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Book Bullets From The Dark Side - Darth Heather's 2018 reads

The Green Dragon

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Jan 2, 9:10am Top

Don't worry if the bullets miss you - Imperial Troops are known for bad aim. Pewpewpew!

Jan 2, 9:36am Top

In my experience, your bullets are more likely to hit than miss! Happy New Year!

Jan 2, 10:22am Top

(Joke) Last time I went to the dark side, they didn't have my cookies. (/joke)

Jan 3, 6:13am Top

>1 Darth-Heather: Happy New Year. I look forward to seeing which books you load your blaster with.

Jan 4, 1:50am Top

Happy New Year! I'm sure you hit me a few times last year so I will be lurking in the corner here.

Jan 5, 5:06pm Top

Happy New Year - may you enjoy many wonderful books in 2018!

Jan 8, 9:08am Top

It's probably a bit late to wish you for the New Year, so please take it as read. Looks like there are no bullets around, so it's safe enough to come back again.

Edited: Jan 10, 9:57am Top

I finally finished Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, which I've been looking forward to for quite awhile. Set just after Revenge of the Sith, it follows up on Anakin's transformation into Lord Vader and the ascendance of Palpatine's reign as Emperor.

Unfortunately, it was a bit dry, but not surprising considering the author is constrained by canonical events of this time period.

Next in the series is a trilogy called Jedi Twilight; I hope to get to that sometime soon.

Jan 10, 10:00am Top

I haven't spent as much time as usual with books lately because I've been distracted by Amazon Prime Video.

I just started watching Sneaky Pete, an Amazon Prime original series developed by Bryan Cranston. Giovanni Ribisi is fascinating as an ex-con trying to hide from a gangster on a rural farm in upstate NY. After three years of listening to his cellmate describe his childhood on his grandparent's farm, Ribisi takes on the biggest con of his life, impersonating their long-lost grandson, Pete.

I've only watched two episodes, but it feels like more because SO MUCH happens so quickly.

Jan 11, 3:03am Top

>8 Darth-Heather: I have never read any Star Wars novel, where would you suggest one should start from?

Jan 11, 8:33am Top

>10 aqeeliz: I guess it depends on whether you are a fan of the movies? The movies leave some gaps that certain books help fill in, for instance the Darth Bane trilogy which explains a lot about the history of the Sith. Outbound Flight is a good one for filling in more of Anakin's struggles with his attraction to the dark side. These are set early on in the timeline.

If you aren't particularly attached to the movies and just want to try some that are good stories, maybe look for some of these that are set in the timeline just after the Return of the Jedi:
The Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy is fun.
The Thrawn trilogy is excellent

there are quite a lot of books set much later than the movies, but I haven't got that far yet so I don't know if they are any good.

If you want to see a timeline of all the books, movies, and series', try this: Starwars Wiki

Some books were written years ago, and then movies came out that conflicted with them, so the books have been rebranded as "Legends" and don't necessarily match up to the movie plots anymore, but don't let that stop you :)

Jan 12, 3:00am Top

>11 Darth-Heather: Hmm.. thanks. Will check them out :)

Jan 13, 7:24am Top

>8 Darth-Heather: I hope they did better with that one that with Darth Plagueis. It felt like it offered little back ground details and just worked to fill in the timeline for the movies.

Jan 13, 7:26am Top

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Edited: Jan 17, 8:43am Top

Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb really has an amazing way of devising interesting, well-developed characters. Like all of the previous installments to the Elderlings series, I jumped right in to this one and plan to finish the Rain Wilds Chronicles this month.

Unfortunately, that will mean that I don't have many left in the series to look forward to... :(

Jan 17, 9:32am Top

>15 Darth-Heather: Awesome. I read those last year and am hoping to do The Fitz and the Fool trilogy later this year. I hope you continue to enjoy the Rain Wilds Chronicles.

Jan 17, 11:59am Top

>16 Narilka: is the Fitz & Fool trilogy finished yet? Do you know if there will be more after that?

Jan 17, 3:13pm Top

>17 Darth-Heather: The third book in the trilogy published last year, so the series is complete. According to Hobb's blog, that's the last in the Realm of the Elderlings. I suppose she could change her mind in the future but looks like the series are done.

Jan 17, 3:53pm Top

>15 Darth-Heather: I just can't get into Robin Hobb's books. Half feel like they are all back story, and I can't find a sympathetic character in the lot...

Jan 17, 4:44pm Top

>19 gilroy: aww. that's too bad. It's frustrating when you put in the effort but just can't get into it.

I have read them in order (because I'm incapable of doing anything else) but with a lot of time in between trilogies, and I like the back story to remind me of plot points from the previous ones.

The thing I like about her characters is that they mostlyaren't easy to get along with at first, which is the case for me with actual people so it makes the characters seem realistic. :) She puts her characters through some really tough stuff, and some of them evolve and some don't, like real people.

Jan 17, 4:53pm Top

>15 Darth-Heather: I’m glad you enjoyed it! I haven’t read the Rain Wild or Fitz and the Fool subseries yet, but I read the first three trilogies several years ago before I realized she was still writing in the world. They were some of the most absorbing books I’ve ever read. Maybe too absorbing.

This whole series (the books I’ve read and the ones I haven’t) will be one of the top contenders for the next big epic fantasy series I read. If I choose it, I’d probably start it in late 2018 or early 2019. I chose my current big series (The Wheel of Time) over Hobb's series in part because of that “too absorbing” factor. These books completely took over my life, beyond what I would consider normal even for a really great book, and I was emotionally invested in them to an excessive degree. So, even though I know I’ll enjoy them, I’m also a little hesitant for fear I’ll end up back in that excessively obsessed state.

