Books Read 2020: First Half of the Year

So usually I do this as an end of year post, but I’ve read a lot this year so far, so I’m breaking it up.

Fine Eyes and Pert Opinions by Maria Grace
You can definitely tell this is by Grace – as much as I love her work, I feel like her writing is starting to get a bit formulaic in thoughts and writing. It had an interesting twist, but definitely not my favorite by her.

Darcy’s Winter Delight by V.L. King
Oh, P&P PWP (porn with plot). Preggers Lizzy, annoying Lady Catherine, random cottage. Fairly implausible plot just to have a lot of steamy D&E action.

Pride, Prejudice, and Pleasure: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Jane Austen/Georgette Brown
P&P retold starting at Rosings with plenty of flashback. Original character as a woman who teaches Elizabeth Bennet about sex with Darcy as the teacher … sometimes forced in.

My Darcy Mutates by Enid Wilson
Collection of steamy/sensual P&P shorts … all with lots of sex. Split into three different themes – regency, sci-fi, and modern.

My Darcy Vibrates by Enid Wilson
Same as the above, but with the split themes as past, present, and future.

First Impressions by Debra White Smith
A contemporary retelling of P&P that modified the original plot enough to be interesting … and then ruined it by making the characters also act out P&P for the stage. Seriously?

Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher
Still in the same Clockwork universe and still awesome. Have loved Kingfisher for years and will always recommend. I also love how she doesn’t get predictable and leaves some mystery.

Darcy’s Voyage by Kara Louise
Highly different P&P variation and one of the more original I’ve read. Quite enjoyable. Ocean voyage, chance meeting, creative.

Mistletoe Games by Jaci Burton
Compilation of three short stories – clearly purchased due to the hockey one. Baby-making baseball one was weird. The surfing one included a threesome/polyamory which is not super common in mainstream romance novels.

Taking a Shot by Jaci Burton
More hockey romance. Same universe as Burton’s other stories. Not NYC-based like most which is nice. However, I still have the same quibble about the absolutely terrible team names in hockey romance novels – they’re completely unoriginal or at the very least belong as a minor league team name and not as a major one.

All Bets Are Off: My Journey of Losing 200 Pounds, a Showdown with Diabetes, and Falling in Love with Running by Betsy Hartley
Great non-fiction book by a fellow Skirt sister (whom I’ve met!) about her weight loss journey and reversing type-2 diabetes. It’s all about the subtitle and all of the mess that comes with it. Super candid and relatable.

Finding My Voice: Tales from IRONMAN, the World’s Greatest Endurance Event by Mike Reilly with Lee Gruenfeld
Tales from the Voice of IM. Teared up. Read it to be inspired and you might want to do this amazing, beautiful, crazy thing they call IM too.

1984 by George Orwell
I’ve somehow avoided reading this until now where I finally decided screw it, why not. Mostly to understand if we’re heading that way like everyone says. Um, no. Not quite (though it’s certainly possible). Also: how the eff do they expect HS kids (or younger) to understand this?

Upstream by Mary Oliver
So many people have recommended reading Oliver … especially with her passing earlier this year. This was a book of collected essays and she really is a beautiful writer. Although screw Whitman.

Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver
Collected poems. Nature, mostly. I get why she’s popular. The world did lose a beautiful soul when she passed.

Natural Born Heroes: Mastering the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance by Christopher McDougall
SO GOOD. Better than “Born to Run” in my opinion. Great combination of not only stuff on running and longevity, but also wacky WWII hijinks of a German general kidnapped on Crete.

Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon
Part memoir, part cookbook, part guide, all about the South. Fun read and nice insight into Southern culture and Witherspoon in general. Really enjoyed.

Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwauachi with Joshua David Stein
Part memoir, part cookbook, all awesome. Racism in the kitchen and being true to one’s self and finding your path.

