Random (but not really)

Sunday, May 14, 2023

My Life in Fictional Characters

The latest episode of Book Riot’s SFF Yeah discussed Characters Who Make Us Feel Seen, and I decided to wander down the path of what fictional characters am I most like?

I had an extremely hard time coming up with SFF characters, because I very feel rarely like the characters you find in SFF books. There might be bits and pieces that fit perfectly, but as a whole? Not so much.

Mysteries were even harder, because although I am ridiculously curious, I am anxious, so I couldn’t sneak into a house where people were sleeping or walk into a situation and confront people.

I had a far easier time with characters from romance novels, probably because I read a lot of books with broken or struggling characters. I’ve read many books in recent years that have resonated deeply with me–far more than any other genre.

So here are some characters who make me feel seen.

Murderbot, from the Murderbot series by Martha Wells.

All Systems Red

Obviously not the murdering parts, but often something Murderbot says will hit me like a punch.

“Why don’t you want us to look at you?”

My jaw was so tight it triggered a performance reliability alert in my feed. I said, “You don’t need to look at me. I’m not a sexbot.”

Murderbot exists to protect people, to help people, but it doesn’t want to have to directly deal with people, and it really doesn’t want to have to make conversation.

I didn’t want to be stuck in a chair within easy unwanted talking range.

Interacting meant talking, and eye contact. I could already feel my performance capacity dropping.

Murderbot also loves comfort reading / watching.

(T)here wasn’t time to start anything new before we reached the station. (Being interrupted isn’t nearly as annoying when I already know the story.)

The first book, All Systems Red, might only have 150 pages, but I have 60 passages highlighted.

(If I got angry at myself for being angry I would be angry constantly and I wouldn’t have time to think about anything else.) (Wait, I think I am angry constantly. That might explain a lot.)

Discworld by Terry Pratchett

The DEATH of Rats

I decided there had to be at least one character in Discworld who I felt like. I came up with two: The DEATH OF RATS and The Librarian.

The Librarian has a strong sense of justice and a love of books, is typically misunderstood, and is fine with who he is and resists any attempts to change him into a human.

The Librarian rolled his eyes. It was strange, he felt, that so-called intelligent dogs, horses and dolphins never had any difficulty indicating to humans the vital news of the moment, e.g., that the three children were lost in the cave, or the train was about to take the line leading to the bridge that had been washed away or similar, while he, only a handful of chromosomes away from wearing a vest, found it difficult to persuade the average human to come in out of the rain. You just couldn’t talk to some people.

The DEATH OF RATS is often silly, coming up with ridiculous ideas.


Neither is a main character, but both make themselves felt when around, and both enjoy what they do.

Cooper Dayton from the Big Bad Wolf series by Charlie Adhara

The Wolf at Bay

I’m not brave and would make a terrible secret agent, but things Cooper says and thinks are things that have gone through my mind repeatedly.

Cooper wondered who he’d be without any of the negative experiences of his life. Was it even worth asking?

“I’m sorry,” Cooper blurted. His heart was beating hard, but fuck it, what were they here for if not this?

Park looked at him. He had that same odd look on his face he’d had when they first got to Jagger Valley that looked so much like nerves, but a little hopeful, too. “For what?”

“Everything. Well, for earlier, and for being, you know, me.” Cooper laughed awkwardly.

“What the hell, Dayton,” Park said, sounding angry. “That’s a horrible thing to say.”

(Both quotes from The Wolf at Bay.)

I try to hear Park being angry when I find myself apologizing for being me.

the frustration that came from relearning what he could and couldn’t do for the second time in less than two years threatened to tip him over the edge from restlessness into depression.

Not two right on top of one another, but I’ve had a life-altering injury, and I know how much hard work it takes to come back from that, and to learn the new ways your body works (or doesn’t).

Sam from Play It Again by Aidan Wayne

Play It Again

With Sam, we get closer to things that mirror my life–and not just working at an IT help desk.

(W)ith his job being IT, there were often good reasons he came home having exhausted his social-skill quota for the day and was only up to playing some games or reading a book before crashing. Books and video games also didn’t yell at you, or snidely act as though you were a waste of space.

(T)alking on the phone gave him enough anxiety as it was. Never knowing whether a call might turn nasty made him dread it every time he was given a ring.

To be clear, I love helping people and working help desk type positions when the users were polite and nice, but even a single rude or horrible person can ruin my day and send my thoughts spiraling.

