Curioussquared's 2018 Reading
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Hello everyone! I'm Natalie. This will be maybe my third time participating in the challenge? I took a break for a few years, but I'm hoping to be more active this year!
I'm located in Seattle, where I do communications work for a consulting firm. Our lovely traffic problem means I get a large chunk of my reading done on the bus. Otherwise, I do most of my reading curled up on the couch with my lazy retired racing greyhound, Skeletor.
I read mostly fiction, with a heavy emphasis on YA, along with some fantasy and general fiction/literature. I've been keeping track of my books read since 2008, and I usually aim for 100. Last year I hit an all-time high of 115!
This year, I'm aiming for 100 again. A second goal I'd like to achieve is reading at least 40 books off of my own shelves. Must curb the library holds!
Here's Skelly being an excellent reading companion:
Books read in 2018
1. Stopping for a Spell - Diana Wynne Jones *
2. Ella Minnow Pea - Mark Dunn *
3. A Scandal in Battersea by Mercedes Lackey
4. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle ~
5. A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle ~
6. White Teeth by Zadie Smith *
7. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie *
8. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan *
9. Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh
10. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan *
11. Come Juneteenth by Ann Rinaldi *
12. The Marseille Caper by Peter Mayle *
13. Funny Girl by Nick Hornby *
14. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce ~
15. In the Hands of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce ~
16. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
17. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce ~
18. Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper ~
19. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
20. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett *
21. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot *
22. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper ~
23. Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce ~
24. Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce ~
25. A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle ~
26. The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman *
27. Wolf Speaker by Tamora Pierce ~
28. Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce *
29. Greenwitch by Susan Cooper ~
30. The Grey King by Susan Cooper ~
31. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara *
32. Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle
33. Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce ~
34. Gifts by Ursula K. LeGuin
35. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
36. Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor
37. Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper ~
38. The Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce ~
39. An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L'Engle
40. Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton
41. His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik ~
42. First Test by Tamora Pierce~
43. Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
44. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
45. Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
46. Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
47. Page by Tamora Pierce ~
48. Secrets of Six-Figure Women by Barbara Stanny
49. The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro
50. Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
51. Catwings by Ursula K. Le Guin
52. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
53. Squire by Tamora Pierce ~
54. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
55. Where I Live by Brenda Rufener
56. Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce ~
57. Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
58. The Tin Princess by Philip Pullman
59. It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han
60. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami ~
61. Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce ~
62. Wren's Quest by Sherwood Smith
63. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
64. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
65. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall ~
66. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
67. Wren's War by Sherwood Smith
68. Trickster's Queen by Tamora Pierce ~
69. Longbourn by Jo Baker
70. Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian
71. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall
72. The Odyssey by Homer *
73. Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson *
74. Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal
75. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens *
76. Puddin' by Julie Murphy
77. We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
78. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
79. Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner
80. Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell
81. China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
82. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi *
83. The Adventures of Miss Petitfour by Anne Michaels *
84. The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall
85. The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr *
86. Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal
87. Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
88. The Hills Have Spies by Mercedes Lackey
89. Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal
90. The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall
91. Save the Date by Morgan Matson
92. Wren Journeymage by Sherwood Smith
93. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
94. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz *
95. The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro
96. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith ~
97. Beka Cooper: Terrier by Tamora Pierce ~
98. A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
99. Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal
100. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess *
101. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
102. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith ~
103. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
104. Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce ~
105. Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
106. Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith ~
107. Ship It by Britta Lundin
108. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
109. March: Book One by John Lewis *
110. My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
111. The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
112. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
113. The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall
114. Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
115. My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell *
116. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith *
117. Mastiff by Tamora Pierce ~
118. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik *
119. Matilda Bone by Karen Cushman *
120. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming *
121. Chocolat by Joanne Harris *
122. The Color Purple by Alice Walker *
123. The Young Unicorns by Madeleine L'Engle *
124. Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
125. Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff *
126. The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn
127. Léo: Mon secret est une chance by Gwenaele Barussaud *
128. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
129. The White Giraffe by Lauren St. John *
* Denotes a book read off my shelf
~ Denotes a reread
Welcome back! I hear ya on the library holds. Plus when I go in to pick up a hold, four other books sneak home with me... 😁
1 book read: Stopping for a Spell by the inimitable Diana Wynne Jones.
