#2190 – 2018 Book List

Another year, another read list! And a great year it was with a mix of historical fiction, nonfiction, and a lot of revisiting books (mostly of the comic or fantasy persuasion) from my shelves that haven’t gotten any love in a long while. I didn’t read as much queer fiction as I usually do, but I made up for that with a good haul of queer comics. The highlight of the year was obviously Patrick O’Brian’s age of sail series lovingly dubbed by fans as the “Aubreyad” or the “Aubrey/Maturin novels”, which I already gushed about here.

  1. The Mauritius Command – Patrick O’Brian
  2. Desolation Island – Patrick O’Brian
  3. One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns Series #2) – Kendare Blake
  4. The Fortune of War – Patrick O’Brian
  5. The Surgeon’s Mate – Patrick O’Brian
  6. It Devours! A Welcome to Night Vale novel – Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
  7. The Young Queens (Three Dark Crowns Novella) – Kendare Blake
  8. The Wicked and the Divine Vol. 6: Imperial Phase Part 2 – Gillen McKelvie
  9. The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars Part 2 – Bryan Konietzko
  10. The Ionian Mission – Patrick O’Brian
  11. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli
  12. Treason’s Harbour – Patrick O’Brian
  13. The Far Side of the World – Patrick O’Brian
  14. They Both Die at the End – Adam Silvera
  15. Meditation for Beginners: Techniques for Awareness, Mindfulness, & Relaxation – Stephanie Clement
  16. Tarot Spreads and Layouts- Jeanne Fiorini
  17. The Reverse of the Medal – Patrick O’Brian
  18. Bingo Love – Tee Franklin and Jenn St-onge
  19. The Letter of Marque – Patrick O’Brian
  20. Heathen: Volume One – Natasha Alterici and Rachel Deering
  21. Kaibyo: The Supernatural Cats of Japan – Zack Davisson
  22. I Was the Cat – Paul Tobin and Benjamin Dewey
  23. Love is Love – IDW Publishing
  24. Wilde Stories 2017: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction – ed. Steve Burman
  25. My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness – Nagata Kabi
  26. The Biography of Goddess Inanna; Indomitable Queen of Heaven, Earth, and Almost Everything – Sandra Bart Heimann
  27. All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages – Saundra Mitchell et. al.
  28. Nagasaki: The Massacre of the Innocent and Unknowing – Craig Collie
  29. The Thirteen Gun Salute – Patrick O’Brian
  30. Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident – Donnie Eichar
  31. The Oracle Queen: A Three Dark Crowns Novella – Kendare Blake
  32. Circe: A Novel – Madeline Miller
  33. The Nutmeg of ConsolationPatrick O’Brian
  34. The TruelovePatrick O’Brian
  35. The Wine-Dark Sea – Patrick O’Brian
  36. The Commodore – Patrick O’Brian
  37. Titanic: A Very Deceiving Night – Tim Maltin
  38. The Yellow Admiral – Patrick O’Brian
  39. The Hundred Days – Patrick O’Brian
  40. Yurei: The Japanese Ghost – Zack Davisson
  41. Band vs Band: Volume 1 – Kathleen Jacques
  42. Band vs Band: Volume 2 – Kathleen Jacques
  43. The Morrigan: Meeting the Great Queens – Morgan Daimler
  44. The Runes – Horik Svensson
  45. I Am a Cat – Soseki Natsume
  46. Blue at the Mizzen – Patrick O’Brian
  47. The Wicked and the Divine Vol 1: The Faust ActKieron Gillen
  48. The Wicked and the Divine Vol 2: Fandemonium Kieron Gillen
  49. The Wicked and the Divine Vol 3: Commercial SuicideKieron Gillen
  50. The Wicked and the Divine Vol 4: Rising ActionKieron Gillen
  51. The Wicked and the Divine Vol 5: Imperial Phase Part 1Kieron Gillen
  52. The Wicked and the Divine Vol 6: Imperial Phase Part 2Kieron Gillen
  53. Fairies: A Guide to the Celtic Fair Folk – Morgan Daimler
  54. Black Sun Rising – C.S. Friedman
  55. Locke and Key Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft – Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
  56. Locke and Key Vol. 2: Head Games – Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
  57. Locke and Key Vol. 3: Crown of Shadows – Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
  58. Locke and Key Vol. 4: Keys to the Kingdom – Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
  59. Locke and Key Vol. 5: Clockworks – Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
  60. Locke and Key Vol. 6: Alpha and Omega – Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
  61. Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt – Yekaterina Barbash
  62. When True Night Falls – C.S. Friedman
  63. Crown of Shadows – C.S Friedman
  64. Becoming Dangerous: Witchy Femmes, Queer Conjurers, and Magical Rebels on Summoning the Power to Resist – Katie West
  65. Flesh and Spirit – Carol Berg
  66. Breath and Bone – Carol Berg
  67. The Poisoner’s Pocket Guide Vol 1: Book of Saturn – Coby Michael Ward
  68. Two Dark Reigns (Three Dark Crowns Series #3) – Kendare Blake
  69. Nine Princes in Amber (The Chronicles of Amber Book 1) – Roger Zelazny
  70. The Poisoner’s Pocket Guide Vol 2: Book of Mercury – Coby Michael Ward
  71. The Guns of Avalon (The Chronicles of Amber Book 2) – Roger Zelazny
  72. Sign of the Unicorn (The Chronicles of Amber Book 3) – Roger Zelazny
  73. The Hand of Oberon (The Chronicles of Amber Book 4) – Roger Zelazny
  74. The Wicked and the Divine Vol 7: Mothering Invention – Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie 
  75. The Courts of Chaos (The Chronicles of Amber Book 5) – Roger Zelazny
  76. Sister Light, Sister Dark (Book 1 of the Great Alta Saga) – Jane Yolen
  77. Transformation (Rai Kirah Book 1) – Carol Berg
  78. Revelation (Rai Kirah Book 2) – Carol Berg
  79. White Jenna (Book 2 of the Great Alta Saga) – Jane Yolen
  80. Restoration (Rai Kirah Book 3) – Carol Berg
  81. Creatures of Light and Darkness – Roger Zelazny
  82. Eye of Cat – Roger Zelazny
  83. The Dream Master – Roger Zelazny
  84. The One-Armed Queen (Book 3 of the Great Alta Saga) – Jane Yolen
  85. Lord of Light – Roger Zelazny
  86. Unicorn Variations – Roger Zelazny
  87. A Night in the Lonesome October – Roger Zelazny
  88. The Ritual – Adam Nevill
  89. A Sound of Thunder and Other Stories – Ray Bradbury
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#2132

