2020 Reading Round-Up

We are (finally!) at the beginning of 2021, making it time to look back at the best, the worst and the sometimes weird of my 2020 reading. I read 134 books this year, including finally picking up a lot of very good ones that had been languishing on my To Be Read list for years – and a few that turned out to be terrible too!

1) Best of…
I’ve been splitting my “Best of” books for the past several years, so that I can highlight the ones that were best in very specific ways.

1A) Best Premise: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows – I loved this concept of a society where everyone reincarnates and remembers their past lives.  So fascinating to explore what that makes the world look like.  The sequel went some odder directions, but I’ll probably pick up the third one eventually.

1B) Best World Building: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers – I thoroughly enjoyed this sci fi adventure.  The characters and plot were good, but I especially liked the world (galaxy) they were in.  A little bit Star Trek (a galactic alliance of species), a little bit Star Wars (those species are really, really different from each other), and quite a bit Firefly (a ragamuffin crew with a Wild West feel), it still felt totally unique.  Humans aren’t very important in the galaxy, there’s a lot of exploration of the very different alien cultures, and by and large everyone is really accepting of those differences.  Very cool place to explore.

1C) Best Romance: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid – I’m not usually a fan of love triangles, but I really enjoyed this one.  I liked how the heroine’s character was explored through her choice between the two men, and her romance with each was convincing and powerful – but I was still happy with how it wound up!

1D) Best Hero: Elliott from In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan – This was a wonderful, satirical take on magical school stories, and the hero, Elliott, was everything I wanted him to be: sarcastic, irritable, bad-tempered but totally on the ball.  Doesn’t sound appealing, but he was wonderful!  He brings a backpack stuffed with pens and highlighters to magic school (complaining loudly about quill pens) and has serious questions about why fourteen year olds are being sent into battles.  He’s awesome. Continue reading “2020 Reading Round-Up”

2020 Reading Challenges – End of Year Update

Welcome to 2021!  The start of a new year means time to look back at my reading from 2020.  It was a very strange year…but at least my reading went well!  My overarching goal was to read more, aiming for 125 books.  I passed that goal, with a total 134 books.  I guess staying home for most of the year was at least good for reading!

Here are my monthly totals:

January: 14 books
February: 11 books
March: 7 books
April: 12 books
May: 9 books
June: 9 books
July: 11 books
August: 14 books
September: 10 books
October: 15 books
November: 10 books
December: 12 books

Now onto the specific challenges…

The Phantom of the Opera Reading & Viewing Challenge
Host: Tales of the Marvelous
Goal: Lon Chaney Level

I posted the update for this challenge yesterday (share your updates if you have them!)  I met my goal, reading one book, watching one filmed play, and watching one movie.

Continue reading “2020 Reading Challenges – End of Year Update”

The Phantom of the Opera Reading and Viewing Challenge – Final Update

We’ve come to the Final Lair – the last day of 2020, and what a strange year it’s been!  I hope you’ve stayed safe and well, and enjoyed some escapes into the world of the Phantom of the Opera.  After all, he was socially distancing 140 years before it became the trend!

This is our chance to give updates on what our Phantom experiences were in 2020.  Did you reach your target goals?  Did you find anything new and exciting to explore?

I completed the Lon Chaney Level of the challenge by reading one book (rereading Gaston Leroux’s Phantom), watching one filmed play (Webber’s Love Never Dies) and watching one movie (the 1943 Phantom).

I re-watched the 1943 Phantom, starring Claude Rains in the title role, in the last couple of months.  It had been several years since I last saw it.  I remembered that Rains was very good in the role, and that this was the source of the cultural impression that the Phantom got his deformity by being hit by acid (not the case in Leroux or Webber).  I did not remember how much focus was on Christine’s career throughout the movie.  It was actually quite nicely done, and surprising for the 1940s!  The Phantom is not a romantic rival here, but Christine is still torn between Raoul, another singer whose name I never remember and, unusually and crucially, the demands of her career.  It’s a refreshing different focus, and I enjoyed how it turned out in the end.

My main Phantom focus of the year was putting my own Guardian of the Opera series out.  The third book in the trilogy came out in early December, if you haven’t checked it out yet!

That covers my 2020 Phantom adventures – now I want to hear about yours! If you’d like a refresher on the challenge, check out the launch post here.  And please share in a comment below.  I look forward to seeing what you’ve been exploring this year, and I wish you a very good 2021 ahead.

Launch Day: Dawn Melody (Guardian of the Opera 3)

We’ve been counting down all week, and today I’m excited to announce that my new book is out!  Dawn Melody, Book Three in my Guardian of the Opera trilogy, released today and you can order your copy  now.

Pick your preferred format:

Hardback ($35.99)*
Paperback ($14.49)
Kindle ($6.99)

*You can buy the hardback at 15% off direct from the printer if you order today – use the code THANKS15 to save!

I’m so excited to share this new book with you!  This trilogy has been many years in the writing, so it’s great to have it all out for you to read.  And the third is my favorite of the series.  If you’ve enjoyed the first two, I’d love to hear it, and I can’t wait to hear what you think of the conclusion.

For now, here’s a little more about the story in this volume:

With the Phantom of the Opera dead, Erik tries to discover what role still exists for him at the Opera Garnier—or if there is one. Sure that he can never belong in the outside world, he questions if he can still belong inside the Opera either. And also to wonder why it bothers him so much when Meg spends more and more time with the handsome Léon de Troyes.

Fighting feelings she’s sure she shouldn’t have for Erik, Meg tries to balance a friendship with him, a flirtation with Léon, and her dreams about a life beyond the corps de ballet. But even a ballerina can’t keep her balance forever, and events escalate as their fragile dance begins to fall apart. And neither Meg nor Erik suspect that Commissaire Mifroid—and Christine Daaé—may still have plans of their own.


Dawn Melody Count-Down: 1 Day

It’s almost here!  Dawn Melody, the final book in my Guardian of the Opera trilogy, will be out this Friday, December 4th!  I’m counting down this week with a new quote each day.

I’ve been writing this week about the arcs and character threads that finally come together in the final book of the trilogy.  And of course, the romance is definitely a big one…!

Catch up on the story by reading Book One, Nocturne, Book Two, Accompaniment, and the special prequel short story collection, OvertureAnd get your copy of Dawn Melody on December 4th!