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Books I read last year that you should read or not read, or do whatever, what do I know, part 2.

Here’s the rest of the 102 books I read last year, again presented for you Princess Nebraska-style. If you don’t know what that is, you can either go read her blog and see how she does it (recommended), or you can read my long-winded explanation of what is really a very simple thing in the post with the first half of this list here.

Like I said in my year end recap yesterday, I had a goal of reading 130 books in 2012, and I didn’t make it. I read 102. I didn’t count rereads, and I spent a big chunk of the year watching Doctor Who. I probably would have made it if not for those two things, I think.

There is a theme, I think, to the second half of the books. I’m going to have to ask that if you are under 18, you not tell me you’re perusing this list of books. Do what you’re gonna do, though, you’re not my responsibility.

All the links go to Goodreads, which you should join, and if we’re already friends, you’ll see my reviews, if I’ve written one.

58. Easy – THIS BOOK WAS SO STUPID I HATE THIS BOOK AND ITS STUPID ASS FACE. IT SHOULDN’T EVEN BE ALIVE.

59. The Darkest Hour – Ahahahahaaaa HAHAHA. I need you to go read the premise to this book. And then comprehend that it’s a series. About brothers. Who are freelance special agents.

60. Half BakedAlexa wrote this book! About Simone! And you read it, and then her blog, and it’s so strange, because SIMONE IS SUDDENLY SO BIG! It was great.

61. The Mediterranean Billionaire’s Blackmail Bargain – Okay. Okay. Set aside the title for a second. Set it aside. I SAID SET IT ASIDE. There’s this certain type of plot that runs through a huge portion of romance novels, where an arrogant male-type, usually rich, makes this huge assumption in his arrogance that causes some misunderstanding that could be explained by the lady type in FIVE SECONDS, if only her pride would allow her to explain it, but HER PRIDE WILL NOT allow her to explain it, and instead, she acts against her actual character for the whole book, allowing the male type to be all, ah HA, I THOUGHT AS MUCH, while actually grievously wounding the lady type, even though he keeps seeing flashes of evidence that she’s actually NOT the terrible whore/bitch/gold digger he assumed, and the both of them keep wounding each other even though they’re actually both falling in love, but both figure the other one actually isn’t, and then they’re driven apart by this misunderstanding that COULD HAVE BEEN EXPLAINED IN FIVE SECONDS and then the male type is hit over the head with some evidence of her TRUE NATURE after she’s long gone from him and then TEARFUL REUNION, ADMISSIONS OF LOVE ALL AROUND. I will ALWAYS read books with this plot. ALWAYS. That said, this one was terrible, and I also liked it.

62. Bought for the Frenchman’s Pleasure – Please see plot explanation above. I MAKE NO APOLOGIES, and it’s not like I’m actually recommending anyone ELSE actually read it. I’m just telling you that I DID.

63. Blackmailed into Bed – It’s like the plot is made of toothpicks and held together with sex scenes and tropes. I liked it.

64. Coming Undone – This was my first book of the Brown siblings series. There was a subplot I could have done without. I mean, this book could have been a perfectly fine shameless dirty hashbrown book without a kind of totally unnecessary subplot, but hey, I’m not an author, I’m not the boss of things. Also, there was a lot of the c-word in this book, but not in the “HEY YOU ARE A C WORD” way. Like, in the bedroom way. You know. Like, the bedroom way. You know.

65. Willing Victim – I liked this. This is one of my favorites from the year, and a several times over reread. You need to read the Goodreads page and carefully decide if this book is for you before you read this. You need to know what this book is about and decide very carefully if you want to read this before you read this.

66. The Siren – This is possibly the thinkiest, deepest dirty book I read this year. There are more in the series, but I haven’t pursued it yet. I intend to, when I’m ready to think more about this book.

67. Club Mephisto – This is another one that you want to familiarize yourself with before you dive in. It’s a very in depth look at 24/7 alternative lifestyles. Also a reread.

68. Never Enough – Another Brown siblings book. I like the Brown books, but what you need to know about them is that nothing happens. Seriously. They are long, and the plot hints make it seem like there’s going to be some crazy drama, but really, nothing happens. What you get is a lot of intense relationship building. It’s interesting and different, if you’re into that kind of thing. Oh, and sex.

69. Molly’s Lips – This is the same book as number 67, basically, but retold from the perspective of the other main player. If you read Club Mephisto and like it, you’ll want to read this one.

70. Burn for You – This is the continuation of Club Mephisto/Molly’s Lips. It’s a realistic and satisfactory ending to the series.

71. Gone Girl – I found this really disturbing. I enjoyed it.

72. Feed – I gave this two stars on Goodreads, and usually when I give something two stars on Goodreads, I generally mean I didn’t like it, but I didn’t flat out RAGE HATE it, which one star means for me, but this time, I meant what Goodreads says when you hover over the two star mark, which was “it was ok,” kind of like, I thought this was ok in kind of an encouraging way, like maybe you should read the summary and make your own decision and decide if it is for you and I won’t sway you either way. OH BUT THERE WAS A LOT OF FUTURE SLANG, FUCK THAT PART.

