October Goals: Get Better At This

This blog has been sporadic since I combined the backlogs of my two established blogs. I have been relatively okay at my monthly check-ins, but I haven’t been keeping to it as I should. The least I could do is a couple times a month, yeah? After the #blogathon my fellow Rioters and I challenged ourselves to before September began, I see that I can do more, and I can be more. I just have to figure out how to do that.

With that in mind, here are my blog goals for October:

  • Write more about music. The past several months have only had a few cursory references to music things, and I’ve put the ones I’ve considered on my Trello board and then done nothing with them. I made this a books AND music blog because I was having trouble maintaining a pair of blogs about different things, and now it’s just become a books one.
  • Don’t wait until I have writing mania to write. I’ve been writing in bursts instead of sitting down to write a little on the regular, and that has made my blog even more sporadic than it could be. If I don’t have ideas, don’t write, but I need to do habitual writing instead of that All The Things writing that I talked about at the end of my Fangirl review.
  • Plot out a writing plan for when I know I’ll be available and home. October is going to have quite a bit of outside activity for me, so I need to legit make the time. Cause I suck at keeping habits. The fact that I can form sentences is amazing.
  • Listen to the Trello Board. I make those things to keep my ideas, not send words into empty space. There are some blog topics that are probably fully written in my head but haven’t made it onto paper/screen yet. Just cause I’m lazy.

And then, of course, there’s always #readmyowndamnbooks, which I have been supremely failing at thanks to my own incapability to stay away from the library. (Not only do I work there, but I habitually check the new materials to do some of my work, and end up putting things on hold…and sometimes I just go after stuff that I know I’ll want to read. I wrote all about it on Book Riot a couple months ago.)

Basically, I need to figure out a way to read, write, clean out my DVR, watch new things that show up on Netflix and Amazon, go to choir, go to Mayhem, see new shows, and learn existing music all at the same time. My life would be so much more efficient that way.

Ugh. Here goes.

After I finish this book I’m reading.

And finally catch up on Supergirl.

And watch Luke Cage.

After rehearsal and performance at Tucson Pride tonight.


September is Finally Over


Books read in September: 7
Books started but not completed in September: 10
Books-I-Own completed in September: 3

Oh my GOD, September.

This month was not good for my reading. Part of it was circumstantial: The first three books I read this month were on planes, and therefore read very quickly; otherwise, everything took much longer for me to read, either because I was working on other things (like that initial #blogathon weekend where I made it through writing three posts here), or because I…couldn’t. There were nights I scrolled through Twitter for hours, or watched hours of tv. There were days I read a few dozen pages of multiple books and then just went to bed. I tried to do #diverseathon. I “succeeded”, but not nearly to the extent that I’d planned.

25256386I don’t know what kind of overwhelm I’m going through this month. Part of it, I imagine, has to do with the intensity of the few books I am making it through. Out of Darkness, for instance, is one of those books that is not difficult to read, but is tragic and terrible in its beauty. I only took three or four days to read this, but I didn’t pick up another book for two days after I was done. A whole weekend, gone.

I willingly cleaned the bathroom instead of reading that Saturday. I went at the tub with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser with one hand and focused on a menial task in the silence, not even an audiobook or Hamilton keeping me company.

Reading such a dark, hopeless book right after finishing Marie Lu’s The Rose Society, the second book in a dark fantasy trilogy that, as many second books do, left me in a place of darkness and uncertainty, was probably not the best idea. But when someone tells you to read it immediately (and you got it from the library and need to give it back soon after) you read it, reset be damned.

Yes, I usually reset after reading something dark and unsettling. It can be the short version of my longer reset post-Out of Darkness with a little tv, a little writing, or some mindless SM time. Or it can be a couple days reading an adorable story with a guaranteed HEA and a promise of witty barbs and clever quips. I made the mistake of not doing that and suffering severe book hangover for the next week.

28450966I did end the month on a happy note, though. Liz Braswell’s As Old As Time, the third book in her Twisted Tales series finally showed up on my holds list on Friday, and I read the whole thing on Saturday. I was not disappointed; in fact, I think even without my much closer connection to Beauty and the Beast, I was more satisfied with the way this book played out than A Whole New World, the first in the series. I still haven’t gotten around to Once Upon A Dream…I have an ARC, which I grabbed after getting crosseyed trying to make it through the formatting issues with the eARC, but I wasn’t drawn in the way I was with the other two. And now…I don’t know if anything she writes can top As Old As Time.

