LWIBooks (and the week before, and the week before that): February 5, 2017

I’ve fallen behind!

The first week I skipped LWIBooks was because I was at a library conference when I would usually be writing it. I did get some writing done, but that was mostly for Kissing Books and several thousand words I was inspired to write after a freak incident in my hotel room that will never see the light of day.

Then, I decided to pick up LWIBooks the next week, also talking about the library conference, but I got distracted by…something?

So now, I have three weeks to cover, and it’s going to be a fast one, because I’ve definitely picked up after several weeks of slumpy-ness.

Books Completed

Oh man, did i finish some awesomeness. I also walked away from a book that was totally not happening, only to find redemption in a book with similar tropes that were addressed in a much better packaged way.

27248383First Position, Melissa Brayden

An adorable lesbian romance about ballerinas. BALLERINAS.

PerfectCecelia Ahern

I picked this up at ALA on the last day and might have started reading it on the exhibit floor. I finished it on the flight home. Some people have their hesitations about Flawed, but I was instantly drawn in to both books in the duology.

Let it ShineAlyssa Cole

The Juneteenth anthology has been sitting on my kindle forever. I started the first book and kind of stalled, so I hadn’t made it to this, the last story. I went to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights while I was in Atlanta,29522514 and just needed to read this when I was done with Perfect. They actually kind of went well together.

Size Matters, Alison Bliss (DNF)

I have been on a fat heroine kick lately, and this one was one I’d seen at the library and been drawn to because of the cover. If it had been an amazingly well written book that featured a heroine with super super self-esteem issues, I might have moved forward. If it had been a less-badly-written book about a heroine with self-esteem issues and a guy who wasn’t a constant victim of foot-in-mouth disease, I might have moved forward. Honestly, I was all for seeing where the story went until the hero, having offered to drive the heroine home the first night they met, discovered he couldn’t wake her up to get directions, took her to his home instead, and then took her dress off while she was still unconscious. Sure, he slept on the couch, but it doesn’t matter. You don’t do that.

Whoops. That was a lot.

Beast, Pepper Pace

This book was less-than-stellarly written, but I loved it anyway. The characters are both cinnamon rolls I want to hug and keep in my pocket and they have some serious body issues between the two of them. But they also know how to love the right fucking way. There are other real-life things that are addressed in the book relatively well, but it all ends happily.

30166695Breathless, Beverly Jenkins

Bev can do no wrong. That is all.

This Song is (Not) for You, Laura Nowlin

I saw this book on one of the ALA book lists (Stonewall? Rainbow? Can’t remember) and knew I needed to read it. There are two teens who won’t admit they’re in love with each other and then in walks a third who doesn’t feel sexual attraction towards anyone but really comes to love these other two people. Yeah, you know I was all over that.

The Lawrence Browne Affair, Cat Sebastian

Soldier’s Scoundrel sequel starring the dashing young Georgie? Yes. Please. Also, our Mad Earl isn’t mad at all, he’s just…sciency. And anxious. And a little agoraphobic? Okay, maybe a lot agoraphobic. Still adorable as hell. And there’s 30226770totally a scene that came right out of Beauty and the Beast.

TreasureRebekah Weatherspoon

Precious baby butch falls for stripper and then runs into her in comp-sci. Adorbs. And at 103 pages, I didn’t even feel like it was too short.

If The Dress Fits, Carla de Guzman

Oh man, this book. I want to marry this book. I will correct its grammar every once in awhile and maybe throw out a fact that it got wrong, but I will love, honor, and cherish this book for all the days of my life.

Still Working

Goddammit, I’m still working on The Perfect Play. To be fair, I haven’t picked it up really since the last time I talked about it, but it’s going to make perfect game-day reading. It will probably be in place of the Super Bowl, if I’m honest. I feel no inclination to turn it on while hubs is at work, and I can watch the halftime show tomorrow.

I’m also still working on Joyride. I picked it up to finish yesterday and ended up finishing two ebooks I’d started and set aside instead.

I’ve abandoned the other football books I started. I’ll try to read them again eventually.

Picking Up Soon

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t given up on Hidden Figures. Not because I don’t have it sitting right there on my bookshelf, but because I’ve been more interested in the fluffy happy stuff recently (I wonder why). Otherwise, I have no idea where I’m going bookwise in the near future. I borrowed Dangerous Curves Ahead from the library and might read it, or I might just take it back and find something on my TBR shelves, which are sinking into the floor with things I want to read. (And unfortunately, or fortunately, whichever way you want to look at it, I still want to read them all; my last weeding was a few weeks ago and I only pulled out five or six things.)