Diana Wynne Jones is one of my all-time favorite authors, no questions asked. I can't count how many times I've read her Chrestomanci series or my other favorites, Fire and Hemlock and Howl's Moving Castle. That said, since she passed away a few years ago, books by Diana Wynne Jones that I haven't read before are becoming few and far between. I was thrilled to stumble across this one in a used bookstore. Stopping for a Spell contains three stories all centering on the theme of unwanted guests -- so, not the most likeable subject matter! But while these are pretty simplistic and definitely aimed at a slightly younger set, they're written with DWJ's usual charm and creativity.
A solid three stars.
2 books read: Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
This almost fable-like epistolary story takes place in an independent community off the eastern coast of the US on the island of Nollop, originally founded by the author of the sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." When letters from the sentence begin to fall off of the island's statue of Nollop, the island's council declares that those letters may no longer be used at all. The letters between the main character, Ella, and others on the island quickly devolve as Ella and other islanders rush to create a new sentence that uses all 26 letters of the alphabet - in 32 letters or less.
I enjoyed this quick read! Fun for anybody who likes words and letters, and delivered a stronger message (touching on censorship, totalitarianism, and cults) than I expected. Four stars.
>6 ronincats: Thank you! Happy new year to you, too, and I'll have to pop over to your thread as well!
>7 curioussquared: I really liked Ella Minnow Pea when I read it. It was a really creative story, and yeah, with surprising strong messages.
Happy New Year, Natalie. It looks like your 2018 reading is off to a good start. Ella Minnow Pea looks interesting.
Happy New Year
Happy New Group here
This place is full of friends
I hope it never ends
It brew of erudition and good cheer.
Looks like you are off to a great year of reading. I hope the trend continues. Ella Minnow Pea was read by several folks a couple of years ago. I'm not sure why I didn't read it then. Maybe I'll get to it soon.
>10 BLBera: Thank you! Happy new year!
>11 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul!
3 books read: A Scandal in Battersea by Mercedes Lackey
I can't seem to resist a new Mercedes Lackey, even though they've been letting me down for a while now. This newest installment in the Elemental Masters series once again follows Nan and Sarah as they face dark magic threatening London -- with the help of other magicians, including John and Mary Watson, as well as Sherlock Holmes himself.
I like that these most recent books in the series have started lightly riffing off of some Sherlock Holmes stories, but otherwise this book was pretty standard, maybe lackluster Lackey fare. The plot seemed cobbled together from several older Lackey novels (the Oathbound books come to mind) all dropped into Victorian London with some Sherlock thrown in. I probably overall enjoyed the ride, but it's definitely not one of her best works, and not something I see myself picking up again. Glad I borrowed it from the library! Three stars.
I'm chugging along! I'm currently reading White Teeth by Zadie Smith and listening to Funny Girl by Nick Hornby. Really enjoying both so far!
>7 curioussquared: Ah, Jones is a favorite here too--think I have about all of hers on my shelf as I frequently reread them. I've been wanting to reread her Dalemark Quartet for several years now, as it has probably been nearly 30 years since I last read them. And so sad about Lackey, isn't it, that the quality of her work has become so lackluster.
Happy new year, and glad you've joined us again!
>1 curioussquared: Awww, Skeletor looks very comfy.
4 books read: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Well, I took a brief detour into reread land this weekend, and it was a great trip! I wanted to reread A Wrinkle in Time before the new movie comes out this spring, so I picked up this one and the sequels while visiting my parents this weekend. It was just as good as I remembered. One character I had completely forgotten was Aunt Beast, and I loved meeting her again. I'm excited for the new film adaptation. Based on the trailers, I have fairly high hopes -- fingers crossed it's good! 4.5 stars.
