Niki’s Book Journal: August 2018

Niki’s Book Journal [August 2018]

I realize we’re already 1/3 of the way into September, but I’d been keeping this journal through August and it would really bug me to combine it with September and have a month missing. So here we are, lol.

August was a weird month of reading. I started out with a bang – sticking to a schedule (without it feeling like it was an obligation), and crushing my time spent reading from previous months. And then the last week or two of the month approached, and I realized three things: a bunch of high-priority new releases were going to hit the market, I’d signed up for several buddy reads (without writing them down or, you know, actually planning for them), and several of my library holds had just come in much earlier than planned. I felt overwhelmed and inundated with good books (#firstworldproblems) and it kind of paralyzed me a bit. I went from finishing 6+books a week at the beginning of August to barely completing a single one in almost 2. I also lost my writing voice and couldn’t wrap my brain around composing a review. The whole situation was weird – I haven’t had something knock me off my game this bad since December of 2013 (yeah, I remember the date haha. This bout wasn’t nearly as weird as that one). Sometimes I guess my brain just needs a break. I only wish it had let me know it was tired ahead of time so I could have at least planned for it a bit, lol. I seem to be back into the swing of things now. :)

Mini Reviews!!

Sword-Bound by Jennifer Roberson

Sword-Bound (Tiger & Del #7) by Jennifer Roberson [3.5/5 stars]

I wouldn’t call anything in this series groundbreaking for the genre, but for the pure fun-factor, it gets an “A” from me. Sword-Bound is a bonus book of sorts, published over 10 years after what I thought was the final book in the series. I really liked how the story arc in the first 6 books ended, so that’s probably why it took me a while to pick this one up. It read a bit like an extended epilogue (and I hear the author is working on yet another continuation), but I found a ton of enjoyment in the familiar banter between Tiger and Del, the infamous sword fights, and the setting and culture that makes these books so memorable. If you’re interested in a light fantasy read, this series is a great pick.

Black Powder War by Naomi Novik

Black Powder War (Temeraire #3) by Naomi Novik [4/5 stars]

Another enjoyable installment in the Temeraire series. The military angle became a little more prominent in this book, but I didn’t mind it as much as I might have in most other circumstances because of one important thing: no matter what else is going on in the story, Novik never forgets to keep the dragons at the center of attention. She always brings it back to them, highlighting the novelty and fun, and I’m certain that’s why I’m always engaged during sections that would be a detriment to any other story (lengthy travel scenes, lots of dialogue, and battle sequences – I should clarify that I love military strategy and combat in general, but after the thousandth and one battle scenes in all things fantasy, they start to sound the same… I lose interest unless it’s done with a unique twist). Overall, I’m still very much in love with the dragons in this series, and am eager to find out where the story goes next. I’ll be picking up a copy of book #4 as soon as possible! :)

Eulalia by Brian Jacques

Eulalia (Redwall #19) by Brian Jacques [3.5/5 stars]

My expectations for Eulalia were simple: I wanted lots of hares, lots of badgers, and lots of scenes within Salamandastron. I mean, just look at the book title! And the cover! Yeah…. all of that not so much. This is the first Redwall book in a while where I feel a little let down. It had a lot of great moments within it, and the one hare within the story has become one of my favorites from the series (Maudie – she’s the bomb lol), but overall my expectations fell victim to some bad marketing choices. Even so, any time I get to spend in this world is good time, so I’ll give it a pass. The new characters and conflicts were as good as ever, and I find myself eager to dive into the next book (I can’t think about how close I am to the end… sad!).

How did your August go? :)


Tackling the TBR [37]: August 2018

tackling the TBR

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.

Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you.

Here’s what mine looks like:

August 2018 TBR Tackler Shelf:

I found myself almost antsy to set this post up because I’ve been having so much fun lately organizing and scheduling books. (<-Edit, that attitude came back to bite me in the butt… you’ll see). From all appearances, my lineup of books looks the same as always, but I have them arranged a little differently this month.

Top Row: Books I already have copies for and am definitely reading (The Kim Harrison ones are super short, so I’ll be doing that entire trilogy).
Middle Row: Books I have a library hold on and would love to read next month if they arrive in time.
Bottom Row: Books I’m either partway through or am just less excited to read (Gardens of the Moon the exception to both of those).

So… I was so excited for this post, that by the time I went to review it the day before publication, everything had changed (lol, I guess you really can be too prepared). Now EVERYTHING on my list I’m excited to read. :D I left a few blank spaces to accommodate a couple of review titles I know are headed my way.

I’ve been over-scheduling myself these last few months, and that has resulted in several half-finished titles I’d like to get a handle on in August (<- Edit, I already got a handle on them by the end of July and deleted them from this list – go me!). I figure if I stick to my conservative 10 book high-priority list, then I’ll have plenty of time between titles to work on some of these lower priority books (which are just good enough that I don’t want to abandon them outright) (<-Edit, I speed-read a couple of them to the end and abandoned the others). The point of this method is to focus only on high-priority titles, so I’m hoping this visual separation will help keep my attentions on the best books first (because let’s face it, some titles that were high-priority drop down the totem pole once you get into them…but I’d still like to finish what I started). I figure a chapter a day of the less-appealing titles is time I can fit in easily. (<-Edit, I decided they weren’t worth my time and did what I needed to do to free up space for review copies and other titles I know I’ll love). 

So, an unconventional post, but one I’m oddly happy with because it shows the honest struggle it can be to plan out reads sometimes. It also highlights how often throughout the month my reading plans are tweaked.  It’s so weird to feel like I’m both a meticulous planner and a mood reader at the same time. I seem to have finally found a method that allows me to mix the best of both worlds… perhaps I’ll do a post on that soon. :)

The fact that I update my reading schedule almost daily has me wondering if posting a Tackling the TBR more frequently might be more helpful. <-Any thoughts on that idea? Would a weekly or bi-weekly Tackling the TBR post (with a different format) feel like too much? I’d love some feedback. :)

 Have a great August!

by Niki Hawkes