Posts Tagged With: Reading List

2017 Reading List – So Far

Oh man…

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  All my posts on the baby are super-outdated now.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.

  1. 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.
  2. Beauty and the Mustache, Penny Reid – Part of the same series, and great.
  3. Truth or Beard, Penny Reid – Which could really be said for ALL of these books
  4. 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.
  5. Beard Science, Penny Reid – More beard books are coming out soon, but not fast enough for me, ever.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Rising Strong, Brene Brown – Another re-read, and probably my favorite Brene Brown book, which is saying something.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. The Dream Thieves, Maggie Stiefvater
  34. Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Maggie Stiefvater
  35. The Raven King, Maggie Stiefvater
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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!
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.  ❤
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. 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.
  55. 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.
  56. 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.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. 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.
  62. 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.
  63. Fool For Love, Eloisa James: I forgot how much I just LOVE James’ work, so of course I had to continue… Another re-read.
  64. 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.
  65. 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.
  66. 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!

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Winter Reading List 2017

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Finally a blog entry, right?  Work has gotten insane on me.  One of our own went out on disability to get her knee replaced (surgery went well, and recovery is too – yay!), but we’re all doing a little backfilling to pitch in. Couple that with all the beginning of the year crazy and the cold Brian shared that just won’t go away, and it’s a miracle I’ve been able to write at all.

Which is to say that blog entries might be sparser (once a week and irregular?) until March.  We’ll see how it goes.

It’s more than time for the winter reading list. The students came back last Monday and I’m officially late.  So, here’s all the things I’ve read since the fall, and what I thought of them.  I know… I did say there would be less book reviews in the new year.  I’m still mostly holding to that.  But I also said the Reading List was something that would stay.  This one wins the award for most books ever (if that’s an actual award) with 53.

I hope you find something to like in this batch.

 

Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah MacLean – I’m basically in love with this woman and consider her books to be the best thing ever.  I have never seen Informed Consent in a romance novel, and not only does MacLean do it, she does it so it’s SUPER hot.  Basic rule for all the MacLean books that follow?  READ THEM NOW.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater – Beautifully written, but I just couldn’t get into it.  For some reason, I just felt like I had read this book before.  It didn’t offer me anything new.

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater – Again, a very pretty book with not a lot of exciting things to offer.  I decided not to continue with the series after this one.

The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean – A runaway in the wrong (or right, if you like super hot guys) carriage trope, only this one is done remarkably well.

A Scot In The Dark by Sarah MacLean – It’s like if the naked celebrity selfie problem went 17th century on us.  Crazy well done.  And who doesn’t love a lady who ultimately saves herself?

A Rogue By Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean – A marriage of convenience novel in an illicit gaming hell.  He’s trying to keep her “pure.” Sign me up, please!

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean – Another in the gaming hell series, and just as good as the first.

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean – This one might actually be my favorite of all the Lord of Scoundrels series.  The lady the duke supposedly killed turns up alive, and of course sparks fly.

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery – A comfort read that I’ve memorized parts of, and don’t read often.  It’s such a gem of a book, and I think I got more from it this time than I did as a teen.  She’s saying important things about women and relationships in this one.

Never Judge A Lady By Her Cover by Sarah MacLean – OH so good.  I love the secret that is the premise of this book, though I won’t spoil it for those who are planning to read the others.  And who doesn’t like a newspaperman hero?  I ALWAYS do.  My FAVORITE of the Lord of Scoundrels.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – I’m probably a horrible person, but I just couldn’t get into it.  I think it’s because Kvothe annoyed the CRAP out of me, and I didn’t want to spend any time with him.

Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede – I don’t know why I keep returning to this book, because it really isn’t my favorite – it’s too long a timeline and too rambling to be About anything.  But Wrede’s world and alt-history is SO fascinating.  That’s what I go back for, I guess.

Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer – This hilarious book is all letters back and forth as the two girls confront separate problems in the country and in town that ultimately end up being related.  Combines Wrede’s awesome alt-history world with regency romance and is perfection.  Bonus points?  It reads like it was fun to write.

What Matters in Jane Austen by John Mullan – I think this book is for people who aren’t history-buffs and totally crazy about the Regency.  I learned a little bit, but not as much as someone else might have.  Also, I felt kinda “meh” about it.  I struggled to get through it, though ultimately was glad I did.

Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare – A couple of mystery lovers tryst in a room that both the Hero and Heroine happen to also be in, and they’re blamed.  Now they have to get married, which seems like a hardship but really isn’t after all.  It was definitely a solid novel, but not a favorite or anything.

That Scandalous Summer by Meredith Duran – It’s a marriage of convenience novel, where the hero needs the heroine’s money to keep a hospital he runs open.  I read it all the way through, but ultimately didn’t feel it was great.

Someone to Watch Over Me by Lisa Kleypas – I actually hated this book.  It was basically the plot of “Splash” in 18th century form, but it got a little rapey and awful in there.  I wouldn’t recommend.

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase – Oh, so great.  The heroine is trying to pry her brother away from the hero’s terrible influence.  She’s super-smart, he’s fairly oblivious, and things are basically perfect.  I would 100% recommend this novel.

Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase – Love this novel, too. It’s an already betrothed but fell for someone else totally unsuitable trope, where the hero falls for his fiancé’s dressmaker.  Unique, though, because there’s genuine affection between the hero and his fiancé, just not romantic love.  So great, I kept picking up her books.

Scandal Wears Satin by Loretta Chase – Dressmakers #2, and it features a delightful heroine who sneaks into all the Ton parties to report on the latest fashions.  So great.  Would recommend.

Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese O’Neil – Totally hilarious and disgusting (in a good way) in every way.  Ever wanted to be a romance heroine?  This will cure you.  And leave you laughing.

The Young Blood by Erin Satie – I loved this book a bunch.  It was well written, and the murder scene was horrifying while still serving the story.  It lost a few points for me for deus ex machina balloon rides, but all in all I would recommend.

Lady Sophia’s Lover by Lisa Kleypas – I was out of stuff to read, and so I DID go back to the Bow Street series, despite my reservations.  This one was better than the last, but still not that great.

Secrets from the Eating Lab by Tracy Mann – Such a cathartic and helpful read.  I’ve read a ton of books and evidence about how diets don’t help, but Mann takes it farther and tells you how to live healthfully at any size.  Finally a course of action that won’t kill me!

Romancing the Beat, Story Structure for Romance by Gwen Hayes – Very helpful as I was planning my Nano novel this year, which was a romance.  And a quick read, which was also nice.

The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman – Oh, I love this man so much.  I got a little bogged down in the section that’s all commentary on comics and things because I don’t read that genre, but otherwise it was magical to read his thoughts on things.

Red Rose by Mary Balogh –   I hated this book completely, was 100% turned off by the way she treated her disabled heroine, and didn’t finish it.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin – I loved this book so much that I started my own project this year.  I’ve almost totally dropped it 3 months in, but I did change several significant things that seem to be really helping me feel better about myself.

Geoducks are for Lovers by Daisy Prescott – I mean, it was the usual contemporary beach house romance, complete with wishy-washy reason for the couple to stay apart.  But it was well written, at least.

The Rogue by Katharine Ashe – While I really loved the tension between the hero and heroine, I also felt like the book was missing something.  Maybe because it’s #4 and they’re not as stand-alone as everyone hoped?

Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt – The plot was pretty great, really, as was the hero and heroine traveling through the slums after a secret.  I think I can’t give it full marks, though, because of a needless almost-rape.

His Mistress by Christmas by Victoria Alexander – Uh, no.  This book annoyed the CRAP out of me because there seemed to be no reason at all for the two not to at least schtup each other, and they didn’t.  And it was repetitive.  I read about 75% of the way through before I gave up in disgust.

The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig  – Maybe the best Christmas book I read this year.  An intrigue with puddings, silly and not too smart but still drool-worthy men, and much Christmas goodness.  Hot, but no sex.

Oh Horrid Night edited by Amber Newburry – This is the book I’m in!  I had a fun time reading everyone else’s stuff, which was oh so creative and very creepy.

All I Want for Christmas is You by Nora Roberts – it was fine, but nothing to write home about.  The kids were cute, the romance just fine.  I have nothing to criticize.  But, I also have nothing to praise, really.

Married for Christmas by Noelle Adams – I actually liked this book quite a lot.  The fellow in the relationship was a pastor, and so I thought it might be sickly religious.  Not so, though.  And very solid, with plenty of hotness and a story line that seemed natural.

A Christmas Kiss by Elizabeth Mansfield – A sweet holiday romance in which the spunky and awesome heroine falls for the father of the house, who’s mad at himself because he thinks she’s engaged to his son.  Sweet.