Jan 18, 7:34am Top

>21 YouKneeK: I can completely relate to the 'too absorbing' part about Hobb. I'd stayed away from SFF for some time reading mostly mysteries and thrillers until I read her. She drug me back into the world of SFF with the first three of her series.

Jan 18, 8:18am Top

>21 YouKneeK: It is super fun to do series-immersion read, though :D I did that with Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series - I had read several separate trilogies over the years, but they were scattered around the timeline. Decided later on to go back to it and spent a couple years collecting every book, then spent a very enjoyable 4 months reading my way through the entirety.

Doing it all consecutively like that was amazing as far as really seeing the overall plot as a bigger picture, but also emotionally exhausting as I spent so much time in my imagination with these characters that I got really attached to them and was devastated on a regular basis as bad things happen. I think the Elderlings series would be similar, as I'm still a bit scarred from certain events in the Tawny Man trilogy. :(

How long have you been on the WoT series?

Jan 18, 5:28pm Top

>22 majkia: I can see how that could happen! I hadn’t been reading much in general when I started her series, mostly due to my schedule at the time. 60-70 hour work weeks with university classes on top of that can really limit one’s reading time, but I somehow found more time to read after I picked up her books.

>23 Darth-Heather: I know what you mean about the Tawny Man trilogy. :) Series-immersion is pretty much the only way I read series anymore. I’ll usually take a break every few books to read an unrelated standalone just for a change of pace, but mostly I prefer to read straight through. I started WoT in early November and I’m currently reading book 8.

Edited: Jan 19, 9:34pm Top

Hey there, Darth-Heather. Looking forward to reading your posts, but I'll be donning the Kevlar before reading your thread. Not only are my TBR stacks bulging, I'm hoping to unload a bunch of books before I move.

Jan 20, 1:55pm Top

>25 clamairy: hey Clam, thanks for popping in :) The Pub is a terrible place to be if you want to avoid TBR growth, so hone your dodging skills!

Jan 22, 1:57pm Top

Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb

I finished this second one, and am about halfway through the third one - City of Dragons. There are some intriguing twists in this part of the series, and I think these are some of the best books in it, even if they don't have Fitz or The Fool. The plot flow is really good, and I'm going to miss these characters when I finish the fourth one.

These books are on my e-Reader, which I don't like to bring with me to work so I'm also reading Interworld, one of Neil Gaiman's YA books.

Jan 23, 11:31am Top

>27 Darth-Heather: I found this series to be like a soap opera - larger than life characters, lots of emotional drama, and absolutely impossible to stop reading! The dragons were awesome too.

Jan 23, 12:04pm Top

>28 Sakerfalcon: yep, that sums it up perfectly! I laugh and cry with every book.

Jan 25, 1:37am Top

>21 YouKneeK: I only read the assassin series, but I found the characters to be the most realistic I've seen in fantasy.

Jan 25, 12:30pm Top

Finished City of Dragons and started Blood of Dragons. I can't help flying through them, but I will be sad when they are done.

also finished Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves, an exciting YA journey into multidimensional travel.

Jan 25, 1:11pm Top

>31 Darth-Heather: I'm not generally a big fantasy reader, (at least not 'standard' fantasy tropes such as wizards & dragons & such), but these Hobb books look interesting. The only Robin Hobb I have read previously was Wizard of the Pigeons, (written as Megan Lindholm), and I enjoyed that one quite a bit. Set where I live, (Seattle), many of the landmarks were familiar and the character development was excellent. I was hesitant to read a book that had 'Wizard' in the title but I'm glad I picked it up.

Like you, I usually have to begin at the beginning so will likely give Assassin's Apprentice a try soon.

Edited: Jan 25, 1:37pm Top

>32 ScoLgo: If you do delve into these, you really will want to read them in order, to avoid spoilers. The series is made up of multiple trilogies, so start the Farseer books with Assassin's Apprentice and take it from there.

The next trilogy is the Liveship Traders, which follows a different set of characters in the same world. Then the next trilogy is Tawny Man which returns to the setting from the first books, and then the fourth installment is the Rain Wild Chronicles which picks back up after the Liveship ones. There is a final trilogy that I haven't got to yet, but it's starting to seem like the two settings will come together at some point before it ends.

Beware that each trilogy is really just one story split into three volumes, so it's not really fulfilling to read just one book. :)

Jan 25, 1:37pm Top

>32 ScoLgo: This series might be just the thing if you don't love sword-and-sorcery type fantasy. These are more like medieval fantasy with just a little flavor of magic stirred in.

I haven't tried any of her Lindholm books but should probably put them on my wishlist. her writing style is addicting.

Jan 26, 8:27am Top

Catwings by Ursula K Leguin

Incredibly cute! I wish all children's books were so well written.

Jan 26, 11:20am Top

>35 Darth-Heather: I have all four of the Catwings books and they are all adorable!

Jan 26, 12:06pm Top

>36 Sakerfalcon: I'm definitely going to look for the other three! The illustrations are adorable.

Jan 26, 5:04pm Top

>34 Darth-Heather: Thanks for all the good info, D-H! I'm going to move Assassin's Apprentice up the queue for this year.

Wizard of the Pigeons was an interesting thought experiment. People seem to love or hate it. I enjoyed it quite a bit. It's a stand-alone so might be a good place to start with her Lindholm material..? Of course, it's the only book I've read by her so that's not much of a baseline, is it? ;)

Jan 26, 8:08pm Top

>38 ScoLgo: Woo hoo! I’ll also look forward to reading what you think of Assassin’s Apprentice once you read it. :)

>34 Darth-Heather: I haven’t tried any of her work written under Lindholm either.

Jan 26, 9:12pm Top

>38 ScoLgo: I think you'll enjoy it. I read the first two one after the other. Very well written series. Which reminds me that I need to get back to it...

