bell7 (Mary) reads through the library in 2018
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Hi everyone, and welcome to my first thread for 2018. This will be a pretty basic set up to start with since I'm hardly going to be at home over the next few weeks, but here's a quick intro: I'm a librarian (newly-minted assistant director) from western Massachusetts in my thirties, single with no kids. I love reading, knitting and watching sports. And in case you're wondering, it's Boston all the way *except* for football, which is the NY Giants. I'm the oldest of five kids and will frequently talk about my brothers, sisters, niece and nephew. Speaking of, here's a topper from this past summer of Mia and Matthew:
And yes, I'm a doting aunt.
When left to my own devices, I read a lot of fantasy. I also enjoy some mysteries, nonfiction (especially books about books), historical fiction and science fiction. I don't like a lot of violence or sex in my books so I tend to steer away from romance and horror. I'll also comment on my book club reads, as I facilitate a group for my job. But I'm a librarian at heart and always like getting a glimpse of what works - or doesn't - for people so I'll happily, respectfully discuss books with folks who don't agree with me.
I'm not always great about commenting on threads and keeping up with the madness that is the 75ers, but if you follow me/comment here I'll star your thread and follow you back.
Happy New Year
Happy New Group here
This place is full of friends
I hope it never ends
It brew of erudition and good cheer.
Doting Auntie Mary duly followed. *smooch* and a supercalafragilisticexpialadocious year of Assistant Directoring, reading, and being awesome as always.
Happy 2018, Mary!
My wife grew up in western Mass, in Pittsfield. We get back there at least once a year now.
>10 richardderus: *smooch* back. You're the best, Richard! Happy New year full of wonderful books and good memories
>11 jnwelch: thanks, Joe! Pittsfield is about an hour west of me in a gorgeous part of the state. We should plan a meetup sometime if it fits in with your plans!
>12 _Zoe_: thanks, Zoe!
>13 rosylibrarian: happy new year, Marie!
>14 souloftherose: thank you, and to you too, Heather!
Happy new thread and new year, will be following along, especially for your lovely reading group reports. I was so pleased to hear you get to keep them despite the promotion (congratulations!).
>20 tymfos: happy New Year, Terri! Looking forward to following your ready again this year :)
First book of the year was Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. Melody is confined to a wheelchair and can't talk, but she's actually brilliant and synesthetic. She narrates the story, sharing with readers about her family, her school, and her experience as a person often overlooked, ignored, and underestimated.
Readers get a sense of Melody's physical challenges and the way people misunderstand her, not realizing that her mental abilities and personhood aren't affected by her limitations. You'll find yourself cheering and crying throughout, and bring amazed at Melody's sheer resilience and determination. This powerful story is a great readalike for fans of Wonder.
Edited to try to fix the touchstones.
>22 alcottacre: happy new year, Stasia! And thanks, that's one of my favorites... Mia is still rather jealous of Matthew and the time mommy time he gets, so it's nice to have one of her enjoying holding him.
Happy New Year and new thread, Mary! I look forward to talking shop and books with you again this year. :)
>27 norabelle414: Thanks for the recommendation, Nora, I'll give it a try. The writing definitely has a quality that was similar to a speech, so I imagine that would be a neat way to experience it.
>28 LauraBrook: Happy New Year to you too, Laura!
>29 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky, looking forward to the same. Happy New Year!
Finished my second book of the year, The Stone Sky. It's the third in a trilogy by N. K. Jemisin and I highly recommend all of them. I'll have to give it a proper review when I can put together coherent thoughts and am no longer typing on my phone.
>31 bell7: Congrats on finishing your second book, Mary. I have the first of that series in the stacks.
So you'd think Snowmaggedon was here rather than...well, winter in New England. Not that I'm driving in the snow, mind you. Actually my car is still in the shop, so I called in to work and then all the town offices closed at 11. Oh well. I've been enjoying a quiet morning catsitting, watched the first three episodes of This Is Us, and finished my third book of the year, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. I will be back with proper numbers and reviews, but as of right now am using either a Kindle or a phone keyboard, neither of which is particular conducive to long and typo-free messages. Hope everyone is staying healthy and safe so far this year!
Sounds like a good morning, Mary. Hope the rest of your week goes well!
With your move up to management do you get less weekends at work? Or about the same?
>38 MickyFine: it's been a nice break after some really busy days, thanks Micky. Right now I'm working exactly the same schedule I had, weekends and all. Actually the most likely thing to change would be depending on how union negotiations go, I'll be moved to Sundays instead of Saturdays.
What lovely children. I apologize, I thought you had two nieces. Now, I remember that there is a spunky little Mia and a brother for her to play with when he gets older. Unless, she is devious as my sister and I who did not want another sibling and taunted our new baby sister by shaking a stuffed toy in her face.
Happy New Year! May you have lots of books, and plenty of space to store them. I look forward to visiting more frequently in 2018.
>40 Whisper1: not to worry, Linda! It's hard to keep track of everyone's growing families and I'd be amazed if you kept it all straight :)
The jury is still out on exactly what their relationship will be like. Mia is a bit jealous, but she will sometimes get real delight out of playing around with Matthew, too. She's full of imaginative play and loves to direct a game, so she may very well tell her laid back brother what she wants him to do and he'll go along with her whims. Maybe. We'll see how they grow up.
And what a lovely library and wishes for the new year! All the best to you in 2018, Linda!
Alright, let's see, a couple of proper reviews to start the new year right:
2. The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin
Why now? I started it as soon as I finished Artemis, the day after Christmas as I'd just received it for a gift and could not WAIT to find out how this trilogy ended!
The third book in the trilogy starts very soon after the last book's end, with the comm of Castrima now on the move. Essun's actions saved many lives, but destroyed the place they were living. Meanwhile, her daughter Nassun - a powerful girl in her own right, able to move mountains and turn people into precious stones with the aid of the obelisks that her mother can also maneuver - has killed her father and wants to end it all, all life, all Earth, by controlling the Obelisk Gate. Essun still wants to find her daughter, but she's also being pressured to put everything right as only she (or maybe Nassun) can.
It's impossible to understand this book if you haven't already read the first two, but I will say - it is completely worth the rollercoaster ride. We finally get the story of Hoa, the stoneeaters' creation, how everything went wrong, what the obelisks are... it all comes together. I won't say it all works out, because that's too much to hope for in a society where any people group is oppressed, a familiar theme that runs throughout the story and doesn't beat you over the head but definitely makes you sit up straighter and think about our own present world. But it is, I think, ultimately hopeful in people who try their best, imperfectly, to make the world a better place and I found it incredibly satisfying. 4.5 stars.
3. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Why now? It's been on my radar for awhile, and the audiobook read by the author was available through Overdrive. After a couple night's listening, I realized that the short poetry was a terrible format for me to listen to as an audiobook because I'd fade in and out and miss stuff. But I was enjoying it, so I started over with the book and read it in two days.
Jacqueline Woodson writes a memoir of her early days, from her birth in Ohio to about the age of 11 or 12 living in New York, in verse.
Told in verse, Woodson gives more impressions of her early life growing up than a straightforward narrative, even though it is roughly chronological. The poems themselves are often beautiful and poignant. She was born in 1962, so grew up in a tumultuous time and had experiences growing up in both the South with her grandparents and in New York with her mother. This could've been dark, but she has a light touch and some young readers not familiar with Civil Rights in that time period may not pick up on what her mother's doing when she goes and sits at certain restaurants or why exactly her grandmother wanted them to sit in the back of the bus even though they legally could sit wherever. The story gives you a glimpse of another's life, sometimes sad, sometimes hopeful, and absolutely convinced of the power of the pen. 4 stars.
This book got a lot of buzz when it first came out and I've been meaning to read it ever since. I probably would've liked it better if it hadn't been quite so built up or if I hadn't loved the books I'd just finished as much as I did. Still recommended, just not as perfect as I'd hoped.
