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bell7's (Mary's) 2017 Eclectic Reads

75 Books Challenge for 2017

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Edited: Dec 29, 2016, 1:34pm Top

Hello and welcome to my thread, both old and new friends!

I am a 30-something librarian living in western Massachusetts. I facilitate a book group (see the second post below for our 2017 reads) and my discussions will feature frequently here. Reading is how I spend a lot of my free time, but I also enjoy knitting and sports (NY Giants, Boston Red Sox, and Boston Bruins especially). I am the oldest of five siblings, most of us living locally, but one married sister living outside of D.C. and the other youngest sister going to college in D.C. My married sister has one daughter, my adorable niece Mia who will be topping my threads, and is due with her second child in May. We'll find out next week if she's having a boy or girl! (And in case you can't tell, I completely dote on my niece.)

The Mia topper - Christmas toy set up:

I first joined the 75 Book Challenge in 2010 (!). I've read anywhere from 100-150 books in those years, though since working full-time 130-40 is about average for me. I read an eclectic mix, though you'll often find I read my go-to genre of young adult fantasy. I enjoy fantasy, science fiction, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, classics, mysteries; for nonfiction, books about books, essays, history and language are favorite topics. I am not a horror fan and am extremely picky about romance, but there's not much genre-wise I won't try. I like books with compelling characters, at least something of a plot, and descriptive (but not excessively so) writing.

To give you a little more of an idea, here are my top reads of 2016 (I limited myself to one per author):

The Prestige by Christopher Priest
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Love in Lowercase by Francesc Miralles
Arcadia by Iain Pears
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
A Court of Mist & Fury by Sarah J. Maas (second in a series - I just loved how she turned everything on its head and made it work)
The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig
Crosstalk by Connie Willis

Books for Living by Will Schwalbe
The Witches by Stacy Schiff
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
Literary Starbucks by Nora Katz et al.

A bit about my rating system:
1 star - Forced myself to finish it
2 stars - Dislike
2.5 stars - I really don't know if I liked it or not
3 stars - Sort of liked it; or didn't, but admired something about it despite not liking it
3.5 stars - The splitting hairs rating of less than my last 4 star book or better than my last 3
4 stars - I liked it and recommend it, but probably won't reread it except under special circumstances (ie., a book club or series reread)
4.5 stars - Excellent, ultimately a satisfying read, a title I would consider rereading
5 stars - A book that I absolutely loved, would absolutely reread, and just all-around floored me

My ratings are totally subjective and about how much *I* liked a book. I try in my reviews to make it apparent why I didn't like it and if you would anyways.

Edited: Feb 20, 8:31pm Top

2017 Work Books:

Book Club
January - Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
February - Daughters of the Samurai by Janice P. Nimura
March - Accordion Crimes by E. Annie Proulx
April - H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald
May - The House Girl by Tara Conklin
June - The Outermost House by Henry Beston
July - A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
August - The Eden Express by Mark Vonnegut
September - Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
October - A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintyre
November - The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
December - When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Western Mass. Reader's Advisory Genre Study Round Table (aka Librarian Book Club) -
January - Historical Fiction, Tudor to WW2
Benchmark, everyone reads: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - DONE
2nd title, my choice: Regeneration by Pat Barker - DONE

March - Historical fiction vs. biography -
Two books about the same person
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (fiction) - DONE
Straight on Till Morning by Mary S. Lovell (biography)

May - Alternate History
Benchmark: TBD
2nd title, my choice: TBD

Edited: Feb 27, 1:11pm Top

Movie and TV show list ('cause why not?)
1. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - Jan. 1
2. My Neighbor Totoro - Jan. 3
3. All Quiet on the Western Front - Jan. 4
4. Finding Dory - Jan. 4
5. Casablanca - Jan. 11
6. Gilmore Girls, Season 2 - Jan. 13
7. Rogue One - Jan. 14
8. Sherlock, Season 4 - Jan. 16
9. Iron Man - Jan. 16
10. Gilmore Girls, Season 3 - Feb. 6
11. X-Men First Class - Feb. 8
12. X-Men Days of Future Past - Feb. 11

Currently Reading
Kissed by an Angel by Elizabeth Chandler
Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide to Money by Dave Ramsey - mine

1. Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt - audio and e-book
2. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - reread
3. Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
4. Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
5. Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
6. Under the Jolly Roger by L.A. Meyer - audio
7. Regeneration by Pat Barker

8. The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee - mine and e-book ARC
9. Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger - audio and reread
10. Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers - audio
11. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley - graphic novel
12. Daughters of the Samurai by Janice P. Nimura
13. March: Book One by John Lewis with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell - graphic novel
14. Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken
15. Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty - audio
16. King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard
17. On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman
18. In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
19. March: Book Two by John Lewis with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell - graphic novel
20. Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger - audio


Dec 28, 2016, 10:39am Top

Hi Mary!

Dec 28, 2016, 10:51am Top

Happy reading in 2017, Mary.

Dec 28, 2016, 11:12am Top

Great to see you back for another instalment, Mary. I'll be joining you for the full episode as usual. xx

Dec 28, 2016, 12:10pm Top

It seems alternative histories seem to like making the change at WWII. However, what if Homo Sapiens had never crossed the land bridge to North America? How might United States history be different if Christopher Columbus discovered Neanderthal Man? Isaac Asimov presents A Different Flesh by Harry Turtledove.

Just a thought for your May reading...


Dec 28, 2016, 12:38pm Top

Dropping off a star to continue keeping up with you next year, Mary. However, I refuse to start a 2017 thread until it is actually 2017 dangnabbit! ;)

Dec 28, 2016, 1:19pm Top

>4 DianaNL: You're FIRST, Diana! :)

>5 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita, and looking forward to reading about your 2017 reading too.

>6 PaulCranswick: Glad you've already stopped by, Paul. I've got your thread starred as well.

>7 drichpi: Thanks for the recommendation, Dan. I've read little alternative history that wasn't "something else" such as steampunk, so diving into this genre will be fun for me.

>8 MickyFine: I totally understand waiting, Micky. I didn't want to be late, so decided I'd be a few days early. I'll look for your thread in the new year.

Dec 28, 2016, 1:23pm Top

>10 MickyFine: I'll post a link to it from my 2016 thread. It should be easy to find. :)

Dec 28, 2016, 6:04pm Top

Underground Airlines makes the break at the US civil war - or have you read The Yiddish Policeman's Union that imagines an alternate Israeli homeland?

Sorry - terrible for recommending books unasked!

Look forward to following you in 2017. I hope the bookgroup reading for the year goes well. Looks like an interesting list.

Dec 28, 2016, 7:32pm Top

Cheers to a new year of reading, Mary! And to the Giants in the playoffs :-)

Dec 29, 2016, 6:21am Top

Happy New Year!

Dec 29, 2016, 12:07pm Top

>10 MickyFine: Perfect!

>11 charl08: Thanks, Charlotte! I'm perfectly willing to take unsolicited book recommendations ;)

>12 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie! My dad toasted to the Giants in the playoffs... during a Christmas Eve party, no less. And did I mention I told someone who asked about potential dogsitting dates that I couldn't be definite about Dec. 4-7, just in case they made it to the Super Bowl and I head out to Houston? Yep, that's how insane my family is...

>13 DianaNL: Thanks, Diana! Happy New Year to you too.

Dec 30, 2016, 4:21am Top

Hi Mary! I found you on the introductions thread, and you seem to like some of the same genres I do! I look forward to following your reading in 2017.

Dec 30, 2016, 1:13pm Top

>15 kgodey: Hi Kriti, thanks for stopping by! I'll be looking forward to following your 2017 reads as well.

Dec 30, 2016, 3:09pm Top

Happy new thread!

Dec 30, 2016, 4:28pm Top

Hi Mary, I'm starring you again and looking forward to your reads in 2017!

Dec 31, 2016, 12:02am Top

Hi Mary! I'm looking forward to seeing what you read in 2017.

Dec 31, 2016, 6:25am Top

Got you starred, Mary, even if I don't post much.

Dec 31, 2016, 8:47am Top

Dec 31, 2016, 8:55am Top

I am part of the group.
I love being part of the group.
I love the friendships bestowed upon my by dint of my membership of this wonderful fellowship.
I love that race and creed and gender and age and sexuality and nationality make absolutely no difference to our being a valued member of the group.

Thank you for also being part of the group.

Dec 31, 2016, 2:18pm Top

I wanted the bonus points, Mary, so here is the link to me: Mamie's 2017 Madness

Dec 31, 2016, 6:29pm Top

Happy New Year! (dropping a star)

Dec 31, 2016, 10:09pm Top

Hi Mary! Just dropping off my star. I hope to do a better job of keeping up with threads in 2017.

Jan 1, 2:29pm Top

Happy New Year, Mary! I have you starred.

Jan 1, 2:55pm Top

Hi Mary Happy New Year! Have a *.

Jan 1, 7:01pm Top

Checking in and hanging out my hat -- or at least my star!

Jan 2, 6:14pm Top

Nice new thread, Mary. Your book group is tackling some interesting books. Lonesome Dove and The Whistling Season are some of my all-time favorites. I am currently reading The Buried Giant for my Thursday evening book group. Fantasy is challenging for me but I do like Ishiguro's writing.

Please come and visit me over here when you have time.

Jan 2, 7:17pm Top

Happy New Year, Mary!

I'm a big fan of Lonesome Dove, too. That looks like a good group of reads for your book club.

Jan 3, 12:16pm Top

Dropping off a star. Happy reading in 2017!

Jan 3, 1:03pm Top

>17 foggidawn: Thanks, foggi!

>18 aktakukac: Rachel, looking forward to keeping up with your 2017 reads as well.

>19 Kassilem: You too, Melissa. Happy new year!

>20 Ape: No worries, Stephen, I do the same thing. Looking forward to following your reading this year :)

>21 The_Hibernator: Happy new year, Rachel! Good luck on all your themed reading this year.

>22 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul. A happy 2017 to you, and I'm looking forward to attempting to keep up with your threads and reading once again.

>23 Crazymamie: Mamie! Happy new year, and thanks so much for the link! Hope you're having a great day.

>24 ronincats: Starred you as well, Roni. Happy new year!

Jan 3, 1:17pm Top

>25 cbl_tn: Thanks for stopping by, Carrie!

>26 tymfos: Happy new year, Terri!

>27 BBGirl55: Thanks, Bryony - right back atcha!

>28 thornton37814: Dropped off my star at your thread, too, Lori. Happy new year!

>29 Donna828: Thank you for the link, Donna, and I will definitely stop by soon! I'll look forward to reading what you think of The Buried Giant. I've read other books by Kazuo Ishiguro, but not that one eyt.

>30 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe, happy new year! I just starred your cafe and look forward to keeping up with your reading.

>31 archerygirl: Thanks, Katherine, and same to you!

Jan 3, 1:53pm Top

1. Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Format: Audio and e-book through my library's Overdrive catalog
Why now? I really enjoyed The Wednesday Wars on audio and decided I would try Doug Swiateck's story the same way.

Doug Swiateck is doing just fine until his father loses his job and decides to move them to Marysville, New York. Stupid Marysville is a small town where Doug knows no one, and everyone expects him to be a troublemaker. But then he meets Lil Spicer, and her dad gives him a job. Can he make his own way here, or is he doomed by his father and his brothers' shadows?

Readers of The Wednesday Wars may remember Doug as the prankster Holling Hoodhood knew - but if you haven't read the first book, there's no need before diving into this one. Doug is a great character, the youngest of three boys and wanting to be his own person in the midst of a troubled home. His oldest brother Lucas is away at Vietnam, his brother Chris is a troublemaker and Doug just knows everyone judges him by his brothers' actions. His growth as a character was really fun to follow, and my only complaint was that a few items seemed just a little too neatly tied up - but it is a middle school novel, after all. 4 stars.

It wasn't quite as funny as The Wednesday Wars, though there were humorous moments. The reader was good too.

Jan 3, 2:46pm Top

So what can we trade in our bonus points for? http://www.librarything.com/topic/245148

I like your "Why Now?" for each book and will most likely add that to mine.

Jan 3, 7:34pm Top

Oh yes... BONUS POINTS to Mamie, Donna and Morphy!

>35 Morphidae: Hmm...I could look for a book from your wishlist at the fill-a-bag-for-$2 deal at my library book sale in May. (It's a fundraiser for our Friends group and I always end up buying books to give people because I find it fun.)
And thanks! It's kind of a fun thing for me to keep track of, actually. The funny thing when I'm writing it is how often I'll be like "Oh, because of this book" only to realize it's been years since I read the first one.

Jan 3, 7:39pm Top

Happy New Year, Mary! You had some great top reads last year. I'm glad My Brilliant Friend is among them -- I have struggled to get into that one, but your endorsement could help me along. Have you read the others?

LOVE the Mia topper! Wow, she's growing fast! And a new little one on the way, too -- how wonderful!

Jan 3, 7:53pm Top

>37 AMQS: Hi, Anne, Happy New Year to you too! I was surprised by how much I liked My Brilliant Friend, but the second was slower going for me so I say go with your gut if it didn't seem like the first one was working for you. I've been meaning to read the next one, but haven't yet.

