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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The Boy Who Walked Too Far Book Tour


Today is my stop on The Boy Who Walked Too Far book tour! 

Let me say at the outset that I haven’t read this book. I knew when I signed up for the tour with Storytellers On Tour that I wouldn’t have time to read it before the event began, but I REALLY wanted to take part. Why you ask? Well, not long before the sign-up request went out I’d read a really positive review of the book that made me put it on my want list. It just sounded so damn cool. So when the request went out for tour roadies I decided I’d have to join in some way even if I couldn’t read and review it just yet.

So instead of a review today I’ve got something that may entice you a little bit too… Continue reading

Book Review: Chaos Vector


Chaos Vector, Megan E. O’Keefe’s second offering in The Protectorate series is maybe more exciting than Velocity Weapon! The badass characters, thrilling action, sentient AI spaceships, politics, moral questions, they’re all here with the tempo cranked up a bit. Oh…and did I mention plot twists? Yeah, they’re back too. So strap in and lets talk about what has become one of my favorite new sci-fi series. Continue reading