My mother and I share a lot of private memories, things for which only we were present – the time we got locked in a dark sauna and I was thoroughly convinced we were going to die; the time we accidentally ordered so much food at a Chinese restaurant that it was like the chocolate factory conveyor belt scene from I Love Lucy; the time our car was nearly hit by lightning during a tornado warning and we rode out the storm in a little diner in the middle of nowhere; all the times we sat talking over dinner or laughing at stupid reality TV. We share countless private memories between us, both mundane and magical, silly and serious, yet there is a specific shared memory which binds us beyond mother and daughter – a memory I have barely touched in the last eleven years.

I was fresh out of my first year of college, just eighteen years old, and my parents and I were on vacation in northern California. We had driven to the ranger station at the top of Mt. Lassen, a ride during which my mother had kept her eyes squeezed shut for fear of the steep cliff-side just feet from the car. She hated heights, hated seeing the tops of trees passing by below as the car wove its way up the steep, winding path, and probably didn’t trust her own driving skills enough to risk the attempt anyway. On the way down, though, she had to take the wheel and remain calm for us both while my father sat stunned in the front seat by an inexplicably painful and disorienting headache. We didn’t know why the headache struck so suddenly or with such force, only that he needed medical assistance – and so my mother faced her lifelong fear to get us all to safety. I knew she was on the edge of panic that whole drive down and yet she reined in her fear to keep her teenage daughter, who had never seen her beloved father so vulnerable, from panicking too. Thanks to her we made it safely back to the tiny town at the base of the mountain and hurried to the local hospital. If my father was cogent enough to commend my mother for her bravery at the time, I don’t remember… and at this point it’s only she and I who remain to tell the tale.