Mia is getting big, isn't she? She's starting to talk more and says "Mma" for Grandma and "Ba" for Grandpa, much to my parents' delight. My sister tells me her vocabulary is really taking off, as the other day she started with some phrases, watching Elmo's World and when it got to the part where Elmo says "Now Elmo will ask a baby," she said "Now baby" before he did. Mia was listening in on our Skype conversation, as she heard this and came over to say "Elmo." She also showed me how many animal sounds she knows as my sister read to her - though she gets impatient and flips pages so fast she gets an abridged version of all her books. We're definitely excited for the little one on the way! My sister's ultrasound is Thursday and I'll get started on knitting some things once I get home from my latest catsitting gig. I've taken some time off in late June to early July to go down to visit (the baby should be about five weeks old or so, to give them time to settle in).

Soo.... anyone in the DC area, I will spend most of that time with family but I'm planning on going out on July 4 if anyone wants to plan a meetup and go to fireworks.

Jan 3, 9:23pm Top

>34 bell7: I read that one a few years ago but I didn't realize it was a follow up novel. Glad you enjoyed it. :)

Jan 3, 9:47pm Top

>38 bell7: Are you thinking of going to the main fireworks downtown, or a smaller display elsewhere?

Jan 3, 10:09pm Top

>36 bell7:... it's been years since I read the first one.

Oh, man, I hear you. I can't tell you how many series I'm going to have to start over because it's been so long since I've read the first book. The Louise Perry (Penny?) books come to mind.

Jan 4, 8:25am Top

>38 bell7: We usually go to the fireworks on the Mall, so keep us in mind for a meetup. There's a great area between the Washington Monument and the WWII Memorial that usually isn't that crowded that we use. Plus, reasonably close to the Farragut North and West Metro stations.

Jan 4, 8:39am Top

>42 drneutron: You're so brave! I only go every 5 years or so, and I always stay at my dad's apartment which is a mile and a half from the mall so I don't have to take the Metro.

Jan 4, 9:30am Top

>39 MickyFine: I did indeed. Though The Wednesday Wars is definitely my favorite of the three books I've read by him.

>40 norabelle414: The main fireworks...just once to say I did it and probably be cured forever.

>41 Morphidae: I am all caught up on the Louise Penny series, but that's one of the few. One of the series I'm going to have to start over is Laurie Halse Anderson's with Chains. Catching up on some series is one of my unofficial goals for the year, but we'll see how that goes.

>42 drneutron: Oh excellent. I'd be coming the red line so I think Metro Center is where I'd be coming from but that sounds good to me.

>43 norabelle414: We could try to meet up a little earlier if you don't want to brave the crowds ;)

Jan 4, 9:42am Top

>43 norabelle414:, >44 bell7: Surprisingly enough, it's not that bad. Getting there is no problem. We usually leave the house by 5, get there by 6:30 and picnic until they start. Getting home just requires patience and the lack of need to be first on the train home. :)

Jan 4, 10:52am Top

>44 bell7: I was actually considering going out of town that weekend, like I did last year. Maybe back to Toronto. I'm still weighing my options!

>45 drneutron: Ah, if I'm bothering to go to the fireworks I usually try to go to the Concert as well.

Jan 4, 1:57pm Top

>46 norabelle414: Be warned, if you're in Toronto for Canada Day this year it will be extra nutty as it's the sesquicentennial this year.

Jan 4, 3:02pm Top

>47 MickyFine: Extra Nutty Canadians are my favorite kind of Canadian

Jan 4, 3:15pm Top

>48 norabelle414: Oh that's why we're friends. ;)

Jan 4, 5:25pm Top

Happy New Year, Mary! I hope that we're able to finally meet later this year.

Jan 5, 9:46am Top

>45 drneutron: Sounds okay to me. I won't need to be on the first train, but I will hope that my brother-in-law will be willing to pick me up from the station near them rather than walking a mile back... (At least I've got the "don't bother me, I've got places to go" look down - the first time I must've looked a little *too* approachable.)

>46 norabelle414: Alrighty! I don't know my exact dates down there yet as I've yet to buy plane tickets, but I'll let you know more details when we have them just in case you'll be around.

>47 MickyFine: to >49 MickyFine: *snort*

>50 kidzdoc: Thanks, Darryl! Happy New Year to you too, and I too hope we'll be able to meet up.

Jan 5, 10:04am Top

I've been reading a couple of chunksters and probably won't finish a book yet for a couple of days:

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel is actually a reread for me, but it's for the western Massachusetts reader's advisory round table (that's a really long name for what I affectionately call my "librarian book club"). We read one book in a given genre - this is historical fiction, Tudor to World War 2 - as a benchmark and then a second of our choice. I don't have to have it finished 'til January 31, but I figured it would be better to be early. I'm a little over halfway through this historical fiction about Thomas Cromwell, adviser to King Henry VIII who is working to get him a divorce so he can marry Anne Boleyn. I liked it the first time around, and I'm probably appreciating it even more now having been to Hampton Court and London, and being a little more familiar with the history - but it's also long and dense and slow going because I have to be in the right mood. Added to that, I always get a little contrary and impatient with the books I "have to" read.

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee is interesting stuff but also rather dense. I thought it might be a little more about current science and the human genome project, but so far - and I'm over 100 pages into it - it's, well, a history and a very thorough one at that. I'm not complaining, as it's fascinating and detailed and doesn't shy away from discussing eugenics and goes into more detail than I knew about how Crick and Watson came up with the double helix of DNA. But it does make for slower reading.

I'm also listening to Navigating Early before I go to bed, and am supplementing with the e-book to keep me moving instead of listening to the same 20 minutes over and over again. It's a school story about a boy who, just after World War 2, is sent to a boarding school by his Navy man father and has to adjust from his Kansas life to living in Maine after the death of his mother. So far it's okay, but I've been reading slowly.

Jan 5, 10:16am Top

I have, surprisingly, been watching a fair number of movies this year.

"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" was still in theaters on the holiday Monday, so I went with my youngest brother and sister and had a really fun time. I loved the Harry Potter books and movies and it was a nice nostalgic feeling as well as a decent story with fun characters.

"My Neighbor Totoro" was Tuesday evening's fare because often after working a 12-8 shift I don't quite have the energy to read before bed. It's a really cute story about a couple of girls who move into a new house with their father and the friend they make out of a friendly forest spirit. My youngest brother G. gave it to my for Christmas in 2015, so I'm long overdue watching it.

Wednesday was a two-movie day. I'm having classic movie matinees at the library on Wednesday afternoons at 1 p.m. this month, and touring "through the decades" with one of the "greatest" movies from the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. Yesterday's showing was "All Quiet on the Western Front," which I had never seen before and was a very powerful story about a regiment in World War 1. The 1930 film made you realize how little has changed and while you wouldn't think the war special effects would be anything much, it was still so well made and acted that it absolutely tugs on your heart strings. I probably won't sit in for the rest of the movies, but wanted to make sure everything worked and see how the timing went for everything. I may preview the other movies just to make sure there aren't any crazy scratches or issues.

That night, I watched "Finding Dory" because I had it out from the library. It's not quite up to "Finding Nemo," but it was a cute story about the fish with the short-term memory loss remembering her family and deciding to go find them.

My movie-watching will slow down from here on out, believe me. I'll probably watch a couple more episodes in Season 2 of Gilmore Girls today. I'm up to episode 9.

Jan 5, 1:31pm Top

Looks like you've got plenty on the reading and watching fronts. :D

I can't weigh in on the books but I will say for GG you've watched so far "Presenting Lorelai Gilmore" is probably one of my all-time favourite episodes. It's one of the episodes I'll put on if I just want a short feel good something to watch.

Jan 5, 1:32pm Top

Wolf Hall is long to read for a Book club!

I want to read Gene too, but not this year, I guess.

Jan 5, 1:46pm Top

I'd read a bio of Rosemary Franklin a while back and The Gene just made me cross all over again at Watson and Crick. I thought Mukherjee was good on the personalities behind the scientific advances. But yes, very detailed.

I like the idea of your classic movie matinees at the library. I signed up for a film course looking at German and Russian films before the 50s I think, a while back. Fascinating stuff, but some of them were real marathons.

Edited: Jan 5, 9:21pm Top

>54 MickyFine: yep, and I'm whittling away at my long reads so I have high hopes of finishing Wold Hall over the weekend. I liked that episode too, and managed to watch it twice because the first time I had the season out from the library I didn't notice the first DVD was tucked underneath the papers so I started with disc 2. I was a little confused by all the talk about Lorelai breaking off her engagement but just figured a lot more went on between seasons and watched a couple episodes before I figured out it was really disc 2.

>55 The_Hibernator: yes it is, Rachel, though I can definitely see why it would be the benchmark for this genre. It can be tough to find short historical fiction, and we were given about two and a half month's notice. I'll either read Circling the Sun as "double duty" for both my book clubs or Regeneration, which is actually a pretty short book, as my second title. And I could definitely see why you wouldn't get a chance to read The Gene this year.

>56 charl08: thanks, Charlotte. Our teen and children's departments have been using the movie license more than I have, but I thought winter afternoons might be fun and a nice way for people to break up the monotony of winter while still getting home before dark. We had 15 people come out, a turnout I'm definitely satisfied with four an essentially free, easy set up program. I bet that would've been an interesting course! My knowledge of foreign films is sadly lacking, but I do have a recollection of watching a Russian version of Hamlet with no subtitles as an undergrad English major and having no idea what was going on. I had heard just a little about Franklin, but certainly not from any textbooks, so I was intrigued by the fuller story and thought he did a good job of staying evenhanded while describing what happened.

Jan 5, 9:44pm Top

I go months and months without watching any movies at all, then watch a ton all at once. My family stayed in our pajamas and had a Star Wars marathon for New Year's Eve. Best NYE ever:)

Jan 6, 11:12am Top

>58 AMQS: I do exactly the same thing, Anne, though I often will watch TV series on DVD instead of movies even then. Sounds like a fun New Year's Eve, though my personal preference would be the Lord of the Rings films ;)

Jan 6, 1:30pm Top

>44 bell7: One of my goals this year is to concentrate on some of my uncompleted series as well. Do you have any in mind? Some of mine are Louise Penny, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, and Colin Cotterill. There are some fantasy ones as well that aren't immediately coming to mind.

Edited: Jan 6, 2:07pm Top

>60 Morphidae: I haven't been that organized about where I am in what series, so I probably should look through my LT series and determine which ones I actually want to keep going in. The ones I can think of off the top of my head are the William Kent Krueger mysteries, Gail Carriger's Finishing School series (I've now read book 1, Etiquette and Espionage twice), the Grantchester mysteries, and Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey & Maturin series. I also just took World of Trouble out of the library to polish off that trilogy by Ben Winters. Oh, and I've been reading the Hilari Bell "Knight and Rogue" series and have at least one book that I own to keep going in it.

Jan 6, 2:43pm Top

I've been able to keep up with Carriger's work, thankfully. I've only read one of the Krueger's and O'Brien's and won't go further. I haven't heard of the others.

Jan 7, 9:55am Top

>62 Morphidae: It's mostly fantasy series and a few mystery series for me. Why just one Krueger? Just curious. The first one wasn't the best IMO.

Jan 7, 9:58am Top

2. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Format: Mostly book for speed, though I listened to parts of the audio and it's really well done
Why now? My librarian book group is discussing it as our benchmark historical fiction read at the end of the month

I first read Wolf Hall seven years ago and my initial review still stands:

"In England in the 1530s, politics and religion are inextricable, and King Henry is attempting to divorce his first wife, Katherine, in order to marry the woman he loves, Anne Boleyn, with or without the permission of the Pope. Thomas Cromwell, the son of a blacksmith, becomes Henry VIII's chief adviser through his own cunning and ingenuity in tumultuous times. We see most of the story through Cromwell's point of view, though the writing is in third person. There are so many characters, especially men, that it is easy to get confused with the Thomases and Henrys, but the list of characters at the beginning is extremely helpful for sorting everyone out, and I managed to get on well once I discovered that any "he" with no clear antecedent generally refers to Cromwell.

The story is extremely well-crafted, written in present tense, repeating certain phrases and highlighting the metaphor of wolves with the title. Besides being the actual home of the Seymours, Wolf Hall aptly describes King Henry VIII's court and his counselors vying for power: "The saying comes to him, homo homini lupus, man is wolf to man" (468) sums up the constant political machinations, infighting and backbiting that's going on throughout the story. Indeed, I found most of the characters, except perhaps Gregory Cromwell, unlikeable and felt that Cromwell was - purposely but frustratingly - a bit of an enigma. As the best historical fiction does, Wolf Hall gave me more detailed information than a mere high school textbook about a particular period and interested me in learning more. I only wish that the author's note gave more detail about background sources that I could go to next, and where she either reinterpreted or took liberties with the historical record. The present-tense narration takes some getting used to. I found it distracting, particularly in one chapter that covered about nine years in such away that left me a little confused about the chronological order of events. But at the same time, I cannot fault the author for her choice, because it leaves the reader with a sense of immediacy - all this may have happened 400 years ago, but you are there with the characters, traveling as they do through their choices and compelled to read on to find out what happens next." 4 stars.