>44 richardderus: usually me too, as you know. It's one of those that's worth it, but there are so many books in the world I will not be insulted if you still give it a pass :)
Good news, everyone: I GOT MY CAR BACK!!!
I'll have to drive it around awhile to get it to pass inspection, but so far today it was feeling good. I filled it up with gas and no check engine lights are on yet. Here's hoping it's all good to go and passes when I get it reinspected, hopefully next week if I drive it around enough.
Awesome! In Maryland we do vehicle emissions inspections every two years. A bit ago, my truck (an old beater Toyota I use to haul things to the dump) failed to pass emissions. After several diagnostic attempts, my mechanic and I decided that the problem was the computer wasn't storing data, so the truck failed for "insufficient data to measure emissions" and needed a new computer. So now once a month I take it to the VEIP station, pay my $14 dollars, fail the test, come back next month. Apparently I can continue to fail forever as long as I fork over $14 a month. 😁
>47 drneutron: Thanks, Jim! I'm a little excited, can you tell? It's been a heck of a week trying to figure out getting around.
And oh dang, the computer itself was the problem??? I'm fairly confident that once I get done with driving around 80-100 miles I should have enough data, but if not I suppose that could be an issue with mine as well - it failed emissions the first time for insufficient data. I get a free retest within 60 days, but inspections cost $35 in Massachusetts.
Yeah, $35 a month is pretty steep if you have a problem. There may be an appeals process if you can't get it resolved by a mechanic and it continues to fail. Not in Maryland, but frankly, I spend more a month on Starbucks than I do on emissions testing. 😁
>45 bell7: Yep. Nope. Not a hope in Hades.
$35 for an inspection! NYS is $21. I can't imagine why something is cheaper here than there.
Interesting discussion on car inspections - we don't have 'em here in WI, or at least I don't think so (and I think I should likely no if we did, right?).
Yeah, I don't think we have them here in South Carolina either...and I don't remember doing one in Arizona...or Oregon, or Nevada... oh my goodness, maybe I have just been breaking the law in every state I've lived in??
>50 richardderus: Huh. Weird how much it can vary state by state. And yeah, why would NY be cheaper than MA? Or Maryland, for that matter, with the high cost of living there.
>51 scaifea: and >52 rosylibrarian: I'm actually surprised at how many don't have some kind of regulation then. That's interesting! I think you might not need them in NH as well (or maybe that's insurance?).
I got failed on safety once (which means, no driving the car) because my windshield fluid was leaking and I couldn't spray the glass to clear it from dirt/salt. I couldn't help but shake my head at that one, remembering as a kid that we didn't even have that ability in the cars my parents drove and had to wipe off the windshield when we went to get gas.
Hooray for getting your car back, Mary. Crossing my fingers that it passes inspection for you next time. Indiana and Georgia also do not have inspections. Just saying...
>54 Crazymamie: Hahaha, well my career is pretty safely wrapped up in western Massachusetts so I won't be moving out of state any time soon. Of course, watch me say that and have a major life change that involves a move in the next year! The good news is, the reinspection won't cost me anything. If it fails again, then we'll just have to see. Also crossing my fingers, but first I have to drive it around enough for the computer to have emissions data - amazing how much is wrapped up in computers now!
Stone Sky: it is completely worth the rollercoaster ride. We finally get the story of Hoa, the stoneeaters' creation, how everything went wrong, what the obelisks are... it all comes together. Yes! Totally agree. I think she'll win another award for it. What a series.
I always worry that the third in a trilogy may be a letdown. Nope.
I loved Brown Girl Dreaming. I didn't have any letdown about it, maybe in part because I'm not averse to verse.
>56 jnwelch: I loved the entire trilogy, and though fantasy is not popular with my library patrons I'm going to recommend it as much as I can. I hope she does win another award for it, that would be completely deserved.
not averse to verse made me smile
I think my expectations going in to Brown Girl Dreaming were just too high, and I still hadn't recovered from The Stone Sky to entirely give another book a fair chance.
Edited to get the touchstones to work
I enjoyed Brown Girl Dreaming, despite the fact that I don't usually like poetry. I had absolutely zero expectations going in, however, so that could have something to do with it.
I find this whole discussion of vehicle inspections fascinating. As far as I know, none of the provinces in Canada require them on a regular basis. Just when you first bring the car into the province to sell it. After that, c'est bon!
>58 norabelle414: Hi, Nora! Isn't it funny how expectations can play into it? I did really enjoy Brown Girl Dreaming and would recommend it, I just thought I'd like it better. But I had also just finished The Stone Sky and had been absolutely blown away, so... It was probably me, not the book is all I'm saying 😀
>59 MickyFine: huh... I need to get a car inspected right after I buy it, and then every year in that same month. I think every other year tests emissions (or safety, I can never remember which), but an inspection is done annually. In fact, the reason I bought the car when I did in December is because my old car was too rusty to pass inspection in 2017.
Edited to fix typo... I'm still on the phone/Kindle keyboards and not prone to mistakes.
Happy Monday, all! This is the one Monday I have to work this month, and I woke up to find my boss is out sick so I had to do turnover (the cash register) and payroll for the library and turn that all in to town hall. It went okay, except the first time I forgot the money and had to turn back around. Everything added up correctly for me, so that was good.
Over the weekend during the very cold weather, I accidentally left a car door ajar and completely killed the battery. My mechanic was nice enough to try to give me a jump on Sunday afternoon, and when that didn't work, a ride to pick up a new battery for him to put in the car. It's working now, but I had to start over my hundred miles to get enough emissions data in the computer for the car to pass inspection :::sigh::: I'm thinking up schemes to get more driving done so I can hurry up and get it finished already.
I went home to pick up a few things, got my laptop up and running and the screen is all weird lines of black and white so it's going to be out of commission if not totally sunk.
But I got some things I needed prepared at work and home, watched a few episodes of This is Us and now I'm going to hang out reading for a bit before bed. I'm nearly done a baby hat and matching sleep sack for a friend who is due in February. I'm planning on finishing that tomorrow morning.
Hi Mary I hope tommorow morning brings a much better day. Just so you know there is a vote going on over on my thread.
>61 bell7: Sounds like it was a bit of a Monday but glad most things turned out pretty well. Bummer about the death of the laptop though.
>62 BBGirl55: Thanks, Bryony! It wasn't awful, just stressful.
>63 MickyFine: Yeah, it's an unexpected loss :( I'm kind of hoping I can bring it to a friend to fix it or at least get saved files off it for me, but since I just bought the new phone I'm going to have to take a hard look at my planned purchases before I can go out and just replace it. I'm thinking I might just get a keyboard to go with my Kindle, and that may do nicely. It's mostly the keyboard that I prefer on computers anyway, and it does look like there are some options available.
Hi Mary - newly-minted AD - congrats! I'm late getting around to threads this year, but look forward to another year of following your reading and adventures.
I enjoyed Brown Girl Dreaming. I liked her blank verse style but I know that was the very reason some of the 75'ers didn't enjoy it.
Roni has me hooked on God Stalk with the group read. I enjoy fantasy, and I'm never quite sure why I don't read more of it. I'll have to check out the Broken Earth trilogy.
>61 bell7: Wow, I bet you were glad when that day ended. Hope the week picks up for you!
>64 bell7: Nice! Hopefully you find an option that works for you. I replaced my desktop with a laptop last year when I had my last three-paycheque month and I'm quite fond of her. She's very shiny. ;)
>65 streamsong: thanks, Janet, for your congratulations and coming to say hello. I did enjoy Brown Girl Dreaming, just not as much as I'd expected to, though I liked a few of the poems quote a bit. I hope you enjoy the Broken Earth trilogy! I saw the group read and just wouldn't have time this month to join in, but I'm glad you're enjoying it! I'll have to add it to the list.
>66 rosylibrarian: it was a bit more stressful than I'd been anticipating, but it's the only Monday I'm working this week, so there's that.
