I’ve been trying to blog. Really I have. There are a million half-finished things on my computer just waiting for the internet. For some reason, though, I just couldn’t seem to finish anything.
I started a new job about a month ago, my responsibilities much more low-key than the old one. I didn’t realize how much stress I was under at the old until I wasn’t under it anymore. I feel like I’ve been handed my life back. And not just my life, but my pregnancy. I get to enjoy this time now, instead of being worried that I didn’t quite catch everything I should have, cycling through to-do lists as I try to sleep through baby kicks.
All this is basically to say that I’m terribly behind on this thing. And I’m so behind that I don’t even really know how behind I am. The students are talking about returning. I haven’t posted the things I’ve read last semester, let alone over the summer. All my posts on the baby are super-outdated now. Everything is a mess.
I’m going to start with the easy thing, which is the reading list this year. I don’t remember where I left off, so I’m just going to give you the books I’ve read since January 1st, and a quick blurb on what I thought of them. We’ll worry about the rest of stuff next week.
For those keeping count, I’ve passed the half-way mark until I meet this kid in person, and we’ve reached the first viability marker too. If he was born today, he has a 1/3 chance of surviving. Admittedly not great, but at least he has a chance (and so far there’s no evidence he’s not staying baked for a while). He’s still moving around like crazy, but he’s lumping up on my left for some reason, tucking himself in there hard. Not a big deal until I try and get up to pee in the middle of the night and fall over sideways in my delirious state… He’s doing well – measuring in the middle of everything like he should.
Alright, here’s the 1st half of 2017 Reading List. Beware: it’s mostly baby, self-help, and romance. What can I say? I’ve needed that comfort reading.
- Grin and Beard It, Penny Reid – I love this series by Penny Reid, and this is my second read of it since I found it last year. A+ for all of it. The newest book is coming out soon, and I’m so excited.
- Beauty and the Mustache, Penny Reid – Part of the same series, and great.
- Truth or Beard, Penny Reid – Which could really be said for ALL of these books
- The Cold Eye, Laura Anne Gilman – You know, I felt like this book didn’t quite live up to the promise that was the first book. But I still loved it, and will buy the 3rd as soon as it comes out. The concept is just too perfect, and Gilman handles it so well.
- Beard Science, Penny Reid – More beard books are coming out soon, but not fast enough for me, ever.
- Friends with Benefits, Penny Reid – The entire Knitting In the City series is completely unlikely, and hard to buy, this one is no exception. Despite that, though, it’s kinda fun. Wouldn’t call it my favorite, but solid if you’re in a dry spell.
- Daring Greatly, Brene Brown – Another re-read. I LOVE Brene Brown. Her books make me feel okay about being flawed, and that I’m on the right path to connection at least.
- Seven Minutes in Heaven, Eloisa James – I was a bit worried about this one, since it supposedly contains a kidnapping. But it doesn’t really – I should have trusted James completely. And it was GOOD. Some of the best of James’ work, which is saying a lot since I love everything she’s ever written. Bonus points for governess tropes.
- Rising Strong, Brene Brown – Another re-read, and probably my favorite Brene Brown book, which is saying something.
- The Care and Feeding of Pirates, Jennifer Astley – No, no, and just no. Not only was it badly written, but I got angry at the absurdity of it all and the stupidness of the heroine. I don’t think I read past the first chapter, and I was incensed.
- What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Heidi Murkoff – The quintessential pregnancy book, and for good reason. I wish the organization was a little more straight forward since she tries to kinda guess which month you’ll be going through xyz, and puts everything there. I wish the months were months and the advice was advice, and the two weren’t buried together. Otherwise a great read, though, and VERY helpful.
- Pregnancy Week to Week, Month to Month, Joanna Kendis – I didn’t like this book. It seemed overly simple to me, and I gave up after the first chapter. Didn’t contain anything that What To Expect didn’t, and it was written much worse. There were even a few grammar mistakes that made me cringe.