What are you reading? What have you enjoyed recently? I’ve managed to add a few things to my Read Harder list, but I’m kind of falling behind.

LWIBooks: January 16, 2017

Last week sucked for me, reading wise. I worked on a couple books but didn’t finish much—though what I did finish was pretty darn great. I saw a few movies and reestablished a few head canons, discovered something I want in book form, and got stuck in a Read Harder rut.

I went to the movies twice this past weekend, and watched a movie that hubs saw without me but knew I would want to see. That movie? The Accountant. And now I want a romance featuring someone modeled off of Chris getting a HEA. Is that too much to ask?

I also saw A Monster Callswhich, jeez. I remember why I didn’t get far in the book. But the movie was beautiful and heartbreaking and incredibly well done and acted—though now we know Sigourney Weaver’s weakness: British.

That same day, I saw Singin’ in the Rain for the first time in a theater, and the spectacle is just magnificent on a big screen. If you’ve got the time and the chance to see it when it plays again on Wednesday, take it. I’ve seen bits and pieces in the past few years but it’s been awhile since I’ve watched it all the way through, and boy, is that OT3 there. I thought it was just me when I was younger, but that was before I discovered fanfiction; and the last time I looked on AO3, there was nothing there. Well, now there is, and over the past 24 hours I’ve read nearly all of it. (I will probably write more thoroughly on this after I’m done.)

Okay, on to books. The reason for this post:

Books Completed

26114524The Only Thing Worse than Me is YouLily Anderson

love Much Ado About NothingLike, probably more than I do Pride and PrejudiceSo when I realized in the first chapter that this was going to be a YA retelling (because that was left out of the blurb! Who leaves that out of the blurb?!) I became even more excited about what this book would be. It had already drawn me in with supernerds who were also super geeky. The snappy dialogue and excellent transference of the plot—while still making it different enough that you weren’t sure how things would go down—won this one for me, and I am eagerly awaiting Anderson’s second book (THIS WAS HER DEBUT, WHAT, AND SHE’S A LIBRARIAN, WHAT) that’s based on The Importance of Being Earnest. If she writes a YA version of Design For Living, she will go down in history as my absolute favorite person putting words together on the planet.

Pumpkin Rolls and Porn Sounds, Kris T. Bethke

This was a cute little novella that was the perfect length to read while twisting my hair on Saturday. Will, a young professional, is drawn out to a meeting at the PFLAG chapter his mother started. She wants him to hear a speech by Joshua, who owns a bakery. Diminutive Will is not usually attracted to big, hairy men, but something about Joshua draws him in. The writing is a bit juvenile sometimes, but it touches on some great things, particularly supportive families and body image in men.

Under Rose Tainted Skies, Louise Gornall

I DNFd this book. I was sad to; the narrator, Norah, is an awesome person and her love interest sounds cute, if troubled. Norah’s mother is great, and the other people that I encountered in the 40 or so pages I read before I stopped were very interestingly written. But Norah has Agoraphobia and Severe Anxiety Disorder, and she is very well written. I’ve been pretty high on the Empath scale this week, and her very extreme anxiety was making my (much lower scale) anxiety and neurosis much more palpable. I actually spoke the words “you know I like having the bedroom door open so I can hear if someone breaks in while we’re sleeping.” Not that it’s ever happened, or that there is a high chance of it happening, but my usual “is the door locked?” followed by my checking three or four times before being able to sleep, wasn’t enough. (This is not the full extent of how anxious this book made me, just an example.)

Still Working

8341567Running InterferenceElley Arden

I don’t know if there’s something about the writing or my reluctance to read second-chance stories, but this one is slow going. I was really excited about the prospect to read about a world in which a women’s professional football league existed, but the other stuff is not making me anxious to pick it back up.

Getting InsideSerena Bell

Okay, maybe what’s really going on is that there’s too much football in my life right now.

The Perfect Play, Jaci Burton

Or maybe not because I was going at this one like gangbusters until I got distracted by Don, Cosmo and Kathy. (Also, see that cover? I bought that one in print.)

Picking Up Soon

30251383Hidden FiguresMargot Lee Shetterly

 I haven’t forgotten about this one, but I’ve been out of the nonfiction mood.

