social distance diaries: days 211-225

the one where things got carried away and I rolled two weeks into one post

week 1

Day 211, Monday

Back at it… I blocked off a few hours to concentrate on a very important task that take precedence over all the other stuff on my list. Luckily, I’m not the final voice on the decision.

Had a meeting in the afternoon to discuss a committee that I was nominated for… not sure if I’ll be selected, but it’s important work if I am. Still, I was torn when I received a second nomination for a very important committee within days of accepting.

Day 212, Tuesday

And today was blocked off for the meeting that dealt with the review I completed on Monday… followed by my weekly Faculty Senate meeting (because that’s how the cards fell this semester).

Day 213, Wednesday

Meetings and a training. One of my staff returned to the office, which led to a lot of voice memo exchanges (she really loves a voice memo…)

Day 214, Thursday

More meetings.

Day 215, Friday

Attended my first virtual conference of the new school year. I haven’t been drawn to the majority of the conferences that come through my inbox, but this one was a nice change of pace and gave me some ideas for my own research interests.

Day 216, Saturday

Working a half day today, so I’m taking Monday off using vacation to make up the difference. I’m really craving a day off. I planned to start scheduling one or two days off each month but the glut of meetings I’ve had this month threw a wrench in that plan. TBH, I’m looking at just as many meetings going forward, but I’m going to lock those days down early for November.

Day 217, Sunday

Kitty cat woke me up in the wee hours and I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I got an early start on my morning edits. Quick trip to moms to deliver some supplies that I shipped to my place by mistake (this is what happens when your mom has non-stop requests). I picked up up a slice of Tiramisu for her yesterday. If I can manage to stay quarantined in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, maybe I’ll be able to bring her a feast.

week 2

Day 218, Monday

My MRI was approved, so I had the scan done today. Will need to wait for the ortho to receive my results before I know what’s causing the pain in my arm… I was temporarily diagnosed with a teres minor injury, but the more I read about pectoralis tears, the more it sounds like the pain I’m feeling…

Day 219, Tuesday

I’ve been feeling achy for the last two days. Part of me suspects prodrome (the symptoms that arise before a migraine attack), but I’m desperately hoping it’s PMS.

Day 221, Wednesday

I just want to go back to bed. Power went out around 3 am in the middle of a crashing storm, which meant it was hot and I could hear the wind howling, neither of which was conducive to getting back to sleep after being woken by the outage. Kitty also decided it was time for breakfast at that time and wouldn’t stop begging until I fell asleep sometime around 5, only to be woken by my alarm at 5:30, followed by more begging. I fed her and went back to bed, but gave up around 7. Now, I’m feeling jittery and tired and have more meetings to go, well into the afternoon.

Day 222, Thursday

One of those days where the meetings took over.

Day 223, Friday

One more medical test before what will fingers crossed be one of the last two medical appointments I have for a while. I’m really hoping that everything checks out for my thyroid and my shoulder and I can isolate in time to be cleared for the holidays. (not that I’m planning more than dinner at home for my mom, if I can swing it)

Day 224 & 225, Saturday and Sunday

A very productive weekend. I don’t wish to jinx it, but my current writing routing is really working for me.

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social distance diaries: days 204-210

in which we go to all the doctors…

Day 204, Monday

Was in a meeting where folks were discussing their recent increase in meetings… meanwhile, I have three meeting-free days this month, excluding two days for an online conference. None of those include the two new committees I am now a part of, and none are related to the move to remote. If I was working on-campus, I would still be attending the same number of meetings.

Day 205, Tuesday

I took a look at my schedule and realized I had nothing pressing until after lunch, so I grabbed my ballot and headed to the elections office to drop it off. My vote is in. I hope some good comes of it.