I do want to go on and read Bring Up the Bodies now that I remember what happened in Book 1, but I'm also going to give myself a break after reading this chunkster. It's very good, very accurate historical fiction but also very dense.

Jan 7, 10:26am Top

>63 bell7: I read Ordinary Grace which is a standalone.

Jan 7, 10:32am Top

Hello Mary and Happy New Year! I'm late making the rounds, but have you starred at last.

And of course, here's my thread: http://www.librarything.com/topic/244977

Jan 7, 10:47am Top

A very nice review of Wolf Hall, Mary - did you post that? If so, I will thumb. I loved that one and also Bring Up the Bodies, and I found the second book much less confusing as she does better with the whole pronoun thing.

Jan 7, 11:44am Top

>65 Morphidae: Oh okay, I haven't read that one. One of the reasons I enjoy the Cork O'Connor books is for the northern Minnesota setting, so I was curious if you found it off-putting or incorrect.

>66 streamsong: Thanks for the link, Janet! I hadn't found you yet but now I have you starred back.

>67 Crazymamie: Thanks, Mamie! Yes, I posted it but it's buried because I did so back in 2010. Maybe this link will bring you to it on the reviews page?

Jan 7, 1:19pm Top

Thanks for the link - I added my thumb!

Jan 7, 1:20pm Top

>52 bell7: I'm very interested in The Gene: An Intimate History. I've been reading A Buzz In The Meadow which has some references to the discovery of the gene and it sounds fascinating, particularly the work of the monk (whose name I have forgotten) and the long ignored role of women in Crick & Watson's discoveries.

Jan 7, 1:39pm Top

>69 Crazymamie: Thanks, Mamie! I read it over after I'd finished and realized my response was still the same and liked how I said it, so I left it as-is :)

>70 eclecticdodo: Sounds like The Gene might be right up your alley then, Jo. I'm probably going to give myself some light reading over the weekend and have my library book club book to go to, so no promises on when I'd finish to give a proper review, but it gives a lot of the history and I'm finding it fascinating even though much of it is things I've learned over the years and from various places - it's nice having it all in one place.

Jan 7, 4:15pm Top

>71 bell7: I've just realised I have The Emperor Of All Maladies by the same author so I'll start that next.

Jan 8, 10:01am Top

>64 bell7: Monica (justjoey) has also just read this one and pretty much hated it. My views on it are closer to your views on it Mary but I still think she did a better job with A Place of Greater Safety.

Have a great Sunday.

Jan 9, 4:17pm Top

>72 eclecticdodo: Oh excellent, that one's been on my to read list for awhile and I haven't gotten to it, so I look forward to your thoughts on it, Jo.

>73 PaulCranswick: I hope you had a wonderful Sunday, too, Paul. Wolf Hall is the only book by Hilary Mantel that I've read, but I do want to read Bring Up the Bodies and possibly another. I like how she stays strictly with the historical record and still has a lot of chances to explore what might have been.

Edited: Jan 9, 7:11pm Top

Not a ton of reading over the weekend, I'm afraid, but it's still been a good one. Sadly, the Giants lost yesterday and are out of the playoffs so no Superbowl trip for me this year. That's a good news/bad news kind of thing anyway, as it doesn't hurt my bank account any and I'm trying to save up for a house this year.

Yesterday we also celebrated my youngest sister's birthday and met her boyfriend. He wanted to come for her birthday, arrived last Friday and will stay the week before flying down to their school. He's heard tons of stories about us and seems to enjoy the madness of a big family and all the history and teasing that goes along with it. Seems like a good, smart guy too so I'm happy for her. Her actual birthday was today - she's 19 - and I took them both out to breakfast, and ended up staying at my parents house to play a game of Risk. A lot of kids at her school play it, but this was my sister's first time and she trounced us. It was really fun to spend the day with them. They'll leave early Saturday morning and I'm working all week and she's had various plans so I probably won't see her again until the summer, which was kind of a sudden and sad realization. She's planning on staying at my sister's in DC as long as they have a room ready for her, and perhaps getting an internship in the area, rather than coming back to my parents' house in MA. So I probably won't see her until after our sister A's baby is born and I go down to visit in June/July. By the way - it's a boy!

Oh, and Gilmore Girls! I'm still in the midst of season 2:"The Bracebridge Dinner" was probably one of my favorites so far, and I absolutely loved the Renaissance dinner at the inn and bringing together various characters. I also enjoyed the one with the termites, though I started to get a little annoyed with how adamant Lorelai was she wasn't going to accept a loan from anyone (I am independent and would probably do exactly the same thing, but it doesn't mean I might not want to talk sense into someone else...), even Luke. Then the next one left me feeling sad at the end with Richard just not knowing how to handle being retired and butting in. I do like that everyone has their foibles and they just are, instead of trying to make one person out to be the bad guy and another perfectly right. You can see the conflicts and misunderstandings from multiple points of view.

And Sherlock: I was wicked upset that Mary died, but I understand from people who know the books better than I do (I started reading them in published order, so I'm familiar with the first few short story collections and know the plot to The Hound of the Baskervilles thanks to Wishbone) that she had to eventually. I'm actually kind of glad with the second episode that she's not entirely gone, even if she's only living in John's head. The episode last night was really weird with the hallucinatory stuff happening and really dark and disturbing in parts. Not sure why I found this serial killer so much more creepy than the cabby from Season 1?

Still reading The Gene as you know, and I've started Enchanted by Alethea Kontis for some lighter fare before diving in to Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (probably tomorrow at this rate).

Jan 9, 7:42pm Top

Hi Mary. I hope 2017 allows many opportunities to spend time with your delightful niece.

And, happy reading to you!

Jan 9, 9:19pm Top

That Giants game was awful. They deserved to lose.

Jan 10, 7:07am Top

>75 bell7: Sherlock spoilers: That serial killer was possibly one of the creepiest characters they've had on Sherlock. It's impressive, considering how prominent they've made Moriarty over the years! I can't explain why, but Culverton Smith made my skin crawl. Moriarty is creepy in a fascinating, intellectual way, but he doesn't have the same nauseating miasma of unashamed depravity Smith does. I hope that made some sense!

Jan 10, 9:37am Top

>78 archerygirl: Yeah, that whole episode was weirdly psychotic, which I guess was intended. But the character portrayal was as creepy as I've ever seen.

Jan 10, 3:27pm Top

>75 bell7: So glad you are enjoying Gilmore Girls! That thing you mentioned about the characters being flawed but not made out to be bad or good is one of the (many) reasons I loved that show. I remember yelling at the screen when I first watched it: "You're all right! And you're all wrong!" And loving it.

Jan 10, 6:18pm Top

>76 Whisper1: Thank you, Linda, and happy 2017 to you as well! I hope you read some amazing books this year.

>77 katiekrug: It was pretty rough, wasn't it? Wide receivers couldn't catch, a bit of bad luck with the Hail Mary at the end of the first half and the Green Bay offense just cut through that defense like hot knife through butter all second half. UGH. Well, on to next year!

>78 archerygirl: That totally makes sense, and matches my feelings. I thought this episode was particularly dark in a way that the others weren't (not that it hasn't been dark, just not... that dark) so I'm glad to know I'm not the only one that reacted that way.

>79 drneutron: "Weirdly psychotic" is a good description, Jim.

>80 lycomayflower: It makes it all the more realistic and heartbreaking when they have misunderstandings and fights 'cause you can really see it from both points of view.

Jan 10, 7:08pm Top

3. Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
Format: Paper book
Why now? It's been on my list for awhile, but a teen patron returned it and highly recommended it (plus one of my co-workers did too), and I decided I was in the mood for something lighter between some of my work books. So it was my treat after finishing Wolf Hall.

Sunday is the youngest of seven daughters (plus a few boys) of the woodcutter Jack and his wife, Seven. They live outside a Wood where she goes to write in her journal - very carefully, as she has discovered that anything she writes becomes true. Then she meets an enchanted human named Grumble - the only problem is, he's a frog.

Enchanted takes a bunch of fairy tale references and tells a fun story of a family of part-fae who can work magic, each in their own way. Identifying the different stories that were being referenced was fun, but there's almost so many that it was distracting. As for the actual story of Sunday and Grumble/Rumbold, I wanted a little more there and though it was fast reading and a decent-sized book at just over 300 pages, I would have liked a little more complexity and world-building rather than a mish-mash of fairy tales. Light, fun reading, and while I'll try the next book in the series it wasn't hugely memorable. Good for fans of Once Upon a Marigold. 3.5 stars.

Jan 11, 12:43pm Top

Adding to the Sherlock I think it also comes down to Toby Jones' acting choices. There was always a layer of creepy menace (although I wasn't quite as disgusted as I was by the face licking scene in the finale last season *shudder*) to his personality in every moment. Andrew Scott also had a layer of menace in his Moriarty but there was a bizarre charm to him as well.

Edited: Jan 11, 2:18pm Top

>82 bell7: I read Enchanted a couple of years ago and felt about the same as you - fun, but not particularly memorable or insightful.

>83 MickyFine: Sherlock: That's it! Andrew Scott's Moriarty is evil, twisted, corrupt...all those awful things, but he's charming, too. He entertains and you end up almost liking him despite everything he's done. Toby Jones injected such an amazing air of utter creepiness. There was no charm, there. No lulling you into wanting to ignore what he'd done because he was entertaining to watch. Smith was just evil distilled, without the veneer of charm to hide behind.

Jan 11, 2:32pm Top

>82 bell7: I have that one on my eventual audiobooks list, because it's narrated by Katherine Kellgren. It's always nice to read something light and fun after a heavy book!

Jan 12, 8:24am Top

Happy 2017 to you, Mary! I'm dropping off my star.

Edited: Jan 12, 8:46am Top

>83 MickyFine: and >84 archerygirl: It might have been also that Moriarty was sort of what Sherlock could have been if he weren't helping the police & government, so they were foils for each other and both are charming, in their way, as you mention about Moriarty. But yeah *shudder* totally creepy. Of course, still on tenterhooks waiting for next week's episode!

>84 archerygirl: Glad to know I'm not the only one. One of my co-workers who is usually on the same page with me about teen fantasy really highly recommended it so I wasn't sure if I was missing something or what.

>85 aktakukac: I bet Katherine Kellgren's narration makes it even better, honestly. My current audiobook was stalling out and your mention of her inspired me to listen to the next Bloody Jack book as well (I'm on book 3).

>86 rosylibrarian: Happy 2017, Marie! Glad you found me.

Jan 12, 2:20pm Top

>87 bell7: Sherlock: Moriarty as the dark mirror of Sherlock...that's exactly it. Equally intelligent, both sociopaths who know how to manipulate those around them, working in opposite directions but often using similar thought processes. Maybe that's why it's so hard to dislike Moriarty if you like Sherlock. Is it Sunday yet?

>87 bell7: I also couldn't decide whether I was reading it wrong, because it had been recced in a couple of places and I couldn't understand what the fuss was. Phew! Not the only one!

Jan 12, 8:50pm Top

I remember loving Enchanted when I first read it, but I listened to the audiobook, so maybe that's what gave the series such a strong start for me.

Jan 12, 9:10pm Top

>88 archerygirl: It is rather comforting to find we're not the only one when it comes to our reaction to a book, isn't it, Katherine? (Do you go by Katherine, or have a preferred nickname?)

>89 foggidawn: Well, with a fabulous narrator, why wouldn't you? I did enjoy it, just felt like a lot more could've been done with it and I find myself really liking complex world-building. I'll eventually try the next one in the series, though.

Jan 13, 8:33am Top

Hey, we were discussing July 4th fireworks the other day - just to let you know, it's slightly possible that we'll head to Indiana to visit the son over the 4th. Memorial Day weekend is much more likely, but I didn't want to mislead you .

Jan 13, 10:18am Top

>91 drneutron: Thanks for letting me know, Jim. I know it's a fair way out and expect folks' plans will be not quite set in stone yet. I don't have my flights yet, so even mine are a little shaky.

Jan 13, 10:28am Top

>90 bell7: Katherine or Kathy work equally well - Kathy is shorter to type, though :-)

Jan 15, 8:19am Top

>93 archerygirl: Kathy or Katherine it is then :) I type fast so a few letters won't phase me

Jan 15, 8:21am Top

No, I haven't finished another book yet (I'm working on a few and hope to report something soon). But I did go to see Rogue One in theaters with my brother the other day. We both really liked it, and thought it was one of the best Star Wars films (he thought the best - I really liked Episode 7 and would have to see both again before deciding, I think). Some of my very good friends are into Star Wars much more than I am - I'm in the like-not-love camp - so I'm looking forward to talking to one of my longtime friends and seeing if his reactions match mine or if, as a Star Wars fanatic, he has a different opinion.

One of my favorite lines was Darth Vader's punny "Be careful not to choke on your aspirations."