Jan 30, 1:23pm Top

Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb.

oh, sigh. As always, as soon as I read the last page of a Hobb book, I miss the characters that I got to know so well.

as >28 Sakerfalcon: mentions, it is comparable to a soap opera, especially the character-driven plotlines. I think this entire series would make a great tv show.

Jan 31, 10:26am Top

>38 ScoLgo: - put it this way, I enjoyed AA well enough to read the next two, and disliked the concluding Assassin's Quest sufficiently not to bother reading any more of Hobb's working. I would describe it as quite generic fantasy, competently executed (apart form the last book) but would be my recommendation for discovering the genre. Pigeons looks quite fun though, so I'll try that at some stage.

Edited: Jan 31, 2:50pm Top

I'm pursuing a re-read of this 10-volume set over the course of the year:

I've owned and cherished this set since first grade, but haven't read any of them in many years. I just finished volume 1, Fairy Tales and Fables, which is a compilation of tales from various countries. So many are cautionary tales, the basic gist of which are that the meek and kind are rewarded, and the greedy and selfish meet with bloody demise.

Next up is Stories of Wonder and Magic, which I remember as a special favorite from this set.

Jan 31, 8:28pm Top

>43 Darth-Heather: That is a great looking collection.

Edited: Feb 1, 7:51am Top

>43 Darth-Heather: What >44 Narilka: said! Plus I hope you enjoy them as much now as you did as a yoot.

Edited: Feb 1, 8:56am Top

Feb 1, 11:09am Top

>46 Darth-Heather: >47 clamairy:
Love that film.

Poor Bambi!

Feb 12, 10:17am Top

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

wow. I am so glad I finally made time for this one. The concept is interesting, but it's her brilliant writing that will keep me coming back for more. I have only read one other of hers (The Blind Assassin) but I have a couple in my TBR stack which I will hopefully get to pull out soon. I have Cats Eye and Oryx & Crake.

What others does anyone recommend?

Feb 12, 5:26pm Top

>49 Darth-Heather: I'm glad you enjoyed it so much! I read that in late 2016 and really enjoyed it also. So far that's the only thing I've read by her, but I do have Oryx & Crake on my list and would like to get to it before too long.

Edited: Feb 14, 11:47am Top

This is Hobo; he loves everyone and everything, so we celebrate him on Valentines Day.

Even if he hasn't met you, he loves you. He just loves.

Feb 14, 5:41pm Top

>51 Darth-Heather: - Hobo is lovely!

Feb 15, 8:53am Top

I love Hobo, too!

I had a kitty like that, Ophelia. She is no longer with us, but there will never be another like her, so sweet.

My two current kitties are not even close. Definitely not. Although they have their moments.

Feb 15, 9:04am Top

>5 Sakerfalcon: Aww, he is adorable! I'm sure he gets plenty of love in return!

Feb 15, 9:20am Top

>54 Sakerfalcon: he is VERY POPULAR at the vet. He's like a rock star when he gets in the waiting room... "hello ladeeees! you can all pat me at once... there is plenty of Hobo to go around". He enjoys all of his exams, except that they aren't able to listen to his heart with the stethoscope, because he won't stop purring and his chirpy cute purr is very loud.

Feb 15, 11:35am Top

>55 Darth-Heather: ha ha, that is awesome! I can imagine him soaking up the attention!

Feb 15, 11:44am Top

>55 Darth-Heather: The vet can't hear my Lucky's heart, but that's because she's constantly screaming NO at the top of her lungs to anyone who will listen...

It's both sad and amusing when the technicians take her back to get x-rayed or something and you can hear her in the exam rooms and waiting room.

Feb 15, 12:11pm Top

>57 gilroy: awwww poor Lucky. I know that feeling of sympathy for the upset kitty, but also resigned to the fact that there is no convincing a cat to calm down...

Our previous cat, Iggy, was the lovingest baby at home, but a miserable howling catapult of teeth at the vet. He had a special Red Folder to warn the techs before handling him, and they would look out into the waiting room and sigh.. "oh. It's Iggy". Then they would go get the elbow-length leather hawk gloves, and strap a rubber helmet over his mouth, all the while I'm fluttering around ineffectually, insisting that "he's not like this at home". he had a lot of medical issues, and was just really fed up with vet visits. After the staff put up with him for years, I figure I owe them the wonderfulness of Hobo (aka Mr. Wonderful).

Feb 15, 2:15pm Top

>51 Darth-Heather: Hobo reminds me of our Felix of blessed memory. We lost a kitten to "feline AIDS" at the beginning of an Easter weekend (a good 20 years ago). Before the end of the weekend, a big-boned, skin-and-bones black-and-white cat appeared at the kitchen door. Better Half called me a few minutes later to come and look, and I could only answer "I can't; I'm pinned!". Kitty, whom we later called Felix, had found a lap, settled, and refused to move. She decided that my bed, in cuddle range, was the best sleeping place, and kept that until the day she died.

Cuddles to Hobo! And strength to Lucky.

Feb 15, 4:47pm Top

>51 Darth-Heather: Hobo sounds like quite the charmer!

Feb 16, 8:57am Top

>58 Darth-Heather: Our vet has a sticker which says, "Danger Kitty" for their files. Our Siamese was proud of his sticker, and lived up to it.

Feb 16, 9:06am Top

I remember visiting the kennels to collect our two cats after a holiday. Our black cat, Shadow, was sitting on a ledge looking through the window when I arrived. I went over to him and he immediately climbed up into my arms, snuggled in and purred. The girl working at the kennel was in shock. Apparently her impression of him was not that which one would have of a snuggling, purring kitty. I think she donned body armour when dealing with Shadow while we were away.

Feb 16, 9:28am Top

>61 MrsLee: ha, yes! The Siamese I've known are opinionated kitties who do not hesitate to express their displeasure. You really have to respect their strong will :)

>62 pgmcc: awww poor maligned Shadow! He was just misunderstood.

