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bell7's (Mary's) 2017 Eclectic Reads - the fourth and final thread

75 Books Challenge for 2017

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Oct 7, 2017, 5:50pm Top

Hello and welcome to my fourth and expected final thread of 2017!

By this time of the year, 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 brothers and two sisters. The youngest sister is in college in DC, and my married sister lives just outside of DC with her husband and two kiddos, Mia and Matthew. I love being “Auntie Mimi” and in addition to being my thread toppers, there will also be photos of them throughout the thread.


Visiting this summer, I was in the kitchen with her playing whatever game she was making up at the time. I forget what prompted it now, but I'd told her “You're so silly!” and in this picture she's responding “I so silly!”


Photo credits to my mom since that's me holding him. He's a big boy (this was a month ago at age 3 months) and is already in 9 month clothes.

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

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

Edited: Dec 1, 2017, 3:59pm 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

December - Diverse Romance
Benchmark: An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole - DONE (alternate: A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev)
2nd title, my choice: Topaz by Beverly Jenkins - DONE

Edited: Dec 26, 2017, 1:16pm 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
26. Wonder Woman - 10/7
27. Stranger Things 2 - 10/28
28. Gilmore Girls, Season 6 - 11/13
29. How the Grinch Stole Christmas - 11/30
30. Charlie Brown Christmas - 11/30
31. A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott version) - 12/2ish
32. Elf - 12/4ish
33. Joyeux Noel - 12/6
34. It's a Wonderful Life - 12/7
35. The Shop Around the Corner - 12/9
36. An American Christmas Carol - 12/9
37. You've Got Mail
38. Tokyo Godfather's
39. Love Actually - 12/22
40. Muppet Christmas Carol -12/24
41. The Nativity Story - 12/25

Oct 7, 2017, 5:52pm Top

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

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

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

Oct 7, 2017, 5:55pm Top

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

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

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

Oct 7, 2017, 5:57pm Top

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

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

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

Edited: Dec 26, 2017, 1:18pm Top

93. Solomon to the Exile by John Clement Whitcomb
94. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
95. A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintyre
96. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
97. Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast - graphic novel
98. Airborn by Kenneth Oppel - e-book and audio
99. Nightbird by Alice Hoffman - audio
100. How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
101. I'm Just No Good at Rhyming by Chris Harris

102. His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik - my book and audio and a reread
103. The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
104. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
105. The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrick Backman
106. An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
107. Topaz by Beverly Jenkins

108. Expository Studies in Job: Behind Suffering by Roy Stedman
109. Morningstar: Growing Up with Books by Ann Hood
110. Cinderella, Necromancer by F.M. Boughan
111. Post Captain by Patrick O'Brian - book and audio
112. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
113. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
114. Artemis by Andy Weir

Currently reading:
The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper - audio
The Bible in World History by Stephen Leston

Oct 7, 2017, 5:58pm Top

Grab a cup of tea, pull up a chair, and let me know - what's the last book you read that completely wowed you?

Oct 7, 2017, 6:12pm Top

Hiya Mary! The entire Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Scwab really impressed me this summer.

*sips tea*

Oct 7, 2017, 6:20pm Top

Happy new thread, Mary!
The last book that was an unexpected treat was The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula Le Guin

Oct 7, 2017, 6:58pm Top

Happy new one, Mary! The photos up top are absolutely adorable. Mia is getting so big!

I was glad to see you reading the Mercy Thompson books - I really love that series and have been rereading my way through it the past couple of months.

Let's see, the last book that I really loved (that was a new read) was The Lewis Man, which is the second book in Peter May's Lewis Trilogy - the storyline in both books was gripping, and I listened to the second book on audio, which was brilliantly narrated by Peter Forbes.

Oct 7, 2017, 8:39pm Top

Happy new thread, Mary! Loving the pictures of Mia and Matthew. I'll have to get back with you on the last book to wow me when I'm not on my tablet as I have no memory.

Oct 7, 2017, 9:25pm Top

>9 MickyFine: Hi Micky! That series is on my TBR list and I really should move it up.

>10 FAMeulstee: Good to see you, Anita! You remind me that I own four of Ursula Le Guin's books and I have not read any of them.

>11 Crazymamie: Thanks, Mamie! I've been enjoying Mercy Thompson, and for some reason they're working for me in the e-book/audio formats so far. I may switch to paper books when I catch up to the last few that my library owns. I haven't read any of Peter May's books. How is he on violence? (I am a wimp and even some Louise Penny and Mercy Thompson is just a little too much for me.)

>12 ronincats: Thanks, Roni! Looking forward to your title when you come up with it.

Oct 8, 2017, 8:50am Top

Happy New Thread, Mary!

Mia's a cutie, and that Matthew is a big boy all right.

We love western Mass; my wife grew up in Pittsfield, and her aunt (whom we just visited) lives near Bartlett's Orchard, if you know where that is.

Oct 8, 2017, 11:37am Top

Happy New Thread, Mary! Great toppers!

The last book I gave 5 stars to was Sherman Alexie's You Don't Have to Say you Love Me. The Real Life book club is starting to toss around titles for next year and this one came up. I'm not sure I can read it again. Heartbreaking and beautiful.

But then, there's the one I just read that I received through LTER called Stripped to the Bone: Portraits of Syrian Women by Ghada Alatrash that was pretty darn amazing.

And my current read, The Hate U Give a YA novel about a black girl in the car when her friend is killed during a routine traffic stop, is going to be in the top of the year list for me, too.

Oct 8, 2017, 3:03pm Top

Happy new thread!

Oct 9, 2017, 11:02pm Top

Happy new thread, Mary! Mia and Matthew are adorable!

Oct 9, 2017, 11:15pm Top

Happy new thread, Mary.

Your niece and nephew are adorable.

Oct 10, 2017, 7:18pm Top

>14 jnwelch: It's a bit further west than I am, Joe, by about an hour but I do love the Berkshires. My great aunt has a place in the middle of the woods of Otis, and I've been to Tanglewood a couple of times.

>15 streamsong: Hi Janet! I currently have You Don't Have to Say You Love Me on my nightstand stack from the library and I'm hoping to get to it before the due date. I haven't heard of your middle title, but it sounds intriguing. The Hate U Give has been getting a lot of good press lately and I should add it to the toppling TBR list.

>16 drneutron: Thanks, Jim!

>17 tymfos: Thanks, Terri! Aren't they great? My parents are visiting right now, and my mom is kind enough to send me some photos while they're there.

>18 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! I think they're pretty darn cute myself :)

Oct 11, 2017, 9:29am Top

94. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
Why now? Next in a series I've been devouring with every new book

The newest book in the Throne of Glass series focuses almost exclusively on Chaol, the onetime Captain of the Guard for the King of Adarlan but now wheelchair bound and Hand to Dorian, the new king. He and Nesryn have been sent to the southern continent to beg for aid from the khaganate in their fight against the Valg - and perhaps also get physical healing for Chaol from one of the most talented healers in the Torre, Yrene Towers.

I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy this book, since Chaol was left in a pretty dark place having made some really maddening decisions in his position as Captain for a really twisted king. Those annoyed by the cliffhanger in the last book may also be annoyed that there's almost nothing about what's happening to Aelin and Dorian on the northern continent, except what's heard by the spies in the southern continent. But we see Chaol's character and the worldbuilding in this southern continent really develop well over the course of the story, and I was left impatient for the next one. 4.5 stars.

I oscillated a little in my rating between 4 and 4.5 stars as I didn't love it as much as the rest, but would ultimately reread it. Maas has Louise Penny's habit of making what could be one sentence three staccato fragments instead, which annoyed me some. ("But they had walked this far down the road. Together. She had not turned away. From any of it.") But man, did I devour the last hundred pages last night with bated breath to find out what would happen and what was revealed as Chaol and Nesryn discovered more about the Valg. She knows how to write a twisty, compelling story with complicated characters.

Oct 14, 2017, 9:31am Top

Happy weekend, everyone! I'm working today, with a program at noon on planning on tax-free retirement. I only have a handful of people signed up (typical for a money program in this town), but I'm planning on sitting in and learning some things. Afterwards, I'm heading out to a weekend dogsitting gig where I will quickly let the dog out and head over to my parents for a fun outing with them, my youngest brother, and my youngest sister who's visiting from college for the weekend. We're planning on a trip to a local mountain and then a farm that has lots of baked goods, ice cream, and produce for sale.

I'm still reading Better Than Before but even slower than while I was reading Tower of Dawn because I'm also reading A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintyre for book group Wednesday. I still have about 2/3 of it left, so I'll be busily reading over the weekend.

I'm also looking at my library stack in dismay because I'm probably going to have to choose some books to go back unread, some of which I'll re-request right away and others I'm just going to have to put aside for now.

Oh, and have I mentioned that we're in union negotiations and I'm the new steward? Things are all kind of a mess with having two unions in one department this year, and whether or not the library can be open Sundays and we have to work that shift will be hotly contested. I'm the new union steward as of a few days ago, and with having negotiation meetings regularly I find myself ready to read pure fluff for the rest of the year.

Oct 14, 2017, 4:45pm Top

Yikes, union steward! Yeah, I can imagine some fluff is in order!

Oct 16, 2017, 11:38am Top

>22 drneutron: Yep, it'll be an interesting end to the year.

Oct 16, 2017, 4:47pm Top

Nice toppers. Your nephew is definitely a big boy. As my father advised my brother in a similar position, intimidate him now!

Oct 17, 2017, 3:48pm Top

>21 bell7: Good luck with the union negotiations! I completely understand the desire to read nothing but fluff with that level of stress going on. If you need fluff suggestions, you know where to find me. ;)

Oct 18, 2017, 5:49pm Top

>24 ffortsa: Thanks, Judy! Haha, fortunately he's pretty easygoing so he's probably not going to need much intimidation. His big sister is intense and can be bossy, so I imagine she'll take care of that ;)

>25 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! I'll let you know when I'm in the need for more fluff. Currently I'm finishing up a nonfiction read, returned a few books that I just won't be in the mood for (Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness, Only More So for example), and am planning on clearing out my library pile substantially. Once I do that, I'll be balancing out book club books, books I own, and fluff.

