Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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2011 is a third over and it’s not even warm yet

May Day! With a low of 42 degrees. Everything’s green and lush and the rugosa roses are flowering like mad and can I get out to admire everything? No, I cannot, because it is raining AGAIN.

I’d say this is the coldest spring ever, except we’ve kept records for the past ten or so years and therefore I know that actually 2008 was just like this. Difficult to get the tomatoes and peppers out in a spring where the cold lingers and lingers, impossible to plant shrubs and trees when the whole landscape turns to marshlands.

Well, my tomatoes are bumping their heads against the lights and I can’t raise the lights any farther, so they’ll go out this week, cold or not. They won’t be happy and they’ll get off to a slow start, but tough: they are big plants now and they will just have to cope.

Meanwhile, moving the eggplants up to larger pots because they really *can’t* cope.

Well, at least the rain gave me a good excuse to mostly stay in. All that weeding to do! But it will have to wait, again. Even though I have a dog show next weekend. I will be driving back and forth to this show, which is a lot of trouble, but maybe I can weed the herb garden around the edges. A ridiculous little one-point show: only five female Cavaliers entered, counting mine. What a disappointing entry! Maybe the rain has depressed everyone.

I could just stay home and write off the entry fees as a loss, but hey, the show is close by and actually the young half-sisters (Dara and Kenya) can use points even if they earn them one at a time. Adora can stay home, poor baby — she’d love to go, but one-point shows are totally useless to her and taking fewer dogs makes it easier for me. Also, I’ll go just because I want to put Dara and Kenya head to head and see what the judges do.

Here’s what Frank Kane said about Kenya, btw — he wrote his critiques up super-fast, which I really appreciate:

“Lovely-bodied bitch who moves soundly. Good head type. Shows a little white in one eye but convincing winner of this class, holding a very good topline and tail carriage.”

Go, Kenya! But the last AKC show, Dara beat Kenya, so we’ll see what happens.

It’s so interesting keeping track of the books I’ve bought and read this year! I did this last year for the first time, and now this year now that I’m in the habit of noting down books as they arrive. Since I was stuck inside and didn’t want to do anything actually useful, I took a look at the list so far:

In the first four months of 2011, I’ve bought 47 books and read 48, which seems amazingly balanced, except that only half of the books I’ve read this year are books I also bought this year.

In January, I bought 25 books, including 15 fantasy, 1 SF, 1 history, 1 dog book (Bones Would Rain from the Sky), 2 books on writing, and 5 cookbooks.

I read 17 books in January, including a mere 4 of the ones I bought. The rest I took off my TBR pile — some books have been on that pile for five years or more (not kidding).

The best books I read in January were The Sky is Everywhere by Nelson, which is an awesome contemporary YA and also has an awesome title (titles are really hard for me!), and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms, by Jemisin. I (along with no doubt lots of other people) nominated The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms for the Nebula and the WF award. I was glad to see it made the ballot, and I hope it wins. Another awesome book, in a completely different way. I also loved The Black Prism, by Brent Weeks. Those four were the highlights for January.

In February, I bought 10 books, including six novels by Nina Kiriki Hoffman and one anthology (Firebirds Soaring) that featured a novella by Hoffman. From this you can probably guess that I read my first couple of Hoffman books in February, which would be true.

I read a total of 17 books in February, of which I most admired The King’s Last Song by Ryman but most enjoyed the above-mentioned Hoffman novels, especially A Fistful of Sky. They both had lovely covers, but that’s just coincidence, I swear!

Also in February I read Joe Abercrombe’s The Blade Itself trilogy and also his fourth book, Best Served Cold. These followed Lowachee’s The Gaslight Dogs, which I read in January, so I have now officially OVERDOSED on decent-characters-turn-evil, bad-guys-win plots and will do my utmost to avoid ANY PLOT EVEN REMOTELY LIKE THIS for the rest of the year.

In March I bought a whopping 1 book and read 2 — you may correctly surmise from this that I was working on a project of my own in March. The one book I bought was River Marked, by Patricia Briggs, and it was also the first book of the year that I sat down and read THE VERY DAY IT ARRIVED. My very favorite Urban Fantasy series and author! Can’t wait for Briggs’ next installment of her Alpha-and-Omega series, which unfortunately I will actually have to wait for because it isn’t scheduled to hit the shelves until next January.

In April I bought 10 books and read 13. 2 in April fell into the category of “read them instantly” — Dan Well’s I don’t Want to Kill You, finishing up his outstanding trilogy — I do think there’s room for more in this series, though he says he’s done with it — and CJ Cherryh’s Betrayer, which was the 12th in *that* series. Personally I think there’s at least three more books coming in Cherryh’s series, but I haven’t looked to see if there’s anything official about that.

Now . . . here we are in May! The Spring semester ends in the middle of May and the summer session doesn’t start for three weeks, if I recall correctly, so I expect to work on my current Work In Progress in between. Despite dog shows and gardening! Or at least, around the edges of dog shows and gardening!

But for the next week or so, I still have guilt-free playtime! How far down can I whittle my TBR pile in a week or ten days? And can I resist adding to the pile in the meantime? [Hint: not that far, because no, I can’t.]

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