Thick and Other Essays by Tressie McMillam Cottom
Powerful collection of essays on the Black female experience. A bit academic (read: big words and jargon), but that’s who she is – an academic – and she writes that truth.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
So good. Helped me better understand terms I’d cringed at before (intersectionality is a good example) and made me think a lot. I also like how she didn’t only talk about Black people when talking about race.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
Super interesting look into how poverty and landlords and renting and eviction all tie together to keep people in the shit. Conversation-evoking.

musings on the zombie apocalypse

rapidly spreading
dangerous
keep yourself isolated
keep positive
proper distance
breathe
(try to remember to do that)
(even though it’s hard)
(oh so very very hard)
keep hope in the forefront
and fear in the rear view
and maybe
just maybe
we’ll get through this.
and oh –
if you thought i was speaking of the virus –
you would be wrong.
i meant the
news.
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musings on the zombie apocalypse, 3.22.20

february blues

the cold, chill, biting wind
snow falls,
day in, day out
sometimes a little
sometimes a lot
a break here and there
(much less than normal)
a sunny day spoiled
the very next with a deep descent into the
frigid
it wears on a person.
where is my sun?
waiting for the warmth
of a nice spring day
waiting for the moment,
feeling a breeze, when suddenly,
it’s gone
the bite disappears and you
know, you just
know
the long hard winter is
(at least mostly)
over
and sunshine and flowers and
new life can abound
once again.
until then …
brr.
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february blues, 2.25.20

mil frustration

you’re NOT a child i know this seriously YOU’RE A FUCKING SENIOR CITIZEN i don’t want to revert resort to a meme but sometimes ok boomer i don’t want to misdiagnose you and maybe it would be easier if you actually were bipolar but i’m not supposed to use the term if you’re not ACTUALLY but i don’t know how else to describe it you’re a teenager and if i think of it that way you’re marginally easier to deal with but i swear you’re also as frustrating as a teenager (not that i’d actually know since i don’t have them myself)(nor will i ever) but holy shit you’re also not useless i know you’re not useless you’ve been on this planet so much longer and i’m sure you’re fine on your own but put a man around you whether it be your husband or your son (and so much always your son which is my husband now he’s an adult he’s a fucking adult can you not see that he’s a goddamn FUCKING adult) and suddenly oh no i know nothing i need your help do this do that and it chafes my modern feminist heart (which isn’t my whole heart but it’s enough of a section maybe that’s me being a partial elder statesman millennial i don’t know but holy fuck either way goddamn it CHAFES) and i’m not strong enough to ignore it and to school my face and maybe if i were in regency england or when you yourself were a child then maybe but i’m NOT i’m NOT and i won’t be i know i can change but i will NOT change in this because it’s not ME that’s the problem everyone else in the family likes me but YOU and YOUR HUSBAND and it’s all because i took your son and took him away (far far away) and you resent me for it and you hate me for it and i know there is nothing i can do to make you happy (except to pop out a million grandbabies and to move next door and to completely change who i am and) so is it even worthwhile for me to make the effort and i swear it’s not so i’m not i’m not bothering fuck you i’m not going to be happy i’m not going to be fake i’m not going to do it i’m staying me i’m not playing a role i’m not that good of an actress i’m not i’m not i’m not i’m sorry husband i can’t do it i know it’s hard for you and i know you’re struggling but if she’s not going to make an effort if she’s going to change her personality and be useless (how much do i hate useless) i’m not i’m not i’m not i’m not i’m not i’m not i’m not
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mil frustration, 1.18.20

Books Read 2019

I actually read more than last year. Is it still a decent amount of novellas and Pride and Prejudice fan fiction? Yep. Do I care? Nope.

I did read a bit of non-fiction, though, and hope to try to read a little more of that in the upcoming year. Mostly because I have a crapton of it on my to-read list.

Melting the Ice by Jaci Burton
… if there’s a romance novel involving hockey players, I will find it. I *think* this one had to deal with a fashion designer and an old flame who became a professional hockey player, but I don’t quite remember. Clearly I need to reread it.

Shot on Gold by Jaci Burton
Set at an Olympics between a figure skater (mostly her story) and, surprise surprise, a hockey player. Marginally same universe as the prior book as the hockey player in that one is also in this one. Did enjoy. As I do.

Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky
I’ve had this one on my to-read list FOREVER and I finally did. I vaguely remember trying to read this a few years ago and failing, but I read it this year. Really enjoyed this one. Great book from the perspective of someone who has worked in the hotel/hospitality industry for years. If you like to travel … read this. Or maybe not – you might see some things about yourself you don’t like. Pro tip: tip the hotel staff.

i can barely take care of myself: Tales from a Happy Life Without Kids by Jen Kirkman
Another one that’s been on the to-read list. Since I don’t want kids, I was intrigued to read about her perspective on it. Definitely more of a comedic book.

