quick lit – next page, please {january 2023}

Here’s a look at what I read in January. This year I am continuing to be very intentional and deliberate about my reading life in 2023. I don’t want to save the good stuff (taking inspiration for Ginger Horton’s episode on What Should I Read Next? podcast). One of my goals for the year is to make a significant dent in my Owned TBR Shelf, which I did by reading 3 books from that shelf this month. Yay!

A PRAYER FOR THE CROWN-SHY (Monk & Robot #2) by Becky Chambers

I absolutely love the Monk & Robot series and this one follows Sibling Dex and Mosscap off the mountain and into Panga. How will the people react to the robot? Will Sibling Dex still be a tea monk? This was the first book I read this year and I am planning on making reading a Monk & Robot during the first of the year a tradition. It’s dedication sums up my life beautifully: For anybody who doesn’t know where they are going. A lovely story about being where you are while you are there. I love this series so much! 


My first five-star read this year, I will read anything R. F. Kuang writes after last year’s BABEL was one of the my best reads. This one is very meta, set in publishing and about authors and who can tell what stories.  I am not sure I can form a concise thought about this yet; and I am going to read this one again. Set to release on May 16; thanks to William Morrow for the advanced readers’ copy. 

GALATEA by Madeline Miller

This is more short story than novella and I read it because I loved Miller’s CIRCE.  An interesting perspective on another Greek mythological tale.  I liked it.


This was a surprising five-star read for me; it’s a lesson on not giving up on a book when I think there is something there. I started it two or three times and the time was right for me to complete it this month! This is a sci-fi multiverse novel with multiple worlds with multiple you(s) on those worlds. I’ve always been fascinated with “the road not traveled” and “what if I had made a different choice” stories. This is all that and more.  I can’t stop thinking about it. Here’s to hoping Micaiah Johnson’s working on another one.


I am now a Becky Chambers’ completist; and I’m not going to lie, I am sad about that. This one was published before A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT and is a bit more science-driven than her other works. This one was about a team of astronauts visiting and researching other planets who have to create a home in many locales. Visiting these other worlds was very imaginative. I loved what she says, “…a home can only exist in a moment. Something both found and made. Always temporary, in the grand scheme of things, but vital all the same.” I think fans of Andy Weir’s work will enjoy this one.


I read this for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club; it was the January’s selection.  I loved it because it had a lot of the things I loved: music and mystery. I had the privilege of interviewing Brendan Slocumb in Anne’s stead; it is an episode of the What Should I Read Next podcast.  He was a delight and he said that this story is based on his own life’s experience as a classical violinist who also had a violin stolen.  His upcoming release SYMPHONY OF SECRETS is releases in April and is set in the same universe as THE VIOLIN CONSPIRACY! I love when books do that. 

THE MIMICKING OF KNOWN SUCCESS (Mossa & Pleiti #1) by Malka Ann Older

Think Sherlock Holmes & John Watson. But females. On Jupiter because Earth is no longer inhabitable. It will release March 7th. I liked this one and will read the follow-up THE IMPOSITION OF UNNECESSARY OBSTACLES due out February 2024. Thanks to Tordotcom for the advanced readers’ copy. 

What did you read in January? As usual, I’m linking up to Anne Bogel’s Quick Lit post. If you’re here because you were there, thank you for coming.

enjoy life… 

what i’m into – keeping me sane {january 2023}

Winter is hard for me.  I deal with seasonal affective disorder (sad) during the winter months and it’s heightened between the months of January and March because there are no major holidays like Christmas to brighten my days. In Alabama, we may get one light snowfall a year so the world outside is all browns and grays.  Frankly, it’s depressing. Last year was particularly difficult so I went into this year intentionally managing my days to counteract the sad. 

In January, I did two almost diametrically opposed things.  This is picking up on one of my lessons learned in 2022: two things (sometimes opposite things) can be true at the same time. 

I am resting, relaxing, taking it easy, slowing down, chillin’

I have taken more naps this month than I have in a long time. I’ve shut down work at 2 PM most days and haven’t gone back even after everyone is settled for the evening.  I bought a paint-by-numbers and I am giving that a go – I should be finished by January of 2024. I watched shows and movies that I have been wanting to watch for years. I read books; in fact, I devoted a whole weekend to a personal Reader’s Weekend. I completed three books during that time.  I didn’t feel guilty about taking time to talk on the phone with friends and family. I have tried (I’m not as successful as I want to be with this – work in progress) not to rush the Buddy Man with all of the things he has to do: getting out the door every morning, bedtime routine, etc. I have taken walks outside and tried to notice any color other than brown and gray. I have seen so many blue jays and the honeysuckle is coming in. I took a few days off work for my birthday and didn’t go near a computer at all. 