Jan 15, 1:51pm Top

>95 bell7: I liked Rogue One more than The Force Awakens, I felt like it captured the spirit of Star Wars much better. I don't know if I'd call myself a fanatic, but I like Star Wars a lot, and I've seen the entirety of the Clone Wars cartoon, which is surprisingly good (and confirmed as canon.)

Jan 16, 11:27am Top

>96 kgodey: Hm, I haven't seen the Clone Wars cartoon. I was once forced - well, that's probably too strong a word - but strongly encouraged into watching the original three back-to-back with an ex-boyfriend (current at the time, that is) and it pretty much cured me from really wanting to see them ever again so it's been a good while since I've watched the originals, but I do like to see the new ones when they come out in theaters.

Jan 16, 11:33am Top

4. Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
Format: E-book (mostly)
Why now? This month's book discussion read

In a fictional biography, Beryl Markham tells her story of growing up Beryl Clutterbuck in Kenya in the early 1900s, her abandonment by her mother, and eventually becoming a most unconventional woman.

Beryl's story is quite remarkable, and I hesitate to go into too much detail in case I'd be giving away details for someone who wants to read the book and doesn't know much about her life. She didn't have much formal schooling but she's exceptionally smart. She grew up wild and independent and pretty much stayed that way. I was drawn in to McLain's sympathetic rendering of Beryl most of the time, though her choices about her relationships really frustrated me at times and the book lulls quite a bit in the middle - though it starts off with a bang and an exciting plane ride, most of it is a character study and not a fast-paced book at all. 3.5 stars.

I was lukewarm about this one, but we'll see if my opinion changes after discussing it on Wednesday. Oddly enough, it might work well as my "fictional biography" for March.

Jan 16, 11:36am Top

Sherlock: I thought the season finale was incredible and I almost cried at the end. I was a little surprised there wasn't a crazy cliffhanger like the last couple of seasons and am wondering if that means it's wrapped up or if there will be more. Anyone know?

Gilmore Girls: I have completed Season 2 and Lorelai's impulsiveness in her love life really irritates me, I've decided. She reminds me of one of my friends when we were teenagers who would throw herself into relationships and I'd be the rational one reminding her what the natural consequences of her behavior would be. That being said, I was pretty sad for her when Christopher revealed that Sherry was pregnant and he was going back to her and then she had to be in the wedding. Looking forward to Season 3, though there will be a bit of a gap because of the holiday and waiting to get it on interlibrary loan. I hadn't exactly planned on binge-watching the last 2 discs in two days before the weekend, it just kind of happened.

Jan 18, 1:07pm Top

>99 bell7: Sherlock: I also really enjoyed it! And the lack of cliffhanger was a bit of a surprise to me, too. Apparently they want to do another season, but with their lead actors being so busy, they don't know when they'll be able to do it. So I guess they were leaving it this way so that if they never got filming schedules to work again, they wouldn't be leaving a huge unresolved cliffhanger forever.

Jan 18, 1:37pm Top

>100 archerygirl: Ah, that totally makes sense then and I appreciate that they wouldn't just leave us hanging with a potentially unfinishable plot. I much prefer not to have spoilers, when possible, so it makes me like it all the more.

Jan 18, 1:47pm Top

So I'm being completely unresponsible in my reading and just adding and adding more.

The Gene is coming along slowly but surely. I enjoy it when I'm reading it, but it doesn't tend to be the first book I pick up. I am over halfway through.

The Bear and the Nightingale is very atmospheric and nothing much has happened yet. I need a good long couple of hours to sink in, I think.

I started Regeneration last night because I still want it to be my second historical fiction. I just have to finish it by the 31st, though, so I'll be fine taking my time. The beginning was intriguing.

And speaking of needing time for a binge read, I got Carve the Mark yesterday at work and am SUPER excited to be reading it. Yes, after all the reading I "have" to do in one form or another, I dropped everything to read over 100 pages in this last night alone. I'm hoping to make good progress tonight, but commitments are picking up during the week again, so we'll see how much of a chance I get to read it before the weekend.

I started knitting a baby blanket for my coming nephew. It's a really cute pattern, quick working because it's stockinette and reverse stockinette, of rocking horses. I used a nice baby blue yarn and will post a picture when there's enough that you can see the pattern. I was hoping to start a Christmas stocking with toy soldiers, but only lately discovered that I don't have the photocopy of the page with the graph for the toy soldier, only the carolers from the same pattern. So, I'm pulling out all my librarian stops to find the missing page from Workbasket, September 19(91/94/81/84) with the graph. Failing that, I'll text my mom's cousin and see if she can at least confirm the year for me so I have better luck requesting it...

Jan 18, 4:14pm Top

>102 bell7: I started The Gene today, very interesting :-)

Jan 19, 11:31am Top

>103 FAMeulstee: Hi Anita, glad you're enjoying it! I have been reading nothing else but the new Veronica Roth book the last couple of days, but I'm looking forward to reading more as I have time.

Jan 19, 12:27pm Top

My book discussion met last night to discuss Circling the Sun. In doing some research for it and talking it through, I think I've come away with a greater appreciation of what Paula McLain was doing in her fictional biography and would consider bumping up my rating to 4 stars.

We had about eight ladies and a lively discussion that splintered into side comments a little bit and I did have to rein everyone in to one discussion a couple of times (unusual for us, but I think having a couple of pairs of good friends sitting next to each other contributed to this). Everyone was fine when I brought them all back, and we did have a fun discussion about Beryl Markham and the book. I came away realizing how difficult it can be to talk about a fictionalized memoir/biography, because one of our number had read West with the Night and a biography of Beryl, and others of us had not. So we had to divide our discussion a little between the "real" and "fictional" Beryls, and some of McLain's choices for what she focuses on or leaves out.

Since my March librarian book discussion is on fictional biographies/historical fiction and biographies, I'm thinking I might read West with the Night and Straight on Till Morning instead of the works on Cleopatra. When I was thinking last night and today about Circling the Sun and what's "left out," I was wondering to myself where memoirs fit in. The story we tell about ourselves is necessarily going to be different than the story others tell about us, and what I might choose to leave out or how I choose to frame a story would impact the "objectivity" just as much as the choices of an historical fiction writer's choices impacts the "true" story of the people and times she's writing about. Where does the difference lie, and when might I want to read one "version" or the other? So I think I might sit on this just a little longer and have those be my March reads. I still have yet to get through Regeneration, but it's high on my list after I finish Carve the Mark (hopefully this weekend).

Jan 19, 5:14pm Top

>102 bell7: I'm also reading The Bear and the Nightingale, and I agree with you on both points.

Jan 20, 3:22pm Top

>106 foggidawn: I bet you'll finish it before me, Misti, so I'll look forward to hearing what you think of it. I've put everything aside because Carve the Mark is the book I really want to be reading, and I'll probably focus on Regeneration as a "have to" read next before settling down on something (and probably returning a few library books since my stack has gotten ridiculous).

Jan 20, 3:24pm Top

That sounds like a great plan for themed reads. I haven't read any of them, but your ideas about memoirs and fiction are intriguing. Hope you have a good discussion.

Jan 20, 3:49pm Top

>108 charl08: Thanks! We generally have a good one. We're a bunch of librarians studying one genre at a time and we're on a three-meeting span of historical fiction. This month is actually Tudor-WW2 and I'm planning on reading Regeneration, but since Circling the Sun brought up the fiction/nonfiction debate, I figured I'd better stick with it instead of looking for something new :)

Jan 21, 1:17am Top

>109 bell7: Tudor-WW2? Interesting mix, Mary. Perhaps look at CJ Sansom for both. His Shardlake books are quite good on detail of the Tudor period and his alternate history Dominion was one of my favourites a few years ago recommended by SandDune (Rhian)'s husband.

Have a great weekend.

Jan 21, 10:11am Top

>110 PaulCranswick: Thanks for the recommendation, Paul! I've never read CJ Sansom and will have to look him up. I will probably find myself reading more historical fiction because I've been enjoying it so. We read Wolf Hall as our "benchmark" read that everyone read, and I have Regeneration ready to go because I'm sorely lacking in reading any books about World War 1. Now that I'm re-familiarized with events in Wolf Hall, I want to read Bring Up the Bodies soonish before the details fade again (I first read Wolf Hall in early 2010).

Jan 21, 10:17am Top

5. Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
Format: Paper book
Why now? This was a "put down everything and read this!" book. I had a hold on the library copy months ago, started it the day it came out and finished it late last night.

Thuvhe and Shotet are at war. The Thuvhesites, recognized by the galaxy's governing body known as the Assembly, live on their harsh ice planet and worship the current, which goes through all things and people and gives them special gifts and abilities. The Shotet, a militant people also living on the planet known as Thuvhe, want to be recognized as a nation and have their own history and explanations for the conflict between them and Thuvhe. Akos, the Thuvhesite son of a farmer and an oracle, and Cyra, the daughter of the ruling family of Shotet, could not be more different but both their lives are changed when their fates - and those of family and friends - are revealed to all. Because while you can change the future, you can't change your fate - or can you?

After the Divergent series exploded on the scene, anything Veronica Roth writes is bound to receive a lot of hype. I had a library hold on this book before I knew anything but the title. I applaud her for creating a completely different world from her first series and really enjoyed learning about the unique people groups, histories, and belief systems that populate this world. Even though there's a lot of world-building to take in, the pacing builds and keeps you turning pages faster and faster. The narrative switches back and forth between Cyra (first person) and Akos (third person). The tropes of the genre - the love story, really evil bad guys - are definitely present, so if you're sick of them you'll probably find this an "okay" read, but fans of this kind of YA fantasy/science fiction will eat it up. I enjoyed it overall, and I'm looking forward to the sequel. 4 stars.

Jan 21, 4:20pm Top

>112 bell7: Glad you enjoyed it, Mary. I have to admit I didn't finish the Divergent series so odds don't look great for me picking up this one.

Jan 21, 6:35pm Top

>113 MickyFine: A lot of the pieces of the story are very different while the structure felt similar, if that makes sense. I really enjoyed Divergent myself, but I'm starting to get pickier about teen titles in general, I think. (Also I've had it up to *here* with love triangles.)

Jan 21, 6:56pm Top

>114 bell7: I've been reading fewer and fewer YA titles over the past couple years so it has to be really impressive or by an author I really like for it to make it onto my reading pile/list. These days if I want something a little lighter to read I'm far more likely to pick up a romance novel than YA.

Jan 21, 7:14pm Top

>115 MickyFine: Yeah, that's definitely been true of my own reading. I'm not sure if it's because I'm getting pickier or just being exposed to so much more adult books because I work in adult rather than children's or teen services or what.

Jan 21, 8:40pm Top

Here are my answers to the meme going around the threads (first saw on Morphy's). Basic rules if you want to join in: pick a playlist (iPods are common; I went with my generic "I like this song" playlist on Spotify), put it on shuffle, and answer the questions with the song titles that come up, no matter how ridiculous:

If someone says “Is this OK?” you say?
"Collide" - Jars of Clay

What would best describe your personality?
"Wake Me Up" - Ed Sheeran

What do you like in a guy/girl?
"Batman Evolution" - The Piano Guys

What is your life’s purpose?
"Nothing Left to Lose" - Mat Kearney

What is your motto?
"Renegades" - X Ambassadors

What do your friends think of you?
"Pictures at an Exhibition" - The Piano Guys

What do you think about very often?
"Heart Upon My Sleeve" - Avicii

What is 2+2?
"Pompeii" - Bastile

What do you think of your best friend?
"Begin Again" - The Piano Guys (orig. Taylor Swift)

What do you think of the person you like?
"Pocketful of Sunshine" - Natasha Bedingfield

What is your life story?
"The Last Night" - Skillet

What do you want to be when you grow up?
"For the First Time in Forever" - Disney's Frozen soundtrack

What do you think when you see the person you like?
"A Little More" - Skillet

What do your parents think of you?
"He" - Jars of Clay

What will you dance to at your wedding?
"In Summer" - Disney's Frozen soundtrack

What will they play at your funeral?
"Amy Says" - Flyleaf

What is your hobby/interest?
"I Won't Run Away" - Ashes Remain

What do you think of your friends?
"You Found Me" - The Fray

What’s the worst thing that could happen?
"Hallelujah" - Leonard Cohen

How will you die?
"Hey, Soul Sister" - Train

What is the one thing you regret?
“Drift Away” - Uncle Kracker

What makes you laugh?
“I See Fire” - Ed Sheeran (The Hobbit soundtrack)

What makes you cry?
“Iris” - Goo Goo Dolls

Will you ever get married?
“Train to Pluton” - M83

What scares you the most?
“Thinking Out Loud” - Ed Sheeran

Does anyone like you?
“Photograph” - Ed Sheeran

If you could go back in time, what would you change?
“The Valley Song (Sing of Your Mercy)” - Jars of Clay

What hurts right now?
“Hollow” - Tori Kelly

Jan 21, 10:27pm Top

>117 bell7:

What is your life’s purpose?
"Nothing Left to Lose" - Mat Kearney

Oh, that's good.

