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bell7's (Mary's) 2017 Eclectic Reads - a 3rd charming time

75 Books Challenge for 2017

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1bell7
May 20, 8:21pm Top

Hello and welcome to my third thread of 2017!

By this time, you probably know something about me and my reading to be on the thread, but here's a quick intro: I'm a 30-something librarian in western Massachusetts, working in adult services and programming with some local history thrown into the mix. I tend to talk about my job a bit, especially the books I read for work that you'll see in the post below.

I'm the oldest of five children, two boys and two girls. The youngest is in college in DC and spending the summer with our married sister, who lives just outside of DC with her husband and two kiddos – Mia and a baby boy born on Friday and yet to be named (or at least, they haven't told me yet!). I love being an auntie and you'll see my niece and nephew's photos topping most, if not all, of my threads this year.

Mia:

She knows bits of songs and such now and I once heard her say “move on back” (from “Wheels on the Bus” apparently – I should learn the song) as she got into one of her cars.

Nephew!


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.

2bell7
Edited: Oct 6, 7:08pm 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) - DONE

May - Alternate History
Benchmark: His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
2nd title, my choice: Farthing by Jo Walton - DONE

Starting in September, we're starting a new “arc” of diverse books – so in each genre we choose, we're reading a book whose author is a person of color or LGBT, for example.
September – Fantasy
Benchmark: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin - DONE
2nd title, my choice: Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho - DONE

November - Diverse Romance
Benchmark: An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole (alternate: A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
2nd title, my choice:

3bell7
Edited: Sep 10, 6:06pm 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
13. A Man Called Ove - Mar. 20
14. Gilmore Girls, Season 4 - Mar. 31
15. Moana - Apr. 23 (watched a second time in DC)
16. Supernatural Season 12 - May 18
17. The Secret Life of Pets
18. Zootopia (2x)
19. Trolls (2x)
20. Beauty & The Beast (new)
21. Ghostbusters (original)
22. Ghostbusters (new)
23. Beastly
24. Gilmore Girls, Season 5 - 9/1
25. Split - 9/10

4bell7
Edited: May 20, 8:24pm Top

January
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

February
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
21. March: Book Three by John Lewis with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell - graphic novel

March
22. Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide to Money by Dave Ramsey - mine
23. Caraval by Stephanie Garber
24. Life as We Knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer - audio and e-book
25. Accordion Crimes by Annie Proulx
26. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
27. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson - audio and reread
28. Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn - audio
29. The Hanging Judge by Michael Ponsor - e-book and book is mine
30. Words on the Move by John McWhorter

5bell7
Edited: Jul 8, 6:47pm Top

April
31. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
32. Straight on Till Morning by Mary S. Lovell
33. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas - mine and a reread
34. No Time Like the Past by Jodi Taylor
35. Something New by Lucy Knisley - graphic novel
36. Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger - e-book and audio
37. The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner - mine and a reread
38. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
39. A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
40. Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen - comics
41. Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels
42. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
43. Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

May
44. A Court of Mist & Fury by Sarah J. Maas - mine and a reread
45. A Court of Wings & Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
46. The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise by Julia Stewart - e-book
47. The House Girl by Tara Conklin
48. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall - audio and reread
49. Farthing by Jo Walton
50. A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner mine and a reread
51. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen - audio and a reread
52. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones - ebook and a reread
53. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides - mine
54. Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner - mine

June
55. Israel's Holy Days in Type and Prophecy by D. Fuchs
56. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
57. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
58. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? by Jodi Taylor
59. The Outermost House by Henry Beston
60. How to Speak Dragonese by Cressida Cowell - audio

6bell7
Edited: Oct 3, 12:28pm Top

Leaving space for summer reads - the thread's open for business!

July
61. Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs - e-book
62. The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss - ARC and mine
63. Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
64. The Imitation Game by Jim Ottovani - graphic novel
65. Thrall by Natasha Trethewey - e-book
66. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - e-book and reread and book is mine
67. A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
68. Autonomous by Annalee Newitz - ARC and mine
69. Once and for All by Sarah Dessen
70. Walking by Henry David Thoreau
71. Cape Cod by Henry David Thoreau
72. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

August
73. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell - mine and a reread
74. Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs - e-book
75. My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul
76. The Eden Express by Mark Vonnegut
77. A Star Shall Fall by Marie Brennan
78. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
79. Matched by Ally Condie - audio
80. Retire Inspired by Chris Hogan
81. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast - graphic novel

September
82. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
83. But Seriously by John McEnroe
84. Glass Houses by Louise Penny
85. Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff - audio and e-book and a reread
86. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
87. Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs - audio and e-book
88. Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
89. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black - audio and e-book
90. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
91. Copper River by William Kent Krueger
92. Murder, Magic and What We Wore by Kelly Jones

Currently Reading
Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
Solomon to the Exile by John Clement Whitcomb
The Bible in World History by Stephen Leston

7MickyFine
May 20, 9:01pm Top

Happy new thread!

The nephew is very cute!

8PaulCranswick
May 20, 9:06pm Top

>7 MickyFine: What Micky said....very cute.

Happy new thread, Mary.

9drneutron
May 20, 9:29pm Top

Happy new thread, and congrats on the new nephew!

10ronincats
May 21, 12:02am Top

Happy new thread!

11jnwelch
May 21, 4:05am Top

Happy New Thread, Mary!

12DianaNL
May 21, 6:36am Top

Happy new thread, Mary, and congrats on the new nephew!

13souloftherose
May 21, 8:32am Top

Happy new thread Mary and congratulations on your new nephew!

14scaifea
May 21, 9:21am Top

Happy new thread, Mary!

15bell7
May 21, 2:33pm Top

Thanks, Micky, Paul, Jim, Roni, Joe, Diana, Heather and Amber! (Shout out if I missed someone!)

We just found out the nephew's name today, so welcome to the world, Matthew! I am counting down the days till I get to meet him in person. I'll be in the DC area and hoping to go to the July 4 fireworks if anyone wants to try for a meetup that day. (I realize this means bookstores and such will be closed, but I don't get to spend a ton of in-person time with the family, so that will definitely be the priority for this trip.)

16norabelle414
May 22, 9:29am Top

Yay Hi Matthew!

17aktakukac
May 22, 12:40pm Top

Happy new thread! I had a new nephew born last week, too! It took my sister-in-law and her husband several hours to decide upon a name. We finally got to meet him yesterday. I can imagine you are counting down the days until you can see him!

18FAMeulstee
May 22, 2:46pm Top

Happy new thread, Mary, welcome to the world Matthew.

19charl08
Edited: May 22, 2:50pm Top

Happy new thread - hope you have a lovely trip in July meeting the new addition to your family.

20lkernagh
May 23, 7:25pm Top

Happy new thread, Mary, and congratulations on your new nephew Matthew! Mia is adorable in that thread topper pic.

21bell7
May 30, 4:19pm Top

Hi Nora, Rachel, Anita, Charlotte, and Lori! Thanks for stopping by. As you can see, I completely dote on Mia and Matthew and am counting down the days 'til I go visit.

Since visiting, let's see... Last week I was dogsitting and got a fair amount of reading in, though the two large dogs thought they were lap dogs and if I was sitting I must want to pet them, right? I'm happy to be back in my own bed and morning routine - I hadn't realized how much of a habit I'd made an exercise video until I couldn't do it! I've worked out the last two days and I feel SO good... Oh also, I'd been working out 150 minutes a week for a work challenge. Anyone who completed six weeks was entered into a raffle for a FitBit - and I won! I don't have it fully set up yet because it's not compatible with my phone and a friend of mine still has my laptop - but when I do, how do I link up with all you FitBitters out there to compare steps? I'm nothing if not competitive and it will keep me motivated to keep moving ;)

I can't stay and review all the books read since I'm just taking a short break at work, but I'm hoping to have my laptop back soon and will attempt to visit threads a bit this week - it's just hard to type messages on my Kindle so I may be in lurker mode.

Have a great week!

22MickyFine
May 30, 6:27pm Top

>21 bell7: That's an awesome prize, Mary! Congrats!

Looking forward to seeing a bit more of you once all your tech has returned to you. :)

23Familyhistorian
May 31, 9:36am Top

Hi Mary, happy new thread and I am looking forward to seeing you in the FitBit group. Mamie is currently (the last time I looked) our fearless leader. She also set up the group so just send a PM to Crazymamie to ask to be included.

24lkernagh
Jun 2, 5:17pm Top

Congrats on the raffle win!

25kidzdoc
Jun 2, 5:19pm Top

Happy new thread, Mary!

26Whisper1
Jun 2, 9:26pm Top

Happy new baby relative. Your niece is so very darling.

I hope all is well with you dear Mary!

27tymfos
Jun 7, 9:54pm Top

Congrats on the raffle win, and hello and welcome to baby Matthew!

28PaulCranswick
Jun 11, 1:13am Top

I could do with a little of your luck these days, Mary!

Have a splendid weekend.

29bell7
Jul 8, 6:43pm Top

Thanks, Micky, Meg, Lori, Darryl, Linda, Terri and Paul! (Shout if I missed anyone)

It's been a busy couple of months between dogsitting and Summer Reading start up and a two week vacation (10 days in DC). I met my nephew Matthew, who's a big boy and 7 weeks old now. He mostly sleeps and eats at this age, of course, but he's already showing some personality. He's very easygoing and very vocal - grunting even in his sleep! He'll already open his mouth when you bend down and kiss him (and who knows, that might be a reflex but it's adorable). Mia is not quite 2 - her birthday's the end of this month - but knows all her colors, can help Tia (my youngest sister) bake a cake, and has officially christened me Auntie Mimi (or Meenee, but she seemed to mostly say Mimi). She enjoys repeating words and learning new things. I taught her to say the shape of a stop sign is an "octagon" and she was so excited about the word when we got back from our walk that she went right up to her mother and said, "Octa-gon!" "Yes, Mia, what's the shape of a stop sign?" I had to add for my sister to make sense of her exclamation.

We met up with Nora at Eastern Market on Sunday, which was a lot of fun. I bought a couple of books at Capitol Hill Books and a lavender tea bread that was absolutely delicious. Nora showed us Turtle Park just across the street, and Mia had an absolute blast climbing up the turtles. I took a couple of photos of her on one of the smaller ones, but every time she saw it, she'd say "Daddy turtle, Daddy turtle." I finally had to download a picture off the Internet that showed the larger turtle that she wanted to see. Other than the weekend, I didn't really get out much and ended up wimping out on even the fireworks. I still may go another time, but I was getting tired early (I was sleeping on the couch and somewhat at the mercy of everyone else's schedules) and didn't feel like braving the Metro home by myself.