Joyride, Jackson Lanzing et al

I need to get back into comics. This one looks hella fun.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur Vol. 2, Amy Reeder et al

Luella is my must-buy trade girl. I can’t wait to sit down and savor it.

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, Angela Carter

I’m doing a group read of this with some of the folks at WWAC, and I finally got it from the library. I think I’m really only going to do one at a time, so I had better get started!

 

Also, because this is going to be available this week!

 

And now I’m going to go finish reading all that magical fanfiction and get lost in the Tucson Festival of Books panel schedule. Sweet Christmas.

LWIBooks: January 9, 2017

Last week was the first of January. I made some good progress in reading, discovered some things, and saw a movie that pushed a book up my list.

Books Completed

An Unseen Attraction, KJ Charles

Actually, I finished this one in December but never posted about it. This one comes out in February and I can’t wait for more people to be talking about it. I continue to play into the hands of non-male, potentially non-queer authors writing M/M romance but hers are just SO GOOD. And this one is no different, with Clem being darling, Indian, and cognitively disabled/neurodiverse in the middle of Victorian England. Also this one sets up the scene for a series that takes place during the Great London Fog and that is one of those phenomena that I’m fascinated by.

Roller GirlVanessa North

This book covers two slots in the Read Harder challenge: LGBTQ+ romance and book about sports. I’ll still be reading other books in both of those categories, but I wanted to get this one read because I’d seen it around a lot.

The Hating GameSally Thorne

I’ll tell you a secret: I picked this book up immediately when I saw it…on the ARC cart…months before it came out. And then I never read it. Why did I never read it? It was so much fun. Also, this one covers a Read Harder category: Sally Thorne’s debut novel.

Beauty and the Wiener, Casey Griffin

It was cute, but it wasn’t as cute as the first one. Ah well.

Insert Groom Here, KM Jackson

The hype for this one (including the blurbs on the book cover) made it seem like it was going to be much funnier than it actually was, but I still enjoyed reading it. If only I hadn’t spent half the book trying to figure out Aidan’s racial ambiguousness…

Currently Reading

Getting InsideSerena Bell

I’m intrigued by the premise of the first female coach in the fictional pro league and the player she has to deal with, but so far it’s been pretty putdownable.

Ashes, Laurie Halse Anderson

I picked this one up back in December and haven’t picked it up for awhile; maybe it will be one of my books for next week.

Picking Up Soon

Under Rose-Tainted SkiesLouise Gornoll

I got this one from Netgalley quite a while ago and its release date is coming up. No recollection what it’s about but I remember being really interested.

The Only Thing Worse Than Me is YouLily Anderson

Once again, I’m going to try to read my physical TBR from the beginning, and in my case that means alphabetically.

Hidden Figures, Margot Lee Shatterly

Except I really need to get on this one. I’ve had it for months and had planned on making it through before I saw the movie, which I saw Saturday night.

Ah well.

Also, just because I just found it, I’m going to be watching this trailer over and over.

What’s been on your radar recently?

Ending on a high note: Favorites 2016

We’re coming upon the end of 2016, and with it, the one-year anniversary of my return to blogging. After about a month of writing on my old blogger site, I transferred everything over here to Books and Beethoven and determined that I was going to write more about both reading and music, which each hold high points in my life.

I lost momentum over the summer, but I’m determined to try again—new year, new me and all that. I started using a planner, and I’ve got a great Trello board for all of my writing plans.

I can do this.

Earlier today, Sarah asked the BR blog support group what our blog resolutions were, and I really had to think about goals that I might actually be able to keep up with. (If you remember, I wrote a whole post about goals for October, and then didn’t write anything until the end of November…)

Here was what I determined:

  1. More straight reviews of books and music
  2. Regular check-ins for Read Harder 2017
  3. Regular check-ins for Read My Own Damn Books 2017
  4. More writing about music as I encounter it

I will try my best to pull that off. If nothing else, monthly check-ins will continue, and random mental meanderings about music and books will come up.

Right. Favorites.

Here are some of my favorites of this year, in books, music, film, and TV. I’ll post a regular December wrap-up in the next few days, but I wanted to get this one out of the way when I was thinking about it.

Favorite Book Published in 2016

the-geeks-guide-to-unrequited-loveHands down, no question:

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash.

This book was just adorable and heartwarming. I loved the voice, and the characters, and all of the geeky goodness in this three-day story that takes place over the course of New York Comic Con.

