foggidawn reads in 2019: thread the first
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Welcome! I'm foggi, and this is my twelfth year on LibraryThing and my ninth year in this group! I'm a collection development librarian/youth materials selector (means I buy all the kids' and teen books) for the public library system in a medium-sized Ohio town, and a voracious reader.
I'll read anything that catches my fancy, but here are some of the kinds of books I particularly like:
Books for kids and teens
Fantasy for any age -- plus the occasional work of science fiction
Inspirational fiction, if the writing is good
Mysteries, particularly cozies and golden age British detective stories
The occasional memoir or biography
Here are some of the other things I like, which can distract me from reading, but which I may occasionally post about here:
Theatre -- both viewing live theatre and participating in community theatre. I wasn't successful in my pursuit of the latter in 2018, but perhaps I will have better luck this year.
Sewing -- it's a love/hate relationship, really. I'm only barely proficient at it, so it's slow going when I get on a sewing kick, but when it goes right, I love the results.
Gardening -- I've been trying container gardening lately, and though I didn't harvest much last year, I'm hoping for better outcomes this time around.
Gaming -- I love board games when I can find people to play them with (which is not as often as I like) and I occasionally play video games, but most often I waste my time playing games on my phone. Right now, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Pokemon Go.
Dogs -- you can see my dog Sophie in the photo above, and 2019 might also be the year I obtain a second dog as a companion for her. Sophie became a "tripawd" last year, but is adapting well to the three-legged life.
Family -- I recently became a first-time aunt! I'm always looking forward to my next chance to see the baby, and I'm working on building up his library. Also, my parents recently retired and moved to their newly-built cabin in rural Pennsylvania, so I foresee many visits there, as well.
Thanks for visiting my thread!
2019 Reading Resolution
For the past two years, I've had some success making a New Year's resolution regarding reading. I usually read as my whimsy takes me, but I've found I can manage a small set list of books to conquer. The first year, I tackled some of my oldest TBR books. Last year, I read ten "classic" works that had been languishing on my shelf. This year, I face my no-longer-secret shame: unread Early Reviewer books.
I've been participating in the LTER program for at least ten years now, and I'm usually pretty good about reading and reviewing the books I receive. However, over the years a handful have slipped through the cracks. This is the year to fulfill my obligations to those books. There are only eight of them, though the Jim Henson bio is a bit of a chunk. (Better tackle it sooner, rather than later.) Here are the titles:
The Apprentices by Maile Meloy
Unspoken by Dee Henderson
The Book of Pearl by Timothee deFombelle
Shakespeare's Prop Room by John Leland
Jim Henson by Brian Jay Jones
All Things New by Lynn Austin (That's the galley in the black binding, on the bottom of the stack)
Wren Journeymage by Sherwood Smith (ebook, not pictured)
I'm allowing myself to DNF any of these books that don't grab me, as long as I have read enough of them to be able to articulate in a review why they did not work for me. Of course, I hope to finish and enjoy all of them!
The End-of-Year Book Meme
(Each answer is a title read in 2018)
Describe yourself: The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I
Describe how you feel: Truly Devious
Describe where you currently live: The Ruined City
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: The Long-Lost Home
Your favorite form of transportation: The Phoenix and the Carpet
Your best friend is: Emergency Contact
You and your friends are: Real Friends
What’s the weather like: Snowspelled
You fear: Prairie Fires
What is the best advice you have to give: Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Thought for the day: You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P!
How you would like to die: In Other Lands
Your soul’s present condition: We Are Okay
I don't usually do a lot of challenges, but I'm going to try slotting in the books after I read them with the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. I'm going to see if I can be okay with not reading every single category, or if I spend December looking for a self-published business book written in prison...
The Book Riot Read Harder Challenge
1 - An epistolary novel or collection of letters
2 - An alternate history novel
3 - A book by a woman and/or AOC (Author of Color) that won a literary award in 2018
4 - A humor book: Heart and Brain
5 - A book by a journalist or about journalism: The Undateable
6 - A book by an AOC set in or about space
7 - An #ownvoices book set in Mexico or Central America
8 - An #ownvoices book set in Oceania
9 - A book published prior to January 1, 2019, with fewer than 100 reviews on Goodreads
10 - A translated book written by and/or translated by a woman: The Winter Promise
11 - A book of manga
12 - A book in which an animal or inanimate object is a point-of-view character
13 - A book by or about someone that identifies as neurodiverse
14 - A cozy mystery
15 - A book of mythology or folklore
16 - An historical romance by an AOC
17 - A business book
18 - A novel by a trans or nonbinary author
19 - A book of nonviolent true crime
20 - A book written in prison
21 - A comic by an LGBTQIA creator
22 - A children’s or middle grade book (not YA) that has won a diversity award since 2009
23 - A self-published book
24 - A collection of poetry published since 2014
Happy New Year, Foggi! Looking forward to the BBs I know I'll pick up from you.
A year full of books
A year full of friends
A year full of all your wishes realised
I look forward to keeping up with you, Foggy, this year.
Welcome Leah, Amber, Rachel, Fuzzi, Micky, Anne, and Paul! Thank you for your kind words. I am home from vacation, so will soon get around to visiting all of your threads and fixing up mine.
(1 book read)
Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome by Ty Tashiro — A psychologist looks at some data about awkwardness and draws some conclusions.
Confession: I listened to the audiobook version of this work, and sometimes my mind wandered. I don’t often listen to audiobook nonfiction, as I’m more of a visual learner, but this book’s intriguing subject and conversational tone made for a generally positive listening experience, even if I may have missed some details. This is definitely intended as a popular, rather than scholarly, work. I’m not sure if did everything promised in the subtitle, but it gave me some thoughts to chew on.
I was supposed to get this book from the Early Reviewers program, but it never arrived. I saw that it was available as an e-audiobook through one of my library’s ebook platforms, so I borrowed it there.
Welcome, Lori and Roni!
I've just about got my opening posts above all tidied up -- now, to visit a few more threads before the exhaustion of the day sends me off to bed.
