RIP Exceptionally Slothful Vacation

This is my first week back at work after an extremely restful two week vacation. I was talking about our vacation with my husband and we realized that it was basically the first time in eight years or so when we weren’t traveling or entertaining visitors. It is of course lovely to visit people and have people visit us, but I really appreciated having so much time to do nothing in my own house (in between taking care of sick kids). Some of my restful vacation activities included:

  • Watching most of the kdrama Pinocchio. It has been a long time since I’ve wanted to marathon a kdrama, but this one is very compelling. Pinocchio has a slightly odd premise in that a small number of people are unable to tell a lie. They immediately start hiccuping if they attempt to bend the truth. Of course, the Pinocchio heroine’s dream is to become a TV reporter! The hero of the story has a tragic past where his family was destroyed by the news media, specifically the heroine’s mother. This is good soapy fun, and is by the same writer who did I Hear Your Voice, which is one of my other recent favorite kdramas.
  • I watched How To Get Away With Murder. So frightened of wallpaper now! I’m still behind with Sleepy Hollow, but caught up to a few episodes. I sampled the new Librarian’s series and feel sort of meh about it except for Christian Kane, who is consistently amusing
  • I knit a ton! I finished another cowl and started on another project.
  • I had more time to read! I tore through several trashy novels on my kindle. I also finally read the new Ms Marvel first collection and enjoyed it a bunch
  • I had some mental space to plan out a few Amethyst Legion of Superheroes posts for this site. We will see if that happens!
  • I did some home organization type activities
  • I watched/rewatched a bunch of movies. Die Hard on Christmas Eve, but also the GI Joe live action movies, Locke, Imitation Game, and many others that I am forgetting in my post-vacation brain fog

Work has been mega-busy leading up to this past December and I haven’t had the luxury of a paid vacation very much in recent years, so I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Partial Year in Review for Reading

I was mega busy this year! So busy, I did a much poorer job of tracking my reading habits. I totally forgot to log anything in Goodreads until July. So I read 62 books, including a few scattered manga and graphic novels. I suspect that my total of non-comic books for the year would be more around the 80ish range if I was keeping better track. I also reread a ton of books that aren’t popping up in my Goodreads list, like a ton of the Dark Hunters series, the Vampire Academy series, the first two books in the Divergent series (I couldn’t remember what happened before starting the third), some Paul Zindel books, and the Alanna series.

Some of my favorite things I read this year (that I remember):

I finally read Rainbow Rowell, and enjoyed Eleanore and Park, Fangirl, and Attachments.

In terms of contemporary paranormal romance, the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones was a standout. It was both hilarious and suspenseful! I read most of this series when I was on summer vacation, and it is great vacation reading.

For non-romance genre fiction, I continue to wait really impatiently for the conclusion of the Passage trilogy, but I was happy to read the middle book in the series, The Twelve.

On the traditional fantasy side, I read the Lies of Locke Lamora. I really enjoyed the world building, but I haven’t read the other books in the series yet.

The greatest proportion of my reading tends to be historical romances. So this year I enjoyed reading newer books by Courtney Milan, Kristen Calihan, and Julie Ann Long. My favorite reads in this category include the Rules of Scoundrels series by Sarah MacLean and My Beautiful Enemy by Sherry Thomas.

The book I hated the most was Allegiant. I thought the first couple books in this series were slight, but at least somewhat diverting. As the series dragged on, all the logical problems with the world building and character development became more and more annoying. I think that this is one of those books where the movie adaptation is actually better than the source material.

Right now I’m reading The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater and rereading the Shadow of Night.

I hope to do a better job at keeping track of my reading in the coming year!

Recent Knitting Endeavors

I have been knitting! I have now made almost 3 versions of this simple but nice Mira’s Cowl Pattern. It is a perfect knitting project for watching tv, because it is so easy.

Here’s one version I made in Madelinetosh light:

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I have a second one I finished that is a gift, so I won’t post it yet! Here is the third one I am making for myself out of some old Jo Sharp Silkroad DK tweed that I reclaimed from my first (failed) sweater project.

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I got some yarn for the holidays from my husband! This is Rhichard Devrieze yarn in the Hot Flushes colorway:
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I spent today on a super secret cross stitch I will be posting about later :)

Fall TV Season!

Because I enjoy watching TV while knitting in an attempt to pretend I am doing something productive, this is what I’m watching:

Shows I like:

Revenge – Last season was pretty horrible. I was mainly watching only to see whatever Nolan happened to be wearing. However I feel like with the start of season four, Revenge is getting back to the loopy soap opera that I enjoy. I mean, someone breaks out of an insane asylum! Drug plants and arrests! Someone inexplicably becomes a cop! Mysterious people appear from the past! Nolan wears turquoise suits!

