#2046 – 2017 Book List

2017 wasn’t my best reading year ever; I blame that whole planning-a-wedding thing. Still, I managed to read a total of 65 books (okay, books AND comics), including 31 with queer characters or content and 42 by non-male authors. Also, I read Atlas Shrugged, which I think should be counted as a feat unto itself (it’s good! but also hella looooong).

  1. Wilde Stories 2016: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction – ed. Steve Berman
  2. Bedtime Stories for Cats – Leigh Anne Jasheway
  3. Catfantastic Vol. 2 – Andre Norton and Martin Harry Greenburg
  4. Catfantastic Vol. 3 – Andre Norton and Martin Harry Greenburg
  5. Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics – Jason Porath
  6. Your Magickal Cat: Feline Magic, Lore, and Worship – Gerina Dunwich
  7. Great Speeches on Gay Rights – Ed. James Daley
  8. Catfantastic Vol. 4 – Andre Norton and Martin Harry Greenburg
  9. Catfantastic Vol. 5 – Andre Norton and Martin Harry Greenburg
  10. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
  11. Heiresses of Russ 2016: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction – Ed. A M Dellamonica and Steve Berman
  12. The King of the Cats and Other Feline Fairy Tales – ed. John Richard Stephens
  13. The Tribe of Tiger – Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
  14. Summer in Orcus – T. Kingfisher
  15. Mystery Cats – ed. Lilian Jackson Braun & Patricia Highsmith
  16. Toad Words and Other Stories – T. Kingfisher
  17. The Moment of Change: An Anthology of Feminist Speculative Poetry – ed. Rose Lemberg
  18. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Susanna Clarke
  19. A Song of War: A Novel of Troy – Stephanie Thornton et. al.
  20. The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories – Susanna Clarke
  21. Keeper of the Dawn – Dianna Gunn
  22. Arcane Perfection – ed. Pat Mosley, et. al.
  23. An Alphabet of Embers: An Anthology of Unclassifiables – ed. Rose Lemberg
  24. Tailchaser’s Song – Tad Williams
  25. A Year of Ravens: A Novel of Boudica’s Rebellion – E. Knight et. al.
  26. Watership Down – Richard Adams
  27. Jackalope Wives and Other Stories – T. Kingfisher
  28. Paradise Lost – John Milton
  29. The Wicked and the Divine, Book 5: Imperial Phase I – Kieron Gillen
  30. Summerwode (The Wode Book 4)  – J Tullos Hennig
  31. The Miseducation of Cameron Post – Emily M Danforth
  32. The First Time She Drowned – Kerry Kletter
  33. Iron Peter: A Year in the Mythopoetic Life of New York City – Charles Ortleb
  34. Lumberjanes Vol 1: Beware the Kitten Holy – Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
  35. Dreadnought: Nemesis Book 1 – April Daniels
  36. The Price of Salt – Patricia Highsmith
  37. Two Boys Kissing – David Levithan
  38. Scourge of the Righteous Haddock – Ashley Schwellenbach
  39. The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars Part 1 – Irene Koh et. al.
  40. The Wheel Diver – Ashley Schwellenbach
  41. Through the Woods – Emily Carroll
  42. Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel – Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
  43. Lumberjanes Vol 2: Friendship to the Max! – Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
  44. Lumberjanes Vol 3: A Terrible Plan – Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
  45. Lumberjanes Vol 4: Out of Time – Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
  46. Mystery of the White Lions: Children of the Sun God – Linda Tucker
  47. Lumberjanes Vol 5: Band Together – Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
  48. Lumberjanes Vol 6: Sink or Swim – Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
  49. The Steel Remains (A Land Fit for Heroes) – Richard K. Morgan
  50. A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson
  51. Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat – Gwen Cooper
  52. Journey from Yesterday – Roma Niles Burke
  53. Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami – Gretel Erhlich
  54. The Cold Commands (A Land Fit for Heroes) – Richard K. Morgan
  55. The Dark Defiles (A Land Fit for Heroes) – Richard K. Morgan
  56. Psychic Abilities for Beginners: Awaken Your Intuitive Senses – Melanie Barnum
  57. How To Meet & Work with Spirit Guides – Ted Andrews
  58. Mostly Void, Partially Stars: Welcome to Night Vale Episodes, Volume 1 – Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
  59. Master and Commander – Patrick O’Brian
  60. The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe: Welcome to Night Vale Episodes, Volume 2 – Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
  61. Intuition: Knowing Beyond Logic – Osho
  62. Post Captain – Patrick O’Brian
  63. H.M.S Surprise – Patrick O’Brian
  64. Yeshua’s Loom: A Tapestry of Cats (Yeshua’s Cats Book 5) – C L Francisco
  65. The Essential Rumi – trans. Coleman Barks
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#2039