I got some reading done and have a whole passel of reviews to catch up on, which I will hopefully be able to do this weekend! I got home yesterday, went to work today, and have Monday off while I'm dogsitting. I'm also hoping to get back on track walking, as my sitting at my sister's place visiting did wonders for my movie watching and plummeted my walking numbers.

Happy weekend, all!

30bell7
Jul 8, 7:52pm Top

Sooo... I have a *few* reviews to catch up on going back into May. These will probably be a little shorter than usual just to catch up...

51. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen was a reread via audio. I really liked the story the first time around, and the reread was still excellent. My original take: Sydney has always been the invisible one beside Peyton, her charming older brother. But unfortunately, he's been in a lot of trouble. When Sydney switches schools (her choice) and meets a girl named Layla and her family who own a pizza shop, she suddenly doesn't feel so invisible anymore. But she's still struggling to come to terms with what her brother did and the guilt she feels, which makes her more and more uncomfortable home alone with her parents, who just don't seem to get it.

Okay, so you pretty much know what you're going to get when you pick up a Sarah Dessen book, right? Strong heroine who's going through a difficult time in life and needs her friends and/or love interest to get her through it. And yes, I picked this up thinking it would be a comfortable, easy read because I knew what was coming. In some ways it was, but it really surprised me how emotionally invested I became in Sydney's story and how close it brought me to tears at points. Even though an incarcerated brother may not be something everyone can relate to, Sydney's misunderstandings with her parents and the way her mom judges her actions through her brother's history is something any teenager understands. My one little niggling complaint would be that some things at the end were summarized very quickly, some things wrapped up nicely but another left nicely open for possibilities, which was very fitting for the story as a whole.


52. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones was a reread of an old favorite. For some reason, I intertwine reading the Megan Whalen Turner series and this one quite a lot so I was hankering for it after rereading The Thief and the rest. While the storyline may take awhile to get going and turn off some readers, I absolutely love this characters and the humor and playing with conventions in Jones's fantasy.

31bell7
Jul 8, 8:02pm Top

53. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides was a book I read in tandem with a friend and discussed over Memorial Day. While it's the story of Cal, an intersex individual identifying as male while being raised female, it's also a family saga of immigrants from Greece in the 1900s and how the family deals with questions of identity and race. There were moments the story dragged for me and I wasn't immediately blown away by it, but after reflection I have to say it's really well put together and has a lot of meat to it. I've been recommending it highly to friends who enjoy a literary, thought-provoking tale.

54. Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner is, of course, the newest in the Attolia series I'd been rereading in preparation. Kamet, a slave in The Queen of Attolia escapes after his master's death knowing that, in the Mede empire, he would be killed if he doesn't leave. An Attolian offers him a way out, and this is their adventure. I was a little disappointed not to see a lot of my favorite characters, but that isn't the book's fault. It's a good addition to the series.

Thus ends May's reading.

May in review
44. A Court of Mist & Fury by Sarah J. Maas - mine and a reread
45. A Court of Wings & Ruin by Sarah J. Maas - mine
46. The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise by Julia Stewart - e-book
47. The House Girl by Tara Conklin
48. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall - audio and reread
49. Farthing by Jo Walton
50. A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner - mine and a reread
51. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen - audio and a reread
52. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones - ebook and a reread
53. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides - mine
54. Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner - mine

May featured a lot of series, rereads and my own books.

32bell7
Jul 8, 8:14pm Top

June had only six books finished:

55. Israel's Holy Days in Type and Prophecy by D. Fuchs was a book I picked up from a Chosen Peoples Ministries table at my church when they had a Passover Seder. It goes through the feasts in Leviticus 23 and explains their prophetic meaning through Christian interpretation, and I found it interesting reading when I was going through Leviticus at the same time. It's a short and accessible book.

56. Walden by Henry David Thoreau was a work read - we're participating in a Statewide Read for his 200th birthday on July 12. I haven't read it since college and really did try to give it a fair shake, but I found his attitude really grating and at times boring. I think Thoreau was really trying to shake people up and get them to argue with him, which he does successfully. I definitely wanted to argue with him, so I was in a bad mood reading most of the time. But, it's an important piece of American literature historically and I'm glad I read it.

57. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson was one of those books that I can't help but read when I feel like having my mind blown pondering the universe and how it works. Accessible and short, but still challenging reading, I recommend it to anyone who enjoys the topic. I still have to check out his podcasts....

58. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? by Jodi Taylor was in the pure fun category as the next one in the series of St. Mary's time traveling historians. In this one, Max has new trainees under her wing and must take them to various places to prepare them for the rigor of studying history in contemporary time - but there's a mole at St. Mary's and she's also determined to find out who's attempting to take them down!

59. The Outermost House by Henry Beston was for my Evening Book Discussion and interesting - if sometimes monotonous - reading after Walden, because the two definitely work well in tandem. Beston, who went to Cape Cod for a couple of weeks and ended up staying for a year, writes poetically about the power of nature and how mankind has separated from really participating in the natural world. A different sort of wake up call, and though I didn't have the connection to Cape Cod I found a few gems of quotes in it. Mostly the monotony came from reading too many nature books in close quarters and having to finish it for a deadline.

60. How to Speak Dragonese by Cressida Cowell was an audiobook kind of on a whim. I enjoy David Tennant's reading of the series, it was the next one I hadn't read yet, and it happened to be available when I was looking for a listen on Overdrive. Not great literature, but it killed a couple hours.

33bell7
Jul 8, 8:23pm Top

Read on vacation -

61. Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs
Why now? It's the next book in the series for me, and it fit the Summer Reading challenge category "Read a book with a tool on the cover"

Mercedes Thompson is asked by her friend Stefan, a vampire, if she will come with him as a witness to warn someone away from their territory. In coyote form, she sees a sorcerer vampire convince Stefan that he kills and feeds on a woman, and only Mercy knows what really happened. Will she and the werewolves be able to take care of this new threat before it's too late? The second book in the series was an interesting one, giving a little more idea of what Mercy's talents just might be. 4 stars.

62. The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss
Why now? I was given this ARC at MLA and saved it for vacation to read on the plane. Conveniently, it also fit the Summer Reading category "Read a book set in another country" as it's all in England

When Mary Jekyll's mother dies, leaving her a nearly penniless orphan in her early twenties, Mary suddenly finds out that her father and his associates may have had some secrets. In a romp that involved characters from multiple classics, Mary and her new friends interjecting their comments throughout, this was an enjoyable adventurous mystery that I enjoyed reading. It didn't resolve much, however, and mostly set up what I think is a planned series. I was interested enough that I'll probably look for the sequel. 3.5 stars.

34thornton37814
Jul 10, 7:49am Top

>32 bell7: Sorry you didn't like Walden better. I enjoyed visiting his little cabin by Walden Pond when I went to Concord. While I don't agree with everything he said, I do understand his need for "simplicity."

35The_Hibernator
Jul 10, 12:34pm Top

>53 I felt exactly the same way about Middlesex. It was a slow-going read, but has really stuck with me for a long time.

36MickyFine
Jul 10, 2:29pm Top

Welcome back, Mary! Sounds like you had a fantastic trip and I'm happy to see you've had more good reads than mediocre to bad in the last little while. :)

37bell7
Jul 10, 2:59pm Top

>34 thornton37814: I think it's important reading, I just find it very frustrating because I can't talk back. I wonder if I would've enjoyed debating with Thoreau in person though? The Transcendalists are a fascinating bunch, and I'd love to visit the site of the cabin someday.

>35 The_Hibernator: I know a lot of people who really loved the book, Rachel, so it's nice to know I'm not the only one who had a bit more of a mixed reaction to it.

>36 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! While I'm dogsitting this week I'm borrowing their computer, so we'll see how long I can manage to stick around :) I have been mostly reading good books, and even what I didn't exactly like was still stuff I was glad I read.

38bell7
Jul 11, 7:31am Top

63. Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
Why now? Next book in a series

The sequel to Lady Midnight finds that Malcolm Fade is still a threat to the Blackthorns after death: now the area is being terrorized by water demons and it's all Julian and Emma can do to destroy what Malcolm's unleashed. A group of Centurions, including Cristina's former flame Diego, a special group of Shadowhunters are sent to the Los Angeles Institute to search out the Black Volume of necromancy that Malcolm was using to attempt to resurrect his love, Annabel Blackthorn. Meanwhile, Kit Rook has learned he's a Herondale and a Shadowhunter, but despite his growing friendship with twins Ty and Livvy he's not sure he wants to have any part of this life.

Another solid entry in the series and has a little bit of everything Clare fans have come to expect: forbidden love (and triangles or similar complications), fast pacing, sarcastic dialog. This one ends on a particularly maddening cliffhanger, so if you hate them (as I do), I recommend waiting 'til the next book is out before tacking this one, which clocks in at 699 pages. 4.5 stars.

39bell7
Jul 11, 7:38am Top

64. The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded by Jim Ottaviani
Why now? Fit the Summer Reading bingo category "Read a graphic novel"

This biographical graphic novel focuses on Alan Turing, a brilliant mathematician and logician who could theoretically figure out a bunch of stuff way over my head, and was instrumental in the Bletchley Park efforts at decoding the German system Enigma during World War 2. The structure of the narrative gives different people in Turing's life turns about talking about him - his mother, school friends, co-workers - and took a little getting used to as I had to pay attention to who was narrating at any given time. Well done and intrigued me enough to want to read a full length biography.

40bell7
Jul 11, 7:44am Top

65. Thrall: poems by Natasha Trethewey
Why now? Fit the Summer Reading bingo category "Read a book of poetry"

The only other book of poetry I've read by Natasha Trethewey was Native Guard, which I loved. Thrall was good but didn't hold up to that same standard for me. These poems all address the complicatedness of mixed race, whether by exploring classic paintings and art or Trethewey's own (or perhaps her narrator's, I know that's often different in poetry though these felt very personal) relationship with her white father. The ones on art were particularly challenging because the artwork was not included. The final poem, "The Illumination," was my favorite.

41MickyFine
Jul 11, 11:21am Top

>38 bell7: I haven't even attempted Clare's new series yet. I still haven't read the last of the Mortal Instruments books and I bought book 6 right when it came out. One of these days...

42bell7
Jul 12, 8:10am Top

>41 MickyFine: They are fun fluff if I brace myself for the annoying love angles :) And actually, the world's set up is complicated enough that I try to read them closish (oh my gosh, spellcheck doesn't mind that?) together to remember certain details. I had dropped off myself a couple of years ago and didn't read the original three Mortal Instruments, but reread book 4 and the first Clockwork book to finish off that series.