73. Broken – I don’t want to tell you anything about this book except that it’s by Megan Hart, so that you can just go get it and go into it blind like I did. Going into it with no idea what it would be about at all, I think, was part of what made this book so perfect for me. It was just the best, I was so overwhelmed by how BEST it was, I was so pleased, it was so perfect for me when I read it, IT WAS JUST SO WONDERFUL, I just want you to read it and love it. Just get it, don’t read anything about it. Just get it and read it. Oh, there’s tons of sex in it. Don’t read it if you don’t like sex books. But it’s not JUST a sex book. It was the best thing – and I need you to understand that by best, I make no claims as to quality of writing, or plot, or sex scenes, or character development, or to the NOT quality of those things – that I had read in ages. I’m thinking back now to how I felt two seconds after I had finished reading it, and IT WAS WONDERFUL.

74. Laid Bare – Another Brown siblings book, the one that inspired me to add my “dude dude goose I mean lady” shelf to my Goodreads shelves. So. Do with that what you will.

75. Inside Out – Not my favorite Brown siblings book. This is when I basically figured out the Brown siblings formula for strong lady has past damage, recovers MOST of the way on her own, dude comes along and helps her the rest of the way back with lots of dirty sex and talking through the ins and out of their relationship with each other and everyone else in the whole Brown pack. The whole talking about everything is actually an interesting/unique feature of the Brown sibling books, I’d recommend trying at least one for the novelty factor if nothing else.

76. Out of the Dark – What? No. What? No… WHAT? WHAT the HELL did I just… WHAT? Just… wait, what? It’s just that it started… and the guy was… so, okay, I thought… but then in the cave… okay, seriously, what the fuck did I read? Nope. Nope. Nope.

77. Undercover – I think I meant to read more in this series. It’s a kind of futuristic army special ops… sex… two men one lady… spaceship… high society… Okay, this is kind of like trying to convince someone to watch Firefly with your words. “It’s a SPACE WESTERN, GUYS!”

78. Dirty – I don’t want to discuss this book with you. Maybe you want to read it, maybe you don’t. Maybe you read it, maybe you like it, maybe we don’t talk about it with each other, because I don’t feel like discussing this with anyone. Shut up, you don’t know me. The ending was kind of clunky.

79. Dane – This was a free Kindle download. It felt like a super condensed romance novel rather than a short story.

80. Reflected in You – One, most awkward sex ever. Two, I still love this series even though I partly feel like I shouldn’t. Three, I still think Gideon should look like Zachary Quinto. Four, I think I read this twice or three times. Five, I don’t really feel any responsibility to say things like, “this relationship is dangerous,” or “it’s not healthy for people to be obsessed like that!” because A, it’s a book, and B, damaged people fall in love, too.

81. The Challenge – Short, COMPLETELY NEVER IN REAL LIFE EVER unrealistic, totally filthy, kind of adorable.

82. The Layover – Not particularly compelling in any way. Not even the dirty ways.

83. Reason Enough – A follow on with Dan and Elle from Dirty. I felt like I should like it, but probably could have lived without it.

84. Tempted – This was kind of really bad. There was way too much stuff crammed into one book, and the conflict between the two leads didn’t even really make sense. And then the resolution to the non-problem? Yeah, no.

85. Double Time – A book from my beloved Sinners on Tour series. Um, you’re going to need to join Goodreads and click through for my review and then NEVER EVER READ THIS BOOK.

86. Stranger – THERE WAS A TERRIBLE IN LAW IN THIS BOOK. You know how that makes my ass twitch. There was a point where this book could have ended, but didn’t, that would have made me SUPER impressed. Regardless, I really liked it a lot.

87. This is What I Want – I have no actual feelings. I skimmed the sex parts and read the rest, which was kind of boring.

88. The Girl in the Park – This is one of those young adult books where I imagine the experience reading it as an adult-adult is worlds different than reading it as a young adult. Both strong experiences, I’m sure – I mean to take nothing away from the experience of reading this as a teen. I’m just noting how different my worldview now must color my experience of reading it as an adult. God. This was a good book. And I just want to say, I don’t now or ever give a crap and a half about how quickly you are able to “figure it out.” Honestly, if you need a challenge that badly, go stare at a Magic Eye poster or do a billion piece puzzle. NO ONE CARES. The mystery part of this book, while good, very good, is not the main drive of this book. It’s not. If you read it, and you “figure it out,” don’t let it dictate your feelings on the book, because there’s more coming. You’re not done with this book until you’re done.

89. Beautiful Disaster – I liked this, and I’m not going to apologize for it. This is in the category of “new adult,” not “young adult,” and I think you definitely need to understand that if you’re going to read it. Don’t picture twelve to fifteen year old girls reading this. Don’t. It’ll hurt your heart.

90. Becoming Sister Wives – Heeeeheeeeheeeeeheeeheee. This was so hilariously uncomfortable to read. I felt like they were each taking their turn to “have their say” about disputed situations that had happened in the past. One would tell her side of the story, and another wife would come right behind with her perspective on the same story. You can tell which wives think especially highly of themselves and not so much of the others, and it’s clear who does not like who. They wrote this book as a kind of reveal of what polygamy is really like, and it’s really like catty women not liking each other.

91. Love Unrehearsed – I was so sad to hate this book so much, since I liked the first in the series. This was TERRIBLE. It was long, meandering, it had no plot. It was just weird little vignettes stuck together. Taryn had no real personality anymore, she turned into a perfect little Mary Sue in perfect little fan fiction scenes. This was god awful.