- Love Hacked, Penny Reid – I picked up this series in a drought of Beard books, and feel like it was fine, but not amazing. This one was a little strange, with the guy being inexplicably weird for a while. Also, no sex until the very end – but worth the wait.
- Happily Ever Ninja, Penny Reid – Another book I didn’t quite buy the premise of. It was good, though, and features an already married couple with a fairly good relationship, though, which is rare in romance novels.
- Big Girl, Kelsey Miller – I LOVED this book. It was a sad memoir in a lot of ways, but this is now the 3rd book I’ve read that tells about the dangers of dieting, and it was told in such a human way.
- When a Scot Ties the Knot, Tessa Dare – Good and very solid, with an interesting premise. Fake guy the heroine has been writing to (and who she killed off) turns out to be real, alive, and on her doorstep. I ended up thoroughly enjoying it, though he seems a little forceful at times. Would recommend.
- How the Duke was Won, Lenora Bell – I had a hard time jogging my memory on this one, which doesn’t bode well. However, I do remember enjoying the spunky heroine. Not amazing, but certainly solid.
- The Truth About Lord Stoneville, Sabrina Jeffries – You know, I don’t know why I REALLY enjoyed this series, but I did. It’s a silly premise, but the characters were so great that I ended up not caring. This one is a too-unsuitable-to-marry trope, done VERY right. The Grandmother is epic.
- A Hellion In Her Bed, Sabrina Jeffries – I liked this one A LOT, too. It takes place in a brewery, which is unusual for a romance novel. The Heroine, who keeps going despite her tough family situation, is my favorite kind. And smart, too.
- How to Woo a Reluctant Lady, Sabrina Jeffries – I enjoyed this book, but not as much as the two before it. The heroine is hilarious, though. She takes out an ad for a totally unsuitable husband to piss off her grandmother. Also, she’s a writer.
- Say Yes to the Marquess, Tessa Dare – It was definitely cute, but not one of my favorites. It was kinda fun to see the hero lavish all these crazy presents on the heroine.
- Dating-Ish, Penny Reid – This was one of my favorites of the Knitting In The City books. Awkward online dates included. A solid choice, though it still suffers from a bit of the unbelievability of the rest of the series.
- To Wed a Wild Lord, Sabrina Jeffries – After a few “meh” books, I returned to the Hellions series. This one was pretty good, actually. Up to the old standard again, for sure. The hero was the cause of an accident that killed the heroine’s brother.
- A Lady Never Surrenders, Sabrina Jeffries – I never seem to love the books where hero is supposed to pick heroines intended or vice-versa, and this is one of those. Well done for something I probably wasn’t going to love to begin with.
- The Girl With The Make-Believe Husband, Julia Quinn – Oh man, I LOVE ME some Julia Quinn, and this one hit all the right spots for me. Colonial America, redcoats, unspoken love, Quinn’s great writing. Yes please, to all of it. Another favorite romance novel of all time. I’ll be re-reading this one tons.
- Becoming Wise, Krista Tippett – Oh, what a magical book. If you’re a fan of the On Being podcast, this book is 100% for you. If you aren’t a fan, you not only need to read this book immediately, but you need to also become a fan. Tippett is amazing, and gives so many life-changing ideas. Like knowing the will of God through your own wants, or listening as an act of love, or grief as something humans innately know how to do.
- The Whole Brain Child by Daniel Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson – A great, quick book on how you can help your child integrate all parts of their brain as they’re growing, leading to adults with healthy brains. My favorite parenting book that I’ve read so far.
- Parenting from the Inside Out, Daniel Siegel & Mary Hartzell – This seemed to be the adult version of Whole Brain Child, but it got a bit overly technical for me and ultimately didn’t contain much new info. Stick with Whole Brain Child.
- Romancing the Duke, Tessa Dare – I actually found this novel to be hilarious, and awesome. The heroine’s father’s fans (he’s a writer) are my favorite thing ever. It’s like if Ren Faire was set in the early 1900s.
