2022 Reading and Blogging Goals

Banner Image: Text reads "Off The TBR Reading & Blogging Goals"

I started Off The TBR in late 2017 and since that time around the new year I’ve posted about my new reading and blogging goals. I’m usually pretty hesitant to set yearly goals. I never ever do any New Year’s Resolutions. I only occasionally set other goals unless they are very major and I’m committed to accomplishing them, or they are very minor and I can do them quick. Anything else and I either get bogged down or lose interest and end up going in some other direction.

I’ve tried to be careful about setting reading and blogging goals, though in 2019 I set like ten which was way too much. But no matter how many I settle on I maybe accomplish half of them. Last year I set six. Well…five with one question mark:

  • Meet my Goodreads goal (done)
  • Post twice a week (failed)
  • Read more indie/self-pub fantasy (done)
  • Novellas (failed)
  • Self-Published Fantasy Month (this was the maybe and…failed)
  • New review format (done)

Now, the results from last year aren’t too bad really. Running or participating in Self-Published Fantasy Month was a question mark to begin with and then when I agreed to join the Before We Go Blog team for SPFBO I knew I couldn’t do it last year and passed it off to Justine at Whispers & Wonder who put together a great team and event (check out the webpage here). THANK YOU JUSTINE! I failed at reading more novellas because…well I just read one. I had too many other books to get to that weren’t novellas so it just didn’t happen. As for posting twice a week, well I started really, really strong and then kind of imploded.

And that’s what brings me to the current state of things. I started last year strong with at least one review and then some other post like “What I’m Reading” every week. After a few months that had diminished to one post a week which was still really good for me. But by Summer it had dwindled to three or less, and by September I was lucky to post once a month.

A few things had happened. I was seriously burnt out on blogging. I just couldn’t make myself sit down to write anything. It felt like a chore and I have enough of those I have to do. I was also really tired from work which didn’t help my energy levels when it came time to write a blog post. And most importantly I felt like I was neglecting family time. My kids are getting older and I won’t have much time before they are out of the house. Most of my blog writing happens on the weekends and that cut into the free time I had for family. So all of this combined meant the blog took a hit and my reading slowed down. I quit requesting books from Orbit whom I’ve worked with for a few year’s now and I quit accepting review requests from authors directly. I tried to get caught up on all the books I’d been sent (I’m still catching up).

I even thought about shutting the blog down entirely.

So where does that leave me now? Short answer…I don’t really know. As of today I plan to keep blogging. I will never stop reading. So here’s what I see as my reading and blogging goals for 2022 at least as things stand now. I’m splitting them into two sections, strictly reading goals that can be accomplished apart from blogging, and then combined reading and blogging goals.


The following goals will be those that are strictly related to reading. I may or may not blog about them.

Meet My Goodreads Goal

I feel pretty confident with this goal. I’ve managed to complete it every year I’ve set one. My goal once again is thirty six books. This is the same number as last year. I know it isn’t as many as a lot of my other blogger friends, but with my work/family schedule this is what works for me. Sometimes I can read a book a week, sometimes it takes ten days or more. Sometimes I can read one a day (novellas). I’m not setting my goal higher because to be honest it just feels good to reach the goal and well…36 is easier.

If you don’t already follow me on Goodreads and would like to my profile is in the link below.

Catch Up On Backlists

Pic of books in front of fireplace. Includes Assassin's Apprentice, Dragonlance Chronicles, The First Law Trilogy, The Crimson Campaign, and Malice

This is something I’ve wanted to do for years. I have a slew of series I want to catch up on where I’ve read the first or maybe first and second book of a series and just need to finish it up. On top of that there are a few I’d like to start that I’ve meant to for years like Abercrombie’s First Law series and Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy. Two sub-goals in this category I’d love to work on are reading Stephen King’s whole body of work (I started with Carrie back in October), and returning to the Dragonlance series by Weiss and Hickman. With a new Dragonlance book set to release in 2022 (Dragon’s of Deceit) it’s a great time to return to the world of Krynn.

Read What I Want When I Want

Yeah I know this is something I could’ve done at any time, and not doing so is my own fault, but as long as I was requesting and accepting books from publishers and authors I felt I needed to read those books first, (especially before release date for arcs) and that meant I put off a lot of other books I really wanted to read. If I’m not requesting anything then I free myself up to mood read and to read according to thematic months. This means I can participate in Sci-Fi Month and it means I can spend all of October reading spooky stories.