92. The Opportunist – I know that the point of these characters is that they’re all kind of terrible people. But they were really all kind of terrible people. I could not champion anyone, making this a hard slog. Also, it was gratingly poorly edited, much like my blog posts.

93. Seduced by a Pirate – Oh, self. (I gave it three stars.)

94. Captive in the Dark – There are a lot of negative reviews of this book that have to do with its subject matter, and I guess that’s fine, it’s not for everyone, but I kind of picked it to read BECAUSE of its subject matter, and was disappointed. The plot was lacking, the promised subject matter did not come through. The author actually laid out the whole plot at the beginning, told us what was GOING TO HAPPEN, and then did not follow through. Kind of just made weird jabs at the promised plot, but could not actually pull it together and make it happen. And I CANNOT UNDERSTAND THAT. How can that be? YOU LAID OUT THE PLOT. MAKE IT HAPPEN FOR ME.

95. The Unidentified Redhead – This book has so many good reviews, which is boggling to me, since it is kind of terrible, but also not boggling to me, since the redhead is a huge, HUGE Mary Sue that everyone would like to think that they kind of are, with the constant witty one liners, etc, the average 30 something lady that the young Hollywood guy falls head over heels for. She’s so quirky! She leaves little piles of melba toast from Chex mix around! Isn’t that charming!

96. The Redhead Revealed – At this point, I was kind of just embarrassed for the author, like I was spying in on her fantasies, like how we all kind of drift off and imagine ourselves sometimes with the clever friends and bright sparkly conversation, or how sometimes when you’re out in public and there’s a group of people having their conversation just a bit too loud and you know they think they’re being really clever, so they’re having the conversation especially loudly specifically for the benefit of others to hear, so we all know how clever they are? Ugh ugh ugh ugh. I am legit embarrassed for the author.

97. Accidentally the Sheikh’s Wife – “I LOVE YOU!” 35 seconds into the book, for no apparent reason, then they get married, then the book is over. Sorry I ruined that for you.

98. The Magicians – I can’t decide if I liked this because I liked this, or if I liked this because I was really wanting a book like this book (magic, fantasy world, Harry Potter-ish, etc) to come along for a long time now. I haven’t started the sequel yet, I’m not sure if I want to.

99. The Marriage Bargain – Okay, remember that specific romance novel plot I described above, the one I really like? Well that, plus it was particularly well done, like the lady wasn’t really eye-rollingly perfect, PLUS? THERE WAS A DOG. You guys, so much snot. The snot-and-tear factory fired up about halfway to two-thirds of the way in and just did. not. stop. It was fabulous.

100. Naked – If you liked Bared to You, you’ll like this book. Damaged lady, damaged billionaire alpha male, dirty sex. Stayed up late to read it.

101. All In – Sequel to Naked. Obviously you’ll be reading this.

102. On Dublin Street – Finished out the year with more of the same. Rich alpha male type, damaged lady type, snots, etc. LOOK, I AM A LADY WHO KNOWS WHAT SHE LIKES. This one was good, not especially remarkable. Maybe even somewhat irritating, I’m getting kind of sick of the “Look, I’m running away because I am damaged and damaged ladies run away from rich handsome men who want to give them everything because they’re damaged and that’s what damaged ladies do” thing, because, I don’t know, come up with something better.

*****

OH, ALSO, I mentioned this on Twitter last night: obviously I read a lot of lady sex books, I don’t know if you noticed. So, there are a lot of authors writing books that focus a lot on sex. That’s a thing now, it’s been a thing for a while, but it’s obviously becoming a much more mainstream thing. It’s obviously not a very big deal to write books in which adult women make adult choices to have sex. Yet in several – many – at least in the last two or three in a ROW – of the books I have read, when the whole condom/birth control/etc moment comes up, the lady mentions or explains, either out loud or in expository text, that she’s on the pill to regulate her period. This is supposedly to explain why she would be taking the birth control pill when she doesn’t currently have a steady sex partner.

Authors. It was 2012. It is now 2013. You are sexually evolved enough to be writing and publishing sexy books for ladies comfortable enough to be buying and reading them. Your lady hero can just BE on the pill. She can just take it. She can still be on it from her last relationship. She can take it just because. She can take it to regulate her periods and not say so. She doesn’t need to explain it to the dude about to bone her – because he doesn’t care – and she certainly doesn’t need to explain it to the readers. Because we’re ladies and we’re reading a sex book and we’re not judging her.

If, for some reason that is not going to happen but is being used as a hypothetical here, Phil and I were to split up, my thought process would not go like this:

“Ok, well, I’ll take the pots and the pans, he can see Penny on weekends and holidays, just finished moving into my new place, I’m so tired, going to take my medicine and go to bed, oh, guess I just won’t take the birth control since I no longer have a sex partner, that would make me a shameless hussy. I better stop protecting my womb from an unplanned pregnancy now that I’m a single lady, lest someone judge.”

Uh, fuck no. I am on the pill, I would just continue to take it. Why would I continue to take the pill when not in a committed relationship with a regular partner? Because fuck you, shut up, and mind your business, that’s why.

SERIOUSLY. Look. I know that many women do, did, will, might, can, should, and think about taking the pill to regulate their periods. It’s a valid reason to take birth control. You know what else is a valid reason to take birth control? Fuck you, shut up, and mind your business, that’s why.

Stop explaining about the periods! No one cares! NO ONE CARES.