I have the biggest soft spot for grouchy kitties. They make me laugh.

Feb 17, 8:47am Top

>51 Darth-Heather: Your Hobo sounds like our Jasper. Jasper, however, is an over-enthusiastic, over-friendly golden retriever who likes to hug everyone. I mean everyone. When we go to the vets, he's so excited about seeing other animals, his tail wags everything about him. Unfortunately, while his attitude is 'Yay, so many folks to meet. Must say hello to everyone', the other animals are elderly and/ or tiny and they're so scared of him, poor baby. Sometimes I take him to wait outside to calm them down and he keeps looking through the window at his friends and trying to go back in to socialise.

Today my youngest has a playdate. When he arrived, Jasper was barking his head off, saying yelling 'Yay! Another friend to play with. Woo hoo!'. And as our little guest hasn't met Jasper before, he was understandably a little unnerved by all the noise.

We've managed to teach him - for the most part - not to jump on people and hug them, especially as he used to bowl over our youngest, being taller than him at that point. But he still likes to hug with his mouth and grab your hands or feet with his teeth. Though we've trained him to be gentle (now) he is awfully slobbery and his teeth can still be uncomfortable.

But we love him dearly, so we indulge him. Sometimes.

Feb 17, 9:58am Top

>64 humouress: golden retrievers are such good-hearted dogs! Jasper sounds like a sweetheart.

Hobo is definitely more like a dog than a cat when it comes to social skills. He's the only cat i've ever had that runs TO the door when the bell rings. He loves every person he's ever met.

Feb 17, 9:35pm Top

>55 Darth-Heather: my cat, Witten, is a celebrity at the vet, too! When the techs hear he is in, they come to the room to say hi. He rolls over and lets them all pet his tummy! They love him!

Feb 18, 8:31am Top

>66 catzteach: :) I'm glad to know there are other happy kitties out there! Hobo stays at the vet when I travel, because he is insulin dependent. when i return, it takes a solid half hour for all his groupies to take turns saying goodbye. I've learned to call ahead, after the time they asked me to wait until the surgeon was done with her surgery patient so she could say goodbye to Hobo...

Edited: Feb 21, 12:39pm Top

finished Volume 2 of the Junior Classics set that I have been re-reading for a trip down memory lane. Volume 2 is comprised of Stories of Wonder and Magic and some of my all-time favorite stories are in this volume (as evidenced by the fact that this is the only one from the set that shows a lot of wear and tear - I used to carry it around everywhere).

There are some well-known authors represented here, for instance The Magic Fishbone (by Charles Dickens), several Hans Christian Andersen selections, and Aladdin, and Ali Baba from The Arabian Nights.

There are frequently reoccurring morals among these stories, many of which are cautionary tales about greed or unkindness. I am noticing different themes now that I don't think I picked up on as a child, most notable the one where every female described as "beautiful" is always a princess, and "commoners" are less desirable. In fact, any time an 'ordinary' girl is described as beautiful, she inevitably turns out to be a princess in disguise. Princesses are also treated as currency and "given" in marriage to whatever boy completes a ridiculous task set to him by the king. I count TWELVE stories in this volume alone where this is the case.

Fortunately, there are others that are noted for more imaginative settings, and in many the moral is that kindness is it's own reward. The Ouphe of the Wood, The Seller of Dreams, Sarita and the Duendes.

Old Pipes and the Dryad is delightful - Old Pipes has played his pipes every evening to call the grazing herds down to the village from their grazing meadows. His hearing has gone, so he doesn't realize that he isn't playing them loudly enough any more, but does a good turn for a dryad who makes him younger and once again his piping can be heard through the mountainside.

The next volume in this series is a collection of Myths And Legends, which was the originator of my lifelong interest in mythologies of different cultures. I particularly like origin stories, and if I remember correctly there will be several in this volume.

Feb 22, 4:01pm Top

It is a bit confusing that I can't add the individual volumes to my library. The touchstone brings up the right book, but when I press "Add To Library" I get a message saying that it isn't found. I'm not sure if it only allows an entire set to be added but not each separate book?

Feb 22, 4:20pm Top

That button just takes you to the Add Books page with the title filled in. If there's an ISBN then it would be better to use that to search, but if the book is really old you may not be able to find it in any of the sources and you'll have to enter it manually.

Feb 22, 9:41pm Top

>51 Darth-Heather: What a gorgeous kitty, and it sounds like he's as beautiful inside as out.
=^. .^=

Feb 23, 1:42am Top

Hobo is beautiful! I love reading all these cat stories.

Feb 23, 8:53am Top

>66 catzteach: How is Witten the Kitten these days? He must be a grown up boy by now.

Feb 23, 11:06pm Top

>73 Darth-Heather: Ha! We call him Witten the Kitten, too! He's as chunky as ever (17 pounds). This morning he stayed upstairs while I went down to leave for work. I always give the troop some snackies before I leave. I shook the container and I could hear him get off the bed and run down the stairs. He came around the corner so fast, he almost sped out. It was pretty funny. Hmm, I'll have to see if I can post a pic.

Feb 23, 11:12pm Top

Let's see if it worked:

Feb 24, 2:57am Top

That expression says loud and clear "Feed me NAAAOOOOWW!"

Feb 24, 8:00pm Top

What a cutie!

Feb 25, 5:04am Top

>76 hfglen: I think I see an, "or else!", in that expression.

Feb 25, 8:40pm Top

He does love his food!

Feb 27, 6:26am Top

What a handsome cat! And no, I would not stand between him and his food when I saw that glint in his eye!

Mar 1, 8:52am Top

February favorite:
The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood. I'm so glad I read the book and didn't just skip to the tv show. Atwood's writing style is amazing.

