Thursday, October 1, 2020

Thursday Thirteen, Edition 38

 So, 2020, amirite? fffffff*ck.

Anyway, it's Thursday and I've been pondering what a winter quarantine is going to look like and thinking back over the last few months, and thought I would put down some Thoughts. I've learned a few new things, and others I already knew and I'm doubling down.



Thirteen Things I've Learned from Quarantine


1. Everyone thinks they are being VERY careful. Even though there's a huge range of how people have adapted to the pandemic. Everyone is sure they are being just careful enough, and everyone else is either crazy over the top or crazy irresponsible. But if you're at a public, indoor location without a mask, be aware that I am judging the FUCK out of you.



2. Bras are not as necessary as I always thought.



3. I'm working full time, 100% remote, and without the judgment of co-workers, I am perfectly happy to wear the same 3 pairs of pants pretty much indefinitely.



4. I never liked getting take-out. If I'm going to leave the house and pay restaurant prices, I want to eat there.  I have learned that I am right about this. Take-out might be better than cooking, but it's a distant second to dining out. I really miss restaurant dining. #doubledown



5. You can get used to on-line meetings.  I may never love them, but they are a reasonable second-choice to in-person.



6. I have tested the limits of inactivity and have found that yes, even I crave some minimum amount of physical activity.



7. If I'm going to be on camera, I should put on some lipstick. Mom was right.



8. But not if I'm going somewhere, because masks+lipstick are not good.



9. Contemporary romcoms pair best with the apocalypse, for me anyway. I have re-named the genre "pre-apocalyptic fantasy."



10. I don't actually need to go to Target every week.



11. The pleasure of an old-fashioned phone call.  I'm still stupidly reluctant to take a call or to "dial" someone up.  But after an awkward minute or two, it all just flows and I wonder why I'm being so weird about it.



12. You know how so many people are taking up cooking and breadmaking? I still don't enjoy cooking. #doubledown



13. Putting away laundry the same day it comes out of the dryer.  Now that I'm home all the time, there's no reason not to-- yeah no, just kidding, I still don't do that.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Thursday Thirteen, Edition 37

I think it's 37, anyway.  We'll go with it.

Here it is Thursday again and I'm going to squeak in under the January wire with 13 books I'm looking forward to this year!  A lot of these are series-oriented, because once you start a good series, half the fun is the anticipation for the next book.  Without further ado, here is the list:


2020's Thirteen Most Anticipated Books:


  1. Crush the King, Jennifer Estep: the first two books in this series were amazing! Maybe I was just ready for some high fantasy, but I love these characters and the world-building.
  2. The Empire of Gold, S. A. Chakraborty: high fantasy in the swords & sorcery tradition, but rather than another Brit/Euro-centric take, this series is fueled by Arabian mythology.
  3. Smoke Bitten (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs. This series is an auto-buy for me.
  4. Harvest of Sighs, Sierra Simone: I binged this author so hard last year, and this series slayed me.  Cannot wait for more.
  5. Wicked Bite, Jeaniene Frost. This one released last week and features Ian, Bones' sire from the can't-get-enough Night Huntress series (also known as Cat and Bones, because Cat and Bones are amazing)
  6. Chaos Reigning, Jessie Mihalik: this space-opera romance trilogy took the Romlandia by storm, me included.  I love these smart, powerful women and how they triumph in a society that in spite of being centuries in the future, bears a marked resemblance to romance's beloved Regency era. Plus ├ža change, and all that.
  7. Deal with the Devil, Kit Rocha.  First of all, Kit Rocha.  Second of all, post-apocalyptic mercenary librarians. POST-APOCALYPTIC. MERCENARY. LIBRARIANS. Need I say more? I think not.
  8. The Fiery Crown, Jeffe Kennedy: Last year's Orchid Throne was the start of a new world, and as much as I loved the connected Twelve Kingdoms/Uncharted Realms/Dasnaria books, this world is so rich and intriguing, I'm dying for the next installment.
  9. Wolf Gone Wild, Juliette Cross: I can't get enough of Cross's broody dark heroes, and this new series promises a little touch of humor which makes it even better.  Already out, I haven't got to it yet but looking forward to it!
  10. Alpha Night, Nalini Singh: The Psy-Changeling series is another auto-buy.
  11. A Heart of Blood and Ashes, Meljean Brook, uh, I mean, Milla Vane. I've been waiting so long for something new by this author! To be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about a barbarian hero, but I'm willing to find out.
  12. Dragon Unleashed, Grace Draven: I haven't liked everything I've read by this author, but I really loved Phoenix Unbound, the first in this sort of "alternate-history-Roman-Empire with magic" series; plus I was very intrigued by Halani's character.
  13. From the Grave, Kresley Cole: the conclusion to the only YA series I've ever loved, this book has been delayed several times.  The series has been suspended over a cliff for so long, I can't stand it! I have so many questions, it's hard to believe they can all be wrapped in one book, but if anyone can do it, it's Cole.

