What I’m Reading Now: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

I started this in 2017 and for reasons that are utterly ridiculous and not at all related to how much I was enjoying it, didn’t finish it. For some reason, I was thinking of elements of the story and happened to mention it to Beth. I asked if I could borrow her copy again. She said I could, If I could find it. I found it with my bookmark still in it. Perhaps I can finish it this time!

Audible is having a sale!

So, I have been recently going through my subscriptions and canceling things that I haven’t been using. The pandemic has killed my interest in many things, I think this is what we call burnout? And I’m taking this as an opportunity to try new things and see what I like (and maybe save a little money). I’m obviously not abandoning reading or abandoning audiobooks, but I’ve got some credits built up and a TBR that exceeds my life expectancy, so it might be time to pause my audible subscription for a while.

And just in time for an audible sale (that is ending tonight), I log in to take a look at my wishlist. So, I thought it might be fun to see what I got with my surplus of credits.

First up, we have The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers. This is a sci-fi book about a truck stop sort of spaceport on the galactic road. The description makes it seem like it might be slice of space life/centering a mother-child relationship. I’m excited to see if I’m right.

The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers

Next up we have Jake’s Magical Market by J.R. Matthews. This looks like it is going to be about a clever child during an alien invasion. I’m hoping it is fun because it appears to be the first in a series.

Jake’s Magical Market by J.R. Matthews

I will be honest and say I picked the next one because I was pulled in by the cover art. This is a YA novel by an award-winning author to promises to be full of mystery and magic.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

My next selection is Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. This is, I believe, YA and Sci-fi. It also had a neat cover. I’ve heard that Rebecca Roanhorse is a good writer and I don’t think I’ve read anything by her yet, so I’m excited to try this one.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

My next pick is the Girl who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh. This seems like it is going to be full of magic and heroism and I am so excited for it. The main character is a young woman who makes a sacrifice to save her brother and then goes on a quest to save her people.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh.

My last pick (which was actually my first pick) is These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong. This one is set in 1920s Shanghai and appears to be about gangsters and flappers. There may be some disease and mayhem and mystery. I couldn’t tell you why but I love novels set in historical Shanghai, so I am very pleased this was an option for me to pick.

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

And thus ends this haul post. Hopefully, I will get to some of these sooner rather than later and I can follow up on them.

Have you bought any books recently? What have you picked up that you’re excited to dive into next?


I feels like it’s been a month since I picked up a book. And that’s not entirely true. (It is definitely not true, as I’ve read portions of books for work as it is time to start reserving books for classes for the Fall.) But, things have been really slow going. I’m still only about a third of the way through The Right Swipe. I’m super into it. I love the characters and the story as it is shaping up, I just haven’t been able to focus on things. In the past, I’ve been able to listen to audiobooks while I cook and clean, but this year that hasn’t been the case. When I try, I end up having to re-listen to the chapter. And since I can only seem to focus on thing at a time, I’ve avoided listening to books in the car or when I’m out for a walk. I don’t want to cause an accident because I’m really into my book. So, slow progress has to be my only progress for the time being.

Review: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

I finished a book and now I’m going to tell you about it! I picked this up at a White Elephant book exchange at a book club, so I knew it was going to be good. Those folks wouldn’t steer me wrong.

This is the tale of Nina Hill, a bookseller at a cute little store in a cute little neighborhood in LA. Nina is living the single life, waking to work, running book clubs, reading tons, making vision boards and obsessively planning, and absolutely crushing it at competitive trivia. She never knew her father, she has no siblings, and her mother is a professional photographer who is always jetting off somewhere. Nina has a bit of the ol’ anxiety, but she’s got it mostly managed. She likes her quiet little life, so of course it’s going to be turned on its head. First, her trivia team can’t help but get her thinking about a rival trivia team captain. Is there a spark there? Absolutely, the rival trivia team thinks so, too. Next, that father she never knew? Well, he reappears in her life in a pretty startling way, bringing with him a raft of kids and grandkids. Can Nina roll with the punches and handle all this change? Or are things going to go catastrophically wrong and implode? It’s a romance novel so maybe a bit of both?

I found the characters to be very likable. Nina was a great protagonist. I found a lot to connect with as I read the book (as anyone who follows me on twitter knows). The narrative was light and quiet. This was a great way to get back into reading for fun. I have my next book narrowed down to four choices, so hopefully my indecision won’t get the best of me and I’ll be up and running on Book 2 of 2022 soon!

Kate’s Top Books of 2021

I feel bad making this post because I don’t think I reviewed anything in 2021. And I barely read anything. I just haven’t had the bandwidth for books. Maybe it is that I need to really focus and put down my phone more because social media has broken my brain. or maybe it is the pandemic. Perhaps it is that I work in an industry where the bulk of the employees, myself included, are on varying lengths of short-term contracts and I am never not looking for my next job. Meh. I don’t know. So, I don’t think I finished five books this year. I have listened to a fair number of podcasts that have inspired my reading, so here are my faves from this year, as thin on the ground as they are.

In April, I listened to Jamie Loftus’s Lolita podcast. I think Vladimir Nabokov is a thoughtful and adept writer and his controversial classic, Lolita, falls into my favorite genre of horror, where the absolutely horrifying thing is presented as normal or even desirable. (Dolores Haze is twelve years old when the book begins. Twelve.) So, I was interested in the podcast and found the added context and the number of different ways of approaching the material presented interesting. Following the podcast, I listened to the memoir Being Lolita by Alisson Wood. This is also a thoughtfully presented, if uncomfortable, narrative about an inappropriate relationship between a high school student and a teacher.

Most weekdays I start my day with a series of news podcasts and some music. Spotify makes a couple of lists. What a Day from Crooked Media is often on the list. I like Gideon Resnick and I love former co-host, Akilah Hughes. The new co-hosts Josie Duffy Rice, Tre’vell Anderson, and Priyanka Aribindi have big shoes to fill, but they’re doing a good job. More than once this year they interviewed Stacey Abrams. I already knew she wrote romance novels, but through these interviews, I found out her first thriller was released this year. It’s called When Justice Sleeps and a big part of the story is about what we do when a supreme court justice is incapacitated but not dead. The founding fathers did not anticipate a world in which there were living wills and life support. I don’t read a lot of thrillers, but this was a lot of fun. I do recommend it.

I read a book that incorporated the lore surrounding the Salem Witch Trials. It was okay, I guess. I don’t actually remember a lot about it. How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather. The book trailer is here. It wasn’t a bad read around Halloween. I started Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco, but I haven’t finished it. I will, though. If I can get back to it. I’m also listening to the Ripper podcast and I would like to read the book The Five by Hallie Rubenhold but I haven’t gotten to it yet. I know I’ve listened to a few romance novels on various road trips but… I can’t remember which ones or what they were about. Except romance. Obviously.

This year has been a lot. Last year was a lot. Next year one of my goals is to get back to listening to audiobooks while I cook. If you have suggestions, I am all ears! What have your favorites (in particular non-fiction) been?