off the shelf: what I read in March and April 2021

what I read – March & April 2021

Currently reading

Taming Him by Kennedy Fox

Read

Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas – My third Kleypas read and my second of the 2021. There’s a lot of debate in Romancelandia about Derek Crave vs. St. Vincent and, friends, I am a St. Vincent girl, so I read this one purely for the cameo. It’s nice to see the series transition to the Victorian era, but Pandora is that class of independent-naive-quirky-rich-girl (dare I say manic pixie dream girl?) that gets on my nerves in a historical romance. The plot also falls flat in the third act… Kleypas loves an injured hero/heroine, but it didn’t work for me this time.

Take a hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert – SO MUCH LOVE! I can’t believe I slept this long on Talia Hibbert (partly because I know she’s prolific and I wasn’t ready for a rabbit hole of new books…). There is a lot of me in Dani and I loved how the way her character grows from someone who only cares about academics to someone who is emotionally competent. Also, Zaf’s protein bars 🥰

Take the Lead by Alexis Daria – This one was partly research because one of Alexis Daria’s books is a comp title for my future queries, but it’s also just good fun. It’s not something I ever really talk about but I LOVE dance. I always wished we could’ve afforded dance lessons, because I love dancing, even though I’ve always been too shy and awkward to dance in public 😅. Alexis Daria has a way of making TV celebrity romance something that I actually care about and this one was no exception. If you enjoy reality dance competitions and sexy, contemporary romance, this one’s for you.

The Rakehell of Roth by Amalie Howard – Normally, I’m a sucker for second chance romance, but sometimes even I get tired of a hero who thinks he isn’t good enough for his wife.

An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn – Can it be that I miss the slow burn of Veronica and Stoker’s will they/won’t they romance? I kind of think I do… Another fun Victorian mystery, but it fell a little flat. Will, of course, continue to read the series.

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin – on hold. Hmmm… I’m not sure if I’m not in the right place for this one or it’s not for me. Will revisit.

Dare to Lead by Brene Brown – DNFed against my will! Lol 😅 it took me too long to get to it and I had to return it to the library. I’m on the hold list until it circles back to me.

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata – Taking a few book layovers because this is a HEAVY little tome. Currently on hold, maybe future DNF? Not sure if I’m in the right place for this one either. It’s clearly leading to a recurring sexual abuse plot.

TW for verbal and physical abuse and sexual assault.

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas – If you thought ACOTAR was too sexy, this is not for you… This book SIZZLES. It spicy, y’all. Also, so much angst. I wasn’t sure I would care for Nesta’s story, but this hit all the marks for me: high stakes fantasy, angry heroine, female friendship, and a fated mates love story.

TW for ALL the violence, threat of/assault on the page, depression, self-hatred, and mention of self-harm.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken – I LOVED this book. It’s the perfect blend of mythology and urban fantasy that destroys me as a reader AND a writer because it is the kind of story I yearn to publish one day. If you love Greek mythology, high stakes, and violent urban fantasy, this book is for you. It’s technically YA, but reads like an adult novel.

DNF

The Awakening by Nora Roberts – I like Nora Roberts. I like slip fantasy. I just couldn’t get into this book and was thrown out of the story the minute the heroine mentioned sharing an iPod with her roommate. This was published in 2020, y’all. Who has an iPod?

Audiobooks

n/a! Mostly because I’ve been binging youtube on my downtime.

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social distance diaries: days 408-414

Day 408, Monday

To the library! For a day of catching up on small projects. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m finding that the bulk of my administrative work can be accomplished within a handful of hours… the rest of the week is more reactive than planned.

Day 409, Tuesday

My regular Tuesday meeting is over for a few months and it felt like a dream. A whole day without a two hour meeting to cut into my afternoon. Perfection.

Day 410, Wednesday

After three emails and an unusually long wait, the vet insurance rejected my claim because they misinterpreted the diagnosis. Last year I had to challenge my insurance plan; now, I’m challenging the cat’s plan. [spoiler: I made my case and the case was approve. Never let a claim go without at least trying. It’s frustrating, but I dealt with years of medical bills.

Day 411, Thursday

I’m in some kind of mood today (re: PMS).

Day 412, Friday

Life stuff, work, and meetings.

Day 413, Saturday – Day 414, Sunday

What started as a day off from writing turned into 4 days. I took Thursday and Friday off, then life got in the way and I realized I just need the time to reset. The only days I didn’t spend time writing in April were a handful of migraine days and the day after my 2nd shot. Sometimes, I need to step away.