Day 206, Wednesday

Off to the ob-gyn for my yearly wellness exam. She also thinks my arm pain is a knot in my muscle rather than something internal, but I’m still waiting on an approval for the MRI…

Day 207, Thursday

And off to the doctor again for my yearly physical. My OBG and GP are a husband/wife pair and both were open about their views on the current administration’s response to COVID and their personal bout with the virus. Both caught it, along with one their kids. His case was worse (he developed pneumonia and fainted several times), but his wife and daughter developed tremors after recovering. It sounded frightening but weirdly reassuring. Like I too might have a chance… Still, he told me, “keep doing what you’re doing if you haven’t caught it.”

Day 208, Friday

Back to the grind… I blocked out a few hours for a pressing project, but it still wasn’t enough. Spent the night reading so I could away from the screens.

My BF reached the let-my-girlfriend-give-me-an-undercut stage of not being a fool in a pandemic. It was my first time using clippers but it went well!

Day 209, Saturday

Mild migraine rolled in with the storm clouds, but managed to head it off with a low dose of advil. I started laying off the advil after I noticed it was making me retain water in a concerning way, but it’s one of the only pain killers that works for me with some success. Managed to get a few hours of writing in before it wore off, but no rebound headache yet fingers crossed

I used to have regular dessert dates on the weekends, just quick trips to a local bakery for treats and coffee, but those stopped at the start of the pandemic. Today, I took a chance and stopped at one of my old haunts for a small cake for myself and cheesecake for the boy. There were two people eating inside but they left shortly after I arrived, and it took less than 15 minutes, so the risk felt less dire than my recent trips to the doctor.

It was delicious.

Day 210, Sunday

Alternated between writing, cleaning, and paying bills/checking my budget. Decent amount of energy too. Days like today me feel almost normal, which is kind of sad if I think about it too closely.

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social distance diaries: days 197-203

in which we reach the 200s

Day 197, Monday

Checked in with my folks and finally started to feel motivated enough to return to a work-related research project I’ve put off for an embarrassingly long time.

Day 198, Tuesday

And the hormonal migraine came back with a vengeance…

Day 199, Wednesday

What happened on Wednesday? I can’t even remember…

Day 200, Thursday

Wow. 200 days of Working from Home and trying not to lose my head every time I need to go somewhere.

Had an ultrasound this morning to look into a weird pain I’ve been having… preliminary review by the tech showed no lumps, so fingers crossed for the radiologist’s report. I didn’t want to take the risk and “wait and see”.

That said, waking up an hour earlier only made my migraine worse and I needed to lie down when I got home. I would call it rest, but there’s no rest, just an all-consuming need to lay down, slap a heating pad behind my head, a cold pack on my forehead, and a black-out mask over my eyes and lay as still as possible. I felt some relief, but I’m working in the dark now.

Day 201, Friday

Dr. called with my results. Ultrasound was all clear, but they can refer me to a specialist if the pain continues. I’m starting to think the pain is muscular, as it started when I was going to the vet on a nearly weekly basis… heavy cats, already injured, not a good combination. I’m going to try to get to the local orthopedic center to see if it’s muscular. No sense in seeing a breast specialist if it’s a muscular issue. I’d rather rule it out first, if it’s not. (really hoping it’s a simple strain, that would be the best case scenario).

Meetings in the morning, followed by a dentist appointment that I could put off no longer. I have TMJ and my teeth have been experiencing sensitivity. I’ve needed a cleaning since March and have been dreading it. This feels like the safest time to go (cases are down, but not staying down).

More news! The ortho believes I may have torn/sprained my Teres Minor, one of the four muscles that assist in shoulder mobility. He found the spot right away and the description that I found matches what I’m feeling. To err on the side of caution, he ordered an MRI, so I’ll be scheduling that as soon as I hear back from the imaging center. fingers crossed the pain will be the result of carrying too many fat cats with bad form and no worse.

While I was at the Dr’s, I received an appointment to another very important university committee… my second one this week. I like serving, but it’s getting to the point where I’m averaging 7-9 hours of meetings a week and it’s starting to affect my ability to do my regular duties. I requested a meeting with my dean to lay out some realistic expectations going forward, because I can’t see myself doing it all without crashing and burning.