Oct 20, 2017, 4:42pm Top

95. A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintyre
Why now? Book club read (actually finished this Tuesday)

Kim Philby looked like the perfect spy for MI6 all through the second World War and into the Cold War, but what he hid from friends such as Nicholas Elliott and James Angleton was that he was actually a Soviet spy - and a very good one at that.

This true story reads like a novel, and what sets it apart from the many spy accounts, including of Philby himself, is Macintyre's focus on Philby's friendships, particular with Elliott who grew up in with a similar background and Angleton, Philby's protegee American who worked for the CIA. This was a fascinating account showing how impossible it is to truly know another person. 4.5 stars.

We had a fabulous book discussion about this, with a lot of people commenting on Philby's odd sort of genius at keeping a secret, his charm, and potential for being a sociopath. It was one of those smooth discussions with so much participation and enthusiasm that I hardly had to ask a question.

Oct 20, 2017, 7:53pm Top

96. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
Why now? Library request on a whim; I was reading something that mentioned The Four Tendencies which is actually something she first developed in this book - and I decided I wanted to read this book.

Gretchen Rubin, perhaps best known for her book The Happiness Project tackles habits. She won't tell you which to choose or which to drop, but gives you a host of ideas of how to make the habits you want that fit with your values using what she terms the Four Tendencies. Are you an Upholder (the real habit junkies, keeping internal and external expectations), a Questioner (good at keeping habits when there's a good reason), Obliger (better at following other people's expectations than your own internal ones) or Rebel (doesn't like schedules or to be held to a particular way of doing things)? Once you know yourself, Rubin posits, you can change your habits.

It was a fairly interesting book, and it was interesting to read about Rubin's own family and her pursuit of habits and being "better than before" in her own life. The beginning on Self Knowledge dragged out a little for me, as I was much more interested in reading about the actually techniques and examples of putting them into practice. I started out thinking I am an Upholder and have changed my mind to Questioner, as I realized that only after I had a reason to make a habit would I bother to keep it. I also tend to prefer books like The Power of Habit that have scientific studies laid out and don't necessarily lay out several different strategies for me, myself. And as I went along, I realized there are very few habits that I currently want to change. Still, I enjoyed it and have recommended it to a couple of people I thought would enjoy the "make it work for you" personal approach. 4 stars.

Oct 20, 2017, 8:03pm Top

97. Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast - graphic novel
Why now? It was on the library new shelf, and I really enjoyed Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? when I read it earlier this year

This book is a blend of a basic guide to Manhattan to the uninitiated and love letter to the city from someone who loves it. Filled with Roz Chast's humor and illustrations, it's a fun way to spend an afternoon and may even convince you to visit the New York she loves.

I had absolutely no expectations going into this story, and I really enjoyed it. I actually learned quite a lot and would probably use it for reference if I ever did go into Manhattan on a trip. It's not entirely a tour guide, and was in fact based in part on a booklet Chast gave her daughter when she was going away to college and she didn't know what a city "block" was. The only other exposure I've had to Chast's work is Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, and it's about as different in tone as can be (though there were certainly moments of humor in the former, it was a much more serious subject matter). I spent a pleasant evening paging through it. 4 stars.

Oct 21, 2017, 9:34am Top

>27 bell7: Got that one from the Early Review folks one month - yep, yep it was good! Philby was a piece of work, and it was interesting to see the old boys network in full force allowing him to get away with things for so long.

Edited: Oct 21, 2017, 11:28am Top

>29 bell7:. Sounds really good, Mary, thanks. I saw Going into Town was coming out, and was very curious about it. We go to NYC a lot, so I think that will just add to the enjoyment.

P.S. I thought A Spy Among Friends was excellent. I’ve become a Ben Macintyre fan.

Oct 21, 2017, 5:04pm Top

>8 bell7: Oohh...Missionary by Lehi Renner. My 2017 six-stars-of-five read. Imagine North Korea in the Great Basin run by Mormons. Now imagine being gay there. Deep, twisted, shocking stuff.

Oct 24, 2017, 6:20pm Top

>30 drneutron: It was a fascinating tale, and I've had a couple of Ben Macintyre's books on my list for awhile. I really should try some more. We had a fantastic discussion about it, too.

>31 jnwelch: Oh good, I hope as a frequent visitor to NYC you like it as much as I did! So which Ben Macintyre book would you recommend I try next?

>32 richardderus: A six-of-five-star read is quite the recommendation, Richard! Glad you were able to have such a fantastic read this year.

Oct 24, 2017, 6:29pm Top

98. Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
Why now? The audiobook was available when I was looking for a listen before bed

In this blend of fantasy and adventure, young Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the airship Aurora. The ship is more home to him than the ground, and he dreams of being sailmaker one day. On one fateful trip, he meets a determined young woman named Kate who is looking for a strange flying creature no one but her grandfather has seen.

I would've enjoyed this book a lot as a kid - an adventurous voyage including a bout with pirates, close escapes, and a dash of humor with the fantasy elements. It's still enjoyable as an adult, but perhaps because it took me three weeks to listen to the audio I didn't feel as in the moment or invested in the characters as I might've in my younger years. A fun, fast-paced read. 3.5 stars.

Oct 24, 2017, 6:49pm Top

>34 bell7: I read this 10+ years ago as a tree book and was most diverted. I recollect that it had a cute website back then, as well, I think called airborn.ca. No longer in existence, sadly.

Oct 26, 2017, 11:50am Top

>35 richardderus: Ah, that's too bad. I could see a website being really fun to go along with it. I did see that it was a series and I may go back and read more, though the full cast audio was decent. I don't process well when I'm only listening, so I've taken to going back and forth between audio and paper (or e-book) of the same book when it's not a reread of a familiar story.

Edited: Oct 31, 2017, 9:46am Top

99. Nightbird by Alice Hoffman
Why now? I've been meaning to read a book by this author and figured it would be good listening while knitting and at night before bed

Teresa "Twig" Fowler is lonely and doesn't expect things to change in her small town of Sidbury, Massachusetts. A girl named Julia moves next door, but between Twig's secrets and Julia's relation to the family who cursed Twig's family, any friendship there seems doomed as well. Meanwhile, someone's leaving threatening messages and the town is ready to go after the Monster of Sidbury. Will this summer change everything, or can Twig break the curse?

This was a quiet sort of read with magic just a part of the setting, reminding me in some ways of The Darkest Part of the Forest, but with a lighter tone and younger audience. Adults reading the tale will find little surprising, but I can think of several children who would be enchanted. 3.5 stars.

Oct 31, 2017, 9:58am Top

I owe a couple of reviews that I'll hopefully post soon.

On Saturday I'd planned on reading after work, but Friday night one of my housemates offered to watch Stranger Things 2 so *of course* I had to binge watch with him over the weekend. It was excellent and a lot of fun, and I also finished knitting a Christmas stocking while we watched so it felt somewhat productive as well. I'll have to share some pictures soon if I can get enough light in my apartment to take a good photo.

Sunday night I went to bed exhausted by 9 o'clock but then woke up about 10:30 wide awake like I'd just taken a good nap. I ended up going into the living room and reading. We were getting the edge of tropical storm (or maybe hurricane, I'm not 100% sure) Philippe on Sunday/Monday, and the rain was pouring and the wind was gusting while I read. I finished How to Find Love in a Bookshop and made progress in I'm Just No Good at Rhyming, and finally decided about midnight that I was going to try to get back to sleep. Somewhere between then and 1 a.m. the power went out, and it was still out when I woke up Monday morning. Fortunately I already had the day off and wasn't planning on going out and doing much, so I spent a fairly quiet day knitting and reading, and finishing I'm Just No Good at Rhyming.

The power came back on for us about 4:30 yesterday so I didn't quite have enough time to do the cooking and laundry I'd wanted to, but I did go out and pick up a baby gift for a friend who's shower is this Saturday. Some places in the town I work are still without power and they had no school again today, but I'm going in to work and have a presenter on "The Haunted History of New England" tonight at 7 p.m. I'm up to 13 registered people, so I'm pretty excited to get a decent turnout and have some fun tonight.

Annnnd... that's just about it in my life. I'm working hard on knitting one more stocking to hopefully finish for Christmas and send off the three to my cousin in Utah. I've got a baby hat currently on the needles for another friend, and want to start one for the baby shower Saturday (we'll see if it actually gets done in time or if I just give it to them later - she's not due 'til January). Thanksgiving will be coming soon, and my sister's family is coming up. Very soon I'll be planning Christmas gifts and such fun and before I know it, a new year will be here!

Oct 31, 2017, 12:11pm Top

Sounds like a good weekend, even with all the storm and power woes. Good luck on completing all the knitting. I've taken on a crochet project of making a scarf for The Boyfriend's daughter for Christmas. Just need to give myself some dedicated time to get it done. Rather than an hour or two a week. :P

Oct 31, 2017, 4:40pm Top

>38 bell7: The wind here was brutal for two days, then *piff* gone. Yesterday and today are cool and crisp and sunshiney. I *adore* this fleeting moment.

Nov 1, 2017, 10:57am Top

>39 MickyFine: It was, and it was nice to have some forced relaxation before the madness that is this week at work. Good luck on the scarf! My best work gets done in front of the TV or with an audiobook going :)

>40 richardderus: Yep, similar weather here. I love crisp fall weather, though we've been unseasonably warm until this week. The wind took most of the leaves away and I had to scrape off my car this morning before work. But it's perfect for curling up with a good book and a cup of tea, wrapping up in a blanket (I run cold).

"The Haunted History" was terribly or deliciously creepy, depending on how you lean. Sometimes the real history was more macabre than the ghost stories (Lizzie Borden, anyone?), and I left shivering. I had 17 people and count that as successful. Later this week on a Saturday I'm not working, the retirement guy is coming back for an income planning program. Only a few people are signed up but I'm not so worried about that. And on Monday, I'm working 3-8 rather than my usual 9-2 because an artist is coming in for a pastel painting workshop going over the Georgia O'Keeffe painting that went for $45 million at auction awhile back. I'll have a max of 30 and have almost reached that.