5 books read: A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle
Continuing the series. I didn't remember much of this one aside from the fact that it had something to do with mitochondria, and rereading, I can see why. There's a ton of character development, but not actually happens. Still an enjoyable reread! 4 stars.
I'm still in the middle of White Teeth and Funny Girl, and still enjoying both -- just got a little distracted. Hope to have them finished soon!
Not a lot of updates here! I'm still working my way through both White Teeth and Funny Girl -- I'm about 4/5 of the way through both, so hoping to finish them soon. And I also started Flame in the Mist for my IRL book group. So far so good!
Tomorrow my boyfriend and I are leaving for a week in Mexico for a much needed vacation. There's a LOT of beach reading time on the agenda!
We're back! Had lots of fun in Mexico and got lots of reading done on the beach and the plane -- and even managed to fit in some non-book-related activities, too. I have lots of updates -- it's amazing how much you can read when you have a week off! Sorry in advance for the monster post.
6 books read: White Teeth by Zadie Smith
I really enjoyed this story (maybe a saga?) of two families in 70s and 80s North London. Archie and Samad served together in WWII and have been friends ever since. Archie is your typical Englishman, and Samad is a Muslim Bengali. Both find wives, settle down near each other in North London, and have children. Following Archie, Samad, and their families, White Teeth tackles issues of race, religion, and class as we watch their children grow and their worlds change. 4 stars.
7 books read: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I LOVED this book. Americanah follows Ifemelu, a woman from Nigeria who moves to the US for college when she receives a college scholarship. She hopes to be joined soon by her high school/college boyfriend, Obinze, which whom she shares a deep connection -- but Obinze's US visa application is denied, and he ends up following his own path. Over Ifemelu's 13 years in the US, she settles into her new home and starts a blog about her observations of African Americans as a non-American black woman. Meanwhile, Obinze has made a name for himself in Nigeria. Both are eager to meet again as Ifemelu makes the decision to move back to Lagos after so many years away from home. I couldn't put this down -- every character is fully realized and the subject matter is important reading in today's world. I think this clocked in at over 500 pages, but I can't remember a boring part, and I was still sad when it ended. My first five-star read of the year!
8 books read: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
The classic story of four Chinese immigrant women and their four American-born daughters. When June's mother dies, she's invited to take her place at the mahjong table where the four women and their husbands have been gathering for year. The book continues with interwoven vignettes from each of the mothers and daughters, ranging from stories of the mothers' childhoods in far-off Chinese provinces to some of the daughters' marital problems in modern day San Francisco.
When I read anthologies of short stories or essays, I often have trouble transitioning from story to story -- it's jarring to jump from a world to which you just got accustomed to another setting entirely, not to mention different characters or subject matter. One thing that struck me about The Joy Luck Club was that moving from narrator to narrator was never jarring -- each of the stories was complementary and seamless, but each woman still had her own voice. Well-written and totally compelling. My second five star read of the year!
9 books read: Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh
Read this for my IRL book club February meeting. Mariko is betrothed to the son of the emperor and his concubine, an excellent social move for her family. As she travels through the forest on the way to meet her future husband, her group is attacked by bandits Mariko suspect belong to the infamous Black Clan. Left for dead, Mariko decides to guard her family's honor by figuring out who attacked her and taking revenge herself. Dressed as a boy, she infiltrates the Black Clan and soon adjusts to their outlaw life -- all the while avoiding being found by her samurai brother.
I had high hopes for this one -- I had seen overall good reviews from YA fans I trust, and it's been billed as a book version of Mulan, which is my favorite Disney movie. Unfortunately, it was pretty disappointing. I found Ahdieh's writing to be florid to the point of incomprehensible -- lots of unnecessary adjectives and weird inner asides from the main character. The characterization and world-building were pretty poor, too. I had trouble understanding any of Mariko's decisions or motives, and I couldn't tell most of the members of the Black Clan apart. The world we're in appears to be similar to feudal Japan, but there's also some magic. Its rules are undefined, and it's rarely mentioned, but when it appears, the characters don't seem too shocked? So, not sure how that works. We also never really learn how Mariko all of a sudden becomes an expert chemist with limited materials and is able to create a smoke bomb and grenade from stuff she finds basically on the side of the road. Anyway, to sum it up, I had lots of issues with this. It ends on a cliffhanger, but I can't see myself picking up the next book. 2 stars.