 

Books I read so far this year that you should read or not read, or do whatever, what do I know.

You see the link over there, in the blog crouton, to Princess Nebraska? One of my favorite kind of posts that Elizabeth does is when she lists all the books she’s been reading and does a really brief summary of her opinion of them. Not even really what the book is about or anything, just what she thought of them. I like that. I don’t care what the book is about. Well, I care, but all I want to know from a person is if you liked it or not. If your opinion makes it sound like something that I also might like, I am perfectly capable of going and reading the summary. Then, I combine your like or dislike with the summary I am perfectly capable of locating on my own and use that combination to decide if I want to read the book.

Basically what I am saying is that I hate book reviews that start out with, “This book is about…,” and also that I like Elizabeth and I’m pretty much modeling this post off of her style and I wish all book review blogs would, even though that is not practical, as much as it makes sense to ME that the world conform to my needs. But really, I do subscribe to a bunch of book review blogs, and what I do is read the title of the book, the genre of the book, and then scroll down and read the rating of the book. If it’s good, I look it up on Goodreads, and if it looks interesting, I add it to my list. Elizabeth cuts out a lot of scrolling for me. I like Elizabeth.

Anyway, I set a goal to read 130 books this year. The year is half over and I’m not half done, so. We’ll see, eh? (All titles link to Goodreads pages)

1. The Forgotten Garden – I think this was one of those books where if someone had been secretly adding pages on to the end when I wasn’t looking, I probably wouldn’t have noticed and would have gone on reading happily for one long ass time before I was like, wow, it’s 2015, I am one hell of a slow reader.

2. Gathering Blue – The second in The Giver series. I guess I read The Giver in 2011. Middle grade isn’t for me. I felt like I was supposed to like it.

3. Messenger – The last of The Giver trilogy. I didn’t really get a boner for the trilogy as a whole, and I definitely had a limp noodle for the ending. Finished out of obligation. Though I can see why if I had read these at the appropriate age I might have held some fond memories for the three.

4. Speak – This book can go right the hell to hell. I get that it’s dealing with an important subject, and I get that everyone deals with trauma differently, but I swear to pete, the main character is the least sympathetic female in the history of ever, and I hated her stupid face. AND? AND? Some of the most ridiculously unforgivable authorial bullshit shenanigans, the author’s authory fingers should be TAKEN AWAY. “fizz ed?” “toolz eye kan yooz?” WHY? WHY? WHY DID THAT HAVE TO HAPPEN? WHY WAS THAT A THING THAT HAPPENED IN THIS BOOK?

5. Pretty Little Liars – Okay, I don’t really remember much about this book, other than that it was fast and fun and that I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

6. Flawless – Second book in the series. It wasn’t as good as the first one, but kept my interest in following the series.

7. Unwind – This was the book that made me need to add a “conflicted” tag to my bookshelves. I don’t know if I liked it, but I don’t know if I disliked it. I don’t think I liked it or disliked it. I… neither. I liked it. I didn’t. I don’t know. I’m not unhappy that I read it. I do know that this book made my mind go down thought paths that I consciously needed to stop. Like, WHOA THERE, BRAIN. LET’S JUST END THAT TRAIN RIGHT THERE. CABOOSE THAT. Parts of this book were quite disturbing, and will force you to think about some disturbing things.

8. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – What in the hell even? I don’t even? I can’t… is this real life? Does this book exist on this plane of existence? Of all the convoluted bullshit… once again, fine sirs, I don’t even.

9. If I Stay – I have literally zero feelings about this book.

10. Hate List – It feels weird to say I enjoyed a book about a school shooting, but there you go.

11. The Midwife’s Confession – This book was kind of Picoulty. I mean, it’s basically a Picoult in different author’s clothing. I personally enjoy a nice Picoult.

12. The Art of Fielding – High fives all around. I was just so FRICKIN’ DELIGHTED by this book. Probably the best thing I’ve read this year.

13. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks – Frankie is one irritating whiny bitch. And for someone who is so determined to show that girls are just as good if not better than boys, she sure does spend a lot of time and effort working for male attention and approval.

14. Angelfall – This book was good. But it was dark. And I don’t mean, like, Voldemort kills Cedric, shit just got real dark, I mean like mutilated experimental cannibalistic zombie children with razors for teeth dark. Like, whoa, I am reading this through cracks of my fingers dark. I liked it!

15. Poison Study – I enjoyed the shit out of this book, but you know what REALLY stands out? Bad hairstyles. I mean, REALLY BAD. Read this book, and pay attention to the way hair is described. God awful. You will have to make an effort to substitute in your own hair ideas.

16. Perfect – The third in the Pretty Little Liars series. They remain quick, entertaining reads that have kept me interested.

17. Unbelievable – The fourth in the same series as above, which can now fuck right off.

18. Wither – A crappy cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and The Truman Show with writing that I did not enjoy. Yet I will probably read the next in the series. And hate it.

19. Private – Book about bitchy cliquey chicks at a private school. It was nothing like the Caitlin books but it made me want to reread the Caitlin books.

20. Ready Player One – Fun! For nerds! And other people, I GUESS. You should read it. It basically ruled. Frickin’ delightful.

21. Now You See Me – Irritating. The main character/narrator figures things out, but doesn’t share with the reader. Uh, then don’t be the narrator. Half-assed hints toward a romance that never develops. Tenuously-woven, really thin plot, and everything was just so CONVENIENT. And the “twist” was just annoying because I was ready to be finished and it just made the book LONGER.