Scandal – Love this show and especially Olivia’s coats. Do people have wine and popcorn Scandal viewing parties? I feel like they should. Back in the day my friends and I had pie and donut Twin peaks viewing parties.

Selfie – I watched the pilot, I would happily watch John Cho in anything so I will keep on with this sitcom!

Mindy Project – This is a good era for romantic comedies on TV. This show is consistently hilarious.

K-Dramas

I’m watching It’s Ok, That’s Love right now and enjoying it a lot! I’m hoping Three Musketeers will be available in the US soon.

Shows I don’t like, but will possibly watch anyway:

Agents of Shield – Ugh. I watched the last bit of the previous season just because of the whole Winter Soldier tie-in, but I am not enjoying this much. Feel like I should be spending more time watching old school Sailor Moon instead.

Arrow – I sort of hate watch this show. My husband likes it! I will probably watch it more consistently now that I know Brandon Routh will be on it. I feel like the Flash will be more of the same, and I will watch it too!

Gotham – Also not so great. I keep hoping that Michael Raymond-James will show up and it will suddenly turn into Terriers.

Romancing the Duke, Confessions of a Viscount, and the Secret Diaries of Miranda Cheever

Here are some quick reviews of some romance novels that are discounted on the Kindle! The majority of my reading is now bargain-priced romance novels, I find it very restful after looking doing more technical stuff at work.

Romancing the Duke: Castles Ever After by Tessa Dare

Tessa Dare is one of those authors whose books I expect to be delightful and I am never disappointed. Romancing the Duke is extra charming, with plenty of warm humor and character development. Isolde Ophelia Goodnight is orphaned at a young age and not provided for by her feckless author father who is famous for his well-known fairytale series. Seizing a last chance at independence when she arrives at Gostley Castle to claim an inheritance from an Earl who seems to be leaving castles to all his goddaughters (instant series!). As she arrives at the castle, Izyy faces some satiric gothic horrors out of Northanger Abbey. She makes the unfortunate discovery that the castle is actually still inhabited by Ransom, the Duke of Rothbury.

If you really like the ending part of Jane Eyre, than this book is for you, because as Izzy and Ransom get to know each other, there’s a similar dynamic here. It takes a little while for Izzy to realize that Ransom is blind, wounded by a duel gone wrong. Ransom is understandably hostile yet involuntary attracted to this young woman who shows up and announces that she now owns his house. Izzy is a fun heroine, a bit insecure about her appearance and saddled with a healthy dose of Christopher Robin syndrome because the fans of her father’s works expect her to be like the precious little girl that appears in his books. The fans call themselves Moranglians after the imaginary land where her father’s stories took place, and the roam about the countryside LARPing. This was one of most amusing romance novels I’ve read in a long time, and I’m going to snap up the next book in the series, Say Yes to the Marquess when it comes out in December.

The Secret Diaries of Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn

Julia Quinn is always a reliable romance author, and she has excellent taste in coffee mugs. The Bridgerton series is one of the better sprawling romance series featuring a family that I’ve read, and it was a bit of a coincidence that I read this book featuring a psychologically damaged hero shortly after reading Romancing the Duke. Of course there are many many romance novels featuring psychologically damaged heroes, so maybe the odds were pretty good that I’d be reading similar scenarios one after the other. This is the first book in the Bevelstoke series.

Miranda has been in love with her best friend Olivia’s older brother Turner since she was a little girl. Miranda is basically brought up by Olivia’s family, as her own father is a neglectful scholar, and her headstrong friend Olivia needs a moderating influence. While some might view Miranda as a bit of a wallflower, she’s very aware of her own position in Olivia’s household and isn’t shy with expressing her opinions. Turner’s horrible wife has just died, and he and Miranda meet again at the funeral, when Turner expresses very unfuneral feelings at his wife’s grave. Turner and Miranda become reacquainted for the first time since she was 10, and he finds himself suddenly intrigued by a grown up Miranda, yet tortured at the same time because he has no desire to enter into a relationship again. Some of the plot elements in this book were a bit predictable, particularly the events that led up to the happy ending. Still, this is well worth trying if you’ve read the Bridgertons and the Two Dukes of Wyndham series and want to read more Julia Quinn. There are many witty moments, and all the characters are richly developed. I’m assuming that the next book in the series focuses on the headstrong and less than tactful Olivia, and I’m curious to read what happens to her.