I am staying busy

I know. After reading that first part you’re probably thinking, “Wait. What?”. But it’s true. Work has kept me plenty busy: I recorded a podcast episode and interviewed Brendan Slocumb, author of THE VIOLIN CONSPIRACY. That was so much fun! You all will get to hear it soon and I will post a link here when it is available. One of my clients has two major projects this quarter that have been wonderful but are keeping me pretty occupied. I am working on developing personal branding which you will see hints of on my IG. Full rebrand is planned for the Spring. I did a curation of my closet letting go of so many things that I have held onto during my KonMari tidying in 2019.  It’s out-of-here! I plan to curate my books this month and get all my papers under control in late February/early March. I planned and executed my personal Reader’s Weekend and Birthday Fav Day. I have been exercising in some way, shape, or form most days (remember, two things can be true). 

In summation, I am trying to stay occupied enough that the sad doesn’t have a chance to catch up with me but gentle and kind enough with myself to know that this is a low energy period and I have needed and will need to slow it down.

I don’t know if this is going to work long-term.  I do know when I visited my doctor last year, she told me to come back in early February if I wasn’t doing great and if I was doing OK, I could cancel my appointment.  Last week, I canceled. But, who knows? I may be back next month saying how it all crumbled to pieces in my hand and that I have been down for the count. That will be OK too. 

What have you been doing in January? Does the winter season affect you as much as it does me? Head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy: What’s Saving My Life Right Now and find out ways she and others combat the winter blues. And if you are here because you were there, thank you.

enjoy life…

quick lit – next page, please {2022 best fiction}

“[Read fiction] to make the unknown known, to make the other familiar….to make magic with words.”

– Professor Jerome Playfair, BABEL

Below are the best works of fiction and five-star reads of 2022. I have been looking at it to see if there are any connective themes: what made me excited about reading each of them? What kind of books are they? If you see any let me know. 

MY OXFORD YEAR by Julia Whelan

I LOVED this book so much.  This was a reread and I fell even more in love with it this time than I did the first time around.  One of the reasons is because I didn’t fully experience the poems in this story until my second reading. I should mention, I have a thing for Oxford, England. I considered attending a school in Georgia named Oxford to get as close as I could to the place.


A PRAYER FOR THE CROWN-SHY is the second novella in the Monk & Robot series. A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT saved me in 2021.  When I read it the first time, I hugged it to my chest and cried literal tears.  It is such a lovely book; like a warm cup of tea on a cold night and I reread it on the first of the year. I do hope there’s a third in this series. 

SO MANY BEGINNINGS by Bethany Morrow

This meticulously researched YA novel is a reimagining of LITTLE WOMEN by Louise May Alcott featuring black sisters during the same time period. Bethany Morrow is quoted as saying that she is “telling a completely different story.” She has to because a black girl’s story in the late 1800’s would be a totally different than a white girl’s story. It was a beautiful story and one that I wished had been available when I read the original LITTLE WOMEN as a young girl. 

RING SHOUT by P. Djèlí Clark

I don’t typically read horror stories but my friend, Ginger, told me that this was one of the best books that she has ever read. Period! This story reimagines the members of the Ku Klux Klan as actual demons and makes very clear the horrors of that time. P. Djèlí Clark is an academic and his knowledge of history is evident in all of his work.  I will read anything he writes. 

SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Emily St. John Mandel

I read SEA OF TRANQUILITY in February of this year and yes, it maintained a top spot from the day I finished it until BABEL came along. I adored the interconnectivity and multiple storylines spanning 500 years and into the future (love a well-placed sci-fi element). It is a novel about art, love, and COVID; but don’t let that deter you from reading it. It took me a long time to get into it and I wasn’t fully invested until halfway in. The storylines all come together brilliantly into an ending that I adored. I picked this one up because Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy told me that I would like it.  She was right. 


This book slayed me, wrecked me.  Stories about wanting desperately to be a part of something and searching for a place to belong deeply resonate with me.  With more than a passing interest in linguistics and etymology, and my thing for Oxford, this book was right up my alley. It’s thoroughly researched, almost historical fiction with a mild fantasy element which I love.  Be warned, the book raises a lot of questions but answers none of them. Don’t let that deter you.  The writing style is genius and I will definitely reread it at some point. 

BURY YOUR DEAD by Louise Penny

This is the book that relieved me of my BABEL book hangover. The sixth book in the Inspector Gamache Series, this book is an in-depth look at grief and loss. But is weirdly comforting.  It was the perfect book for me to read at the end of a very hard year. 

Per usual, I’m linking up with Anne Bogel’s Quick Lit post over on Modern Mrs. Darcy. If you are here because of her, thank you.