>67 MickyFine: oooh, nice, Micky! I'd used the money I'd set aside for a laptop replacement on my phone just last month, but I did put an Amazon order in for a Kindle keyboard. My grandfather gave me cash for my Christmas gift, and I think I'll count that as the majority of it.
Well, my first DNF of the year is Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder. It's gotten accolades galore, has strong reviews here, was a LibraryReads pick and a New York Times notable book. There were times I found it interesting, but most of the time I was bogged down by its density and painstaking detail. I kind of feel like I'm missing something, but also don't think I'll be interested enough to pick it up again. I'll have to try Pioneer Girl or Caroline: Little House Revisited or even Libertarians on the Prairie instead.
Belated Happy New Year! I think I lost track of your thread at some point last year -- I'll try to do better this time around. Your reading of Brown Girl Dreaming is timely, since Woodson was just named National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.
>71 bell7: Since I don't like Wilder's writing, I'm all over a DNF on that one. How far did you make it before cratering?
>74 richardderus: 180 pages or so out of 500+ text and another 100+ of notes. The only reason it went on so long was because there were enough elements I was interested in that I waffled for... well, probably 150 of those pages.
It's been over a decade since I last read the Little House books, but I remember mostly enjoying them and skipping over the long chunks of description (especially, memorably, in On the Banks of Plum Creek which caused some to question if I could really count it as having "read" it) and being much more intrigued when there was dialogue. I still prefer books with more dialogue, in fact.
OIC...well, yeah that's technically a DNF but to be honest it seems like enough of a read to count as a book read by my standards. But then I'm all about not suffering through a read.
I was bored and uninterested the entire time I experienced the Wilderverse. I simply do not like the gynergy of the thing.
>76 richardderus: I mean, I counted a 35-page long book last year so technically it could be a book read, right? It would be interesting to tally up the number of pages from books I *don't* finish this year... hmmm...
But then I'm all about not suffering through a read.
Yep, too many books, too little time.
I had to look up "gynergy" and have to say that specifically is not something I noticed. However, being of the female persuasion myself to a certain extent it does not bother me. Endless navel gazing like Traveling with Pomegranates, however...
I suspect that, much like misandry, gynergy is invisible to those of the female persuasion. (Begs the question of who did the persuading, doesn't it.)
>78 richardderus: Begs the question of who did the persuading.
You bring up a very interesting point, Richard. I've never been one to read "only books by women" and I know some of my library patrons read "only books by men." I'm also super-critical when, say, Andy Weir (or John Updike) writes a book with a female main character. I try to read both what reflects my own experience and what introduces me to something different, with varying success.
Edited to add... I'm thinking out loud a little here and am totally for reading what works for you and not reading what doesn't. Just sayin' :)
>79 drneutron: Totally counts ;)
I think I will keep track of "abandoned books pages read" for a little while, though I won't promise a tally at the end of the year.
4. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall
A reread - well, relisten as it was an audiobook. Here's my review from 2010:
The Penderwicks sisters' mother died when Batty was a baby, but before she died she asked her husband's sister to give him a letter. When Aunt Claire comes over, bringing the letter that asks Mr. Penderwick to start dating again, the sisters cook up the "Save Daddy Plan" to keep their father from getting remarried.
This story is as funny as the first book about sisters Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty. Though the plot is more predictable the older the reader, I had fun anticipating what was going to happen. I really enjoyed listening to Susan Denaker's narration of the audiobook because she interprets each character well and adds to the humor with her delivery.
The first book is set during their summer vacation, and the second picks up now that they're back at home during the school year. This is a sweet series that has an old-fashioned feel similar to The Moffats or All-of-a-Kind Family but set in the present time and perfect for car rides for the whole family to listen to (have I mentioned, the audio version is superb?).
<81 I read the first Penderwicks book a couple years ago. I gave it 4.5 stars. I need to see about reading more! Thanks for the reminder.
Alright, I'm cheating a little bit because I haven't *quite* finished the book, but I wanted to write down some of my thoughts before I forgot... and then I think I'm going to skim the rest.
5. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Why now? Book club book (for Wednesday)
In World War II, when there were so many jobs available that women were accepted into jobs they may never have received otherwise, a group of brilliant black women were hired as "computers" at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. These women, including Dorothy Vaughan and Katherine Goble, worked to run the numbers for engineering feats that allowed the airplane industry (military and civilian) really take off. Then, NACA became NASA and the space race was on.
I really, really wanted to like this book about heretofore "hidden figures" - the women themselves and the numbers they ran, which were no guarantee of authorship in technical reports. Though the subtitle mentions the space race, the story of the West Computers - the segregated unit of black women "computers" for NACA - runs from 1946 through 1969. Primarily following the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Goble and Mary Jackson, Shetterly includes incidences of many more women in the workforce, black and white, which made it hard to follow with all the names and moving back and forth in time when she gave their educational background, early work history and marriages. Other side stories, some more tangential than others, included everything from women at NACA to the challenges of integration in Viriginia schools to Mary Jackson's son's soap box derby. If this reader is any guide, the math and computing details are way over the head of the layperson. Shetterly does not hold back on mathematics, complex vocabulary and sentences, which made for really slow reading. Though it's an important story and researched, the meticulously detailed approach, number of people involved (I really wished for a list of them!), and number of side stories detracted from my reading experience. 3 stars.
Oh also, since you've all been in on the car drama - it passed inspection yesterday! So hopefully all will be well for a good long time. I do love the all wheel drive and heated seats. I will very soon be spoiled.
>87 MickyFine: yeah, it was a mixed bag and I might've let it go if it weren't for book club. I'm going to look over the questions and start picking out what I want to ask my group tomorrow to prepare for Wednesday. I might finding myself looking it just a bit more after discussion.
>88 drneutron: I wouldn't be surprised if you liked it better than I did, Jim. I got lost in the math and the details, but I didn't really understand what they were doing and I'm guessing you'll have much more of a grasp on it all 😀
Finished this one today
6. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karin Yan Glaser
The Vanderbeeker kids - Isa, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth and Laney - have lived in the brownstone house as long as they can remember. A few days before Christmas, their grouchy landlord decides not to renew their lease, and the kids hatch a plan to make "the Beiderman" let them stay in their home.
The interracial family (exactly what races we're never told, it's left to the imagination with both their parents having "dark" hair) living in a New York apartment. It's funny and charming, with each child different and relatable family dynamics. Readers of classic children's literature and The Penderwicks will find much to like and little to surprise in this warm, funny and charming tale.
Hello! You were recommended as one of my top 100 libraries (I'm new here, I assume that's based on the books that we share?) but after seeing the sheer amount that you've read, I'll bet that you're matched up to many people in this group
>91 shuwanted: Welcome! Yes, the 100 similar libraries are based on books we share, and I think weight them based on how unusual the title is as well. I took a peek at your thread, and what you read isn't too shabby either! I tend to read about 100-120 books a year depending on how busy I am outside of work, and if I read others' threads here I certainly get book recommendations added to my own reading list - all that does add up to a certain amount of overlap, it's true.
Looking forward to following your reading in 2018!
Yesterday was our first book discussion of the year, and we read and discussed Hidden Figures. If everyone in our group shows up, I'd probably get 12 people but I usually average out about 6-9. We were on the small side last night at 6 because a few regulars decided not to come out after a few inches of snow earlier that day. I had one new participant, and I'm hoping she joins us again!
Well, first of all I was very much in the minority having criticisms of the book. I kept that opinion pretty much to myself, as the other ladies in my group really enjoyed the story and had a lot of say about it. "Why didn't we know about this?!" - sparked some discussion of the change in news and how much we know about current events where in the past you may have been in more of a local bubble. Other than me, the other ladies in my group were alive during the space race so their perspective was much different from mine. Racism in the past and present, in our language and attitudes and behaviors, dominated the discussion. We also had a really good discussion question "How did the space race parallel the civil rights movement?" There were a lot of examples in this from the book, not just in the women's particular lives but also in the global impact of the Cold War.