I’m still not sure what I’m doing about the blog. I don’t want to shut it down, but if I’m honest most days when I wake up I think about how nice it might be not to have it as an obligation. And that’s the key thing…it feels like an obligation at this point, not a fun hobby. So this year I’ll be doing my best not to make anything feel like an obligation. You’ll see that in the goals below.

Catch Up On Arcs And Requests

Pic of books in front of fireplace. Includes The Fall of Babel, Legacy of Steel, Jade Legacy, The Shadow Saint, Dead Man in A Ditch, Brother Red, Call of The Bone Ships, and Kingdom of Grit series

Yeah, even though I tried to get caught up with my outstanding arcs I’ve still got a pretty decent stack to tackle. I want to work through these and put a sizeable dent in them before I even think about requesting any more. I may or may not review those that I complete. But If I find myself reading and not reviewing then I won’t be requesting anymore in the future. It just isn’t right for the author or publisher. It might also be a sign that it’s time to turn off the lights on the blog.

Finish The SPFBO Finalists

OK, so this isn’t really something for my blog, but it is for blogging in general. As many of you know I joined team Before We Go Blog as a reviewer/judge for SPFBO7. We are currently in the finalist stage and I’ve got six more books to read, and I need to send my brief thoughts and score off to Beth Tabler on nine of them. SPFBO is something I’m still very excited about and not something I want to put aside so I feel really good about this goal.

Pic of SPFBO finalists

Blog About What I’m Excited About

I know this seems like it would be self-evident, but I just want to blog about the things I’m excited about. Feeling like I have to review everything I’m reading even if I don’t like it that much puts a damper on blogging. I know, I know, you don’t have to tell me, nothing but my own inner feelings was making me do this before now. I just finally relented and allowed myself to NOT blog if I didn’t want to. I don’t know what this will look like in the long run. Probably it means you’ll see less reviews of books that are below four stars. You may see less posts in general. I don’t know.

Self-Published Fantasy Month

Banner Image for the 2020 Self-Published Fantasy Month

Right now I don’t know what I’m doing about Self-Published Fantasy Month. This was an event I started out of love for reading self-pub fantasy and a desire to see it get more attention. I still love self-pub (hence my participation as a team judge in SPFBO) and I still want it to get more attention. I just don’t think I’m up to running this event or helping to organizing it. Who knows, that could change over the next few months. But right now I’m thinking of permanently passing it on to someone else. I’ll have more to say about that in the future.

Well, that’s it. I’m trying to keep this year simple. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe, just maybe, in doing so I’ll keep the blog alive another year and some of the joy will return to it. But no matter what happens I plan to be active out on Twitter (and maybe even Insta) to rave about all the great stories with you. Happy New year. Let’s hope this is another great year for SFF books.


Book Review: City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn

Banner image featuring cover of City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn superimposed over zoomed in image of same cover. Text reads "Book Review" and "Off The TBR"

Claire Winn delivers an action packed, sapphic cyberpunk space romp in City of Shattered Light. If you’re looking for some fun, can’t put the book down YA thrills then I recommend you check out Winn’s debut which is set to be released this Tuesday from Flux Books.

Cover of City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn

As darkness closes in on the city of shattered light, an heiress and an outlaw must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other.

As heiress to a powerful tech empire, seventeen-year-old Asa Almeida strives to prove she’s more than her manipulative father’s shadow. But when he uploads her rebellious sister’s mind to an experimental brain, Asa will do anything to save her sister from reprogramming—including fleeing her predetermined future with her sister’s digitized mind in tow. With a bounty on her head and a rogue A.I. hunting her, Asa’s getaway ship crash-lands in the worst possible place: the neon-drenched outlaw paradise, Requiem.

Gun-slinging smuggler Riven Hawthorne is determined to claw her way up Requiem’s underworld hierarchy. A runaway rich girl is exactly the bounty Riven needs—until a nasty computer virus spreads in Asa’s wake, causing a citywide blackout and tech quarantine. To get the payout for Asa and save Requiem from the monster in its circuits, Riven must team up with her captive.

Riven breaks skulls the way Asa breaks circuits, but their opponent is unlike anything they’ve ever seen. The A.I. exploits the girls’ darkest memories and deepest secrets, threatening to shatter the fragile alliance they’re both depending on. As one of Requiem’s 154-hour nights grows darker, the girls must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other before Riven’s city and Asa’s sister are snuffed out forever.