Too Gentlemanly by Timothy Underwood
Like most things … started to read on FF.net, found it was published … bought it. I actually don’t really remember this one. Clearly I need to reread it.

What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen by Kate Fagan
I remember reading Fagan’s initial article on this story (… originally published on espnW, iirc). I’m not sure what exactly prompted me to read the book, but I’m glad I did. Great perspective on females in sport and the pressures they face.

Impulse and Initiative by Abigail Reynolds
Oh look, more P&P fic. Reynolds is a fairly respected published author of the stuff, and I actually found this in paperback at a used bookstore (Bookman’s, in Tucson. GO VISIT THEM). Regency style.

Pemberley by the Sea by Abigail Reynolds
Modern take on P&P where Elizabeth Bennet is an oceanographer at the Woods Hole Institute on Cape Cod.

The Missing Prince by Timothy Underwood
Magical take on P&P, but definitely not cheesy. Includes an unexpected villain, which I liked.

Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Bride by Elizabeth Goodrich
Quick, fun read.

Mr. Darcy’s Hidden Desire by V.L. King
… while my weakness for P&P fanfic is well known, the fact that it also includes P&P erotica is less so. This is along those lines.

Mr. Darcy is Diverted by Demi Monde
More erotic P&P fanfic. Ahem.

The Hidden Power of F*cking Upby The Try Guys
I remember the Try Guys from their Buzzfeed YouTube videos so when B had this on his to-read list … I kind of stole it first. And liked it way more than he did. Basically, each guy tries something way out of his comfort zone and explains the lessons learned and how you can adapt it for your own life. I can understand why B didn’t like it, but I enjoyed it.

My Alpha, Mr. Darcy by Caitlin Marie Carrington
Erotic P&P fanfic with a touch of fantasy involved.

Mrs. Darcy’s Masque Seduction by V.L. King
More erotic P&P fanfic.

Much Ado About Darcy by Jane Grix
Oh hey, first new Jane Grix title of the year. I believe this is also reminiscent of some Shakespeare, but as I haven’t yet read Much Ado About Nothing … I can’t be sure.

Relentless Pursuit by Kathleen Brooks
Next book in the Bluegrass Brothers series. I think I have one or two more. Clearly I keep forgetting to download them.

A Dishonorable Offer by Timothy Underwood
Sheesh, three by Underwood this year?

In Deep by Claudia Hall Christian
FINALLY the next novel in the Alex the Fey series. Much awaited. Loved as always. I’m a big fan of Christian; the Alex the Fey series runs parallel to the Denver Cereal (which is also amazing – GO READ IT. GO READ THEM BOTH). And, if you live in Denver/Colorado (like I do), you’ll recognize a ton. It’s great.

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher
You know I love me some T. Kingfisher. This is T. Kingfisher horror. I read the ebook and then ended up also buying a paperback copy because that’s how you support your favorite authors, friends. I’m not all that much into horror anymore these days, but I had to read this given that it was Kingfisher. Super creepy. Super awesome.

Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher
In searching for The Twisted Ones, I came across this which I apparently missed that she published …? Cute little novella.

Miss Bennet and the Beast by April Floyd
I’ve read quite a bit of Floyd’s work before and I’ve liked other P&P stories that loosely parallel the Beauty and the Beast story. Not the best; not the worst.

A Girl’s Guide to Finding Her Happy Pace by Ashley Wiles
I’ve known of Wiles through her work with Live Feisty (and their Kona coverage). When I heard she was doing an IndieGoGo for a graphic novel, I decided to donate for it. It has a few errors, but overall, it’s a good story. I would recommend this for younger girls – probably 10-18. I might lend it to my sister-in-law who does counselling.

Darcy and Diamonds by Caitlin Marie Carrington
… you know, I only read this a month or two ago and I don’t entirely remember it. Clearly I need to reread it.

Properly Humbled by April Floyd
Purchased in a downloading spree before Mexico. P&P fanfiction.

Darcy and the Wicked Waltz by Jane Grix
Oh, amnesiac Darcy stories. They’re amusing.

Darcy’s Secret Garden by Jane Grix
Definitely a different P&P AU, but enjoyable.

Evenings with Darcy by Jane Grix
Part of that same downloading spree.