43bell7
Jul 12, 8:15am Top

66. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Why now? Fit the Summer Reading bingo category "Reread a favorite book"

I first read this soon after it came out in 2008. I had warm memories of it as historical fiction about dark times that was surprisingly hopeful in tone. Here's what I said about it then:

Juliet Ashton is an author who isn't sure what her new book is about, she just knows she doesn't want to write about World War 2 anymore after covering the news in a lighthearted manner under the pseudonym "Izzy Bickerstaff." Then, she receives a letter from a man named Dawsey who lives on Guernsey Island and happens to own one of her books (a collection of essays by Charles Lamb) secondhand, and wants to know if she can recommend any bookstores in London. He mentions in passing that he began reading because of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, a group started during the German occupation. Told in letters between Juliet, her editor, her publicist, her best friend Sophie, and eventually a whole host of characters from Guernsey, this is a heartwarming tale filled with hope and eccentric folk, even though the war is still very much a part of their lives. One of my favorite books of the year.

Yep, still really enjoyed it. I had read it long enough ago that I'd forgotten a lot of details even while I remembered the outline of the story. I thought the epistolary style really worked well for the story, and introduced a large number of fascinating characters without completely overwhelming me. It makes me want to research Guernsey more and go there someday. I was also a little surprised by some of the darker aspects of it, not that war is ever a good thing, but I'd remembered it somehow as more hopeful and humorous than it was. There's certainly a balance here that's struck well, in my opinion.

44_Zoe_
Jul 12, 8:19am Top

>38 bell7: Thanks for the cliffhanger warning! I wasn't super eager to read the book anyway because I didn't really want to hear about Emma making Julian miserable, but I do want to hear more about Kit Rook.

>41 MickyFine: I eventually decided that I could just skip Mortal Instruments 5 and 6. I didn't love the fourth one, and I concluded that it never really goes well when an author takes a trilogy and tries to extend it while keeping the same protagonists.

45bell7
Jul 12, 8:30am Top

I've been spoiled by a couple days in a row of either being off from work or not going in 'til noon, so I've had a chance to watch some Wimbledon in the morning (it starts at 7-8 a.m. my time). I was *shocked* by Nadal's loss to Muller and am very interested in seeing if Muller can back up that tough 5 setter (essentially a six setter, it went so long) with a win against Cilic. He was impressive against Nadal, matching him point for point with several match points and never going away or looking tired, even.

I've been a Federer fan for years, so I'm rooting for him overall, but it's always fun to see if an underdog can make it through. The women's side is especially interesting, because without Serena playing it's absolutely wide open and all four women left are looking like they could win. I do think it would be amazing if Jo Konta could go through and be the first British woman since Virginia Wade to take the Wimbledon title.

Going back to work yesterday (I was there Saturday, too, but it was mostly catchup, desk work, and I refused to even look at my email) was challenging. I left right before the kids' summer reading program started, and now I'm back tomorrow is the first day that the earliest finishers can get prizes. So needless to say, we're busy with patrons. Plus, with a couple of people out on vacation it just means that much more time on the desk for the rest of us, which isn't unexpected but does make it difficult to catch up on everything else. I had over 300 emails from the two weeks I was gone, and have only just looked over 200 or so of them. Today I need to remember to download the statistics from the people counters we have at the door, which doesn't take long but since my boss wants it as close to on the hour as possible, I'm somewhat limited in when I can load them onto our laptop. I also have to go through and get statistics on programs and a few other numbers that she needs to turn in a yearly report. And then I have a program tonight that's completely full (20 people) on learning to play the ukulele. Other regular things I want to do this week include working on a flyer for an August program, a press release for that program, and getting all our Facebook and Twitter posts scheduled for the week. I will not have much down time today, that's for sure.

46bell7
Jul 12, 8:34am Top

>44 _Zoe_: You're welcome! They are a pet peeve of mine, so I try to mention them when they occur :) On the Emma/Julian angle, basically they're like Clary and Jace in book 2 of Mortal Instruments - we shouldn't be together but we can't stay away *kissing* - gag me now, please. I enjoyed getting more of Kit in this one.

I did end up reading book 5 and 6 and liked how it took elements of both series to wrap up some things. But it did also leave the series feeling a bit stretched, so I can definitely see not finishing them too.

47MickyFine
Jul 12, 11:45am Top

>42 bell7: Maybe I'll go back to Clare at some point. Maybe.

>44 _Zoe_: I did read book 5 and liked it better than 4 (although there were A LOT of annoying character things going on) so one of these days I'll get to book 6. If only so I can decide whether I want to donate books 4-6 to my library book sale and just hang on to the first 3. :P

>45 bell7: I started at 9 today (I'm normally at work shortly after 8) and that felt decadent. I don't miss working evening shifts most of the time, but a noon start time does have its upsides. Good luck doing ALL THE THINGS!!! ;)

48charl08
Jul 12, 12:27pm Top

Hope the ukulele course goes well. Sounds very busy where you are. Summer here seems to be quiet but I don't see all the back room work (and our council has just announced they are reopening some of the libraries that their predecessors closed, so that's going to make someone somewhere busy!).

49drneutron
Jul 12, 1:38pm Top

Oooo, ukelele! mrsdrneutron got me one made from a cuban cigar box for Christmas a couple of years ago, so I've been learning to play. Did songs for two weddings so far! Somewhere Over the Rainbow and I'm Yours. I think it's going with me to Florida when I'm there for pre-launch activities next year so I can sit out on he beach in the evenings and pretend I'm a beach bum. :)

50_Zoe_
Jul 12, 6:12pm Top

>46 bell7: Okay, that sounds much better! Even if it's over-the-top, it's better than Emma just being with Mark and leaving Julian miserable.

Maybe one day I'll decide to read Book 5 of TMI. But maybe not.

51bell7
Jul 14, 8:01am Top

>47 MickyFine: Meh, no pressure. There are plenty of series I've started, decided I had a feel for, and didn't bother finishing in the end (Alex Rider, Maximum Ride...). I haven't quite finished ALL THE THINGS I wanted to catch up on, but I don't need to get the report stats in 'til the end of the month so I have some breathing room. Yesterday I was still feeling scatterbrained and couldn't focus on one thing for a long time like I normally do, so I was a little frustrated by the end of the day. Hopefully today will go smoothly and I can make some more progress on things. It does feel nice going in a little late once in awhile, no? I don't love evening shifts, but I have one 12-8 day a week in a normal schedule and will shift my hours if I need to for programs I schedule.

>48 charl08: Ooh, I hope the library reopenings work out! Summer Reading as a program for kids (and teens) is a really big thing in my area of the U.S., so we often have a lot more people walking in the door - July/August is our busiest time. It makes taking a summer vacation a little challenging, but I was very deliberate in not scheduling programs for while I was gone. It's just a hard transition to jump right back into, instead of a quieter month like January :)

>49 drneutron: Oh fun! I learned chords I could use for Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I'd played guitar in my teens, so was surprised at how well I was able to remember the feel of making a chord. Some libraries lend ukuleles and I'm debating if that would work in my town. We certainly had interest in people coming to the program!

>50 _Zoe_: There's a little bit of that in the beginning, but if memory serves (and it's a 699 page book I read over a couple of weeks, so it's hard to remember exactly) it didn't last long. I can't remember if you read Lady Midnight or not, but if you could follow it without having read books 5 and 6 I wouldn't bother. There are events in there it refers to, but it follows different characters.

52_Zoe_
Jul 14, 8:08am Top

>51 bell7: Thanks! That information makes me more likely to go ahead with Lord of Shadows, though I'll try to wait until closer to when the next one is coming out. I did read Lady Midnight and didn't feel like I'd missed too much essential background; everything that's really important gets reviewed again.

53bell7
Jul 14, 8:16am Top

Happy Friday, everyone! My first week back from vacation is wrapping up and I'm in a fairly good place with all the stuff I have to do. I did get confused yesterday around 4 thinking it was Friday and drew my weekly raffle winner at 4:58 last night for Summer Reading. Oops. Oh well, anyone who turns in a ticket today will have a chance in next week's, and I'll call the winner today. Today's tasks will include a few more days of social media posts scheduled, flyers and press releases for August programs, and - if I have enough time and am feeling super ambitious - starting to put together the stats I lost when our server crashed of all the programs I had last fiscal year. (I'll need to recreate from November on and make a few intelligent guesstimates) If I'm not feeling ambitious, I'll count up volunteer hours instead. Both are stats needed for our yearly reports to the state to kind of compare different libraries of similar size/town population. Oh, and this morning we're having someone come in for the first of three yoga classes - she's doing programs for kids and adults, and my program filled up right quick with a waiting list (15 people). The ukulele one went well with 18 people showing up out of 20, and I'd called several people on the waitlist to fill it out after a few people canceled. I'd definitely consider having her again, as it was quite a hit with all but an 8-year-old? girl who, I think, had expected more out of it than a one hour program with 18 mostly-adults could provide her.

I'm currently reading A Handful of Dust for next week's book group. I didn't expect much of it so was pleasantly surprised at how readable it is, even though I don't like anyone much. I'm not really familiar with Waugh's work, so I'm interested in looking up his biography and reading the introduction to my copy of the book, which I skipped for now because there are many spoilers. Why do publishers put those as introductions and not at the end of a work? Do they assume people reading it have already read it and want that first? Or that we don't care about spoilers and want someone else's opinion before we've even started? But I do like reading the introductions afterwards, as they bring in insight I couldn't have gleaned just from reading on my own and sometimes give me more to chew on. We'll be discussing it Wednesday, and I know at least one new person is planning on being there, so I think it'll be a great time.

The other book I'm reading is Autonomous by Annalee Newitz, the ARC for a book due out in September. A "pirate" Jack, who reverse engineers patented drugs and sells them so that your average Joe and not just rich people can afford their drugs, releases a copy of Zacuity, which turns out to be highly addictive and have some pretty rotten side effects. She's in a race against time to figure out what's wrong with it before the big pharma company releases their official version to the public. Meanwhile, a bot named Paladin is teamed up with human Eliasz to find Jack and arrest her for piracy. The plot goes back and forth between Jack and Paladin's stories while staying in third-person, so it's page-turning and raises a lot of ethical questions at the same time.

I'll be both enjoying Wimbledon and reading these books over the weekend. Dogsitting ends Sunday afternoon, so I'll be home four days before heading out to a catsitting job the end of next week.

54bell7
Jul 14, 8:17am Top

>52 _Zoe_: You're welcome! Hope you enjoy it when you get to it... and yeah, I don't blame you for waiting. Mostly I read them as soon as they come out because otherwise I'll forget what happened and have to reread *everything*. I should just reverse my plan and wait 'til the whole series is complete.

55MickyFine
Jul 14, 11:59am Top

>53 bell7: Happy Friday, Mary! Sounds like an intense end to a busy week. But at least you have the weekend off it sounds like. Enjoy your reading and dog time. :)

56bell7
Jul 14, 8:07pm Top

>55 MickyFine: Happy Friday! I was definitely glad to head home after a pretty intense day, but I got a lot done and feel like I'll be in a good place next week (or at least, no busier than usual in the middle of July!). And yes, I have the weekend off, which helps a lot.