A Family for Christmas by Noelle Adams – It was written well, but I felt like this missed the mark for me.  They were both missionaries, and for some reason I didn’t feel like I really identified with them, though the writing and story were both solid.

Twas The Night After Christmas by Sabrina Jeffries – A cute and steamy novel about a man and his estranged mother.  The guy falls for his mother’s companion after she tricks them into reconciling.  He was a little too creepy at first, but I ended up liking it.

What A Lady Needs for Christmas by Grace Burrowes – This was one of my FAVORITE Christmas novels this year. It features a Scot, a train escape, an awesome wardrobe, and a precocious daughter.  I didn’t want it to end.

Three Nights Before Christmas by Kat Latham – The heroine is an ex-con and a train engineer, and watching her story unfold was great.  Especially because her brother and the hero are such funny guys.  Plenty of Christmas goodness, too.  Also, the ugliest sweater EVER.

Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan – A VERY cute tale that made me want to at least explore reading the rest of the series.  Plenty of skiing and coziness, along with a mean mother and a teen to adore.

The Duke and Miss Christmas by Amelia Grey – I got REALLY angry with the hero in the first chapter and refused to read the rest of it.  The verdict is a resounding No.

Wallbanger by Alice Clayton – Oh, I love this book so much.  I was skeptical because of the title, but the hero and heroine are both so quippy, and they both have a hilarious posse of friends, and it’s hot all the way through.  Yes please.

Once Upon a Highland Christmas by Lecia Cornwall – Another one of my favorites this year.  The villagers are such well-written characters, and I loved the Lady and Lord, and the way gossip traveled.  They both stubbornly held to marrying others beyond the point of reason, but I still think it worked.  Would recommend.

The Undervalued Self by Elaine Aron – This was an interesting read, and I think it was good for me.  The difference between ranking and linking situations, and how we rank when we should link sometimes, has been very helpful.

A Bad Boy for Christmas by Jessica Lemon – I was not really a fan of this one.  Eventually things get kinda sweet, but the hero in the beginning is a little creepy about his need to “protect” the heroine and it never quite recovered enough for me.

How A Lady Weds a Rogue by Katharine Ashe – This book had all the good parts of an amazing novel, but it somehow didn’t grip me.  I found my attention wandering even as I enjoyed it.  I recommend?  I gave it 4 stars on Amazon.

Seducing Mr. Knightley by Maya Rodale – downtrodden and shy advice columnist known as Dear Abigail reverses things and asks her readers for advice on how to seduce her crush.  Which happens to be her boss.  Nothing to do with Jane Austen (closer to Never Been Kissed, the movie), but features a newspaperman.  Yum.

Grin and Beard it by Penny Reid – It’s the 2nd book in the series, but it’s OH so good and can stand alone.  National Park ranger and movie star fall in love.  She has an amazing career, is Latina, and also a size 14 and totally sexy.  So is he, bear-trapping and all.  It sounds cheesy, but it’s really not.  It’s perfection.

Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid – I read the book above and HAD to read the entire series.  This one is technically part of the “Knitting In The City” series, but it features their sister and is also considered Winston Brothers 0.5.  A sad book since it features the death of the MC’s mother, but also a beautiful love story.  And you HAVE to love that gaggle of friends.

Truth or Beard by Penny Reid – The 2nd book in the series.  Two hometown haters fall in love when the girl mistakes the guy for his twin and things get hot.  Full of sassiness, too.  I almost said this one was my favorite so far, but I don’t think I can, really.  It’s impossible to pick.

Beard Science by Penny Reid – I was worried about this one because I don’t really think of Cletus as being romantic.  But he definitely is.  And this book may be the funniest yet because the heroine is so great.  She’s smart but sheltered, so it’s an interesting combination with Cletus’ slyness.

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Spring 2016 Reading List

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Guess what?  It’s a regularly prescribed blog day and I am actually posting a blog.  It’s a small miracle.

The vacations are over, and so is the school year.  All our students graduated last weekend in a blaze of glory.  Which means I should officially share this list so I can start on the summer one, don’t you think?  I do.

And just so you know, I’m usually pretty good about putting things on Goodreads before they get to here.  If you want recs early and not in one giant dump like this, that’s the place to go.