What do you think of your friends?
"You Found Me" - The Fray

Makes me think of kids playing hide and seek.

What scares you the most?
“Thinking Out Loud” - Ed Sheeran

Made me laugh.

Jan 22, 11:21am Top

>117 bell7: Good answers! I'm glad you enjoyed the meme!

Jan 23, 11:24am Top

>117 bell7: Nice meme answers, Mary. I like your wedding dance song. :D

Jan 23, 3:01pm Top

>118 Morphidae: A couple of the answers were pretty funny. "Thinking Out Loud" made me laugh to, because I do it fairly frequently and I've always said, "I'm not crazy unless I start answering myself back!" Funny story about that... I went to a smaller, local airport to pick up my sister one time and it's small enough that there's only one place to wait while people come off the planes. I couldn't remember if I reached the right place or if there was another further down the hall, so I'm muttering to myself about it while I walked far enough past the waiting area that I could look down said hall and confirm that it was only Dunkin Donuts and other fast food places, when I looked up to see an airport employee looking at me with this really...confused... look on his face. "Hi," I said brightly, "is this the only place where folks are coming off the plane or is there another terminal?" "Nope, this is it." "Okay thanks." And then I buttoned my lip and went to sit and wait.

>119 scaifea: Thanks, Amber! Yeah, it was fun and gave me an excuse to sit and listen to music while I knit for a bit.

>120 MickyFine: Ha! Yes I laughed aloud when that one came on as the answer.

Jan 25, 10:23am Top

I officially gave up on The Bear and the Nightingale last night. It's not a bad book, but it wasn't gripping me and I'd not picked it up in a few days because I was reading other things, so decided it was time it went back to the library.

Meanwhile, I'm still puttering away reading Regeneration which is interesting but sometimes difficult historical fiction about men serving in World War 1 who have shellshock and the psychiatrists treating them. I expected a "war" book, so getting battles as memories or talking through it with another man as part of their treatment was unexpected but as fascinating to read about the methods of the doctor.

I haven't picked up The Gene: An Intimate History in a couple of days, but I'm still reading it from time to time. And I'm getting close to the finish line with my current audio, Under the Jolly Roger by L.A. Meyer. It's way over-the-top adventure and the third in a series about a girl who disguised herself as a boy and served on a ship. In this one, while she was out and about in London (again dressed as a boy, for reasons that sort of make sense in the plot), she was press-ganged and finds herself involved in the Napoleonic wars, on a ship patrolling the English Channel. It's sort of Master and Commander for a younger audience and a girl main character. Fun reading, though, and even better because it's narrated by Katherine Kellgren (who won multiple awards reading this series).

At work... well, things have been busy. I have the last of a series of four movies this afternoon, To Kill a Mockingbird, which I think will be a popular one. We've had 10-15 people coming out for the movie matinees and really enjoying themselves. I had to explain to more than one last week why this would not be a weekly occurrence throughout the year - so I did set up a once-a-month movie matinee for the rest of the year and another weekly series in August. I have a cookbook club scheduled next week and a couple of workshops/meetings over the next couple of weeks as well. February is less busy with programs, but I'm going to need the time to plan and promote March and April (not to mention start on Summer Reading planning), which are pretty full. We have almost all our tax forms in, and they're right at the front desk which has made patrons looking for them and staff very happy.

And finally I've been making good progress knitting my nephew-to-be's Christmas stocking. At this rate (unless the instep, heel and foot directions totally defeat me), I will finish it before the baby is born. Picture to come soon!

Jan 25, 1:12pm Top

Sounds like you've been keeping quite busy, Mary. I've only read the first two Bloody Jack novels. I've enjoyed them but I tend to space them out as I have a feeling too many of them in a row could be grating in very short order.

The library I worked at previously did weekly movie nights at both branches for adults and during spring break and summer there were family film matinees.

Jan 25, 2:26pm Top

>122 bell7: Sorry to hear about The Bear and the Nightingale. I hope I find it more gripping.

Jan 25, 3:42pm Top

>122 bell7: I'm nearing the end of The Bear and the Nightingale, and I don't blame you for giving up. I'm ready for it to be done so I can move on to something better!

How will your cookbook program be organized? We did some cook-the-book programs for a while last year, but I don't know if we will be continuing them later this year.

Jan 26, 10:49am Top

>123 MickyFine: Yes, I have to space them out too. I wasn't hugely impressed with book 2, but book 3 has been alright as long as I don't mind rolling my eyes at some of the most unbelievable elements.

>124 thornton37814: I hope you do, too, Lori. Part of it is probably that I've had to pick it up and put it down rather than sit down with it for a good long chunk of time. It's one of those that I simply stalled in rather crossed off the list forever.

>125 aktakukac: Sorry The Bear and the Nightingale isn't working better for you, Rachel.

Our Cookbook Club is fairly lowkey. What I'll do is pick a book a couple of months in advance, maybe 3 books at a time so I know what's coming. I have flyers and a sign up for people to tell me what recipe they're bringing. It's not absolutely required for participation, but there's only one person who's come occasionally and not cooked but read the book from cover to cover. We have a big meeting room for our get-togethers.

The library provides all plates, cups, utensils, and drinks (we have to be non-alcoholic, so it's the easiest way to handle this - I'll usually have water and fruit juice/seltzer or infused water). We start at 6, and people will come in and put their dishes out on a big table with index cards labeling them all. I also have them bring their own containers to store the leftovers. I have a handful of serving utensils I can use from the library staff room, but sometimes people bring their own of this too.

I set up three or four tables with chairs for us to eat, and when everyone is just about set up, I'll kind of call out something along the lines of "Okay, I think just about everyone is here. Go ahead and help yourselves!" After everyone is seated and eating, we'll go around the table and share what recipe we cooked and whether or not we followed the directions exactly or changed anything. I'll often ask if this is a cookbook that people would use again in the future. It's not extremely formal even then, and sometimes it will take awhile because people will have comments or questions for the cook. And after that, our hour is usually pretty much up. The very first time, I put out icebreaker questions but now we have a pretty good group of people who came as friends or met each other there, so conversations flows pretty freely. I start cleaning up around 7:00, everyone brings their own dishes home, and I try to be finished up around 7:30 (the library closes at 8).

Jan 26, 10:09pm Top

Ah, a cookbook club. Sounds lovely, though I'm sure you have a different perspective since you're working.

I really loved West With the Night when I read it years ago. There's some controversy about whether Ms. Markham actually wrote it, or whether it was ghost-written, but it stands as it is, and it is remarkable and fascinating.

Jan 27, 6:44am Top

Oh gosh, your cookbook club sounds amazing! What a cool idea!!

Jan 27, 10:37am Top

>127 AMQS: It is lovely, but it's a lot of work! The set up and takedown alone can be pretty exhausting, and I feel a tad guilty leaving my two other evening co-workers in the library proper while I have a blast and a meal. I just finished paging through the cookbook for Tuesday myself, and noting two recipes that I could try. I did see a lot of that controversy about West With the Night when I was researching Beryl for the book discussion. I haven't quite decided if I should read it before or after Straight on Till Morning.

>128 scaifea: Thanks, Amber! I completely stole it from another library (couldn't even tell you how I first heard about it now...), but it's been a real success. I betcha you could either talk your friendly librarian into trying it or set up something similar for friends & neighbors ;)

Jan 27, 2:27pm Top

Hello there Mary! I saw you posting pictures from Northampton over on Joe's thread and thought I'd stop by. We're practically neighbors! I live in Natick which is about 90 miles away from Northampton. I am a lawyer and I end up in Springfield about 4-5 time a month on various cases. Loved the street art pic you put up.

Happy weekend!

My thread is here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/245584

Jan 27, 2:34pm Top

>130 michigantrumpet: Oh wow, I know Darryl mentioned coming up to the Boston area to meet up with you but I didn't realize you sometimes came out to Springfield to practice. I live about 45 minutes from Northampton and 90 from Boston, born and raised here in western Mass. We'll definitely have to try to meet up sometime. Thanks for the link to your thread.

Jan 27, 3:31pm Top

6. Under the Jolly Roger by L.A. Meyer
Format: Mostly audio with a little help from the e-book
Why now? In search of an audio book to listen to before bed, I settled on the next in a series I started years ago, because it's read by the incomparable Katherine Kellgren

In her third adventure, Mary "Jacky" Faber returns to England, determined to reunite with her dear Jaimy after trying and failing to become a "lady" at finishing school in Boston. Dressed as a boy to gain access to the grounds without an escort, she sees Jaimy with another girl and flees, only to be press-ganged and finds herself involved in the Napoleonic wars, on a ship patrolling the English Channel.

Jacky's over-the-top adventures are fun and light reading. Katherine Kellgren does a phenomenal job narrating the series, from Jacky's first-person account to the various Irish, English, American, and French accents that the series calls for. I've discovered I'm not a huge fan of the adventure genre and would probably rather stick with a straightforward historical fiction rather than second-guessing whether a girl of that time would really ____ (fill in the blank with the latest twist and turn in the story), but it's entertaining when I'm in the right mood. 3.5 stars.

Jan 27, 8:51pm Top

7. Regeneration by Pat Barker
Format: Paper book
Why now? Librarian genre study on Tuesday - historical fiction from Tudor times to World War 2 - and I decided I wanted to read a WW! historical fiction. This one has been on my radar for awhile.

When Siegfried Sassoon, an English soldier, writes a letter protesting the war in 1917, a friend of his manages to get him sent to Craiglockhart hospital instead of getting court martialed.

I expected this historical fiction to be more about the war and the fighting, but instead it shows the many men whose experience of war was psychologically damaging. Dr. Rivers, a psychologist and anthropologist, and his patients show us the horror of war through each of their stories, experiences, and wrestling with conscience. Sassoon, for his part, claims not to be a pacifist and is known for his heroism, but articulately maintains that the war has gone on long enough, while Rivers sees it as his duty to convince him to go back. The tone is melancholy, and makes for difficult reading at times, but it is a well-done portrait of a time and characters who were real people: poets and soldiers who experienced the war. 4 stars.

Not rating it higher than that because I think with the bleak tone I wouldn't read it again. I was intrigued and want to learn more about the real-life people portrayed as characters: Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, Wilfred Owen, and Dr. Rivers. I also would like to read more by Pat Barker.

Jan 28, 9:15am Top

Okay, so I've been promising a stocking photo for awhile now. Here's the latest progress as of last night:

The "easy" part is done now. The pattern next calls for the instep, heel and foot. I think I can do it without help, as I still remember pretty well what I had to do for Mia's stocking. Her brother's is from the same periodical, Workbasket, this one being printed in the September 1984 volume. It should end up being the same size unless my tension is completely off, because i used the same white yarn, the same size needles, and there's the same number of stitches in the directions. I'm super excited because it looks *very* doable at this point to have both this and the blanket ready for my visit in June/July.

Jan 28, 9:22am Top

Wow, that's beautiful. The complexity of the pattern is very impressive - I'd never even consider picking up one with as much detailing! Glad to hear that all your knitting plans are looking achievable :).

Jan 28, 10:18am Top

>134 bell7: Very nice!

Jan 28, 12:58pm Top

>135 lunacat: Thanks, Jenny. I was very pleased with how the pattern came out, with my carrying colors behind. The back is now a mess of ends that need to be woven in, though. To make up for it, the blanket isn't anywhere near as intricate ;)

>136 thornton37814: Thank you, Lori!

Jan 28, 2:54pm Top

>134 bell7: wow, that's great! I'm competent with most knitting but I've never attempted colour work like that (intarsia?).

Jan 28, 3:54pm Top

>134 bell7: Very lovely.

Edited: Jan 28, 5:16pm Top

Love the stocking. Sure it will be appreciated for years to come!

Jan 28, 5:37pm Top

>134 bell7: I'm speechless. There are no words to explain the beauty of your stocking. I'm prone to liking nutcracker soldiers, and thus this stock is especially endearing.

You are very, very talented!

Jan 29, 10:07pm Top

>134 bell7: Wow. Once again it makes me want to try knitting. But knowing I was a hopeless failure both times I tried just makes me shake my head and go, "Nope."

Jan 30, 11:28am Top

>138 eclecticdodo: Thanks, Jo! I don't know enough about the terminology, but is it intarsia if I kept the colors behind, carried them over with the white and worked it back and forth? It's not duplicate stitch, that much I can tell you :)

>139 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! I'm pretty pleased with it.

>140 charl08: Thanks, Charlotte! I'm sure it will be. My sister and brother-in-law want a surprise so I'm showing it in places they won't accidentally see it 'cause I'm excited :)

>141 Whisper1: Aw, thanks Linda! I really loved the pattern and am happy with how it's coming along. Just the foot left!

>142 Morphidae: Thank you, Morphy! My very first scarf was a very simple knit stitch and ended up really curvy looking on one end because I kept adding or dropping stitches. Now I have learned enough that I find it really relaxing and love having an easy project going to keep my hands busy while watching TV or hanging out at my parents or my grandpa's.

Jan 30, 11:34am Top

>143 bell7: I have crochet for that though I haven't done it in quite awhile.