22. Under the Never Sky – I don’t know. I guess I’ll read the next one. I think this is one of those “first book in the trilogy” things that is kind of neutral in terms of hate or love and just kind of lays out the rest of the series. Also, why is everything a trilogy?

23. I’ve Got Your Number – I want to go back in time and read this on a plane and then just leave it in the airport. Also, I hated the lead female. Shut up.

24. The Scorpio Races – I recognize that this is probably a good book, but I didn’t like it. Does that make sense? Too bad, review it yourself, then.

25. Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares – This book is the exact reason why only John Green should be allowed to write teenagers because oh my god, fuck these two pretentious assholes.

26. Neverwhere – Maybe I should have picked a different Neil Gaiman for my first, because this book made me feel exactly like the main character in this book must have felt. Just kind of dragged along, bewildered, with no real clue about what was happening around me or why it was happening and just kind of wishing it would end and I would wake up in my own bed. Alone. Maybe with some cake.

27. The Fault in Our Stars – Oh, just fall in line and go read it.

28. City of Bones – I remain undecided on whether or not I will follow up with the rest of the series, but I found this one to be reasonably enjoyable.

29. Legend – Same as above. I read this one, I liked the set up. I liked the worldbuilding, I liked the two leads. I also am kind of just fine where this one ended, I’m not clamoring for the next one. But if I find myself looking for something to read, I’m not saying I’d kick the next one out of my Kindle.

30. Fifty Shades of Grey – The “inner goddess” thing was pretty intolerable. Otherwise, my sense of shame went on a permanent vacation once I cracked this one open.

Also, I have a pretty low tolerance for the whole, “ugh, I can’t believe people are READING that” shit, so take it somewhere else. Also ALSO, if you did read it and then did the whole, shrug, I don’t get the fuss thing, oh, shut up. Of course you get the fuss. Just because you don’t feel like MAKING a fuss, don’t act like you’re above even understanding why there IS a fuss. In shorter words, a lot of people have made themselves look like HUGE assholes over these books, and I have written down names on a post it note right here.

Anyway, I wish Ana wasn’t such a… I mean, come on. Who doesn’t own a cell phone? Who doesn’t Internet? Why does every female innocent need to not just be a virgin but also need to be like, completely shut out from the whole world ever?

31. Fifty Shades Darker – More plotty. It was kind of better than the first one.

32. Fifty Shades Freed – Maybe, if you’re okay with being a non-completest, you can just not read this one. There’s this one part, it’s kind of disturbing, when Ana is pregnant, and look, everything is ruined forever.

33. Hush, Hush – Oh, this was the worst. This was just the worst. What an ugly mess of a book. Don’t even. I mean, seriously. DO NOT EVEN.

34. Attachments – I liked this book. It was fun, and quick, and cute, and spoke to my old school inner nerd, and my only minor irritation was that it was one of those books where I felt like I was just supposed to ACCEPT that there was some kind of magnetic draw between the dude and the girl. I mean, there were two girls, and I didn’t even know which was the romantic interest until it was spelled out for me.

35. The Declaration – This book was… fine.

36. Ender’s Game – I want to go back in time to one day before I started this book so I can read it again, fresh.

37. Ender’s Shadow – Reading this book was almost as good to going back in time to one day before I started Ender’s Game and reading it again fresh.

38. 11/22/63 – I really loved this book, except could happily have done without huge parts of it. Like, all of the parts that were part of the plot. I just want to read about time traveling back to the 50s and living there. I’ll read about that all day long.

39. A Monster Calls – This book can shut the fuck up. I wish I owned a real copy, I’d tape it shut.

40. Insurgent – I was bored. And Tris? Why, Tris? Why?

41. Bitterblue – If you haven’t read Graceling and Fire yet, you should. And then read Bitterblue. I’ve seen some complaints that Bitterblue was kind of unnecessarily long, but I disagree. I could have read Bitterblue forever. I will read a billion books set in this world.

42. Fair Coin – Okay, stuff happens because science. And then some people die, and that’s unfortunate, but it’s okay, because it’s not us. And suspense, used in a really annoying, boring kind of way. Hate.

43. Magic Study – This is the book that comes after Poison Study, which I loved. Magic Study was actually kind of bad. Which was surprising and sad. But I held out hope. There was a lot of that “ONLY I CAN HANDLE THIS SITUATION!” type crap which, in the framework of the world, makes ZERO SENSE. And also a lot of convenience. Like, “Oh yeah, and suddenly I have this power. And in this situation my power also does this. And… oh yeah, I have this magic.” Disappointing.

44. Fire Study – YET I PERSISTED TO THE THIRD BOOK. You guys. Read Poison Study. It’s great. AND THEN STOP. Life is too short for shitty books.

45. Bared to You – A little convoluted, a lot dirty. Another female lead who solves her problems by storming off, another male lead with a damaged past, another couple brought together by lots of sex, but at least these two wipe down afterward.

46. The Selection – This book is supposed to be like The Hunger Games combined with The Bachelor, which sounds REALLY FREAKING AWESOME until the author ruins it with the worst female lead I have read in a thousand years. It’s like she tried to write a Katniss but accidentally Bella Swanned her.