Hello, I'm stopping by to drop a star on your thread and say I hope to be more present in 2019 as I so like your choices of reading materials.
All good wishes for a wonderful 2019!
Happy New Year Foggi! And happy new thread!
Wishing you and your family the best for 2019.
Happy New Year, Foggi. I love the list of favorites - how could you choose only five?
Great idea to finish the ER books. I also have a few. I may copy your idea and post them as a reminder.
Welcome, Linda, Natalie, Humouress, and Beth! Glad to see all of you here!
>27 BLBera: Copy away! I'm hoping to finish off these books early in the year, and then return to chipping away at some older TBR books. Hopefully, having the picture and post about them will keep them in the forefront of my mind. I also have them on a little shelf on my hall table near the front door, so I can't forget about them so easily.
>28 lycomayflower: Thanks!
Hi Foggi! You lured me in with the promise of a pooch photo :) Super cute!
Hope you have a great 2019!
Happy New Year
I'll have to check out Tess of the Road, I was going to give it a miss, but now seeing it as one of your books of the year...
I've made a start on Spinning Silver and expect to love it, making it a slow read at present.
>2 foggidawn: I stopped requesting ER books, not many came my way anyway as I'm based in New Zealand. The last two, I confess that I read them but never got round to writing the review...and it has been some years now.
The Wonderling gets good reviews but I have to admit that I let it go back to the library unread.
Greetings, Rachel, Chelle, Nora, and Kerry! Thanks for stopping by!
>33 avatiakh: Yes, I was surprised at how much I liked Tess. I really loved Seraphina, so it was interesting to see her story from a different (and not particularly flattering!) angle.
I've gotten pickier about the ER books that I request, over the years. I still can't resist looking at the list, but I've gotten better at determining what I'll actually want to read, versus what just intrigues me at the moment. Plus, in my current job, publishers and book vendors send galleys directly to me occasionally, so I try to leave the ER books to people who don't enjoy that privilege. (That said, I just got notification that I won a book in the most recent batch -- when/if it arrives, I'll have to add it to the stack in >2 foggidawn: )
>33 avatiakh: Well, that’s better than me. I haven’t read my last two ER books and it’s been a while so I can’t remember where I parked them (they’re e-books since I don’t live in the States).
>3 foggidawn: Man, you are good - knowing what the best books of 2019 are already! :)
Snagging your list to add to my list of lists - I am collecting everyone's to see what I missed last year.
I need to re-read Death Comes for the Archbishop again. Cather is one of my favorite writers. My Antonia is one of my all-time favorite books.
Happy New Year, foggi!
(2 books read)
The Bride of Ivy Green by Julie Klassen — In this final volume of the Tales from Ivy Hill, spinster Mercy Grove is feeling pushed out of her beloved home by her new sister-in-law. She takes a position as a governess, though that is a step down for her, but soon finds herself pursued by two men. Meanwhile, Jane Bell still struggles with her fears about marriage, and a newcomer to town attempts to hide from her past in order to make a fresh start.
I’ve enjoyed this well-written inspirational series. Klassen’s characters may occasionally express rather modern sentiments, but this tendency is not as egregious as I’ve seen in books by other authors. Klassen also manages to keep me guessing about certain plot twists. If you enjoy historical inspirationals, I recommend this series (start at the beginning, of course).
>41 foggidawn: I'm glad to know that series is well-written. It sounded like an interesting series, but I've been hesitant to read it because much inspirational fiction suffers in the writing department.
>42 thornton37814: I hear you! I find Klassen to be reliable in that regard.
(3 books read)
A Rather Lovely Inheritance by C.A. Belmond — Penny Nichols is in Europe working on a film set when she gets a call from her parents: she needs to drop everything and go to London immediately, because her aunt Penelope has died, and Penny must attend the reading of the will. Penny doesn’t expect much, maybe a few mementos, but she does as requested, and of course, the inheritance turns out to be both larger and more complicated than expected.
This was a light and fun book to listen to. Somewhere I saw it described as a “caper,” which suits it: there are elements of romance, mystery, and family drama, but it all goes down easily. I particularly recommend the audiobook, read by the late, great Katherine Kellgren.
(4 books read)
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang — Frances dreams of making fabulous creations, rather than the ordinary dresses sewn in the shop where she works. When she creates a shocking masterpiece for a customer, she almost loses her job, but an intriguing (and lucrative) offer from a stranger takes her to the palace itself. She will be Prince Sebastian’s seamstress. The Prince has a secret known only to his valet: occasionally, he likes to wear dresses. As Lady Crystallia, he wows society with Frances’s daring creations. But as long as his identity is secret, Frances must remain unknown as well. And if it became known that Prince Sebastian was Lady Crystallia, what would happen?
I’d been hearing good things about this graphic novel, and it was indeed just as charming as I had heard. The artwork is lovely (plenty of gorgeous swirling fabrics, for one thing) and the story is sweet. If you enjoy graphic novels with a romantic plot line, I definitely recommend this one.
>44 foggidawn: Glad you like this one! Are you going to continue with the series? I’ve been meaning to get back to it for years now. Maybe later this year.
>41 foggidawn: I'll happily take a recommendation for a well-written inspirational romance. They're tough to find. :)
>50 MickyFine: I find that my consumption of inspirational romance has declined over the last several years for just that reason. I still enjoy one occasionally, but they probably made up 40-50% of my reading in my teens and early 20s (my pre-LT, pre-library school days). And now, revisiting old favorites (or reading new books by old favorite authors) I can more easily see some of the weaknesses in the writing.