Bam.  Thirteen.  That should get your 2020 New Releases juices flowing.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Thursday Thirteen - 2020 style!

I am happy to report that the Thursday Thirteen Linkup is still alive and kicking! Let me start 2020 out on a roll with two posts in less than a week! Woo hoo!

January is all about lists.  Last weekend, I gave you my list of the best of 2019.  Here is a Thursday 13 rundown of other 2019 retrospectives in the #RomBkBlog world:

  1. Under The Covers
  2. Miss Bates Reads Romance
  3. Kini's list at Smexy Books
  4. Angela's list at Smexy Books
  5. Lots of SFF in the mix at Reading Reality
  6. Wendy The Super Librarian
  7. Ellie Reads Fiction
  8. Shallow Reader (don't believe the blog name!)
  9. Book Binge
  10. Ana's list at Love In Panels
  11. I Heart Romance
  12. Kaetrin's list at Dear Author
  13. And just to round things out, here is the GoodReads list for Romance.
I'm definitely seeing a few titles on repeat throughout these lists that I'll need to check out.  Also, how could I have missed Sapphire Flames on my own list?  Jeeze.

I hope you enjoyed this list! I recommend you head on over to this week's Thursday Thirteen linkup and check out a few participants.  This is not a book-focused meme (except here at Alpha Heroes!) so who knows what tidbits you'll pick up to brighten your week!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

2019 Look Back, 2020 Look Ahead

Ever since I started this blog, I have almost always managed an end of year post.  Despite the long silence this year, January always brings some optimism about re-invigorating the blog and this year is no different!

By The Numbers
I did a better job of tracking my reading this year, so I think the numbers are pretty accurate.

  • Total: 126 titles
  • Nonfiction, mostly audio: 11, with two DNFs
  • Bookclub books: 13, one DNF.  Considering I participate in 3 monthly bookclubs, this is kind of terrible, lol.  But two of the three did not manage to select 12 books for the year; and there were a handful that I chose not to even start on the basis of having zero (possibly negative) interest in.
  • Podcast reads: 13
  • Rereads: 12 (many for the podcast)
  • Novellas: 7
  • Diversity: 14, mostly authors of color, and two LGBTQ titles. I would like to do better in 2020.
  • Reedsy Reviews: 5
  • Total DNF: 6.  I do have 3 or 4 titles in progress that I haven't officially given up on.  They'll go toward my 2020 numbers.


Highlights:

