carys does what she always done and goes out of her way to help and protect her brother. Andreus betrays her the moment he sees he could have everything he ever wanted and a pretty girl. Typical boy believes a woman he wants to sleep with over his sister who has done nothing but protect him his whole life. The end of the first book, we get the resolution of who wins the crown but who is behind it all not so much. It’s much more complicated then that because there a lot of things at play here. All pretty well set up too. I was able to guess some of who was behind but one subplot I didn’t really see coming. All in all it was a good two books. If you are looking for a quick fantasy read with lots of subplots and palace intrigue, this is for you.

Quick Review: The Tower of Nero by Rick Riordan

I know that I’m super behind in my reviews. I’ll try to get them all written before the end of the year. On to this one. The Tower of Nero was a satisfying ending to the series and really to whole Olympian Saga. Pretty much every character got some closure with one notable exception but we will get to that. Apollo the former God, turned human because of the events of Heroes of Olympus but also because he was on the only one who could save the world this time. Apollo had grown so much over the series. He wasn’t just turned human but became human. As a God with immortality and unlimited abilities he often didn’t think about how his actions affected others because there would always be more for him. More people to worship him. During his journey he had to come to terms with all the destruction he caused and the hurt he inflicted and it was painful but doing so he grew up. He understood that everything has consequences and that you can’t just walk away or send a demi-god to do your work for you. Meg also grew up. She was finally strong enough to stand up to her father and abuser but also have the strength to help her siblings begin their healing as well. It was truly a powerful moment when she finally stands up to him and help her family. The one character from the original series that is still working through his grief is Nico. I have a feeling we are being set up for another series following his journey as he grapples with years of grief and depression that he is only know coming to terms with. Poor kid. He was born in Mussolini’s Italy, frozen in time in a weird Vegas time warp. Lost his sister. Was forced out of the closet but a cruel Cupid and now loss of another friend. A lot of has happened to this kid. Anyways, Great series. Great ending. I will miss these characters but at least they are all in a safe place. Rick Riordan has said that he is going to take a break for a while and he deserves one. He’s been releasing about two books a year for over a decade. Whatever he does now I’m sure it will be great. In the meantime, he’s imprint is still publishing great stories. Percy Jackson is getting his own Disney+ series and the Kane Chronicles are being made into a movie for Netflix. I think his fans will be well served in the coming years even if a new book from him isn’t on the horizon.

What I’m Reading Now: A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir

The final book in the Ember in the Ashes series I’m interested to see how this one ends