“You must be Kaylie! Hi!” The grinning young woman who answered the door was not precisely what Kaylie had been expecting. The name Fox Hollow implied uniforms and scowling adults, maybe even servants or something, not some girl in a sweatshirt and yoga pants. “Um.” Kaylie shifted her backpack from one shoulder to the other and managed a wavering smile. “Hi?” She shook the girl’s extended hand and absolutely nothing weird or paranormal or scary happened. Kaylie didn’t know if she was disappointed or relieved.

“I’m Stephanie; I’ll be your group leader this year,” The girl released Kaylie’s hand and stepped back, opening the door wide so the eleven year old could enter. “Come on in. Welcome to Fox Hollow, we’re so excited you’ll be joining us.” As Kaylie stepped over the threshold the draft brought Stephanie’s scent to her and she froze. “Wait,” she did a double take as if Stephanie might have been switched with someone else, “you’re a werewolf?!” The older girl nodded and laughed. “Wow, you have a good nose on you! Yeah, there are five of us here – well, six now that you’re here.” With that she turned and gestured toward a staircase in the front entry of the house. “Come on, I’ll show you your room.”

As Kaylie followed Stephanie up to the third floor, she craned her neck to take in as much of her new home as possible. Each landing of the staircase entered into a sort of common room from which hallways full of doors branched. In the first common room two teenage girls were playing checkers while a third sat reading on the floor. None of them looked, well, weird, but Kaylie had to remind herself that she didn’t look weird on the outside either… except on full moons. The checkers girls didn’t look up as Stephanie and Kaylie passed, but the reader did; when she flashed them a smile, she had far more pointy teeth than most humans.

“Your room will be on the third floor,” Stephanie explained as they reached the landing. “You’ll have a roommate every year, but since you’re coming late in the season you’ve already been assigned someone. Her name is Maddy, she’s super nice. I think you guys will love each other.” They passed through the common room and headed down the hallway. Kaylie sneaked quick glances into any of the open doorways, eager to see more of the kids she would be living with. As she passed one open door, though, she caught the gaze of an older teenage girl. She was utterly beautiful – straight platinum hair, flawless pale skin, skinny and fit – but when she caught sight of Kaylie she scowled in disgust and turned away. “Eww,” she could be heard commenting to someone out of sight, “another werewolf? I swear they were way pickier about their students when my mom went here.”

Kaylie stopped dead in her tracks. Stephanie kept walking for a beat or two, then stopped and glanced back at the girl’s queasy face. She sighed and knelt down next to her. “Don’t let Amber get to you,” she said, quiet yet firm. “I promise not all the vampires here are so stuck up. She’s just… old blood. And wants to make sure everyone knows it.” She knuckled Kaylie gently on the arm. “Don’t worry, you’re gonna love it here.” She rose and held out her hand. Normally Kaylie would never hold an adult’s hand – she wasn’t a baby anymore! – but in that moment she needed the firm tether to keep her from falling into fear’s clutches. She gripped Stephanie’s hand and they walked the last stretch to a closed door.

“Maddy,” Stephanie called as she knocked, “your new roomie’s here!” She smiled reassuringly down at Kaylie. Somewhere within the room, a muffled voice called, “Come in!” and Stephanie opened the door. “Maddy,” she introduced them with a flourish, “this is Kaylie. Kaylie, this is Maddy; she’s been here a year now, so she can teach you all the tricks and tips.” She winked at the eager young girl standing in the center of the extremely tidy room. “Take good care of her. But don’t get so excited that you forget your homework, though, okay?”

“Okay, okaaaay,” Maddy bounced on the balls of her feet in anticipation. “Now go, I wanna show her everything!” Laughing, Stephanie gave them both a thumbs-up and headed back downstairs. Maddy turned her attention to Kaylie and tried for what she hoped was a friendly smile. “Hi! I’m so glad you’re finally here. It’ll be nice to have a roommate again.” She turned, then glanced back over her shoulder. “Oh, can you shut the door?”