February Four-Star:
My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman has just as much heart as A Man Named Ove. Sometimes it seems incredible that these books have been translated, they are so gracefully worded.

A bunch of other three-stars, but no real duds this month, thankfully.
The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer is classic Heyer with very likeable characters and the usual romantic misunderstandings and capers.

The Tokaido Road by Lucia St. Clair Robson was an interesting premise of a woman in feudal Japan trying to travel in disguise. Beautifully sculpted with details of a very refined culture. The characters weren't really believable though, which kept this to a 3-star rating.

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins is a clever unreliable-narrator mystery, but it becomes obvious who the culprit is long before it is revealed, simply because it can't be anyone else. A disturbing look into the life of an alcoholic.

Honorable Mention goes to:
Almost Home by Jessica Blank. A very well-written story of a group of homeless teenagers on the streets of LA. Each character has their own segment, which are skillfully woven together through their common interaction with one particular runaway girl.

Mar 1, 9:40pm Top

Really enjoyed Grandmother. I have read Ove yet. It’s on my list.

I thought Girl on the Train was predictable. And the main character drove me nuts because she was making such poor choices!

Mar 3, 4:18am Top

>81 Darth-Heather: Glad to hear about Backman's Grandmother book as that was one of my Santathing books! I loved A Man Called Ove, so it's there in anticipation.

Mar 3, 8:05am Top

I found out that there is another book that comes after "Grandmother"; it's not really a sequel as it follows a different character - Britt Marie Was Here is on my wishlist and I hope it will be as good as the other.

Mar 3, 12:51pm Top

>84 Darth-Heather: I was excited when I saw Britt Marie, too! It's on my growing list.

Mar 14, 9:07am Top

Started watching Mozart In The Jungle on Amazon Prime - halfway through season 1 and totally hooked! The main character is a struggling oboe player trying to get a job with the NY Philharmonic Orchestra. She has a very Sarah-Jessica-Parker-ish style and the supporting cast is pretty funny.

Episodes are only 30 minutes long, so I'm quickly making my way through season 1 and have added the next two seasons to my watchlist.

Edited: Mar 14, 8:50pm Top

>86 Darth-Heather: I saw some previews for that when I was watching something else on Prime. It looked quite good. I feel like there's almost too much to choose from with Netflix, Amazon Prime & Hulu. I'm ditching cable completely when I move.

Mar 15, 9:19am Top

>87 clamairy: I would love to cancel our DirecTv, the cost keeps going up. If the NFL would provide a streaming subscription service I could do it, but so far I haven't found a good way to watch football without the satellite tv.

I really like Sneaky Pete on Prime also. I haven't tried Hulu yet; I already feel overwhelmed with all the different shows I'm keeping up with.

Edited: Mar 15, 9:40am Top

>88 Darth-Heather: I bought a Roku and it came with a free month of Hulu. I watched The Handmaid's Tale in 4 or 5 days, and decided to keep the subscription. I rarely watch sports, so I'm just going to have to find a way to watch PBS and a few random cable channels once I relocate. I might go old school and get a digital antenna for the local stations.

Mar 15, 10:13am Top

>89 clamairy: I tried the digital antenna for awhile, but only got two stations and I don't speak Spanish so one of them wasn't useful. We are kind of far from the broadcasting areas so only got the local NH station but none of the Boston ones.

I was able to watch most of the PBS stuff I wanted right on their website, and I still watch Poldark that way. History and Discovery channels and AMC offer a lot of streaming content on their websites as well, but it does mean even more sources to keep up with.

Mar 19, 9:29am Top

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

oh my, this was wonderful. I've read a few others of hers but this one is way beyond them. The characters are so lively and the historical journey is intriguingly revealed.

Mar 27, 9:26am Top

A few forays into non-fiction - I fulfilled a South American challenge category with The Mapmaker's Wife, which was unfortunately very dry. The concept was really interesting but lacked personality. I also don't like when an author interchangeably refers to their character by their first name, last name, and full name - after introducing the character, pick ONE name to refer to them by.

Servants by Lucy Lethbridge filled a "spring cleaning" challenge category with lots of anecdotes about the evolution of British house servants and their place in society. Interesting reading for anyone who enjoys historical fiction set on estates where there are many butlers and house maids and the like. There is a lot more going on "downstairs" than I realized!

Finishing up the month with a comforting re-read of A Week In Winter by Maeve Binchy.

Mar 29, 8:36am Top

Hobo succumbed to his lung cancer on Tuesday night. He loved me so much, and his love will always be with me. If anyone ever deserved to be an angel, it's him. Hobo, the benevolent saint of strays...

Mar 29, 9:23am Top

>93 Darth-Heather: May he rest in peace. *gentle hug for you*

Mar 29, 9:56am Top

What MrsLee said. (snf)

Mar 29, 10:03am Top

I'm so sorry you've lost your friend.

Mar 29, 11:37am Top

I’m so sorry. He sounds like a real sweetheart.

Mar 29, 11:54am Top

Sorry to hear about Hobo. Big hug.

Mar 29, 12:49pm Top

So sorry to hear this. Hobo was a Good Cat. Hugs!

Mar 29, 2:27pm Top

Sorry to hear of Hobo's passing.

Mar 29, 2:33pm Top

So sorry to hear about Hobo's passing. He sounds like an amazing cat, and you were lucky to have found each other. Big Hugs!

Mar 29, 5:16pm Top

>93 Darth-Heather: I'm so sorry about Hobo.

Mar 29, 6:01pm Top

I'm so sorry :( It is so hard losing our fur-kids.

Mar 29, 7:50pm Top

He looks like a sweetheart. I'm so sorry.

Mar 29, 9:28pm Top

I'm so sorry, Heather. It's just heartbreaking. :o(
*massive hugs*

Mar 29, 10:11pm Top

I’m so, so sorry! Hugs.