And Braswell even got better at showing the development of love, as opposed to AWNW in which Aladdin and Jasmine have three conversations and then magically he’ll do anything for her…which…um…actually…

Hey, I guess that’s technically canon. Shoot, that’s actually better than the development of their relationship in the movie, founded on three conversations throughout.

I dunno.

27214426This last week has involved a lot of stops and starts, including Behrouz Gets Lucky, which has become my Long Read. It’s a very intense read, not just because of all the very dirty sex but because the language is dense and the chapters are long. I should be able to finish it in another few sittings or so, which is amazing considering how small the book looks from the outside.

But for now, I’m working my way into October with The Soldier’s Scoundrel, a book that will not mark off any checks on any of my reading challenges, but will do me a hell of good.

To Sum Up:

Books Completed:

Tell Me Something Good by Jamie Wesley
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Love On My Mind by Tracey Livesay
The Rose Society by Marie Lu
Out Of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
As Old As Time by Liz Braswell
Batgirl, Volume 3 by Cameron Stewart et al
The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

Books Carried into October:

Behrouz Gets Lucky by Avery Cassell
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
A Change Of Heart by Sonali Dev
Beethoven’s Hair by Russell Martin
The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi
The Tiger Claw by Shauna Singh Baldwin
The Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian

Books Set Aside:

Into White by Randi Pink
DC Trip by Sara Benincasa

We’ll see what happens as I move into October. I’m trying to read more backlist and fewer of the ARCs that are strewn about my house, but if the books from this year are the happier ones in my unread collection, those are the ones that will be read.

Or maybe I’ll just read the rest of the Wallbanger books. I finally got the second one, which was all that was holding me back.


#Diverseathon 2016


I mean, most days are diverseathon for me, but I knew I needed to be involved in this, to use what little voice I have to say “yes, this matters to me.” I tend to make allowances for friends, acquaintances, coworkers, who toe the line of “I just read what I want to read; I stick to my preferences”—mainly because these aren’t usually people who aren’t willing to read books from diverse voices when so inclined, regardless of topic.

But I do care, you know? The various twitter and youtube exchanges that led to the development of this particular hashtag and movement are just the tip of the iceberg, and I feel helpless sometimes in trying to show my support for other black women who are leading the way and speaking out when I can’t find the words. If I can do this little thing—read diversely for a week and tell people about it, encourage them to do the same—it will be worth it moving forward. I can hope that at least one person at least got the impression that something is worthwhile about reading diverse voices.


#Diverseathon is going on across social media from September 13-19. That’s pretty soon. The organizers have already amassed an incredible document of book recommendations, which you can add to!

If all goes right next week, here is what I’m planning to read (with a bit of a head start, cause you know, it’s the weekend):

photo of my book choices for #diverseathon
Choices for #diverseathon

I’m working on Marie Lu’s The Rose Society right now, so when I’m done with that I’ll move straight to Out of Darkness, since it’s a library book. The rest are a combination of books I’ve been planning to read (or have started reading) or that I am anxious to read, like in the case of Black Panther. Want to put these on your TBR? Here are the Goodreads links:

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Kingsway West #1 by Greg Pak

The Moor’s Account  by Laila Lalami

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Behrouz Gets Lucky by Avery Cassell

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

Keep Me In Mind by Jaime Reed

The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi

Dunbar: The Neighborhood, the School, and the People, 1940-1965 by Aloma J. Barnes

Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez

Obviously, even getting through a third of these in eight days is kind of pushing it, but I will read directly from this stack for that time period.

Are you participating in #diverseathon?

Oh hey, it’s September!


So I dropped the ball a little bit in keeping up, but I joined an informal blogathon with some fellow Book Rioters and I’m going to do my best to post more, at least once a week. I started out with my New To Me review of Fangirl, which I enjoyed but didn’t love. My Trello board is chock full of ideas about books, music, and all kinds of things between, so look out for some fun stuff this month.

July/August Reading

I read stuff in July and August. Some of them were even my books. There were a lot of books from the library though, including The Young Elites, which was probably one of my highlights. The protagonist is actually a villain, which, come on! That’s not common. She has a darkness inside of her that she fears, but is not afraid to embrace when she needs it…which of course causes her to make devastating mistakes.