Goodreads Blurb


  • YA
  • Cyberpunk
  • Sapphic YA Cyberpunk
  • Fast paced
  • Matriarchal Crime Bosses
  • LGBTQ+
  • Fast Paced Sapphic LGBTQ+ YA Cyberpunk with Matriarchal Crime Bosses

My Thoughts

This is a review I’ve been waiting to share with you for over three years. In late March of 2018 Claire Winn asked if I’d be interested in being a beta reader for her “crazy cyberpunk story.” I agreed even though it was perhaps a little out of my normal wheelhouse. I’ve not read too many cyberpunk stories, and I don’t read much YA. Something just said “give it a go” and thankfully I did. What started as just a read of the first six chapters quickly became a read of the whole book. I gave what was probably the most useless of feedback she received (I didn’t know what I was doing) and sat back to see what happened. It’s been fun following along as Winn first hooked an agent, then as word came that the book found a publisher, then an actual publication date, then to actually have a final copy in hand (or in Kindle as it were) to read. This version of the book after having gone through additional edits is even better than what I read originally. Given that I don’t have a completely unbiased relationship to this book I wanted to get this all out up front. As such this may be a slightly different review than normal from me.

I noted above this is fast paced sapphic LGBTQ+ YA cyberpunk with matriarchal crime bosses. Like that could almost be my review. If that doesn’t hook you I’m not sure what else I’m gonna say that will. It’s just a fun, exciting, space/cyber adventure that will hit you in the feels every now and then.

I mentioned somewhere above that I don’t read much YA so it’s hard for me to compare some of the story elements other than to let you know what I enjoyed about them. First the characters. Asa and Riven get the top billing here and they are definitely our protagonists. The POV switches back and forth between them. They are largely opposites when comparing their pasts, but must find a way to work together in the midst of some heavy trust issues. It doesn’t help that Asa doesn’t fully open up about her past. Asa grew up rich and highly educated. Riven grew up in homes and didn’t get the level of support as Asa. One is an heiress and the other a criminal pilot who is a bit more rough around the edges. It’s not exactly like a Leia and Han kind of situation…but that isn’t a horrible comparison.

There’s so much more to the story than what the blurb indicates. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and both times I read it I didn’t want to put it down. Just when you think you know where it’s going, and who the ultimate baddie is there’s a twist and you’re re-evaluating what you think you know. Then you start to wonder if there’s more than one baddie, and ask how deep do things go? There’s a father who is so fucked up he is willing to experiment on his own kids, rouge AI who is chasing everyone, and shutting everything down, there’s matriarchal crime lords, and this one other badass female rogue who consistently shows up at the worst times to derail everyone’s plans. Things aren’t always what they seem and there’s more than a few surprises. All this happening on Requiem, a moon with a dystopian city run by those matriarchs. It has the feel of criminal underworld mixed with the hottest nightclubs you can imagine. It’s like New York City on Mars but seedier and more dangerous.

Winn keeps the story moving along at a clip. The opening chapter dumps you into the action and it doesn’t really stop from there. Well…there are a few breaks here and there that allow the characters (and the reader) to catch their breath and get ready for the next big event, but the narrative moves along at a pretty consistent pace. There were a few scenes that just really gripped me, one of which was this lengthy set-piece in the Olympus Nightclub. I won’t say more so as not to ruin it, but it’s one of my favorite sets of scenes in the book in terms of action and drama.

Readers who love found family will also enjoy City of Shattered Light. That’s because this thematic element is found on multiple levels in the book. It’s really like EVERYONE is looking for a new family that is better and safer than their real one. But it comes with some bumps along the way. There’s a constant struggle between being a family or a team, and with being alone. The characters have to really work for it and prove to themselves and others how much they really want it. It makes the story so much better having seen what they are all willing to do to keep their family whole. I just really appreciated what Winn did with this theme.

There’s also some dark parts. Some sad parts. You’ve already seen me mention Asa’s dad who you’ll sit back and ask yourself “who the hell experiments on their kid!?!?” I mean I felt so strongly I wrote it down in my notes. Asa’s dad has other faults as well, elements of his character that cause pain for everyone. The characters must work through and past it to survive what’s being thrown at them. It drudges up painful memories that threaten to tear things apart. They must work through the darkness and the pain to succeed and it always leaves this tension and question of whether they will.

