On Writing in 2017, and Nanowrimo

IMG_20130228_131127

We’re getting to the end of the year, and I’m starting to think about my resolutions from last year.  Spoiler: I completed almost none of them.  I just found the blog entry that John Scalzi wrote the other day that I thought was incredibly poignant.  And it instantly made me feel less guilty, too. Frankly, he explains it better than I ever could: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2017/10/02/2017-word-counts-and-writing-process/ 

I thought my lack of production was a little bit of depression, or perhaps I was just in a non-prolific season right now.  After all, you can’t be on-point all the time, right?  Reading Scalzi made me realize that it’s probably not me… and a lot of other people are having this problem too.

I’ve been doing exactly what he says he had been doing.  I’ve been trying to figure out why my system isn’t working and how I can go back to it.  I’ve wasted almost a year on it.  I don’t know what the answer is yet, but I know now that I have to regroup and find a new normal for myself.  The old way isn’t going to work in this climate.  Or, most likely, with baby in tow.

At least I’ve been feeling more like a writer lately. I have to thank the L. M. Montgomery institute for that.  There’s nothing like a deadline and a required bio to get the juices flowing.  I’ve been feeling that soul-itch, too, to put words on paper and make a new thing out of them.  I haven’t felt that way in a long time.  Now all I have to do is come to terms with my less-than-stellar production.

Nanowrimo is gearing up and I want to participate.  I have a 7 year winning streak to uphold, and the knowledge that the biggest writing party on the web is happening and I’m not a part of it is agony.  But this year I’ve decided I’m not writing a new novel from scratch.  I’m writing instead a few short stories for a collection I’d like to put out sometime this year (with the excuse being that I’m learning how to format and upload a Kindle book, in prep for Blue Gentian).  So, 5 short stories in just a few weeks?  I probably won’t make it, but it will be fun to try (and to be able to call myself a rebel for once).

If you’re interested, The book will be called “A Blatantly False History of the World” and will feature the following stories.  Everything with an asterisk is something I still need to write or edit heavily.  The ones with titles have plots.

  1. The Sea – Rome, 73 BC
  2. Ordeals – England, 1490
  3. The Wages of Sin – Plymouth Colony, 1622
  4. *A Stitch In Time – Virginia, 1779
  5. There Must Have Been Some Magic – London, 1814
  6. *Coyote’s Earth – California, 1831
  7. The Call – Arlington, 1862
  8. *Dr. Pragnum’s Restorative Tonic – England, 1896
  9. The Immortals – Italy, 1917
  10. Plenty of Fish – India, 1924
  11. Easterbay – Costal Maine, 1945
  12. *Thunderbird’s Desert – California, 2017
  13. *???

Looking for a Nanowrimo buddy?  I’m Caseykins, and I’ll buddy up right back.  Happy writing if you’re trying it.  And cheers to finding a new normal in this relentlessly stressful world.

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Weekly Round-up

IMG_20130519_102019

My favorite red sheets bit it this week.  I probably shouldn’t be surprised.  They were a gift for Brian and my first Christmas together, and that means they’re about 14 years old; well used and very washed.  My whale-like pregnant flailings to get myself out of bed to pee in the middle of the night is what did them in.  I split them down the middle.

I bought a replacement set this weekend.  They are VERY red.  And the cotton has a kind of sheen to it that the other set didn’t have.  They aren’t satin, but I feel like maybe I made a mistake.  “Bordello” is not the style I was going for…  Still, they’re comfy.

This kid has started to push on my stomach to see if he can get himself more room.  I can feel his feet pressing slowly outward beneath my belly button.  I looked down the other day when I was getting dressed to find that I have a lovely new set of stretch marks exactly where he’s been pushing on me.  And just about the right width apart to fit a baby foot in between.

I started following Williams Sonoma on Instagram this week, and it’s been torture.  I now want to make all the things, and I’m realizing that cooking is one of the hobbies I miss the most.  I really don’t have the energy to be on my feet that long these days, though.  I settled for buying one of the delicious lumpy pumpkins from Trader Joe’s this weekend.  Last year we kept one through Thanksgiving for decoration, and then I made it into the best pumpkin butter to give for Christmas gifts.  This one is butter-bound too, though right now it looks excellent on my hearth.