I should also point out that these meetings are not the result of Zoom. TBH, Zoom is an improvement over the uncomfortable seating and lighting arrangements that generally trigger the tightness in my shoulders that starts my headaches.

Day 202, Saturday

Back to writing. I took about a week and half to prep and plan for round three of edits, now that the major developmental/revision round is complete. I started the morning with a migraine, so it wasn’t as productive as I would have liked, but I’m also willing to give myself grace. I worked for two and half hours and managed to stick to my plan, which is a a win.

Completed my vote-by-mail ballot, now I have to find some time to take it to the elections office between the 7.5 hours of meetings I have scheduled this week (so far).

Had a Netflix and tea night and was completely charmed by the Enola Holmes movie. I want more! And I want to read all the books!

Day 203, Sunday

Trying to shift my writing a bit earlier in the morning, so I started at 8 and pomodoro-ed my way through a 3 hour block with 10 minute breaks. I calculated how much time it will take to finish this round if I maintain this pace and it’s not bad. Obviously, that’s an idealized situation. Realistically, there will be at least one week a month when I’m knocked out by a migraine and there will be days when I’m too tired to write after a day of staring at Zoom, but allowing for a few days off, it’s still promising.

Took a quick trip to see mom and gran. We’re seeing a slight rise in cases, but still less than we’ve seen in months. I’m worried about the holiday season and trying to take the time I can to see them before we have to quarantine again. The drop in cases is the only reason I felt “safe” enough to get he care I needed this week without immediately locking myself down.

I made espresso for the first time in a couple of months… that may have been a tactical error.

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off the shelf: what I read – September 2020

Still Reading

Silverwolf (Rowankind 2) by Jacey Bedford – part two in a three part series… more adventuring in alternate-history, 18th century England.

Hex, Love, and Rock & Roll by Kat Turner – I won a copy of this title as part of a LibraryThing giveaway. Urban fantasy with witches? Sign me up!

Finished

Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest – What a perfect gem of a book. I needed something happy and uplifting after everything that has happened (take your pick) and this book delivered. Evie is a young actress with a family legacy who has a lot to learn about her worth as an individual. She gets caught up in Hollywood drama and is forced to confront plenty of truths about friendship, family, and herself. It’s a sweet story and I highly recommend for anyone who needs a hopeful read.

The Hot Shot by Kristen Callihan – This has been recommended on a couple of the podcasts I follow, but I had the same issue that I had with The Hook Up — I’m not convinced these are people in their early 20s. Not around 2017 when this was printed. They read like older 30-somethings from the 90s, down to the pop culture references. Part of me wonders if these books were written long before they were published and revised to sound current. So many questions… Anyhow, her Darkest London series remains my favorite. I skimmed most of the second half.

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare – This might be my favorite Tessa Dare book ever! It has some Beauty and the Beast elements, a little Jane/Rochester vibe, and a heroine who knows what she wants and will do what she has to do to get it (including staging a Regency-era LARP situation).

Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare – Part of the same series as Romancing the Duke, but this one didn’t hit the mark for me. A sweet story about childhood crushes and redemption, but the characters didn’t hold me in the same way, plus there was weirdness about parental abuse and starvation that mostly came out of nowhere…

The Duke’s Stolen Bride by Sophie Jordan – Apparently, I had a copy of the first book in this series on my Kindle (I really need to stop impulse buying all the books), so I read it out of order… Sophie Jordan is still new to me, so I don’t have much basis for comparison. Her books lie somewhere between Tessa Dare and Sarah Maclean in terms of romance and comedy IMO. Part of me wanted to Marian to get real with her sisters and tell them to find jobs without her having to scheme to become a courtesan (also, make the brother get a job FFS)… I wasn’t sold on the conflict.
TW for threat of rape as a plot device.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip – I picked this up during one of my last trips to Barnes and Noble during my brief winter break in the beforetimes. The cover is gorgeous and this is a classic, but the story fell a little flat for me. I think the reader I was in 2004, when I was new to fairy tale fantasy and gobbling up everything that smacked of British folk lore would’ve loved this, but I am not that reader anymore and the use of physical and mental rape as conflict was a deal-breaker.

