Category Archives: Reading Challenge

The TBR Pile Challenge

One of my goals for 2015 is to get some of my TBR pile pared down. It’s not easy. I am constantly putting limits on how many new books I’m allowed to buy, and then breaking them. Then I just look at the overburdened shelf and sigh, because how am I ever going to read so many books?

So in an effort to get some books off my shelves (and my ereader), I’m going to try Roof Beam Reader’s TBR Pile Challenge. I’ll be reading and reviewing these throughout 2015, and linking back here.


My 2015 TBR Pile Challenge List:

1 Carol Rifka Brunt- Tell the Wolves I’m Home (2012)
2 Scott Lynch- The Lies of Locke Lamora (2006)
3 Jhumpa Lahiri- The Lowland (2013)
4 Charles Belfoure- The Paris Architect (2013)
5 Diana Gabaldon- Outlander (1991)
6 Elizabeth Wein- Code Name Verity (2012)
7 Annabel Lyon- The Sweet Girl (2013)
8 Kristin Cashore- Graceling (2008)
9 Wendy Webb- The Fate of Mercy Alban (2013)
10 Justin Cronin- The Summer Guest (2004)
11 Laura Moriarty- While I’m Falling (2009)
12 Wilkie Collins- The Moonstone (1868)

1. Alissa Nutting- Tampa (2013)
2. Kelly Braffet- Save Yourself (2013)

My Progress: 9 of 12 completed/ 9 of 12 reviewed. 




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Full Fathom Five Read Along: Week Three


(join the discussion here!)

I’m your host this week. It was an exciting section and I enjoyed coming up with the questions. I hope you all enjoy them, too!

1. Kai and Izza finally meet face-to-face. What do you think about their confrontation? Did it go as you expected, or did they surprise you?

Izza surprised me a bit, because I don’t think I expected her to be as distraught about Margot as she was. I’m still trying to figure out what Margot represents for her. I really liked how the meeting revealed important things about each character, and I loved the bit where Izza revealed their secret temple.

2. Poor Margot. Do you trust that Claude just did a stupid thing and didn’t believe Kai when he needed to, or do you think he has a bigger role in the conspiracy? And who is behind the mysterious murdering Penitent?

I do not trust Claude at all. If he’s ‘innocent’, then he’s much too bland of a character for Gladstone’s history. We still don’t know what really happened between him and Kai, and yes, Kai has her own demons, but I get some skeevy vibes from Claude nonetheless. I think he at least knows more than he is saying, if he is not being directed totally by the priests (who I think are behind the whole conspiracy, whatever it may turn out to be.)

3. Kai and Teo’s conversation about evolution and creation myths, science vs. belief, was really striking. Which side of the philosophical argument would you lean towards?

This section really resonated with me, because even though this is a fictional world, I feel very much like Kai does. The way she talked about creation myths were very close to my actual beliefs in this world. Which was kind of fun, to be honest. I study myth and religious books as literature, and I think they give important context to the human story that can go much deeper than science. And I just really, really loved the line “And here, we became human.”

It is fascinating to me that in a world where gods and magic are known entities they are treated as mundane things, so I think Kai’s approach to metaphor almost brings a little bit of holiness back into the equation.

4. So we know now that all of the idols and Izza’s gods are different facets of a single goddess. How do you think this development might affect the different characters, and Kavekanan society as a whole?

I loved this development. It seems like the people of Kavekana have either been willfully ignoring or actively trying to hide that their idols evolved into this goddess. It puts the idols much more firmly on the side of the gods rather than the Craftspeople, and it destroys the neutrality of the idol system. I think Kavekana is going to end up going back to gods worship–perhaps with this new figure taking the place of Makawe?–and I don’t have a clue what will happen to their economy.

5. Why do you think Teo threw her bracelet into the pool?

I have no clue, but maybe she’s some sort of secret agent working on behalf of Two Serpents who knew about the goddess in the pool the whole time?

6. Uh, oh, Jace. All signs are starting to point to Jace being the architect of this conspiracy. Signs can be wrong, of course. But where do you think we’ll go from his surprise appearance? If he did know about the goddess in the pool all along, why do you think he would have covered it up?

Going back to what I said about Claude: the quiet ones aren’t to be trusted. It seems pretty clear to me that Jace has been the one tracking Kai, and maybe he’s behind Mara’s disappearance and the set-up. Who knows? I think he’s a status quo kind of guy, and he’s probably been hiding the goddess for a long time.

Of course, knowing my track record with these stories, I am also, probably, wrong.