All in all, it was one of those books it was difficult to *stop* talking about. Next month: The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn. This was a bit of a dark horse for our group, who tends to read historical/literary fiction and nonfiction so it'll be interesting to see what they think of it.
>93 bell7: I liked that book a good deal but am waiting to review it until I see the film.
>93 bell7: Sounds like an awesome discussion, Mary. It would be very cool to hear the discussion from the perspective of people who were alive and remember the space race.
Have you read Dear Fahrenheit 451 yet? Your outline of some of your discussions reminds me of one of the letters the author includes in which she struggles not to jump up and lead a book group discussion at a restaurant while she's on a date with her husband.
>94 richardderus: I just got the film in from the library but won't be able to watch it 'til I'm home from catsitting. Looking forward to comparing notes with you!
>95 MickyFine: Yes, I've especially enjoyed some of our discussions centering on Civil Rights and similar time periods, and love getting a different generation's take on events they've lived through but are my "history." I haven't read Dear Fahrenheit 451, but with that recommendation I've just put a hold on it.
>96 bell7: It's a funny and fast read. I've got a feeling it's going to be my first 5 star read of the year.
It's been a really long, busy week. Monday was a holiday, and I switched from dogsitting to catsitting. In between, I had a few hours to kill so I went home and took my Christmas tree down, so the box is sitting in my living room ready nearly ready for me to take up to the attic. Tuesday was the day between a holiday and a snowstorm, so extra busy and a few interactions leaving me emotionally spent. Wednesday was not enough snow to close or cancel programs, so I had a movie and book discussion - which I summarized above. The rest of the week is just normal busy, including today in which I had two in-depth local history questions at times when I wasn't on the Reference Desk. At least the shift has gone quickly! Catsitting wraps up tomorrow. At least I'm off on Monday.
I haven't finished a book since Sunday, but I'm reading a few good ones:Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis has been alongside my Bible reading 'cause that's where I'm at in the Old Testament reading.
Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves is really wonderful historical fantasy set during Victorian times first in England but most of the action is taking place in Hungary. I'm finding the time period and setting really refreshing, and the story of a girl who has the ability not to do magic like most of her family and the Luminate society that they're a part of, but to undo spells instead interesting.
I also started Atlas Obscura because it's a humongous book and I figured I'd want to read it in spurts. Editors of the popular blog by the same name compile information about crazy stories and out-of-the-way places all around the world. I only wish they'd cite sources, but there is contact information for the places you can actually go to.
Finally, my reread and audiobook (I've got the book going too) is Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik. It's my goal to actually finish the series I started years ago and got lost in the shuffle somehow. Really fun historical fantasy set during the Napoleonic Wars, with dragons.
Oh, and I've got all caught up on This is Us so I can watch it Thursday night, and I've started knitting a sweater for Mia that's coming out nicely.
But when I get out of work, after I take a quick trip home to drop off some things so I'm not piling up my car with way too much stuff all day Sunday, what I'm really contemplating is fitting in a nap.
Happy weekend! Atlas Obscura's daily emails are a serious pleasure to me. I am always entertained and intrigued by the bizarro places they discover.
>100 richardderus: I didn't sign up for the emails, but i am following them on Twitter now
>101 MickyFine: well the nap wasn't quite in the cards for the afternoon, but I did get to knit for a couple of hours in front of Say Yes to the Dress.
In other news, the keyboard for my Kindle came in and I'm experimenting. So far so good!
>102 bell7: Huzzah for an affordable tech solution! Hope you get a bit of lazy time today.
Sounds like you had a very productive weekend! I, too, had a good weekend. (It helps that the kids were with their mom for Friday night and Saturday...) Hopefully you have a good week, too!
7. Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
Why now? I'm trying to trim down the list of books I've had on hold for awhile, and this one was on the list.
In a Victorian England where the elite Luminate class has magic, Anna has none - in fact, spells go awry when she's around. She suddenly draws the attention of the magic government, the Circle, when at her sister's debut she spectacularly ruins her sister's spells. Perhaps she is not just Barren but something else? Hoping to evade the Circle until the scandal goes down, Anna's parents send her to Hungary with her grandmother. But Anna finds herself in the midst of political unrest, and has to determine if she is going to break the granddaddy spell of them all - the Binding, which the revolutionaries tell her is what keeps the Luminate in power.
I really enjoyed the time period and world-building in this inventive young adult fantasy. Even those historical fantasties I've read set in Victorian times tend to be more a comedy of manners or about England; having Hungary as a setting was fresh for me. Though it's the first in a series (book 2 comes out in March), the story stands well on its own with a satisfying ending. 4 stars.
8. Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik
Why now? Rereading/catching up on a series I never finished
My review from the last time I read this book (this is the third time):
In the second book in the Temeraire series, Laurence and his dragon, Temeraire, must go to China when the Chinese emperor discovers that his gift to Napoleon has gone amiss and a Celestial is serving in the British aerial corps.
The main strength of the series, to my mind, is Laurence and Temeraire's conversations - sometimes bantering, sometimes serious. In this one, the treatment of dragons in Britain is questioned, particularly in reference to the slave trade. Though they don't reach China until well into the book, the journey is a lot of fun because of the well-rounded characters who are so much fun to spend time with.
Once again I'd forgotten how long they were in transit rather than in China itself. It's probably a little because of how I read the book, but the beginning seemed rather drawn out and the end gives you several revelations within the last 50 pages that wrap up the whole story. It kind of suffers a little from "middle of a series" itis, where there's no real standalone beginning and not a ton of resolution at the end. But I enjoy the series and the characters and I'm looking forward to continuing it - I'll probably take a break for a couple of months, however.
>80 bell7: That's what I did last year, Mary. I didn't count the 4 books I didn't finish, but did count the pages read toward my total for the year, which I keep as a separate stat.
I really enjoyed Hidden Figures but was really glad I had seen and enjoyed the movie first (which collapses several story lines and eliminates others). That gave me more of a base to enjoy the longer and more complex book.
May have taken a book bullet for Blood Rose Rebellion.
>110 ronincats: I have the film at home and am still looking forward to it. I hope you enjoy Blood Rose Rebellion when you get to it, Roni. I've seen some somewhat negative reviews since posting mine, but for me it had a nice blend of what you'd expect from the genre with a fascinatingly unique setting.
9. Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis
Why now? I'm reading through Psalms so it seemed a good time to read this concurrently
Best known as the author of the Chronicles of Narnia and several book on Christian apologetics, C.S. Lewis here takes a variety of "reflections" on themes in Psalms, not as an expert but as a companion reading alongside.
Each chapter focuses on one aspect of the Psalms, starting with what Lewis considers the hardest ones - vengeance, for example, and cursing - broken down topically in an almost random way. The final three chapters are closely intertwined, discussing "second meanings" when perhaps the author is talking about more than he actually meant and readers are interpreting it differently in literature, Scripture in general, and then finally the Psalms. Though not my favorite Lewis, Psalms is one of my favorite parts of Scripture so it was fun to get an idea of what Lewis thought of these topics (definitely have your own translation with you, as he refers to specific verses throughout often without quoting them or expanding much on them). 4 stars.
I'd forgotten I'd listened to this several years ago, but it took me so long and my memory was so fuzzy before I'd even ended the book that I gave it three stars and didn't write a review. Just about all of this felt "new" to me, so just confirmed that I'm not an auditory learner by far.
>113 thornton37814: That'll be a good one for me to look up. I have another of Timothy Keller's books on my TBR stack, and really loved his book on prayer.
Happy weekend, all!
I'm working today until 2 p.m. and then my grand plans for the afternoon are to prepare for a Bible study Monday and finish the sweater I've been knitting for my niece. The only part left is to sew on the clasp at the neck. I'll share a photo soon.
Other than that, just working away and reading a few books.