Favorite Backlist Book Read in 2016

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

I started reading this in 2012 after it started getting peppered with seals from ALA and all the rest of the book people. I got a few pages in and just wasn’t into it. But I needed a book to listen to and this one was available at the library, so I went for it.

What magic I had been missing. Lin-Manuel did a perfect narration, bringing to life the type of prose that I occasionally just don’t process the same when I’m reading it.

Favorite Read Harder Challenge Book

30688435So I didn’t actually complete the RH challenge, but I got close, and came across some really good books because of it. There are a lot of books I would have read anyway, but Exit West was one that I probably would have put on my Want to Read list, never to be seen or heard from again. It takes place in an unnamed country, but sounds like it could be the Middle East (and the author is from Pakistan, so it’s not a far leap). I probably wouldn’t have read this book if it hadn’t been dropped in my hands by someone from Riverhead Books, but I’m so glad I did. It doesn’t come out until March, so  I was glad to be able to read it so early, but I want to talk to people about it!

Favorite Read My Own Damn Books Book

The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan is the second book in the Brothers Sinister series, and it is Historical Romance Perfection. It’s Victorian instead of Regency. The hero is a duke’s “natural son” with severe political aspirations, and the heroine is an heiress who will do anything to inspire disinterest (and even dislike) in gentlemen who need to marry for money. And the secondary romance is the sweetest.

It does things with stuff.

Goodreads tells me I added this to my to-read shelf in July of 2013, and Amazon says I bought it March of 2015. It was time. (I also owned the first one. Which I also read. It was wonderful, but this was so much better.)

Favorite Movie Seen in the Theater

MOOOOOAAAAAAANNNNAAAAAAA

I saw so many good movies this year; all of Disney and Pixar’s contributions were excellent. Rogue One was perfect. Loving was magnificent. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was tons of fun. But Moana was all of these things, not to mention it had amazing music (also written in part by Lin-Manuel Miranda) that I went home and downloaded and still can’t get enough of.

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Favorite New TV

Shadowhunters.

No, really. Seriously.

It took all the good parts of City of Bones and made them better. The writing improves as the season does, and Dominic Sherwood is a very attractive Jace. And of course, Malec. All the Malec. I can’t wait for it to come back; except now that I don’t have a DVR anymore I’m not sure how I’m going to work my way around that.

exclusive-first-look-of-malec-shadowhunters-season-2-01

Favorite Hulu/Netflix TV

Luke Cage was magnificence personified. I’m looking forward to more Defenders TV.

And I finally got around to watching Season 1 of Crazy Ex Girlfriend and it was worth it to just binge. I am in love with Rebecca Bunch (and Rachel Bloom). Also I bought the season one soundtrack and will never be able to watch Frozen without hearing “I Gave You a UTI”. Thanks, Hans.

Also, I’m four seasons into Smallville and I can’t look away.

Favorite Popular Music Discovery

Post Modern Jukebox is definitely the royal music maker of 2016. They were around before this year, sure, but this was the year they made it on my radar to the point where I had PMJ music playing in iTunes. Some of their covers are songs I know better than the originals, like Radiohead’s “Creep”. Man, that song.

Favorite Musical Theater Discovery

Waitress. I really loved seeing the long performance on the Tonys. Jesse Mueller is fantastic, and it was fun to watch Sara Bareilles glide in on her piano. (And the album is only 5.99 right now, what!)

Favorite Classical Performance

There were only two for me this year, and it was definitely the Fall performance of the Haydn Lord Nelson Mass and Mozart’s Solemn Vespers. I’ve done both of them before and preparation for this one really tightened up my knowledge of them. Also, they’re both just magnificent pieces of music.

Favorite Song of 2016

Is it any surprise that it’s “How Far I’ll Go”?

 

 

What were your favorites this year?

November Wrap-Up: Thanks, I guess?

Oh look, it’s December!

November was an interesting month. I finished a few books, but left many more incomplete or barely started. I spent Thanksgiving and Black Friday putting more words to paper than I had the entire rest of the month; and I was so worn out I couldn’t stick to anything else, really.

I “discovered” a new author, though I own four of her books. I’ve been collecting Courtney Milan’s books for years, but when I went about writing a historical romance series list and realized I couldn’t include hers because I couldn’t explain what made them different, I knew I had to remedy that.

And holy crap.