Jan 30, 11:35am Top

I definitely won't finish a book by tomorrow and it's going to be a busy day so here's my

January in review
1. Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt - audio and e-book
2. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - reread
3. Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
4. Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
5. Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
6. Under the Jolly Roger by L.A. Meyer - audio
7. Regeneration by Pat Barker

Books/e-books: 5
Audiobooks: 2
Adult/Teen/Children's: 3/4/0
Fiction/Nonfiction/Poetry/Plays: 7/0/0/0
Library/Mine/Borrowed: 7/0/0

Standouts: Hm, nothing I categorized as a book I would definitely reread but Regeneration was the most striking of the bunch

Thoughts: Starting off a little slowly this year, though I did read a chunkster in Wolf Hall and have been getting a lot of other things done - knitting projects and such. I am a little surprised to report I finished no nonfiction books this month, though I have been reading The Gene: An Intimate History since late December of last year. Hopefully February will see a little extra time for reading (in fact, I'm going to try my best to make February 6 a Do Nothing But Read day).

Jan 30, 11:35am Top

>144 Morphidae: I have been taught to crochet twice, but haven't quite caught onto it for some reason.

Jan 30, 11:49am Top

It's one of those things I've heard. While there are exceptions, knitters can't crochet and crocheters can't knit.

Jan 30, 11:53am Top

I can both knit and crochet but I haven't done either for a long while. They are certainly very different skills and take concentration in different ways, and I know a lot of people can only do one or the other, or prefer one far more.

Jan 30, 12:34pm Top

>147 Morphidae: I've heard that too, and it generally seems to hold for people I know that they can do (or prefer) one or the other.

>148 lunacat: I would, for some things, like to know how to crochet because I like some of the hat patterns and I know that the work can move along much faster. But I have not yet taken the time to really sit down and figure it all out. Also, I think because it's one crochet hook I would crochet lefty (I'm an odd split for handedness), while I can knit righty, so finding directions or flipping them in my head would be an extra challenge.

Jan 30, 2:48pm Top

>143 bell7: is it intarsia if I kept the colors behind...? ah yes, you could be right there. Either way, I'm impressed with your skills! I've just recently picked up my knitting again after losing my mojo. It's so relaxing

Jan 30, 5:04pm Top

I tried to teach myself knitting and it didn't go well (even with YouTube). Had my mom teach me crochet and that's worked out much better for me. But it could just be my learning style as I often want a bit of guidance/correction from someone knowledgeable in the early stages of developing a skill.

Jan 30, 8:57pm Top

When I was in middle school, I taught myself to crochet - mainly because the knots and string work fascinate me. I used to make a mean doily. :)

Jan 30, 8:58pm Top

I very much liked Okay For Now. Anything Gary Schmidt writes is good.

Jan 31, 5:28pm Top

>150 eclecticdodo: I find it relaxing too, Jo, and I usually have multiple projects going that take different amounts of concentration!

>151 MickyFine: I taught myself some knitting with videos, but my grandmother had to show me some stitches because I couldn't quite "see" all the steps. And I definitely prefer having someone cheerlead me through reading a pattern or doing something like turning a heel, even if I technically know how to do something.

>152 drneutron: Ha! One of the things I learned to crochet as a teen was a potholder, but unfortunately I couldn't do it now.

>153 Whisper1: I could see Gary Schmidt appealing to you quite a bit, Linda. I am all over the place with his books - I liked Okay for Now, I *loved* The Wednesday Wars (the audio was fabulous), and I found Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy really depressing.

Feb 1, 10:08am Top

>145 bell7: Mary, I love your review of January reading. I'm inspired to do something similar on my thread. Happy February!

That Cookbook Club sounds amazing. It does sound like a lot of work for you but you do get a meal and some good recipes. We have a new manager for our renovated library. If I weren't so busy lobbying for our Evening Book Discussion to be continued, I would suggest the cookbook program. She said all programs are being reevaluated. It might be fall before things get sorted. Hmmm...

Feb 1, 11:46am Top

At my library we have a cookbook club, but only among library staff.

Feb 1, 4:25pm Top

>155 Donna828: Thanks, Donna. Looking forward to what you come up with for a month in review :) I have a lot of fun with the Cookbook Club, but I am planning on stepping back from the more time-intensive (read: fun) part and sticking with more of an administrative roll. I have volunteers from the group signed up as "point people," with roles like setting up, making sure index cards are with every food and allergens are marked, and leading the discussion around the table while they eat. I have promised to help set up and take down, and get all the books ahead of time. I hope you're able to keep your Evening Book Discussion! Were there any programs that got an immediate pass due to high attendance?

>156 foggidawn: That sounds like fun, too! Is it formal, or do you trade recipes among yourselves in the break room?

That reminds me of one of my patrons who comes in and photocopies recipes she wants to share with friends. One time I helped her out, and she was very excited and insisted I take the taco soup recipe she was photocopying. (It was delicious!)

Feb 1, 6:40pm Top

>157 bell7: We meet monthly, and usually we all select recipes from the same cookbook. We don't have any formal discussion around the table, though.

Feb 2, 11:23am Top

>158 foggidawn: I probably should've said "structured" rather than formal. It sounds like a blast, and a great way to try new recipes without committing yourself to buying the whole book.

Feb 2, 4:54pm Top

>159 bell7:, Yeah, our discussion is not "structured," either! :-D

Feb 3, 1:20pm Top

>160 foggidawn: Honestly I probably would've let everyone just eat, but one of our attendees who's been to a couple others in the area said, "In ____ town, they go around and say what they brought and if they changed the recipe." So that's the one question I ask, and honestly everyone has questions or comments or stories so it takes about 45 minutes just to go through the table!

Edited: Feb 3, 1:46pm Top

8. The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee - mine and e-book ARC
Format: I started the e-book that I've had on my Kindle since before it came out, but ended up switching and reading the majority as a paper book
Why now? I'm trying to read through the ARCs I have on my Kindle

*Free e-book ARC provided by the publisher through Edelweiss/Above the Treeline in exchange for an honest review. No money or other goods were exchanged, and all views are my own.*

Starting with Charles Darwin and Gregor Mandel and working his way through history to the present and future of genetic technologies, Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of the award-winning Emperor of Maladies turns his attention to genetics.

The author, himself a practicing physician, gives us the broad history and a personal view, as his family has had a genetic tendency towards schizophrenia and bipolar disease. He addresses the darker side of genetics history with a chapter on eugenics, mentions controversies such as the work either inadvertently borrowed or purposely stolen from Rosalind Franklin when Watson and Crick were modeling DNA, and treads lightly - sometimes with really insightful comments - on ethical questions about our scientific abilities to mess with the human genome. It's a thorough yet accessible history that I recommend to anyone interested in genetics. 4.5 stars.

Feb 3, 3:15pm Top

>162 bell7: It sounds fascinating, and if The Emperor Of All Maladies is anything to go by it will be well written. My only complaint about maladies was that it was very USA-centric, is that also the case with this book would you say? or a little more balanced?

Feb 3, 4:23pm Top

>163 eclecticdodo: I think living in the U.S. makes it harder for me to pick that up. I seem to remember at least one chapter being mostly about research being done in England, and eugenics couldn't be addressed without mentioning Germany (and the U.S. research that inspired some of their really awful experiments), but I also read it spread over a month and my memory for how balanced it was is not great.

Feb 3, 5:22pm Top

>164 bell7: Thanks for your thoughts. I think I am definitely more sensitive to it being uk based.

Feb 4, 6:47am Top

>162 bell7: Good review Mary, I read it last month and liked it the same.

>163 eclecticdodo: It didn't appear to be US centered, Jo, some UK research was in it too. But to me they are all English, just on other sides of the Atlantic ;-)
The last parts with The Human Genome project were more American, as that research was done in the USA.

Feb 6, 4:58pm Top

>165 eclecticdodo: That totally makes sense, Jo. I hope you enjoy it if/when you get to it.

>166 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita. And thanks for your perspective on the U.S. - centric question. That's something I think it's easy to overlook when I, erm, live in the country. But it matched up very closely with what I had learned in my college genetics class as well as providing more information on things we hadn't covered (the Human Genome project was a very newly-completed thing at the time).

Edited: Feb 8, 10:20am Top

When did my weekends get so busy that I am so behind on LT?

I haven't been completely MIA, though I have been fighting off a cold the past few days and purposely trying to take it easy. I worked Saturday and completely binge-watched Gilmore Girls Season 3 so I only have one more disc left (it's due tomorrow), and have made very little progress in the books I'm reading.

One of the things digging into my time is the Sunday School class I've been doing at church - Financial Peace University. It goes over finances from a Christian perspective and is very solid information so far. Dave Ramsey's big claim to fame is getting yourself out of debt, and at the moment I have none. But I've still had some tweaks to the way I spend and save money and I think it's going to be good for me to run through the class. The videos are an hour long and I've been watching them every week, and then on top of that working on budgeting stuff and really staying on top of my finances has eaten into time that would otherwise be reading. I expect things will settle over the next month or so. The first few weeks were a bit more time-intensive to set up things that, if I continue, will not take as long in the future (like a zero-based budget, writing out the allocations for money saved, etc.). I started reading the book that goes with it, Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide to Money but since it's nearly word for word what the videos say, I'm reading at a rather leisurely pace. It's much more practical and less "Rah rah rah!" than Total Money Makeover, which I tried to read years ago and couldn't get through.

I did start Wayfarer, the next book in the Passenger series by Alexandra Bracken, and that's fun so far. It'll be quick reading once I have enough time to focus on it alone.

I discovered that the audiobook I'm reading, Curtsies & Conspiracies, is not in fact the *next* book I was on in the Parasol Protectorate Finishing School series but was one I read last year. Oops. Everything so far had sounded familiar, but I thought I'd started it and stopped part way in. So I haven't been too careful about making sure I hear every word, haven't been rewinding to where I fall asleep, and decided to sort-of listen through to the end to remind myself what happened. On to book 3 sometime later this year, but I'll have to find a new audiobook soon as it's going to be digitally returned in the next day or so.

Annnnd now I'm off to eat dinner and attempt to watch the rest of Gilmore Girls Season 3 (now guilt free because I accomplished a bunch of useful stuff today).

Feb 7, 12:06pm Top

9. (kinda sorta) Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger - audio and a reread
Format: Audiobook
Why now? I thought it was the next book in a series I was reading...turns out, I actually listened to it last year but I was so far into the story I sort of finished it (basically, if I'd missed a bit from falling asleep, I didn't bother going back to the right spot for the last three nights or so of listening)

What I said about it last year:
In her continuing adventures at finishing school, Sophronia and her compatriots are given their six month marks and she's given such high praise that the other girls are jealous. Will she overcome their cold shoulders, and who exactly is after her friend, Dimity? She's determined to find out even if her friend isn't talking to her.

What can I say? I was in the mood for more silliness and manners from Gail Carriger. The plot in this one suffers a little bit from middle book syndrome, introducing some funny situations and furthering suggestions brought up in Etiquette & Espionage without resolving it very satisfactorily. The point of the story is hard to describe without spoilers, and the ending was a bit rushed. Still, it was entertaining and light, which was exactly what I wanted.

Not really much to add. These aren't the sort of books I would normally reread, and I'll space it out a little bit before I continue. I'm now listening to Mary Poppins before bed and while knitting.

Edited: Feb 7, 2:31pm Top

(I was going to post #TeamJess but then I remembered that the end of season 3 (except the finale) is not Jess' finest moment so I'll refrain . . . for now . . .)

Feb 7, 2:34pm Top

Waving hello! Ugh on the cold. Hope you feel better soon.

Feb 7, 5:10pm Top

>170 norabelle414: No, not his finest moment. I feel bad for him, but also don't feel like he's boyfriend material. (Though to be fair... what 18-year-old is?)

>171 streamsong: Thanks, Janet! So far I've kept it at bay with lots of tea and not doing a lot of strenuous stuff at home. It's never progressed past feeling like the start of a cold, so I'm hoping I escaped the worst of it.

Feb 7, 10:56pm Top

>170 norabelle414: Yeah, Jess at the end of season 3 is... not good. But agreed: #TeamJess forever and always.

Feb 8, 9:21am Top

>170 norabelle414: and >173 MickyFine:
I liked Dean at first but somewhere in Season 2 his personality just dropped off to nonexistent and then irritating. Also somewhat disconcertingly, the love stories are mimicking my own limited high school love life. I had one high school boyfriend who I was engaged to at 18, but he was definitely more of the "yeah I might call" and then you ended up waiting around because he was regularly 3 hours late and had a really lame excuse/lie for why. So being "for" one or the other at the moment has more to do with my own history than the actual characters, you see.

Feb 8, 10:46am Top

Oh, and I did watch the SuperBowl at my parents house on Sunday. I didn't care all that much, but my dad and brothers were actively going for the Falcons to the point where my dad went to bed mad grumbling that he wouldn't be able to sleep even though he wasn't a fan of either time (NY Giants fans in this house, ladies and gentlemen). I thought it was pretty exciting and am looking forward to talking to some of the most pessimistic Patriots fans I know to see if they even watched past the first half.