Atlas Obscura - I'm reading it slowly, a few destinations at a time
Clandestine in Chile by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - nonfiction journalism and very short (only a little over 100 pages), this is about a film maker who was exiled when Pinochet was in power and sneaked back into the country to make a film. I haven't seen the film nor am I familiar with Chilean politics so while it's mildly interesting, I'm not finding much to connect to. I've been reading it on breaks at work.
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel - I started listening to the audio before bed a couple of days ago (read by Simon Vance), and knew I'd need the book to go along with it to get it read on time and not lose track of what was happening. I've read Wolf Hall twice now, so it's about time I continued Thomas Cromwell's story. I'm really enjoying it, and it would be my go-to book to read when I have a chunk of time, but so far I've only been reading a few pages at a time before I go to sleep to the audio.
Hopefully this weekend (and Monday, I day I have off) I'll be able to make a little more progress in everything.
Weird quirk I've discovered on the threads now that I'm looking at them mostly on mobile... I can read them on my phone and see all the emojis, which come up as little squares when I look on a computer. But on my phone I can't click on (well, tap on - I'd love to know if anyone has a workaround) "Spoiler" text and see anything.
Looks like you've got some great books on the go, Mary. Hope you have a fabulous Monday off. :)
>116 bell7: Hmm, what kind of phone and browser are you using? I can do the spoiler text thing just fine on my Android phone in Google Chrome.
>117 MickyFine: thanks, Micky! I'm working on a t-shirt quilt that I'd started ummm two years ago? I'm getting good progress on it and should at least finish the top today.
>118 norabelle414: well, since you assured me it worked, I tried again on your thread, Nora, and I can! I must not have hit it on the right spot or quite long enough or something and gave up too soon. (For reference, I have a Google phone and also use chrome)
My Android phone is very touchy about temperatures. Too cold, or too hot, and fiddly little things like screentaps are off-the-charts twitchy. I put the phone in an upper pocket facing my body when it gets that way in the cold and it's always been cooperative after that.
>120 richardderus: So smart. I usually breathe on my screen to warm it up but your method is much more sanitary.
>120 richardderus: my fingers are often cold, and I find I sometimes have to rub my hands a bit to get the screen touch to work on cold days.
>121 norabelle414: meh, a few germs are good for the immune system, right? ;)
>122 MickyFine: *snort* the part where I put it together or that it took two years? No just kidding... actually, I'm pretty excited to be making visible progress on it instead of it sitting on a table cluttering up space. I'm not a sewer, but a couple of the housemates are, so I'm getting expert advice as I go (and begging for help when the fabric gets stuck or the bobbin runs out of thread). I'll feel very accomplished when it's complete (and of course will share photos).
And of course with all these crafty projects going on, I have not finished a book in awhile nor am I likely to soon.
I have Bring Up the Bodies on Mt TBR. One of these days I'll get to it. :) I enjoyed Wolf Hall but it was not one I could read quickly.
I love that you and Lori are both reading Psalms. I have not read anything by Timothy Keller and I am hugely tempted to order The Songs of Jesus which is not available through my library. Instead I requested his book on Prayer since both of you liked it.
(I am trying to get my physically owned MT TBR below 500 books.)
>123 bell7: The great things about books is that they'll wait for you when you get busy with other things. Enjoy all the crafting!
Mary, do you ear-read? It seems like your knitting and quilting would be excellent opportunities to absorb some story that way without the annoyances of TV commercials.
>124 streamsong: I'm really enjoying Bring Up the Bodies, Janet, but it's definitely not a fast read. My physical TBR is around 220 books and I'm starting to feel a little pressure to read my own books myself! I hope you enjoy Timothy Keller's book. I own another of his, The Reason for God, that I'm hoping to get to soon.
>125 MickyFine: this is true! I am enjoying the crafting and am super excited about how Mia's sweater came out. Hopefully I'll figure out a way to share photos soon>
>126 richardderus: I do, Richard! I very much enjoy listening while knitting and can't get to sleep without listening to an audiobook for a few minutes (I have the app set to 30 minutes of reading to me, and that's usually enough). I'm not great at retaining what I listen to, however, so I tend to either use audiobooks for retreads, children's books, or supplement with the book to reread what I've forgotten. I'm currently both reading and listening to Bring up the Bodies. Any recommendations?
Edited to get touchstones to work.
>128 Whisper1: Thanks, Linda! I've only read a few of her books, but I've really enjoyed all I've read.
>127 bell7: No, no suggestions from me. I am *utterly*unable* to ear-read as I become catatonic and retain nothing at all from the 3min mark forward.
>130 richardderus: I retain only *slightly* better than that, but yeah, it tends to be rereads for me. Reading from a page is still the best way for my memory.
>131 bell7: I never thought of that, re-reading via ear-reading. I'll try it sometime, my library system has oodles of audio options. Thanks!
>132 richardderus: you're welcome! And may I highly recommend anything read by Katherine Kellgren and Simon Vance as well worth (re)listening to.
January in review -
1. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
2. The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin
3. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
4. Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall
5. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
6. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
7. Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
8. Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis
9. Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik
Books read: 9
Pages read from unfinished books: 170
Standouts: Out of My Mind and The Stone Sky were pretty amazing ways to start the year.
Thoughts: Though I didn't really start out to do it intentionally, I read four books by African American women and one Asian American to start out the year. Eight-nine books is fairly typical for me in January, though I didn't finish a book in over a week, which is not. Only one book by a man, which is also rather unusual for me - and it was a reread by a favorite author of mine, C.S. Lewis.
Other than the 12 books I'll be reading for book club, I'm pretty much giving myself permission to read whatever I want and not participating in any other challenges. I'm sort-of-without-making-it-into-a-rule trying to read more of my own books this year than in years past. I did finish three. I started and passed on another (Clandestine in Chile). I have five books out from the library at present and am not reading another of my own just yet. So we'll see how that turns out.
Enjoyed the review of your January reading, Mary. Hoping that your weekend is full of fabulous!
>135 Crazymamie: thanks, Mamie! I've made it more or less elaborate different years and I'm trying to keep it simple enough for me to keep up with it... For example, I'm not hugely paying attention to format this year.
My weekend was good, I worked unexpectedly on Saturday to fill in for some co-workers who had to call out so I'm off today. That worked out well, because I woke up yesterday with a sore throat and chest, three up last night after the Superbowl (no, not because the Eagles won..possibly the chicken I ate last night was a little old), and am still tired and achy (no fever, thankfully). So I'm planning a day in bed with books and movies and hoping that's enough to knock this thing out so I can go back to work tomorrow. It's not only the week I write the newsletter, it's the one I'm supposed to be training the new adult services librarian on so that I no longer have to. I'm reminding myself that everything gets done after a vacation, so it will after sick time too, but it's frustrating.
>136 bell7: I, too, am sick and stayed home today. I feel the same as you about it, but we have to do what we need to in order to get better.
>137 foggidawn: true! And no one, patrons or co-workers, want me passing on their germs to them. I'm feeling well enough to eat, at least, today and will have to venture out for a quick grocery shopping tomorrow morning whether I go in to work or no. Hope you feel better soon, foggi!
These crappy illnesses need to stop. No one in the 75ers is allowed to get sick until 2019.
I Have Spoken.
>139 MickyFine: I woke up with my nausea better but my cold worse. Thankfully I live with awesome housemates and landlords who are taking care of me. Housemates bought me Ramen noodles last night, and since the landlords were going out anyway, they added mailing a package for me and getting a few groceries to their to-do lists. I've been at home watching Fruits Basket, knitting and napping all day. A snow storm might get me anothet day off tomorrow, but we'll see.
>140 richardderus: I like it. Let's go with that, Richard. BTW, said package mailed was your Book Pages.
I hope you feel better soon, Mary, and I am looking forward to seeing your craft work.
Here's the top of the t-shirt quilt... No further progress since, as I've been working or sick:
And here is the sweater for Mia:
It's hard to show it to full advantage flat, but I'll try to snag a photo of her wearing it when I'm visiting next month.