10 books read: On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
I've had this one on the shelf for a while and bumped it up the list when I saw that a movie starring Saoirse Ronan is coming out later this year. I've liked all the Ian McEwan stuff I've ready before (Atonement and Sweet Tooth in particular) and this novella was no exception. On Chesil Beach tells the story of the wedding night of Florence and Edward, two university graduates from the English countryside who get married and subsequently realize they know nothing about each other. The novel also flashes back to their childhoods and years at university in London, and finishes with a brief look at the rest of their lives, post-wedding night. Very short, very powerful, very good. Four stars.
11 books read: Come Juneteenth by Ann Rinaldi
This is another one I've had on the shelf for way too long -- I think I got it as an ARC from the ALA Midwinter conference in 2007! Come Juneteenth tells the story of Luli and Sis Goose in Civil War Texas, in the two years between when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and when most slave owners in Texas actually set their slaves free. Luli is the white daughter of a Texas plantation owner, and Sis Goose is her adopted sister, a fair half-black girl who is actually a slave belonging to Luli's aunt, but who has been treated like a member of the family since she was a baby. When Yankee soldiers take over their home, Luli knows Sis Goose is in danger, and when Sis Goose is abducted by a northern officer, Luli and her brother Gabe, who is in love with Sis Goose, must go after her.
This book was fine. It's a little simplistic, but deals with serious themes. It was enjoyable, but for me, it suffered a little in the way that historical fiction can when the book seems more about the setting and the time period than the story and characters themselves. Don't see myself reading it again. 3 stars.
12 books read: The Marseille Caper by Peter Mayle
I loved Peter Mayle's Provence books (starting with A Year in Provence), which chronicle he and his wife's move to the French countryside as they remodel their home, meet their eccentric neighbors, and get used to the peculiarities of la vie provenciale. I have fond memories of my 10th grade French teacher setting aside half a class period every few weeks to read us excerpts -- after endless verb conjugations and dictées, a dose of Mayle's writing can make you remember why you wanted to learn French in the first place. The Marseille Caper was, unfortunately, not really up to the standards of his memoirs. I picked it up on a whim at a library sale and didn't realize it was the second in a series, which may have had something to do with it, but I don't think it made too much of a difference. In the Marseille Caper, Sam Levitt receives an offer from an eccentric billionaire for an all expenses paid trip to Marseille, if he's willing to pose as a representative from an architecture firm to help the billionaire's beach development proposal beat the other contenders. Sam and his girlfriend travel to Marseille, where they must contend with the shady representatives of the other development proposals, all the while sightseeing and eating lots and lots of seafood, cheese, and wine.
The problem with the The Marseille Caper is that any plot is only there as a convenient vehicle for Peter Mayle to describe as many French meals as he possibly can. Don't get me wrong -- NOBODY describes a meal as well as Peter Mayle. I found my mouth watering way too many times. And his depictions of Marseille and the area around it are gorgeous. But the book suffers from the fact that nothing in the plot ever actually comes off as very important or threatening, even the kidnapping that happens. All in all, light and fluffy, but not very satisfying. I don't think I would have finished it if it had been longer, and I don't think it would have been published if Peter Mayle weren't already an established writer. 3 stars.
13 books read: Funny Girl by Nick Hornby
I typically enjoy Nick Hornby books and this was no exception. Funny Girl tells the story of Barbara from Blackpool, who leaves her small town in the 60s with dreams of starring as the British I Love Lucy. After snagging an agent and changing her name to Sophie Straw, she stumbles into a role on a new sitcom. The book goes on to chronicle the show's ups and downs, Sophie's relationships with the rest of the cast, the writers, and the director, and the rest of Sophie's career. When you look closely, it doesn't actually feel like too much happened in this book, but I loved Sophie's character, and the audiobook I listened to, narrated by Emma Fielding, was excellent. Overall thoroughly enjoyable -- 4 stars.