Nov 1, 2017, 11:09am Top

>41 bell7: Seventeen sounds like a respectable turnout. There are programs in Long Beach, pop. 33,000, that struggle to get into double digits!

*sigh* The Weather Goddess had a big ol' glug outta the Sun-B-Gone jug. Two or three days of overcast, still weather. At least it's cool, maybe getting up to 60°, so perfect booktime.

Nov 1, 2017, 11:57am Top

>41 bell7: Sounds like some solid programming ahead for you, Mary, and I'm happy you have such decent numbers for attendance. That's always the biggest concern. When I was in Lethbridge, we partnered with the local college to offer a "Law at Lunch" program that brought in local lawyers to talk about the basics of setting up wills, divorce prep, and other common legal topics. Sometimes we'd have good turnout and sometimes we'd have to send the lawyers home because no one showed. Glad you don't have that concern on your horizon. :)

Nov 3, 2017, 4:35pm Top

>42 richardderus: Glad to hear the weather's still been cool though sorry it's been overcast. Today was a gorgeous day but sadly I was in working all of it!

>42 richardderus: and 43 Yeah, it's all over the place for attendance, depending a lot on timing (more in the evenings than weekends, overall) and topic (history, Beatles, some music programs more than, say, money). We're a population just under 15,000 and I'm generally happy with anything over 12. I had one financial/retirement program that scored 10 and I was pretty thrilled with that.

>43 MickyFine: "Law at Lunch" sounds like an interesting topic to explore! I have to think of some catchy titles for the money ones, because the straightforward ones "Buying a Car" and "Income Planning for Retirement" don't get much response.

Nov 3, 2017, 4:37pm Top

100. How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
Why now? Had it on my radar because of LibraryReads, and finally got to it because the due date was approaching

When Emilia Nightgale's father Julius dies, she inherits Nightingale Books in the small English town of Peasebrook. Discovering that the shop was in more financial trouble than she realized, she struggles to stay afloat and finds out just how much the shop - and her father - meant to the small town.

Peasebrook is a small town with a lot of heart and several characters, many of whom essentially have their own vignettes in each chapter. The bookshop is the center of it all, as Emilia does her best to cope with her grief and her new job running it. This was a charming sort of read you may enjoy if you liked Major Pettigrew's Last Stand or The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. 4 stars.

Nov 3, 2017, 4:42pm Top

101. I'm Just No Good at Rhyming by Chris Harris, illustrated by Lane Smith
Why now? I heard about it on NPR and immediately put a hold on it - I'm not much for poetry, but humorous and tongue-in-cheek? Sign me up!

Wordplay abounds in I'm Just No Good at Rhyming, author Chris Harris and illustrator Lane Smith's hysterical collection of children's poems in the vein of Shel Silverstein. Great for elementary school age kids to read alone or with parents, who will have a slightly different take on several of the poems.

I wouldn't reread it from cover to cover for myself, but I'm looking forward to the day my niece is old enough to think it's hilarious.

Nov 3, 2017, 4:42pm Top

>45 bell7: Oh hell. *trudges off to library to borrow it*

Nov 3, 2017, 4:44pm Top

>47 richardderus: *rubs hands and cackles*
It's not quite as good as Major Pettigrew, but that was the title that kept coming to mind as I read it. Something about those quaint English towns...

Nov 3, 2017, 4:49pm Top

I've started a reread and hope to finish the Temeraire series (I think I stalled at about book 6 or so). Here's a repeat of my review from a few years ago:

102. His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik - audio and book (mine)
Why now?The audio was available when I finished Nightbird, and it's read by Simon Vance.

Laurence is happily serving the Navy, but a routine capture of a French ship turns into much more when a dragon egg is found and recovered for Britain. When the dragon hatches and needs to be harnessed, Laurence's life takes an unexpected turn and he and the dragon, Temeraire, find themselves serving in aerial warfare instead.

I really enjoy this alternate history series of the Napoleonic War with dragons. The world-building is great, as we get details of the aerial corps, their training, and the dragons' way of thinking, as well as military action. The characters - both human and dragon - are fabulous. Duty means a lot to Laurence, and it comes out in action and word. Temeraire is a combination of innocence and intelligence while not being afraid to speak his mind, which makes for some humorous conversations. This is one series I have a lot of fun recommending.

Nov 3, 2017, 4:50pm Top

>48 bell7: Gloat away, my pretty, gloat away for as we have learned from da bibble, "How are the mighty fallen..." o mighty one.

I know what you mean. There's a whole genre of English-village-coziness that is of enduring interest and appeal for me. And clearly for squillions of others, they come out with more of 'em every day it seems.

Nov 5, 2017, 6:40pm Top

Well done Mary for skipping past 100 books so nimbly these last few days. xx

Nov 6, 2017, 3:11pm Top

>50 richardderus: Well, you know, book bullets abound and it's nice not to be on the receiving end for once ;)

>51 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! Hope all is well with you.

Nov 9, 2017, 8:54pm Top

Announcing my book club's 2018 reads, along with comments by yours truly:

January - Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
I've been meaning to read this forever, it's the one title on the list I'd originally suggested, and I'm super-excited to read it

February - The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn
Okay, so my group is usually big into historical fiction and literary fiction so this came out of left field. I'm interested in what people think of it, and figured it would be quick reading for February.

March - One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
One of my co-workers really liked this book awhile ago, and I'm curious

April - The Finest Hours by Michael Tougias
This was a have-to read that I placed on the list, as I'm planning a community read of this in April/May, complete with a movie showing AND visit from the author to cap it all off

May - In Paradise by Peter Matthiessen
The recommendation was really for the author and, I think, primarily his nature nonfiction, but this was the only title available in large print. However, I was really intrigued by the publisher's summary: "In 1996, Clements Olin, an American professor of Holocaust Studies, is on a weeklong spiritual retreat at Auschwitz to complete his research on the strange suicide of a survivor. As days pass and tensions mount among the participants, Clements is forced to grapple with his own past and a family secret: the Jewish mother abandoned to her doom by his Gentile father."

June - The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene
The one classic of the year (and yes, I almost always schedule them for summer reading) is an author that just so happened to be mentioned in our October read of A Spy Among Friends. Interested to see what my ladies make of this one.

July - Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
When I was in college, I had to read The Bean Trees for one of my classes and went on a Barbara Kingsolver kick where I read every book I could get my hands on... so I'm sure I read it, but I haven't the slightest memory of what happened. I'm looking forward to reading it with a little more life experience and the discussion group as well.

August - Wild by Cheryl Strayed
I know it was wildly popular a few years ago, but it never really interested me. I'll be kicking my heels on this one a little.

September - The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow
I read this on my own a few years ago and thought it was alright. If I'm struggling through a reread, I may resort to skimming, but it will be interesting to hear the perspective of other readers on this one. Sometimes a book discussion makes me appreciated rereads in unexpected ways (like Atonement).

October - The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster
I have never read this author and definitely wouldn't have picked it up on my own. Going in with no expectations at all.

November - After This by Alice McDermott
Yet another author and title I'm unfamiliar with, and don't really know what to expect.

December - Blessings by Anna Quindlen
I'm a little surprised this made the cut - does it sound really awful to say, because it just sounds like a nice story and almost too "easy" for my book club's usual picks? I have never read a book by Anna Quindlen, though I believe some of the ladies in my group have. The publisher's description: "When a teenage couple abandons their baby at the gate of the estate owned by Lydia Blessing, Skip Cuddy, the estate caretaker, decides to raise the child himself, a decision that has a profound effect on the lives of everyone in the community, in a story of love, secrets, and redemption." I thought with the busy-ness of the holidays, it would be a good December read and a nice way to end the year.

Nov 9, 2017, 10:57pm Top

Interesting list, Mary! Hidden Figures and The Finest Hours are definitely on my to-read list! Great that you have the author coming for Finest Hours!

Nov 10, 2017, 12:08am Top

>53 bell7: Nice mix of picks, Mary. I look forward to seeing your thoughts on them next year.

Nov 10, 2017, 12:09pm Top

Nice list!

Nov 11, 2017, 2:44pm Top

Good list, Mary! I have only read one of those - In Paradise, and I really liked it.

Nov 11, 2017, 4:28pm Top

>53 bell7: Terrific list! *smooch* for the winter day we're having.

Nov 13, 2017, 4:53pm Top

>54 tymfos: Yeah, he's a semi-local guy and we've had him before to a great turnout but not for a few years so I'm pretty excited.

>55 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! I'll be sharing my book club thoughts as per usual ;)

>56 drneutron: Thanks, Jim!

>57 Crazymamie: Oh very cool, thanks Mamie. I'd never heard of it, but was intrigued by the description myself.

>58 richardderus: Thanks, Richard! Hope you're enjoying the cool weather. The temperature leaped to 30s rather suddenly, but I'm enjoying the cooler nights. We're still figuring out getting the heat just right - it was blasting for a couple of days.

Nov 14, 2017, 12:45pm Top

>59 bell7: My heater is totally controlled within the room, so I can fine-tune on the fly. I usually have it up high this time of year so I can also have the window open and get Mother Nature's Own without shivering under the binky.

Nov 15, 2017, 3:31pm Top

>60 richardderus: We have a thermostat on the 2nd floor which can be put either in the hall or inside one of our rooms. If it's in the hall, it means we have to keep it lower (or keep all our doors open) so that we're not blasting heat - and if it's in a room, of course, that means only one person will have access to it on a regular basis. It's not so bad though. I'm surprised they'll let you have the heat on and the window open? I'd get a stern talking-to for that one :)

Nov 15, 2017, 3:41pm Top

Today was a split day, training in the morning and book club at night. I finished The Orphan Master's Son on Monday and will eventually write a review.