So without further ado, here it is.  All the books I’ve read since the spring semester started:

  1. Winning the Wallflower by Eloisa James: I should just say that I ALWAYS enjoy a James novel. This one was quite solid, with an interesting premise.  Would recommend if you like that sort of thing.
  2. No-Where But Here by Kate McGarry: I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t my favorite either, mostly because it sent some of my feminist “no!” alarms off, although gently.  I cared to finish it, but I’m not sure I’ll pick up the next.  Or maybe I will.  I’m wishy-washy about it, and I did like the main character.
  3. Steering The Craft by Ursula K. LeGuin: Oh, so wonderful.  It made me value the art of writing practice all over again, though it reads more like a work book than it does like advice.
  4. A Knot In The Grain by Robin McKinley: McKinley is another I always love. At first I wasn’t so hooked but the stories kept getting progressively better, and the title story is something I’m obsessed with, except that I want it to be a novel and not a short.
  5. Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn: Thought it would have more to do with the Bridgertons that just having a heroine with the same last name, so I was a bit disappointed. But it was a solid story for all that and I’d recommend it.
  6. Pride and Prejudice and Cheese Grits by Mary Jane Hathaway: Um… no. I don’t know why I even finished this book.  I didn’t enjoy it and I found the conclusion (and most of the novel, to be honest) to be unlikely and unsatisfying.
  7. Girls and Sex by Peggy Orenstein: I don’t really know what to say about this book except that it’s fascinating and poignant, and important for anyone who has been a girl (I had so many “me too!” moments) or anyone raising a girl.
  8. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman: A re-read.  I still loved it, though it didn’t seem quite the captivating masterpiece it did on my first read.  I guess I just wished I cared a little more for Richard and Door at the end.
  9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling: I forgot how good this book is. And it’s honestly the prettiest thing I’ve ever read.  It was so fun to come across all the amazing illustrations while going through.  I basically didn’t come out of my room for a day and a half.  I can’t wait to collect them all.
  10. Chalice by Robin McKinley: I’ve read this book at least 4 times now, and it always leaves me wanting to keep bees in a thatched hut with the man I love. One of my favorites, and officially a comfort book by now.
  11. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: I’m glad to find I can read it again, and that I love it as much as I ever did, which is to say obsessively.
  12. Fool For Love by Eloisa James: As James novels go, this one was on the silly side. I still enjoyed it, though.
  13. Poems by Rudyard Kipling: You know, I don’t always love his poetry. But when I do, I REALLY love it, and it was a joy to go through and pull out gems of couplets.
  14. If You’re So Smart Why Aren’t You Happy by Raj Raghunathan: I learned a lot from this, partially about the importance of practice in writing, and partly about making room for happiness without pursuing it head on. I’m glad I read it, and will be putting some of the suggestions into practice.
  15. Shakespere’s Wife by Germaine Greer: Such a dichotomy of a book. The writing is super dry and academic, but it’s about FASCINATING things.  I’m impatient when reading it and feel like I’m not enjoying myself, but I’m always telling Brian about the neat things I learned with enthusiasm.  I think it’s ultimately worth it.
  16. Duchess By Night by Eloisa James: Nice and satisfying, with a hilarious daughter to top it all off. No outright silly like in some of James’ novels.  Would recommend.
  17. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman: A strange collection of things, some of which I had read before. I went from “So good, I’ll never be this good, I love this story” to “No.  No, no.  No” about them.  My favorite was the Study in Emerald.  I’m not gonna pick a least favorite.  All in all, I would recommend it to Gaiman fans, though I enjoy his novels more.
  18. Once Upon A Tower by Eloisa James: I liked this one QUITE a bit. May be my favorite since the Essex Sisters.
  19. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo: The book was really repetitive, and I didn’t care at all about the pages and pages of testimonials that she included, which may be a translation problem? But I did ultimately feel that her ideas were helpful and will put some of them into practice.
  20. Midnight Pleasures by Eloisa James: I generally liked it, but felt like the plot wasn’t tight. I mean, they end up with this mysterious French kid for no real reason and the scepter thing resolves WAY too easily.  It was also sad.  I enjoyed it, but think James has better work out there.
  21. Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott: Strangely, this book speaks differently to me now that I’m a little farther along the path to become a writer. I find that I’m more willing to listen to her advice without saying “yes, but an agent…” and to embrace the actual writing as the thing to fall in love with.  Still balm for my crazy soul.
  22. This Duchess of Mine by Eloisa James: Devolved a bit into farce, but I always enjoy a James novel. I’m slowly working through her backlist until I’ve read them ALL.
  23. A Duke of Her Own by Eloisa James: I mean, Villers is my FAVORITE James heroine. I Loved this one, especially his son Tobias.  It was nice to see him get his own novel finally.
  24. Three Weeks with Lady X by Eloisa James: This was one of the first James books I read, and I realized after a while that it’s partially from the perspective of Villers’ son. Which meant that I had to re-read it, of course. It was good the first time, but even better in context.
  25. A Wild Pursuit by Eloisa James: Another farciful one, with too many people at a house party.  I would say it’s good romance, I just think other things by James are better.
  26. Your Wicked Ways by Eloisa James: While I felt like I wish the heroine had a little more backbone, I LOVED all the music that’s in it. Ultimately, this is one of my favorites of hers.
  27. Enchanting Pleasures by Eloisa James: I think James is at her best when her heroines are smart, and Gabby is very smart. Quill is also super-easy to fall in love with as a character, though I feel as if I wish they had a tighter plot to play in.
  28. Why Diets Make us Fat by Sandra Aamodt: Interesting, if sometimes full of dry scientific studies. It makes me fear dieting, and also gives me hope that I can be healthy and a bit chubby.  Wonderful book full of important info.
  29. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray: I don’t know what to say about this one because it seems in a lot of ways like the original Diviners book – zippy, jazzy, a bit heartbreaking, scary. But for some reason I just didn’t care much about the characters like I did in book 1.
  30. Excuses Begone by Wayne Dyer: I tend to take advice from millionaires to ignore money when making decisions with a grain of salt, but I do think a lot of his points were valid. Worth a read, and very motivational.
  31. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: Holy crap this book is good – Tumblr you were totally right, even if you did ruin one of the big secrets for me ahead of time. My new obsession. Bonus points? All books are out – no waiting.
  32. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater: I usually find sequels to be not as good as the originals, but I’m finding that this one is even better. If that’s possible.  Can’t wait to read the rest of them and will be burning through them the next few days.
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A Very Gothic Vacation