14 books read: Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
Alanna wants to become a knight, even though only boys can fight, and her twin brother Thom wants to learn magic. Unbeknownst to their father, they switch places, and Alanna, disguised as a boy, enrolls in knight training at the royal palace. This book chronicles her first four years of training -- as she makes friends, learns how to use a sword, and deals with powerful enemies, all while maintaining her disguise.
Tamora Pierce is one of my all-time favorite authors, and her Alanna books might be my favorite of her series, so this was like coming home. I think I first read these in third grade, and they have no problem holding up. Her new Tortall book comes out in February, and I thought I'd do a little rereading before then. This is the first time I listened to this one, and I found it nice and refreshing -- an old friend seen in a slightly different light. And it's narrated by the author! Highly recommended, five stars.
Last week was slow for reading, which I guess makes sense after the week before :) I'm in the middle of Red Rising by Pierce Brown on my kindle, and I started Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett in paperback and In the Hands of the Goddess, the next Tamora Pierce Alanna book, on audio.
This weekend, I participated in The Great Midwest Trivia Contest, an annual event hosted by my college in Wisconsin. It's 50 continuous hours of trivia questions hosted on the radio, starting Friday night through Sunday night -- most of the questions require creative googling to find the answer. I've been playing since college and it's something I look forward to all year. You can read more on Wikipedia, and there are some articles from the NYT and Washington Post that explain it pretty well, too.
This year, my team was spread across the USA and a few other countries. We played as Get a Load of that Sandwich and came in 2nd overall, 20 points and 4 questions behind the winners. We're pretty pleased! But it did mean that I didn't get any reading done :)
Got a few more books done:
15 books read: In the Hands of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
I'm loving listening to this favorite series on audio -- they're supposed to be for when I'm cooking or walking the dog, but more and more I find myself just sitting around listening. The only thing regulating my pace is how quickly I can get the audio downloads from the library! 5 stars as usual.
And my first book of February...
16 books read: Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Darrow is a Red, the lowest caste, doing the important work of mining the material necessary to terraform the planet and expand humanity's domain. But it soon becomes clear that all is not what it seems, and he must question everything he and his mining tribe have been taught to believe. Soon, Darrow finds himself entwined in a rebellion he never wanted to be part of, and the ruling Gold caste doesn't know what's coming for them.
I heard this described as "The Hunger Games but better by some coworkers which is what prompted me to borrow it from the library. Overall, I enjoyed it -- Brown is fantastic at writing action scenes, and despite how many there are, the fights don't get boring because they're always so innovative. I think I would have enjoyed this a little bit more if I had read it in fewer sittings -- I was reading it mostly on my commute, which usually doesn't affect my enjoyment of the book, but this one really has the power to sweep you along and my choppy reading style kind of broke that up. Overall, I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure I'm up for four more books in the series (and maybe more? I'm not sure if the most recent one is the final). I'll probably get the second one and see how I feel. 3.5 stars, wavering on 4.
17 books read: The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce
Continuing my Tortall audiobook reread. Good news: They're still good! I also just found out that Tamora Pierce will be coming to Seattle to promote her new book at the end of the month, so I'm planning to go to that and will see if I can round up any friends who want to go, too. I think I've seen her speak before, but not since middle school or high school. I've loved her books for a long time. 5 stars.
I've been getting a lot of headaches recently and have spent a lot of time on the couch with my eyes closed listening to audiobooks. While I wait for my hold on Lioness Rampant to come in, I started Over Sea, Under Stone, another favorite.