I’m a vegetarian. I don’t mind if other people aren’t of course, it’s not my job to regulate, but it’s my own difference I’m making, yeah? I’m a gentle soul, really. I can’t even squash bugs; I try to catch them and take them outside. No reason to harm a spider if there isn’t need, after all. And they’re such good bugs, spiders are. I mean arachnids. And sorry, there I seem to have gone off on a tangent.

I feel like this is something I may actually have said, right down to the spider tangent.

People in general made Sam nervous, but he’d mentioned a few times how he was “slightly bothered” by crowds especially, particularly noisy ones. He’d said it in the same offhand way Sam used to downplay all the things that made him unhappy or caused him distress.

Fred the Vampire Accountant series by Drew Hayes

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred the Vampire Accountant

Like Discworld, I thought through the characters in the Fred the Vampire Accountant series to see if anything clicked, and decided I am most like Alfred and Charlotte.

Charlotte because she likes taking care of people and is also extremely protective of those who living within her, and Alfred because he’s kind and as much of a pacifist as he can be. Also, he frequently misses social cues.

Zach from That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert (Ravenswood)

Zach has learned to recognize the ways he puts others first–even to doing things he didn’t like.

In truth, Zach was a messy fucker who resented his own compulsion to fill in other people’s gaps but couldn’t make himself stop.

What he did feel was a familiar tug in his chest, that nagging pull he always experienced when faced with someone who needed something. It was an urgent whisper he couldn’t ignore: You’re the only one people can rely on. That makes it your duty to help.

UGH. I recognize that pull, and how hard it is to stop doing things you don’t want to solely to please those around you. It’s ridiculously hard to say no when you’ve said yes for so long.

(H)e’d made himself a promise, recently. One designed to break his habit of handing out Yeses he didn’t mean.

That is a far harder thing to do than you’d think–people assume you’ll do as they ask, and get mad when you don’t, so you have to come up with reasons and excuses, which is exhausting.

Ruth from A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert (Ravenswood)

Like Zach, Ruth makes me feel seen.

She wasn’t graceful. She was, in fact, the opposite of graceful. He worried for her safety once every five seconds at least. When she poured half of the hot water onto the counter, he was only surprised that she didn’t scald herself in the process.

She rolled her eyes and picked up the mugs. He deftly took them from her and carried them into the living room, as if she wasn’t capable of handling it herself. True, she usually spilled tea everywhere. But her balance would never get better if she didn’t practice.

Artificial Condition

Spoiler: practice doesn’t help.

Ruth disliked phone calls—it was hard to really hear someone’s words, when you couldn’t see their face

Ruth realised that she was rubbing her own hands—wringing them, people said—and made herself stop, even though the action was calming.

It’s so affirming to see someone else deal with things I thought were my own quirks.

Now she didn’t know if she should laugh or gasp. She compromised by choking on her own spit.

Yes, I’ve done that too.

Clem from An Unseen Attraction by K.J. Charles (Sins of the Cities)

I have reread this book multiple times and have more than 80 highlights, mostly of Clem.

Look me in the eyes, boy! had been a constant refrain at school, but they said the eyes were the windows to the soul, and Clem didn’t feel comfortable peering into people’s windows.

Rowley had thought at first the beast had no name; it had taken him a while to understand that it had a perfectly good, descriptive name to which it was as likely to answer as any other, and that name was Cat. There was something terribly Clem about that.

I annoyed a friend as a kid, because I didn’t give my stuffed animals “real” names.

“But, but—” Clem flailed a hand. Mark snatched his pint out of the way.

There is a reason people do not set their drinks near me.

He’d spent his life carefully not looking into an abyss of rage like the pit of hellfire he’d so often been told awaited pagans, because if he ever really looked, he feared he might be angry forever.

Jordan from Upside Down by N.R. Walker

Upside Down

Jordan is another character that makes me feel seen on multiple levels.

My phone beeped in my hand and I tripped over my own feet, almost falling to the ground but catching myself just in time. “Motherfucker.”

I mean.

Geek also probably fits, though mostly for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I mean, the other Star Treks are fine and I don’t disparage anyone for liking them—Janeway and Picard are credible—but I just prefer Sisko as my captain,

“There has to be a reason you picked Sisko.”

He smiled at me and seemed to relax before launching into a spiel on consistency and compassion and how Sisko’s being a father in the show made him more relatable.

The only way that would have been better was if Garak had also been brought up.

“Good afternoon,” he said, grinning as I walked up to take my seat.

“Top of the day to you, kind sir,” I replied, for no other reason than I’m an idiot.

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. I do that all the time.