Brian bought an electric lawn mower this weekend, and mowed the lawn.  Our previous mower has been broken for a while.  We aren’t sporting a jungle anymore, which is cause for a big “hooray!” I haven’t had the gumption (or ability to bend over) to weed at all, so the yard doesn’t look as nice as I’d like it to.  But it looks a million times better than it used to.  Brian and I might have it sort-of together after all.

That’s mostly it for this week.  We’re at 41 days and counting until this whole motherhood thing becomes real.  I’m already ready.  Too bad this kid isn’t fully baked yet.

Categories: Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anne of Green Gables Read Along

anne-of-green-gables-painting-1024x576

When the L. M. Montgomery institute called for blog entries for their Anne Read-Along this year, I knew I had to be involved.  Anne has been a major part of life from adolescence onward, and I surely would not have found Emily, Rilla, or Valancy without her.   All four girls have shaped my life in innumerable ways.  Anne is the gateway drug to all of it; the crux; where most of us start.

They gave me a hard chapter.  It’s short and not a lot happens.  It took me a while to think about it, but when it was all done I was really proud of what I had come up with: https://www.lmmontgomery.ca/anne-green-gables-read-long-chapter-iii-marilla-cuthbert-surprised  

I can’t wait to see what everyone else does for their chapter.  Reading the other blog entries has already made me see things in the books that I hadn’t before.  Happy reading along.

Categories: Book Reviews, Comfort Books, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

That Annual Fall Longing

Fall

It’s that time of year again when everyone else is getting blissful fall and it’s in the 90s in Southern California.  The only fall we’re getting is in the merchandise in the grocery stores.  I will admit that the Roger’s Red is turning brown. I’m pretty sure that’s not fall color, though, but instead it’s being scorched by the sun.  Until about 2 weeks ago, it was over 100 almost every day.  And almost 110 about half of the time. I guess we could pretend?

It’s worse this year because my mother is in Maine and posting pictures of fall colors.  She even has gourds in her planter boxes and mums on the outdoor deck.  There’s nothing prettier than fall in Maine, even after the colors fade and it becomes this stark brown and gray gorgeousness.  It makes me wish California was like that.

Instead, I’ll be putting up the Halloween decorations this weekend.  And maybe thinking about bean soups and squash for dinner.  It IS getting colder at night, I have to admit.  I’ll be crossing my fingers for cold days, with hopes that by the end of October we might be able to have the first fire of the year in the fireplace.  If I can’t have real fall I’ll have the manufactured variety, thank you.

Fall means that this kid is almost here.  We’re just under 2 months now until my due date, and we’re all but ready.  I’m 100% ready.  This pregnancy just gets harder every day with all the joint pain I’m experiencing, although my other symptoms aren’t terrible.  At least I’m sleeping well.

This kid is getting BIG.  You don’t even always need to touch me to feel him moving now.  Especially at night, his strong arms and legs make my stomach visibly ripple.  He’s still measuring exactly in the middle on everything he should be.  He’s already head down, and likely to stay that way.

It makes me think that maybe he’s a more cooperative fellow than I thought he was, after hiding behind my belly-button during ultrasounds and swimming away from the wand all the time.  We’ll know soon enough, though.

I’m eating dates, pondering Caster Oil, raspberry leaf tea, and pineapple juice, and crossing my fingers that this kid is ready a few weeks early.  November 12 would be just about perfect, sir.  Especially because then it would mean that I could get one of those adorable turkey onesies and you could wear it at Thanksgiving.  More fall for all of us!

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Picture1

I’m realizing why it’s been so hard to blog lately… I’m not really doing anything.  My week mostly looks like me coming home exhausted from work, putting on my pajamas, and reading until I pass out.  I feel a little like a fuddy-duddy.  I let Brian make me dinner every night.  I haven’t even been working on projects, to be honest.  The quilt is still mostly done, and so is the Totoro mobile

Instead, I’ve been reading a weird combination of romance novels and parenting books, rotating back and forth between them.  I consider this the equivalent of Target putting the underwear section next to the baby stuff. Ironic, yet with plenty of precedent.

I have been going through old “inactive” employee files at work, and it’s been a hilarious and poignant time-capsule of documents.  There are pictures of nerdy scientists in those thick-rimmed 1960’s glasses, or wearing vibrantly striped ties from the 1980’s.  The documents are mostly type-written, and my favorite are the ones that are obviously tissue-thin mimeograph copies that someone stuck in their file, some stretching all the way back to the 1940s, in dusky brown.  There are form documents, too, where most of it is typewritten except where the Dean wrote in the person’s name by hand.  Or student evaluations that are also hand-written and then copied for the file.