Audiobooks

Misery by Stephen King – podcast “read” so join us on October 1st to hear my thoughts! Let’s just say I had to speed up the audio to 1.50 to get through it.

DNF

Checked out Midnight Sun, saw that it is 25(!) hours long and decided to wait for the book from my library. I’m curious, but not 25 hours curious.

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social distance diaries: days 190-196

in which we cut our own hair

Day 190, Monday

I’ve been using Notion to plan my weeks, as an addendum to my planner, and it’s making the start of my week so much more predictable and effective. It’s nice to be able to mark tasks off and brainstorm all in one place; it’s really helping me find a new groove now that my committees are starting up again.

Day 191, Tuesday

Grocery time! I never got around to doing a proper grocery trip in August for numerous reasons, but then I sprained my ankle and I COULDN’T go to the store until now. Living off Amazon Fresh orders is fine and dandy, but the variety isn’t the best, and their adherence to sell-by dates is often questionable. It was so nice to buy fresh produce again.

Also, took my first real walk since the sprain and it was a challenge. This is going to be a slow recovery.

Day 192, Wednesday

In an effort to rebuild my strength (and get out of a physical rut), I started an old workout program that I followed a few years ago. I won’t name them here because I don’t agree with their approach to diet, but the exercise plan is easy enough to adapt for my current needs and is helping me feel a bit less bleh. My ankle has more mobility, but my gait is still stiff. I need all the strengthening I can get if I’m ever going to get back to running, let alone walking more than a short distance.

Day 193, Thursday

One of those marathon meeting days. Not the first this week, but the longest… Also, announced my intention to continue to work remotely for the Spring semester. I miss my office, but I’m also not willing to take the chance when the offer is available. I’ve dealt with enough health struggles to risk it and I refuse to give in to the capitalist mentality that tells us to sacrifice our personal well-being for the sake of a company or institution. mic drop

Day 194, Friday

I’ll be working this weekend, so I most of the day off in exchange (had a meeting I couldn’t miss). It felt GLORIOUS to lay in bed for an extra hour, and take my time over coffee and a nostalgic Toaster Strudel breakfast (saw two random strudels on my socials and had to satisfy the craving). It’s also been incredibly productive. Sometimes, a day off during the week results in more getting done than a three-day weekend.

Day 195, Saturday

Working backup on the chat desk, so I blocked my morning off to get stuff done and spent the 6-hour session reading on craft, watching tutorials and writing advice on YouTube, and taking care of tasks in the background. I dislike weekend chat (I have reasons) but I committed to making the best of it.

Day 196, Sunday

Made vegan French Toast to use up the “just” eggs bottle that the boy bought (he was curious). Anyone who tells you that it tastes “just” like eggs has not had an egg in a very long time… it feels like rubbery eggs and tastes weirdly of steamed broccoli (that’s the only way I can describe the way it smells and tastes). It’s not bad but it also needs a lot of dressing up so it doesn’t taste weird. Lots of cinnamon helps.

Felt a hormonal migraine coming on, so I took two advil and… fell asleep. I don’t think it will keep it away, but maybe it will keep it from ramping into a full blown volcano of pain.

And then we reached the “cut my own ends” stage of “I’m not fool enough to go to the salon” times. It went well.

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#projectuseitup: quarantine empties 3

a whole lot of empties

Quarantine empties, part 3! or, what I used up between July and September

EltaMD UV Physical SPF 41 – This used to be my favorite physical sunscreen, until I noticed that it started to dry out my skin. I came back to it this year when I was struggling to find a non-makeup based spf for daily wear… that may have been a mistake. The dryness returned and I think this may be one of the culprits behind my eye dryness/sensitivity. Will not repurchase.