57bell7
Edited: Jul 15, 4:52pm Top

67. A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
Why now? Book club book for Wednesday
TIOLI: Extras after the last page of the story

Tony Last and his wife Brenda seem to have it all: lovely home (even if they have to economize), a son John Andrew and a happy marriage. At least, it seems happy until Brenda starts taking up with the worthless John Beaver.

This is my first foray into Evelyn Waugh's work, though I know him by reputation to be funny and satirical. I enjoyed the first half or so of the book, poking at the higher classes in Britain in the 1930s, showing the London set to be involved in a bunch of barely concealed affairs that everyone knows about. No one comes out particularly good, except perhaps Tony the cuckold and all-around generally nice, if conventional and boring, guy. Then things kind of fell apart for me, as Waugh doesn't seem to quite know how to end his story and sends his main character off to Brazil for an ending that actually turns out to be a short story that Waugh had written previously. My edition had an alternate ending included, and I personally found that one the more fitting. I would be interested to see how the story turned out if Waugh had brought it into more cohesion. Still, the dialog kept things going and I was interested in knowing what would happen to the characters. I might not read it again, but I would certainly try another book by the author. 4 stars.

Edited to add - the introduction in my edition was pretty critical overall, finding it really cobbled together, not particularly funny, and argued for it being more about Waugh working out his own personal issues with his ex-wife.

58MickyFine
Jul 15, 9:22pm Top

>57 bell7: The only Waugh I've read is Brideshead Revisited which was a good read but not what I'd call funny so I'm always surprised by people describing him as a humour writer.

59FAMeulstee
Jul 16, 11:29am Top

>57 bell7: Nice review, Mary, I added the Dutch translation of A handful of dust to mount TBR.

60bell7
Jul 17, 7:04pm Top

>58 MickyFine: it's possible that some of the jokes were so about that time period and class that it went right over my head. I'll keep Brideshead Revisited in mind as a potential future title.

>59 FAMeulstee: thanks, Anita, I hope it's an enjoyable read for you!

61bell7
Jul 18, 2:44pm Top

68. Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
Why now? ARC received from friends who went to BookExpo America, and I started it while on vacation so as not to lose it on my ever-growing TBR stack
TIOLI: has an epigraph

Judith "Jack" Chen is a pirae who reverse engineers patented drugs and sells them so that your average Joe and not just rich people can afford their drugs, releases a copy of Zacuity, which turns out to be highly addictive and have some pretty rotten side effects. She's in a race against time to figure out what's wrong with it before the big pharma company releases their official version to the public. Meanwhile, a bot named Paladin is teamed up with human Eliasz to find Jack and arrest her for piracy.

The plot goes back and forth between Jack and Paladin's stories while staying in third-person. This page-turning science fiction set in the 22nd century has some elements of dystopia and cyberthrillers, raising a lot of ethical questions both about ownership: can you - should you - have a patent on a drug and for how long? Who has the power to decide? And what happens to autonomy when people and robots can be owned or free? The ending felt a little rushed, but overall this was an entertaining novel by the founding editor of io9. 4 stars.

62bell7
Jul 18, 2:54pm Top

69. Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
Why now? It's the newest by one of my favorite teen authors and also just so happened to be due back at the library next
TIOLI: Not sure

Louna is working a summer job with her mother's business: wedding planning. But Louna, her divorced mom, and gay business partner William, are all cynical about lasting love, even while they're in the business. Then one of the bride-to-be's brother Ambrose starts working with them. He's irritating, has at least one girl on the side, and Louna can't stand him. Meanwhile, Louna is dealing with a lost love of her own from a terrible tragedy she hates to remember.

So I've been a big Sarah Dessen fan since Just Listen and I've read every books she's written. I was super-impressed with last year's Saint Anything, so I may have had my expectations way too high. This one felt a little dialed in. I wasn't feeling the chemistry, I didn't feel like the characters were as well developed as usual, and I was really frustrated with a lot of Louna and Ambrose's choices. I'm making it sound like I hated it. I didn't. I read the book in about two days and I enjoyed the references to previous characters (there were more than usual, even). I liked learning details about wedding planning. For the most part, I liked Louna but I felt like I only got to know her. Even her sidekick best friend Jilly was a bit of an enigma and dwarfed by all her siblings and the food truck business. Just a little too quirky, maybe? Too much going on? I'm not sure, but it was only an okay read for me. Recommended for die-hard Dessen fans and people who like straight up romance more than I do. 3.5 stars.

63MickyFine
Jul 18, 3:07pm Top

>62 bell7: I like Dessen's stuff but I've been reading much less YA in the last year or two. So if I'm in the mood for YA romance, I might pick this one. Or one of Dessen's many others. :)

64bell7
Jul 19, 5:36pm Top

>63 MickyFine: I too find myself reading less and less YA. And I'm getting pickier even when I do read it, both what I'll pick up and what I think of it. I only read one children's book in June and two YA in July so far (I have one more checked out, so it might be as many as 3). Unfortunately not the first Dessen I'd pick. The Truth About Forever rounds out my top 3 (the others were mentioned in the review).

65MickyFine
Edited: Jul 20, 10:54am Top

>64 bell7: The Truth About Forever fell short of the hype for me. So many people had told me how much they loved it and when I finally read it, it was good but didn't knock my socks off. Of the 5 or 6 Dessen novels I've read, Along for the Ride is probably my favourite.

66bell7
Jul 20, 1:40pm Top

>65 MickyFine: I don't remember Along for the Ride standing out to me as much. My review seems to indicate I liked the secondary characters better than Auden, but I can't remember why. But yeah, it's funny how our expectations affect our reading so much. It's one of the reasons I hesitate to say I didn't love Once and for All, too, because I know I loved Saint Anything and that completely affected my expectations.

67bell7
Jul 22, 10:11am Top

"The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson
Note: My particular book has a few short stories included with this one, so I'm not counting it as a "book read" until the whole thing is complete, but thought I'd write a short review of each story for now.

Mr. Utterson, a lawyer, is walking with his cousin when he hears a strange tale of a Mr. Hyde, who apparently has no conscience. Since he knows from his legal work that a respected man, Dr. Henry Jekyll, has written a strange clause into his will leaving all his property to this strange and unlikable man, Utterson determines to get to the bottom of what influence Mr. Hyde has over his friend.

This story has become so much a part of our psyche that it's hard to approach it without already knowing the ending. I think I would've liked it even better if I could have somehow escaped spoilers, yet the ending lines weren't any less poignant for all that. The "science" of it all would be complete balderdash today, yet the story still explores the nature of good and evil and the heart of man. 4 stars.

68bell7
Jul 22, 10:24am Top

70. Walking by Henry David Thoreau
Why now? Book discussion - today!
TIOLI: Not sure

Near the end of his life, Henry David Thoreau explores the relationship of man and nature through the practice of walking - and not just for exercise, but to notice and be a part of something larger than oneself.

I am most familiar with Thoreau through Walden, a book I've now read more than once and not just for school. I found myself more interested in his descriptions and wishing he were present for me to argue with and iron out some of his ideas about man and society. So I find it a struggle to read. Walking takes on similar themes, but for some reason I found it an easier pill to swallow. Thoreau doesn't take walks for health but as more of a spiritual exercise, to empty his mind and pay attention to nature and the moment before it was fashionable to do so. He uses it as a vehicle to express his desire for wildness and individualism in the midst of a materialistic and increasingly urban society. I read wondering what he would make of our modern world and eager to discuss it this weekend with my fellow book discussion readers. The word play is also enjoyable. 4.5 stars.

69bell7
Edited: Jul 24, 9:02am Top

Please forgive any typos, as I'm writing this brief summary on my Kindle and feel much less comfortable than when in front of a keyboard...

"A Lodging for the Night" is the second short story in my Robert Louis Stevenson collection. In it, a man is murdered and his unscrupulous friends scatter. One, Villon, finds a place to stay for the night where he and the well-off owner, a former knight in the Crusades, debate the morality of the other's actions. A strange, unsettling sort of story.

70bell7
Jul 28, 9:42am Top

71. Cape Cod by Henry David Thoreau
Why now? Supporting one of the programs in a neighboring town that's collaborating with my library for the Bicentennial Statewide Read
TIOLI: Not sure

This collection of essays on Cape Cod shows the unique stretch of Massachusetts land before it was a tourist attraction. Thoreau, often with a friend, took four trips out to Cape Cod and this collects some history, humor, and tales of the people he met on his journeys.

Cape Cod was published in 1865, a few years after Thoreau died. Its origin as essays is apparent, as its rather roughly cobbled together. The edition I read, from the 1950s with an introduction by Henry Beston of The Outermost House fame, includes notes from Henry Beston and others to explain some of the references, helpfully (?) give updates on census records for the towns mentioned, yet doesn't translate the Greek or Latin passages. I was also rather confused about a couple of times the editors decided to take out some of Thoreau's originally writing and move it to the back in an appendix. I would've liked an introduction that said less about the Cape and more about the way the book was put together, but that's not Thoreau's fault. His observations at times were very funny and memorable, but it's more a collection of vignettes that will be more or less interesting for each reader. Recommended for Thoreau completists and Cape Cod enthusiasts. 3.5 stars.

71bell7
Edited: Jul 28, 6:56pm Top

Continuing the Robert Louis Stevenson collection...

My book calls the next two stories collectively "The Suicide Club," but I believe more correctly the next one is "Story of the Young Man and the Cream Tarts." Florizel of Bohemia and his Master of the Horse disguise themselves in their adventures in London. One night, they chance upon a young man handing out cream tarts, and follow him to a strange place, where Florizel is determined to see their deception through.

72bell7
Edited: Jul 28, 8:53pm Top

The next "Suicide Club" story is the "Story of the Physician and the Saratoga Trunk." An American, Silas Q. Scuddamore is duped into dealing with a dead body found in his apartment. Prince Florizel and Geraldine, the Master of Horses, return as side characters in events that occur a short time after the first story.

73bell7
Jul 29, 1:44pm Top

The final of the three short stories in this arc (yes, I miscounted in my earlier post) is "The Adventure of the Hansom Cab" in which Lieutenant Brackenbury Rich is conveyed to a house where he doesn't know the owner for a party whose purpose is hidden. Nonetheless, he signs on for adventures in which the events of the first story are finally resolved between Prince Florizel and the President of the "suicide club".

All in all, I'm not really sure what to make of these stories. They're rather dark, yet don't seem to see suicide as a viable option, and appeal to a code of honor that seems somewhat at odds with my own time and culture. I'd be very curious to know why certain sport stories were selected for inclusion with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by far the best known.