My mother is made of steel and I could provide a hundred examples of her strength just off the top of my head; anyone who knows her could. She fights for her family, for her friends, and for her community and has always set a positive example for everyone around her. However, I’m the only one who can offer up this particular memory as proof of her unyielding bravery. A check for a million dollars couldn’t have convinced my mother to make that stressful drive back to civilization on her own and yet she did. For my father, mysteriously sick, she did. For me, young and terrified, she did. Maybe if we had known what the upcoming days would ask of us she would have quailed at this first test, but all I remember is her determination in the face of the frightening unknown.

I talk a lot about the ways in which I’m like my father because I’m proud to carry them on in his name and make him present in every moment with me. However, what I should say more often is how much I hope I am like my mother. How I hope I have inherited her courage, strength, and conviction. How I hope I may act quickly and calmly to protect my little family when emergencies strike. How I hope I may so bravely face down any and all of my fears to do what is right for those I love. Anyone can tell you my mother is a little blond spitfire who doesn’t back down from a challenge, yet only I can tell you about the time I saw her at her bravest. It’s not a happy memory to share between us, nor are any of the other memories from the week that followed, but it remains preserved and clarified in my mind as testament to the strength for which I want always to strive.

#2121

I’ve been thinking about inevitability. About how chance and circumstance could lead Igor Dyatlov’s hiking group to set up their tent in the exact center of an extremely rare and unknown wind vortex, the resulting infrasound of which sent them running into the subzero Siberian winter. Those students did everything right, everything, given what science knew at the time, and yet nine people froze to death in darkness. In 1958 no amount of investigation could answer the why of the disaster. Now we know. They couldn’t have.

I’ve been thinking about preparedness. About how chance and circumstance could lead the RMS Titanic to sail through an unknown thermal inversion, an ocular mirage that hid the iceberg, so confused the nearby Californian that it never went to assist, and ruined any chance those floating in freezing cold water had to survive the night. Both ships’ crews did everything right, everything, given what science knew at the time, and yet fifteen hundred people froze to death in darkness. In 1912 no amount of investigation could answer the why of the disaster. Now we know. They couldn’t have.

How can things go so extremely wrong when those involved are as educated, trained, and prepared as it is possible to be? When they do everything exactly right and still meet with helplessness and death? What does that mean for the rest of us who know so little? We can only prepare for what we know is coming. We can only imagine scenarios within the reality we conceptualize. Beyond that we are babes.

I do not fear the unknown. I do not fear aliens or curses or conspiracies, Sasquatch or Mothman or Bloody Mary. I fear what we already know. I fear the sleeping calderas and the pressurized fault lines; I fear the solar flares and the sixth great extinction. And I fear the as-yet-unknown. The to-be-known. The dangers already existing all around us, hidden only by the limits of human knowledge. What awaits us that we will never see coming?

#2092

there are some things i can only write about at very specific times, like when the moon is just a sliver in a sky the color of my freshmen year of college or the afternoon sun is slanting just like it did that day in eighth grade, when i’m driving the old back roads home from a theater that hasn’t changed at all in twenty-five years or listening to a song i wrung all the emotion from while i walked endless circles around campus late at night, but even then i must hurry to capture the fleeting, fickle moment before it passes and i am left too weary to write another word, too empty to perform another grand resurrection of my old ghosts and demons and long beloved spirits, and in the morning or the next day when i go back to reread those scribbles i’ll just be disappointed anyway by how impossible it is to capture such ephemeral experiences, so i’ll think why do i even try, why do i bother robbing graveyards, and then i’ll ctrl+alt+delete my way out of all memory but today’s