'Tis the season for catching up on knitting projects. I knit my nephew his Christmas stocking back in May and posted a photo on Instagram with mine next to it, knit by my great-grandmother - "Keeping a family tradition alive." My great-grandma knit all of her grandkids and great-grands stockings from patterns either in a periodical like Workbasket or those kits you could buy, except she saved all these patterns from mostly the 60s, 70s, and some 80s. After her death in 1998, one of my mom's cousins saved the patterns, and a few years ago she made and sent me copies to use myself. So that's what I used to knit my niece and nephew their own Christmas stockings. Anyway, when I posted the photo on Instagram, one of my cousins on that side of the family saw it and asked if I could make stockings for her grown kids. So here's a bit of what I've been working on since the summer:

I've got one more to go and I'm working on the foot now, so chances are good I'll be able to send all three for Christmas.

One other project I squeezed in was a Yoda baby hat for one of my long-time friends expecting his first (and yes, a total Star Wars geek):

I've got a couple of other less pressing projects on the needles, but I'm thinking my next is going to be my first attempt at socks. Now that I've done a few stockings, that should be easy, right?

Nov 15, 2017, 3:58pm Top

Beautiful stockings, Mary, but the Yoda baby cap had me hollering for the kids to come and take a look. SO cool!!

Nov 15, 2017, 4:22pm Top

Your knitting projects look lovely, Mary.

Kudos for working a split shift. I always found those super gross and avoided them if at all possible.

Nov 15, 2017, 4:35pm Top

I love the Yoda cap! So adorable.

But I have to ask what skin condition poor Santa has on that stocking. Looks really scary!


Nov 15, 2017, 8:34pm Top

>63 Crazymamie: Thanks, Mamie! I found a pattern online that I used as inspiration, but it ended up being a pattern of my own. I was pretty proud!

>64 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! Yeah, it can be frustrating to sort of have my head in work all day and this one was more like that. Usually I work a split when I have a Reader's Advisory Round Table in the morning, so I'm really just talking about books with a bunch of librarians for the morning, and then I get lunch with my cousin. That feels much less like work than today's workshop where I was actually facilitating the discussion for the Adult Services table!

>65 richardderus: Thanks Richard... and lol, yeah, his beard and the hat brim came out very fluffy. The original pattern called for angora wool and I didn't have any nor was I inclined to buy some, so what I held together was some white baby yarn and some long, feathery type yarn to give some texture. I might cut it down a little, at least on the beard!

Nov 15, 2017, 8:54pm Top

103. The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
Why now? Book club choice

Pak Jun Do is just your average guy in North Korea. He grows up in an orphanage, works in the mines, kidnaps people, and then is the radio control guy on a fishing boat in Russian waters.

I had a tough time getting into the book and found the beginning very disjointed, but the author does a fantastic job of carrying you along in this dystopic vision of a country that's been in the news a lot lately. Jun Do's (and yes, his name is meant to sound like "John Doe") story is compelling and complex, making you question every aspect of "story" and what that means in a propaganda-ridden nation. The importance of "story" - what we tell ourselves, what a nation tells itself and its people, and ultimately how a story can be twisted into propaganda - is huge in this book, and Johnson plays with the storytelling format in his own book to give you a really unsettling account where you don't know exactly what's "true" and what's fabrication. Jun Do's transformation as a character had me riveted in the end, and I highly recommend it to literary fiction fans. 4.5 stars.

We had an absolutely fascinating discussion today. It was a polarizing book - really not working for some people (some didn't finish or just had a really hard time with it) and really loved by others. Obviously, I was in the camp that really liked it, though at first I didn't think I would and there were some brutal moments. But wow, did it make me think and I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would.

Nov 16, 2017, 9:40am Top

It is my Thingaversary (a date I often forget because I signed up in a cataloging class in library school and it took me several months to get my books in and discover the social aspect of the site) and I just got my Tenner badge!

And just to prove I have in fact been reading this month:

104. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
Why now? I've been meaning to read it for quite some time and finally picked it up because the release of The Rules of Magic meant it was being read again

Sisters Sally and Gillian Owens were raised by the aunts, witches who specialized in helping people with love problems. They suffered bullies in their small Massachusetts town and as they grew up, they grew apart: Gillian had relationship troubles and multiple marriages, Sally married and had two daughters but suffered grief after her husband died suddenly. Now, Gillian returns with a secret that just might change their lives forever.

Alice Hoffman certainly knows how to write a book with an otherworldly atmosphere of magical realism. It permeates this story so much that it's more about the setting and the words than the characters. There's very little dialogue for the first 100 or so pages, and as a result I had a really hard time getting into it. But if you enjoy the atmosphere and the elements of magic, it's a solid read and I'd certainly recommend it to people who appreciate a wordsmith. 4 stars.

It reminded me a bit of Garden Spells, which I liked slightly better. In this one, not a lot happens - it's a much more lyrical book and a much quieter tone, though there are moments of shivery darkness too.

Nov 16, 2017, 9:48am Top

Happy Thingaversary, Mary! I just recently reread Practical Magic - I love that one. And I agree with you that Garden Spells is better, but they are both so delightfully full of magical realism and beautiful writing.

Nov 16, 2017, 11:40am Top

>68 bell7: Welcome to the Tenners, Mary! It's a small club now, but we'll see a BIG jump in our numbers in the next few years.

Nov 16, 2017, 2:58pm Top

>69 Crazymamie: Thanks, Mamie! Good to know it's not just me liking Garden Spells better. That's not to say I didn't enjoy Alice Hoffman's book, but it didn't quite reach the same level for me. I bet there are readers out there who would take the exact opposite tack.

>70 richardderus: Thanks, Richard! It's hard to believe grad school was that long ago... ;) And yep, I bet you're right about the numbers jumping up soon.

Nov 18, 2017, 11:56am Top

Belated happy 10th Thingaversary, Mary, I will join the tenners in March next year :-)

Nov 18, 2017, 8:26pm Top

>72 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita!

Nov 18, 2017, 8:48pm Top

You guys, you guys, I finished the third stocking!!!!

Here's the pattern flat:

I accidentally held the pattern upside down and, in fact, did the mirror of what I was supposed to (oops!):

All sewn together:

And all three together:

Yes, I'm just a tad excited.

I watched so much Gilmore Girls while finishing it off that I'm slightly sick of it (I know, I know, blasphemy!), but I won't be able to watch again for several days so it's all good. I'd been getting a bunch of stuff done and suddenly realized i hadn't the slightest clue what was going on with the episode I was watching so it's off and college football is my background noise for the moment.

I worked today, finished that stocking, did laundry and got the place ready for my housemate's girlfriend, who's going to room with me for a few days starting tomorrow, before she goes up to his family's for Thanksgiving. So I had to make two beds and get everything in acceptable shape. Now I think I can read a bit guilt-free.

I'm currently reading/listening to Post Captain by Patrick O'Brian, the second book in the Master and Commander series. I'm also reading An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole for my librarian book club (diverse romances in December). My library stack is getting tall again, but there are a lot of books I'm really excited to start, so hopefully that means a good last month and a half of reading this year.

Nov 19, 2017, 1:12pm Top

Oh, your stockings are great! And the Yoda baby hat is wonderful. Lucky recipients!

Interesting list of books for your club next year. The book club at my library is also contemplating choices. Our December meeting is a potluck and voting on books.

I'll definitely get to The Orphan Master's Son. It's been on my radar for a while, but your comments make made me push it up the list.

I loved the Gilmore Girls, but one of the channels is showing a lot of them and I'm not tempted to rewatch. Maybe in a few years. :)

Nov 19, 2017, 4:15pm Top

Love the stockings and the Yoda hat. I have been looking at Xmas jumpers online for work, and wishing I knitted!

Congrats on your ten years in LT. I'm adding Garden Spells to the wishlist as both you and Mamie like it. I only recently read Practical Magic, a lovely read.

Nov 20, 2017, 9:40am Top

>74 bell7: Gorgeous stocking!! I knit stockings for some family members a couple years ago and it was very fun.

I find seasons 6 and 7 of Gilmore Girls to be very forgettable so it might not be you ;-)

I enjoyed An Extraordinary Union recently and I hope you are too!

Nov 20, 2017, 1:14pm Top

Congratulations on completing the stockings! They look lovely. Hope the last chunk of the year treats you well reading-wise. :)

Nov 21, 2017, 12:51am Top

>74 bell7: How cool is that?! Great stockings, and good on ya for gettin' 'em done before the Eve.

Nov 21, 2017, 6:54pm Top

>75 streamsong: Thanks, Janet! I love your book club method of a potluck. I hope you enjoy The Orphan Master's Son - well, enjoy is a weird word for it, but I think you know what I mean. I never saw Gilmore Girls when it was on, so I'm enjoying my first time through.

>76 charl08: Thanks, Charlotte! Knitting is fun - I taught myself a fair amount from online videos and had my grandma to help me read patterns for a couple of years while she was still alive, too. I hope you enjoy Garden Spells when you get to it!

>77 norabelle414: Okay, so my least favorite season was 5 with the first half of 6 figuring in there as well. I do not get Rory's attraction to Logan whatsoever. And her time outside of Yale living with her grandparents was just annoying. She basically becomes a mini version of her grandmother with the Daughters of the Revolution and whatnot. And it was annoying that Lorelai and Rory weren't talking. On the plus side, Lorelai and Luke. It had some nice moments (in the second half anyway) and the troubadour episode had me in stitches. So far in season 7, I've told Lorelai she's making stupid decisions several times. And Christopher was an idiot, not showing up at the hospital AT ALL. I'm mad at him. I might be *slightly* invested in what happens and all. An Extraordinary Union is okay, but I'm finding the language slightly stilted rather than making me think it was happening 150 years ago. I think I'll start reading faster and it will probably bother me less. Oh, and on the plus side with a couple of stockings... now socks seem *super* fast in comparison.

>78 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! Hope you're enjoying your end-of-the-year reading as well :)

>79 richardderus: Thanks, Richard! I'd started in June on the first one, so I was pretty proud of myself for getting them in on time and mailed out yesterday!