Everything just keeps picking up steam and building toward an explosive conclusion. When I put the book down I felt satisfied. That satisfaction you get when you’ve read a good story and you wouldn’t have changed anything. That satisfaction of being taken on a journey and left in a good place. That satisfaction of a time well spent. I hope that City of Shattered Light gets the attention it deserves. I hope you’ll pick it up and enjoy it as much as I did.

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

Author: Claire Winn
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: October 19, 2021
Format: Kindle Advanced Reader’s Copy
Pages: 400 (paperback)

Book Haul: May 2021

Banner image featuring covers for the books Unsouled by Will WIght, The Pariah by Anthony Ryan, Catalyst Gate by Megan E. O'Keefe, and The Colour of Vengeance by Rob Hayes. Text reads Book Haul and Off the TBR

I’ve been quiet lately here on the blog. That’s mostly because I’ve been busy reading my first allotment of books for SPFBO, and I haven’t had any new reviews ready to go. I’ll be working on some SPFBO reviews you’ll be able to find over at Before We Go Blog, and may have some regular ones here as well in the near future. In the meantime I thought I’d share my latest book haul update with you.

My last Book Haul post was like two months ago for books I’d hauled in March. That’s not a big deal, I just didn’t realize that much time had passed. And unsurprisingly I’ve not yet read a single one of the books from that haul. One of them doesn’t come out until the fall so I’ve got time for it and one is a SPFBO entrant so I may end up reading it as part of the competition. We’ll see.

But adding books to my TBR and not reading them hasn’t stopped me from continuing to add more books. And if you are anything like me the same applies to you. So we can both revel in our book hauling, TBR building habits together.

Which leads me to this post and my haul for May. I’m really excited about all of the books I picked up last month and am trying to figure out how to work them into my schedule for the coming months. So what did I bring home? Well…take a look…

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Book Haul: March 2021

Banner collage of book covers for Legacy of The Brightwash by Krystle Matar, City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn, Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo, and Tower of Mud And Straw by Yaroslav Barsukov.

It has been AGES since I did a book haul post. Ages like as in last October…for books I’d hauled last August. I’d promised a post about my September hauls and never got around to it. Or any others since then for that matter.

One of my blogging goals for 2020 was to be to be more intentional about Book Haul posts and I’d like to continue that this year. I realize we are a quarter of the way through the year and this is the first one but better late than never. I’m also still aware that it’s possible nobody cares about the books I’ve bought or received, but I kinda like when bloggers post these because it not only puts new books in front of my eyeballs that I might not be aware of, but they also give me an idea of the blogger’s tastes. For my purposes a Book Haul post can include any book I’ve come to possess, not just those I buy, so arcs requested or just sent from publishers will be listed as well.

I don’t plan to recap all the books I’ve hauled so far this year, I’m just gonna start with March. So here we go…

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2021 Reading and Blogging Goals

Banner Image of what appears to be library shelves on all sides filled with books looking up to the sky. Text reads "Off The TBR Reading & Blogging Goals"

I’m usually pretty hesitant to set yearly goals. Like I never ever do any New Year’s Resolutions. I only occasionally set other goals unless they are very major and I’m committed to accomplishing them, or they are very minor and I can do them quick. Anything else and I either get bogged down or lose interest and end up going in some other direction.

I’ve tried to be careful about setting reading and blogging goals, though in 2019 I set like ten which was way too much. But no matter how many I settle on I maybe accomplish half of them. This year I thought about not setting any goals and just see what happens. I mean you can’t fail at your goals if you don’t have any right?

OK fine, that’s not a great way to look at things I admit it. So instead of no goals at all I’ve come up with a handful I think I can accomplish and which build upon things I’ve already been doing.

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What I’m Reading: Apex Magazine 121

Banner image of Apex Magazine issue 121 blurred with same cover superimposed on top of it. Text reads "What I'm Reading."

Before you say anything, YES I’ve posted a few of these What I’m Reading posts in a row. I’m in-between reviews at the moment and will have one go up as part of a book tour next week. I also happen to be reading two things at once which is abnormal for me. Anyway, here’s another What I’m Reading post, this one about Apex Magazine issue 121.