Thayer’s Witch Hazel, Rose Petal – A travel size from last year’s Whole Foods beauty bag. My favorite is the cucumber, but the rose is ok. I dislike rose scents in general, but I dislike waste more, so I poured this in a spray bottle and used it like a face mist. I have one more to use up (from this year’s bag and hope they replace it with a different scent in future bags).

Andalou Naturals, Meyer Lemon C Creamy Cleanser – Not my favorite, but not the worst. I won’t repurchase, but it met the need for a cream cleanser when I couldn’t find my ACURE cleanser.

LaRoche-Posay, Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser – I really liked this but couldn’t find a replacement when I ran out, so I’m going back to the CeraVe hydrating cleanser, which is similar but not as soothing IMO.

Dr. Bronner’s Almond Pure-Castile Soap – an old standard. I use this to make a foaming hand wash and as a travel all-over wash (when travel was a thing that actually happened).

Vitafusion Melatonin gummies – Basically can’t sleep without these. They’re the only type of melatonin that does not leave me groggy the next morning.

Farmacy Cheer Up brightening eye cream – I picked this up soon after it released and the texture was lovely, but it does NOT like the Florida heat because it went from mousse to weird gloopy gel long before the 6 month use by date. Also, 6 months is too short for such a large jar. They need to find better packaging to stop this product from going off so quickly.

Bath & Body Works, Vanilla Coconut & Fashionably Latte antibacterial gel – When covid was starting to become a real thing, I took a last minute, random trip to BBW and stocked up right before they ran out. When antibacterial disappeared from all stores, I still had a nice stock of these.

Andalou Naturals, CannaCell Happy Day Cream – My favorite day cream. Tried it as a sample and bought the full size because it worked so well on my skin. Not too oily and just a little dewy.

Arnica Montana 200ck tabs – do these work? is it a placebo? I don’t know, but it’s worth a shot when all else fails.

Twinkle * Apothecary Orange Blossom perfume – One of Twinkle’s monthly scents, a perfect blend of orange blossom and vanilla that gives me nostalgic, Cuban baby perfume vibes.

2 random pens!!!! – always a success 🙂

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social distance diaries: days 183-189

the one where things get weird

Day 183, Monday

Straight to the vet at 8am. I couldn’t sleep and know a migraine is starting as a result, but my anxiety was way too high and the weather is too variable at the moment.

Kitty is ok and received another shot of steroids to help with her inflamation, but I hate the thought of her having to take steroids for the foreseeable future. I hope this is a seasonal thing that resolve… I’ve tried everything, but can’t determine what the irritant might be. Having so many issues with scents and chemicals myself, my home is generally free of common irritants. All I can think is that there might be mold? It started after my other cat died and a part of me also wonders if she reacted to the cleaning that she received.

Anyhow, what I do know is that going to the vet when I can barely walk and it’s raining is a BAD combination. I ass-planted when I stepped on a slick walk and now my right side is bruised and achy. Luckily, I didn’t hit my head and I fell on the cushiony part of my side, so it’s just a bruised bum.

Day 184, Tuesday

For reasons I had to bring two of my mom’s cats to my place for the day. One was generally grumpy and the other mildly concerned… returning them to their carriers was an ORDEAL and resulted in my BF lifting the couch while I hobble-chased with a towel.

Day 185, Wednesday

I’m really feeling Monday’s fall and the cat toting of the last two days (they chonky). My back is not pleased, but my ankle is getting back to normal.

Anywho, got my flu shot and had a followup with the cardiologist and ortho. My heart is fine, just a “sinus tachycardia” caused by stimulation (probably hormones or diet). Nothing to worry about at least. I’m glad I have a cause, because I’m tired of people telling me to a) relax or b) that I need to breathe. FFS I practice yoga on a regular basis and have low blood pressure, I’m already too relaxed.

Ankle is healing as well. I should be able to start taking short walks soon without the brace. I’ve been making good use of my exercise bands to strengthen the ligament.