(5 books read)
The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth -- "A Woodlands heart always finds its way home." It's what Cervus the Great Stag told Philippa, Jamie, and Evelyn when they arrived in the Woodlands, called out of the misery and terror of hiding in a London bomb shelter into the beauty and serenity of the forest. And it's what Cervus told them, five and a half years later, when he sent them back and told them that he would not be able to call them again. Life after the Woodlands has been an adjustment for all three of them. Jamie has set his mind on conquering academics and making his way in this world, and Philippa has done the same, albeit with lipstick and nylons and school projects and social clubs. But Evelyn's Woodlands heart refuses to accept the return to this world, and she pines for what she considers her true home. She wanders the forests around her boarding school late at night, often without shoes or coat, yearning for the same call that drew her away before -- and Philippa, outwardly so collected and sophisticated, has been doing all she can to help Evelyn adjust. But now Philippa has gone away to school in America, leaving Evelyn on her own for the first time since they returned. Will Evelyn be able to finally make her way in this world?
This is a beautiful book, full of deep emotion and difficult choices. One gets the sense that there can't really be a happy ending for these characters, though one hopes for certain outcomes above others. The narration follows Evelyn for the first half of the book, immersing the reader in Evelyn's desperate longing for her other world, and then switches to Philippa for the second half of the book, adding complexity to the emotional tone as one learns more about both sisters. Layered in with Evelyn's narration are snippets of their lives in the Woodlands, and interspersed with Philippa's are memories of life after the Woodlands but before the book's current events. Both sisters relate strongly to art (poetry for Evelyn, visual art for Philippa) as a means of making sense of their lives and emotions.
Though you certainly can understand and enjoy this book without having read The Chronicles of Narnia, if you have read those books, you can't help but see how this book takes those events and characters and asks, "What if?" What might happen after Narnia, to someone like Lucy who loved that world with all her heart? Why might Susan have made the decision to become very grown up, as far from her fantasy-realm self as possible? I felt that this book was both a love letter to and a criticism of Narnia. However, I didn't find the Woodlands sections themselves very compelling, which is why I'd rate this book 4.5 instead of 5 stars -- there just wasn't enough depth there to really convey why Evelyn felt such an emotional connection. Understandable, since this book isn't really about the Woodlands, it's about life after. Still, I felt that those portions paled in comparison with the rest of the book, which brought tears to my eyes more than once. Highly recommended both to those who loved and still love Narnia, and to those who loved but found themselves disillusioned by it later on.
(6 books read)
A Rather Curious Engagement by C.A. Belmond -- Penny Nichols, now an heiress with a London flat, a classic car, and co-ownership of a villa on the Riviera with her boyfriend Jeremy, sets out for a summer of relaxation and deliberation: the two have agreed to take the summer to think about future enterprises, investments, and what they want their lives to look like in the years ahead. In service to this goal, they decide to purchase a vintage yacht. In the course of events, they get caught up in the search for a missing family heirloom, a search which could turn deadly if they get too close to facts that certain individuals may wish not to disclose.
Another lovely little audiobook, pleasant to listen to (Kellgren again, of course) with a light, engaging plot. I listened to this mostly while feeling under the weather, and it was just right for those circumstances.
>52 foggidawn: This sounds really interesting! I was never a huge Narnia fan but I enjoyed The Magicians series, which is less "What happens after?" and more just a much darker take on it in general.
>54 quondame: The Problem of Susan gets me EVERY TIME, and Susan's fate is one of the biggest reasons I never got super into Narnia.
>54 quondame: I've read (and very much enjoyed) Among Others but not "The Problem of Susan" -- I'll have to get to that, and see if Gaiman can convince me where others have failed. :-)
>55 curioussquared: I read the first book of The Magicians, and kept meaning to get back to it, but haven't yet. I liked it well enough, but the second book wasn't out yet when I read the first one, and I just never got around to picking it up once it was. I'm a big fan of Narnia, but I can understand others having a more complicated relationship with it.
>56 scaifea: It's a good one.
>57 lycomayflower: Hope you enjoy it when you get to it!
Whenever a review of mine creates a lot of interest like this, I worry that I have oversold it -- but I really did enjoy this book, and it might even end up being one of my favorites of the year (obviously, it's way early to be predicting that), so I feel confident in my recommendation, even if nobody else likes it as much as I did (if that makes sense).
Happy new thread/new year, Foggi! I enjoyed Tess, but really loved Spinning Silver, and Educated is on my short list.
>59 kgriffith: Hi, Kir! I go back and forth about whether Tess should be the honorable mention, and Educated on the best-of list. I find that last year I didn't read as many fantastic books as I have in other years, but that may also have been because I did a fair amount of rereading.
>58 foggidawn: "The Problem of Susan" is a short story which I was able to find online and read in about 10min. There is an essay which discusses it and the idea Here. That C.S. Lewis would have had Susan distracted by real world teenage issues but not her older brother Peter is utter glaringly hypocritical male nonsense.
>61 quondame: Oh, I'm aware of the argument, I just haven't had time to read Gaiman's take on it yet.
>64 MickyFine: Yes, that was the strongest correlation to any book that I have read, although McGuire's work is tinged with horror, whereas this book had none of those overtones.
I had such a nice meetup with scaifea yesterday — she drove up from where she lives to where I live, so I showed her around my library and we had lunch. Who’s next? I’m always glad to have visitors!
>41 foggidawn: I will have to check out that series and let my daughter Catey know about it. She loves historical inspirationals.
>45 foggidawn: My local library has that one! Now on hold for me.
>52 foggidawn: Definitely a BB for me - I still love Narnia despite being 56 years old.
>66 foggidawn: If only we lived closer to each other. . .
>67 alcottacre: If only! It's a bit of a drive, to meet you for lunch. :-)
>54 quondame: Following up, I did read Gaiman's "The Problem of Susan," and found it as subtle as a sledgehammer. (I'm usually a fan of Gaiman's gentler works, but can't stomach his more violent or gory ones -- and this short story definitely falls in the latter camp.) So, he failed to convince me, but as I said above, I can understand how some readers have a more negative reaction than I to Narnia.
>69 foggidawn: I feel Gaiman's story is his own exploration of the feeling toward a piece of beloved literature that violates some basic trust between open, vulnerable, that is child, reader, and author. Doing so, he himself somewhat bruises in adopting female viewpoints. I wonder what the damage is to the very young male reader who compares himself to the purity of Peter. As to the sledgehammer, C.S. Lewis is no master of subtlety.