“We had the early learning kids in today. That’s always fun, if not rather loud, but I like reading to them. I make it exciting and interactive so they all think books and reading time is amazing, so I’m like a superhero to them. And being a superhero to a bunch of three-year-olds is a civic responsibility I take very seriously.”

I love finding a book that a kid loves almost as much as I love making them enthusiastic about things and pointing out wonders they might not have noticed.

Bonus Quotes

Waiting for the Flood

Some passages floor me every time I read them.

“You’ve been through a lot today,” he said. “There’s no need to diminish it.”

“Yeah, but if I don’t diminish things I have to face them at their normal size, and that’s horrible.”

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

(H)e’d effectively removed the stressor I carried with me every minute: the fear that if I had to choose, I would choose wrong and something terrible would happen.

Rend by Roan Parrish

It would be nice to believe in something like God. To believe some higher power with a greater purpose was concealed behind the violence and chaos.

Come Unto These Yellow Sands by Josh Lanyon

This is the story of my life: standing on the edges of things and worrying, when I’m supposed to just walk through them.

Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall

“I’m more interested in someone’s excitement over something they have just discovered, than someone’s smug, pompous insistence that there is a right and a wrong way to learn to love something.”

Hottie Scotty and Mr. Porter by R. Cooper

I keep having thoughts I didn’t authorise.

Work for It by Talia Hibbert

Written by Michelle at 10:37 am    

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Categories: Books & Reading,Depression,Mental Health,Michelle Is Clumsy,Non-Sequiturs  

Monday, May 1, 2023

April Showers Bring April Rereads

Paper CutsNot that we had a lot of rain. But excluding the first two years of the pandemic, my April reading was about average for me.

April is a rough month for me, so it was almost all rereads. Which is fine, as I like dropping into stories and worlds where I’d been happy before.

Does not, however, do anything for my insanely large TBR.

Interestingly (to me), the books I gravitated towards this month weren’t (for the most parts) highly rated favorites, but instead were stories that hit a specific mood. Lots of cozy mysteries, but also romances that leaned heavily towards normal, every day people finding love and acceptance.

So don’t think that an average rating means those books aren’t worth reading–instead see them as stories that might have some flaws, but got the feelings of comfort and self-acceptance just right.


Agents of Winter

Audio Books
Written by Michelle at 6:59 pm    

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Monday, April 17, 2023

Flower Pr0n! Ephemeral Spring Flowers!

It’s been awhile, but the weather is weird and the world is weird, so have some flowers.


I am low-key obsessed with trout lilies (Erythronium americanum)


They’re fascinating, ephemeral plants.


And old. Zack Fowler says the colony at the arboretum is several hundred years old.


Wood Anemone (Anemonoides quinquefolia) which I wish had another common name, since I always stumble over Anemone.


Spring Beauties! (Claytonia caroliniana)



Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

These covered some of the hills we drove by, so I had to stop to verify they were bloodroot. We also saw lots of white trillium along the roadside, but none were anywhere safe to stop.


This picture looks boring and empty, but that greenery covering the forest floor?


Written by Michelle at 6:17 pm    

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Categories: Flowers,Photos  

Saturday, April 1, 2023

March Books Marching

Liar CityEvery fantasy book I read (excluding the audio book) was a new read.

Every other genre was  all rereads with the exception of Deanna Raybourn‘s A Sinister Revenge.

Just that kind of month apparently.

Although I gave it an average rating, I need to reread Allie Therin‘s  Liar City before I feel like I can give it a true rating, because I lot happened, and I am certain I missed lots of things as I tried to figure out what was going on. Because we were dropped right in and had to pick up the workd building as we read. I like books like that (Paul Cornell’s London Falling jumps immediately to mind) but I tend to miss a lot of details on my first read, as I’m focused on figuring out what is going on.

If you’ve been reading the Veronica Speedwell series, A Sinister Revenge leans heavily on some of the events from the previous book.

Which I had almost completely forgotten. So there was a bit of a mental scramble to remember what had happened.

The Eidolon

Honestly, I’m still not sure how I feel about Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies. Serial killer PoV is hard for me to get into.

If you haven’t read K.D. Edwards Tarot Sequence, I don’t recommend starting with The Eidolon. It is a novella which gives us the events of The Hourglass Throne, only from the teens’ perspectives. I really like this series, but I don’t think this is necessarily a good jumping in spot, simply because you’re missing so much from Rune’s story. That said, I really want to know what happens with Quinn after this story.