Apr 16, 4:25pm Top

I've been trying to comfort myself with light reads; so far this month:

The Supremes At Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore was decent, in a Steel Magnolias sort of way.

Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett is a really good wrap-up to the Century Trilogy. I haven't read anything else of his, but this trilogy was an adventure.

A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson was as amusing and intelligent as I've encountered in his other works. In this one he attempts to hike the Appalachian Trail. I have heard that the movie version is worth watching.

Apr 18, 9:41pm Top

>107 Darth-Heather: That is my favorite Bill Bryson and I've read at least a dozen of his books. I read this one once and then listened to it twice. (He's the narrator and he's got a soft lilting voice, with an accent that's an interesting blend of American and British.) Let us know if you like the movie. I haven't gotten to it yet.

I hope you're hanging in there. *more hugs*

Apr 19, 2:44pm Top

>108 clamairy: {hugs back}

thanks for asking - I'm doing ok. Hobo was such a big personality that the house seems empty without him. I was getting used to it, until yesterday when I got a very sweet condolence card from the vet - all his girlfriends took the time to sign with a special memory of him (he spent a lot of time there due to his diabetes). They had made a print from his paw and put it on a card for me; so sweet.

Apr 19, 3:27pm Top

>109 Darth-Heather: *even more hugs* :o/

Apr 19, 9:08pm Top

>109 Darth-Heather: it’s so hard, isn’t it? I still miss all of my kitties who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Apr 20, 9:19am Top

>109 Darth-Heather: That's the hard part of loving. *more hugs*

Apr 20, 3:37pm Top

>109 Darth-Heather: How sweet. He must have been truly special.

Apr 20, 4:44pm Top

It's like he's waving goodbye... :(

Apr 20, 5:05pm Top

Aww, that's so wonderful of your vet staff. Anyone else find it dusty in here or is it just me?

Apr 20, 5:38pm Top

>115 Narilka: Something in your eye? Me too.

Apr 21, 6:29pm Top


Edited: Apr 26, 10:08am Top

Update on the home front: Reuben and Cherise are starting to revert to some of their old anxious ways. They had a lot of anxiety issues before Hobo brought his calming presence to their world, and I haven't seen them act like this since he moved in. Hopefully I can reassure them and bring things back to an even keel soon.

Update on the reading front:
The Farthest Shore by Ursula K Leguin - the end of the Earthsea trilogy. Brilliant and wonderful; I'm glad these books finally crossed my path. I have The Left Hand of Darkness in my TBR and hope to get to it soon.

Origin by Dan Brown - is actually more entertaining than I expected. My mom is a fan, and she likes for me to read books that she enjoyed so we can discuss. I like the premise, but since it is religious-based I won't discuss the details here. It is expected of a Dan Brown book, no surprises there.

Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan was a DNF. I put it back in the stack and might try it again sometime, but it isn't the first DNF of hers. I like the idea of a faery court paralleling the English court of Queen Elizabeth, but the writing style just fails to grab me in any way. The characters seem flat and I gave up after 80 pages.

May 3, 12:07pm Top

Nice weather has finally arrived in NH; the grass is greening and the birds and peepers are making a cheerful racket. May is such a lovely time of year to be outside, in spite of the blackflies and mosquitoes.

May is also a month with too many sad remembrances - today my family gathers to remember the 17th anniversary of my uncle Steven's tragic passing, and two other significant losses are remembered within the week. Also, this will be our first Mother's Day since the passing of my husband's mom last year.

I am determined to focus on the good memories of these people rather than the sad ones, and then discipline myself to move on and not dwell. One lovely distraction is Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay. I'm about halfway through, and have the second book ready. He has such a lovely way of drawing you into his environs so subtly that you don't realize how hooked you are, until you are forced to put it down and resume regular life :) I have really enjoyed everything of his that I have read so far, and am delighted to find that this one is every bit as good as I hoped it would be.

May 7, 10:50am Top

Took a break from reading this weekend to watch Season 2 of Stranger Things - it was great! Very pleasantly surprised to find that it was just as good if not better than the first season. Hoping someday there will be a Season3.

May 7, 2:23pm Top

>120 Darth-Heather: A 3rd season has already been contracted :) Love that show.

May 8, 10:48am Top

This handsome guy in my yard this morning:

I've learned over the years from taking photos of where-a-bear-had-been to just grab the first camera I find and snap the shot, even if it's through a window. Those guys move REALLY fast and if I take even a few seconds to get outside or get the better camera, it's too late.

May 8, 11:30am Top

Nature's really annoying like that, inconsiderately moving about when I'm trying to take a picture. Birds are the worst for not sitting still.

May 8, 11:48am Top

>122 Darth-Heather: Wow! I'm glad you were safely inside to take that photo!

>123 reading_fox: Butterflies can be pretty annoying too!

May 8, 11:51am Top

>123 reading_fox: i know, how rude of them! I've been trying to get a good shot of the big blue dragonflies that come around in late summer but those things are FAST and the shot is always blurry.

May 8, 1:45pm Top

>122 Darth-Heather: Wow! That's a big bear.

May 9, 8:53am Top

I think the added reflection of the photographer adds interest to the photo. :) In the moment, so to speak.

May 9, 9:16am Top

>127 MrsLee: thank you, that is a good way to look at it. I was a little disappointed that I didn't get a really great shot of the bear; photos taken through glass are fun for bragging rights but they don't work out very well in the calendars I make with my photos.

I spend all year trying to get 12 good landscape/nature pics that I use to make a calendar for friends and family - it's my way of sharing my hobby with people. Hopefully I will get some good ones on vacation this year - we are driving to Quebec. I'm excited to travel outside the US, but unfortunately I don't speak any French...

May 15, 8:56pm Top

>128 Darth-Heather: Love the bear pic! I didn't realize you were so into photography. Would you consider sharing a few more in here?