Edited: Nov 22, 2017, 2:36pm Top

105. The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrick Backman
Why now? It was a new book on our shelf on a day I'd forgotten to bring something to read on my break at work

A short fable told in the form of a letter from a man to his son on Christmas Eve: the man is rich and has lived for his job, but when he is diagnosed with cancer he meets a little girl at the hospital who is dying.

I'm still not quite sure how to describe this story or what I think of it. It makes you think of the impact your life brings to others, but it's almost too short to feel like I knew the characters or felt much for them in the end. Worth reading, and definitely thought-provoking. 4 stars.

Nov 22, 2017, 4:26pm Top

>81 bell7: Hm. Not going to be my first Backman. Might not even be my second. Glad it worked for you as well as it did.

Nov 22, 2017, 4:30pm Top

Belated Thingaversary congrats. 10 years!

I love the stockings!

Nov 23, 2017, 7:25am Top

This is a time of year when I as a non-American ponder over what I am thankful for.

I am thankful for this group and its ability to keep me sane during topsy-turvy times.

I am thankful that you are part of this group.

I am thankful for this opportunity to say thank you.

Nov 24, 2017, 7:07pm Top

Hi Mary. I am taking advantage of a head cold to get caught up with some threads. What beautiful pictures of Mia and Matthew!

>62 bell7: and >74 bell7: - Wow, those are amazing! You are a very skilled knitter!

Wishing you a lovely weekend.

Nov 25, 2017, 11:49am Top

>82 richardderus: I'm thinking of knocking it down to 3.5 but... eh, I don't know. I liked A Man Called Ove and Britt-Marie Was Here quite a bit so if you're looking for a first I'd start there.

>83 tymfos: Thanks on both counts, Terri!

>84 PaulCranswick: Thank you so much, Paul! I am thanking for my LT friends, good books and relaxing days, family and so much more. We had a fantastic Thanksgiving with my sister's family, my youngest sister and her roommate coming up and celebrating at my parents' house. Over the summer, I was able to see them twice and Mia progressed in a month from putting two-three words together (in June/July, not quite two) to regularly three (August). She's talking in full sentences now. The longest one was during a game we were playing "My blue hat!" where different people were stealing my brother's hat and wearing it. She came over and said, "No, that is not your blue hat, Auntie Mary!" Of course, it's not always extremely clear what she's saying so her mom translates for her occasionally or we figure it out from the words we understand. She'll also sing songs that she knows or makes up. And Matthew is a happy, smiley baby that loves to be walked and bounced. I put him to sleep a couple of times and just gazed in that adorable face. Anyway... I could talk about them forever so I'll stop now ;) I hope you're having a good weekend, Paul.

>85 lkernagh: Thanks, Lori! I took a few over Thanksgiving, so I'll have updated ones when I start my 2018 thread! And thank you about the knitting! It's taken me awhile to get there, but I'm fairly confident now when I pick up a pattern that I can do most things necessary. I still have plenty of cast on/off stitches to learn, but YouTube videos are great for picking up new skills! Hope you have a great weekend as well.

Nov 25, 2017, 12:00pm Top

106. An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
Why now? For my readers' advisory round table, meeting on Dec. 5

Elle Burns is a Union operative posing as a slave in Richmond during the American Civil War. She has an eidetic memory that allows her to recount what she reads or overhears perfectly, which makes her a huge help. When Malcolm McCall comes to call on her mistress dressed in rebel gray, she immediately has her back up, but realizing he too is a spy, her heart starts to turn to him, though he is white and any relationship with him would spell all sorts of trouble.

I don't read a lot of romance, but I do enjoy historical fiction about the Civil War. Elle is based off a historical figure I was already familiar with, Mary Bowser, who was a freewoman posing as a slave in Jefferson Davis's household. Truth be told, I would prefer the historical fiction actually about Mary Bowser as opposed to a romance, but I was given the book to read for a work-related group reading diverse romance, so your mileage may vary. The repetitive writing style and telling me how evil slavery is, repeatedly, started to annoy me, and the dialogue was a little stilted, but I picked up my reading pace and it was easier to overlook. Elle's and Malcolm's adventures as spies keep the pace of the story moving and the historical parts were interwoven well. 3.5 stars.

It probably suffered a bit from my spreading out the reading quite a bit over the last couple weeks while life has been busy. Plus, it's not a book I chose but had to read by a certain date. All that to say, a romance fan would probably enjoy it. I did think it was interesting to read about a mixed-race romance set in that time period and ponder all the issues that still surround that. My brother-in-law is Hispanic, and even in a fairly metropolitan area they've had people come up to their kids and say, "Oh, so that's what a mix of white/Hispanic looks like."

Nov 26, 2017, 1:40pm Top

Glad to hear you had a great Thanksgiving with the family, Mary. My youngest niece turned 1 yesterday and we had a family party. It's crazy how fast they grow.

Hopefully your next read is more in your wheelhouse.

Nov 27, 2017, 11:27am Top

>88 MickyFine: Eh, the best a romance is going to get from me is generally 4 stars so it's certainly not a bad book. It didn't help that I *have* read historical fiction about Mary Bowser so I kept comparing the "real" in my head.

Isn't it crazy how fast kids grow? Even the six month old is so much bigger than the last time I saw him, looking around and smiling and generally very interactive. I think he might be saying some sounds with meaning ("up", "mama") but it's hard to tell just yet. Happy birthday to your niece! How fun to get together for the family party :)

Nov 27, 2017, 10:53pm Top

Hey there Mary, sorry about that Civil-War romance...sounds grim to me.

Sending hugs

Nov 28, 2017, 3:34pm Top

>90 richardderus: Nah, not grim, just not quite my taste. I must've been a little harsher than I intended, it was really more of a "meh, not for me but I could see the right readers really loving this" type of reaction. *hugs* back

Dec 1, 2017, 2:35pm Top

107. Topaz by Beverly Jenkins
Why now? The second title for my diverse romance librarian book group on Tuesday

Katherine, a Black woman and a newspaperwoman in her late twenties in 1884, has always been fiercely independent and never plans on marrying. But when one of her stories puts her in the path to marry a man she never meant to - and her conniving father tells U.S. deputy marshal Dixon Wildhorse he can marry his daughter to cover the man's debts - she finds herself in a pickle.

I'm in a librarian book group that meets every other month and discusses various genres and how we can recommend titles to our patrons - what we call Readers' Advisory. This year, we're reading various genres that also have diverse characters and authors, so I thought with reading romance this month I should read one of the best-known black romance authors. The historical portion was fascinating, and even if it occasionally was given to me in chunks and paragraphs, I loved learning about the history of Black Seminoles in Florida, the experience of a wagon train of mail-order brides, and more. I never felt beat over the head by a point, but a couple of scenes showing casual racism really stick out in my mind. The romance develops between characters already married, and while I could take or leave a lot of it, I did like their banter and interactions as they learned more about each other. The side story of Rupert, the man Katherine almost marries who follows them causing trouble, draws out the story a longer than I felt necessary but ultimately it's a satisfying read. 4 stars.

I don't tend to love romances, as I've said before, and the trope of "I've grown to love this person, haven't told them, and am assuming they don't love me either..." that's supposed to draw out the tension just annoys me. I liked that the characters were a bit older - Katherine in her late twenties, and I think Dix is a bit older than that, though I don't remember it being said explicitly. Also some of the descriptions were irritating or clunky, especially during the sex scenes. But it's also a 20 year old book so I tried to forgive it that.

Dec 1, 2017, 3:51pm Top

An RA book club sounds fun! Really good to push yourself to read outside of your comfort genres. :)

Hope you have a great weekend, Mary!

Dec 1, 2017, 3:59pm Top

>93 MickyFine: Yep, it's a blast! And it's why I just read two romances in a row ;)
But no, I really enjoy it. It's one of the few workshops that doesn't feel like work at all, because it's a bunch of librarians who really enjoy readers' advisory talking together about books. I don't talk about our discussions as much as I do about my book discussion because it tends to be more readers' advisory focused and giving each other more readalike titles, but I do list what we're reading up in the second message of the thread with all my "work books".

Edited: Dec 1, 2017, 7:49pm Top

November in review
102. His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik - my book and audio and a reread
103. The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
104. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
105. The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrick Backman
106. An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
107. Topaz by Beverly Jenkins

Books/e-books: 5.5
Audiobooks: .5
Graphic Novels: 0
Adult/Teen/Children's: 6/0/0
Fiction/Nonfiction/Poetry/Plays: 6/0/0/0
Library/Mine/Borrowed: 5/1/0

Standouts: The Orphan Master's Son was fantastic and completely spoiled me for writing quality the rest of the month

Thoughts: I'm tied for the fewest number of books read in a month all year, not surprising as things at work and in my personal life have been incredibly busy, plus I'm trying to knit up some Christmas gifts so time I might be reading is spent knitting instead (possibly listening to audiobooks, but that goes slower too). Three of the six books were ones I had to read, so I'm looking forward to digging in to some fun books next month.

I realized while I was writing this up that I'd neglected October and did a terrible job of keeping up with my monthly reviews during the summer as well. I enjoy looking back over each month but may reevaluate how I do it in 2018.

Dec 1, 2017, 7:48pm Top

I'm dogsitting this weekend and hope that means fitting in some good reads! I've brought more books than I can reasonably expect to finish, but I've already started all four of them, so even if I don't finish a book a day I'm ready for whatever mood strikes me. I've also brought along some knitting - a pair of socks and a hat.

I'm reading Post Captain, a book that I actually started as an audiobook that I listened to before bed, but I was falling asleep so quickly I only listened to about an hour or so before the library copy had to go back. I have the book out from the library now, and again was slowed up by a couple of books I had to finish by Tuesday, but am hoping to make some more progress today. So far it's taking quite awhile to get going and doesn't have a very clear plot. Simon Vance is the narrator, though, and I'm hoping to get the audio back soon.

I started reading Cinderella, Necromancer and the beginning was very compelling so I'm looking forward to making some more progress in this teen fantasy as well. So far it's right up my alley!