>70 quondame: True enough, about Lewis. I'd say Peter is offset by both Edmund and Eustace, as Lucy is by Susan -- though, of course, Edmund and Eustace get the chance for redemption early in their story arcs. (Susan does, too, in Prince Caspian -- but of course, as the Gaiman short story points out and as we've been discussing, she takes a more serious fall at the end of The Last Battle, and the reader does not get to see the chance for redemption within the confines of the story for that one.)
(7 books read)
A Rather Charming Invitation by C.A. Belmond — Penny and Jeremy’s wedding is looming ahead, but Penny is having a hard time setting any of the details. Is it cold feet? When a family heirloom disappears amidst all of the preparations, Penny and Jeremy embark on solving another mystery, this one perhaps even closer to home than their earlier cases.
Readers looking for mystery stories will probably be disappointed with these books, which I continue to find charming but difficult to classify. In this particular book, the plot moves at a leisurely pace early on, but picks up momentum in the second half. Once again, I highly recommend the audiobook version, narrated by Katherine Kellgren.
(8 books read)
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan — A proper young lady should not be obsessed with the study of dragons (or any scientific or academic pursuit, really), but Isabella’s parents have never been able to fully discourage her from this odd obsession. When she is fortunate enough to find a husband who does not discourage her from reading scientific texts, she feels that she has been as fortunate as she has any right to expect — but then she hears about an expedition to study dragons firsthand . . .
I’ve been hearing about this series here and there for at least a few years now, and I can’t think why it’s taken me this long to read it! It’s just my thing, what with dragons and the quasi-historical setting that draws in mannerpunk characteristics. I’m delighted to see that there are several more books in the series. I also highly recommend the audiobook version, as Kate Reading’s narration is top-notch.
>73 foggidawn: I've been eye that book for a while. Now it's officially on the wish list.
>73 foggidawn: Congrats on finally starting this series! I've read the first two, and really need to keep going.
>79 norabelle414: I'm currently in a pattern of listening to audiobook series all the way through, so I think that I will probably listen to all of this one the same way -- they're all available on my library's Hoopla service, and I like having an audiobook on the go for any time I have a car ride longer than five minutes.
>73 foggidawn: That series is great and Kate Reading is high on my list of narrators!
>81 leahbird: Yes, she's fantastic! I think I've listened to other things she's done -- I'll have to see what else is out there by her.
>41 foggidawn: Julie Klassen is wonderful, isn't she? She lives in MN, so I've met her a couple times.
>83 The_Hibernator: How neat, that you have met her! Yes, I've enjoyed everything I've read by her.
>85 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! I’m having a quiet weekend retreat with some friends in a cabin in the woods. Board games, hot tub, and reading have all featured prominently. And eating — each of us apparently shopped and packed as if we were solely responsible for feeding the whole crew!
The Wonderling by Mira Bartok — He’s been known by many names, including Arthur, Spike, and Number Thirteen. A little hybrid creature known as a groundling, Arthur has lived his whole life in an orphanage, under the control of a cruel headmistress. When he and a friend get a chance to escape, they take it — but where will they go? Arthur hopes to find answers about his past, but it’s a long way to the city where he was born, and many dangers await him there.
I wanted to like this book, but it never grabbed me. I read the first half before giving up, and it was like a cross between Annie and Oliver Twist, with fantasy elements and vaguely Arthurian themes thrown in. When I realized that I kept putting the book down after a page or two, I decided that this book is not for me. That’s not to say that others won’t enjoy it, particularly children who love fantasy adventure stories.
It's always such a drag when a good premise fails to deliver. Wishing you a much better next read.
>88 MickyFine: Thanks! The next book was better; I’ll try to get a review up soon.
>89 scaifea: It was great, up to a point... that point being about 5:15 yesterday evening, when the water cut out in the middle of one friend’s shower! The maintenance guy was actually on hand, shoveling snow, but he was not able to fix the water. They moved us to another cabin, but that involved us getting our cars out of the driveway, which was stupidly steep and, of course, covered in snow and ice. The driveway at the other cabin was nice and flat, but my car was so exhausted at the exertions of getting out of the driveway that the battery died. We were able to jump it this morning, and as soon as I got home I took it to a parts store and got a new battery. Then I went home, where a kind neighbor helped me shovel a space in my driveway so I could park, since we got about a foot of snow up here! It was an exhausting end to an otherwise relaxing weekend. But now I’m home, with my bed, my shower, and my dog, and an early bedtime should help me feel ready to tackle the rest of the work week.
>91 scaifea: That about sums it up! We all decided that we would stick with fall or spring for future cabin adventures.
Hi, foggi. Finally getting around to visiting the threads and am dropping a star!
>90 foggidawn: You picked an interesting weekend weather-wise to stay in a cabin! We were lucky here in that we only got 4 inches or so. It rained most of the day Saturday. I hadn't been grocery shopping in a couple of weeks, so I made Ed go with me to the store Saturday morning so that we could stock up. It was a zoo in the store and there were only 3 checkout lines open so it took us 30+ minutes to get through the lines. Of course, travel was never difficult here - except for maybe the middle of the night Saturday, but we were home in bed anyway. At least now I have lots of groceries!
>94 rretzler: Yes, this has strengthened my resolve, in future, to not plan anything during January! January in Ohio is for staying at home!
(9 books read)
The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware -- Harriet Westaway, known as Hal to her friends, is at the precarious edge of financial desperation: she can't pay her bills, she can't pay her rent, and she can't pay off the loan shark she borrowed £500 from a few months ago. Her mother died a few years ago, and she has no other family that she knows of to fall back on. Then, just when things seem to be at their worst, a letter arrives from a solicitor: Hal's grandmother has died, and Hal must go to the family estate in Cornwall to claim her inheritance. At first, she assumes that a mistake has been made -- the letter must have been intended for a different Harriet Westaway. But... if she were to come into a small inheritance, maybe a few thousand pounds, all of her financial problems would be solved. She goes to the estate, where she learns that things are more complicated than she first supposed. She is connected in some way to this family -- but someone doesn't want her to turn up any of the secrets buried in the past.