Darcy’s Mistletoe Kiss by Jane Grix.
Like pretty much all of Grix’s work, a quick, enjoyable read.

an explanation for the clouds

i saw them only once, early in the morning
the passage of the
plains ghosts
wisps stealing across the sky.
the sun was burning through the clouds
creating an eyeball,
watching,
guiding,
urging.
steadily they floated
methodically they made their journey
going south to north
venturing wherever it is they go
all the while
i kept driving
watching the solemn parade.
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an explanation for the clouds, 9.26.19

(Driving across NE Colorado on that trip to Wisconsin, I saw some strange clouds and they begged me to write their story.)

IMG_4414
The wisps.

IMG_4415
It gets lost in the photo, but it really did look like an eyeball to me.

untitled song

(verse 1)
a dream hits
when i see you
star struck

i can’t breathe
you noticed me
what luck

sharing glances
touching fingers
taking chances
bodies linger

take my hand
lead i’ll follow
hold on wait
this is hollow

(chorus)
so drink some water or some wine
please explain it to me in time

i worry and i wonder
i hurry then i shudder

i need to run
i need to hide –
i’ll fly away

(verse 2)
a tear falls
heart in my throat
no voice

your cruel eyes
a heavy weight
no choice

dirty licking
heavy crying
feeble kicking
slowly dying

no one comes
there’s no savior
just disgrace
but not failure

(chorus)
so drink some water or some wine
please explain it to me in time

i worry and i wonder
i hurry then i shudder

i need to run
i need to hide –
i’ll fly away

(bridge)
like a phoenix i will rise and soar
this will not define me at my core
shattered broken
words unspoken
know i’ll return and be strong once more

(chorus)
so drink some water or some wine
please explain it to me in time

i worry and i wonder
i hurry then i shudder

i need to run
i need to hide –
i’ll fly away

i’ll fly away
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untitled song, 8.26.19

(I had the first part of the chorus for some reason stuck in my head. I mean, I make up stupid little songs all the time, but this one demanded to be fleshed out.)

temperature gothic

you never thought it would happen to you.
the heat, the oppression, you craved the former not knowing it was the latter that would get you.
i hate the cold, you thought.
i hate how it seeps into my bones, penetrates my very marrow.
how the sun stays hidden behind a veil of clouds, always teasing, always taunting, but never gracing us with its presence.
how warmth is always elusive, no matter how many coats or blankets or cups of hot chocolate, how it stays just out of reach.
i bet you wish you still had that chill now.
now in the unrelenting summer that never ends.
you can lay, naked, motionless, with a thousand fans on you, and still, you will perspire.
the permanent tinge of a rosy cheek has been replaced with the permanent shine of sweat, a dark spot on your lower back that never seems to depart.
i love the heat, you thought, the warmth like a hug.
the hug has turned constrictive
and you cannot escape.
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temperature gothic, 7.27.19

(So I’ve been on Pinterest and keep getting tumblr ____ gothic posts in my feed and, well, they spawned this.)

the ghosts of winter

as i run down the snowy path
in the quiet of the falling snow,
i encounter no one
save the ghosts of winter.
they are benevolent spirits,
enjoying the stillness and the emptiness
which i in my own way am
disturbing.
but as long as i make no sound –
save for the inhale exhale inhale exhale
exertion from the run –
they will not disturb me any more
than i disturb them.
i run back home,
the only footsteps in the snow my own,
but i know i’m not alone.
for while the ghosts leave no trace,
you feel their comforting presence.
they are there,
in the whispers of the wind,
and in the snow taking care to cover
the memories of me,
soon to be forgotten, not unlike
the spirits themselves.
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the ghosts of winter, 1.12.19

Apprehension

I, I can do this.

Head down, a sigh, shoulders slumped.

Maybe I can’t.

A glance out across the water. Calm, still; nothing like the churning battle going on inside. At least the vista was pretty. The sunrises were always pretty magnificent this time of year.

A breath in, then out. A breath in, another out. Eyes closed.

Eyes open. The sun just beginning to crest the horizon. Other people were milling about, creeping toward the shoreline, jostling for position.

Cold toes, then calves, then waist. Shoulders bump with other competitors, elbows knocking as goggles get adjusted.

Inhale. Exhale.

Don’t think, just do.

A horn sounds. Splashing commences. Muscle memory kicks in. The race begins.
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Apprehension, 6.20.18. A vignette.