Morningstar by Ann Hood gives you a sneak peek into the author's reading life and the books that have impacted her life. I love this kind of thing, but I'm feeling ambivalent about this one - so far, I'm having a tough time relating and haven't read any of the books she's referred to, but we'll see.

Dec 1, 2017, 8:28pm Top

Books and dog-sitting. Sounds like a fun way to spend a weekend. :) Good luck with finishing at least one book.

Dec 1, 2017, 8:57pm Top

Read hearty, Mary!

Dec 1, 2017, 9:25pm Top

>97 MickyFine: Thanks! I'm certainly hoping to make some progress after work tomorrow. I've got a bit of a cold too, so I'm kind of looking forward to a restful end to the weekend.

>98 richardderus: Thanks much, Richard! Happy weekend :)

Dec 2, 2017, 11:21am Top

It's interesting to read your thoughtful review of An Extraordinary Union. Cole's new book A Hope Divided, is getting some buzz now, with a starred Kirkus review. I'm ordering it for the library and, realizing there was a previous volume, decided to order An Extraordinary Union, too. It sounds like the books may appeal to some of our romance and historical fiction readers.

Dec 2, 2017, 6:41pm Top

Hm, I had a whole long response and it was eaten by gremlins. Ah well, here's a second attempt.

>100 tymfos: Hope it was helpful, Terri! While I wasn't the right reader, I could definitely see it working for an historical romance reader and I thought the sequel sounded pretty good as well. Part of my problem was probably that while I enjoy reading historical fiction, I get perturbed when it starts messing with the historical record "to make a better story." If I hadn't already known about Mary Bowser, after whom Elle's eidetic memory is patterned, I probably would've enjoyed that aspect of the story more and been intrigued by the Author's Note instead.

Since there seems to be some interest in our RA group, I'll try to remember to summarize the discussion Tuesday and report back.

Dec 2, 2017, 10:00pm Top

108. Expository Studies in Job: Behind Suffering by Ray Stedman
Why now? Going along with my reading in the Bible, a commentary on Job

In thirteen chapters, Stedman breaks down Job for the layman. He quotes extensively from the book and breaks down what happens, with some observations that put the oldest book in the Bible into context along with New Testament principles.

The reading is dry and the version of the Bible he quotes from harder to understand than mine. But I have a tough time reading poetry and even following a simple story, so I found it useful to read after reading the chapters and having him point out when one of Job's friends was quoting Job's earlier words, for example. The chapters on God's responses to Job alone are worth the price of admission. 3.5 stars.

Dec 2, 2017, 10:17pm Top

109. Morningstar: Growing Up with Books by Ann Hood
Why now? My library hold came in the same day that I'd forgotten to bring a book to read. I've had this book about books on my radar for awhile, and figured the crazy holiday season was a good time for it.

"I believe that magically the book we are supposed to read somehow appears in out hands at just the right time" (126).

Ann Hood grew up in a small town in Rhode Island, the children of Italian immigrants, who always dreamed of traveling beyond and becoming a writer. In this book of ten essays or Lessons she learned from books, Hood explores the many ways that reading is not an escape from life, but a way to live.

I generally love getting a glimpse of a reader's relationship with books, but I had a tough time with this one. I admit, some of the fault may lie with me as a reader. First, I didn't realize they were essays until I was partway through. I'd been reading it as a connected narrative and was growing impatient with repeated thoughts and not being able to follow what was happening chronologically. Next, Hood grew up during the 1960s and read a lot of books that I have not. Usually even when an author's personality or experience is markedly different from mine, I can connect with shared favorite books. I've only read one of the books that Hood mentions as seminal in her life, and I didn't like it - the others, I've heard of but have no interest in. There were moments where I could glimpse a fellow book and language lover, such as when she talks of reading the right book in just the right moment or having family members that didn't understand how she could be reading instead of playing outside. But most of the time I was bewildered by her precocious reading and wondering if she's really as elitist as she sounds when she almost apologizes for loving a book that she's since grown to realize isn't as well-written as she once thought. If you're a reader and love books about books, though, don't let my ambivalence discourage you. It's a short book worth spending the time to read, and you may discover it connects with you better than it did me. 3.5 stars.

Dec 3, 2017, 9:05am Top

Have a lovely Sunday, Mary

Edited: Dec 3, 2017, 10:03am Top

>103 bell7: Hmmm. Not convinced I'd like that either!

>92 bell7: This sounds fascinating. Not sure if the author's books are available here but will look. I'd love to hear what your group make of it too.
ETA Yup, not only is it available, it's in the library down the road, so hopefully I can get hold of it soon.

Dec 3, 2017, 3:03pm Top

>104 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul, wishing you a wonderful Sunday as well!

>105 charl08: Hope you like it, Charlotte! My group will all have read An Extraordinary Union or A Bollywood Affair (I have that at home but didn't get to it), and a second title of our choice. Topaz was my choice, but there is a possibility that someone else in the group will have read it. Generally we'll spend some time talking about the genre in general, the benchmark title we all read together (this month was unusual for having two) and how it fits into the genre and what sort of reader would like it, and then we each take some time to briefly talk about our book, focusing on what we call appeal factors - parts of the book such as the setting or historical details, the tone, and the characterization that we would connect with other books to make recommendations to our libraries' patrons. It's great, because for reading two books myself I'm introduced to several other titles that I may not have known about or be able to read soon, and make connections between books and readers. You also get a pretty good sense of what your fellow librarians read - I've been in this group for a couple of years now - so some of us will give each other personal recommendations as well.

Dec 3, 2017, 3:06pm Top

Today has been pretty busy so far. This was the first week of singing in choir during Advent, so I was participating in most of the church service, and then I had to stay after for an information meeting on a big event we're hosting this weekend and what I'll be doing there. I didn't get lunch til almost 2. I took the dog for a quick walk and am now relaxing a bit before heading over to my parents for the NY Giants football game. It's been a painfully bad season, and I'm expecting more of the same today. But I get to visit with my family - I think both brothers are coming over - and continue working on my first pair of socks, so it'll be nice to relax a bit.

Dec 4, 2017, 11:49am Top

>107 bell7: Hope the rest of your weekend was great, Mary. :)

Dec 8, 2017, 10:41am Top

>108 MickyFine: Thanks, it was, Micky! Busy, but good.

A couple of my housemates and I have been trying to watch Christmas movies in the evenings we can get us all together. So far, we've watched Elf, Joyeux Noel and It's a Wonderful Life. I have a few Christmasy movies coming my way from the library all month, some of which are old favorites and some of which I've never seen before. I currently have The Shop Around the Corner (never watched it before) and I'm hoping to watch it sometime this weekend.

The debacle that is the NY Giants season continues... the head coach is fired, the defensive coordinator has been made the interim head coach (I'd wanted him to get the job in the first place), and Eli should be starting again Sunday against the Cowboys. The game was moved to 1 p.m. because who in their right mind would be watching a 2-10 team???? Oh right, my family. :::sigh::: Oh well, it means I'm getting a decent amount of knitting done.

I finished a pair of warm socks (almost slippers, really), photo to come soon if I can get a decent one. They're dark green and don't tend to show up well unless I get really good lighting. My next project is MITTENS - I've only ever done one pair, years ago, knit flat so knitting a pair in the round will be a new adventure. But I'm confident, especially after getting a nice matching pair of socks done, that I can do a good job. If I make them fast enough, I might give a few away as gifts to the housemates.

It's been a busy week at work, but I've taken today off and so far have balanced my checkbook and brought my budget up-to-date. I'm telling you, adulthood is boring compared to what I pictured as a kid haha :)
Anyway, I'm hoping to maybe send out some Christmas cards, catch up on Supernatural (I've forgotten to watch the last few weeks) and get started on those mittens. My reading has slowed wayyyy down as you can tell. I'm still reading Cinderella, Necromancer and Post Captain. The next book I'll start will be this month's book club book, When Breath Becomes Air.

Dec 8, 2017, 10:49am Top

I like The Shop Around the Corner although it doesn't make the list of my favourite B&W movies. Hopefully you enjoy it.

Good luck with all the knitting projects.

I hear you on the adulthood thing. Where are the all-day ice cream binges I imagined? ;)

Dec 9, 2017, 9:38am Top

Oh! The Shop Around the Corner is one of my all-time favorite movies! I do hope you love it.

Dec 9, 2017, 11:17pm Top

>109 bell7: My sympathies to you about the Giants. My husband is a Giants fan, and he's not enjoying this season one bit.

Dec 10, 2017, 4:11am Top

I hope the Giants give you a pick-up this weekend, Mary.

I am going to read When Breath Becomes Air from tomorrow too.

Dec 11, 2017, 10:49am Top

>110 MickyFine: Where are the all-day ice cream binges I imagined? ;)

I know, right? Instead it's food shopping, buying cars, and keeping my apartment tidy. I have to plan a "do-nothing" day every so often, and generally that does not mean the "When I'm an adult, I can do whatever I want..." it just means I did my other errands every other day so I could stay home and read or knit!

>111 scaifea: I loved The Shop Around the Corner. It was hilarious and I know You've Got Mail well enough that when I recognized some situations and one line I think that they use verbatim, I was grinning away.

>112 tymfos: It has been a rough one. My dad has been using the Giants Superbowl mugs to "remind myself why we do this." We're looking forward to the draft.

>113 PaulCranswick: Unfortunately not, Paul, though it's a nice thought! I still had a nice weekend despite the Giants - busy, but good. Now I'm in for a crazy week, but I am going to try to take all the time I can to relax and rejuvenate. I haven't started When Breath Becomes Air just yet, but I have it in my work bag for today. Hope you enjoy it! I'll look forward to your thoughts on it.

Dec 11, 2017, 10:56am Top

110. Cinderella, Necromancer by F.M. Boughan
Why now? One of our own members wrote it, so I had to make sure my library got a copy and I could read it ASAP! I love fantasy and fairy tale retellings so it was right up my alley.