74bell7
Edited: Jul 30, 8:26pm Top

The next couple of stories are pure horror, and the first in particular reminded me of the H. P. Lovecraft stories I read last year:

"Thrawn Janet" is the story of a minister and his housekeeper, Janet, whom the superstitious villagers believe to be a witch. Most of the story is related by an elder of the town who is explaining why the minister sermonizes annually "the devil is a roaring lion" in 1 Peter.

"The Body-snatchers" is the tale of nefarious men who acquired bodies for dissection for medical students.

Between the titles and the form of storytelling remembering the past, there's a sense of foreboding that hangs over the whole story.

75PaulCranswick
Jul 29, 10:47pm Top

Nice to see you reading through a fair bit of RL Stevenson, Mary. What a shame he lived such a short life.

Have a lovely weekend.

76bell7
Jul 30, 8:28pm Top

>75 PaulCranswick: I'd only ever read Treasure Island and these stories are completely different from that. He was certainly a talented writer who could evoke a mood for the story he walked to tell. Hope your weekend was excellent, Paul.

77bell7
Edited: Jul 30, 8:32pm Top

The final story in the collection is "Markheim." The title character goes to a pawnshop on Christmas day, kills the proprietor for money, and then reflects on his actions with a little help from an unearthly visitor. Though only about 12 pages long, I had a really tough time getting into this one; however, the ending provides some food for thought about another character warring between his good and evil natures.

And that ends
72. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and other stories by Robert Louis Stevenson

78MickyFine
Jul 31, 11:25am Top

Oh the Victorians and creepy short stories. Glad you enjoyed some of them, Mary. :)

79bell7
Aug 2, 10:00pm Top

>78 MickyFine: me too! I wasn't really sure what to expect going into it, and it had the added bonus of being one of my own books.

80bell7
Aug 3, 9:24am Top

73. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Why now? A book discussion group of two - my friend and I read it in tandem

This is a reread for me. Here's what I said about the book when I read it in 2013:

On Earth in 2060, Father Emilio Sandoz has returned from a failed mission a broken man; no one knows exactly what went wrong when he and a small group of friends went into space to make contact with aliens. The narrative goes back and forth in flashbacks to the past and the narrative present, as Emilio's Jesuit superiors try to get the full story.

Nothing is simple about this tale. It's about first contact, yes, but it's also about humanity and family and what happens to faith when we're absolutely broken. Even the secondary characters are fully rounded, complex human beings, and I was absolutely drawn in to their stories. This is a stunning, heartbreaking, beautiful book that I can't recommend highly enough.


It's just as good a second time around. I still cried at the end.

81scaifea
Aug 4, 6:51am Top

>80 bell7: That *is* an amazing book. I loved it so much.

82brodiew2
Edited: Aug 4, 12:03pm Top

Good morning, bell7!

>80 bell7: Very nice review of The Sparrow. I have long hear of it, but never read it. You passionate review has made me place it on the list.

83bell7
Aug 4, 1:50pm Top

>81 scaifea: I'm going to have to read the sequel Children of God this time around (though I know not to expect it to be as excellent). I'm just waiting 'til after my friend and I have had a chance to discuss so I don't get mentally ahead of this story.

>82 brodiew2: Thanks, Brodie. I hope it meets your now high expectations! I first read it because of warbling here on LT as well.

84PaulCranswick
Aug 5, 7:07am Top

Wishing you a wonderful weekend, Mary.

85PaulCranswick
Aug 13, 5:26am Top

Hope you'll come back and see us soon, Mary. xx

86bell7
Aug 18, 4:14pm Top

Hey Paul, thanks for checking in these last couple of weeks :)

Life's been pretty crazy between visits to DC (including surprising my sister for her birthday this past weekend) and dogsitting. I should be back to normal within a few days and, hopefully with my laptop back, I'll be a little more active on threads again. I'm behind on a few reviews, too.

87MickyFine
Edited: Aug 18, 4:20pm Top

>86 bell7: Looking forward to seeing you around these parts again.

88PaulCranswick
Aug 18, 8:37pm Top

Nice to see you back, Mary.

Have a splendid weekend. xx

89bell7
Aug 19, 7:30am Top

>87 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky. I'm coming to terms with the fact that I'll never have as much time as I used to, but I'm hoping to be a little more active over the next month or so and at least keep up on my own thread, if not all the others.

>88 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul. Wishing you a wonderful weekend yourself.

90bell7
Edited: Sep 10, 6:19pm Top

74. Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
Why now? It's the next in the series and was available as an e-book on Overdrive when I was looking for that format

Mercy Thompson, shapeshifter, gets asked by her Fae friend Zee to help him investigate deaths of faeries. When the culprit is found murdered and Zee is blamed, Mercy gets involved trying to help him - much to the chagrin of Adam and Sam, two werewolves one of whom has claimed her as mate and the other an old flame.

Briggs writes compelling urban fantasy fiction and does a nice job of incorporating vampire, werewolf and faerie lore while putting her own twist of worldbuilding into the mix. Mercy is headstrong and smart, a fun character to follow, and she continues to learn more about her own abilities as a shapeshifter as well. 4 stars.

91bell7
Aug 19, 7:42am Top

75. My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul
TIOLI: Nonfiction by a woman
Why now? I think this was featured in a BookPage review, or one of the other ways I learn about new books - anyways, I pretty much can't say no to a book about books now can I?

When Pamela Paul was a teen, she started a notebook she called her "book of books" or Bob in which she made note of all the books she read.

This is the starting point for Paul's memoir. She's an inveterate reader, lover of "best of" lists and classics. Reading was a way for her to learn and better herself, but eventually it becomes so much more. She uses a variety of aspects of reading, from not finishing a book to reading The Hunger Games to talk about her life, growing from a rather retiring teenager who just took every book at the most literal face value to a wife and mother, reader of children's lit and editor of the New York Times Book Review. I enjoyed some parts more than others, but it's always fascinating to get a book-shaped view of another person's life. 4 stars.

And appropriately, I'm fairly certain (I finished 74/75 on the same day) that this was book #75.

92bell7
Edited: Aug 19, 7:51am Top

76. The Eden Express by Mark Vonnegut
Why now? Book club read

Mark Vonnegut, son of the famous writer and self-described hippie, recounts his experience after college of starting a hippie commune in Vancouver and having a mental breakdown, for which he is eventually hospitalized.

I would never have heard of this book except that it turned up on my library book discussion list. It was published in 1975, just a few years after the events described in the book, which goes from about 1969-72. Mark writes about that time period, hippie culture, and his own experience with mental illness with a unique perspective. When he first starts having episodes of hallucinations and detachment from the world, it's hard to piece out how much is reality, his illness, or the drugs (mostly pot, but mescaline too) - an intentional choice that reminded me of Challenger Deep with its dreamlike and muddled quality showing that confused state of mind. I'm glad our book club brought it to my attention, and I'm interested in following up with Mark's more recent memoir, Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness, Only More So. 4 stars.

After his experience, Mark went on to become a pediatrician. He describes himself as having schizophrenia in this book, though from what I understand he has now been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

93bell7
Aug 19, 8:02am Top

77. A Star Shall Fall by Marie Brennan
Why now? I started it for our Summer Reading program, as my last book square was "read a book by an author who shares your initials." The program ended before my reading did, but I finished the book.

Several years ago, Halley's Comet had passed by earth and the Faeries in London had exiled the dragon that caused the Great Fire to the cold stone never to trouble them again - or so they thought. Now, with the modern science of the 1750s, they know that the comet is returning, and with it, the dragon. They're in a race against time to find a way to defeat it before the comet reaches perihelion, or both their world and London itself may be destroyed.

What I thought was the first in a series is actually the third, so it's possible that I would have had a different reaction had I read the books in order. I felt that the characters of Lune, the Faerie queen under London; Galen, her human Prince of the Stone; and Irrith, a naive knight who simply hates politics, were difficult to get to know and figure out their motivations. That being said, it was quite easy for me to follow and from what I understand the other books in the series are set in different time periods. The writing fits the time period and the pacing is deliberate and covers over a year of time, which sometimes counterbalanced the urgency of the characters' attempts to defeat the dragon before its return. The historical details, especially about science and alchemy of that time period, were incorporated believably into the world building of Faerie and London. 3.5 stars.

94FAMeulstee
Aug 19, 8:12am Top

Congratulations on reaching & passing 75, Mary!

95bell7
Aug 19, 8:13am Top

78. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
Why now? It was featured as a LibraryReads pick, and again, how can I pass up a book about a bookstore?

Lydia works at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, where some of the regulars are ex-cons or guys with mental issues, but she affectionately calls them her "BookFrogs" and treats them kindly. When one of these young men, Joey, hangs himself in the stacks, she finds him with a picture of her and her friends from her tenth birthday. Why does Joey have this photo, and what secrets from his past coincide with hers?

I was expecting a story a little more like Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Book Store with its codes and homage to reading and technology. This is more of a straight mystery, though bookstores and libraries and a love of reading do also fit into the story. Lydia's search to understand Joey leads her back to the past and a horrific event in her childhood that remains an unsolved mystery. Some of the details of the cold case were hard for me to read; this is definitely not a cozy. The story was fast-paced and compelling. I figured out the "whodunnit" kind of early, but didn't figure out all the whys until the last revelations at the end. Perhaps because it's Lydia's story of an event that can't have a happy ending, I was left with a bit of an unsettled, unhappy feeling rather than the satisfaction of a typical mystery ironed out. 4 stars.

Worthwhile reading and I'd probably pick up another book by this author.

96bell7
Aug 19, 8:13am Top

>94 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita!

97drneutron
Aug 19, 9:39pm Top

Congrats!

98MickyFine
Aug 20, 12:52am Top

Congratulations on surpassing the magic number!

99ronincats
Aug 20, 2:03pm Top

Congratulatoins on blowing past the 75 book mark, Mary!

100bell7
Aug 21, 7:19pm Top

Thanks, Jim, Micky, and Roni!

Hard to say how much reading I'll get in this week. Today I'm off from work and spent most of it on errands, laundry and knitting. I'm planning a little reading in front of Giants preseason for the evening. My neck of the woods had a partial solar eclipse, and I have no glasses, but I turned on the TV to see coverage from places that were getting a total eclipse, and even the screen view was pretty awesome.

I'm still without a laptop, so probably not much posting for me for awhile still. I am home from dogsitting till early September and looking forward to a couple of weeks in my own bed.

101MickyFine
Aug 22, 11:17am Top

Sleeping in your own bed after being away for a while is the best feeling. Enjoy it! Regardless of whether you get reading time in there or not. :)

102bell7
Aug 25, 12:40pm Top

>101 MickyFine: Sleeping in your own bed after being away for a while is the best feeling. Isn't it though? And now the weather has changed so it's gorgeous days in the 70s (Fahrenheit) and cool nights where I leave the windows open and just pile on the blankets. Love it!