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It is a scant 4 weeks away from the summer vacation I’m taking this year.  It’s just for 4 days, but that’s still a miracle considering I started this job less than 6 months ago and I really thought I wasn’t going to get to go anywhere this year.  Everything was approved this week at work, though.  I really CAN go!

Vacation means vacation reads, which I’m already thinking about.  I’ll be gone for about 5 days, which means 5 books with a couple to spare maybe, if things get interesting.  I like to have themes for vacation, because I find that it makes books inseparable from the landscape.  I’ll never forget reading Tolkien in Yosemite, or Always Coming Home while road-tripping up the California coast, Jonathan Livingston Seagull at my aunt’s beach house, or Jane Austen in my other aunt’s house on the river.

I’ve decided I’m going for gothic fantasy on this one.  There’s a lot of that genre I want to read, by authors I love, and I hate to read books that consume me when I’m not able to devote time to them.   Vacation is the perfect time for that.  I’m going to Massachusetts with a visit to Plimoth Plantation planned.  You might think I should go straight to Phillbrick’s stuff and get all the pilgrim I can out of the vacation.  But Massachusetts is also the home of Salem…  Gothic horror is totally legit, I think.

What am I planning to read?  Here goes:

  • Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray: 2nd of the Diviner books, in which Evie O’Neil is now a famous seer, but can she and her friends stop the crazy sleeping sickness that’s plaguing the slums of New York?
  • The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black: I have no idea what this is about save that there’s some sort of beast in the forest that the main character was told to stay away from. And it’s Holly Black.  That’s all I really need to know.
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: A girl named Blue hooks up with 3 boys from a local prep school who are looking for a dead Welch king. Tumblr can’t get enough of it, so I’m taking their advice.
  • The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters: Victorian mesmerist gives the main character supernatural powers.   I saw this at my local indie shop and have been wondering about it ever since.
  • Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell: An old lady opposes the building of a big box store on the town border because it will literally unleash hell if the town’s borders are breached. It’s a novel, so…
  • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness: Descendant of first witch to ever be murdered in Salem accidentally comes across a book in a library that makes her run to a vampire for help. Sounds like just the kind of smut I love.