I’m having a moment. I’m feeling extra nostalgic for some of the rings I gave away during one of my last rounds of konmari style decluttering a few years ago. This doesn’t happen often, but there have been a few occasions where I’ve felt regret after the fact. I’m currently reminding myself that the reason I got rid of them is because they were too large to even wear on my thumb. I was at my heaviest between high school and undergrad. I kept the smallest of the rings and it currently fits around my index finger, but a part of me misses those pieces, even if I couldn’t wear them. A lot of them were garnet, and most had a grungy/witchy 90s vibe, which was definitely my style at the time (still my style, if I’m being honest, but now I keep the drama to one or two pieces rather than layer it on). I may end up ordering a daisy ring to satisfy this desire. Super 90s and super nostalgic.

Speaking of nostalgic, the Bluestocking’s episode on Shrek and Shrek 2 just dropped and it’s definitely full of memories

Episode 43: Shrek & Shrek 2 The Bluestocking Circle Podcast

In which we reminisce about kids' meal toys, fail to learn the moral of the story, and discover this tale about an ogre was created for young ladies of quality. All this and more as the Bluestockings discuss the movies Shrek and Shrek 2.

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video: a very short quiet days vlog (spoiler: it’s mostly cats)

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social distance diaries: days 401-407

Day 401, Monday

Starting the week with some deep work and focus. Randomly selected for covid testing at work, which was a nice push to get tested since I’ve been going out a bit more since reaching the two week post- vaccine mark.

Day 402, Tuesday

Made an appointment to take girl kitty to the vet. She’s been off her food. I suspected a return of her infection or a tooth ache and was sort of right. She has a mild tooth situation but a more concerning low white blood count 😞.

Day 403, Wednesday

Meeting with my department in the morning for our regular monthly check in. Lots to talk about this time as a number of changes are coming. Rare day with a clear schedule so I took my car to get a tune up. 💸💸💸 it’s been a spendy week for my budget between the vet and the car. I was just in time though, my brakes were badly worn (not a surprise tbh). Have to look into tire deals. Also not a surprise after last years flat and air pressure weirdness.

Haven’t been sleeping great this week, so my weekend writing progress has taken a major hit. To make matters worse, I hurt my good arm while carrying the cat carrier 😓. That’s how I hurt my other arm last year (and how we discovered the enchondroma in my shoulder).

Day 404, Thursday

Work and laundry between meetings. It was a long day. It’s been a long week. My diet and physical health suffered as a result and I’m sure it’s one of the culprits behind my headaches and terrible nausea ☹️

Day 405, Friday

Took half the day off to take my dad to the grocery store. It’s a long, complicated story, but he’s mostly disabled and needed the help (I say mostly because he won’t apply for the official designation though he can barely walk or lift his arms). I don’t live with him, my sister does and for reasons kept standing him up for weeks. It was a three hour affair, involving two shopping carts and a tetris-style packing situation to fit all the stuff in my car. He was a happy elder and I was an exhausted, but content daughter.

Day 406, Saturday – Day 407, Sunday

I signed up to take part in a virtual orientation over the weekend; saw a few students, but no one really wants to attend a virtual orientation. It was mostly three hours of chatting with my coworkers from the other campus while answering questions for the handful of students that signed on.

Tried to catch up on my NaNo project, but I realized my word goal was too lofty from the start and decided to edit it down. Probably won’t make it anyhow, but I’m still going. Camp NaNo month was plagued by weekend commitments, family needs, and migraines that kept me away from the draft on a regular basis. It is what it is. Progress is slow but steady.

Posted last week’s vlog a week late… oops! I uploaded but never hit publish.

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social distance diaries: days 394-400

Day 394, Monday – Day 400, Sunday

Most of the week was a blur until Thursday. Started Monday with a migraine that attacked my head, my neck, and my digestive system. I managed to get some work done between the waves of relief and resurgence, but it was one of those attacks that wouldn’t respond to any of my relief methods—no amount of pain meds, TENS, herbal tea, yoga, massage, or hot/cold therapy could make it go away. I slathered on every kind of mentholated muscle cream I own over my neck and brow, but some migraines just don’t respond to anything. It finally reached what I think of as the crescendo when I woke up on Thursday morning and was gone by the end of the day. Friday was the first real day when I managed to feel well enough to get a sustained amount of writing done, and that high got me through Saturday as well. Sunday turned into an unplanned day off when I learned that my dad was having a particularly nasty bout of depression. I don’t know how much time I have with him, his cancer treatments have stalled and I worry that it’s progressing without our knowledge, though I sincerely hope I’m wrong. Either way, making time for a visit felt more important than a few hours of editing. It proved to be a good distraction for him and I’m blocking a day in my calendar to take him grocery shopping this week.

