1. All Systems Red, 2. Artificial Condition, 3 Rogue Protocol, 4. Exit Strategies, Martha Wells - Tor has been pushing the Murderbot novellas for a long time, but I resisted. As you all know, Science Fiction is generally not my thing. However, Becky Chambers has changed my mind on that subject a bit, and so when Tor offered these for free in anticipation of the new stand-alone Murderbot novel I decided to try it. (I forgot to download #4 for free...but I was happy to pay for it because I enjoyed the first three so much.) Turns out, I love Murderbot. What a fantastic character! Excellent plot pacing, and enough character work that it feels like more than just action-adventure. I don't know that I've ever read anything quite like these books. I'm not much of an action-adventure book person normally, but these were a perfect, absorbing distraction during a stressful time. Kudos.
5. A Darker Shade of Magic, 6. A Gathering of Shadows, 7. A Conjuring of Light, V.E. Schwab (audio) - This was a reread of a much-loved series, and I enjoyed every stinkin' minute of it. Lila Bard remains one of my favorite fictional characters, and I love her to pieces. There's an excellent blend of standard fantasy tropes and unique worldbuilding which makes it a super fun read. Thank you, as always, to Daniel Boone Regional Library, which has amazing digital services...including their audiobooks through Libby!
8. Untamed, Glennon Doyle - I love Doyle's social media presence, but I was only m'eh about her first book and I didn't read her second. I've heard speak about this book in multiple interviews, though, and was intrigued. To my surprise and delight, it wound up being a pretty profound reading experience. Lots to think about - including some things for my own personal growth and some parenting ideas.
9 Network Effect, Martha Wells - The reason why TOR offered those first four novellas for free is because they published this book, the first full-length Murderbot novel. I wasn't really planning on buying it immediately, but hey...these books were awfully satisfying and seemed to be just what I wanted in the moment. I'll agree with the NPR review I read - expanding to full novel size meant everything was bigger, but that nothing was lost in that translation.
10. The Book of Delights, Ross Gay - I've been reading this book of mini-essays for a long, long time. My dear friend Carrie of Skylark Bookshop gently pushed me into buying a copy shortly after it was released, and I've been savoring it slowly every since - reading a bit here and a bit there as the mood struck. It's a gorgeous book...language and poetry and the every day made magical. I've gifted it twice, and will very likely gift it more. Now that I'm done? I'm leaving my copy next to the bed so that I can revisit from time to time. The book itself is a delight.
11. The Glass Hotel, Emily St. John Mandel (audio) - What do I think? Hmmm. I think Mandel is very talented at character building. I think she's got a beautiful knack for language. I enjoy the way she tells stories - unfolding them gently in bits and pieces through shifting perspectives and timelines. I also think that this subject material is not at all the sort of thing I like reading, I'm glad I didn't buy it, and I'm glad it wasn't any longer. Not exactly a ringing endorsement...but not exactly a non-recommendation either.
12. The City We Became, N.K. Jemisin (audio) - While I adored Jemisin's earlier works, I am probably one of only 10 people who really hated her multiple award-winning The Broken Earth series. (Sorry) Fortunately, the library is an amazing gift to all of humanity and is perfect for sampling books one is cautiously optimistic about. And.....two hours in, and I'm buying a copy. This is an amazing, amazing book. I absolutely adore urban fantasy/myth when it's done right - and here it's done right. Curiously enough, I'm not at all a city person, but I fell a bit in love with New York through this book. While I do not want to get into specifics, I will also say that the current events happening at the time of my reading reminded me of why it's so damn important to read books written by and about people who are not like you. I've said for many years that my college education (English and Classics) gave me the twin gifts of compassion and empathy because of the books that I read. I wish people understood how important that is.