The Back Ups:

  • The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Valiant by Holly Black
  • Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter

That will more than do me for the trip.  I sort of consider all of the Maggie Stiefvater books of the same thing since they’re all the same series.  Whether I move on to Holly and Angela or not depends on how infatuated I am with Maggie’s stuff.  Tumblr loves those Raven Boys, but Tumblr is sometimes wrong (I know, I said it).

I’ll report back in a few weeks on the stuff I ACTUALLY read.  Much thanks to TOR for their recommendations, and also to The Book Seer (and my sister, for sending the link to me).

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Winter Reading List, 2016

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I’ve felt like it’s been officially spring here for a few weeks now, but it’s now officially official as of the end of last week. The winter quarter is over, finals and all.  Which means… it is time for the Winter reading list.  It’s shorter than normal, partly because I just did this in January.  Partly because when I do a lot of my own writing, I tend to do less reading.  And partly because life has been a little crazy lately as Brian and I spend all our weekends planting out the front beds and  waging a gopher war in the back yard.  All my raised beds are lined in chicken wire now.  So there. (crossing my fingers that holds them.)

The time has come.  Here’s everything I have read since January and what I thought of it:

  • The Color of Magic, by Terry Pratchet – Oh, I don’t know. It wasn’t bad.  It felt more like it was done for funny than actually because it had a good plot arc or compelling story.  It was funny, but I quickly got impatient with Rincewind and his inane tourist.
  • Good Poems: American Places, by Garrison Keillor – Left me melancholy and nostalgic in the best way. I would recommend wholeheartedly, and I don’t like poetry usually.
  • English Fairy Tales, by Joseph Jacobs – Not what I was expecting, and not really new at all (despite author claims). Feels like the French stuff rehashed.  It was well written, but didn’t offer more than other standards in the same genre.
  • Desperate Duchesses, by Eloisa James – I enjoyed it, as I do all of James’ stuff. There’s a reason I’m on a quest to read everything she’s ever written.  The heroine in this one was a bit silly, but not as silly as some I’ve read.  And it all worked in the end to a satisfactory conclusion.
  • Aspects of the Novel, by E. M. Forster – You know, I got just as much out of the beginning of this book as ever, but got super tired of slogging through old novel excerpts in the end of it for not as much analysis as I’d like. Great for the information, but definitely work to read.
  • Pippa’s Cornish Dream, by Debbie Johnson – Meh. It was fine, but it wasn’t anything unusual.  I liked the fact that the heroine was so spunky.  I think the real reason it didn’t work for me is because I didn’t like the guy much.
  • Emily Climbs, by L. M. Montgomery – I LOVE Emily and her cats and her writing. A favorite of mine, that I’ve read more times than I can count.  It makes me feel like the writing struggle is real, and surmountable with enough work.
  • Emily’s Quest by L. M. Montgomery – Every time I read this, I am less of a mess. I mean, Emily really makes a lot of the strife she suffers for herself.  Still, it’s not an easy read, though it’s beautiful.
  • Clarkesworld Year 3 Anthology, by Neil Clarke – I mean, they’re well written with some beautiful and heartbreaking ideas. But I realized that I just am not a fan of short stories.  Oh the irony, right, as I try to write them?  I know.
  • Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman – My new favorite thing (!!!). It’s like my Deadlands game came to life and featured a super awesome heroine who sold her soul to the devil and now channels his magic to protect the territory.  Best thing EVER.  I’m sad the other 2 books aren’t out yet, because I’d get them in a heartbeat.  I can’t wait until October.

As always, happy reading!

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Interterm Reading List, 2016

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I’m in a weird place with the seasonal reading list.  My other school was on semesters, and the students just got back.  That means it should be time for a winter interterm reading list, right?  But the new school I’m working at is on the quarter system and it’s all wonky.  The students are already back.  This means I’m all fouled up.

So… I will post the interterm list and then another when the quarter ends, I guess?  We’ll see.  I like using this system because it’s so easy to figure out when I should post things.  End of semester?  Do a book list.  Nice and simple.  We’ll just have to make it work on the quarter system.