It's telling me the other files, one with a close up of the hood and frog clasp and the other of Matthew's frog hat, are too large and won't upload to my gallery. I'll have to mess with it some more and share later.
...wait...someone else sent me BookPages?!
I threw out the envelope already. Come to think of it, there was no letter from you, which I thought was odd.
Color me surprised!
>147 richardderus: oh too funny! I did write a letter. I've been addlepated enough the past few days I would not swear to remembering to put it in, but I also haven't found it sitting around in my room so I'd say you have another supplier.
>149 Familyhistorian: thanks, Meg!
>150 scaifea: thank you, Amber! It's only the second sweater I've knit and it was constructed a little differently from the first, so I was pretty pleased with it. I've gotten to the point where most techniques and stitches are familiar to me, even if I haven't used the in quite the same way a project calls for them, so it's fun to try something a little more complex occasionally. Not yet trying a sweater with cables, however. 😉
Continuing to be down for the count with this cold (no fever, so I'm calling it a cold). I barely had the energy to shower this morning, so I called in to work again. I can't remember the last time I've felt this awful. I barely have the energy to read, but have watched a couple of long movies/shows over the last two days and read the first five volumes of the Fruits Basket manga yesterday. I'm planning on continuing the series today, though it feels like cheating to count it toward my totals of my own books read.
>151 bell7: Oh, but cables are fabulous, because they're *way* easier than they look! Do give 'em a go at some point and I bet you'll be surprised.
>153 scaifea: I've done cables on scarves and fingerless gloves, just slightly intimidated by the time and concentration it would take to have a sweater with them! :)
Hi just so you know the Vote on my thread was tied, so please go vote again. Thanks.
Sorry to hear the cold is still kicking your butt. Wishing you another restful day of recuperation.
Hi Mary - Wow beautiful sweater.
Sorry you're under the weather. Yay for friends and your landlord who are running errands for you so you can stay in bed. I hope you feel better, soon!
>155 BBGirl55: hi Bryony - added my second vote!
>156 MickyFine: thanks, Micky. Several people here had a snow day so we had pizza for lunch together. Still not much energy, but getting better I think.
>157 streamsong: thanks, Janet! Yeah, I'm fortunate in my living situation with some pretty good folks who look out for each other. I'm just hoping I don't get anyone sick!
>158 bell7: Pizza twinsies! I had pizza for dinner last night (and I'll have leftovers for lunch today and tomorrow).
Hope the bug is sapping less energy today.
>159 ronincats: thanks Roni, I had fun making it!
>160 MickyFine: mmm leftovers are the best! I had grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner today and will most likely have leftovers sometime over the weekend. Almost time for a shopping trip, though!
I'm still sick but on the mend. I made it in to work today and am planning on quiet evening top recuperate so I can hopefully finish out my work week strong. There were a few moments today I was completely wiped out, but I got some really necessary things done and feel like it's all in a good place.
>161 bell7: Glad to hear you're starting to feel more human again.
And huzzah for tomato soup and grilled cheese! One of my favourite meals ever.
Mmm . . . that does sound good. I will be having tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches some time this weekend.
Yesterday I started Dear Fahrenheit 451 and a collection of poems by Billy Collins because of course if it's taken me almost two weeks to finish a book it must be time to start a new one, right? Anyway... so far Dear Fahrenheit 451 is incredibly relatable and the essay/letter on all of Bill O'Reilly's "Killing" books had me cracking up and sharing it with co-workers. I'm pretty sure this one's going to be a staff favorite and I may have to ask our nonfiction purchaser to get it.
I finished watching season 7 of Gilmore Girls (I hear some of you sighing *finally*) and started watching the Netflix Year in the Life. Turns out I took a long pause and then only had two episodes to watch 'til the end. Oops. So, my early assessment that the first three seasons or so were the best stands. As far as Rory's love interest go
The next movie/TV project is going to be the Marvel universe in an order I found to watch them online, and probably Firefly.
Oooh Firefly! Yay for young Nathan Fillion!
Also congrats on finishing Gilmore Girls.
>166 MickyFine: Yeah, I mean,
I have one more movie of Gilmore Girls the Year in the Life. So far I am finding it about Season 6 so-so.
10. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Why now? I'd been meaning to read it since rereading Wolf Hall last year and the audio came up, read by Simon Vance. I knew it was way too long for me to only listen, so I ended up reading most of it.
Hilary Mantel's trilogy-to-be on Thomas Cromwell continues where Wolf Hall left off. Cromwell is Master Secretary and has the ear of King Henry VIII who is quickly becoming disenchanted with the new queen, Anne Boleyn.
The drama and intrigue of King Henry's court is better than a soap opera, and Mantel does a brilliant job of making historical fiction set hundreds of years ago feel immediate and these characters your intimates. I completely fell into the story, and if it took me a couple of weeks to read it was definitely me who was at fault, because when I was reading these 400+ pages flew by. 5 stars.
>168 The_Hibernator: Thanks, Rachel! I'm hoping to manage to get a photo or two of her wearing the sweater when I go down to visit in a couple of weeks.
So the reason it took me 12 days into the month (I finished Bring Up the Bodies yesterday) to finish a book was in part because of getting sick... I was so tired, I couldn't even focus to read and then when I did start reading (after watching the five-hour-long Pride and Prejudice and Fruits Basket), I started rereading the Fruits Basket manga as well. I'm up to about Volume 20 or so and have continued reading them slowly.
Dear Fahrenheit 451, The Great Commission to Worship and The Rain in Portugal are still my currently-reading books. They're also fairly short and moving quickly, so I should have a couple more finished books to report on soon. I'll be housesitting for a couple of weeks starting tomorrow and have a three-day weekend coming up (woot!) so I'm planning on lots of relaxation and reading time.
Next to start will be a couple of book club books - The Harbinger and Beyond Colorblind.
>172 MickyFine: I spent far too short a time in the British Museum and it is on my bucket list to go back. I'll have to look for that. Yeah, I'm about 50/50 for being able to focus on books when sick. Mostly it's a great excuse to watch my favorite long movies that I never have time to watch.
>173 richardderus: I just finished it tonight and will try to do it justice in a review. *smooch* back
11. The Great Commission to Worship by David Wheeler and Vernon Whaley
Why now? I heard a sermon at church last month that mentioned this book so I decided to read it
Authors David Wheeler and Vernon Whaley, both professors at Liberty University, had an ongoing debate about whether evangelism (the Great Commission) or worship was the most important part of the Christian life. In this book, they argue that evangelism is an integral part of worship and should be part of every Christian's life and discipleship.
As a Christian myself, I have no argument with their thesis. Unfortunately, I thought the book itself was only so-so. It was repetitive and, though short, felt long and I was bored at times. Though much of their book focuses on the fact that not just the "professional" Christians (pastors and the like) should be sharing their faith, it nonetheless seems written for just those professionals or a college class. There are a lot of quotes, sometimes from sermon example books, and there are discussion questions at the end of every chapter. One chapter outlines a sample six-week discipleship course that new Christians could take that emphasizes evangelism early on and throughout. So while some of it was thought-provoking and convicting, there's limited practical suggestions for the layperson. 3 stars.
12. Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence
Why now? Micky gave it such a glowing recommendation, I had to get it out from the library.
Author Annie Spence, a librarian in Chicago, writes letters to all sorts of books - from Fahrenheit 451 to Twilight at a garage sale, to a copy of Cannery Row she finds in a bathroom.
About two thirds of the book are letters, and the final third is a unique set of book recommendations. The book is fairly short and the structure makes it really easy to pick up at put down at odd moments throughout the day or reading before bed. Annie's funny, candid, and sometimes irreverent. Book lovers and fellow librarians will find themselves nodding along with her - the letter on Bill O'Reilly's "killing" books and how patrons want them all shelved together had me cracking up with recognition - whether or not you share her taste in books. Reading this feels just a little bit like talking books here on LibraryThing, with all the quirks of personality and taste but a shared love of books that bring us together. 4.5 stars.