“Sure,” Kaylie shut the door and followed Maddy into the room. She had always been taught to shake hands with someone you meet, as a sign of respect, so she held out her hand to the other girl. “It’s nice to meet you, Maddy. I’m Kaylie. Um, like Stephanie said, I guess.” Maddy stared down at her proffered hand and for a second Kaylie was sure the girl thought she was totally weird and a loser. Then Maddy held out her own hand – and passed it directly through Kaylie’s, with only a sudden cold shock as evidence of the contact. “Sorry, I can’t shake hands,” Maddy explained with an apologetic smile. “One of those awkward parts about being a ghost.”

“You’re a ghost?” Kaylie realized she had nearly yelled, and forced her voice back to an inside level. “That’s so cool, I’ve always wanted to meet a ghost!” Maddy shook her head. “No way, you’re a werewolf, that’s way cooler!” They argued back and forth until they were both overcome with a serious case of the giggles, and by then it was time for dinner.

#2037

here is your trident and here is your scepter

“Miss Draye,” the captain removed his hat politely as he approached the group of women clustered on deck, “I must ask you ladies to stay below for your own safety. The deck of a ship in battle is no place for a woman.” Victoria Draye, bravest and boldest of the young women traveling on the Valiant, pursed her lips and took a step forward to place herself between the captain and the girls.

“I truly appreciate your concern, Captain,” she offered, gesturing out to the ships gathered round their own like vultures, “but it seems you are vastly outnumbered with little hope of victory. We will not sit idly by and wait for our capture; we will succeed in defending our lives in combat or take them beyond the reach of our captors. Now,” she gestured impatiently with the hand not holding her pistol, “have you firearms for my companions or not?”

here is your charm to lure the men closer

“Be brave, my friends,” Victoria handed each girl a borrowed pistol, locking eyes with each for a second of camaraderie and comfort. Some took the proffered weapon stoically, others with much hesitance. She showed them how to load and fire, then pointed out to the circling ships trading cannon fire with the Valiant. “Remember, these are not normal privateers, and if this ship is taken we shall not be freed or ransomed. The fate that awaits us is much, much worse, and it is better to die defending ourselves than to be captured. Do you understand what must be done?” One by one, the girls nodded assent and readied their guns.

here is your kingdom of water and death

“Little girl, you had better set down that pistol or you’ll bleed all over that pretty dress,” The enemy captain, just moments ago congratulating himself on an easy prize, was quickly growing irritated by the young women clustered at the side of the Valiant’s deck. Each held a pistol to ward off the pirates, though clearly only the ringleader knew how to handle one. Still, none of his men would risk a possible lucky shot when they knew the ladies were their’s already.

“If you insist, then I suppose I must obey,” Victoria feigned regret as she carefully placed her pistol on the deck between them. As she rose, she stepped quickly backward to come in line with the other girls, scooping up a small cannonball as she went. Together, as if they had rehearsed it a hundred times, the girls moved back and sat upon the railing. Victoria climbed onto the railing itself, light as a gull. “We shall not be coming with you, though” she said, and before any of the men could move the girls had shot themselves, their bodies falling back into the cold water below. Victoria lifted her chin, stared down the captain, and stepped off into nothing.

here is your vengeance in immortal myth

James struggled to row the launch on his own, though he was still grateful the captain had loaned it without question. Most of the crew knew only bits and pieces of his mad quest, but he had had to tell the entire story to the captain in order to explain why he wanted to go alone. In the distance the ship’s lanterns bobbed and swayed, a comforting presence; besides the gleam of starlight, the tiny launch sat in darkness. James took a deep breath to steady his nerves, then called out softly, “Victoria? …Tori?”

here is your trident and here is your scepter
here is your charm to lure the men closer
here is your kingdom of water and death
here is your vengeance in immortal myth

The water around the launch began to foam and roil. James grasped the sides, searching for the source of the disturbance. Something approached, something from deep in the water…

“Jamey? My little Jamey James, is that you? My, how you’ve grown!”

James spun around. His sister rested her elbows on the edge of the launch, floating as calmly and prettily in the icy water as any sea creature. She looked just as he remembered, though her skin was a pale gray and her dark hair hung in wet strands. He thought something seemed… off… about her torso, too, as if it were much longer than it should be, and her pupils took up far too much of her eyes. Her teeth, too – were they always that sharp?