Here are the books I’ve read so far this December/January:

  • Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish by Eloisa James – a little bit farciful for my tastes, but I felt a palpable relief at getting into James’ writing after having read such terrible Christmas books before this one. She knows what she’s doing, and she’s doing it the fun way.
  • A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh – I actually liked this one quite a bit. The premise was original and the family was hilarious.
  • Agathe von Trapp: Memories Before and After The Sound of Music by Agathe von Trapp – So fascinating. I love hearing about the lives of the von Trapps, and this one was from a very different perspective of the ones I’ve heard before.  Agathe remembers much more about their early childhood and there are amazing pictures. Way worth it if you’re a Sound of Music fan.
  • Daughter of Witches by Patricia C. Wrede – The character development was wishy-washy and it read like a D&D Campaign. Sometimes I don’t mind that with Wrede’s Lyra novels, but this time it bothered me a bit.  I think I would have appreciated it more if the story line and characters were stronger.  Still a solid book, though.  She writes well.
  • Much Ado About You by Eloisa James – Ah, and now we move onto romance novels with embarrassing names. Good book, though.  Interesting premise, I loved the relationship between all the sisters, and I couldn’t at first tell who the hero would be.  That’s a first for romance novels for me.
  • Kiss Me Anabelle by Eloisa James – Continuation of the 1st book, and still almost as good as ever although it does feature a stopover in a hovel that I think could have been skipped. Even though Anabelle is the heroine, Imogen sort of steals the show for a while.  I didn’t mind.
  • The Taming of the Duke by Eloisa James – Finally an Imogen novel, and it’s as amazing as you would think it would be. Also bonus points because you have no idea at first who she will get together with.  She’s such a spitfire.
  • Pleasure for Pleasure by Eloisa James – I think that of the 4 Essex sisters, Josie is most like me. This book had lots of the fairy tale about it, too, so that was nice.  I think this one might have been my favorite of the 4.
  • Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay – I read Reay’s Dear Mr. Knightly last year and fell in love with her writing.  This one is just as compelling as you watch Lizzy and Jane figure out their relationship, watch Lizzy fall back in love with cooking, and get to care about all the other patients at the clinic.  It seemed more likely than Knightly, too.
  • Faking It by Elisa Lorello – Even if the writing wasn’t overly telling and the premise silly, I would have been mad at this book. It commits the carnal romance novel sin of not getting the guy and the girl together at the end.  She gets together with a different guy (who, while very nice, is NOT THE RIGHT GUY).  No, just no.
  • Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell – My new favorite author. (!!!) Vowell was the voice of The Incredibles’ Violet, and is obsessed with all things macabre American History. She’s hilarious, makes the greatest connections, and throws a ton of good history in for good measure.  I’ll be reading everything she’s ever written, please.
  • It’s Just a Jump to the Left by Libba Bray – I know it was a short story, but I’m not really sure what changed for the Leta between the first and the last except that she was left wholly alone at the end of it. Your understanding of her situation changed, but she didn’t.  Still a good read, with Bray’s amazing writing to pull you right in.
  • The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck – OH, so good.  I am an Oregon Trail junkie, have played the game a bazillion times, am a bit familiar with the history of it all, and have fallen in love with this book.  I desperately want to learn to drive a mule team and take them over the trail to Oregon.  Please say I can? Also, this has spawned much other reading.  I have Narcissa Whitman’s letters coming on Interlibrary Loan soon.
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Fall-ish Reading List 2014

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In the holiday shuffle, I missed posting my fall reading list.  So this one contains everything I’ve read up until January 1.  It’s shorter because I’ve been doing less reading of other people’s novels and more reading of my own.  Draft 6 is in full swing.

So, without further ado, here it is:

1.      A Wonderlandiful World, by Shannon Hale – Fun like the others, but I missed Apple and Raven.  Hale does some brilliant stuff that is Against the Rules and Shouldn’t Work with the character of the narrator. And yet it does, perfectly.

2.      Demons, and other magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge – She did not deliver on a (stupid) thing she’s been threatening for three books now, so that made me unhappy.  Otherwise it was what it should have been.  Nice epic finish that felt big enough.

3.      Manon Lescaut by Abbe Provost – I can’t say I liked it, although it got me thinking quite a bit.  It’s one of those novels where I disdain the characters and think they’re all idiots.  But it broadened my horizons.  So I’m not sorry I read it.

4.      The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern – If it was possible that anything could be funnier than the movie, this book is funnier than the movie.  The Florin jokes, abridgements, and history are the best thing ever, like I’m part of a massive inside joke.

5.      Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – Man hired to read company e-mails secretly falls in love with girl who keeps violating the e-mail policy.  The two gals are beyond hilarious, the main character is such a great guy, and I love this book so much.

6.      The Lake by Analisa Grant – I just… 1st person present tense was difficult for me, and the story was cliché.  But it had profluence and an interesting main character.  I gave up 1/3 of the way through.  Maybe I’ll pick it up again, I don’t know.