I also finished watching Gilmore Girls Year in the Life and
I started housesitting today and will be doing so for about a week and a half. I'm looking forward to this weekend because I'm off on Saturday and Monday for a true long weekend. I've brought all my library books and will be starting my book club read of The Harbinger probably tonight as I watch the Olympics.
If you've noticed, I tend to have a few books going at once, finish a set and start a set not exactly all at once but sort of sliding 3-4 along at any given moment.
Currently reading -
The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins - will probably take me awhile just because I tend to read just a few poems at a time.
Ask a Manager by Alison Green - a Kindle ARC for a book that comes out in May. The content won't be unfamiliar to anyone who's read her blog by the same name, but it's a no-nonsense approach to navigating tough conversations at work, whether with your boss or colleagues. The formatting (which I'm sure will be fine in the finished product) is so-so, with what I assume will be insets in the text.
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech is my audiobook before bed. I'm not an audio learner at all, but it's a reread and a fairly short children's story, so hopefully I'll make it through before I completely lose track of the storyline.
The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn is for my book club read. I'm very picky about my Christian fiction after I read it almost exclusively as a teenager, so... hm, well, not to put too fine a point on it but so far it's a slog. It's mostly dialog and seems to be written primarily to get a Point across rather than to tell a compelling story. But I'm only 25 pages in so I might yet be surprised.
No Time to Spare by Ursula K. Le Guin was recommended to me by a colleague and I'd actually put the hold on before she passed away. It's a collection of ruminations from her blog, organized by topic such as growing old, and interspersed with cat stories. Really engaging and interesting so far. This is the book that will be my treat after reading what I have to for book club.
>176 bell7: Yay! Glad it was a hit with you also.
>177 bell7: Gilmore Girls
>179 MickyFine: So much fun! And I recommended it to a few colleagues as well. Re: Gilmore Girls
13. The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn
Why now? Book club book
Nouriel relates to Ana how he discovered the Harbingers through the help of a prophet: America is headed for God's judgment if they don't pay attention, just like Israel before the Assyrians and Babylonians invaded, and the key is in biblical prophecy.
Where do I start? Let me say straight up that this absolutely fails as a story. There is no plot. There is no character development. The only reasons the characters exist is to have a prolonged, repetitive conversation - that's really all the book is, there's barely anything that's not dialogue - espousing a specific point of view (that, I hasten to add, is not shared by all Christians) that America as the "new Israel" is headed for judgment if we don't return to God, and that events like 9/11 and the stock market crash in 2008 were specific warning signs laid out in biblical prophecy. If this were presented as a nonfiction argument, I actually might have engaged with it more. Though I don't agree with the premise of America as a "new Israel," I'd be willing to engage about the judgment of God on the nations throughout history, and slightly interested in the parallels Cahn draws if not entirely convinced.
But The Harbinger is a sermon masquerading as fiction. I checked out early and found myself getting progressively more annoyed with plot holes the size of craters. Nouriel gets one revelation in the form
It's going to be very, very hard to discuss this on Wednesday. I'd have a much easier time if this were for church, but it's for work and I'm going to have to remain as neutral as possible while discussing issues that are close to my faith yet that I disagree with strongly at the same time.
I tried really hard to be fair with the above review, so here's hoping it's not a hot mess. :)
Hey! I am a serial ellipsator...I resent having my taste impugned...but that book sounds pluperfectly heinous so help outweighs harm...this time....
>183 richardderus: It really was bad. I'm going to have to pull out all the librarian stops to get a decent discussion going and will have my work cut out for me Tuesday prepping for it. I'm not sure the use of ellipses wouldn't have annoyed you either (should you have gotten past, well, much larger problems quite frankly) as in the midst of dialogue they basically functioned in place of commas or periods, merely for emphasis.
>184 bell7: Oh honeybunchesofoats, the punctuation would be the *absolute*least* of that book's problems at my claws...er, hands....
>188 charl08: Actually this is one of those times that the method we use to select the books works in our favor. It's fairly democratic, in that everyone can submit titles that I make into a list with publisher descriptions. From this list, they vote on up to 10, from what they want to read the most to the least. I start with a simple tally and then use a weighted system to break a tie (I assign a "score" for each vote, 100 points for #1, 90 points for #2 and so on). So no one knows who voted for it (I don't really keep track) and unless someone 'fesses up no one knows who made the original recommendation (I don't keep track of that either). In this case, I happen to remember who made the original suggestion, and it was from someone who hadn't read it but had it highly recommended and hadn't gotten to it yet... she figured a book club read might give her that final push to read it. What will be really interesting is finding out how many people finished it and, as a result, how many people show up! (Though I try to encourage people to come... even if you hated it! Even if you didn't finish it! We'll see how that goes.)
I hope you enjoy Dear Fahrenheit 451.
14. The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins
Why now? It was on the library's new shelf and I felt like it
I enjoy Billy Collins' poetry for his humor and playfulness, evocative imagery and clear language. This collection was more of the same, though I didn't always connect to the poems themselves, which sometimes just didn't resonate with me for whatever reason and other times the beginning and end were jarringly dissimilar. But his signature style is still present, and as always his poetry is worth reading. 3 stars.
Here's one of my favorites:
Note to J. Alfred Prufrock
I just dared to eat
a really big peach
as ripe as it could be
and I have on
a pair of plaid shorts
and a blue tee shirt with a hole in it
and little rivers of juice
are now running down my chin and wrist
and dripping onto the pool deck.
What is your problem, man?
"On Rhyme" was also fun, with its playful language and lack of rhyme but in such a way that you always knew what the rhyme would be, such as "and I have no trouble remembering / that September has thirty days. / So do June, November, and April."
I approve of his use of the Oxford comma and the spelling of "grey."
Edited to fix a typo.
15. No Time to Spare by Ursula K. Le Guin
Why now? One of my co-workers recommended it, and I started it pretty soon after I had a library copy in my hands
In 2010, after discovering that author Jose Saramago had started a blog, Le Guin decides that she too could express herself in that medium. Here is collected a few dozen of her posts from 2010-2014, covering diverse topics such as getting old, writing, responding to fan letters, observations of her cat Pard, and the delight of soft-boiled eggs.
As a fantasy fan, I couldn't help but have heard of Le Guin though this is my first introduction to her works. I've most often seen her quoted in defending genre fiction (particularly science fiction and fantasy) as not being secondary to more literary fiction beloved by critics, so I knew I liked her. In this collection, though I often didn't agree with her political statements, I found much food for thought and enjoyed her way of expressing herself whether she was definite about something ("Old age is for anybody who gets there.") or grappling with questions ("What is the way to use anger to fuel something other than hurt, to direct it away from hatred, vengefulness, self-righteousness, and make it serve creation and compassion?"). The descriptions of her cat were especially delightful to me, and interspersed in some of the heavier topics were a respite and made it easier for me to keep reading "one more essay..." before putting the book down. 4 stars.
This was a little harder than most books to rate (kind of like poetry, come to think of it...), but I finally gave it four stars because I don't think I'd be inclined to reread it again as a whole. I would, however, come back to individual essays that I enjoyed or want to ponder. And I'm most definitely going to be reading more of her work.
>192 PaulCranswick: I confess my knowledge of poetry is limited, Paul, as I still find it intimidating and anything in verse automatically becomes harder for me to understand in that format. I know you're a fan, though, and hope you enjoy the book you choose instead :). Hope you have a wonderful week.
>177 bell7: I tracked down my thoughts on Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life from when it first came out: https://www.librarything.com/topic/230176#5834579
No one has ruled out the possibility of more Gilmore Girls eventually, but it's not happening anytime soon. Looking back at my comments now is interesting. I mostly only remember the parts that I enjoyed (
Yes! Thanks for the link. I agree with just about all of your comments and had to smile when I saw my reply was that I'd just started season 2 and I'd be ready to comment mid 2017. Better late than never? The last four words
>195 bell7: Really the whole thing is written as if it takes place 2-4 years after the finale instead of 10. I don't think I would be as bothered by the last four words if
>180 bell7: My GG head canon is
>196 norabelle414: Yeah, I hear you.
