2022 Reading Round-Up

The start of a new year means it’s time to look back at the past year of reading.  I read 96 books this year, a drop from the days before I had a toddler, but not bad, considering!  And if you factor in picture books, I’m sure the number is at least double…!  Here’s a look at the details.

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: The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North – Hope is the main character of this one, and no one remembers her.  Within a minute of seeing her, everyone forgets.  Basically like the Silence in Doctor Who, for my geek readers!  Fascinating to see how this plays out and how she lives her life.  The book turned into something of a heist/thriller, but I was mostly fascinated by the idea.

1B) Best World Building: A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers – I loved this peaceful, philosophical book set in a future utopia where everyone looks out for each other and for nature. Robots achieved sentience a couple centuries before the book opens and, instead of conquering humanity, basically said “good luck, guys, we’re leaving” and disappeared into the wilds. This is the story of the first robot who comes back, and the tea monk looking for purpose who meets it.  Honorable mention also goes to Finder by Suzanne Palmer, for a very weird and interesting sci fi story set mostly on a web of asteroids and space stations.

1C) Best Romance: I loved Grace and Stephen in Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher.  I also loved…pretty much every romantic couple in Kingfisher’s books that I read this year.  I give the edge to Grace and Stephen though because I love that Grace is a perfumer who can’t quite remember what he looks like after they first meet, but vividly remembers how he smells (like gingerbread!)  Kingfisher’s thing in romances seems to be powerful men who are very, very conscious about things like consent and not intimidating the women they’re attracted to, and I am so there for that.

1D) Best Characters: I’m giving this one to Kingfisher too, for her cast of misfits in The Clockwork Boys and its sequel, Wonder Engine.  Slate the cranky forger, Caliban the angsty paladin, Brenner the assassin, and the Learned Edmund are all just wonderful.  Another good romance as well, which winds up with “well, I suppose, if only for the handkerchiefs” and it’s perfect. Continue reading “2022 Reading Round-Up”

2021 Reading Round-Up

Though it sometimes feels like we never quite left 2020, it is somehow the beginning of 2022, making it time to look back at the best, the worst and the sometimes weird of my 2021 reading. I read 115 books this year, down from the high numbers I did a few years ago but comparable to recent years – and considering I also had a baby in March, we’ll call that good!

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: Invictus by Ryan Graudin – Do premises get better than time traveling thieves who are jumping through time to steal artifacts history records as lost? Amazing idea.

1B) Best World Building: Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers – I thoroughly enjoy this series, and this book in particular created a fascinating world – though literally not a world, as it’s set almost entirely on a fleet of spaceships.  It’s almost all world building, since it’s mostly people going about their lives, and it was so interesting to see how their lives work and society is structured in a culture aboard a space fleet.

1C) Best Romance: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – Lovely, lyrical book with an excellent romance despite it moving fast (not usually my thing).  The second book in the duology trended very dark for my taste, but the first one, and its romance, were a delight.  And the second one was good – just dark!

1D) Best Characters: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune – If I was going to do a single Best of 2021 book, this would be the one.  Absolutely, amazingly good, a beautiful found-family story that’s touching and funny and says important things too.  And the characters really made the book.  I read this in October and I feel like every book I’ve read since I’ve had to forgive for not being The House in the Cerulean Sea.  So, so good. Continue reading “2021 Reading Round-Up”

Blog Hop: Traditional or Indie?


Today’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Are you more willing to read traditionally published books than self-published (indie) books? Or do you not have a preference?

I’m open to either if the premise is intriguing and the writing is good.  I’ve read excellent indie books and terrible ones, and I’ve read excellent traditionally published books and terrible ones.

Indie books can sometimes have an issue where the writing is not quite as polished – there’s a particular “not quite there” style of writing that I’ve seen in authors who are still honing their craft. It’s hard to define, perhaps a kind of stilted quality, that I can usually recognize by page two if a book is suffering from it. I’ve only seen that particular issue with indie books, I think.

On the other hand, traditionally published books can be plagued by problems of predictability or trying to fit into specific molds because that’s what’s “in” right now.

And of course, there are a host of potential storytelling issues that any book can have, regardless of how it’s published.  And all sorts of great things that could happen in a story too.  Stories are stories, however they make it onto the page.

Blog Hop: Words or Pictures?


Today’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Are you more likely to choose to read a book based on the synopsis, or the cover?

Definitely the synopsis!  I’ve seen some very bad covers on very good books.  Plus, I feel like there’s a trend recently for abstract covers, using symbols or even geometric shapes, which tell you next to nothing about the story.  I usually pick up a book because I’m hooked by something interesting in the premise, and it’s hard to convey “here’s a clever concept” in a cover!  I won’t say I never judge a book by its cover, but the synopsis counts for much more with me.

Video Review: The Lazy Genius Way

I recently read and thoroughly enjoyed The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi.  So I made a video about it!  Kendra offers 13 Lazy Genius Principles, about how to be a genius about the things that matter, and lazy about the things that don’t.  I love books on how to manage your life better, and this was a particularly good one.