103bell7
Edited: Aug 25, 12:52pm Top

Well I did get one more book in...

79. Matched by Ally Condie
Why now? The audio was available on Overdrive when I was looking for a listen, and it has kind of been on my radar for awhile as a teen dystopia.

Cassia is a normal almost-seventeen year old living in her society, looking forward to her Matched ceremony where she will learn the person she's to marry. See, the society works out everything for them: time to go to school, free time (with some choices), who they marry, what job they have... it's all about numbers and statistics and what makes the best result for everyone. Cassia is Matched with Xander, her best friend, in a really unusual turn. But when she watched the video that's supposed to give her more information about her Match, not just Xander's face but another boy's flashes on the screen - Ky Markham, a young man she'd never paid much attention to before now. Why does his face come up, and what does it say about Cassia's society if Xander may not be her perfect Match?

I thought the premise was a good one, but the book left me feeling pretty meh. There's nothing specifically wrong with the story, but not much happens apart from Cassia learning about Ky, falling in love, and trying to figure out if she should have choice or go along with what her society says. I was left really confused about the setting. Why would anyone set up a society in which free choice was no longer an option? Is this supposed to be the future U.S. or somewhere else? It's similar to The Giver, which was done before and - in my opinion - done better. The main strength of this book is in the developing love interest, and that's the part that, personally, matters the least when I pick up a teen dystopia. 3 stars.

Edited to add - if anyone has read the trilogy, I'd be really interested in knowing what you thought about the three as a whole. Should I bother to keep going, or would it not matter to me if I was ambivalent about this one?

104streamsong
Aug 25, 2:13pm Top

Congrats on 75!

I've read several of the RLS short stories, but the only one I truly remember is The Body Snatchers.

Oh, wish I had a BOB for the books in my life! I can go back about ten years to when I joined LT, but I didn't write reviews on all of them ....

Lots of interesting reviews - trying oh so hard to avoid book bullets!

105MickyFine
Aug 25, 3:21pm Top

>102 bell7: That sounds utterly loverly. Hopefully you get a weekend full of that. :)

106lkernagh
Aug 25, 6:50pm Top

Stopping by to get caught up. Congrats on blowing past 75 books read, Mary! Great reviews.

gorgeous days in the 70s (Fahrenheit) and cool nights where I leave the windows open and just pile on the blankets.

I like that kind of weather!

107bell7
Aug 31, 7:38pm Top

>104 streamsong: thanks, Janet! "The Body Snatchers" was definitely memorable. My own tracking reading starts in May 2006, midway through grad school so I have a ways to go before I have anything as extensive as Bob.

>105 MickyFine: it's been very lovely. Tomorrow may be a bit cold, but I think we're due for some gorgeous weather over the weekend.

>106 lkernagh: thanks, Lori! Glad you stopped in. This is my favorite kind of weather, I love warm sunny days and snuggle under the blankets nights. Fall is my favorite time of year and I'm looking forward to the foliage too.

108bell7
Edited: Sep 1, 3:16pm Top

Well, I haven't completely forgotten you all but life continues to be very busy. I went to the US Open tennis championship on Tuesday, both the day and night sessions, and stayed for the end of Roger Federer's five set win over a young American player. So we left at midnight, I got home about 4:30, and had all of four hours of sleep before going to work. I'm mostly caught up on sleep now after an early night last night.

I've finished a couple more books I need to review, and am currently reading The Fifth Season for my librarian book club in September. I have But Seriously by John McEnroe and Glass Houses on my read soon stack and will probably bring all three with me when I dogsit this weekend.

Edited to get touchstones to load.

109MickyFine
Sep 1, 10:32am Top

>107 bell7: We're still getting pretty warm temperatures during the day right now (mid to high 70s Fahrenheit) but it's cooler at night, which makes sleeping so much better. As long as the forest fire smoke from the next province over doesn't blow in again, it should be a really lovely long weekend here.

>108 bell7: Glad to hear life is good, even if it is busy. Wishing you a wonderful and relatively low-key long weekend!

110katiekrug
Sep 2, 5:33pm Top

I went to the US Open yesterday. First time and had a blast!

111tymfos
Sep 2, 8:29pm Top

Hi, Mary! Wishing you a great Labor Day weekend. Happy dog sitting! I look forward to reading your comments on Glass Houses.

112bell7
Sep 3, 6:16pm Top

>109 MickyFine: Hope you're having a good weekend, Micky, and that the fires aren't getting too close.

>110 katiekrug: Oooh ooh, who did you get to see? Did you watch mostly Ashe or check out the outer courts? I have been a few times, but especially enjoy getting a crazy amount of tennis in the early rounds and seeing a few games here and there of several players. Because it was a rainy day, we ended up staying most of the day in Ashe but it was still a blast.

>111 tymfos: Thanks, Terri! Hope you're having a good long weekend as well. I thought I'd start the Louise Penny sooner, but it turns out I'm really enjoying McEnroe's But Seriously and haven't yet put it down to start a fiction read (I often have one fiction, one nonfiction going at once). Glass Houses is next on my stack, however.

113bell7
Sep 3, 6:33pm Top

80. Retire Inspired by Chris Hogan
Why now? Continuing my interest after going through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace class, I wanted to read this book on retirement by one of his colleagues

Financial advisor Chris Hogan gives advice on planning for retirement.

If you're familiar with Dave Ramsey and his Total Money Makeover, you may also be familiar with Chris Hogan, who works with Dave. They have a similar conversational style of writing, a lot of exclamation points, and reading their books almost works better when you can have their voices in your head. But it's very solid, practical advice. I enjoyed my time reading - it was interesting, not dry, and I learned a lot. Not surprisingly since he works for Ramsey Solutions, Chris's philosophy to get out of debt, stay out of debt, and save diligently for retirement is part and parcel of Dave Ramsey's "baby steps" plan to get out of debt and build wealth. So it makes sense if you've been through the class or read Dave's books, while focusing specifically on the details of "Step 4" - put aside 15% of your income in retirement. That's about where I am in my own financial planning, so I got a lot out of the book. Chris stays positive even if you haven't been saving and are getting close to retirement, but it's especially helpful for younger people in their 20s and 30s who can really gain a lot from saving now. He breaks things down simply and clearly in a way that will make you excited to reach your own goals for retirement. 4 stars.

114bell7
Sep 3, 6:42pm Top

81. Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast - graphic novel
Why now? We had someone come to the library to facilitate a graphic novel book club, so I read it for that (Aug. 30)

Roz Chast is an only child who had a rather unhappy childhood, moved from Brooklyn to Connecticut to have her own family, and never looked back. But now her parents are reaching 90 and are physically (her mother) and mentally (her father) declining. She now has to deal with their end-of-life care and all the drama that comes with it. In this memoir, by turns heartbreaking and hilarious, she chronicles that experience.

I really enjoyed this graphic novel memoir. Roz is no perfect daughter, and she's brutally honest about her mixed feelings, her rough relationship with her mother, and the challenges that she faces with her parents. Even though I'm the oldest of five and my parents have not yet had to deal with my parents' aging to the extent she does, I could relate to her ambivalence and the way families seem to refuse to communicate about important but daunting subjects such as aging. Who wants to talk about such things, after all? But it is an important topic, and her memoir is a sort of wake up call to that effect. 4.5 stars.

This was a really good story, honest and just excellent. It won a lot of awards a couple of years ago and I finally got to it because we had a book discussion at the library on Wednesday - not one of the ones I was facilitating, but one where someone came, talked about Medline Plus resources, and talked about the book. This same facilitator has done a couple of end-of-life and medical discussions before, so a few of the people who came had gone to those before and had never read a graphic novel before. One just thought it was fantastic, and has recommended it to her son and neighbor. She also left the library that night with her second graphic novel checked out - all in all a win-win for my program!

115bell7
Sep 3, 6:54pm Top

82. The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
Why now? My librarian book club is reading it as our benchmark title for diverse fantasy in September. I have three books to read in 2 days the way my book clubs are scheduled, so I wanted to get an early start.

Essun has been living quietly in her village until her son dies, leaving her devastated when an earthquake comes through and, as an orogene, she quells the quake and saves her village but blows her cover. Syenite is a "four ringer" orogene at the Fulcrum sent on a mysterious assignment with an amazing "ten ringer," Alabaster. And Damaya is a young girl whose parents send her away when they discover that she is an orogene - or more dismissively a "rogga" - one with awareness of the earth and able to move mountains, create or stop earthquakes. Because in the Stillness, roggas are feared: deadly, and unwanted.

I was really impressed with this award-winning first in a trilogy by talented writer N. K. Jemisin. The story is nonlinear, with the three storylines following Essun, Syenite, and Damaya and throwing you in to a world with its political systems, people groups, and history. The world-building is phenomenal. The writing is stellar, with a smooth flow and descriptive without getting flowery or in its own way. I was left desperate for the next book and already looking forward to a reread where I would understand even better what was happening. 4.5 stars.

116bell7
Sep 5, 1:04pm Top

83. But Seriously by John McEnroe
Why now I saw a display with his new book at a bookstore this summer, and borrowed it from the library now thinking it was perfect timing for during the US Open

John McEnroe is the former tennis player turned commentator that everyone either loves or hates. The "bad boy" from New York famous for meltdowns on the court about bad line calls and statements such as "You cannot be serious!" that have entered sports lore writes about what he's been doing the last fifteen or so years, since his first memoir (You Cannot Be Serious) came out.

Love him or hate him, McEnroe is honest and will tell you exactly what he thinks. I really enjoyed his 2002 memoir and while I was too young to appreciate his tennis career, I've enjoyed him (especially alongside brother Patrick) as a sports commentator. Basically this book follows his interests, whether it be art, renewed rivalries on the seniors tour, commentating the big matches, dealing with his kids' struggles being the child of someone famous, or his passion for passing on tennis to a new generation in a loosely chronological way. He opens the book with an introduction and a section written by his wife, Patty Smyth, to "set the record straight" on how they met, fell in love and married. He warns you there will be name dropping, and there is, but mostly it's just a fascinating look at the world of a world class athlete. I spent some fun hours entering it, and would recommend it to any tennis fan. 4.5 stars.

117katiekrug
Sep 5, 8:35pm Top

>112 bell7: - We had tickets for Ashe and the highlight was seeing Venus play. After the 3 matches in Ashe, we went and watched some doubles on the field courts. Next year, I might forego the Ashe tickets, because the atmosphere on the smaller courts was so much fun.

Sorry we'll miss each other when you are here in October, but we'll make it work at some point!