I devoured this book, which is a mystery in a modern setting, but with gothic touches. I figured out part of the mystery halfway through, but not all of it by any means. There's plenty of suspense and foreboding here, but not a lot of on-page violence, which is just right for what I personally can tolerate. If you enjoy a good mystery rooted in family drama, give this one a try!
Where were the cabins you stayed in, if you don't mind my asking?
>96 foggidawn: Oooh, this sounds like one that my mom and I would enjoy reading together - we love chatting about mysteries. I'm adding it to the list!
>97 scaifea: Hocking Hills. They were nice cabins -- warm and well-equipped -- and the roads had been nicely plowed by the time we were ready to leave, but that driveway...
Some of our friends wanted to have a weekend at some cabins in Hocking Hills in February. Plans fell through, and after your adventure with the snow, I am glad we won't be going.
I'm planning on reading The Death of Mrs. Westaway in the next month or two, and really looking forward to it after your review. I don't like much on-page violence either. Glad you liked it!
>98 foggidawn: I've always heard pretty great things about Hocking Hills. I'm not much of an outdoorsy person, but if I were to do any cabin staying I'd want it to be in winter (much less chance of snakes and bugs).
>101 scaifea: Yeah, definitely no snakes and bugs! If we go again at some point, I'd like to do a little hiking, but none of us were being very outdoorsy in this weather, anyway.
>98 foggidawn: Oh! Not far from my old stomping grounds from the masters degree school years!
>103 lycomayflower: Wow, I didn't know you had gone to school around here!
>105 lycomayflower: Cool! I did all of my schooling before moving to Ohio, making me something of an anomaly around here. (Sometimes I feel like the only librarian in the state who didn't get a Masters from Kent State, though I know that's not the case!)
(10 books read)
The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson — Despite recent tragic events, Stevie still dreams of solving the Ellingham mystery... which may prove difficult, as her parents have removed her from Ellingham. When an opportunity to return comes from an unexpected source, Stevie makes a bargain she may come to regret.
I’m not sure what I think about this book, or what I can say that won’t constitute a spoiler. The mystery is not solved (for the reader, at least) at the end of the book, but it felt to me like it was very close. I was wishing for another 30 pages, but instead we get to wait for another book. This book shares the strengths of its predecessor, particularly in characterization and setting. I’d probably recommend reading the entire trilogy once the final book comes out, as I was wishing I had done a reread of the first before diving into this one. A good read, but with a rather frustrating ending.
(11 books read)
The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan — Isabella Camhurst’s quest to study dragons continues, taking her first to the savanna and then deep into the swamp. She does learn about dragons, but also about politics and loyalty.
I found this book almost as good as the first. The swamp part seemed to drag on a bit, but that may have had more to do with the rate at which I was listening than any flaw in the writing. Recommended to readers who enjoyed the first book in the series.
>53 foggidawn: As always, this is a dangerous thread. I cannot visit here without adding a book ---or ten.
I’ve been savoring Mary Oliver’s Dog Songs over the past several days. I’m not quite finished, but I thought I’d share my favorite poem so far:
Little Dog’s Rhapsody in the Night
He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I'm awake, or awake enough
he turns upside down, his four paws
in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.
“Tell me you love me,” he says.
“Tell me again.”
Could there be a sweeter arrangement? Over and over
he gets to ask.
I get to tell.
Oh, I really enjoyed Mrs Westaway and you've done a wonderful review of it. If you liked Mrs Westaway, you might enjoy The Broken Girls by Simone St. James . I read it earlier in January and it had just the right touches of gothic mystery and a ghost or two, but nothing too scary or violent . But certainly enough to keep me turning the pages.
>112 quondame: It's a good one!
>113 vancouverdeb: Thanks for the recommendation! I'll keep it in mind for next time I want something just a little bit creepy.
>114 fuzzi: Isn't it great? It sometimes describes my dog, but more often she grumps at me whenever I roll over or move my legs, as it disturbs Her Highness's beauty sleep. Still, I treasure those times when she is cuddly all the more.
Hey, guys, guess what today is? It's the Best Day of the Year: the American Library Association Youth Media Awards day! The Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and many other book awards will be announced today. If you want to watch from home, you can -- there's a live webcast.
I don't have any strong favorites this year, which is fairly unusual. I've been reading a slightly smaller percentage of children's and young adult books this year -- I still read plenty, don't get me wrong, but I haven't been making as much of an effort to read the ones that are getting a lot of buzz. But I'm still very excited to see what wins!
(12 books read)
Dog Songs by Mary Oliver --
It seemed as if my dog
was reading along with me
perched behind me on the couch
her head heavy on my shoulder.
"Why are you crying?"
she would ask me.
"Why are you laughing?"
Because, I would say,
This poet understands dogs.
This poet understands words.
This poet understands love.
I'm making my way through a larger collection of Mary Oliver's poetry, but I may not finish until next month.
>116 alcottacre: I think I remember you mentioning that you were reading it -- that may have tipped it onto my "read now" list, as opposed to the general TBR.
>119 thornton37814: This one was just the right length for me -- I might have gotten bogged down in a longer collection. I like poetry . . . in moderation.
>121 The_Hibernator: Thanks! It's been a pretty good one -- I amused my coworkers with my reactions to the ALA Youth Media Awards, as I was generally pretty pleased, but occasionally quite surprised. Since I was wearing my headphones, all they heard was my reaction. I try to curb my enthusiasm, but that awards press conference is as exciting to me as, say, the Super Bowl is to some people.
(13 books read)
Heart and Brain by Nick Seluk — The first collection of the popular “Heart and Brain” webcomic. I enjoy reading these comics when people post them online, but I feel like I’ve already seen the best ones from this collection. I was hoping to discover new content, but none of the ones I hadn’t seen before wowed me. I may still pick up other collections of this comic in the future, but I don’t feel a need to purchase them for my personal shelves.