No wait. The highlight of August was the end: A Torch Against The Night, which managed to be even better than its predecessor. I still can’t put together words about this book. I just sort of gesture excitedly towards the cover as a sign that people should read it.

Ah hell, there were so many amazing things in the past couple months. Check out my Goodreads to see all of it. Here are my top…fifteen…of July and August:

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash

Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Hegelson

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur by Amy Reeder et al

Kindred by Octavia Butler

I’m sure that at least once, each of these five books have just been THIS BOOK, for varying reasons. While Written in the Stars was one of those that made me want to stop to sob for a bit (but I couldn’t because I needed to know), Geek’s Guide was one of the most delightful novels I’ve read in a while. Gena/Finn was a pageturner in a different kind of way; the alternative method of writing made the story fly by, and the character development was impressive, considering there was no true “inner voice”. Moon Girl. What can I say about it? Lunella is the girl everyone wants to be. I can’t wait to read more (I know I could if I just read floppies, but I will trade wait for the next).

A Gentleman in the Street by Alisha Rai. My review for this was one word: YOWZA. The flames, they just continued to grow. Awesome people, sex positivity, and a lady billionaire? You know I was there.

Wild Child by Molly O’Keefe. More flames. (Fiyah fiyah fiyah.) Also, effing ADORABLE. Strong women, acknowledgment of problematic relationships, family dynamic, growth, wonderfulness, and fiyah.

A Fine Bromance by Christopher Hawthorne Moss. This book was an Important Book. How many YA, male-male relationship novels will you find in which one MC is probably Ace and one is trans? Writing is iffy, but the central story is solid.

More Than Comics by Elizabeth Briggs. Comic con romance? Comic creators? Addressing women in comics? Hot sexy times? Sweet romance? Interracial couple? Yeah.

Marine Biology by Gail Carriger. Werewolf. Merman. Mystery. Sweetness. Ridiculous and adorable.

A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean. Puns aren’t the only thing Sarah masters. This adorbs story about a Scottish duke who learns he has a ward just a little too late made me laugh out loud and get choked up. Self worth, personal growth, and a whole lotta UST (and…ahem..RST) round it out.

Saga, Vol. 6 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. This got me through a bad reading slump in the middle of august. It was great to dive back into the world and see what was happening in their lives. Still sad about LC, though.

Steady Stroke by A.M. Arthur. I requested this book on Netgalley because I’m a sucker for musicians and hurt/comfort stories. It did not disappoint. Also, slight spoiler: MC2 is Muslim. This isn’t very common, especially in M/M romance. Also, with the exception of Keeping An Important Secret When You Shouldn’t, it’s precious and adorable.

General Misconduct by L.A. Witt. Like Steady Stroke, this was the second book in a series of which I haven’t read the first. Ah well. This was the second novel I read in as many days in which a young military person got involved with the kid of a superior officer. This one was better. And in Okinawa.

United by Melissa Landers. This is the third book in a trilogy I accidentally fell in love with last year. Alienated had been sitting in my Nook app for however long when I finally decided to read it, and it was insanely timely, compelling, and sweet. This one finally came out and did not disappoint in the least as a conclusion. I kind of hope she’s not planning to add more (like some people, ugh) because I liked the ending. It ended. No need for any more.

I’ve already got a list of great stuff in September (I’ve read a couple already, thanks to that first-week-of-the-month trip). I promise that I will actually wrap up next month! And write lots before then😀

What were your favorite summer reads?

New to Me Review: Fangirl

I was in DC visiting family and friends last weekend, with a detour up to Philly for an amazing Jewish-Indian secular wedding celebration. When I stay with my mom, one thing we usually end up doing is watching Harry Potter Weekend together (it’s been going on that long). I was enjoying the movies (we were on Chamber of Secrets) but I found myself itching to do what I usually do when I have Harry Potter on at home: read. I have too many damn books in my possession to sit around and read fics (and man, was that a rough cold turkey addiction rehab), but I wanted to read something that reminded me of it. Thankfully, I’d brought my iPad to DC with me, and had something in my possession that I’d been avoiding for years now, afraid of disappointment.

Enter, Fangirl.