However, my afternoon proved emotionally draining when I witnessed a horrible instance of animal cruelty that I had no way of stopping or not seeing. It occurred on a busy highway as I was on my way to visit my mom. People are disgusting and I can’t wrap my head around what they did. I got off the exit and drove up and down that stretch of highway multiple times, slowing to a crawl with my blinkers on to see if there was any possibility that it survived, but there no sight of the animal and I can only hope it died quickly if that was its end. I write this because I need to get it off my chest but I don’t want go into detail because it hurts to think about it, though I’ve been replaying it in my mind all evening, wishing I could’ve done something, all while knowing there was nothing I could do with so much oncoming traffic. It was cruelty, plain and simple and I wish I could say it was a rare occurrence.

It’s late now and I know this is something that my anxious brain will keep replaying for days.

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social distance diaries: days 387-393

in which I am emotionally spent

Day 387, Monday

There are some weeks where projects sneak up on me like bunnies appearing out of a hat. I think I’m all caught up, then bam! Not an ideal start to my week and my brain is scattered after the weekend’s productivity. I have to remind myself that this is a cycle.

Day 388, Tuesday

To the office for meetings and laptop updates (there are some updates I’m not allowed to run on work devices). The meetings took over my day, not much to show for my day except a pair of new laptop/monitor stands that I installed to alleviate neck strain at work.

Day 389, Wednesday

Posted last week’s vlog at long last [watch it here]. I don’t think there will be much of a vlog this week, if any [not a vlog, but a gentle reset video coming as scheduled].

My heart broke a little tonight. I’m grieving a part of myself and struggling to move on.

Day 390, Thursday

It was a rough night. I’m not in a great place, emotionally or mentally today. Like so many other moments, this is a season and it will pass, but it’s the kind of passing where something is irrevocably lost in the process.

Day 391, Friday

Hard to focus when my heart isn’t in it and my head hurts. I took a wellness day and only logged on for an hour of chat. The most work I was able to manage.

I made a list and feelings were discussed. It’s a start.

Day 392, Saturday – Day 393, Sunday

Focused on self-care this weekend. No writing, no worrying about being productive, just took time to take care of my physical and mental wellbeing.

Feeling much better this weekend. It’s been a journey of healing over the last few days.

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social distance diaries, days 380-386

in which there is little sleep and a lot of pain

Day 380, Monday

So insomnia is back. Woke up at 4am, my brain spinning with thoughts and fixating on a random comment posted to one of the writing groups I recently joined. Went to work a little earlier, took a quick trip to my mom’s, and managed not to collapse until I got home.

Day 381, Tuesday

Slept a bit better, but I definitely have a migraine that keeps coming and going. Interrupted sleep isn’t helping.

The day was good, the evening not so much.

Day 382, Wednesday

Another crazy early morning. My brain just won’t stop whirring at random hours. I laid off the caffeine earlier than usual today. Hoping I don’t wake up at 1 am again. Yep, that’s what happened last night. Up at 1, fell asleep, up at 3, fell asleep, and so on until I finally rolled out of bed around 8:30 after shutting all my alarms off (even the one that requires me to get out of bed and walk across the room).

Vaccine #2 tomorrow. I’m so glad that I was able to get it. The numbers are starting to rise again in Miami, and I don’t look forward to having a campus full of unvaccinated 20 year olds running around this summer. My migraine/neck pain is still throbbing. Going to take some advil before bed (less than my usual dose) and hope I don’t have a full blown attack in the morning since I can’t take advil before the shot. The pain ebbs and flows.

Day 383, Thursday

Vaccine #2! Instant soreness and general lethargy. Had a giant breakfast to celebrate the milestone.

Day 384, Friday

Fever hit around 2am. On and off all day, but it finally broke sometime around dinner. Arm still mad sore!

Day 385, Saturday – Day 386, Sunday

Arm slightly sore on Saturday, but quickly improving. Started my CampNaNo project, which is to get as close to a finished draft as possible so I can send it off to betas.

Another early morning on Sunday. Woke up at 4am after some weird nightmare involving the little girl cat. Had to get out of bed and check on her just to calm my racing heart. Couldn’t get back to sleep after that, so I did something I never do—I sat down to write at 5am, cup of coffee by my side. Met my daily goal well before I normally get up, but there’s no way I can ever do this regularly. Aside from the nightmare, I’m not fully alive at 5am. I’ve tried it before; I burn out by the end of the week. If that’s your thing, more power to you. I struggle with chronic fatigue and insomnia, choosing work over sleep doesn’t end well for me.

Speaking of which, this week’s vlog is going to be a few days late. I thought I’d be able to edit it tonight, but it’s more than twelve hours since I woke up as I write this and there’s no way I’m nearing empty.

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video: quiet days weekly vlog, March 22-28


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