It’s a strange treasure-trove of old scoldings, merit raises, newspaper articles and pamphlets, and sometimes obituaries.  I found one for a Botanist who was almost sent to a Japanese Internment Camp, but was able to find a home on the east coast with a family in South Carolina instead, to finish his education.

The task itself isn’t supposed to be interesting.  I’m just supposed to run this stuff through the scanner and then save it to the electronic drive.  I got lucky that many of the files are fun.  We’ll see what turns up next…

Categories: Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Slow and Huffy, or Morla the Box Turtle

20526186_2048263185199458_725852492462949460_n

Morla has become quite the fixture in our home, despite his relegation to a corner of the dining room and relative inactivity.  He’s usually either in his pool or in his house, just hanging out.  If you’re lucky, he’ll blink and move his head a bit.

The reason he’s become such a fixture is because he’s hilarious.  Brian swears he looks perpetually grumpy no matter what he’s doing.  I think he looks smugly superior.  When you pick him up, he closes his shell and makes huffy noises as if he’s SO inconvenienced. Either that, or he waves his arms and legs around like he’s flying.  Before we bought him a fancy log house, he would turn over the one I made him from a tissue box and then try to dig through the bottom – or what used to be the top before he upended it. I cut out the bottom for him so he could dig into his loamy bedding, but I guess he doesn’t care.

“What the hell is that noise?” Brian would ask, before investigating.  “Oh…” he’d reply to himself with a chuckle.

Dots doesn’t know what to think, but has decided he needs constant surveillance.  The other cats don’t care.

We thought that Dots would get tired of him, because he really DOESN’T do much.  No sign of that yet.  Every time she gets on the dining room table, she ends up over there staring as Morla wiggles his shell back and forth, adjusting under the light, blinks and raises his head, or plods towards his new house to dig under it for a nap.  She stares if he’s not doing anything, though, too.

Her tail is a calm twitch, and she doesn’t make those chittering noises as if she wants to eat him.  She hasn’t attempted to get into his aquarium, either. She just stares, poised and intent, as he does his turtle thing.  It’s like cat TV.

It’s like human TV for us too – as good as watching an aquarium with all the fish swimming by.  You know, only less exciting.  Except for the constant glee that he seems to eminate.

I really thought I wouldn’t care at all about a turtle I can’t even touch (they can carry salmonella, so I’m a no with the baby on the way).  But he’s been a pretty good addition to what is slowly becoming a menagerie.  I’m glad Brian convinced me to keep him.

Morla is the name of the tortoise in Neverending Story if you were interested.  Bookish and nerdy at the same time – just what this household requires.

Albright_NeverendingStory_morla

Categories: Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Whiny Pregnancy Update

IMG_20170729_164320_473

People keep asking me how I’m feeling, so I’m here to tell you.  I’ll give you the real scoop, too, like I don’t when asked in person: pregnancy really doesn’t stop sucking.  At least for me.  I’ll try to put a positive spin on it for people I don’t know that well.  But the reality is that I had about a month of thinking this is magical before my symptoms ramped up again.  I’m so uncomfortable that some days I’d really like to have a cathartic cry.

I feel like that’s not seemly for the strong mama I want to be, though, so I’ve been refraining.

First trimester was back pain, bronchitis, and nausea.  The cough never really went away, though it became manageable in trimester 2.  I felt much better (though still not as good as I usually feel as a non-pregnant lady).

I’m 2 weeks away from trimester 3, and I now have insane pelvic pain that makes it hard to walk.  Or stand.  Or turn over in bed. I’m already perfecting the pregnancy waddle even though the kid isn’t that big. The only known cure for the aches and pains?  Birth.  Which is the same as the gestational diabetes they’ve also diagnosed me with.  The few things I could eat while pregnant have narrowed even further.  I can no longer manage stress with sugar (which was probably a bad plan to begin with, but oh so nice). I have to prick my finger four times a day and everything, and it seems like the only way I can keep my numbers on track is a marathon cooking session each week in which I pack all of my meals and snacks for six days out. The amount of protein I’m eating is insane.

I’m torn.  I want this kid to bake as long as possible, but I already feel like I’ve been pregnant for FOREVER and want it to end.  I don’t remember what it feels like to not ache, cough, sleep terribly, contend with acid reflux, or pick food on a menu based on desire and not category.  I keep forgetting that it takes me 5 times as much effort to do things as when I wasn’t pregnant and then I exhaust myself.