- Birthing From Within, Pam England – Meh. It was a little hippy-dippy for me. I stuck with it over half way to give it a good try, but ultimately I just couldn’t buy its premise that art is necessary for a fearless birth.
- Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton – For me? No. Even though it was award-winning. I thought the premise was interesting in that it was kinda like Jane Austin, if only everyone was a dragon. But I kept getting turned off when everyone ate their young, and I couldn’t get over it. Didn’t like, wouldn’t recommend; unless you enjoy the sordid-type Victorian novels like Wuthering Heights.
- The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater – The next four books are all a series, and I re-read them. I’m DYING to read them in Virginia when I go to visit my sister in law, since that’s where they’re set. But I love them. So much better and creepier the 2nd time around, and they were GREAT the first time.
- The Dream Thieves, Maggie Stiefvater
- Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Maggie Stiefvater
- The Raven King, Maggie Stiefvater
- Strengths Finder, Tom Rath – Interesting, and part of the reason I knew I needed to switch jobs. All of the stuff I was good at wasn’t at all in my job description. Basically, if you need me to research something and then explain it to you clearly, I’m your girl.
- The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater – I keep finding these books about topics I’ve been thinking about in my own writing, and seeing that they’re CRAZY well done. That is basically to say that I’m in love with this book and need to own it so I can re-read it every November. Kelpies, poverty, Ireland, and a desperate race for life itself.
- Goddess of the Hunt, Tessa Dare – You know, I have a very love/hate relationship with Tessa Dare. In that I often love her work, but just as often I hate it. This was her first book, and it’s great. Girl next door marries family friend. Would recommend.
- Surrender of a Siren, Tessa Dare – I feel like I enjoyed this one more than it deserved. The premise is a little silly and the hero a TOTAL ASS when you first meet him. It probably should have killed my enjoyment of it, but it totally didn’t. I don’t know why.
- A Lady of Persuasion, Tessa Dare – This one returns to being almost as good as the first one. I’d recommend as well. Foreigner turns fancy and gets a rake to commit. Yay!
- Rules for a Proper Gentleman, Jennifer Ashley – I read this before I read the rest of the McKenzie series, and I LOVED it. A lot. It’s another one of those that isn’t quite a member of the series, though. Only very loosely connected.
- The Madness of Lord Ian McKenzie by Jennifer Ashley – Okay, caveat that these are dirtier than your normal brand of romance novel. I still liked it a lot, and found it hawt despite the Asperger’s of the hero. Good mystery, too, where everyone is trying to protect everyone else and it’s a mess.
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin – This is my favorite book so far on giving birth, and I’m SO glad I found it. It was incredibly empowering to read, and I would recommend to anyone considering natural birth. And even if you’re not, it’s still helpful I think.
- The Many Sins of Lord Cameron, Jennifer Ashley – The hero has a SUPER tragic past, and it’s a little hard to take at times. But otherwise I’m in love with this book 100%. Especially the heroine’s love of cake.
- The Duke’s Perfect Wife, Jennifer Ashley – This one is also pretty dirty, but SO well done. I enjoyed it thoroughly. In fact, I think I may need to buy this series in hard-copy. At least the ones with the brothers in them.
- The Day of the Duchess, Sarah McLean – McLean is one of the few romance authors I auto-LOVE. This one was not as good as her previous, though I still enjoyed it. I think it was more the concept than the writing, and also the context – the Duke of Haven is someone I’m used to loathing, and the plot seemed contrived. Still would recommend. McLean’s meh is better than others’ best.
- Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage, Jennifer Ashley – Oh man, I really loved this book too. It again hit on some of my favorite things; debauched painter for a hero needs heroine as his muse. All those painting sessions spent alone. So great.
- Howl’s Moving Castle, Dianna Wynne Jones – This might be the 5th time I’ve read this novel or so… I love it every time. Especially Howl and his black slime. ❤
- The Seduction of Eliot McBride, Jennifer Ashley – I have to say that I did like this book, but it was billed as being a McKenzie novel and it really wasn’t. The folks in the book are maybe mentioned in passing in another one. Not what I expect from a “sequel” but still pretty enjoyable. I don’t quite trust Jennifer Ashley with everything yet, but I’m getting closer.