Day 186, Thursday

Started getting a migraine. Meetings are even worse when your head is pounding and you just want to sleep.

Day 187, Friday

Quick morning writing session and the draft is just about done…

Day 188, Saturday

YES! The rewrite/dev edit is complete! It feels like such a triumph after all the everything that’s been happening. There were times when I doubted that I would ever have the energy to write again, but slow and steady brought me back to this. I’m going to take the rest of the month to read up on craft, plan my next round of edits, and work on some practice query materials.

Day 189, Sunday

And like that, I learned that at least one of the terrible sounds coming through my wall is the sound of my neighbor’s punching bag. GAH.
They’re not the worst neighbors I’ve ever had, but they have no sense of what it means to live in an apartment or an old building where every thump resonates through the wall. I usually ignore it, but my SHELVES were shaking and all my frames were rattling. I sent a text letting them know, even though I hate making contact. (again, I’ve had REALLY bad neighbors)
By the sound, I suspected a kickboxing workout. Nope. Just a home gym setup in a too tiny apartment with a shared wall. 😦 I skip workouts that involve jumps just to avoid being that neighbor. No such awareness on their part.
Things are being slammed even as I write this.

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social distance diaries: days 176-182

in which time loses all meaning

Day 176, Monday

Another Monday, another day inside despite it being Labor Day… not that I ever really do much on Labor Day. I’m not a beach person, even under normal circumstances.

Day 177, Tuesday

I’ve been turned around all day, thinking it was Monday. My leg woke me up at 2am and kept me up until 4-something, so there’s that. I applied heat today to see if that soothes the muscle. I think my ankle has started to tense, leading to cramping (at least, I hope it’s just cramping).

Day 178, Wednesday

Cookie Cat went back to the vet for what is (hopefully) the last time. His stitches came out and we asked for him to be tested for anything contagious because, yes, I’m bringing him home. Part of me isn’t ready for a second cat—I’m still missing my sugar bear and little girl is still not 100% since her bout of bronchitis (and other -itises)—but I want to give him a chance at a nice, comfortable, indoor life. Basically, my place is a rehab home for my mom’s sick ferals.

Day 179, Thursday

Trying KT tape on the ankle because the boot is making my leg ache. Also adding some stretches and mobility exercises to loosen up my joint. The scabby knee is itchy AF.

Days 180 – 182, Friday – Sunday

TBH, these days were a blur. Friday was filled with meetings and the weekend was filled with writing, podcast recording on Sunday, and worrying on Sunday night. It was a productive time until kitty started sneezing and breathing faster than normal. Her asthma/allergy is acting up again and I have no idea what is causing it, but a vet trip is in order.

The number of confirmed covid cases is going down in the state and locally, but we’re still higher than we were when we shut down back in March. I’m worried about the holidays and kids going back to the classroom 😦

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social distance diaries: days 169-175

in which I am in injured…

Day 169, Monday

Kitty woke me up too early, so I decided to get to work right away… missed my morning walk, decided on a post-lunch stroll and bam tripped on a massive pothole behind my building, twisting my ankle 😦

An officer was driving by and saw me fall. It was pure serendipity because I’m not sure how I was going to hobble back to my apartment without something to lean on.

Glad it wasn’t a break, but not feeling great about being injured, alone, and unable to get much help from my family because of covid. Not being able to reach my mom or boyfriend for well over 30 minutes while crying and stumbling around my apartment with a swollen ankle and a bloody knee brought a lot of my living alone fears to the fore.

Day 170, Tuesday

Living that peg-leg life. Wasn’t able to sleep with the boot, but at least the pain decreased and managed to get some rest after switching to a brace. Being a chronic painer means I’m well-equipped to deal with the situation. sort of sigh Slathering on arnica, triflora, and cbd cream between icing sessions. Elevating all day with my WFH setup. It makes for some interesting zoom sessions.

The knee that I scraped is badly bruised, but my knee feels fine (thank goodness!). Not an attractive sight.

Called the city to report the pothole. I can see it from my bedroom window… hoping they fill it.