The view outside today is a lot of fog. It's warmed up quite suddenly today and will have a high about 50 degrees F. Then tomorrow we're in for a classic snowstorm tomorrow, with 6-12 inches predicted in total and a messy commute in both the morning and evening. I am hoping the library closes for the day and am planning on spending my time reading the book club book for next week that I have not yet started, Daughters of the Samurai. (Heck, if we are open and the library is quiet, I may do that anyway when I'm not on the desk - I'm not technically supposed to read in public because it looks like I don't have enough to do.)

Feb 8, 11:13am Top

Stand at a shelf, book open in hand. When a patron appears, shove a bookmark in and "shelve" the book. ;)

Feb 8, 3:39pm Top

>174 bell7: Oh Dean. I can say nothing more at this point but that.

Feb 9, 7:07pm Top

>176 Morphidae: While that might work with a patron, sadly that would not work with my boss. Actually, I'm being a little harsh saying "I'm not allowed to read." I can, in fact, read e-books while on the reference desk because I'm familiarizing myself with our services and it looks busier to stare at a computer screen than a paper book (which is true, but also doesn't stop people from thinking I'm messing around on social media or playing games).

>177 MickyFine: Fair enough :) I'm taking a short break from TV series to focus on reading, but am looking forward to starting season 4 soon.

Feb 9, 7:09pm Top

Today we had about a foot of snow dumped on is and everything closed, including the library. SNOW DAY!

I've really enjoyed today, in which I did a little bit of reading, listened to the Broadway cast recording of Hamilton, and cooked enough that I have food for the weekend. I started reading Daughters of the Samurai but haven't gotten far, and finished listening to Mary Poppins.

Edited: Feb 9, 7:19pm Top

10. Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers
Format: Audiobook
Why now? It was there and available when I needed to listen to something before bed, and I've always been curious about the book having watched the movie multiple times as a kid.

When Katie Nana suddenly leaves number 17 Cherry Tree Lane, the Banks family find themselves in need of a nanny for their four children: Jane, Michael, and the twins John and Barbara. Mary Poppins shows up just at the right time, though amazing things seem to always happen when she's around.

Those looking to find exactly what they remember from the classic Walt Disney movie are going to be disappointed. There are a couple of scenes that will ring a bell, but the movie diverged quite a bit for the second half especially. Mary Poppins is more irritable and exacting in the book. Magical - but very weird - happenings abound, and she always claims they never did or the children dreamed it. I probably would've liked it a lot when I was a kid and could believe in the magic of jumping into a picture or laughing so hard I floated, but reading it for the first time as an adult and in audio format where I probably zoned out a time or two, it was only an okay read. 3 stars.

Feb 10, 12:00pm Top

>179 bell7: I've never had a snow day as an adult. :( Glad you enjoyed yours.

>180 bell7: I feel like I read Mary Poppins pre-LT but I can't guarantee. Have you watched Saving Mr. Banks? It's an interesting look at P.L. Travers life and her negotiations with Disney.

Feb 10, 2:44pm Top

>181 MickyFine: No snow days? No library closing because there's a foot of snow on the ground and the people who come out anyways to return their books are probably those least needing to be out in a snowstorm? That is sad :( I don't get many, because we're hardy New Englanders and all, but I love it when I do. If I deem it too dangerous to drive out and the library is still open, I do have the ability to call in and use vacation or personal time to make up for the time.

I will definitely have to check out Saving Mr. Banks. Eventually. My movie-watching is incredibly slow. I re-watched X-men First Class because I've had X-men Days of Future Past since Black Friday 2015 and wanted to watch it but forgot what happened in the first one.

Feb 10, 3:20pm Top

>182 bell7: Nope. We're Canadian levels of hardy, I guess. :P

Days of Future Past is really good (probably my favourite X-Men movie after the first one). :)

Feb 10, 3:23pm Top

>183 MickyFine: Bahahaha, fair enough :) I have a friend in Minnesota that I compare snow days to and always come out less hardy.

I will probably get to Days of Future Past sometime this weekend as a treat for progressing in my book club book.

Feb 10, 3:39pm Top

>184 bell7: Hopefully you enjoy the film! What's your book club book?

Feb 10, 3:59pm Top

>185 MickyFine: Thanks, I'm sure I will. I actually really enjoy movies based on comic books that I never read haha. I'm reading Daughters of the Samurai for book club. It's nonfiction about Japanese girls who in the 1870s were sent to the U.S. to get a western education, and then return to Japan with what they learn. I think I'll find it interesting but slow going, so I've given myself the "60 pages a day and you can read whatever you want next" rule.

Feb 10, 4:14pm Top

>186 bell7: That is a good motivation system.

Feb 10, 4:48pm Top

>179 bell7: it's a few years since we had a snow day. Here in the uk it tends to be only a few inches of snow and everyone says they can't travel. Last few times I've been one of the few to turn up at the office and ended up holding things together for the whole department. Not that I work now, a snow day now would mean my son home from school and playing in the park. He's so desperate for that to happen!

Feb 10, 5:37pm Top

Glad you enjoyed our SNOW DAY! Didn't get as much done as I wanted, but I got (sort of) caught up on some LT threads.

Tom Brady, er, I mean, Patriots fan here. I stuck with it to the end, but cut out the announcers from the third quarter on, and turned the sound back for the commercials. Pretty happy in our house.

Feb 10, 7:09pm Top

>187 MickyFine: I usually end up resorting to it for my book club reads because no matter how much I originally wanted to read the book, something contrary in me kicks against a book I "have" to read for any reason.

>188 eclecticdodo: Ugh, fortunately I can travel in a little snow if need be and we wouldn't be swamped with work if the driving was bad. I do live in a clime where it's not too unusual to get snow - even a major storm or two like this one - every winter, but it also might warm up enough to melt it all away. My sister's family lives in an area of the country where they shut down everything for just a few inches, and my brother-in-law was shocked to hear it was all cleared away and I was back to work today. I hope your son is able to get a snow day in there!

>189 michigantrumpet: I had a pretty long list of things I wanted to do and didn't get as much reading done (my book club book...) or take my Christmas tree down. But I was very happy with what I did get done, and I am off from work for the next three days so I have high hopes! My family has been Giants fans way back - my dad's dad watched them when they were the local team before the NFC/AFC merger. So we stayed old school with our football is all, but I'm Boston all the way for baseball and hockey :)

Edited: Feb 11, 12:34am Top

>190 bell7: I've got a lot of assigned reading right now for the book award team I'm on at work. My approach is to alternate award submissions with books I want to read to prevent some of that resentment of "have to" books.

Feb 11, 3:21pm Top

>190 bell7: We had snow this morning!!! But it didn't settle (or pitch, as the locals say here) at all. Still my son got to run around the street catching it and he was happy. I think that may be our lot for the year.

Feb 13, 1:30pm Top

>191 MickyFine: Do you read one book at a time or multiples? I usually have 3 or more titles going, and alternate pages in the have-to titles with fun ones.

>192 eclecticdodo: Hooray! Glad you got a little bit of snow. We had a little more yesterday, and since today is my day off anyways I'm enjoying the excuse to relax at home.

Feb 13, 1:39pm Top

11. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
Format: Graphic novel (yeah, I know, I usually count them separately but I'm not bothering this year)
Why now? It fit a TIOLI category and has been on my list for awhile since I really enjoy her graphic memoirs

In her unique graphic memoir style of part journal, part story, Lucy Knisley reminisces about food and the impact it has had on her life.

This is a book guaranteed to make you hungry. In her twenties when the book came out, Lucy Knisley's tastes might seem odd to the average reader (well, okay, she admits having a craving for fast food from time to time), but she uses food as a way of exploring memories of growing up, from moving to upstate New York with her mom, to visiting a friend in Japan and navigating a foreign culture with different tastes - and a soy allergy. She's not afraid to laugh at herself or to seriously reflect on her memories. And, interspersed with the stories, are illustrated recipes that will have your mouth watering in no time. A thoroughly enjoyable read. 4.5 stars.

Feb 13, 1:51pm Top

>193 bell7: I'm a one book at a time girl these days. When I was in undergrad doing my English degree I would read multiple books at a time when I had to but I wasn't a fan even then.

Feb 13, 1:52pm Top

12. Daughters of the Samurai by Janice P. Nimura
Format: Paper book
Why now? Book discussion book for Wednesday

In 1871, Japan was just starting to open itself up to trading with other countries, and cultural changes were afoot. That year, along with a group to negotiate trade with the U.S. and President Grant, were five girls, daughters of samurai, sent to receive a Western education and then come back to their homeland. Three of these girls - Sutematsu, Shige, and Ume - stayed for over ten years before returning to Japan. This is their story.

While I was interested in the content of the book, I often found myself bored by its execution. Nimura has clearly done her research, and at times seemed to want to pour every bit of it into the narrative, but I kept wondering if there were really enough meat to fill a whole book, overwhelmed as it seemed to be by tangents. For example: the first 60 or so pages gave background information on Sutematsu's family in Aizu and what kind of life she probably had as a samurai daughter; much time was spent talking about the men in the expedition and what their dinners and travels and negotiations were like; and a brief biography and background information is provided for nearly every figure introduced in the book far beyond what was perhaps needed for me to place them in context. The first half or so of the book focuses on the eldest of the three, Sutematsu, and the second on the youngest, Ume. I wasn't sure what precipitated the change other than, perhaps, what information was available for a given time period. Nimura quotes extensively from the three young women's correspondence and though she was quick to interpret what they must have been feeling for me, by far this was the most interesting part of the book. 3 stars.

It will be interesting to see if everyone at the book discussion was as ambivalent as me. I was often bored, though some of that is my own contrariness and wanting to read Wayfarer instead.

Feb 13, 1:54pm Top

>195 MickyFine: Interesting. I'm very seldom reading one book at a time, and this was true even when I was fairly young. Sometimes - like now when I make myself read part of the book and then can read something fun - it's great and other times I don't know which one I feel like starting. But usually a change in tone or format is nice, and I like to mix it up.

Edited: Feb 13, 5:24pm Top

I'm usually a one book at a time reader but I'm currently reading six plus two I've paused on! I have to say that it's stressing me out some.

Feb 13, 6:52pm Top

>198 Morphidae: Yikes, Morphy! Up until today I had 5 going and that was getting stressful enough. I generally have about 3 I'm actively reading, two fiction books of completely different genres and one nonfiction, for example (including one audiobook, often a kid's book or a reread, that I listen to before bed). That number ebbs and flows, and I will concentrate on just one book if it really grips me and I don't have other have-to books breathing down my neck.

Feb 13, 6:58pm Top

13. March: Book One by John Lewis with Andrew Ayden, illustrated by Nate Powell
Format: Graphic novel
Why now? I've been meaning to read the trilogy for awhile with Joe and Mark's warbling especially, and finally picked it up because the 3rd book won so many ALA awards at midwinter and it matched a TIOLI read.

John Lewis recounts his civil rights activism in college, framed by the story of remembering and sharing his memories with two young boys on the day of President Obama's inauguration.

I know a little about the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, and the nonviolent protests that occurred in the U.S. in the 1960s. For me, it's history. For Congressman Lewis, he lived it. That makes this story really powerful, as he shares his story of a young man growing up the son of sharecroppers and wanting to be a preacher. When he went to college, he became involved with the nascent movement, met Dr. King, and participated in sit-ins at diners who wouldn't serve black men and women. This is "history" to so many, but happened not that long ago, and it's important to remember as painful as it sometimes is to read about it. Ostensibly written for teenagers, this is the sort of book that would and should appeal to a large audience. 4.5 stars.

Feb 13, 7:32pm Top

I had a three day weekend this weekend - I'm working the Saturday of the holiday weekend - and used it to good effect, if I do say so myself. I was in a cleaning mood (or perhaps just avoiding my book club book, you be the judge). At first it was just stuff only I would notice, like cleaning out the papers from a college loan I paid off over a year ago, but slowly but surely my little organizational projects became more noticeable. In particular, my Christmas tree has been put away, my apartment swept and the area rugs vacuumed (despite needing to clean the filter and wait for it to dry...), and I even went through and organized some yarn that was sitting in a box behind my couch. It's now in bags and pretty baskets under a window and showcasing just exactly how much yarn *doesn't* fit in the closets (yes, I said closets, no not to the top I have clothes in there too thank-you-very-much). I even did a quick grocery shopping today when I decided I didn't feel like doing it tomorrow morning.

To give myself a treat on Saturday, I did end up watching X-Men Days of Future Past and enjoyed it quite a lot. In looking over the X-Men movies on IMDB, I've realized that I've seen X-Men Origins: Wolverine but not The Wolverine. So I may have to go back and rectify that eventually. I also have a couple of movies that my brother lent me a really long time ago but haven't gotten to - Collateral and Slumdog Millionaire. Maybe this weekend I'll try one?

I finished my book club book and a couple of graphic novels so I can hold my head high when I go back to work tomorrow and return a few books. Wayfarer is due back tomorrow but I have over 200 pages to go, so I'll be holding onto it for a little extra time.