(Fills Book Riot Read Harder category 4: A humor book.)
>122 foggidawn: I had to go look, since you wouldn't tell us who won. My, that list of awards has really grown over the last few years! And I can tell I'm not connected to children's lit anymore--it wasn't until it got down to the list of adult books that appeal to teens that I started recognizing titles.
>122 foggidawn: Agreed! YMA are *better* than the Super Bowl by far. So much fun!
>124 ronincats: Oops, I guess that would have been useful information! If anyone else is wondering, here is a link to the results. Yes, the list has grown -- this year they added a digital media award and also partnered with the Asian/Pacific American Library Association and the Association of Jewish Libraries to incorporate their (existing) awards announcements into the press conference. What used to be a one-hour event now runs to an hour and a half -- while I enjoy seeing the additional awards announcements, I can see how that's less manageable for people who really just want to see what won the Newbery and Caldecott.
>125 scaifea: Isn't it? The crowd reactions are so much fun, especially when they react to the number of honor books. At some point in this one, they all made a happy noise when it was announced that some award had a large number of honors, then a bit of self-conscious laughter when they heard themselves.
>126 foggidawn: I know! It's so adorable when that happens - librarians being self-conscious about making too much noise! Ha!
It seems that the number of honor books always gets a reaction, no matter how many or how few there are. I'd love to hear what would happen if there were *no* honor books, or if there were *10*!
>127 scaifea: I don't know if it's the amount of noise, or just the realization that we all went "oooOOOooo" at exactly the same time, and it was funny to be sharing that reaction with so many others. I think no honor books would result in a very sad noise -- I've heard the sound when only one honor book is named, and nobody is thrilled at that. Ten would be excessive -- I think some people would be pleased, but most would express more surprise, and maybe even some displeasure. Three or four honors seems about right, to me.
(14 books read)
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi -- Maya's horoscope promises a marriage of death and destruction, so she has resigned herself to life as a scholarly spinster in her father's harem. Then, one day, he announces that he has assembled all of his political rivals there, ostensibly so that she might choose a bridegroom from among them. Any choice will result in disaster, as those not chosen will retaliate violently against the kingdom. When the ceremony descends into chaos, a stranger, not one of the assembled bridegrooms, sweeps Maya away to his own kingdom, a mystical place with many secrets that Maya is not permitted to learn until the new moon. When she begins exploring on her own, disaster follows, and she sets out on a quest to make right her mistakes.
I love the Indian-inspired aspects of this fantasy -- it's lush and original. However, the writing is flowery and convoluted to the point that I had a hard time following the story. I sometimes couldn't figure out what was real and what was metaphorical, and some things just didn't make sense. For instance, at one point this sentence appears: "Amar's gaze was downcast, fixed on the sky." Was he standing on his head, then? Things like that took me right out of the story. Too bad -- I wanted to like this one, but I just couldn't wrap my brain around the writing style.
>129 foggidawn: I had the same reaction to this one. It could have been so good!
>130 aktakukac: Disappointing, wasn't it? It had been on my TBR list since it was released, and my hopes were high. I've read the author's first Aru Shah book, and it was stronger on plot and much lighter on the flowery language, so I'm not writing her off entirely -- but I probably won't read the companion book to this one, in case the purple prose is a stylistic choice that continues in that book.
>132 ronincats: The reviews are an odd mix -- people either liked the writing, or they hated it.
(15 books read)
The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan — Natural historian Isabella Camhurst sets out on a voyage around the world, hoping to study dragons and sea serpents. She gets more than she bargained for, in some respects...
I’m enjoying every minute of this series. The audiobook narration is top-notch, as is the storytelling. Highly recommended; start at the beginning, of course.
(16 books read)
A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos — Ophelia runs a small museum and possesses an unusually strong ability to “read” an object’s history with her hands. She’s never had any interest in marriage, but when the Doyennes, the matriarchal heads of her extended family, arrange a marriage for her with a powerful foreigner, she is forced to accept her fate. She is sent with him and a chaperone to his home, where political machinations and scandals are a way of life, and the backstabbing can be literal as well as figurative. Can Ophelia trust anyone in this place — including her enigmatic fiancé?
With a delightfully labyrinthine plot and intricate world building, the nearly 500 pages of this book flew by for me. I’m a sucker for a good Beauty and the Beast-type story, and those elements are present here, though whether there will ever be romance for Ophelia and Thorn is still in question (Ophelia reads as asexual, at least so far, and it will be interesting to see where the author goes with that element of her character). It’s the first book in a projected quartet, so there are plenty of questions left unanswered at the end — we can only hope that the next volume arrives soon!
(Fills Book Riot Read Harder category 10: A translated book written by and translated by a woman.)
>138 foggidawn: Ouch! OUCH!! OUCH!!! That was quite a book bullet, foggi. The library has one copy, 4 holds, and 7 on order, so I put a hold on it right away. A quartet, you say...
>139 ronincats: I suspected I might get you with that one, Roni! Yes, a quartet — and has to be translated from the French, which explains why we don’t have access to the second book yet, I guess.
>138 foggidawn: Ooh... I'm definitely intrigued!! I'm tempted to pick these up in the original French when I'm in Paris with my parents later this year :)
>141 curioussquared: Sounds like a plan! If I had learned French like I meant to in high school, I would definitely be looking for the originals!
(17 books read)
The Undateable by Sarah Title -- When Melissa "Bernie" Bernard's disapproving expression becomes a meme, it leads to a variety of uncomfortable and embarrassing situations, including being featured in an online fashion magazine's "30 Dates in 30 Days" series. For Bernie, it's an opportunity to prove that she's more than the grumpy face that the photographer captured during that flash mob. For reporter Colin Rodriguez, it's a last chance to save his career. Neither expects to find love, but this is, after all, a romance novel...