Aside from that, lots of comfort rereads. I realized I have reread Michelle Diener‘s Regency London series almost every year since 2016 (skipping 2018 for some unknown reason). And I’ve reread Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut, Nearly a Lady, and Joy five or more times. So that may tell you something about those books.


The Eidolon (2023) K.D. Edwards (Magnus Academy) 8.5/10

Liar City (2023) Allie Therin (Sugar & Vice) 7/10

Magic, Lies, and Deadly PiesMagic, Lies, and Deadly Pies (2022) Misha Popp (Pies Before Guys) 7/10

Baking Up a Magical Midlife by Jessica Rosenberg
Bitter, Sweet, Magic (2022) 7/10, Sweet & Sour Spells (2023) 6/10


Regency London by Michelle Diener
The Emperor’s Conspiracy (2012) 8.5/10, Banquet of Lies (2013) 9.5/10, A Dangerous Madness (2014) 8.5/10

Grasmere Cottage Mystery by Dahlia Donovan
Dead in the Shop (2018) 8/10, Dead in the Pond (2018) 8/10, Dead in the Garden (2018) 8/10

Lindenshaw Mysteries by Charlie Cochrane
The Best Corpse for the Job (2014) 7/10, Jury of One (2015) 7.5/10, Two Feet Under (2018) 7.5/10, Old Sins (2019) 8/10, A Carriage of Misjustice (2020) 7.5/10

A Sinister RevengeA Sinister Revenge (2023) Deanna Raybourn (Veronica Speedwell) 7/10


Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut (2018) R. Cooper 9.5/10

Nearly a Lady (2011) Alissa Johnson (Haverston Family) 9/10

Joy (2017) C.S. Poe (A Lancaster Story) 8.5/10

Hottie Scotty and Mr. Porter (2016) R. Cooper 8.5/10

The Agency by Ada Maria Soto
His Quiet Agent (2017) 9.5/10, Merlin in the Library (2018) 8/10

~Audio Book~s

The Lies of Locke Lamora (2009) Scott Lynch narrated by Michael Page (Gentleman Bastards) 8/10

A Curious Beginning (2015) Deanna Raybourn narrated by Angèle Masters (Veronica Speedwell) 8/10


Written by Michelle at 5:23 pm    

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Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Books. February. 2023. I Read.

Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus: Beginnings

February was a relatively slow month for reading. How slow? 2011 was the last time I “only” read thirteen books in February.

And that’s ok.

I discovered two new series this month: Lydia Sherrer‘s Lily Singer Adventures, and Jessica Rosenberg‘s Baking Up a Magical Midlife series. Both are cozy and distracting, and although they have weaknesses, I still want to know more, so that’s really a win for the author.

Especially since the lead of one series is middle(ish) aged, and has a tween daughter.

I also read the second book in The Janet Watson Chronicle. I wanted to mention it because this was a case of me recognizing when a book is good, while also knowing it wasn’t something I especially enjoyed, yet I wanted to know what happened, so I devoured it, all the while not enjoying the dystopian elements.

In other words, that rating is heavily biased by my personal preferences.

The Gorgon AgendaI also stumbled upon the latest SPI files book, which was good, and might be a final book in the series. And I’m ok with that. Would I like other stories set in that world? Definitely. I’d love some short stories based on various cases SPI deals with, but I don’t think Lisa Shearin writes a lot of short stories, so I’ll have to be ok with what I have.

Oh, I finished my relisten to The Raven Boys series, and now I’m grumpy because I am again trying to figure out what I want to listen to that will draw me in and keep me exercising / cleaning / whatever thing I need done.


The Hound of Justice

~Science Fiction~
Written by Michelle at 8:00 am    

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Thursday, February 2, 2023

The Books of January

Legends & LattesI think I’m going to ignore the fact that the first month of 2023 is already over.

I’ve hardly done ANY hiking this month, and there has been little snow. So I’m not acknowledging winter passing.

On the bright side, I did have plenty of time to read, what with having a cold and ending up with vertigo.

All of which means it’s a good thing I read plenty of good books in January.


Unexpectedly, I read a bunch of new fantasy–including a new-to-me author! Travis Baldree’s Legends & Lattes was delightful. It’s what happens after the adventuring, when the hero wants to retire. Except the hero isn’t a he, and isn’t human, and wants to do something entirely new: open a cafe. It could have been written as a joke, but reminded me of Drew Hayes stories, which seem like they would be ridiculous while actually been thoughtful.

Soul Taken And I adore that cover–it’s a throw-back to so much 80s fantasy I read.