  • Favorite new (to me) author: Sierra Simone! I had read the first American Camelot book previously and didn't like the cliffhanger ending, but A Lesson In Thorns blew me away.  Rereading the American Camelot series, I appreciated the Arthurian bits more.  I think Thorns is probably my favorite book of 2019. I also loved Tasha Suri's Empire of Sand.
  • Best non-fiction was definitely Born A Crime, by Trevor Noah.  I had been meaning to get to this one for a long time and I'm sorry I waited. Humorous, thought-provoking, and horizon-expanding for this mid-west US white girl.
  • Non-fiction runner-up: Educated, by Tara Westover.  I have read very few memoirs, but this was wonderful.  Engaging, even horrifying at times, with novel-like storytelling.
  • Some great new series:  Jennifer Estep's fantasy Crown of Shards series is amazing; third book due out in March (I haven't read her previous series, apparently I need to), and Jessie Mihalik's Consortium Rebellion series top the list.  In the mood for more romantic space opera, I gave Susan' Grant's Star series a go and it's awesome! Also, G.A. Aiken's title, Blacksmith Queen, is the first of a new series and I liked it very much. Oh, and unsurprisingly, Jeffe Kennedy's Orchid Throne, first in a new romantic fantasy series.
  • Binge: I've been catching up on the neglected Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole, which is just as good as I remembered. I've really been enjoying Cynthia Eden's Bad Things series -- I had read one of hers before and was turned off by the "medical experimentation" centered plot, which is just a personal squick, so I'm glad I gave her another shot.
  • Favorite titles: (in non-exact order)
    • A Lesson in Thorns, by Sierra Simone
    • Circe, by Madeline Miller
    • The Overdue Life of Amy Byler, by Kelly Harms
    • Lady Derring Takes a Lover, by Julie Anne Long
    • Kill the Queen, by Jennifer Estep
    • Polaris Rising, by Jessie Mihalik
  • Podcasts and TV: 2019 was the year I started watching TV again, and also found some podcasts I like.  I'm mostly watching Netflix, and my faves were Lucifer (OMG, he's pretty), the Cumberbatch/Freeman Sherlock Holmes, Lost Girl, and (surprisingly) iZombie.  Podcasts, besides ShelfAddiction where I guest host, I've been enjoying Craft A Life You Love, and The Good Life Project.
  • 3Bloggers1Series Weekend!  Since I wasn't able to go to any conferences this year, my awesome podcast partners came to Seattle over Labor Day weekend and we had an AMAZING time. Wine tasting, cheese eating, book shopping, Facebook Live-ing, and some great sightseeing. A big highlight for me!

Lowlights:
  • Well, blogging took more of a backseat than ever in 2019.  I returned to work at the beginning of March after five months of chemotherapy, and just didn't have the brain capacity to do much more than that.  I am expecting 2020 to be a better year health-wise, but I also have some ground to make up career-wise, so it's hard to say how the blog will fare.  
  • Speaking of cancer, one of my bookclubs chose a book that I absolutely hated while I was in the midst of treatment.  Every review called it funny/humorous; for example, "wildly funny;" "arch, achingly funny, and surprisingly heartfelt;"  "expansive, great-hearted and acidly funny;" It's a litfic story written in a weird POV (first-person plural) about the people who work for an ad agency.  The owner of the company gets a breast cancer diagnosis about 25% through the book, and has something of a breakdown over it.  Meanwhile, here's an example of how SUPER funny it was (and incidently, the place I called the DNF):


What's Next?
I think I am not going to tempt fate by making any promises about blogging more -- although I always hope to.  For reading goals, I have three ideas in mind:

1. Julia Quinn Bridgerton Re-read, in preparation for the Netflix production.  Unfortunately, I seem to have offloaded my paperbacks after reading them back in 2008? or so? so I will have to re-acquire them.  I'm undecided about whether I want to binge the series or just read the first book shortly before the first series debuts.

2. This shelf:

I want to put (gasp!) something other than books on it.  There are ~40 books on that shelf-- it's (part of) my Paranormal TBR.  Wish me luck!

3. Sherlock: As mentioned above, I really adored the Benedict Cumberbatch/Martin Freeman Sherlock Holmes series.  I read all of the original SH stories back in middle school, and I have a notion to re-read the ones that have corresponding episodes and noodle about them here on the blog.

Conferences in 2020:  I'm signed up for ApollyCon in Washington DC, March 26-29, and Avon's KissCon in Chicago, April 17-20.  If you're headed for either one, do hit me up and let's connect!

Link Up:
Do you have a 2019 roundup or 2020 lookahead to share? Post in comments and I'll edit it in!

Finally, I hope you all have a happy, healthy, prosperous new year, filled with awesome books!








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