47. Unwanted – I was seriously really enjoying this book until the end, until the “twist,” which was a bit of an unconventional kind of twist, but not in the kind of way that you’re like, “Oh, that was innovative,” but more in the kind of way that you’re like, “Oh, fuck you then.”

48. Cinder – This was okay. It just didn’t grab me like it seemed like it was supposed to. I didn’t get sad, or feel the righteous fury at the injustices, no suspense even though I could see I was supposed to. The male lead was uninspiring, the female was meh and I couldn’t pull for her. Maybe this was a laying the groundwork book. We’ll see.

49. When You Reach Me – This one went quick. I guess it was fine. I don’t really have particular feelings one way or the other.

50. Backstage Pass – There’s actually a good story under all the filth. I liked Myrna, and it was nice to read about a mature female lead in one of these trash books. Also, hint: backstage means butts.

51. Rock Hard – Far fetched, filthy and emotionally manipulative, just like a lady likes.

52. Thoughtless – If you can put aside the fact that the main female character has not been developed with any sort of characteristics except for the fact that she’s terrible, this is a good trashy romance.

53. Effortless – The follow up to Thoughtless, which you will want to read because you will be in love with Kellan Kyle, but too bad for you, because I already dibbsed him.

54. Love Unscripted – Yeah, I’ve been on a trash streak, and I point my shame finger straightly at Jonniker, but mostly I have no shame. I liked this, and you will, too. It will allow you to imagine your eventual and inevitable whirlwind romance with Ryan Gosling.

55. Across the Universe – Another one that will make you think thinky and somewhat disturbing thoughts. I don’t know if I’ll pursue the series. It depends on how many thoughts I’m prepared to have.

56. Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain – I mostly do not usually end up liking celebrities books, not because I find them shallow or anything like that, I’m just not a big non-fiction writer. I actually ended up kind of liking this one, but skip the epilogue, it gets preachy and ruiny.

57. Everlost – Ooooh. I love a well set up alternate world, with good rules that are stuck to and all thought out and logical. I will read this whole series. Unless the next book sucks. Then I will probably still read it, but with a scowl.

 

Olds, sockies, all of the books, and puke-related genius.

So you know what gets more smiles from strangers than a dad carrying his baby daughter through the grocery store? A dad in uniform carrying his baby daughter through a grocery store. Honest to pete, my face is sore from all of the polite smiles I had to return trying to walk through Safeway the other day. All these people were glancing at Phil, looking back over their shoulders at him, nudging whoever they were with and jerking their head in our direction.

“Look! A man with a baby! A man in UNIFORM with a BABY!”

I GET IT, IT’S ADORABLE. HE FARTS IN BED, THOUGH. THEY BOTH DO. JUST SO YOU KNOW.

I’m not mad. I’m just bitter, probably. Whenever I take Penny through the grocery store, I get some smiles, but mostly a train a passive aggressive olds telling Penny to tell her mommy that her feet are so cold without sockies! So cold! Tell her you need some sockies! Sockies for those feet! Tell her, “Mommy, my feet are so cold here in the store! I need sockies for my feetsies!”

Phil, though? Phil in uniform? All smiles, no mention of sockies.

*****

I think I use Goodreads more than I use any other socially networky thing right now, but there is something that will eternally bother me about Goodreads. I think I’ve talked about it here before, but I’m talking about it again. What are you, the blog police?

Anyway, I had several false starts with using Goodreads (I’ve been  member since 2009) and didn’t really get into it heavily until recently, because I got TOO OVERWHELMED. It’s a simple site, but I, like most people, have been reading books for about a berjillion years. That’s roughly 30 berjillion books.

So, I would start listing books that I’d read, and pretty soon, I’d become hopelessly overwhelmed with the task of adding EVERY BOOK EVER. I don’t think I ever even got to one berjillion. So I’d give up. If I couldn’t add them all, I JUST WOULDN’T ADD ANY.

Coincidentally, that’s very similar to the stance I have on eating potato chips, but usually goes the opposite way.

So the only way I was able to make Goodreads work for me THIS time is to tell myself that I would only list books from that point FORWARD. I have a couple of favorites listed, but aside from that, I WILL NOT fall down the rabbit hole of books that I’ve read since the dawn of time.

This makes me constantly self-conscious, though, that people will think I started reading at 29. I COULD READ BEFORE THEN. I just can’t allow myself to tempt insanity by remembering every book I’ve ever read, because I can’t just list SOME of the ones I read before I started using Goodreads. It’s none of them or all of them. That’s how it has to be. IT HAS TO BE.

Sometimes, someone I follow rates a book. A book I READ, pre-Goodreads attempt 47. And it’s right there. No searching necessary. It’s right there on the home screen. And all I would have to do is just pick a star rating. One click, and there it is. Added to my books. That’s not so bad, right?

EXCEPT IT IS. The only way I can use Goodreads at all is by telling myself that I have an UNDERSTANDING with the larger Goodreads population. We ALL AGREE that I read books before I started using Goodreads, but I haven’t listed any of them. We just AGREE that it HAPPENED.

If I go ahead and list one, the agreement is BROKEN. Now there’s one listed. And that can lead people to assume that sure, I read books before I started using Goodreads. Or, more accurately, I read BOOK.

No. No. I can’t add any of them. So they pop up in front of me, and instead of clicking, I sit here in front of the computer and worry that people are going to think I HAVEN’T READ THAT BOOK. Then I remind myself of the agreement. But I READ THAT BOOK.