As a friend of mine told me (who is also having an unfun pregnancy): you don’t have to enjoy pregnancy to enjoy the baby.  That’s probably my new mantra.

Don’t get me wrong.  I know I’m lucky.  I’m horribly uncomfortable, yes, but the baby is thriving by all measures.  There are moments of magic still, like when Brian and I rocked him to sleep swing dancing, despite the loud band Tuesday night.  He kicks when I put my elbows on my stomach, making my whole arm jump.  He’s always wiggling and seems to like it when I tell him good morning when he kicks me on the way to work.

Still, I feel like we’d have a better time if he was an actual human being in the world that I could kiss, and I didn’t have to put up with all these symptoms.

So, why am I being a complainer even when I know it isn’t exactly kosher?  I’m supposed to love this, right?  Or at least suffer in silence if I can’t…

Basically that’s why.

No one talks about how crappy this can be and I think we should.  Making a human is hard.  Everyone who’s pregnant, or who has been, is so cavalier about it. I get that too, to be honest, because it’s easy to brush the individual symptoms aside. It’s not like some horrible huge thing.  It’s just a bouquet of tiny inconveniences that bloom into huge frustration when added together.

Achy hips take bending down to tie my shoes from discomfort to impossibility.  Knowing I’m going to have to stand up on my legs to make it to the bathroom five times a night takes annoyance into exhaustion as I lay in bed and psych myself up for the trip, and lose more sleep.  If, in a moment of weakness, I take refuge in a pack of skittles? Then I’m doomed to worry about how sick the baby feels in there because his mom couldn’t control herself, or her blood sugar.

The mom guilt starts earlier than you thought it could… This isn’t even my first instance.

If I could throw up my hands and sleep in blissful ignorance until delivery day, I would totally take that option at this point.  I’ll even take having to get up every hour to pee as long as I don’t have to engage with the rest of it.

Now that I’ve thoroughly whined, I also want to say that there IS a part of me that realizes how special this is.  I mean, I already love this kid to pieces and we haven’t even met yet.  I know it’s not his fault that his mom is going nuts.  By all measures at my appointments, he’s a blissfully ignorant camper in there growing beautifully.  It’s those little things that make the rest of it seem possible to endure.  That and the fact that Brian has been such a champ, taking on extra household chores, rubbing my back, and gently teasing me about how VERY pregnant I am.

That’s all the news on the baby front right now.  And if anyone has tips for relieving muscle pain, I’d appreciate it if you forward it along.  I’m already doing exercises (squats, kegels, butterflies, taylor-sitting, and pelvic rocks) sleeping with a super-fancy pregnancy pillow between my legs, and taking Tylenol (when I absolutely have to). I’m also trying to distribute my weight on both feet (instead of one or the other) as much as possible. I’m better for all of that, but I’m not good.

Alright, I’ll stop whining now.  I have mass quantities of diabetic muffins to go make, anyway.  Which should take me ½ hour, but will actually take me 2 and I’ll be exhausted at the end…  Smh.

Categories: Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Virginia

20767932_1526711480752214_8231078461147961246_n

I just don’t even know what to say about Virginia this weekend.  I’m so tired of this stuff that I don’t know what to do at this point, nor do I really feel like doing something is going to help much.

I mean, I live in California.  I donate as much as I can afford to the ACLU.  I’m 100% against Nazism, as is everyone I know.  I don’t have hopes that anything I do will make the president denounce these people, or that by saying something I can make these folks feel ashamed of themselves.  I’m tired.  I just don’t want to do it anymore.

I will also say that I 100% realize that being tired so easily and being able to just give up is a function of my own white privilege.  I’m blonde and blue-eyed.  The Neo-Nazis are gonna leave me alone if I ignore them.  Not everyone can say that.

But I’m still at a loss.  I don’t know what I can do that will make a difference in a world where we have a president that is more outraged by Nordstrom’s refusal to carry his daughter’s handbag line than he is by alt-right terrorism.  I don’t know what to do in a world where that galvanizes his supporter base instead of alienating it. I don’t want that base to be my friends and neighbors, even though it often is.  Whatever we feel about him and his business sense, I would hope that we could at least agree that domestic terrorism isn’t okay.

I wish I had more to offer besides a refusal to be silent despite my strong desire to toss up my hands.  I don’t have any salient points, and I’ll admit it.