After their mother's death, Ellison and her brother Edward are introduced to their new stepmother and two stepsisters. Visiting her mother's grave one day, she meets a young man named William who she discovers is the prince of the land - though why he's wandering about and telling her there are terrors about, she can't fathom. Her father goes on a journey, disappears, and Ellison (or Ella to her friends) finds a book that appears to be a legacy from her father - and teaches her spells that call on mysterious powers.

This is a dark reimagining of the Cinderella fairy tale. Though let's be honest, the original fairy tales are pretty dark as well. I liked Ella's character and both her confusion and choices were believably done without making her seem annoyingly wishy-washy. The author's note is illuminating about the time, place and story choices, making me realize how I'm very familiar with retellings but not so much the older Grimm and Perrault versions of the tale. Those who know those will enjoy discovering Easter eggs that went entirely over my head. It's a thrilling story with a dose of creepiness that kept me up late at night reading. 4 stars.

Dec 11, 2017, 11:30am Top

>115 bell7: Mary! We've talked about this! NO MORE BOOK BULLETS.

*disappointed sigh*

You, young lady, simply Do Not Listen.

Dec 11, 2017, 11:37am Top

>115 bell7: I have that one in the stacks, Mary - very nice review. Did you post it? If so, I will add my thumb.

Dec 11, 2017, 2:51pm Top

>115 bell7: Very excited to read that one soon, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Dec 12, 2017, 3:58pm Top

>116 richardderus: *snort* I'll stop sending book bullets when you do :)

>117 Crazymamie: Thanks, Mamie! I just posted it.

>118 norabelle414: Hope you like it too, Nora!

Dec 12, 2017, 7:19pm Top

*drumroll please*

I can now officially announce that as of Monday, I'll be assistant director at my library! (Sorry, Nora, someone else is taking over "Adult Services" soon!)

Also, I bought a car to replace my poor old one that will no longer pass inspection for a variety of reasons. This week and Monday will be a whirlwind between moving my desk area, learning the new ropes, and getting the car registered and inspected.

Dec 12, 2017, 7:20pm Top

Congratulations on both counts, Mary!! Off to add my thumb to your review.

Edited: Dec 12, 2017, 8:19pm Top

>Mia is such a lovely girl, just as she was a lovely little baby! My how she has grown. I am the oldest of five children as well. It has it's bonuses and then, there are some not so great memories as well.

Dec 12, 2017, 9:15pm Top

I guess I'll learn to live with this terrible disappointment somehow.


Dec 12, 2017, 9:18pm Top

>121 Crazymamie: Thanks, Mamie!

>122 Whisper1: Thank you, Linda, I think Mia is lovely myself. I love her curls! I hear you about good and bad coming from the oldest of five. Most of the time I enjoy being a part of a large family and roll with the mistakes that my parents made with me as the oldest :)

Dec 12, 2017, 9:19pm Top

>123 norabelle414: Hahaha you can still have a laugh to yourself every time I mention training the new one! :) And thanks!

Dec 12, 2017, 10:31pm Top

Wonderful news about your new job! Many congratulations. Yay for a newer, safer car.

Dec 13, 2017, 12:27am Top

>120 bell7: Congratulations, Mary! That is awesome news! Does your library system have multiple assistant directors with different portfolios or are you the one and only? :)

Dec 13, 2017, 7:24am Top

Congratulations, Mary!

Dec 13, 2017, 8:43am Top

>120 bell7: Great! Congratulations, Mary, on becoming Assistant Director, and your new car!

Dec 13, 2017, 9:03am Top

Ohmygosh, congrats on the new position! That's wonderful!!

Dec 13, 2017, 9:41am Top

>126 richardderus: Thanks, Richard! I'm pretty excited about both. The car is a 2013 Subaru Forester Premium and has wayyyy more bells and whistles than I ever would've asked for - but since it's a salvage title (hit in the rear, all repairs approved by my amazing mechanic), the price was right and I snatched up a deal.

>127 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! So, our library is in a consortium as far as book lending and some database purchasing goes but we're really individual in our day-to-day operations as a department of the town. I'm the one and only assistant director under the one and only director for our town library - no other branches.

>128 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie!

>129 jnwelch: Thanks on both, Joe!

>130 scaifea: Thanks, Amber! I'm mostly excited and just a tiny bit terrified :)

Dec 13, 2017, 1:34pm Top

>131 bell7: New car sounds loverly.

Sounds a bit like the library I worked at in Lethbridge. Higher up leadership in libraries is always interesting. My current job is in a larger system so we have a CEO and hodge podge of executive directors, directors, and many other executive roles. I think I'll stick with being a librarian. :) But I'm sure you'll rock your new job. There should be lots of fun new things to do!

Dec 13, 2017, 3:15pm Top

>131 bell7: That sounds like a steal, all right, and your mechanic gets full faith and credit for keeping the hoopty running until it just couldn't climb the hill anymore.

Dec 15, 2017, 6:32am Top

>132 MickyFine: oh wow, that sounds like a lot of administration. One thing nice about being part of a small public library is that even admin gets some public facing time on the reference desk and it's not only in the background, big picture stuff. I'm meeting with my boss today and should have a better idea of what my day to day should be like soon.

>133 richardderus: yup, he's been our mechanic since I was a wee one, and I don't know what we'll do when he retires (or, more likely dies first as he loves his job and I can't see him giving it up willingly).

Dec 15, 2017, 11:44am Top

>134 bell7: With 20 (soon to be 21) branches we've got lots of admin for the library side as well as IT, HR, Finance, and Marketing. :)

Have a great weekend!

Dec 15, 2017, 10:17pm Top

>120 bell7: - Congratulations!

Dec 19, 2017, 12:37am Top

Congratulations, Mary! Best wishes to you on your new position . . . And with the new car.

Dec 19, 2017, 4:19pm Top

>135 MickyFine: Is your library system for one town or more like a county (sorry, I don't know what the Canadian equivalent would be?) with several towns under one jurisdiction? I am slightly jealous that you have all that admin, including marketing. I did all my own marketing and am very excited to be washing my hands of much of it (I didn't so much mind writing press releases, but it was a lot of work and the newsletter was a challenge every quarter).

>136 lkernagh: Thanks, Lori!

>137 tymfos: Thanks, Terri!

Dec 19, 2017, 4:29pm Top

111. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Why now? This month's book club pick - we're discussing it tomorrow!

Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon who had advanced lung cancer in his late 30s. Knowing he didn't have much time to live, he wrote this book, a unique story that blends his memoirs and personal reflections of life, death, medicine and meaning.

I expected a book similar to Being Mortal. And it is similar, in a way, reflecting on what it means to live well when we're dying. But where Being Mortal gives a doctor's perspective on elder care and end-of-life care, Paul's story is more a reflection of the patient - and a young one, at that - knowing that he is dying. This is a personal look at a young man grappling with those decisions: do we have a child now? Do I keep working while I can, or spend time writing a book and being with my family? It's a thoughtful and thought-provoking exploration of what it means to live well, knowing that death is on the horizon. Highly recommended. 5 stars.

It'll be interesting hearing what my book group has to say about this one, just as it was interesting to hear what mostly 60-80-year-olds thought about Being Mortal - except now, the author is closer to my age. Good news, too - one of the duties I'll be able to keep as I take on Assistant Director is continuing to facilitate the book group!

Dec 19, 2017, 4:53pm Top

Good news, too - one of the duties I'll be able to keep as I take on Assistant Director is continuing to facilitate the book group!

Yay! Still not readin' the dead guy's book.

Dec 19, 2017, 7:22pm Top

>140 richardderus: Yep, I'm very glad to be able to keep it. I was looking forward to next year's reads and would've been sorry to leave that behind. I'm also keeping ordering responsibilities for fiction, poetry (I confess I'm out of my league in that one) and graphic novels as well as local history oversight. Basically, the best parts of my job are still things I can do - I'll even potentially have some programming responsibilities, though it will certainly be less than I'm doing now.

Still not readin' the dead guy's book.
I support your right to not read whatever you don't feel like reading ;)

Dec 19, 2017, 7:36pm Top

112. Post Captain by Patrick O'Brian - audio and book
Why now? I was looking for a good audiobook to listen to before bed, and Simon Vance narrates this series, so I figured I'd continue it - then it took me too long to listen to, so I had the book out from the library as well

After the events of Master and Commander, Captain Jack Aubrey and his good friend Dr. Stephen Maturin find themselves briefly ashore. Jack is hoping to be made post captain after his adventures on the Sophie, but things look grim. He and Stephen both meet some delightful ladies and another Sophia may hold his affections... but then Jack is swindled of his prize money and he's now in danger of debtors' prison if he doesn't get another ship.

This book suffered from length - both itself over 500 pages and it took forever for the story to get going, but also the length of time I spent reading it. I remembered the first book as being pretty high action, but this one was plodding at times and it was often not the first book I wanted to pick up, even though much of the time I had to put it aside to read books more urgent, such as my book club read for this month. Simon Vance's narration is superb, and once I focused on reading/listening to this one almost exclusively, it worked a little better for me. I enjoy the characters and time period, and will try the next book in the series before I decide I've read enough. 3 stars.

Dec 20, 2017, 12:32am Top

>122 Whisper1: Congratulations Dear Friend! Pat yourself on the back for a job well done which lead to a wonderful promotion.

Dec 20, 2017, 10:02am Top

I love Simon Vance. Toobad the book was lacking

Dec 20, 2017, 2:14pm Top

>138 bell7: We're a library just for the city of Edmonton, population 932,546 (as of last federal census in 2016). Large systems have their pros and cons, for sure. :)

Two books finished over the weekend. So jealous! *stares forlornly at 0 count for books finished in December*

Dec 21, 2017, 2:51pm Top

>143 Whisper1: Thanks so much, Linda! I hope you are continuing to recover from your latest surgery and you soon have relief from pain. Have a wonderful holiday!

>144 The_Hibernator: Hard to tell if it was the book or my own lack of time. Would the beginning have seemed so drawn out if I hadn't listened to the first 3 chapters over two weeks? But Simon Vance is one of my favorite narrators and that totally made up for it.