A Matter of Magic (1994) Patricia C. Wrede 9/10
Legends & Lattes (2022) Travis Baldree 8/10
There Will Be Phlogiston (2014) Alexis Hall (Prosperity) 8/10
A Bump In Boohail (2022) Kimberly Lemming (Mead Mishaps) 7/10
Soul Taken (2022) Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson) 7/10


I am still rereading Agatha Christie mysteries, but I’m going through the series I don’t remember (or might not necessarily have read), which is interesting, although I don’t like them anywhere near as much as the Miss Marple stories.

The new mysteries by Josh Lanyon and KJ Charles were good, and I think that I’ll end up rereading Hide and Seek, because it was interesting and I was suffering a bit with the cold when I read it.

Hide and Seek (2022) Josh Lanyon 8/10
Hide and Seek Masters in This Hall (2022) K.J. Charles (Lilywhite Boys) 7/10
Agatha Christie
Superintendent Battle: Murder is Easy (1939) 7/10, Towards Zero (1944) 7/10
Tommy & Tuppence: The Secret Adversary (1922), Partners in Crime (1929) 7/10
Lessons for Survivors (2018) Charlie Cochrane (Cambridge Fellows) 6/10
Murder by the Book (2018) Lauren Elliott 5/10


I feel like The Holiday Trap is the first Roan Parrish story I’ve read with a FF romance. It was a cute trading places / holiday romance, but unlike her recent books for Harlequin, went a little bit more into the struggles of the characters instead of glossing past those problems. There is nothing wrong with glossing past struggles, it is just really weird for a Roan Parrish story to do so.

The Holiday Trap (2022) Roan Parrish 8/10
The Geek Who Saved Christmas (2021) Annabeth Albert 7/10
The First Snow of Winter (2021) Joanna Chambers (Winterbourne) 6.5/10The Holiday Trap


100% comfort reads.

Check, Please! Book 1: # Hockey (2018) Ngozi Ukazu 8/10
Check, Please! Book 2: Sticks & Scones (2020) Ngozi Ukazu 9.5/10

Audio Books

I finally finished Murderbot and after a brief struggle started the Raven Boys series.

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater narrated by Will Patton: The Raven Boys, Audio Edition (2012) 9/10, The Dream Thieves, Audio Edition (2013) 9.5/10
Network Effect, Audio Edition (2020) Martha Wells narrated by Kevin R. Free 9.5/10


Written by Michelle at 8:21 pm    

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Friday, January 6, 2023

I Earned This

Specific soundbites have grated on my nerves in recent days, specifically an elected legislator claiming “I’ve earned this goddamn job”

Legislators are, whether they want to recognize it or not, public servants.

: one that makes laws especially for a political unit
Latin legis lator, literally, proposer of a law, from legis (genitive of lex law) + lator proposer, from ferre (past participle latus) to carry, propose

They serve in office at the pleasure of the people who elected them.

1. To work for (someone) as a servant: The steward serves the king.
a. To prepare and offer
b. To place food before (someone); wait on
a. To provide goods and services for (customers)
b. To supply (goods or services) to customers
4. To assist the celebrant during (Mass).
a. To meet the requirements of; suffice for
b. To be of assistance to or promote the interests of; aid
a. To work through or complete (a period of service)
b. To be in prison for (a period or term)
c. Sports To be removed from play for a specified period because of (a penalty).
7. To fight or undergo military service for: served the country for five years in the navy.
8. To give homage and obedience to: served God.
9. To act toward (another) in a specified way: She has served me ill.
10. To copulate with; service. Used of male animals.

These positions are not earned, they are a privilege granted by the people they represent.

: a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor : prerogative
especially : such a right or immunity attached specifically to a position or an office
1 : to grant a privilege to
2 : to accord a higher value or superior position to

Claiming one has earned any position of public service is completely failing to understand the privilege of their place, and their duty to serve the American people—not their personal desires for power.

: to receive money as payment for work that you do
: to get something that you deserve

That a rich white man making these claims should be a surprise to no one.

Kevin McCarthy’s home is an 8,800 square foot California mansion.

The price tag on his home is $21,000,000 USD. Inside, his mansion is as lavish, with a wine cellar, tennis court, two indoor pools, 10 bedrooms, and 12 bathrooms.

If a politician believes they have earned a privilege, they seem to be missing the point of their position.

public servant
: a government official or employee
The first known use of public servant was in 1671
A public servant is generally a person who is employed by the government, either through appointment or election.


Written by Michelle at 8:53 am    

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