Edited: May 25, 10:27am Top

Here are a few of my favorites from my portfolio:

Yellow Swallowtail

May 25, 10:31am Top

This one is Horsetooth Rock from my visit to Colorado:

May 25, 10:32am Top

This is the only bobcat I've ever seen:

May 25, 10:33am Top

This is at a favorite NH state park in the northern part of the state:

Milan Hill Firetower

Edited: May 25, 10:34am Top

Also in Milan:

May 25, 10:35am Top

Another favorite state park, Lake Francis is wayyyy up in the tip top of NH.

May 25, 10:37am Top

The sunset is amazing! And how lucky that you got to see (and capture a photo of) a bobcat!

May 25, 10:48am Top

>136 Sakerfalcon: Very lucky! He was crossing a field at a farm that raises pheasant, so not as lucky for them...

May 25, 2:32pm Top

Beee-yooo-tiful! Many thanks for sharing and showing us your corner of the world.

May 26, 9:02am Top

Love the photos!

May 29, 8:09am Top

Finished the Coruscant Nights trilogy by Michael Reaves. In the Star Wars timeline this comes after Revenge of the Sith, so Order 66 has been enacted and this story follows one of the few Jedi remaining, who are hiding out in the dark depths of Coruscant. Jax meets up with an odd assortment of compatriots and is given a mission. I enjoyed this more than most of the installments in the Legends novels; the characters are interesting and realistic and the plot and pacing are quite good.

May 30, 11:35am Top

In an odd coincidence, I started The Year's Best Science Fiction Eighteenth Collection the day before Gardner Dozois passed away. It just happened to fit the last category in my May Reading Challenge. These are the selections from the year 2000, and there are quite a few gems, including an Ursula LeGuin and a couple from Charles Stross.

Jun 5, 10:57am Top

I've just started the enchanting A Gentleman In Moscow and hope to finish it this week before our vacation.

Jun 5, 11:27am Top

>142 Darth-Heather: Do not rush it. It is a read that is worth taking time over.

I hope you enjoy it.

Jun 5, 12:21pm Top

>143 pgmcc: the graceful writing style certainly merits savoring. I am amused by lines like this one: "It is quite excruciating to hammer the back of your thumb. It inevitably prompts a hopping up and down and the taking of the Lord's name in vain."

Jun 5, 3:22pm Top

>144 Darth-Heather: I see you are being seduced by the style.

Jun 5, 3:33pm Top

>145 pgmcc: yep, I'm susceptible to the sweet-talk :D

Jun 7, 9:14am Top

>142 Darth-Heather: That one is what I call a cozy read. Warm and fuzzy.

Edited: Jun 17, 5:17am Top

>123 reading_fox: >124 Sakerfalcon: I know, right! So that’s the real reason I don’t have good pictures. Really.

>122 Darth-Heather: Cool!

>130 Darth-Heather: Ooh; post it on the butterfly thread in the Garden group.


>144 Darth-Heather: I don’t think the book is my usual genre, but I’m tempted if it’s written like that.

Jun 17, 1:23pm Top

What amazing photos!

Edited: Jun 18, 9:07am Top

whew! I'm back from vacation to Quebec City. It's only about a 7 hour drive from here in southern NH, so now that we have passports I could finally visit the city of my ancestors.

Here are a few photos from the trip:

the ubiquitous Chateau Frontenac

Jun 18, 9:07am Top

Jun 18, 9:08am Top

Jun 18, 9:08am Top

Jun 18, 9:09am Top

La Grande Chute Montmorency

Jun 18, 9:09am Top

St Anne de Beaupre Cathedral

Jun 18, 11:19am Top

Those are beautiful! Aren't most of the places mentioned in Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache stories? Which gives the pictures added interest.

Jun 18, 11:35am Top

>156 hfglen: we were really fortunate with clear weather and good photos. I will have to look for the Inspector Gamache books - my grandparents were from Quebec so I'm interested in the area.

Jun 18, 11:58am Top

>150 Darth-Heather: Ooh, we stayed there. Many, many years ago (pre-kids). Looks like you had a great trip. Do you still have family there?

Jun 18, 5:11pm Top

Darth-Heather, Those are great photos!

Jun 18, 9:09pm Top

Those photos are lovely! Looks like you had a great trip.

Jun 20, 8:44am Top

we did have a lot of fun. I was pleasantly surprised by how much of the language came back to me, although everyone working in services is fully bilingual so it's not necessary to know any French.

I would like to go back sometime. I don't know about any relations in the area, but that is an interesting question. Maybe my dad would know.

We rarely take vacation in cities - typical vacations for us involve camping and quiet retreats - so it was a fun adventure but also tiring. Busy areas with lots of people wear me out, so after four days I was ready to go home.

Jun 21, 2:51pm Top

Those photos are majestic!

Jun 23, 10:38am Top

thanks for the compliments, dear ones. I use my photos to make a calendar every year that I send to family and friends. If anyone wants one, please send me your mailing address. International shipping is no problem - the method I use isn't costly, but I can't guarantee how long it will take to get to you :)

Jun 23, 12:28pm Top

Your pictures are beautiful. It looks like a beautiful place. Tres beau!

Jun 23, 7:31pm Top

Wow. Quebec is beautiful! I had no idea it looked so European (or at least like the pics I've seen of Europe.)

Jun 24, 10:04am Top

Thank you so much for sharing these. They're wonderful!

Jul 5, 10:27am Top

June was a very good reading month, in spite of vacation distractions. Quite a few got high ratings, including:

A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles - this was highly recommended, and worth taking a bullet for.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

Tall Chimneys by Allie Cresswell

Each of these was engrossing in it's way, and I would certainly like to find more from these authors.