I'm rereading way more this year than I did last year! All except the Madeleine L'Engle books have been audiobooks, granted, but still: last year, 7 of my 115 books read were rereads, and two of those, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Persuasion, were for my book club. This year, I've already reread 5 and am working on a 6th! Guess I'm just feeling nostalgic :)
18 books read: Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
While on vacation in Cornwall with their mysterious great-uncle Merry, the three Drew siblings, Simon, Jane, and Barney, stumble on an old map in a hidden attic. Trying to find what the map leads to, they soon find themselves caught up in the ancient battle between the dark and the light -- and great-uncle Merry may be much more than he seems.
This is another old favorite. I've always felt that this book skews a bit younger than the other four books (I think the three protagonists are younger than those of the other books?), but that's never hampered my enjoyment of it. I also love the Arthurian thread throughout these books, and I think it's strongest in this entry. In fact, I took a class called "Athurian Legends" in high school and ended up writing my term paper on this book and the Arthurian references in it. Perfect comfort read, and I'm looking forward to listening to the rest of the books as soon as I get them from the library. 4.5 stars.
I'm currently listening to The Crystal Cave, a new one for me, so I guess I'm on a King Arthur kick! I also remembered that I only got a third of the way through The Count of Monte Cristo when my book club read it in September -- that's my peak busy season at work, so Dumas unfortunately took a back seat. I'm back into it now!
Hi! I finally made it to your thread. Sounds like our interests coincide quite a bit. Diana Wynne Jones! Tamora Pierce! Madeleine L’Engle! Looking forward to seeing what else you read this year.
>30 foggidawn: Thanks for visiting! I think I've committed to a full Tortall reread at this point so expect a lot more Tamora Pierce :) I'm going to see her when she visits Seattle at the end of the month, and I'm so excited! But on the other hand, my ticket to the event includes a copy of her new book, so I have to wait until then to read it. I'll probably survive as long as I don't run into any spoilers.
Sounds like you might enjoy this article, Natalie.
I didn't encounter Pierce until I was an adult, mostly because the first book in the Tortall series wasn't published until I was 40.
I LOVE the Blue Balliett books; hope you enjoyed Chasing Vermeer.
Over Sea, Under Stone does read a bit younger than the other four books but not, I think, because the protagonists are that much younger. I think only Barney is younger that Will is in the next book, where we are with him for his 11th birthday. The second book, btw, is one of my all-time favorite 5 star reads! I would say that the Arthurian elements are strongest in the final book, rather than the first, because
I really need to read The Dark is Rising series. I own it, but unfortunately that means that I'm more likely to procrastinate about reading it.
>32 ronincats: That article sums up a LOT of my Tamora Pierce experience. I remember very clearly being at a Scholastic Book Fair at my elementary school and being very excited because if I combined all of my quarters, I could afford the whole Song of the Lioness quartet. Those are still the copies I have today!
I got a little distracted from Chasing Vermeer and only made it a few pages in. Hoping to get back to it soon, though!
You're right -- I think of Will as older, but I think it's because I read The Grey King first thanks to a teacher who assigned it in class. So, not sure why Over Sea, Under Stone reads younger. I'll think about it as I continue the series. Haha, you make a good point regarding the Arthurian elements in the last book. Just goes to show that it's definitely time for a reread! I had completely forgotten so much of this stuff.
>33 foggidawn: I hope it's sooner rather than later -- they are SO good. But, I totally know what you mean about procrastinating once something's on my shelf. I'm very guilty of this.
Here's another recent Tamora Pierce article that I enjoyed: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/growing-up-female/
I feel like I'm running into so much Tamora Pierce love lately! I know her new book just came out, but I don't remember so much hype around her last few releases. I'm not sure why she's suddenly so in vogue -- growing up, it felt like nobody else really knew who she was. My theory is that many of the current popular female YA writers cite her as an influence -- Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo, among others. It helps when you have big names blurbing your covers!
19 books read: The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
This book follows a young Merlin as he discovers his powers, finds his father, and develops his reputation as a prophet. I listened to it on audio, which might have been a mistake -- I think I often missed things and didn't get as into this as I would have liked. There were parts I really enjoyed, and parts I found pretty boring. If I read the sequels, I will probably do so in print. 3.5 stars.