Not only does the Brothers Sinister series take place in the Victorian era instead of Regency, but her characters are witty and smart and have a much more worldly point of view than our favorite regency dukes and their heroines. Even the necessary duke wishes the aristocracy didn’t exist. Sadly, the second one got caught in my slump, but I don’t plan on abandoning her ever. I’ll make it back soon.

Other highlights from October and November:

The Soldier’s Scoundrel  – One of the nice things about M/M historical romance is the breadth of types you discover. Even in Regency and early Victorian stories, these gentlemen are often middle class and lower gentry. It’s refreshing.

Princess Princess Ever After – I can only squee. It’s soooooo darling and wonderful. If only there had been more of it. There needs to be a grown up version.

Beethoven’s Hair – After several years of meaning to read it (since I did work a floor below where the titled lock of hair lives now) I finally got around to this. It works works as a science book and a biography, as it alternates between describing Beethoven’s life and the story of the lock of hair, which they used to potentially discover the origins of many of his health problems.

The Accidental Movie Star – This one surprised me! It had been sitting in my kindle app for however long and I finally decided to try it out, completely expecting it to be one of those mediocre badly-designed-covered self-pubs that I find myself interested in. But no! I was almost immediately emotionally invested.

Under a Painted Sky – YA friendship-centered historical fiction about a Chinese-American girl and an escaped slave pretending to be boys? Yes, please.

The Midnight Star – This was the final book in the Young Elites trilogy and whoo doggie. Danger ahead.

Keeping Her Secret  – Cute and sweet, and bonus music!

Romancing the Inventor (with bonus review on Women Write About Comics!)

Goldie Vance – I haven’t been reading a lot of comics recently, but I’m glad I picked up this one.

Inferno – Once I discovered they’d continued the Robert Langdon film series, I realized I probably needed to read this. I had hate quit The Lost Symbol about 150 pages in, but it doesn’t seem to matter for continuing with the series. And Inferno was the book that brought me back into Dan Brown discipleship. Florence, Dante, Mystery, and Unexpected Twist Endings are all things that will make me either hate or love the shit out of a book, and this one managed to get me to go in the direction of the latter. If only the movie had been so kind.

The Boy is Back – This is the one book in Meg Cabot’s trilogy of nostalgia (she put out new adult books in the Princess Diaries universe and the Mediator universe this year, too) that I made it through and enjoyed. It helped that it wasn’t really part of a series; it was a completely new book with new characters, just done in the same tradition as the other Boy books.

Truth or Beard – Surprise book of the year, you guys! The Winston brothers are my new favorites. I am kind of waiting for the series to be done to continue, though. Just in case.

Four Letter Word  – J. Daniels is a new favorite. I was intrigued by the premise of this book: woman calls BFF’s cheater married boyfriend to curse him out and ends up calling the wrong number, and then starts a phone relationship. Talk about a twisted meet-cute, right?

Exit West  – So I was a featured Riverhead Loves Librarians librarian a while ago and a few weeks after that posted, my interviewer told me she’d be sending me something she thought I’d enjoy. Little did she know how much I would, and how I wouldn’t be able to finish a book again for a week.

Matilda  – Until I got to this one! Which I finished in a few hours. It helped me get closer to completing the Read Harder challenge, both as a book published in the decade I was born and a book that was adapted into a movie (I love the narrator of the book, but I like the way they expanded the movie’s plot).

November was also a heavy music month. Tucson Masterworks Chorale did two Austrian Masters concerts, featuring Mozart’s Somemn Vespers and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, which is one of those that I unapologetically geek out about. My favorite movement is one with a million words that I still remember after doing it in 2008 with Symphony Silicon Valley, and I had been jonesing to do it again for years.

Mayhem did our usual second Sunday of the month, and I didn’t completely fail, which is always nice. Also, I found a new wig in the box that I will fight to use in every show. I might have to get my own, but I dunno. It’s a nice wig. Who knows how expensive it’ll be.

But it contributed to an awesome Captain America costume:

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photo c/o Tracy Lester

I musically ended November with a Messiah Sing-In, which reminded me that, with the exception of the Hallelujah Chorus and Part Three, I don’t actually know The Messiah. So it was…interesting…to sight-sing all those runs. Someday I’ll be forced to actually learn it and then I will be….UNSTOPPABLE!

Or something.

So yeah, I’ve got a little less to deal with musically this month, but I’m still not ready.

Business as usual.

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.