You guys, I’m just saying, it’s hard being me.

*****

So I’ve been preparing for PJs@Tj’s, which is now in less than a month, and in my every waking hour, I find myself thinking about tiny details, which stack upon the other tiny details, which add berjillions of things to my mental to do list, which I haven’t actually started, other than cleaning out the pantry, and I don’t see why anyone would really be in my pantry anyway, so, right. I have not gotten very far yet in the whole “preparing the house for a pile of guests” thing yet.

But I’ve been thinking about it, which we all know is half the battle. And here’s something I’ve been thinking: a while ago, we got this hand soap we really liked. It was some kind of Soft Soap, and the smell was blackberry vanilla. Or black currant and pears. Or something and something. Anyway, it smelled great. Next time we were at the store, though, and needed soap, we just got one of those big old refill jugs, and we’ve been refilling the same bottles – one in the bathroom and one on the kitchen sink.

So, while the bottle says you’ll be washing your hands with a delightful mix of berries and puffy clouds, it’s actually just generic soap smell.

And I wonder, does that make the soap a lie? And, as a hostess, am I being rude with this bait and switch? This soap and swap? This scrub and… drub?

Seriously, I have 18 women descending on my house in less than a month, and this is what is keeping me up at night.

*****

We’ve made a plan. Well, not so much a plan as a plan to make a plan. We’ve decided that when Penny is about five, we’re going to take her on a Disney cruise and a stay in Disney World. We figure we’ve got to plan that far out so that we can save up the money, because I’ve always said that when we do take her to Disney, we want to go ALL OUT.

I mean, we want to stay in one of the hotels right there, so that we can go back to rest as needed. And we want enough days to do everything we want. And I want to take her to that place where they do her up like a princess. We want to be able to throw money around like we have it. Sure, you can have a $75 Mickey balloon! Oh, you let it go? That’s okay, here’s a $115 ice cream sandwich. Wipe your face with this napkin, it was only $5.

We’ve also emailed both of our families to extend an invitation to join us, because, why not? We’re planning far enough in advance that everyone can make it, if they wanted to.

But just today, I started thinking that there needs to be more to this plan than just saving the money and picking a cruise.

ONE – We’ve got to start watching Disney movies, post haste. This shit is not going to be even a LITTLE BIT MAGICAL if Penny doesn’t know who the hell Ariel is, you know what I mean?

TWO – I’m thinking that by the time she’s two, two and a half, I’m going to want to start working with her on developing a real allegiance to one of the princesses.

I know you’re about to get your Internet dander all up, what with the princess culture! And teaching appropriate values! And rabble rabble! And girl power! And all of that. And to that I say this: Look. Shut up. Because, come on. Did you grow up thinking that you were an actual princess? I mean, did you grow into the total warped asshole of a she-witch that the anti-princess culture people seem to believe will result from exposure to made up, cartoon fancy ladies? By the time you were of reasonable age, did you understand that your suburban town house bore little resemblance to a castle and no one cared when you lost your stupid shoe?

You did, right? You turned out to be a functioning adult? With only a moderate number of tiaras? AND managed to also enjoy Disney movies as a child?

Yeah, so, now that we’ve established that THAT’S possible… I’m thinking Belle. Or maybe Ariel. I mean, Ariel’s a pretty predictable choice, but come on. Obviously the superior princess.

THREE – We’ve got to concentrate on NOT raising an asshole at all, even more so now. Because we’re not going to tell her we’re going until we’re about to leave. You know, like all those YouTube videos? So, we’re going to want a really sweet, really genuine reaction of joy from her when she finds out we’re about to blow all of our money ever on a cruise and a trip. And then we’ll put it on YouTube.

FOUR – I probably have to get a passport.

FIVE  – I should also probably learn to swim.

Anyway, I’m already excited. Four or five years is just enough time to build this up in my mind enough that I completely ruin Penny’s enjoyment of the whole thing by trying to force some FREAKIN’ DISNEY MAGIC on her at every turn.

*****

LASTLY, we are considering joining the YMCA. Which seems silly, you say, because there are 800 gyms on base, but look. I can’t go to those. I just can’t. I know people say, “Everyone is there to work out! No one is looking at anyone!” But come on. People look at people. It’s human nature. And while we’d all like to think that no one cares, just a few days on Twitter will net you at LEAST three people saying, “At the gym today… ” and commenting on someone they saw. It’s not always mean or even… anything… but it belies the “no one is paying attention!” crap. So while I’d like to be one of those, “Whatever, I’m above all that” people, I’m not. I cannot go to a gym on base, full of people whose job it is to be in great physical condition.

And I really don’t want any more of that “no but really, no one is paying attention to anyone else” stuff. I know you’re lying. You know you’re lying. There’s no point in trying to get someone to go exercise where they won’t be comfortable, because they will try it once or twice and not be able to stand it, and then, worse than the guilt of not trying, you have the guilt of QUITTING.

So is it silly to pay for a gym membership when you can go to a gym for free? I don’t know. I don’t think so. My mother has had a membership to the Y for a berjillion years, and there’s a gym in her office building. She wouldn’t go to that one. She wouldn’t be comfortable. So it’s the choice of paying for a place you’re comfortable, or not working out at all. So far, the choice for me has been “not at all,” so I’m beginning to be quite convinced that paying for something that is also available for free, in this case, is not totally ridiculous.