The whole episode makes me think of the time when Neo-Nazis protested in Claremont, oh – not quite 10 years ago now.  I read that it was happening in the Courier, and everyone was flummoxed.  There weren’t actually any Neo-Nazi groups in Claremont, but for some reason they had picked the city for their protest.

I’m not even sure if they were actually protesting anything so much as they were trying to be ornery in a city they knew wouldn’t be pleased.  There was an entire corner of counter-protestors that was bigger than the Neo-Nazi group.  I had thought about joining them several days before-hand, but I had to work that morning so that ended the ambivalence.

I did drive through the intersection on my way to work, though.  I was struck by how unhappy the Neo-Nazi’s seemed.  It wasn’t even an angry fervor.  The entire crowd of them had that pissed rebellious-child look that made me think they all REALLY didn’t want to be there.  They stood quietly behind their banner with those insolent looks on their face, using their laminated canvas like a shield, sulking.

It was the counter-protest corner that was alive.  Colorful homemade signs flew above the crowd, and the throng chanted and writhed on their corner, insisting that the Neo-Nazis weren’t welcome and shouting messages of peace.  The vibe was not at all what I would expect.  The Neo-Nazi’s looked back at them in silence, just giving them and the police the stink-eye.

Police directed the traffic through the intersection, and made sure that the two corners across from each other didn’t mingle.

It was non-violent.  I only had that 3-minute glimpse of it all before the policeman waved me through the intersection and I sped to the freeway ramp in the distance. It stuck in my mind, though.  Why would the Neo-Nazi’s purposefully go to a city to make them pissed and then just end up silently pissed themselves?

Like I said, I don’t have anything to offer really.  Just that small memory.

Maybe I should try and get up some patriotic gumption ala West Wing; that this country is remarkable because it seeks to protect even those who would destroy it.  People died, though, and I don’t think I can quite manage it right now.

Categories: Life, Politics, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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!

Categories: Book Reviews, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Latest Yard Project

achillea-white-1

Brian and I decided to do major yard projects this weekend.  Frankly, we were done being embarrassed of the patch of grass that wouldn’t grow near our front stoop, and the waist-high weeds on the parking strip between the sidewalk and the street.  I worked so hard on our pretty blue mailbox that matches the front door, and you could hardly see it.  Also, we were officially THOSE neighbors with the dandelions more prolific than the grass.

The easiest course of action, we decided?  Just mulch everything, and put in plants later.  I bought a few to put around the mailbox, but mostly we just put down black plastic weed barrier with red mulch on top.  I wasn’t sold on the red at first when Brian brought it home last year, but it looks great against our yellow house and the green plants, and it also fades to something not quite as technicolor in a few weeks.

The first thing I learned is that I’m a total wimp now that I’m pregnant.  I volunteered to mulch around the front stoop, figuring it would take me MAYBE a couple of hours to dig a quick trench for the edging, and pour the mulch on top.  Then I could go help Brian with the bigger project.

Not so much.

It took me all day, I re-injured my back, and I was generally an unhappy camper.  I ended it all with a headache, and napped on the couch while Brian finished prepping the parking strip and planting my drought-tolerant choices near the mailbox.

I was back at it on Sunday, though. I refused to lift mulch, but was helpful with the plastic and spreading all the wood chips out.  40 bags of mulch later and we’re still not done (we’re on the end of a cul-de-sac and have an epic parking strip).  But we’re really close.  And what’s there looks GOOD. I now have white Yarrow in my yard, which is the butch version of my favorite flower (Queen Anne’s Lace).  It makes me happy every time I see it. I can hardly wait finish it, and fill in the rest in with plants.

All we need now is to mulch around the base of the tree and install our tree swing, and I’m calling the front yard DONE.  We can officially move on to the less-public but worse travesty that is the back yard.  And maybe hire someone to mow what little of the lawn there is left.

Yay!

*

In baby news, this kid can officially hear.  My pregnancy app suggests that I talk to him, but that just feels weird.  I think I’m feeling him move, but I’m not certain if it’s foot flutters or my own digestion. The sensations are faint.  Like someone tapping their fingers lightly against your insides once or twice before stopping.

Talking to him seems as futile as talking to an imaginary friend.  Which I haven’t had since I was, like, four.  He can hear me enough without me talking directly to him, right?  Besides, what does one say to a fetus who has really no frame of reference?  Quick, someone ask Miss Manners for conversation tips…

 

Categories: Uncategorized, Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.