Jul 16, 5:00pm Top

ACTUAL TEXT FROM The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy:

{What's President?}
President: full title President of the Imperial Galactic Government.

The President in particular is very much a figurehead -
he wields no real power whatsoever. He is apparently chosen by the government, but the qualities he is required to display are not those of leadership but those
of finely judged outrage. For this reason the President is always a controversial choice, always an infuriating but fascinating character. His job is not to wield power but to draw attention away from it. On those criteria Zaphod Beeblebrox is one of the most successful Presidents the Galaxy has ever had - he has already spent two of his ten Presidential years in prison for fraud. Very very few people realize that the President and the Government have virtually no power at all, and of these very few people only six know whence ultimate political power is wielded. Most of the others secretly believe that the ultimate decision-making process is handled by a computer. They couldn't be more wrong.

This was published in 1952. Seems oddly prophetic now.

Jul 16, 5:11pm Top

>168 Darth-Heather: 1952? That seems unlikely, and LT says the OPD for HHGttG is 1979.

Jul 16, 6:08pm Top

>169 jjwilson61: Pretty sure 1952 is the year Adams was born, (I don't know that much about him but he did die pretty young, as I recall).

Jul 17, 10:19am Top

>170 ScoLgo: ah yes, you are correct. I thought I was looking at the publication date but it's actually the Library of Congress listing for the author, not the book.

Still seems prophetic, given current events.

Jul 17, 3:37pm Top

>168 Darth-Heather: Ahh! Now I see. This explains much.

Jul 30, 11:16am Top

July roundup:

Another fabulous read from Charles deLint: The Blue Girl is one of my favorites so far. It is part of the Newford settings, but not connected to the others and stands alone very well.

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin filled a challenge category and also satisfied my curiosity about a story I've heard about but hadn't read. I wish the ending were a little more fulfilling, but I guess that's the point the author was making, that something insidious could be going on in the most innocuous-seeming community and even when someone comes close to solving it, they are stopped.

Chocolat by Joann Harris was much better than I expected; I think I was put off by the hype when it was made into a movie (that I haven't yet seen), but the writing is really very good and I will probably seek out the sequels sometime.

I FINALLY made time for The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide by Douglas Adams! I read the original Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy more than 30 years ago, and kept meaning to re-read it. I have had this Ultimate Guide version in my TBR for awhile; it has all five books plus a bonus short story.

Also made progress on my plan to re-read the Junior Classics (see >43 Darth-Heather:) Finished The Junior Classics Volume 4 Hero Tales includes selections from Homer's Odyssey, The Song of Roland, Beowulf, The Mabinogion, Tales of King Arthur, and Songs of Robin Hood.

I have an extra day before August's Reading Challenges commence, so moving right on to The Junior Classics Volume 5 - Stories That Never Grow Old, which contains such classics as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Gold Bug, Travles of Baron Munchausen, Gulliver's Voyage to Lilliput, Don Quixote, and Rip Van Winkle

Jul 31, 9:20am Top

>173 Darth-Heather: I'm glad you enjoyed Chocolat more than I did. :)

Jul 31, 2:00pm Top

>173 Darth-Heather: & >174 MrsLee: I adored Chocolat. I thought it was much better than the film version. There are two more in the series. I haven't read the third but I thoroughly enjoyed the second.

Aug 13, 4:17pm Top

Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

hahahahahahaha! I love when DEATH is in the storyline. I can't describe how he is involved without giving too much away, but this was fun.

Aug 13, 6:32pm Top

>176 Darth-Heather: My first and favorite Prachett novel. Knew I was gonna love him when this book gad me guffaw in a restaurant on the first page.

Aug 14, 3:43pm Top

>176 Darth-Heather: One of the best Pratchetts. I love Susan!

Aug 15, 7:53am Top

My first Pratchett was Sourcery; Rincewind and The Luggage make me laugh. I got a lot of dirty looks reading it on the plane and trying to stifle the giggles while everyone else was trying to sleep. My most favorite is Soul Music, and Reaper Man and Small Gods were also hilarious.

Aug 28, 12:37pm Top

The Han Solo Trilogy by A.C. Crispin

The Paradise Snare
The Hutt Gambit
Rebel Dawn

This trilogy takes place in Han Solo's youth and the years before he meets Luke and Leia in A New Hope. Han isn't a character I particularly care about, so I wasn't really expecting his story to be that interesting but it is one of the better-written installments in the Legends.

The third book doesn't seem to flow as well as the first two, with choppy jumps between characters, but probably just rushing to tie up a lot of loose ends to finish the trilogy and leave off in a way that blends with the Canon story.

Sep 7, 12:50pm Top

August Honorable Mentions

The Grand Sophy is my new favorite Heyer character. This was delightful. j

Also enjoyable was The Summer Book by Tove Jansson - one of the month's challenge categories required me to read a book set in Finland, and this one centers on a Finnish family that spends their summers on a rural island, laboring to catch their yearly supply of fish. It is more a collection of essays than a novel, as there is no plot progression other than the passing of the season, and I was entranced by the descriptions of the light and water and environs.

I fit in another volume in my quest to read everything written by Daphne DuMaurier - Don't Look Now is a fascinating set of short stories with very clever twists.

September is starting off quite well so far - The Hoarder's Widow by Allie Cresswell is my second of hers and even more enjoyable than Tall Chimneys. This book begins with Maisie's husband meeting an untimely end, leaving Maisie to figure out what to do with their enormous home stuffed with every sort of odd bit that Clifford had lugged home from sales and dumps, always with the intention of fixing up each downtrodden item. Along the way, she discovers that among Clifford's hoard of broken furniture and tools and mountains of newspapers lies a secret long buried that she must uncover in order to come to terms with her new life.

Next up is The Old Curiosity Shop, which like all Dickens is engrossing from the first paragraph. I feel like I'm off on a great journey!

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