118bell7
Sep 6, 9:09am Top

>117 katiekrug: Sounds like a great time! Venus wasn't playing the day we went, but we saw Nadal and Federer (day and night sessions, respectively). I would've liked to get to the outer courts and usually do even when I have Ashe tickets, but with the rain everything else got canceled. Folks on Wednesday got a treat, though, as there were something like 87 matches scheduled to make up for those rained out. We'll definitely make it work at some point! Getting down to Giants stadium (or MetLife Stadium, I guess) is pretty much an annual occurrence in my family, so it's bound to!

119bell7
Sep 6, 9:21am Top

84. Glass Houses by Louise Penny
Why now? This is one of those series that I get the book from the library as soon as it comes out and read as soon as I can

Now the Chief Superintendent of the Surete du Quebec, Armand Gamache is testifying in a murder trial. What happened in November after a mysterious figure shows up clothed in black standing on the village green, and how did this lead to murder?

The narrative moves back and forth between the July trial and November events, the courtroom and Three Pines. We're kept in the dark about who the defendant is, and come to see that Chief Superintendent Gamache has some tricks up his sleeve - because this trial isn't just about a murder, but may affect the entire war on drugs that the Surete has been losing for years. Penny's staccato style of short sentences and fragments really irritated me in this one as extremely unnecessary and an attempt at sounding profound. While I really liked the dual narrative in Bury Your Dead, the device didn't work quite so well here. It kept the tension high, but it also frustrated me being kept in the dark - I'm still not convinced it helped not knowing who the defendant was. There was also not quite as much of some of the Three Pines characters as I would have liked. It's not a bad book, however, just not the best of the series. I admired Penny for trying something different with the courtroom scenes, and you could definitely feel the July heat and claustrophobia of the witness chair. 4 stars.

120MickyFine
Sep 6, 1:17pm Top

Looks like you had a weekend full of good reads, Mary! Hope your week mellows out a bit now that the madness of summer programming is over. :)

121bell7
Sep 6, 5:57pm Top

>120 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! Life is busy but in a good way. This next week or so should be fairly low key in the library now that summer reading is over and we don't yet have a ton of kids coming in looking for books for school projects. I have a couple of professional groups I'm committed to all meeting next week and the week after, so the driving & workshops will keep me a little busy but not quite as challenging as programs! I have a guy coming on Saturday to perform "The History of the 1950s and 60s" and have 11 people signed up (though for this kind of thing my sign up is really more to give me a head count than strictly necessary), so I'm pretty excited about that. I'm already working on press for October events and worked on a selection list of titles that aren't coming out until January 2018. Can you believe it?

122MickyFine
Sep 6, 10:46pm Top

>121 bell7: Oh I know the feeling. We had a big box of catalogues for fall and winter titles come in this week. I'm already ordering titles into December and I hate having to think about February, even if it is only for book release dates. :P

123bell7
Sep 7, 4:12pm Top

>122 MickyFine: Yep, those book release dates are sneaking up fast and making me realize the year's nearly over. EEK!

One of the strangest things about my job is having to constantly be working on three different timelines: today/this week, 3-4 weeks out, and several months in advance. I've started using Google Calendar to good effect to keep my head on straight.

I'm off tomorrow, have a program Saturday, will be off Monday, and have workshops Tuesday, Wednesday and a week from Tuesday. So today I'm working hard to be all caught up on book discussion handouts for September 20.

124MickyFine
Sep 7, 4:21pm Top

>123 bell7: I completely understand the multiple time frames. Right now, I'm mostly trying to have my plate relatively clean by the time I go on vacation in a little under 2 weeks. So looking forward to it.

125bell7
Sep 10, 6:05pm Top

>124 MickyFine: yes, those weeks leading up to vacation have their own sort of stress trying to finish things up, don't they? Best of luck getting it all done and hope you have a great vacation!

126PaulCranswick
Sep 15, 10:57pm Top

Wishing you a wonderful weekend, Mary. I am so behind with my buying and reading that I hardly dare look to see what is coming up to be published!

127bell7
Sep 20, 12:01pm Top

Thanks, Paul! If it weren't for my job, I'm sure I'd read a lot more backlist and classic titles. Though I haven't kept track of publishing years of books read this year, I wouldn't be surprised if it follows my past pattern of last calendar year being the biggest, followed by the current year, and about a third to a half of my reading being books published in the last 5 years.

128bell7
Sep 20, 12:13pm Top

85. Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff - audio and a reread
Why now? The audio was available in this Newbery Honor book. I got most way through before I realized I'd read it in 2011.

Here's my review from my first reading:

Hollis Woods is a foster child, and she's been billed as trouble. Ever since the past summer, she's run away from homes when she gets tired of being there. She's given a new chance, however, when she goes to live with an older woman named Josie, who connects with Hollis through their artistic ability. In between the chapters narrating "The Time with Josie," Hollis slowly explains what happened that caused her to start running.

Because of the similarity in plot - an independent heroine in search of a place to belong - I couldn't help but compare and contrast Hollis' story to The Great Gilly Hopkins. But after awhile, I stopped the mental comparison. Hollis has a different personality and different desires from Gilly. Even though she's "trouble" because of her running, Hollis shows kindness in her unwillingness to leave Josie alone when it becomes clear that the older woman has become more than normally forgetful. She does want a family, but she makes one where she is instead of trying to recreate the past. I really enjoyed this story, and I cheered for Hollis all the way. 4.5 stars.


This time around for some reason Gilly Hopkins was not in my head. I still enjoyed the story and the characters and didn't remember a lot of the details of the plot either.

129bell7
Edited: Sep 20, 12:19pm Top

86. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
Why now? Second title for diverse fantasy, librarian's book group

Zacharias is a black man who is the highest sorcerer in the land after his adoptive father's death, much to the chagrin of other magicians. He is fighting off a mysterious assassin while attempting to figure out why magic is decreasing in England. Meanwhile, Prunella is a half-English, half-Indian young woman going to a magic school for girls - which is not to say she's learning how to use magic, but how to suppress it.

The book has a fascinating premise and setting of Napoleonic England, but I felt like what could've been a fantastic adventure story is drawn out and slow paced instead. Zacharias was okay, but I was much more interested in Prunella and would've preferred if the book were entirely about her. This is the first in a planned trilogy, and I may try the next to see if the pacing picks up but it's not high on my list. 3.5 stars.

130bell7
Sep 20, 12:28pm Top

87. Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs - e-book and audio
Why now? Next in the series and the audio became available through my library's Overdrive

The head of the local vampire enclave, Marsilia, finds out that Mercy killed not one vampires but two, and is now threatening her life and the lives of those she loves. As if Mercy didn't have enough to deal with, she has agreed to be Adam's (the local alpha werewolf) mate and is still dealing with panic attacks after a man raped her. Meanwhile, her old college roommate comes to her and says her house is being haunted - can Mercy help? Is this the perfect way to escape Marsilia while the werewolves deal with it, or is it all a clever ruse to get Mercy away from her friends?

I'm still enjoying these stories about Mercedes "Mercy" Thompson, mechanic, shapeshifter/coyote, and woman figuring out how to be independently herself in this world of vampires, werewolves, and Fae in the Tri-cities area of Washington State. I like that a heroine can be courageous and still have panic attacks. I like the world-building. It's starting to get even more violent and I find myself reading more of it rather than listening before bed (imagine the weird dreams...). This one had a couple of issues that made it not my favorite in the series. The main challenge for me was the way the deaf son of her college roommate was portrayed. Don't get me wrong, he's a strong and resilient character. But he can lipread unbelievably well, and his parents sign and talk at the same time (sometimes, amazingly, having two separate conversations?). I'm not a part of deaf culture per se, but have had enough exposure that I'm aware it's very unlikely to have that good lipreading unless you were deafened or hard of hearing later in life. It's much more likely that they would've communicated in writing. So that pulled me out of the story and annoyed me quite a bit. Still, Mercy's a strong heroine and I'll read more of her adventures. 3.5 stars.

131bell7
Sep 20, 12:44pm Top

88. Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
Why now? Book club book - finished it just in time, too!

An unnamed family (Father, Mother, Grandfather, Mother's Younger Brother, and the boy) live in New Rochelle, NY at the turn of the century. Their family intersects with a variety of historical people from Houdini to the anarchist Emma Goldman and more.

This is the type of book you have to get into the rhythm and let the words and images carry you along in the story. It covers a lot of ground, mostly 1902 to 1912, with a bit of a lead up into World War 1. It's less about the characters than it is the changing of an era, and a growing awareness in one family that America is not necessarily the one their set has been accustomed to: "Everyone wore white in summer. Tennis racquets were hefty and the racquet faces elliptical. There was a lot of sexual fainting. There were no Negros. There were no immigrants" (3-4). It's a very well-crafted, intricate book and blends fact and fiction seamlessly. Some of the most unbelievable aspects were, in fact, historical - and made some of the fictional fabrications that much more believable. "Ragtime" comes into play both in the music of the time period and the other major fictional character, Coalhouse Walker, Jr., a black pianist who swings into this family's life and leaves it changed forever. I'm not really sure how the sex scenes fit into the story and found them a little out of place, personally, but I'm looking forward to talking about the book in my book club tonight. 4 stars.

132Ape
Sep 24, 3:04pm Top

Hi Mary! I'm trying to catch up on the forums, and by that I mean I'm posting that I'm behind and not really catching up at all. So, um, hello! *Hugs*

133bell7
Sep 24, 6:09pm Top

>132 Ape: Hello! I should really do something similar... I kind of wish there was a "Mark all as read" option to just start clean.

134bell7
Sep 26, 10:28am Top

89. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black - audio and e-book
Why now? The audio was available on my library's Overdrive collection and I'd recently given it to a friend for his birthday so I decided it would be a good time to read it.

Hazel has lived most of her life in Fairfold, which would be a fairly normal teenaged life with her parents and brother except for one thing: they have contact with Faeries. Her brother has a fairy gift (or curse, depending on how you look at it) of music, and there's a mysterious prince in a glass casket that has been there for generations - until the day Hazel wakes up all muddy and the casket is shattered.

Taking the darker side of Faerie, Holly Black spins a complex fractured fairy tale. Hazel is the knight, but she's certainly not got it all together. One of her good friends, Jack, is a changeling. Her brother Ben, gifted and talented, is gay, which adds the element of sibling rivalry in potential love interests. It uses the tropes and turns some on its head, making for an entertaining read. Perhaps because I listened to the audio and missed some things or the dark fairy tale tone itself, I didn't feel as hugely invested in the characters or outcome of the story as I felt I should. But it's a worthwhile read for anyone who enjoys YA fantasy, and as an added bonus is written as a standalone. 4 stars.