Day 171, Wednesday & Day 172, Thursday

Apparently, my body doesn’t like naproxen. Two days of dizziness, drowsiness, brain fog, and near inability to function. The side effects of the meds were worse than the sprain.

Day 173, Friday

24 hours after my last pain killer and I feel significantly better. Switched to advil as needed, which isn’t often. As long as I’m wearing the boot, icing, and taking care to rest, I don’t feel pain. The bruising is well and truly purple now.

Getting my head back helps.

Day 174, Saturday

I stayed up reading, something I haven’t done in a VERY long time, which means kitty was most displeased when I didn’t get up for her breakfast. I received a nip on my arm for my disrespect.

Still having a hard time finding my focus. Edited for about 25 minutes before my attention was shot.

Spent some time with the boy, which always makes me a little nervous (he has to physically go to work twice a week and goes shopping more than I ever do), but he wears his mask and I really need the help if I want to leave the house.

Day 175, Sunday

Back to writing (focus on point today), but there’s so much that needs doing, I have to split my time, even on the weekends. Plus, my leg feels uncomfortable if I sit too long—not that standing is any better. I mostly have to lay, which has me feeling all manner of dejected after 6 days straight.

Started working on a cookbook review project, but I’m limited by mobility and ingredients at the moment, so this is going to be interesting…

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off the shelf: what I read – August 2020

Still Reading

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip – making my way through those print TBRs…

Finished

Act Like It by Lucy Parker – (link to HB podcast) A perfect enemies-to-lovers romance! I heard about this book a long, long time ago and had it on my book list forever… When Heaving Bosoms recapped it on one of their episodes, I decided the time was now. This was the unexpected reading highlight of a slow, but good reading month.

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal – Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan… I’ve long felt that the only way to pull off a beat-for-beat Pride & Prejudice update is to set it in a place where marrying above your station can make a meaningful difference in a woman’s life. Setting it in Pakistan in the year 2000 is chef’s kiss. You get the mother-obsessed-with-marriage without it being weird and out of place. Billionaire boyfriend books aside, the relationship between Alysba and Darsee reads like a real Pride & Prejudice set in “modern” times. Loved how the story was updated and all the references to books scattered throughout (I already ordered a copy of Sunlight on a Broken Column by Attia Hossain).

One random aside, there are some jarring head-hopping scenes where the narrative shifts from the speaker to an omniscient narrator that tells you a different character’s thoughts or backstory. I’m not sure if this is a call-back to Austen, or a writerly conceit that didn’t work for me.

The Virgin and the Rogue by Sophie Jordan – aphrodisiac gone awry… This is the sort of premise that sounds absolutely bonkers but makes for a very fun, quick read. Couldn’t put it down. I loved the chemistry between the characters and look forward to reading more Sophie Jordan.

West by Edith Pattou – this book has been on my shelf for a little over a year… it was published in 2018, the sequel to Pattou’s East (a retelling of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” that I love). One of the mainsubplots is a pandemic.
facepalm

That said, it took me back to a world I missed and reminded me why I love re-tellings. Still, if you can’t handle the thought of a plague, maybe hold off on this one.

A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane – barbarian romantic fantasy … this straddles the place between erotic and romantic fantasy IMO. If you don’t like female anatomical bits described as c*nt, maybe skip this one. This book is doing things… it doesn’t all work for me, but it makes me think, and that’s always worth the read.

Audiobooks

Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole – Not my favorite, but it’s a turning point in the series so…
Unpopular opinion: the Valkyries are the beings I enjoy the least in this series and this one has A LOT of Valkyries. Much of the conflict was of the “this could’ve been fixed if you talked about it” variety; pretty standard, but didn’t fully for work me. Think Jewel of the Nile with a not-quite-unrequited love interest, a god that needs to be killed, and a whole of lot interpersonal baggage.

TW: lots of sexual abuse and torture (the big bad is a really BIG BAD).

DNF

none! yay!

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