Back in April (almost two months ago already!) I said that I’d gotten a record amount of reading done, cutting deep into my Goodreads Reading Challenge. Which is a good thing, since over the last several weeks I haven’t been doing a whole lot of reading at all. That happens come this time of year. Between work, writing, and now being outside in the flowerbeds and baking for the store, by the time the day’s done all I want to do is veg with my current show!😅 (In the middle of To Your Eternity right now . . . it’s awesome).
Nevertheless, I am slowly creeping up on that reading goal, and hardly halfway through the year, too. That’s a new record! Here are the latest reads that have brought me to 52 out of 55 books —95% of the way to victory:
Prismatic: Havok Season Five – This is an anthology of the best flash fiction published by the Havok e-zine throughout one of their six month long ‘seasons’, which are based on certain themes. The theme for season five focused on a certain color for each month, so this book is filled with a variety of chromatic tales, and it was fascinating to see how each of the authors displayed, portrayed, and played with these hues. Even my one story, MOOD SWINGS, made an appearance! I’ve never been a huge fan of ‘fun-size’ fiction for various reasons, but these stories, ranging all over the genre and color spectrum, were pretty great. Definitely some of the best I’ve read, and a few of them moved and inspired me! And if you’re ever not in the mood to dive into something extensive like a novel or series, Havok’s anthologies of snack-sized stories are one of the best ways to keep reading.
Seeker – This book was hard. Not hard to read—far from—but emotionally hard. The prologue sets the tone, saying it’s the story about the ‘Lost Clan of the Sun’, but then you get into the story and invested in the characters and their life and love and struggles and dreams and you want so bad for everyone to find hope and make it out of the darkness. Then you get to the end and remember. It’s about the ‘lost’ clan. A sad story, sprinkled with flecks of hope and light that just make your heart ache. This is the second book in the Shyloh series, but the story is a prequel, recounting events that happened before the story of the first book. Reading it makes me want to go back and refresh my memory of what happened in book one, since it’s been so long. Sorensen tells a gripping tale of a people living under literal shadow, a darkness ruled by evil powers that squelch all goodness until the very sun has become nothing but legend. But legends have to come from somewhere, and our primary MC stirs up his people to hope in its reality. Mina—dear, sweet, courageous Mina—braves the dragon infested mountains on her own quest and makes her own discoveries about it. #minaforever. It’s a story about daring to hope for more than striving in darkness, to dream about a light that Shadow cannot overcome, and to persevere in the face of heavy opposition not only from the enemy, but from within one’s own home. I was captivated, and even caught myself praying for one of the characters! It’s heart wrenching and hopeful, a poignant metaphor to the lives we live today—captive under the prince of darkness until we grab hold of the promise of the Son.
Kaiju No. 8, vol. 2 – This volume totally delivered on the promises from the first book—action packed, exciting, hilarious, and chock full of heroic awesomeness. Wherein we get to see some character development from aspiring Defense officers who want to live up to their dream, save others, and protect the ones they care about against the odds. I don’t usually like being a fan of the MC since it’s so unoriginal, but man. Kafka is the BOMB.
The Summons – This is a short story prequel to C. M. Banschbach’s Dragonkeep Chronicles, and if anything can give me more of the Baron, I am totally on board. It has all the angst and snark of a disowned and salty big brother haunting the mountains with his band of loyal outlaws and gives insight into what provoked him to be on that foggy path in the first pages of OATH OF THE OUTCAST.
In the Glorious Fields – Y’all. This book. Whoa. As the finale in an Arthurian legend fantasy western, this book is EPIC and INTENSE. Hayes wove a thrilling tapestry of a tale with cowboy heroes and villains that set me turning pages like a racing horse! The world is beautiful and enchanting and the characters have become so familiar and dear since the beginning of the trilogy. I could have wished that the matter of the curse and the beast were less enigmatic and that the concluding battle was more climactic after everything leading up to it, but it wasn’t the conclusion of the story—which turned out pretty wild, heart wrenching, and bittersweet in all the best ways. With a no holds barred approach, this story tackles the best and worst sides of the human heart, countering loss, grief, and heartache with love, hope, and compassion. Shattered relationships with redemption. Broken dreams with second chances. Deception with truth. I was swept away by the rugged, almost otherworldly beauty and mystery of the Western Territory as it changed those who laid the foundation of its future while itself remained in some ways unchanged. And the ending left me with a bittersweet longing; sad that the end of an era had come, paved in the loss of beloved characters and the moving on of others, but hopeful of dreams realized and life renewing. It was glorious.
Yakitate!! Japan, vol. 1 – This story is so quirky and fun! I first saw the anime a few years ago and only just recently considered reading the manga. Because, you know, it’s about bread. And, you know, making bread is kinda my thing. So it’s perfect! The story follows young home baker, Azuma Kazuma, as he applies to a big chain bakery in the city to further his search for Japan’s national bread, dubbed Ja-pan (because ‘pan’ is Japanese for ‘bread’. Ha! Jokes.) His lack of a basic knowledge of bread history is a running gag throughout the novel as he continues to wow naysayers with his ingenious collection of self-discovered breads. Azuma is gullible and adorable with a rare gift and indomitable spirit that’s a blast to read, and the other characters each have their own unique personalities and motivations for pursuing the art. Food manga is my weakness!!
Y’all, this series is my first space opera (yes, I was reading the Droseran Saga before I got into Star Wars😎) and so far this third book has been AWESOME. I won’t say much since it hasn’t officially been released yet (June 14!) (I was given a pre-release ecopy), but Kendig wastes no time getting into the action with kamikaze spaceship crashes and alien invaders! I’ve seen the character cards for the pre-order bundles, and I am stoked to meet the one I haven’t gotten to yet. He sounds epic. But anyway, this series is thrilling and gritty and romantic and cool, and I definitely think, if you’re into space and fantasy, you’re gonna love it.
And there we are, friends! I have to say, looking back at this list it certainly turned out to be a pretty eclectic collection. Have you read any of these titles? Do any of them pique your interest?