Confessions of a Viscount by Shirley Karr

This book’s cover doesn’t match up very well with the contents, because the cover looks like a typical old school bodice ripper and the book actually features a LADY SPY. I absolutely adore lady spies in historical romance books. I am also a fairly uncritical consumer of lady spy romances, but this one is very good. The Viscount in the title is Alistair Moncreiffe, who is an astronomer. He makes decisions about which parties to attend purely due to whose house has a good roof for astronomical observation. The spy in question is Charlotte Parnell, who has been trained to spy by her brother. Spying was an ok occupation for a lady when the siblings were not in England, but now that they are back Charlotte’s brother wants her to give up her life of adventure for a respectable marriage.

Alistair and Charlotte meet when she uses him for cover when she’s tailing someone, sidling up to him and taking his arm and talking to him as if they’ve known each other for years. He plays along and tries to catch her name, but she manages to disappear when his attention is diverted. They meet at a party later, and Charlotte proposes a fake engagement. Later, Alastair manages to rescue Charlotte when she finds herself unexpectedly dangling off the side of a building. The couple agree to enter into a fake engagement in order to stave off Alastair’s relatives who want him married off and give Charlotte time to complete her spy mission in secret while making her brother think that she’s retired from her previous life of intrigue. The developing relationship between Alastair and Charlotte kept my interest throughout the book, because I appreciated the contrast between Alastair’s more scientific mind and Charlotte’s intelligent sneakiness. For only .99 cents right now, this is well worth picking up.

Books Read in August

For my YA Book Club meeting later this month I read:

The Song of the Lioness Quartet (rereads)
and Defy by Sara Larson

We picked these books due to the plot similarity because both involve heroines masquerading as knights and falling in love with princes.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – I enjoyed this, as I’ve enjoyed Rowell’s other books.
Talk Sweetly To Me – by Courtney Milan – any new Milan is an automatic buy for me.

Currently I’m rereading in a slightly skimming sort of way A Discovery of Witches – I started the third book in the series and realized that I’d forgotten what happened in the earlier books.

For last month’s book club we accidentally picked Code of Silence, which is a Christian YA book. It was honestly pretty horrible, as the central messages of the book that were repeated over and over again were “don’t lie” and “trust the police”. To which I say, bleh.

What I read in July

I have been a MEGA slacker with this blog, but I still manage to post semi-regularly on Manga Report and contribute to some of the weekly features on Manga Bookshelf. Anyway, I hope to post a bit more here, even if it is a bit dusty. Maybe I will cover a bit of knitting progress, books I’ve been reading, and one of these days I want to finish out my posts on Amethyst Princess of Gemworld by outlining some of the references to her in Legion of Super-Heroes.

Along with lapsing in blogging, I stopped updating goodreads very often, so I lost my reliable metrics about what I’ve been reading. I’ve been trying to do a much better job though, so this is what I was reading in July. I actually had a vacation in July so I was able to breeze through many many books.

Rereads – Vast portions of the Dark Hunter Series. I bought this bundle when it was on sale for the low low price of $20:

I started wading through this in June, then my interest petered out in July after finishing Acheron.

I read books 1-6 of the Charley Davidson (haha) series:

This was a good, clever paranormal series, even if some of the mysteries explored in the books end up a bit obvious. Great and engaging cast of characters.

Historical Romances:

I read a couple of Eloisa James’ fairy tale series, The Ugly Duchess and The Duke is Mine. James is really up there with Loretta Chase and Courtney Milan as my favorite romance authors. These books were witty, with memorable characters. It is always interesting to see how James interprets the fairy tale inspiration of the plots, set in a non-magical historical setting.

I read the Suffragette Scandal, by Courtney Milan, a book that should be celebrated for many reasons, not the least is the phrase “puppy cannon”. I also read Proof By Seduction and Trial by Desire.

I also read the Lion’s Lady by Julie Garwood, Scotsmen Prefer Blonds by Sara Ramsey and a couple linked books by Lorraine Heath, In Bed by the Devil and Between the Devil and Desire. The Heath books were a bit different from the typical historical romance, since they were a bit inspired by Dickens’ Artful Dodger and his band of thieves.

For contemporary romance, I read Sarah Morgan’s Sleigh Bells in the Snow, which is really a great example of a contemporary Harlequin done well.

I also read Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire, which I had to force myself to finish. It was clever, but it was clever in exactly the same way to a degree that reading it became a bit grating. Also, the heroine interrupted the main flow of the story so many times to digress about thinks like her Great Aunt Myrtle’s adventures in dragon hunting, I realized the book was 85% asides and 15% actual plot and character development.

YA

My book group was reading Paul Zindel, so I read the classic The Pigman. It is very odd but nice going back and reading books that I had practically memorized when I was 14 years old (oh so very long ago)

That’s what I finished reading!

On the horizon for August:

Book club book Code of Silence
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Book of Live by Deborah Harkness