This was a cute and fun story. I never got really fond of the male lead, but it was nice to see a librarian featured in a romance title, and the details of librarianship contained in the book were spot on (what public service librarian hasn't been stuck at the desk, stomach growling, waiting for their replacement?). Plus, Bernie's dating misadventures are hilarious.
Thanks to MickyFine for the book bullet!
(Fills Book Riot Read Harder category 5: A book by a journalist or about journalism.)
I've decided to tentatively try the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. I've updated post >5 foggidawn: to track it. At least for now, I'm not going to try really hard to seek out books that fit the categories, but rather, I will see what fits in from my normal reading. If I seem to be having some success, later in the year I may try reading more intentionally to fill the gaps.
(18 books read)
Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert's Story by Debbie Tung -- All her life, Debbie has been shy and anxious. Social events exhaust her, and she'd much rather be spending time on her own. She wonders if something is wrong with her, but a deeper understanding of her personality leads to self-acceptance.
As a fellow introvert (in fact, a fellow INFJ), this book touches on many of my own concerns and insecurities. I appreciated the positive tone of the book, as well as certain touching moments that brought a tear to my eye. Recommended for introverts and the extroverts that love them.
Thanks to jnwelch for the book bullet!
>145 foggidawn: I need to get to this one soon.
*awkward fist bump to fellow INFJ*
>129 foggidawn: Too bad about that one. It sounds like it could have been excellent.
>134 foggidawn: I really wish my local library had that series.
>138 foggidawn: Adding that one to the BlackHole!
>145 foggidawn: I already have that one in the BlackHole or I would be adding it again.
Happy Wednesday, foggi!
>146 MickyFine: Yeah, when I read your review I had just finished an excellent fantasy read, then read a chapter or two of a nonfiction book. I was in the perfect frame of mind for something light and contemporary, and I buzzed right through that.
>147 scaifea: Yep, it's making the rounds. By the way, I've noticed that, though rare in the general population, INFJs cluster on sites like this.
>148 alcottacre: If you have access to Hoopla (an app provided by some libraries) the Lady Trent memoirs are all available in audio on that platform. Happy Wednesday to you, too!
>149 foggidawn: That doesn't surprise me, that readers who find friendship on the interwebs would be INFJs in force...
>145 foggidawn: Those of us who are INTJ need a book too - nice review, I am going to add this to the long TBR list.
(19 books read)
Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land -- When pregnancy interrupts her goal of earning a degree in creative writing, Stephanie finds herself in a precarious financial position: homeless, with a 7-month-old. She pursues a variety of solutions: government aid, help from friends, and working very hard for very low pay.
This memoir really spotlights the plight of those who do menial work for minimum wage or just above it. I did feel like the narrative jumped around a bit, and skimmed over parts of the author's life (for instance, at one point she borrows a car from a guy she had been dating, but there's been no mention of him, or dating during that time in her life, up to that point). Still, I found the story interesting, if anxiety-inducing. It made me wonder what I would do in those circumstances, which I find to be the mark of a good memoir, so I would recommend this one, especially if the topic is of interest to you.
>153 foggidawn: Our own live-in maid, dear Erni, has worked selflessly for her family from a small island in Indonesia for the past 17 years and has sent them virtually every penny/cent she has earned in that time. She doesn't know that Hani started a savings policy for her 15 years ago that will yield her something approaching $20,000 when she eventually decides to go back permanently. It will probably make her the richest person on her small island!
(20 books read)
In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan — Dame Isabella travels to the deserts of Akhia, where she studies desert drakes, is reunited with an old friend, and makes her greatest discovery yet.
This is the best book of the series so far, and that’s saying something. I just loved every minute of this audiobook. Highly recommended.
Maid sound very interesting. Touchstones are not working, but I think I've seen the book in the store. I'll check my library too.
>156 foggidawn: Book Love (Debbie Tung's newest), was published last month, and is available in bookstores. (Touchstones not working). Seems likely your library will pick it up soon. We loved it in our house.
(21 books read)
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty -- Nahri can make a decent living on the streets of Cairo as a fortune teller and sometimes thief, but when she unwittingly summons Dara, a djinn warrior, her life changes drastically. Dara whisks her away to Daevabad, the hidden city of the djinn, where she is welcomed as the last surviving member of a noble race. . . but, of course, all is not as it seems, and even Dara may be hiding secrets from her.
I enjoyed this quite a bit, though it is a rather slow build into the world of the series, and few questions are answered in this first book. That's not to say that the pacing lags -- there's a good bit of action in the book, balanced out by the necessity of detailed description of the world of the story and the different classes and races of djinn. I'm still not sure I grasped all of the subtleties there. I did enjoy the story, though once again I'm not on board for a romance between an 18-year-old girl and a magical being who has lived for millennia. However, that aspect of the story was fairly slight, overshadowed by other relationships and the political maneuvering that Nahri found herself embroiled in. If you're up for a chunky epic fantasy trilogy with Middle-Eastern flavor, I'd recommend this one. I'll be reading the second book soon, I suspect.
>166 ChelleBearss: Thanks, same to you. Valentine's Day is usually just another day to me, but I am enjoying the candy and cookies that my coworkers have brought in for the occasion! I brought in a bowl of mandarin oranges -- not to be particularly health-conscious, but because I'm going out of town this weekend and wanted to use them up!
>168 MickyFine: Going to see the baby nephew! He’s seven months old already — time is going by so fast.
Aw, I love the Shaw Sheep books! Excellent choice!
Safe travels and have a great trip this weekend!
Yay for baby snuggles! And for seeing other family members too. :) Have a wonderful time.
>149 foggidawn: As far as I know, there is no access to Hoopla at my local library. It just got Libby, which is a step in a good direction as far as I am concerned. Next time I am in, I will ask about Hoopla.
Have a wonderful trip!
>171 scaifea: Thanks! I hope your weekend went well, too.
>172 MickyFine: Yeah, baby snuggles tend to overshadow other interactions. ;-)
>173 alcottacre: I may have found you a solution -- I'll message you.