>197 MickyFine: Oh haha... I was ready for a long involved explanation but yeah, that's how I decided things end up eventually anyways.
>197 MickyFine: My head canon is
>198 bell7: Logan really should have
Once we're done nit-picking Gilmore Girls, are you going to watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? :-)
>199 norabelle414: Hahaha I like your head canon too, Nora. And I agree,
I'll have to add The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to my list of shows to try. The latest project I gave myself was going through the Marvel universe, and to that end I watched Captain America: The First Avenger this week and have Agent Carter Season 1 on its way from the library. But I'm sure I'll need breaks, as this will be a *very* long-term project the way I watch (or don't watch) movies.
16. Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas
Why now? I'm working through some library holds I'd suspended, and finally read this book which I've probably had on hold for about a year.
Freya is twenty-third in line for the throne and would much rather be experimenting in her lab than celebrating the king's birthday in the extravagant court. In fact, when she gets an idea for an experiment she and her best friend Naomi skip out early to try it out - and that's why Freya's still alive when most of the court is poisoned. Now queen, she has to learn the court rules that she once scorned, all the while figuring out who should be a trustworthy ally and who the murderer.
I thought this book had a lot of potential but never quite delivered. I liked Freya's being a fish out of water and trying hard to do the right thing, her friendship with Naomi, and her dealing with anxiety attacks. But a lot more could have been done. The kingdom is barely sketched out and I was left with a vague idea of the extravagant court and then some sort of poorer town. "The Forgotten" are referenced as sort-of gods who became disenchanted and left the kingdom to its own devices when it became too corrupt, but little else is said about history or legend or religion in this town... or kingdom. And exactly how big is this kingdom? Where is the map? I did like how some of the characters turned out to be different from what Freya expected, and having such a scientifically-oriented fantasy heroine was interesting. Also, the book is a standalone and doesn't leave you with a cliffhanger. 3 stars.
I was left with a couple of plot questions, mainly because Freya
It probably also affected me that the whole idea of reluctant but decent person becomes ruler and has to figure this all out and survive was also done in The Goblin Emperor, and (I think) better in terms of worldbuilding, tension and court intrigue.
Alrighty then, I was a reading machine this weekend. I have three paper books left that I brought with me housesitting, and they are all nonfiction. So I'll have to look through my Kindle ARCs and see what I'm in the mood for next. That being said, I'm still reading Atlas Obscura, Ask a Manager (ARC- the book comes out May 1), and Walk Two Moons (audio, but I'm nearly to the point where I've been listening to the same 10 minutes or so and have lost track of what's going on). I can be really hit or miss about my audios before bed, so I don't tend to count them towards my unfinished books.
>200 bell7: The Marvel Universe is a *lot* if you're going to try to watch it all!! I've recently come to terms with the fact that I'll never be able to keep up and so now I only dip into the parts that I like. Thankfully the last 3 movies (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther) have been really great.
I hope you enjoy Agent Carter! It's really fun.
>199 norabelle414: That's an excellent head canon.
Huzzah for Agent Carter! Love her so much.
>203 norabelle414: Ha, yeah, I've printed out a "guide" to watching it (I think it's chronological order) and have already given myself permission to skip any and all TV shows if I find myself getting bogged down. But Agent Carter (the character) was pretty much my favorite part of Captain America, so I think I'll enjoy that series.
>204 MickyFine: Me too so far! I'm looking forward to the first season.
17. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Why now? I was looking for an audio before bed and decided to reread
Salamanca and her grandparents are on a road trip retracing the steps of her mother. While they drive, Sal tells them the story of her friend Phoebe, and in telling her story we learn her and her mother's, and why her mother left.
I had forgotten just about everything about this story other than the fact that I enjoyed this and other works by the author some years ago. This one was a well-deserved Newbery award winner that unfolds its mysteries deliberately and explores the idea that you can't make snap judgments about others but should try to see and understand their points of view. 4.5 stars.
>206 bell7: That was the first book I ever read by Sharon Chreech, Mary, and I loved it.
18. The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy
Why now? Trying to work my way through some ARCs I downloaded on to my Kindle over the last couple of years and haven't yet read
After her marriage ended, Hanna moved from London with her teenage daughter Jazz back to a tiny town in Ireland on Finfarran peninsula at the "edge of the world." She's fifty, unhappy, still living with her mother Mary, and working at the local library. Hanna decides to refurbish the cottage her great-aunt left to her, and meanwhile gets reluctantly drawn in to local politics when the livelihoods of many in her small town are threatened by the council's grand plans.
I love charming, small town novels with quirky characters and was fully prepared to love this story and Hanna's driving the library van to all the outlying villages in the peninsula while renovating her new place. But the first turn off for me is that Hanna's a terrible librarian, taciturn and gruff, keeping the place quiet and pristine and not even wanting her library assistant to start a book club! Her general life attitude irritated me as well, as she's pretty standoffish with the rest of the town and wallows in her "woe is me my life didn't turn out the way I wanted" far too long for my taste. The story tries to do a little too much, and turns in perspective so we sometimes get her mother Mary, Jazz, and other points of view occasionally throughout. Jazz was my favorite character, smarter and more resilient than her mother gives her credit for. The small town charm wasn't quite enough to make up for the flaws. 3 stars.
>211 bell7: Oh bummer. That one was on The List. I guess I can take it off now.
>212 MickyFine: it was a LibraryReads pick for November, and so far from that month, I liked Artemis but not as much as The Martian, I didn't finish Prairie Fires and I was pretty disappointed with this one...I only finished it because I'd downloaded the eARC and feel somewhat obligated to post a review. Anyway, all that to say it didn't get great reviews on LT but it was a LibraryReads pick so maybe you'll like it more than I did?
>213 bell7: I've gotten to the point now where, if I know my reading tastes are similar to someone else, I'll just take their opinion and skip reading books with poor reviews. Because Pearl ruling after I'd already heard that the book was less than stellar seems like an extra waste of reading time. :)
February in review -
10. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
11. The Great Commission to Worship by David Wheeler and Vernon Whaley
12. Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence
13. The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn
14. The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins
15. No Time to Spare by Ursula K. Le Guin
16. Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas
17. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
18. The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy
Books read: 9
Standouts: Dear Fahrenheit 451 was a really fun read, and Walk Two Moons held up well for rereading. My favorite hands down was Bring Up the Bodies, just really excellent historical fiction.
Thoughts: I've already lost track of pages read of books I DNF. Oh well.
After a really slow start to the month (I finished Bring Up the Bodies on February 12), I managed to finish 9, which is actually more than I usually manage in the shortest month of the year. It ran the gamut from absolutely terrible (The Harbinger) to awesome (see Standouts above). I read a fair amount housesitting and with the Olympics on in the background. In March, I'm taking a two week vacation but I have a feeling I'll be mostly reading while traveling and busy with other things much of the time.
I also kind of fell off the wagon trying to read my own books, BUT I made a real dent in my library stack so I'm feeling in pretty good shape to start reading down the ARCs on my Kindle (especially while traveling) and include some of my own titles in with the library books that I'm still checking out, just at a (hopefully) slower pace.
Reads #15 & #18 both get my enthusiastic endorsement of your reviews! The others I just don't know at all so can't say much except,"yee haw!"
>218 MickyFine: Visiting my sisters just outside of DC. Other than my youngest sister claiming me for Saturday-Sunday before she goes back home for spring break, I don't have a lot planned but I'm thinking I'll venture into the city a couple of times to sight see on my own and then hang out with my niece and nephew as much as possible. So yes, fun times!
>219 richardderus: Thanks, Richard! I felt a little bad about being so meh on The Library at the Edge of the World. Veronica Henry's How to Find Love in a Bookshop fit my taste much better.
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