I haven't made any more progress on the Christmas stocking in awhile, but I have plenty of time, so instead I'll be focusing on the baby blanket for my nephew-to-be. It's knitting stockinette and reverse stockinette with patterns of a rocking horse on it. Once the first set of squares is complete and you can see the pattern, I'll share a picture. It's an easy stitch, but takes counting every row, so I can't really focus on a movie at the same time though I can get away with an audiobook.

For the evening I'm still deciding between reading and knitting. It will probably be some kind of combination, starting with reading Wayfarer and eventually switching over to knitting while listening to A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty.

Feb 13, 7:32pm Top

>200 bell7: Oh good, Mary. How unbelievably brave he and the others were, and what a shameful and tumultuous period in our country's history. The graphic format suits the story so well, doesn't it.

Feb 13, 7:39pm Top

>202 jnwelch: Yes, I thought the format really matched the story well. You could say so much more with the visual of the students just sitting there while people around them verbally abused or beat them. My one complaint, and maybe I was just trying too hard to read every word, were that in some of the panels the words were so small it was hard to read. But that might have been intentional and just sort of "people talking in the background" rather than, you know, really trying to make me squint like I did :)

Feb 14, 12:08pm Top

>201 bell7: Sounds like a lovely (and productive) long weekend for you, Mary. Also, glad you liked Days of Future Past. I watched X-Men Apocalypse a few weeks ago and it's decidedly underwhelming.

Feb 14, 12:12pm Top

>204 MickyFine: It was, and now I'm back to the grind at work! I don't even really have a week to ease into things, as I'm jumping right back in with sending the newsletter in to the printers, book discussion tomorrow, and a program while I work on Saturday (coloring is fairly low key and I may have no one show up again, though). Oh well, better than being bored! I haven't seen Apocalypse. I suppose I might be completist and watch it eventually.

Feb 14, 12:24pm Top

14. Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken
Format: Paper book
Why now? The next one in a series! I really like this author and the only reason it took me so long was because I was reading my book club book at the same time.

Continuing where Passenger left off, Nicholas and Etta are now separated in both time and place. Because of the events in book one, the timeline was changed and Nicholas has to find the last common year in order to find Etta. Meanwhile, the astrolabe which has the power to create new passages between time periods and places is still missing, and both Nicholas and Etta are racing against time - and the Ironwoods, who want to use it to change history - to find it, determining who to trust along the way as new information about their family history comes into play.

Because you have the two points of view, the reader knows more than either of the characters as they piece together others' motives and figure out what to do and where to go. Based on the fact that I'd read the first book over a year ago and had to get my bearings again, I'd say it's not impossible to read this independent from Passenger, though I wouldn't recommend it. They're definitely two halves of the same story, and the way Wayfarer wraps things up was exceptionally satisfying. 4.5 stars.

Feb 14, 12:59pm Top

I'm glad March lived up to your expectations! I'm on #3 and impressed with how the momentum keeps going. I graduated from high school in the 70's. I was a bit young to take in the events of the 60's while they were happening and it was too fresh to be taught in history classes. Having it put together as a narrative is fascinating for me.

I can't help but wonder how much black history is taught in schools today.

I've had Relish on my radar for a while now. I think it's time to move it up.

Feb 14, 1:38pm Top

>205 bell7: Apocalypse isn't so terrible I stopped watching but it's not good enough that I'll include it in my personal collection. :)

Sounds like a humdinger of a week. Biggest thing in my agenda this week is I have my annual performance appraisal review on Friday. Hard to believe I've been here a year already.

Edited: Feb 14, 5:34pm Top

>207 streamsong: Despite going to elementary school in '90s, most of the time we didn't have enough time in the school year to get much past World War 2, so I say "history" because it was before my lifetime, but really it was only a generation ago. I hope you enjoy Relish! I really like Lucy Knisley's work.

>208 MickyFine: Yeah, there's a lot going on at the moment. I don't have a lot of programs this month (book discussion, coloring, and a movie - other than book discussion, not a lot of prep work involved), but I do have a lot to get ready for over the next few months, and April especially is going to be hectic. So this month has been a lot of planning and getting press releases and promotions done early because there's so much to do in the coming months. Good luck on the performance review! Mine's usually around now, too, but I actually had it early this year. The year's flown by, no?

Feb 15, 10:18am Top

>209 bell7: Good for you getting so much prep work done early. That's awesome! And agreed, this year has been so fast. :)

Feb 15, 2:50pm Top

>210 MickyFine: Basically I have to or I'll have the week from hell in a month. I tell you, time seemed to be so long and summers in particular so much time, and now a month goes by in a blink and a year finds me wondering where the time went.

The newsletter has been sent to the printer.
I've just about finished a brochure to promote the Thoreau community read I'm working on with two other towns as part of a Statewide Read (his 200th birthday would be July 12).
I have most press releases written through March and have reminded myself with dates when they need to go out.
On Saturday, I will know for sure if we're ever going to have another Adult Coloring Program or if it's given up the ghost in terms of interest and time (I can't fit it in evenings, and afternoons and Saturdays have been tried).

Next on the docket:
Put together a draft brochure and handout for a Local Author Fair at the end of April.
Send it out to all authors and have them look it over. Finalize by mid-March and write the press release.
Summer Reading
Slideshow of history photos for a community event June 17

Feb 15, 3:04pm Top

Thoreau community read sounds wonderful. Any linked activities? Wish I could sign up!

You sound very busy, I'm sure the patrons appreciate all the many activities. I've not caught the adult colouring bug, but do enjoy grabbing a crayon when small people are getting theirs done.

I feel like I raise my head and it's Friday again...

Feb 15, 3:55pm Top

>211 bell7: Oy. Lists like that make me so glad I'm in collections and my days primarily consist of ordering stuff. There's more budget balancing but timelines aren't quite so intense. :)

Feb 15, 4:01pm Top

>211 bell7: "...I tell you, time seemed to be so long and summers in particular so much time, and now a month goes by in a blink and a year finds me wondering where the time went."

The older I get, the faster time flies. *sigh*

Edited: Feb 16, 9:54am Top

>212 charl08: Yes! We're having programs and book discussions at all three libraries, and the fun starts on March 6 when I have someone coming to my library dressed as Thoreau to read from "Walking" and have a lively question & answer period with the audience. I just had my first sign up yesterday! We're also going to have a nature walk, one of the other libraries is having a birthday bash (for kids), and the third library is wrapping everything up with a talk about Thoreau and the railroad (the rails are really big in their town, so it's perfect). I'm really excited about a lot of what we're doing.

>213 MickyFine: And the truth is, I have no one to blame but myself for all the work I'm doing. I essentially make my own work by scheduling programs, and offered to make the Thoreau brochure myself. It's all getting done, I just have to keep myself on task so it never gets completely overwhelming.

>214 michigantrumpet: It's true, isn't it? My parents tell me that, too, which makes me wonder how it will feel even a decade from now if it already seems like such a blur. No wonder we remember our childhoods better than yesterday - time was more spread out!

Feb 20, 10:38am Top

Hi Mary! I've been lurking but thought I'd say hello :)

Feb 20, 7:46pm Top

>216 katiekrug: Hello! Thanks for delurking, Katie. Hope things are well with you :)

Feb 20, 8:02pm Top

15. A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
Format: audio with a little help from the paper book
Why now? I was poking around for an audio-before-bed, hadn't gotten to this series, but have enjoyed the author in the past

Madeleine lives with her mother in Cambridge, no longer as well off as she used to be now that they've run away from her father, and has an eccentric life as a homeschooled kid with friends Jack and Belle. Elliot lives in the Kingdom of Cello where colors don't just exist visually - they also attack. His dad is missing, presumed dead, or taken by a Purple and Elliot is determined to find him.

Over the course of the story, of course, their lives end up intertwining. The world-building was okay but not as fleshed out as I would like, as I had trouble imagining exactly what an attacking color would look like. Is it transparent? Opaque? Can it look humanoid or is each different? And my expectations were elevated both because I've really liked this author's books in the past and because one of the blurbs on the cover calls it "Startlingly original fantasy." Not sure I'd go that far - sure, things were interesting but... not that amazing. I also had a really hard time believing English homeschooling laws would allow the oddball version dreamed up by Madeleine's mother. All that aside, the story kept my attention and I enjoyed the characters and their interactions. The ending took me by surprise and I'm interested enough to look up the next book in the series. 3.5 stars.

Can I just qualify the homeschool comment by saying I was homeschooled? I live in the U.S. and every state is a little different in their laws, so I only know what my family did. There are co-ops where people pitch in and maybe one parent teaches a foreign language to a group of kids and another teachers math, but there's a fair amount of structure and testing that has to happen on a regular basis. The way Madeleine, Jack and Belle are haphazardly taught by adults all over the neighborhood was stretching my credulity. But again, I am not familiar with British law in this regard. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who might know & has read the book.

Feb 20, 8:11pm Top

16. King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard
Format: Paper book
Why now? Next book in a series that's pretty much a "drop everything and read this book" when the new one arrives

*Third in the series and necessarily has spoilers for earlier books*

Living up to her end of the bargain with Maven, Mare Barrow is now captured and living in chains in the new king's citadel. She expects him to kill her especially when his betrothed, Evangeline, starts antagonizing him - but he doesn't, keeping her locked in Silent Stone to not be able to use her "newblood" lightning ability. Meanwhile, the Scarlet Guard is plotting their own next move, hoping once and for all that the oppressed Reds and newbloods will be able to take over the Silvers, despite each house's special abilities.

The new book in The Red Queen series does not disappoint. Multiples points of view are utilized to show the reader what's going on with the various players, primarily switching back and forth between Mare and Cameron, the newblood girl Mare rescued from prison in Glass Sword. I found Mare really hard to like in the previous book, but here her distrustfulness and confusion were easier for me to stomach. Maven, too, comes across as a more complex character as he attempts to solidify his throne but also knows that he isn't quite right because his mother, Queen Elara, had the ability to affect minds. The only frustrating thing was getting to the end and realizing this is most likely not a trilogy. 4 stars.

Feb 20, 8:29pm Top

17. On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman
Format: Paper book
Why now? I had a library book on the hold before it came out and lined it up to read after I'd finished King's Cage

Faith Frankel has recently come back to her roots in Everton, and decides to buy the house at 10 Turpentine Lane - without telling her fiance, Stuart, who's off on a cross-country walking tour finding himself after an emergency appendectomy has him philosophizing about life. Then all hell breaks loose in her office, because one of the school's donors made out a substantial check to Faith herself, rather than the school she works for, and the only person who stands up for her is her officemate Nick. Throw in a little bit of mystery about the previous occupants of Faith's new house, and you've got the flavor of Elinor Lipman's newest novel, featuring an independent heroine, eccentric relatives, and lots of heart and humor.

I expected some light, fun reading and was not disappointed. Faith's family was hilarious and heartbreaking by turns, and I found myself both maddened by them and cheering for them. The funny, fast dialog is Lipman's standard fare, and I really enjoyed the time I spent with the characters populating On Turpentine Lane. 4.5 stars.

This will probably end up being a close second behind The Inn at Lake Devine for my favorite Elinor Lipman titles.

Edited: Feb 20, 8:45pm Top

Well, I seem to have my reading mojo back! I've read eight books and two graphic novels so far this month, and another week to go. Wayfarer took me awhile, but was very satisfying, and after that the last three books I just reviewed were finished in the last three days - with On Turpentine Lane being an afternoon read just today.

Friday night I'd planned to get a lot of reading in, but it turned out to be a bust as I couldn't keep my eyes open and dozed on the couch. I woke up around 10 and decided it was late enough to go to bed, only to toss and turn and wake up every few hours for a horrid night's sleep. Saturday I worked 9-2, and finally did get the time to read. I finished up A Corner of White, made huge progress in King's Cage but with about 20 pages left could not keep my eyes open. I talked to my sister T. in college for the first time this semester, and we talked for a little while before I told her I had to go to bed. Sunday was busy as per usual, but I managed to finish King's Cage before going to celebrate my dad's birthday which is actually later this week.

Today being a holiday, I had the day off from work. I spent the morning extremely productively by getting my exercise in, watching the video on finances that I've been working on (this week was insurance, yikes!), and catching up on tracking my expenses. I didn't quite have the energy to cook, but I did a quick grocery shopping and at least have a couple of meals planned. Then I spent a very pleasant afternoon and evening with On Turpentine Lane and even managed to bake some molasses cookies while I was at it. I did a little bit of knitting on the baby blanket while listening to Waistcoats & Weaponry, but only managed a few rows in total.

It's a bit too late to start a movie, so I'll probably read some in In a Sunburned Country which I have been reading as an e-book at slow moments on the reference desk - and, as I mentioned, there's been a lot of work lately so I have not had a lot of time to be reading it and I'm still only a few chapters in.

Tomorrow I'm working my normal 12-8 shift so should be able to get a little bit of reading and cooking in before work. I might start something new because other than the audiobook, all the books I'm reading now are nonfiction.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2017

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