>36 curioussquared: I loved Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy back in the 1980s/1990s. I just regained them this week and hope to read them soon.
>37 FAMeulstee: That's good to hear! Maybe I'll continue with the series. I hope you find them just as enjoyable as you did back then!
20 books read: Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
Petra and Calder are two lonely, precocious 6th graders. When a famous Vermeer painting is stolen, they end up becoming friends as they search for the missing piece together.
Once I got into this, this was a fun, quick read. I liked the art focus and thought Petra and Calder were fun characters. Coincidence plays a big role in this mystery, on purpose -- the kids discover a book exploring coincidence and, once the mystery is solved, tally up all of the coincidences that helped them figure everything out. It was an interesting concept, but made the plot less satisfying for me than if they had actually used more problem-solving skills to solve it! There was also a strange fantastical element (Petra seems to hear "messages" from the lady in the stolen painting in dreams) that was unexplained and seemed out of place, to me, with the rest of the book. Three stars.
I'm pretty pleased with how many books I've read off my shelf this year -- ten down, thirty to go. Hopefully I can keep it up! Guess that means I have to curb the rereads....
21 books read: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
In the early 1950s, Henrietta Lacks, a poor black woman from Baltimore, went to Johns Hopkins for treatment for cervical cancer. She would eventually die there, but first, without her knowledge or that of her family, a doctor took a sample of her cancer tissue and sent it off for testing. Those cells ended up being the first cells to be reliably lab-grown and mass produced, and were sent all over the world, leading to countless scientific and medical advancements. In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot tells the story of the woman behind HeLa cells, and along the way, dives into questions of race, medical ethics, poverty, and so much more.
I'm so glad I finally got around to reading this. I knew a lot about the story -- this book was introduced into the freshman writing class curriculum at my college when I was a sophomore, and as a writing tutor, I read a lot of papers about it, but never actually read it myself. I was totally engrossed in the story and shocked by some of the content more times than I would have liked -- I kept interrupting my boyfriend to read him passages because they were so unbelievable. 4.5 stars.
22 books read: The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
Continuing my audio reread of this series. Will Stanton is hoping for snow for his eleventh birthday, but he gets much more than that as he comes into his legacy and joins the fight against the dark.
I enjoyed this less on audio than I had reading it in the past, and I'm not sure why since this is one of my favorites. I found this reading less easy to pay attention to than the Tamora Pierce books I'm listening to as well. Just not as compelling of a reader? Still a wonderful story, and 5 stars as always.
23 books read: Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce
Continuing the audio reread of this series, too, and still finding the audiobooks totally lovely. Alanna has come into her own as a knight, and without even realizing it, has become a legend at home in Tortall -- which will serve her well when she comes home to find Duke Roger resurrected from his grave and Jonathan needing a bit of help before he can ascend the throne. 5 stars as usual.
I loved this as much as ever, and I'm so excited to see Tamora Pierce this Wednesday evening, when I'll also pick up my copy of her new one, Tempests and Slaughter. I think I might make myself do the full Tortall reread before picking up the new one, even though it's something of a prequel. We'll see if I can wait!
24 books read: Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce
After fleeing her home in Galla, Daine makes her way to Tortall, making friends along the way and discovering her magical powers.
I listened to this one on audio, too, and it was done by a full cast, which was very fun. However, I found myself not enjoying this as much as I have in the past. I do think that the audio version gives a lot more room to get annoyed with Daine -- listening to Daine hesitating to trust her new friends and whining to her animal friends about it gets older a lot faster than when I'm reading it in print. Still a great read as always.
I had so much fun meeting Tamora Pierce last night! I had seen her once before, about ten years ago, but it was wonderful to hear her speak again. The bulk of the audience seemed to be made up of women in their 20s and 30s, which I loved -- so many women my age have grown up loving these books!
The event featured Tammy in discussion with Lish McBride and Rachel Hartman. I haven't read anything by Lish before, but might have to check her out now. I read Seraphina by Hartman a few years ago, and remember enjoying it, but that's about it. Still interesting to hear writers discussing their craft, and I loved hearing Hartman talk about how Pierce had influenced her as a writer.