It’s not, right?

*****

I can’t think of where else I’m ever going to work these in, and I need more people than Phil to appreciate me, because he doesn’t laugh, he just says, “Yeah, that’s funny.” Even when I can see him TRYING NOT TO LAUGH. Won’t even give me the courtesy of a laugh. Anyway, two things I have come up with recently, regarding Penny:

1. Count Yak-ula.
2. She had a yak-cident.

John Green may possibly have ruined, saved, and/or somehow modified reading for me.

Now that I am watching John Green of the Vlogbrothers dissect The Great Gatsby with all that critical reading stuff I had no time or patience for in high school (also, only pretended to read The Great Gatsby in high school), I wonder if I need to go back and re-read all the crap I blew off back then. Because, you know what? Aside from Jane Eyre and maybe Emma, nothing that falls into the “classics” circle really overlaps with my “favorites” circle. And I think that’s because I was turned off from that kind of stuff in high school, because I was an idiot who thought critical reading for themes and symbolism was a waste of my time and probably just stuff the teacher made up, because, really? The author just buried all that stuff in there? Why, to make my life hard? AS IF. (It was the 90s.)

Except, yeah, they kind of do bury all that stuff in there. And I want to say I regret not being more critical in my critical reading back in high school, but let’s be honest. I don’t. I was an honor roll student without reading any books. I feel I made pretty excellent use of my time back in high school. I didn’t not read (what?) any books. I mean, I didn’t read the ones I was assigned. And I still did pretty okay.

But I’m wondering if now, in my totally mature almostthirtyhood, I am ready to give some of these books another try, maybe with a little more patience. Except for Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I won’t. I can’t even remember the slightest hint of what the plot of this book is, but I distinctly remember flinging myself to my bedroom floor when I attempted to read it my senior year of high school. So. No. Won’t be having any part of that again.

But then I remember that I have about three minutes a day to actually read. That I read books one page at a time. Okay, everyone reads books one page at a time, but I mean one page per session of reading. That it took me an entire month to read A Discovery of Witches, even though everyone else in the world lapped me twice on Twitter during my reading. And I also remember that I have a Kindle loaded with fun books and I’m reading The True Meaning of Smekday.

But maybe – MAYBE – I don’t have to get all D’Ubervilley. Maybe all books have something to offer to the critical reader. Right? Maybe, in The True Meaning of Smekday, there’s some deep symbolism to when the main Boov, J.Lo, is wearing is ghost costume, like when Holden is wearing his stupid flap-hat.

Maybe I’ll just watch all of the John Green videos on The Great Gatsby and continue to say I’ve read it, like I have since high school.

Tell me the truth. As an adult who is out of school (I KNOW THAT SOME OF YOU ARE NOT ADULTS AND ARE NOT OUT OF SCHOOL OR DON’T CONSIDER YOURSELVES ADULTS OR THINK THE WOOOORRLD IS YOUR SCHOOL), are you a critical reader? How often are you picking up books that could be found on a high school honors English reading list? If you do help yourself to classics on the regular, are you reading them to read them, or are you applying your deep reading skills to discover themes, symbolism and whatnots?

Oh, MAN, it used to make me SO ANGRY when a teacher would ask me to choose and discuss a major theme of the book, because I never grasped the definition of the word “theme” as teachers wanted me to understand it in that context. Um, plot? Moral? What? I don’t know. Never got it. Don’t explain it to me. I’m skipping that. Forever.

What about books that fall outside of what we, right now, consider to be the high school English class classics? Do you read all of your books with a critical eye, or do you just read for enjoyment? Or do you think that deep and critical reading of all books is part of the enjoyment?

I really want to know your honest answers. Don’t pretend, because I’m past the point in life where I’m impressed by intellectualism, pseudo- or realdo-. I’m more impressed with people who can read an entire book in a reasonable number of days and also keep the dog hair tumbleweeds under control and wash the stank off their gross baby once in a while. I am not that person. That is the person who impresses me. So you don’t have to feel like you need to be impressive in the comments.

I do want to know, though. Do you make a place for deep/critical reading and examination of texts for all the literary businessy things in your everyday reading, out of school? To all books or just “classics?” (I use quotes because I suppose it is hard to predict right now what exactly will be the “classics” of the future, and you could be reading one and not know it, so we’ll just go with “classics,” as defined by high school summer reading lists.) Or do you read just for pleasure? OR? Is a deep reading a part of the pleasure of reading for you?

I enjoy reading. I do it a lot. When Phil comes home for lunch, I always want to run and take a shower (see above re: gross baby stank), and I take a book with me. Into the shower. Not into the bathroom. Into the SHOWER. And that’s about the only time I get to read right now. But I do enjoy it. But are you enjoying it more? Or did you leave behind the critical reading practices when you turned in your final essay?

*****

(Related but not related to my questions, I have always been impressed (well, throughout the life of the Vlogbrothers YouTube career) by their – specifically John Green’s – belief in young adults. Both in general – to do big things, impressive things, and world-changing things – and specifically – to read tough books deeply and critically, to understand them on a level that most adults do not, and to enjoy learning how to read deeply and critically despite those who might not have faith in the ability of young people to do that. If you know a young person who is not involved in this community, I highly encourage you to encourage them, because it’s something I enjoy now, as an adult, and can only imagine the difference it probably would have made in my life as a teenager.)