7.      A Garden Folly by Candice Hern – The stupid sort of G rated Regency romance I love a lot.  Although it does make me uncomfortable when a girl says no and a guy doesn’t listen, no matter how much she’s really enjoying it.

8.      Paper Towns by John Green – Looking For Alaska was a better “finding someone” novel, and An Abundance of Katherines was a better “road trip” novel.  But it enjoyed it, and would have enjoyed it more had I not read the others first, I think.

9.      The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer – Now this is what I look for in a sappy regency romance.  Sophy is delightfully uncouth, quippy, and still the toast of the town.  It’s such a fun novel!  I’m pretty sure Heyer is my new obsession.

10.  The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer – A confusing start but ultimately fun.  Minus (miniscule) points because the siblings don’t have a great reason for masquerading.  Most of the novel had me in conniptions worried for Prue in White’s club.

11.  A Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer – I feel  like I shouldn’t have liked this one because of the abduction but I did anyway.  I could have done without the swath at the end where silly brothers are silly.  Otherwise impeccable.

12.  The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer – Considered her best by folks on Goodreads. It was cute, but I wasn’t super impressed.  The way she treats gender relationships sometimes bothers me, but not enough to hate the book.  It was a different time.

13.  More Than Somewhat by Damon Runyon – Why is he so wonderful?  I forgot how hilarious he makes the Broadway underworld of the 1930s and 40s.  I wish more of his stuff was available.

14.  The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black – Oh CRAZY good, and perfect for the Halloween mood I was in.  Vampire novel meets quippy YA novel in the best way.  It was violent, but I found I could take it.  Seriously, this one is amazing.

15.  The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer – This one was sort of murder mystery-ish, although I knew who did it way too far in advance.  Once again, some unwanted advances are blamed on the flirtatious girl (sigh).  But I enjoyed it anyway.

16.  Dangerous by Shannon Hale – I love this novel, and the problems I saw in it the first time didn’t bother me at all the second time through.  The best part is still the funny names Maisy gives her false arm, and the bad puns.  They never get old.

17.  A Midwife’s Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich – You don’t often get nonfiction books that focus on the daily lives of women.  And women in the late 1700’s? Sold! It was a fascinating read and taught me A LOT about colonial domestic life. Love.

18.  The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer – It’s weird.  This book feels utterly familiar and yet new at the same time.  I am in love with her, and this book is all the toppings on the sundae of how she’s changed my perspective and my life. So good.

19.  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Beautifully written. It made me angsty and paranoid, though. The things she has to say about relationships are so heartbreakingly true that it feels like I could get there.  And the end?  No.  Just, no.  Ultimately did not like.

20.  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – I have never read any Dickens as an adult, and I’m enjoying it a lot more than I did when I was younger.  His character descriptions are delightful, and the story is so much more full.  Poor Pip and his fortune.

21.  Balls and Synthetic Cheese by Amethyst Hethcoat – A classmate of mine.  Such a weird and sometimes funny collection of short stories.  I had forgotten her penchant for unlikely metaphors and similes that make me grin. I was glad for the reminder.

22.  Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley – SO good, with that mundane quality in which nothing and everything happens which McKinley does so well. It’s a different book than Beauty, the ending far more satisfying.  Happily ever after is happy too.

23.  Landline by Rainbow Rowell – CRAZY good.  It made me think of Brian and the way things used to be 15 years ago when we were first dating.  It was sweet, and at this point I’m ready to read everything Rowell has ever written ever.

24.  Sunshine by Robin McKinley – It killed me that I didn’t have 12 hours to just sit down and read this thing all the way through.  Dirtier than most McKinely novels, but I didn’t mind.  This book makes vampire tropes look Hot (capital H).

25.  Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – I love the way Rowell makes me think of my own college days.  It makes me want to love Brian in detail like that again.  Cath is so wonderful in such a messy way.  There isn’t anything I don’t love about this book.

26.  Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones – A re-read.  I forgot how terrible Gwendolyn is, and how funny Chrestomanci’s dressing gowns are.  And Millie! And the adorable but bitey dragon! Some of the best of Diana Wynne Jones.

27.  The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones – A re-read.  Because after Cat, you HAVE to have Christopher and his Almost Anywheres.  I might love this book more than the first one, although I nearly always read them in this order.

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