16068905It’s always interesting to read a book where the world in which the protagonist lives bears some similarity to your own. I discovered fanfiction (before I knew that’s what it was called) as a 16 year old, and was pretty buried in it for the next several years. So what if it was for Pride and Prejudice instead of Harry Potter, whose fandom community I didn’t really join until well into my twenties (after a leap to Twilight fandom in grad school and MCU, James Bond and Sherlock fandoms in the earliest parts of my professional life). I was that person who tried to read a thirty chapter AU story before getting started on a Comp Lit paper. I carried a notebook to class, to lunch, even to Italy, to work on chapters of my endless (and to this day, incomplete) masterpieces. I know how much something like that can take over your life, so you want to read fic always, instead of a Murakami novel you don’t really understand in a class you probably should have waited a year or two to take.

Okay, so. Fangirl.

There are a lot of things I don’t enjoy about Cath. It’s not the anxiety; I get that so much. I never had it at a level that needed medication, but I get not wanting to address it and finding methods of coping instead. And I get being afraid you’re going to develop something even more unmanageable. My grandmother had severe manic depression; in my teens and early twenties, I watched myself constantly, worried about the range in my moods and actions, afraid the onset would hit—it was particularly bad in the earliest days I was on birth control, because I was extremely affected by the chemicals, and didn’t understand why the fuck I was having a severe emotional breakdown every Wednesday night.

Right, we were talking about Cath.

I can’t put my finger on just what it is that makes me not enjoy her as a person…her disregard for her own surroundings, maybe. The narrative didn’t really approach her educational activities beyond the Fiction-Writing class to any extent, but it seems like she was hardly working hard enough on her other classes to make it. I know not every detail can be addressed, but this was a campus novel. How did she write thousands of words a day (sometimes?) and still pass the other four classes she was taking? Who knows. Did she have an academic advisor? An RA? Other teachers (besides the Psych one) who cared as much about her wellbeing as her seemingly-oblivious Teaching Artist Professor? This Campus Novel felt like a lot of campus and very little college happening on Cath’s part. Levi, of course, seemed pretty fucking invested in graduating, but maybe it only manifested in him because “he’s older” as was said ten thousand times.

I did appreciate Cath’s growth, though, and acknowledge that it happened, even if it was at the VERY END. It couldn’t have gotten any closer to the end before she had her moment of self-realization, which she didn’t even come to herself.

So I don’t get Cath. Maybe I’m just at the wrong end of Millennial-hood to understand her point of view. I do get, however, how Levi has surpassed so many others as Book Boyfriend Extraordinaire, perfect in his imperfections. The extreme extrovert to counter Cath’s anxious introvert. He would drive me to drink in real life, but he’s a darling man to pull off the page.

What this book did do for me is get me inspired to be a little manic—not in the acual Art Avery I have a mental illness way, just in the go-for-it-write-write-write kind of way. Even on paper, the sensitivity and enthusiasm is catching. I want to write All The Things: all three novels I’ve started in the past few years, a few posts for B&B, a screenplay, a script, a letter, anything. Cath gives me the itch to write again, and it’s kind of nice.

And dammit, now I have to read Carry On.



Right in the feels: What the hell is this?

Here’s the deal: I read a lot of fluff.

I read to enjoy what I’m reading, to fall deeply in love with the characters whose heads I’m in, whether they might be nice people or horrible ones.

But I have noticed something about my reading recently: I’ve given more books four and five star ratings on Goodreads this year (and it’s barely half over) than I have in years past. Part of that can probably go to selection: I’ve spent less time reading (or continuing to read) books that I only have a vague interest in. Sure, I still read The Heavy Stuff on occasion, because I’m interested in them, too, and I have been known to give it four and five stars, but somehow I feel…a stronger attachment to every book I read.

Have increased empathy and sensitivity transferred themselves somehow to my reading to the point where I can’t pull myself out of it? I still read critically, of course, and will quit books if they involve plot points or squicks that turn me off or away. But I still find myself dropping into books and coming out so emotionally affected, and I don’t know why. As an older reader, what gets me so emotionally attached? Why does my empathy make me such a sap? I have read a couple books that have either given me such joy, or broken me so much, that I suffered some serious, severe book-hangover. The inability to move on isn’t old; I recall dwelling on things in the past. But to be so mentally incapacitated as to not be able to concentrate on something else as I tried to begin something else? That’s new. 