#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

#2042

There’s a War on Christmas – In My Heart


Oh Christmas, what a strange holiday you have become. Some say you have your source in paganism, others in Christianity, and still others curse you as a capitalist conspiracy. Regardless, you have centered yourself in the American mindset as the most important holiday of the year, so important in fact that you overshadow your competitors – Hanukkah usually gets a polite nod, Kwanzaa the occasional tossed crumbs, and as for the rest, well, they have to be content with “happy holidays”.  But I don’t hate you, Christmas. In fact, up until the last few years Christmas was one of my favorite holidays. I love how cheerful everything looks covered in evergreen boughs and twinkle lights; I love holiday foods like stuffing and pumpkin pie; I even love the old Christmas hymns like We Three Kings and O Come Emmanuel. This time of the year hearkens back to all those happy Christmases of my childhood, filled with choir performances, homemade decorations, and the nervous excitement of trying to fall asleep on Christmas eve. And yes, I’ll admit, I am certainly a fan of getting lots of gifts.

That being said, I’m just… not feeling it this year.

Actually, it’s more than not feeling – I’m downright bah humbug. I know my lack of enthusiasm is from a mixture of the usual reasons so many people hate the holidays: family drama; monetary stress; no two weeks of freedom like when you were in school. It can be hard to recapture the magic you felt as a kid when you’re unwrapping a tofu press instead of a new toy, or giving a gift to someone you are obligated to interact with but don’t actually like. It’s even harder when you’re in a committed relationship and either have to slight one family in favor of another or spend the holiday apart. So yeah, partly I’m being a grinch because Christmas as an adult isn’t nearly as easy and fun as when I was a kid. There’s more to it than that, though. I think. My feelings are very tangled right now, but when I try to work out the knots and get to the problem in the center I get the feeling it’s not just about family drama. It’s not just because I miss kid-Christmas. It’s because Christmas… isn’t my holiday.

Uh, DUH, you’re probably thinking if you know me. You’re pagan, of course Christmas isn’t your holiday. And yeah, there’s the rub. Up until 2015, I was a pseudo-agnostic content with celebrating a Christian holiday which has forced itself into the secular world. After all, almost everyone I know celebrates Christmas regardless of their spiritual beliefs, and in America it is very much assumed that you celebrate Christmas too. Sure, some folks go to church on Christmas eve, but many others just stay home and have cocoa. No one questions why you would celebrate this particular Christian holiday if you’re not Christian, and so you grow up not questioning it either. After all, most of us got baskets of candy on Easter, too.

But this year I find myself tripping over that “Christ” in Christmas. Despite how secular Christmas has become in our society, this year its religious connections seem to chafe me. Don’t get me wrong, I think Jesus was a great guy – but he’s not my savior. Why am I celebrating a Christian holy day? I’m proudly Kemetic, so isn’t that a little insulting to both Jesus and Bast? Somehow, celebrating Christmas as a pagan feels less okay than celebrating it as a maybe-agnostic, even though in both situations I’m still celebrating the secular version of the holiday. I feel like the guest no one invited to Baby Jesus’ birthday party, you know? Some friends dragged me along and now I’m standing awkwardly in the corner while Mary’s asking Joseph who the fuck I am.

To clarify, I don’t think I’m getting these vibes from either Jesus or the Netjeru. I don’t think anyone is angry or feels ignored, or is trying to push me into a decision I’m not ready to make. I think this is just the next logical stop on my spiritual journey; where I go from here is up to me. That’s kinda scary, though. What if I decide I don’t want to celebrate Christmas anymore? Does that mean I have to start explaining my religious beliefs to everyone who asks? Does it mean our family traditions have to change, or that I have to forgo seeing them on the holidays? What would my wife tell her staunchly Catholic family? What would I tell my fairly atheist family?

I know I have a lot of options no matter what decision I finally make, and Christmas 2018 is quite far away. Still, I think these feelings mark a turning point, and I’m both excited and scared to see where they take me. I’m pretty unapologetic about who I am – I’m fiercely queer, fiercely feminist, and fiercely geeky – but pagans don’t get a lot of respect in American society. People who embrace my queerness might mock my belief in Bast behind my back; people who support my rejection of Christian morals might draw the line at worshiping actual pagan deities. You just never know, and that unknown makes me anxious. Right now I fly below most people’s radar, even with my ankh ring and tattoos. Am I ready to be seen as pagan by everyone and to possibly defend my faith to family and strangers alike?