>174 aktakukac: Thanks! I even made him an LT account so I can keep track of what I've already given him (and what he's gotten elsewhere).
>175 fuzzi: Yes, those sheep get in all kinds of crazy situations! I think Sheep in a Jeep is still the best, though.
(22 books read)
Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina -- Merci can't help but notice the ways in which her life is different from those of her classmates. At her private school, she must do extra hours of community service in return for her scholarship. None of her classmates lives in a chain of little houses with their extended family. And, while her classmates may go on fancy vacations during school breaks, Merci's family hardly ever goes anywhere -- she's probably spending her vacations babysitting her little cousins, or helping with her father's painting business in order to save money for a new bike. And now that she is in sixth grade, everything seems to be changing, from the way her classmates interact (suddenly, some of the girls are acting like the boys they always played with at recess seem fascinating and somehow forbidden), to the way her beloved grandfather sometimes gets confused and irritable. Merci doesn't like any of the changes, but must learn that they are part of life, and that they can bring good things as well as bad.
I enjoyed this book, winner of the 2019 Newbery Medal, but I'm not sure I'd say it's the best book of the year. (Ah, the price of success! If it hadn't won, would I be saying that about some other book? Probably, but I digress.) There are several moments both touching and funny, and the characters are rounded and interesting. Merci's own character development is a pleasure to read. If you have an interest in children's literature, I'd recommend this book.
(23 books read)
Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan -- Lady Trent takes her most difficult journey yet, deep into the world's most forbidding mountain range, hoping to discover a new dragon species. What she finds there is even more astonishing than any discovery she has made so far.
After reading the fourth book in this series (which was excellent), I wondered how a fifth book could top that, in terms of exciting discoveries and so forth. This one did! I won't give anything away, but I enjoyed this book tremendously. I think the fourth is my favorite of the series, but this book is a satisfying conclusion to an amazing story arc. I'm sad that it's over, but I know I will read and enjoy this series again in the future. Highly recommended, particularly on audio.
>177 foggidawn: This book got checked out right after it won the Newbery, so I haven't had a chance to read it yet. I do have very high expectations for Newbery winners - that is the price of success, I suppose. Sometimes there are books that don't win and I have a hard time getting over it (The Inquisitor's Tale), as I love them so much other books don't compare well.
>177 foggidawn: I was shocked it won the Newbery. I'd already read it and been disappointed in the "hype" surrounding its release.
>179 AMQS: I didn’t have any particular favorites for the Newbery this year, but if I had read this one sooner, I do not think it would have been my pick. It’s a fine book, but I didn’t love it.
>180 thornton37814: In many ways, it’s a typical Newbery: realistic fiction, female main character (and female author), more about character development than plot. Did you have a favorite for the award this year?
>181 foggidawn: I didn't read enough to have a favorite, but that one just didn't grab me.
>177 foggidawn: Adding that one to the BlackHole. I delude myself that I am keeping up with the Newberry awards, lol.
>144 foggidawn: I'm working on the POPSugar Challenge informally, like you are with Read Harder. Just as a way to get ideas of what in my oversized unread home library to read. I'm focusing more on my personal challenges, though.
>185 The_Hibernator: Next year, I'm thinking about making my own challenge along the lines of Read Harder and PopSugar for my yearly reading resolution. It's either that or circle back to 10+ year TBR books, and I'm kind of intrigued with the idea of writing my own challenge in a way that gives me options, but also forces me to clear some of my TBR books.
>178 foggidawn: I'm popping into your thread because we share 69 books (out of my 319), which indicates quite a similar reading preference, no?
I've never read any Marie Brennan so not sure of her writing style. But chances are her series would be very engaging, despite the Newbery opinions. I think sometimes these honours are perhaps influenced by what's 'au courant' at the time. And it happens everywhere: in Canada there was some consternation that the 2018 Giller prize went to Esi Edugyan, for Washington Black, when she'd so recently won in 2011 for Half-Blood Blues. I'm on the sidelines for all that furor and have no opinion. Maybe that will change! Half-blood is sitting on my TBR shelf at the moment!
But I digress...
I'm always pleased to find other ~ adult~ readers who enjoy the YA genre (based on seeing Robin McKinley, Rae Carson and Susan Cooper in your library). I get some gentle flak from The Man when he sees me actually enjoying some of his military histories and biographies, because my go-to addictive reading is generally fantasy or mysteries and intrigue.
Looking forward to keeping up with your thread!
>178 foggidawn: Didn't she wrap up that series nicely? I love the "voice" of Lady Trent, and I know I'll come back and reread this series.
(Psst! We share 605 books. But we have a lot more catalogued than Sandy (with whom I share 99 books, 1/3 of her collection!).
>178 foggidawn: and >190 ronincats:
This is so splendid ~ I love seeing who also shares my reading tastes. Or maybe I should see what your reviews say!
When I went to look at "Your Library", ronincats has 107 shared book titles with me. Sibyx shares a lot of the same titles with me, too.
Cool to see another DWJ fan. The Ogre Downstairs was a family favourite from when I first started reading it to my kids. We started them off on O.D.S. when they were only 6 and the story was so enthralling, we bought every DWJ we could lay our hands on. My personal favourite as an adult is Deep Secret. Robin McKinley is still popular with both my daughter and me. We've kind of outgrown The Dark is Rising, but I'm keeping the series around for our grandchildren's visits.
And ronincats has tons of G-Heyer Regency novels. My 3 top favourites are These Old Shades, Frederica and Cotillion, although I have a great soft spot for The Masqueraders which was one of the first I ever read. The women in our family have collected all the Regencies. I've got some of the Georgian era novels but my faves are mainly the ones from her Regency stories.
Anyway, I am discovering a lot more in common with LT members by following the 75er threads. I like playing the scavenger hunt games, my only interactive exposure on LT until now. The folks who appear there largely seem to have quite disparate libraries in comparison to me, so I've not been on talk with anyone before now.
I'm probably being too chatty, too. But as I get further into my reading goals plus doing some travelling in March, I'll have a lower profile.
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.