Bonus (silly) question: what possible reason could a skeleton Craftsman have for poolside tanning?


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Reading Detox

Post-surgery, I was really excited when I was able to start reading books again (I had grand plans. I was going to write an entire novel during my convalescence, and use the time off work to read all my TBR books. I didn’t count on what anasthesia, pain medicine, kidney failure, and just plain pain would do to my brain. I couldn’t read for over a month). But very quickly, that excitement has turned to dread, as I started to feel all this weird guilt. I’m not reading fast enough, I’m not reading as many books as I should, I have x amount of reviews to get through, I’m hoarding too many library books.


translation: I’m weird.

Thing is, I know it’s ridiculous to feel guilt over reading. It’s not exactly a destructive behavior. But I need to take a break, first to see if I even can take a break, and second so I pay more attention to other parts of my life and get back into balance.

So from August 4th to 10th, no books and no short stories. My TBR pile is overflowing, but I’m going to do my best to ignore it. I don’t know if it will last. The hardest part is going to be at work, which is literally a building full of books. But I’m going to try. And maybe, just maybe, at the end of the week reading will start to feel like a joy again instead of a guilty chore.


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Help Me Find New Authors

On the one hand, I need new book recommendations like a hole in the head (currently trying to pare my to-read list down to a manageable size, and weeping.) On the other hand, there’s something I’m slack on. Something I’ve really been meaning to address. I need to read more African American authors.

Being a big reader who has the benefit of a solid liberal arts education and a number of library jobs behind her, my bookshelf is probably more diverse than a lot of other readers’. But the isn’t saying much. I haven’t run the numbers or anything like that, but I definitely read mostly white women authors, followed by white men. Next is probably black women and then other writers of color, though I can’t be sure. And that needs to change.

When it comes to my writing, because I am vey much still learning and crafting my own voice, I try to write from a different perspective in every story. Male, female, POC, queer, physically handicapped, etc. Maybe it’s not ideal. Maybe I get things wrong. (Maybe I get things spectacularly wrong.) But writing fiction is the way I process and understand the world, and there’s a lot of different people out there, so I have to make a concious effort to try. (Otherwise I’d end up with a ton of stories about a white, twenty-something female with a middle class background and social anxiety, and who wants to read about that?) So, if I make a concious effort to make my writing diverse, I have to also make a concious effort to make my reading diverse. I’m not going to like every author or every book. But I need more experience and knowledge of a variety of authors. And that is where you come in.

Who are your favorite black authors?  I’ve read and enjoyed novels by Tayari Jones and N.K. Jemisin. I’ve read and been disappointed by Octavia Butler and Beverly Jenkins. I’ve read the usual books you get assigned in school, like Invisible Man and There Eyes Were Watching God and Beloved, though I’m sure there’s plenty I’ve missed along the way. What are some books I have to try? I’m interested in any genre, though I pretty much know already I’m not going to be into “church books,” anything strongly contingent on Christianity, and on the other side I’m not going to be interested in heavily urban books (at the library, we get a lot of books about “thugz” and “playaz” that seem really stereotypical and offensive to me, but what do I know?). Who am I missing out on?

Recommend me things in the comments, and I will add them to my absurdly long list!


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Reading Challenge: Nebula Nominees Update #2

It’s time for the second update to my Nebula finalists reading challenge. In this one I’ll be talking about Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon and Caitlin R. Kiernan’s The Drowning Girl.

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Reading Challenge: Nebula Nominees Update #1

Remember my reading challenge? It’s time for the first update, N.K. Jemisin’s The Killing Moon and Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamour in Glass.

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Reading Challenge: Nebula Nominees

I don’t often pay attention to awards. It’s not that I dislike them or anything, but there are so many awards out there that it can be hard to keep up, and anyway there are always plenty of things to read. But this year I’ve decided to set myself a totally arbitrary and completely no-stakes challenge to read all of the Nebula nominees in the novel category (I may try to track down the short stories as well, but that’s down the road). Why am I doing this? Well, no reason in particular, but they all look pretty interesting.

The nominees are:

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
Ironskin by Tina Connolly
The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin
The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan
Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Want to join me? There are no prizes (except your own personal pride!), but maybe I can come up with a banner in Photoshop or something. Very exciting, I’m sure.

I’ll be starting with The Killing Moon for the sole reason that it is available at the local branch of my library and I have to ILL everything else. I’m not going to set a reading schedule or anything, but if you want to start talking about these books and authors here, feel free! The Nebula Awards will be held the weekend of May 16th, so that’s the deadline. Happy reading!


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