The last time I posted on this blog was in August. My 2016-in-review post came up on my On This Day on Facebook this morning, and I’d made such marvelous plans for this blog. And then my brain just didn’t make it work.
The year got away from me, and it sucks, but I don’t see it getting better anytime soon. I hope to check in every once in a while, but 2018 is the year I’m supposed to be easing up on the extra commitments, so you might not hear from me very often.
So, what did happen this year?
I upped my game as a professional book person:
- I completed a full year of twice-monthly Kissing Books newsletters (my Book Riot romance-focused newsletter, which is going weekly in 2018. I’m not freaking out; you’re freaking out
- I started a column on then-Women Write About Comics, now-Bookmarked, which just as quickly ended as the Bleating Heart Press became one of those commitments that I sadly brought to an end this year
- I’m sure there’s other stuff but I can’t think of it right now.
I read a bunch of books.
Even if it was far fewer than I read when I was doing the Goodreads Challenge, not adding that number was probably the best choice I made a couple years ago. I don’t have that number corralling me into reading when I don’t have the brainpower or energy for it, or pushing me to finish things I’m not loving just to have completed them. I still didn’t read all the books I’d hoped to, and whole swaths of books weren’t read because I had to focus more on romance than ever before, but I read a lot.
I finally made my chorus goal.
I have talked about my chorus performances here in Tucson, and this was the year I decided to audition for the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus again, after my first audition when I first moved here went nowhere. (It was a terrible audition; I wasn’t completely prepared and I wasn’t in full voice because I hadn’t adjusted to the climate yet.) I still did some squawking, but I also brought my repertoire with me, which included two of the three masterworks they would be doing this season.
It’s fun rehearsing Bernstein’s Kaddish with people who haven’t made it through the complete product yet, because I was totally there five years ago. It doesn’t really sound right until you’re performing it with the orchestra, with the adrenaline of a full performance moving you along. It’s not quite the “Resurrection” symphony, but it’s hella high on my list of favorite things to perform.
I got better at being ridiculous.
I did some wild things in my musical comedy group. My next show is bound to be the most ridiculous I’ve been, but finding new and interesting purposes for the Belle dress I bought has been fun.
I finally caught up on Supergirl. Well, what’s on Netflix anyway.
I mean, I watched a lot of TV this year, which is why I didn’t make it to 200 books, probably, but Supergirl was one of the last things I did tv-related this year, so it really stands out for me. By the time I made it through Season 2, the first five episodes of Season 3 were gone from the CW app, so I’ll have to wait for the rest of it to show up on Netflix, during which time I will probably go in search of AU Kara/Mon El/Lena Luthor fics, because I am that person who just wants the three of them to love each other and be happy and be together.
My favorite book of the whole year? An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole. I have touted this book far and wide, telling everyone about it, recommending it to people interested in historical fiction, or spies, or just looking for a new book to read. No one has come back and said they hated it. I (UGH) still haven’t read the second in the series, A Hope Divided, and now she’s got a whole new Avon series that I’ll have to get reading so I can squee about her continuing rise to romance royalty.
This book takes the cake for multiple reasons. First, look at that cover. When was the last time you saw such a magnificently crafted image of a black woman in a historical setting? A brown skinned, brown-eyed black woman? It’s a big deal, especially as we continue to hear about cover images for mainstream publishing in which the cover model was digitally altered to look more like the characters in the book.
Then, of course, there’s the story itself. Elle Burns is our heroine, the spy with an eidetic memory, currently pretending to be an enslaved person in order to gain pertinent information in the household of a Confederate senator. And the hero is a Scottish-American posing as a Confederate Officer who actually works for Pinkerton. Between them, there is intelligence, and witty banter, and amazing chemistry, and some pretty hot sexy times. Even with a mixed-race couple in the 1860s, though, this is no fantasyland. There is darkness, and there are intense hardships. Even then, you know that it cannot end with one of the two of them dying, or without the hope of them being together at the end. That’s why I love romance.
The last book I’ll finish this year is Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words (In Altre Parole), which is a fascinating read. It is a combination of memoir, travel narrative, and short stories, all written by the author in Italian, and translated by a different translator back into English. Lahiri’s reason for this is fascinating and totally understandable: she thought if she was the one who ended up translating it, she might end up trying to improve the prose as it changed into English. Cool, huh?
I’m not done yet, but I hope to be by the end of the year. It’s been lots of fun seeing where my Italian is still good, and what words I’m not sure I ever knew—like sidewalk, how did I never know the word for sidewalk?
Either way, I’m glad I finally picked it up, and can maybe even include it in my Read Harder list.
Which I didn’t finish. Yeah. No Read Harder completion star for me.
I come to the end of 2017 with three Read Harder tasks incomplete:
- Read a nonfiction book about technology
- Read a book published between 1900 and 1950
- Read a book I’ve read before
I definitely don’t have any books that will cover all three of those, and I’d like to try to get all three done sometime early next year. So even though I won’t have finished Read Harder in 2017, I’ll get the challenge completed…someday.
I like the Read Harder 2018 challenge, but don’t know if I’ll manage to complete it. I’ve already got my list of potential books, but you know how that goes.
And now, looking at the bottom of the page, BOY has this gotten long. I’m gonna stop now.
See you in 2018!