- The Wicked Deeds of Daniel McKenzie, Jennifer Ashley – This book hit a bunch of the right notes for me – supernatural mediums, balloon rides, one of my favorite characters as the hero, a very smart heroine. Would 100% recommend.
- Never Seduce a Scot, Maya Banks – Recommended to me by Tumblr, and actually I did enjoy it a lot, though it’s set in a more medieval period than I prefer usually. The heroine is deaf, (or really, Hard of Hearing), which I’m a sucker for since studying ASL.
- A Night to Surrender, Tessa Dare – There’s so much hype around Dare’s Spindle Cove series that I felt I should give it a fair chance. I wasn’t wild about this book. Nothing wrong with it per-se, just that I didn’t feel connected to the characters really.
- A Week to Be Wicked, Tessa Dare – This is more what I was expecting from the Spindle Cove hype. Minerva is perfect, crazy-smart, and her beau keeps calling her by the wrong name on purpose for added fun.
- A Lady by Midnight, Tessa Dare – I’m not 100% sure I liked this book. The dog was perfect, but I think I just knew too much about Thorne and his weird ways to make him a convincing hero. I think I would probably have liked it had I not had context in the prior two books.
- Any Duchess Will Do, Tessa Dare – This is a re-read, and I kinda HATED it the first time. I think reading the rest of the Spindle Cove books made me like it more. Also, it’s a rarity in romance, with the heroine being totally dirt poor which probably also gave it novelty. Would read again.
- Once More My Darling Rogue, Lorraine Heath – I mean, it’s basically Overboard, if set in the Victorian Era. I liked it, but didn’t think it was anything special.
- When the Duke Was Wicked, Lorraine Heath – I just couldn’t get over the hero’s name to enjoy the book. Lovingdon? Really? I probably liked it less than it deserved, but still.
- The Happiest Baby on the Block, Harvey Karp – Not a fan of his writing style. It’s very simple and repeats often. But the info in here is GREAT. Must borrow baby and learn to swaddle NOW.
- Brain Rules for Baby, John Medina – Love this book. Medina has a humorous yet smart writing style that pulls you in, and the info in here is AMAZING, although he is fond of weird analogies. A 100% Must if you’re going to read parenting books.
- Seducing Harriet, Mary Ballough – I never like Ballough’s writing, but every once in a while I convince myself I haven’t given it enough of a try, since she’s award-winning and all. I didn’t like this one either. I think they’re a little too old fashioned for me, and too full of angsty drama. I go to romance novels for fun, and Ballough’s are rarely fun unless you find heartbreak fun.
- Minx, Julia Quinn: A re-read, because I love this book. The heroine is such a great tomboy, and I love her. Not to mention the hero, who is kind but definitely alpha.
- Three Weeks with Lady X, Eloisa James: Another reread of my favorites. This is my 3rd re-read since I found it a few years ago and it doesn’t get old. In fact, I laugh more and more about the letters they send each other every time.
- Fool For Love, Eloisa James: I forgot how much I just LOVE James’ work, so of course I had to continue… Another re-read.
- Beard In Mind, Penny Reid: I really loved this book – bonus points for a heroine with OCD. But I sometimes felt like I needed to reread all of them, since this one happens concurrently with some of the previous and I couldn’t remember the exact stuff she was alluding to.
- Meet Me at Willoughby Close: A pretty clean romance, all said and done, but also a great one. Sexy professor hero, a nutty rich neighbor in a manor house, a dog named Marmite, and a great single mom and daughter make this kinda magical.
- Positive Discipline, The First 3 Years: LOVED this book, and I’m gonna make Brian read it. It covers everything from discipline, childcare, self-care, and biting, to how to recognize disabilities and problems.
That’s it for right now. As always, happy reading!