Cover of Apex Magazine Issue 122
Apex Magazine Issue 121
Cover Art by Vicki Be Wicked
Cover Design by Justin Stewart

Apex Magazine is a bi-monthly zine that publishes, “short stories filled with marrow and passion, works that are twisted, strange, and beautiful. Creations where secret places and dreams are put on display.” Here’s what they say about their mission…

We strive to entertain you with interesting, diverse, and thought-provoking fiction. Our goal is to challenge your perceptions, rattle your beliefs, and shake you free of the expected path.

We want you to read our content and then afterwards think now that’s only a story you’d find in Apex Magazine.

Apex Magazine Mission Statement

I first discovered Apex Magazine with issue 105 from February 2018 which included Alix E. Harrow’s story “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Short Compendium of Portal Fantasies” which went on to win a Hugo Award. I like to think of Apex as my local zine as it’s kinda based hear in Lexington (or at least this is where its editor-in-chief is from) and that makes me want to support it even more. I picked up a couple more issues in 2018 which I enjoyed but I didn’t become a subscriber because…well because I got lazy. Then in 2019 the magazine went on a hiatus due to some health issues experienced by its editor-in-chief. In 2020 Apex launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to relaunch itself in 2021. I decided to go all in and pledged enough for a subscription to the entire year. This is the first of 6 bi-monthly issues that will be published in 2021.

This issue includes new fiction by Fargo Tbakhi, P. H. Lee, Cassandra Khaw, Alix E. Harrow, Elana Gomel, Merc Fenn Wolfmoor Charles Payseur and as well as other stories by Tonya Liburd and LH Moore. There’s non-fiction by Usman T. Malik, Malka Older, and AC Wise. There’s also interviews of Fargo Tbakhi and P H Lee by Andrea Johnson, and of cover artist Vicki be Wicked.

I’m reading through the issue slowly, one story a week or so and just sort of enjoying it in small doses as I work through my books. So far I’ve read “Root Rot” by Fargo Tbakhi, “Your Own Undoing” by P H Lee, “Love, That Hungry Thing” by Cassandra Khaw, and “Mr. Death” by Alix E. Harrow. I’ve enjoyed them all and absolutely LOVED “Mr. Death.” Click the link for the review. That story broke me and mended me all in the space of a few pages.

I can’t wait to finish issue 121 and eagerly anticipating issue 122 which just had a cover reveal.

Cover of Apex Magazine Issue 122
Apex Magazine Issue 122
Cover art by Thomas Tan
Cover Design by Justin Stewart

I hope to post additional reviews of stories out of Apex. I’d love to do at least one from each issue. We’ll see how it goes. But review or not, I know I’ll get to experience some great short fiction in a zine that in my opinion punches above its weight class. I hope more readers decide to pick up Apex Magazine this year and get to join in the experience.

If you read Apex or have a subscription let me know. I’d love to chat with you about the stories you love, whether they lift you up, break you, or make you ponder what could be.

– Jason

What I’m Reading: Rise of One

Banner pic of "What I'm Reading" with cover of Rise of One by Dixon Reuel superimposed over a zoomed in and blurred image of part of the cover showing an eye with zombies in the iris. Cover is black and white with purple iris.

I’m starting my second read of the year, and this one is for a book tour hosted by my friends at Storytellers On Tour. If you don’t know about @sot_tours you should check them out. They are a blog and Bookstagram tour service dedicated to sharing their love of indie fantasy and science fiction novels. This will be my third “tour” as a “roadie” with Storytellers On Tour and I’m pretty excited. The tour is January 31 – February 6, and my day is February 2, but I wanted to be sure to get the book read and the review written with time to spare.

So, what am I reading for this tour? Well…It’s Rise of One, by Dixon Reuel.

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Top Reads of 2020

It’s that time again…the time when all the book bloggers are posting their year end, best reads of the year. So yeah, I have to add my batch into the mix. 2020 sucked in so many ways, but for me it was a really good year for reading. I enjoyed the vast majority of the books I read, and there were only a very few I didn’t. I still feel like we are experiencing that new golden age of science fiction and fantasy with so many great books to choose from both in traditional publishing or from indie/self-published authors and I hope it never ends.

So here it is, my top reads of 2020. Note, this is my list of top reads of 2020, meaning it is a list of my favorite books I read during the year, not necessarily my favorite books published in 2020. I managed to read 42 books this year (exceeding my Goodreads Challenge) and this list comprises those I rated as 5 Stars. I’ve arranged them in order the they were read.

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