“Sis…” James let out the breath he had been holding as all around the boat girls rose smiling from the water, all lovely and strange as his sister. He wiped away sudden tears and took his sister’s cold, webbed hand in his own. “How I’ve missed you!”

#2029

It’s “the holidays”, so let’s talk about… eating disorders! (Wah wah.)

I’m about to throw a big ball of crazy at you, so fair warning. Possible triggers: eating disorders, anxiety, OCD, and chronic illness.

I don’t want to bore you with my whole life story, so I’ll try to give you the relevant highlights. I have always had stomach problems: cholic as a baby, a lactose intolerance diagnosis in elementary school, and an IBS diagnosis in high school. Add to this an anxiety disorder that makes my stomach rock and roll whenever I’m nervous, excited, angry, or upset and you have a bad, bad combination. Basically, my stomach hurt all the time when I was a kid and I rarely knew why. Food became dangerous and untrustworthy; something that was fine the day before might upset my stomach the next day. I was miserable (and frequently still am).

In college, I added to all this a healthy dose of body issues. I was a chubby child but it never bothered me, as I eschewed most of society’s expectations for the female body. Sometime in college the bad body vibes hit me, though, despite my best efforts, and I’ve never been able to shake them. My food anxiety and OCD combined with the shiny new body issues and morphed into a stronger, faster, meaner obsession. I counted calories, carbs, portions, and anything else that was trackable. About a year out of college, I had managed to get my body, which likes to be between 132-135 pounds, down to 111. I had even managed to cease my menstrual cycle completely, which was awesome but not super healthy.

Nowadays I’m back to a proper weight, but still in a weird limbo where my anxiety-ocd-body-issues monster is constantly at war with my queer, feminist side that strives to cast off all the gross social conditioning and love my body exactly how it is. Every single day I expend so much energy worrying about my weight, my IBS, what I should eat to be healthy, what I should eat to be skinny, what I should eat to be comfortable and happy and not-crazy that I exhaust myself. If I have one cookie on the weekend, I mentally berate myself for it. If I take a day off from exercising because my stomach hurts, I swear I’m already a pound heavier. Even this very moment, while I write this, I’m craving Chex Mix but no, it’s so many calories, what if it makes my stomach hurt, I shouldn’t! Rinse and repeat forever.

All of this is to explain why Thanksgiving and Christmas have gone from being my favorite holidays to ones I dread through all of September, October, and November. See, I love eating and the winter holidays have the best food – pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, candied yams, mashed potatoes, honey rolls, hot chocolate, donuts and cheese danish on Christmas morning… mmm! More than anything, though, I love eating my mom’s stuffing. It’s soaked with butter and chock full of dried and fresh fruit, and I would eat it every day of my life if I could. But stuffing isn’t a good food according to my OCD brain. It’s bad for my stomach; it’s high in calories; it has no nutritional value. How dare I have even one bite?! So for the last ten or eleven years, the holidays have involved far more anxiety and internal panicking than enjoyment of the dishes I love. I drink water to fill myself up to the point of pain, and I eat a big, healthy breakfast so I’m not tempted by the Christmas donuts. When I have one anyway, I then spend the day wondering how I can sneak away from the festivities to work out. It’s pathetic, honestly, and majorly depressing.

I am going to change that this year. Or at least, I’m really going to try. I want to eat a nice dinner without worrying about my stomach beforehand and hating myself afterward. Wouldn’t that be nice? It really would. And I deserve that. I deserve to enjoy the holidays with my friends and family. I deserve to nourish my body with food that is healthy and good, and to not feel guilty for giving it the fuel it needs (or the treat I want!). I deserve to live free of anxiety and obsession. I deserve to live my life, to be present in every moment, and so does everyone else in similar situations. There are so many of us hurting out there, starving our bodies and souls to meet impossible ideals, and there’s just no reason. We weren’t put on this earth to make ourselves suffer.

I think this will be my goal for 2018 – to be kinder to myself and to love myself, not despite my various burdens but because of them. Maybe 2018 will be the year that I get to know my body again. We’ve been at war for too long.

#2028

I’ve been giving free tarot readings online to practice with my deck (just request one), and LadyMeowMix, aka Kat, was gracious enough to let me post the reading I did for her. She has been feeling a little lost lately, so I did a general directional reading.