I dunno. Maybe it’s been there all along and I just haven’t been selecting the right books. Maybe a switch turned on when I turned 31 and now I won’t be able to escape it.

…Whatever. Time to go find some self-published, underdeveloped romance to edit in my head as I’m reading* to get over the emotional turmoil that was Gena/Finn.

*I am not saying all self-pubs are like this! I have read some great ones! I have just also read some that would have been awesome if they had just had more editing. Which I might try to get into…

May Wrap-Up: This Time, Blame the Library

Books and Beethoven-2

Books read in May: 11

My own damn books: 1

So yeah, I didn’t do so well last month.

I have this bad habit, that I’m working on breaking. Some days, I will look at the New and On Order page on my library’s website. I’m on that website all day, so it feels like an extension of my work. But I look at those lists, and I find books that I’ve heard of, or find very interesting, and I place them on hold. Most, I add to my For Later shelf, but there are still going to be books that I want to read immediately. I don’t pay much attention to their release date, I just know that when they’re On Order, they might have already come out, or they might be coming out in a few months.

I wait.

And then I have three books on the hold shelf. Three days later, I have two more. The next day, there’s another. Nothing, for two months, and then this deluge of reading material just pours itself onto me.

I do all the bad things. I leave things on the shelf for as long as possible, trying to get through the other books, hoping no one else is frantically watching the books’ availability like I have been known to do. I finally check them out and then keep them as long as I can. I might even renew one or two of them.

There are still too many.

I try one, and 15 or so pages in I just don’t care. That one is going back in the morning. I read the first 50 pages of another, and then read the first 30 pages of yet another one. I plow through a couple, and plod through another.

I’m trying.

And then I signed up for Take Back Your Shelves Readathon like I was actually going to have the time between Mayhem rehearsals and mandatory social activity to read over Memorial Day Weekend. I got a couple chapters in, and that was it. That was it. What the hell happened?

I guess I should mention what books I actually read?


Paper Girls – Enjoyable, but I’m not sure if I’ll continue. It’s weird, but I haven’t figured out if it’s weird in a way I enjoy, like Y: The Last Man, or in a way I don’t, like Phonogram.

Love, Lies and Spies – LOVE. Adorable. I have only picked up two Swoon Reads titles this year, but between Victorian spies and Victorian X-Men, I’d say they were successful choices.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THIS BOOK STOP READING THIS AND GO FIND ITI am sure I would have devoured this book in print, once I got moving (I tried it several years ago and couldn’t get into it, but I’d only read a few pages), but I absolutely adored it on audio. Lin-Manuel Miranda narrates magnificently, Benjamin Alire Saenz writes amazingly, and Ari (the narrator) is an angry puppy I want to hold and coax to comfort.

Simple Jess – This was not technically a library book, though it was borrowed (and that was how I remembered that some kindle titles could be loaned!). This is an older, pioneering-age small town romance and Jess, our hero, is cognitively disabled. And adorable and wonderful. His heroine isn’t anything to shake a stick at, either, in personality or mettle.

The Crown – That’s it. It’s all over. No more Selection. I think. The outcome wasn’t a surprise, but it was still darling to read.

The Dream Thieves – After finishing The Raven Boys near the end of April, I immediately put all three of the Raven Cycle books on hold at the library. Wouldn’t you know it, Blue Lily, Lily Blue came up first. So of course I had to buy The Dream Thieves. I don’t think it’s my favorite of the four; BLLB has that honor, but there were some great things happening in that book.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue – Like I said, I think this is my favorite of the Raven Cycle. Not just because darling things happen, but there is so much incredible character development, and even with a horrible ending, I was thoroughly satisfied.


The Stone Prince – Intriguing premise, execution sucked. Noped out halfway through and didn’t care.

Still Working:

Lois Lane: Double Down – I got this early in my stack and just wanted to be reading Raven books and couldn’t keep to it.

Bloodline – Same with this one. But now I can focus, cause Leia is badass and Claudia Gray writes circles around most people.

Feminism is for Everybody – I am deliberately going slowly on this one. It needs a lot of chewing.

Busted – I started reading this one at lunch on Tuesday and was really invested and then The Raven King came up on my holds. Obviously I dropped everything.

So that was my May. The only book I own and completed was bought because I didn’t feel like waiting to come back in the cycle of Ravens.


June will be better.