135bell7
Sep 26, 10:36am Top

90. The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin
Why now? Next book in a series and I won't wait long to finish it, either

The second book in the Broken Earth trilogy finds Essun and her group of wanderers now settled down in Castrima-under, a community where orogenes - those who can move the earth or stop a shake - are essential and a part of leadership. Essun deals with the dangers still present in surviving an apocalyptic event and tries to learn more about the obelisks and what her power allows her to do with them. Meanwhile, her daughter Nassun has arrived at the community of Found Moon, where her father is convinced she will learn to stop being an orogene herself.

It is, of course, especially difficult to explain the middle book in a trilogy and this one is no exception. These three books are really written more as one overarching story split into three parts. Where the first book had three storylines that ended up being not three places but three time periods, this one is a little more straightforward in time but we're juggling both Essun and Nassun, and learning more about the nature of orogeny. Hoa, the boy who's actually an inhuman stone eater and has chosen to be Essun's companion, is the narrator and Essun's portions are written in second person, as he is telling the story to her. Excellent characters and worldbuilding make this a compelling series, and I'm very much looking forward to the third book. 4.5 stars.

136bell7
Sep 28, 8:30am Top

Well, I'm off on one more dogsitting trip, and then I don't think I have anything scheduled until December. It's been a very productive year as far as petsitting, which is good 'cause it's helped cover a couple of car maintenance things that have come up (most recently, welding my transmission cover).

Work has been kind of crazy, some of it my "fault" for scheduling a lot of programs. Cookbook Club was this week, as was a movie matinee showing of Fahrenheit 451. Next week I have three programs, one an author visit by a guy who retired to an off-the-grid farm in Maine and talks about his experiences, and two concerts one on Wednesday night and another on Saturday. I'm off on Saturday and will give the check to my co-worker while I may go off to a weekend fair in the Berkshires instead. The other part of the craziness is we're in the midst of union negotiations for a new contract, and all sorts of things surrounding that have been in upheaval.

On the reading front, I currently have Copper River by William Kent Krueger on the night stand. I only have about 60 or so pages left, so I expect to finish it tonight. For something completely different, I'm eyeing Murder, Magic and What We Wore as the next read. Of course, I've packed a few other titles with me for dogsitting and I probably brought too many for just a week away.

137Whisper1
Sep 28, 9:33am Top

Hi Mary! Congratulations on becoming an aunt again. Both the new baby, and Mia are adorable.

138ronincats
Sep 28, 7:19pm Top

>129 bell7: Agree with you completely. I wanted to totally love this book and ended up just liking it. And Prunella WAS the star!
>135 bell7: Not quite as good as the first imho but the first was so outstanding in the way it twined threads together. Also need to get hold of the third one soon.
>136 bell7: Well, I've already put Murder, Magic and What We Wore on the wishlist just from the title and then reading the description. Book Bullet!!

139bell7
Sep 30, 10:01am Top

>137 Whisper1: Thanks, Linda! Mia and Matthew are great and I adore them.

>138 ronincats: Yes, I felt like a book all from Prunella's perspective really would've been more interesting/compelling. It's nice to know it's not just me with the lukewarm reaction.
It would've been hard for The Obelisk Gate to be as good as The Fifth Season. I absolutely loved the storytelling in that one. I have too many books to nab The Stone Sky just yet but I'm hoping to get to it soon.
I hope you enjoy Murder, Magic and What We Wore! She has several references to other Regency and fantasy tales that you will probably catch and I didn't. But it's still good fun and I read more than half of it yesterday.

140bell7
Sep 30, 10:12am Top

91. Copper River by William Kent Krueger
Why now? Next in a series I was in the mood for when I checked it out, but then with the library due date creeping up it was suddenly next on my pile to read.

On the run from a rich man who took out a hit on him, Cork O'Connor lands in the U.P. of Michigan staying with his cousin, Jewell, a widowed veterinarian and her son, Ren. When Ren's friend Charlie goes missing after her father's murder, Cork and his new friend Dina are pulled in despite the fact that this is in no way their jurisdiction.

The book before this ended on a wicked cliffhanger about the hit, but very little of this story actually addresses that, so it ended up feeling more like an excuse to take Cork out of his normal setting than anything else. Though the Upper Peninsula is an interesting setting, I felt more than a little gypped not to spend any time in Aurora, MN with Cork's family - both Jo and the kids and Henry Meloux the Ojibwe healer and mide. Still worth reading and a compelling mystery with interesting new characters - especially Charlie - just not the strongest for me. 3.5 stars.

141PaulCranswick
Sep 30, 9:22pm Top

Wishing you a wonderful weekend, Mary.

142bell7
Oct 3, 12:14pm Top

>141 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul. It was long, working Saturday and dealing with very ill-behaved dogs. They are three pugs and very cute, but they bark like crazy, vie for attention and dominance, and their humans spoil them to pieces. I am not a spoiler and do not find it necessary to have a dog not just sitting but running over my lap playing every time I sit down to read. They also sleep with me, and the one time I tried to sleep by myself, they scratched at the door all night and were waiting for me right outside it as soon as I got up very excited to see me.

I feel just slightly bad because I know they're used to being adored and I'm... so not adoring them. Also, I work a full-time schedule and their owners stay at home most of the day (and often bring the dogs along wherever they go anyway).

Ah well, two more nights and Thursday morning and I'm done. I'm also well paid.

143bell7
Oct 3, 12:23pm Top

Oops... I'm a little delayed in writing this review, as I read the book in two days Friday-Saturday.

92. Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones
Why now? A librarian colleague/friend recommended it to me before it was even out, so I nabbed it off the teen new shelf

When Annis's father dies, she soon discovers that he was a spy for the English against Napoleon. Determined to find out what happened, she is ready to demand the War Office make her a spy too. Along the way she and her aunt Cassia and maid Millie, now penniless single ladies, find that Annis has a magical talent with dresses, which may just be the key to their success if they can manage to keep it a secret.

Lovers of Regency and historical fantasy will find a lot to love about this book. Annis is a lovable but naive heroine, who sometimes drove me crazy with her assumptions that she could just... waltz in and be accepted as a spy? Really? But I enjoyed the cleverness, reminiscent of Sorcery and Cecilia and Etiquette and Espionage. Rabid fans of the genre will also have the added benefit of recognizing characters borrowed from their books, which largely went over my head. The story wraps up well on its own and still leaves open the possibility of sequels, which I would certainly read if they come. 4 stars.

144bell7
Oct 4, 3:00pm Top

Several months in review aka Did I really not do this all summer?

June
55. Israel's Holy Days in Type and Prophecy by D. Fuchs
56. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
57. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
58. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? by Jodi Taylor
59. The Outermost House by Henry Beston
60. How to Speak Dragonese by Cressida Cowell - audio

July
61. Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs - e-book
62. The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss - ARC and mine
63. Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
64. The Imitation Game by Jim Ottovani - graphic novel
65. Thrall by Natasha Trethewey - e-book
66. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - e-book and reread and book is mine
67. A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
68. Autonomous by Annalee Newitz - ARC and mine
69. Once and for All by Sarah Dessen
70. Walking by Henry David Thoreau
71. Cape Cod by Henry David Thoreau
72. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

August
73. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell - mine and a reread
74. Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs - e-book
75. My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul
76. The Eden Express by Mark Vonnegut
77. A Star Shall Fall by Marie Brennan
78. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
79. Matched by Ally Condie - audio
80. Retire Inspired by Chris Hogan
81. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast - graphic novel

September
82. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin - mine
83. But Seriously by John McEnroe
84. Glass Houses by Louise Penny
85. Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff - audio and e-book and a reread
86. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
87. Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs - audio and e-book
88. Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
89. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black - audio and e-book
90. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
91. Copper River by William Kent Krueger
92. Murder, Magic and What We Wore by Kelly Jones

(Following numbers only for September)
Books/e-books: 9ish - this is getting blurry as I overlap my audiobooks with e-books to finish them on time
Audiobooks: 3ish
Graphic Novels: 0
Adult/Teen/Children's: 8/3/0
Fiction/Nonfiction/Poetry/Plays: 10/1/0/0
Library/Mine/Borrowed: 7/2/0

Standouts: The Fifth Season was incredible. And yes, it pretty much wins out as standout from June-September.

Thoughts:
June was a very busy month at work and getting ready for vacation, and the numbers read bear that out. This summer, I've tried very hard to get more active and get some walking in, which feels like less time for reading but the numbers since June do *not* bear that out. I mostly enjoyed what I read, though surprisingly looking back on it I'm not seeing a lot of summer reads that completely bowled me over either. I read a fair amount of Thoreau and other nature reads (The Outermost House) for work. As per usual, I read a smattering of my own books and nonfiction but mostly library books and fiction. Teen books are making up a smaller and smaller percentage of my reading, but counting through last month I read five fantasy titles and (did I already say this?) The Fifth Season was phenomenal. Go read it now if you haven't already.

145bell7
Oct 5, 6:32pm Top

Also very overdue, here is a picture of Mia and Matthew from my visit down this summer:



This was after we'd visited Nora and played on the turtles near Eastern Market. Mia came home to see Matthew napping on the couch and wanted to see him, so my sister got her all set up to hold him for a bit. She's touching his tongue.

Mia's adjusting to having a sibling. She gets a little jealous of how much time baby has to spend with her Mama, but she's also pretty good about going to her dad for cuddles when that happens. My sister's made it part of the evening routine to come down from putting Matthew to bed and playing or cuddling with Mia for awhile, so she still gets some one-on-one time too. He's such an easy going baby I can totally see her in a couple of years bossing him around while they play together and him just going along with whatever she tells him to do.

146scaifea
Oct 6, 8:01am Top

>145 bell7: Aw!! So adorable!!

147bell7
Oct 6, 7:04pm Top

Thanks, Amber! Next time I get to see them is Thanksgiving and I'm counting down the days.

148MickyFine
Oct 6, 11:44pm Top

>145 bell7: They're both so cute! Hopefully time flies by until your next visit.

149bell7
Oct 7, 10:39am Top

>148 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! Just over a month - which I'm sure will fly by. (It's amazing how fast the week, month, year goes by now. )

150bell7
Edited: Oct 7, 5:37pm Top

93. Solomon to the Exile by John Clement Whitcomb
Why now? Fit with my Bible reading of 1&2 Chronicles

Primarily using the chronology in 1 & 2 Kings, but also incorporating contemporary incidents from 1 & 2 Chronicles and Jeremiah, Whitcomb gives a broad overview of the kings in the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and Southern Kingdom (Judah) from Solomon's time to the Babylonian exile and fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Though dated in language, it was a decent read and helped me keep chronology and time periods straight while I went through Chronicles in my personal Bible reading.

151bell7
Edited: Oct 7, 5:40pm Top

Hmmm... did the number for threads change? I was hoping to make a continuation to cover my October-December reading...

Edited to add - Oh good, now I see the continuation link. Will set up the new thread shortly.

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