Question: Where are you right now?
Card: The Hermit
Interpretation: Unsurprisingly, you’re kind of at a stand still. Not necessarily a bad one, but you’re definitely in a place of introspection and self discovery. That’s good! However, the hermit warns that you may get stuck in this period of inward focus and forget how to find your way back out of the metaphorical cave. Introspection is very important, but we can all get lost in the process and forget we need to actually act on our conclusions.

Question: Where are you going?
Card: Ace of Cups
Interpretation: An emotional journey is in your future. This may involve a new relationship, or perhaps the healing or evolution of a current one. Given some of the proceeding cards, this could also be someone from your past with whom you will reconnect.

Question: What advice can the cards give?
Card: 10 of Swords
Interpretation: You won’t be in control of this journey. You may feel like you’re free falling, or like everything is out of your control and crashing  down. As hard as it will be, try to fall with grace and have faith that things will work out in the end. You probably won’t see this connection,  or re-connection, coming and it may not be a welcome surprise for you. Keep in mind the greater journey and weather the hard times as best you can.

Question: What will happen if you don’t take the advice?
Card: 8 of Wands
Interpretation: If you don’t trust things to happen as they need, you will squander precious energy by putting it toward avenues where it will be wasted. You’ll act with haste and make rash decisions in order to protect yourself or others, and will only cause more harm in the long term.

Question: What will happen if you do take the advice?
Card: 4 of Wands
Interpretation: If you can trust yourself to free fall, you will eventually land in a place of temporary victory. You will have time to breathe and take stock of your life and the new changes which have occurred. Breathe, rest, and regain your strength. This won’t be the end of the journey, though, and much dedication  will be required to continue to make gains. Your new, or old but improved perhaps, relationship will need nurturing.

Question: What will you learn from this?
Card: 6 of Cups
Interpretation: The past remains with us in the present, and influences our future. Broken relationships, old regrets, and unfinished business weigh on us until we deal with them fully and are able to heal and move on. By doing that tough emotional work, you not only free your present and future of those burdens, but also free your past of the dark associations you’ve been tagging it with.

#2022

So I was digging around my old Tumblr posts and stumbled across something of which I inexplicably have no memory. It was tagged #dreams, so I suppose it was inspired by a dream I had, but even that is drawing a huge blank. Anyway, I was clearly amused by the idea of Mage as Haytham Kenway’s (Grand Master of the Templar Order’s Colonial Rite, duh) daughter and I can’t believe I didn’t do anything more with it. This doesn’t really count as writing, but it needs to be immortalized somewhere.

[Mild Assassins Creed spoilers below]

Just imagine!

Mage as Haytham Kenway’s legitimate daughter, which would basically make her Templar royalty.
Mage wrecking shit up during the Revolutionary War.
Mage killing Assassins for Fun and Profit.
Mage being the child Haytham is super proud of, though even the Templars are a little scared of her.
Mage saying “May the Mother of Understanding guide us” just to piss off the crusty old Templar dudes.
Mage with a British accent??
Mage breaking like every lady’s etiquette rule of the time, much to the offense of almost everyone except for Haytham.
Mage being on the side of the Templars during the Seven Years’ War, yet also highly amused whenever the Assassins accidentally destroy another city.
Mage as captain of the Jolly Roger, fighting alongside Shay on the open sea.
Mage and Shay not really getting along, but playing nice around Dad.
Mage defeating Connor in battle to avenge her father’s death.
Mage becoming Grand Master in Haytham’s place because the other colonial Templars are all useless or dead.
Mage and Haytham father/daughter bonding time: interrogating people and then killing them when they’ve given you all the useful information they know.
Mage in Georgian/Industrial Revolution era clothing, but all black and piratey. Possibly even some sort of hook hand that doubles as a hidden blade?
Mage in Haytham’s kickass cape.
Mage hearing about Haytham shooting Achilles in the knee and being like “my dad is such a softy :)”.
Mage being such a daddy’s girl, but it’s totally understandable because her dad is HAYTHAM MOTHERFUCKING KENYWAY.

#2019

I wonder if the mouse feels some fleeting relief in its very last moments, as the cat’s fangs so swiftly snap its spinal cord, knowing it will no longer have to live in constant fear of pain or death, that the very worst has now happened and whatever comes next can hold no mystery half as terrifying. Perhaps in that last moment the mouse is even grateful for the cat, for the mercy of an end so agonizingly anticipated and now finally arrived, death as deliverance, and might whisper what took you so long, old friend? on its final exhalation.