>145 MickyFine: Oh wow, okay, so we're talking a bit more comparable to, in my state, Boston which is still a smaller population of 600,000+. Certainly small/large have their own sets of pros and cons. Most of the time I like that a small system means a doing a lot of different aspects of the job all in one, but it also gets frustrating to be expected to do, well, everything... and to do it well. Now before you get too excited about 2 books finished over the weekend, keep in mind I'd started the first before Thanksgiving and I *had* to read the other for book club. I was going to complain about how few books I've finished, but five is actually not too shabby and I'm dogsitting this weekend so I *might* manage to get a couple more in.

Dec 21, 2017, 2:51pm Top

Happy Yule Book Flood!

Dec 21, 2017, 3:16pm Top

>146 bell7: Ok you just blew my mind that Edmonton is bigger than Boston. *brain stutters for a bit*

I'm hoping to hit 3 finished books this month. I want to end the year with my Gabaldon chunkster finished. We'll see...

Dec 21, 2017, 6:47pm Top

>147 richardderus: Thank you, thank you! You'll be shocked, Richard, that I gave my family a Christmas list that was bookless... and one of my brothers asked me about that so I had to text them my LT wishlist after all :D

>148 MickyFine: I Googled it again when I got home to make sure I'd gotten it right. The 2016 Census estimates from census.gov are 673,184 (once a reference librarian, always a reference librarian). Three books in December including a chunkster would be excellent. Two of the books I finished this month I'd been reading for ages, and two were very short so it looks more impressive than it is. I'll probably manage A Christmas Carol and possibly Artemis. I'll hopefully bring more with me dogsitting and see what actually happens.

Dec 22, 2017, 11:25am Top

>149 bell7: Those librarian tendencies never die. ;)

Good luck with the last bit of reading for the year!

Dec 24, 2017, 11:11am Top

Happy holidays! I am thankful this holiday season for all the good friends I have made in this group. You are all so supportive. I don't know what I'd do without you!

Dec 24, 2017, 9:28pm Top

Wishing you all good things this holiday season and beyond.

Dec 25, 2017, 1:41am Top

Dear Mary, best wishes to you and yours at Christmas!

Dec 25, 2017, 8:38am Top

>150 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky - you too!

>151 The_Hibernator: Thanks, Rachel! I'm grateful for the 75ers as well :)

>152 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul. Happy holidays to you & your family.

>153 AMQS: Thanks, Anne! Have a wonderful Christmas and happy New Year.

Dec 25, 2017, 8:49am Top

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it, and a wonderful holiday season to the rest of you!

It's been a rather unusual Christmas weekend for me. I'm away from home and dogsitting. My car, which never did pass inspection on an emissions failure actually has a problem with the catalytic converter (my mechanic looked it up and says he thinks there's a recall). We were hoping to get it fixed after Christmas, but yesterday it suddenly started acting up while I was driving, just deciding not to accelerate well and giving me a heck of a time getting up hills. I managed to get to my family's Christmas Eve party with hazards on and going about 15-30 mph for most of the drive and had a stressful ride home where I wasn't even entirely sure I'd get through an intersection before the light turned red again. Meanwhile, other drivers were passing me (sometimes illegally) or tailing me despite the hazards. I pulled over twice to let other people pass me and the car to cool down, hoping that would help.

Well, I got back and got up this morning to lovely snow! I do enjoy a white Christmas. We delayed our family breakfast a little bit to give us time to shovel out and I'm actually just about ready to head out. My mechanic had asked me to text him the address where I am this morning, but I haven't heard from him at all (very unusual, and a little worrying). Eh, at least the ride to my parents is pretty flat and everyone will be driving slowly now. I'm looking forward to spending time with family. My youngest sister is back from college for a couple of weeks, and we're planning on Skyping my other sister sometime today so I should be able to say hi to my niece and nephew.

Have a wonderful holiday season! I did finish one more book, my annual reread of A Christmas Carol. I'm thinking I won't get many more in this year, but 2017 has been fun and I'm looking forward to sharing my 2018 reads with you all as well.

Dec 25, 2017, 10:24am Top

Merry Christmas from Philadelphia, Mary!

Dec 26, 2017, 1:12pm Top

Thanks, Darryl! I hope you were able to have a nice visit with family after all the recent challenges.

Dec 26, 2017, 6:10pm Top

113. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

At least my dozenth reread. And there's really not much I can say that hasn't already, no?

Dec 26, 2017, 6:25pm Top

114. Artemis by Andy Weir
Why now? Started it as soon as my book club reads and other have-to books allowed me to after it came out - because The Martian was really good

Jasmine "Jazz" Bashara is a smuggler in the city of Artemis, the settlement on the moon. When a guy she's done work for before offers to pay her big bucks to branch out a little and demolish some machines so he can buy out the aluminum business, she agrees - only to find that she's now embroiled in an even bigger conspiracy.

Jazz is... well, basically the same as his first character from The Martian - smart, wisecracking and smartassed with a lot of swears thrown in to boot. A few other people have mentioned that character development isn't the author's strong suit, and I'd have to agree. His strength is describing the scientific processes that make you absolutely believe - at least while you're reading - that there could be a settlement on the moon. For a science fiction adventure story that reads like a movie, it's a pleasant way to spend a few hours reading. 3.5 stars.

Not to beat a dead horse, but my biggest complaint was Jazz. She really didn't...sound like a woman? I'm wondering if I was being too picky because the author is a guy or what... but I had a really tough time picturing a female who would be quite as cavalier about, say, prostitutes and offer information about getting their services to a man she'd just met. Not to say that some might, obviously, and it could just be that she was so much like his male protagonist from the previous book (because "unwomanly" really isn't what I'm going for here). I'd love to know what others thought who have read the book.

Dec 26, 2017, 11:00pm Top

Hmmm. Too bad he's not good on character development. I want to read this book this year.

Dec 27, 2017, 3:33pm Top

Hope you're still rolling (sorry, bad car pun), Mary!

You're the second person who I've seen comment that they didn't believe Jazz as a woman (I believe Foggi was the other). It's interesting.

Dec 28, 2017, 11:13am Top

>160 The_Hibernator: It was a fun enough adventure story, Rachel - hope it works for you!

>161 MickyFine: Ha! Thanks, Micky. My car will be in the shop for awhile (parts are on their way and delayed by the weekend/New Year's day), but I should be able to squeak by somehow. And it's all under warranty.

That's interesting that someone else said that too. I do think I'm super picky about how men write women (it does make you wonder about the other way around too...), and I certainly don't think I speak for everywoman, so it's hard to explain exactly why Jazz didn't ring true for me in some ways. Oddly enough, it reminded me of a book club discussion I once had with my ladies discussing the way John Updike described the main character - a woman - in "Seek My Face." I seem to remember that the way she describes her "saggy" body did not ring true to them at all.

Dec 28, 2017, 12:19pm Top

Picture book - Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis

When a new student, Maya, comes to school and is obviously poor wearing secondhand clothes and trying to make friends. Chloe - the main character and narrator - and her friends turn down Maya's friendly overtures. Then one day Maya is gone, and Chloe learns that each kindness, done and not done, has a ripple effect in our lives. The watercolor illustrations are realistic and beautifully done. The tone is melancholy, but it's a wonderful, diverse story that would be a great way to talk with children about treating others kindly and the regret we all know of chances we missed.

Dec 28, 2017, 3:19pm Top

>159 bell7: I wasn't able to overlook Jazz's maleness. I bailed around 20% in, just...no.

>163 bell7: *smooch*

Dec 28, 2017, 4:49pm Top

Happy Holidays, Mary!

Dec 29, 2017, 2:32pm Top

>164 richardderus: Glad to know it's not just me, Richard. I enjoyed other aspects enough to skim, but I get why someone might bail.

>165 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe! Hope you & yours are enjoying this holiday season.

Dec 30, 2017, 9:18am Top

The car saga continues.

I heard back from the dealer that

1. It is the catalytic converter
2. It is under warranty (so the fix is no cost to me, other than being carless for awhile)
3. The parts won't arrive 'til Thursday because of the holiday weekend

Well, I'm not paying for a rental for over a week. So I returned it and I'm borrowing my landlord's car (they're gone, so me and one other housemate with a totaled car have been working out rides) while I'm dogsitting about 40 minutes from work this weekend. As I was driving out there yesterday, I got a flat tire...on my landlord's car. Which, by the way, while I was driving yesterday I discovered is 5,000 miles overdue for an oil change, thank you housemates for not noticing over the past couple of weeks. So today after work, I'm running to get new tires and an oil change for not-my-car. But better it happened to a car of someone I know than the rental, right? And hooray for AAA - I've called them three times in the past week for two tows and a spare tire.

In bookish news, after I finished Artemis, I started The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin which my brother gave me for Christmas to complete the series. It's really enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to curling up with it in the warm house once I get back to the dogs tonight.

Dec 30, 2017, 10:24pm Top

Oy with the car drama! Hope the new year starts off better.

Dec 31, 2017, 7:47am Top

>168 MickyFine: I should update that though I was unable to get an oil change, the guys at the tire shop found me one used tire for $40 that's pretty close on an all wheel drive, and said if my landlords brought it back to them for new tires they'd credit the $40. This is where I get the car inspected, so they've been aware of some of the drama.

It's certainly made December rather stressful, and I'm hoping for a quiet January :)

Jan 1, 3:48pm Top

The last book I read this year was the short but profound Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In it, he thoughtfully replies to feeling clergymen who criticized his protests in Birmingham that had landed him in jail, and he sets forth his argument for action through nonviolent protest. Though closing in at only 35 pages, I came away thinking I should turn around and reread it to get the full impact.

And that's it, folks. I wrap up 2017 with 115 books read it's been a year of a lot of change, but mostly good things including my nephew's birth, a promotion and a newer used car. I'm looking forward to seeing what 2018 brings all hope you'll join me on my new thread.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2017

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