Biggest takeaway is that Tamora Pierce is a pioneering, unapologetic feminist badass. When she published Alanna in 1983, it was because she kept reading these books about strong women who work hard to get what they want -- and then settle down and let the men take over once they get it. Since she couldn't find any stories where that didn't happen, she decided to write some herself.
I got my copy of Tempests and Slaughter personalized, and a photo to boot!
Nice! I'm glad you got to meet her. Though I have to admit that I've never heard of this author until your thread!
>42 MickyFine: Thanks!
>43 mstrust: Thanks! I love her enough that I recommend her books to anyone if you like fantasy, but I'll readily admit that some of the early ones can come off as less polished and slightly clumsy if you're reading them for the first time as an adult, without that veneer of nostalgia :)
>44 drneutron: Thanks! It was pretty exciting :)
25 books read: A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle
Years have passed since the events of A Wind in the Door. Charles Wallace is a teenager, and Meg is married to Calvin and pregnant with their first child. As the threat of nuclear war looms, Charles must travel through time with the help of Gaudior, a unicorn. Pregnant Meg can't come with him physically, but she comes along in spirit as Charles tries desperately to save the world.
Looking back at my reading log, it looks like I reread the first two books in this series, A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door, back in 2010, but didn't make it to this entry, so this one felt very new to me -- I didn't remember much at all. This entry felt stronger to me than A Wind in the Door, and I really enjoyed the time travel and family history aspects. One of my favorite things about this series is the depiction of the Murray family. Their house always sounds so cozy, and I love how all the family members interact. Not to mention the new dog, Ananda! Four stars.
26 books read: The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
In this His Dark Materials prequel (or "equal", as Pullman called it), eleven year-old Malcolm Polstead lives a normal life: he works at his family's inn, goes to school, and has fun going up and down the river his is canoe, La Belle Sauvage. But everything changes when he finds himself pulled into a plot to keep a very special baby safe -- a baby named Lyra.
I've always loved the His Dark Materials books, but they've never been my absolute favorite. So, even though this has been on my shelf for a few months, it took me a while to get to it. But once I cracked the first page... I absolutely could not stop.
This book blew me away. I read it in one 6-hour sitting, which I usually don't have time for these days! I loved Malcolm as a character and hope we get to see more of him in the future. Plus, it featured one of the scariest villains I've encountered in a while. 5 stars!
I came down with an awful cold on Thursday and spent most of the weekend in bed. This is one of those times that I dislike that I can and often do easily work from home -- I'm definitely too sick to go to work, but not too sick to do the same amount of work wrapped in a fleece blanket at home.
I had to miss the Seattle Sounders season opener on Sunday, unfortunately. On the bright side, I read a couple books and watched the entire first season of the Netflix Queer Eye reboot -- totally fun, feel-good TV!
27 books read: Wolf Speaker by Tamora Pierce
Continuing my audiobook reread of this series. It's fun to watch Daine grow into her powers and her confidence -- I found her a lot less annoying listening to this book. 5 stars.
28 books read: Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
I was debating waiting until I'd finished the rest of my Tamora Pierce reread before jumping into this one... as you can see, I couldn't wait! I had very high expectations for this book, and Tammy totally delivered. Arram is a great character, and I loved exploring a different part of the Tortallan universe and getting the backstories of several characters we've met in the past. And the magic school aspect was fantastic -- it felt like if like Harry Potter were written by Tamora Pierce. Unintentionally, I'm reading this between Wolf Speaker and Emperor Mage in my series reread, which is where we first meet most of the characters in this book. It'll be fun to read Emperor Mage again with all of this new info behind the characters.
The only downside... how long do I have to wait for book two? Five stars.
29 books read: Greenwitch by Susan Cooper
Continuing my audiobook reread of the Dark is Rising series. I didn't remember very much of this shortest entry, and enjoyed rediscovering it. Over Easter break, Jane, Barney, and Simon return to the Cornish village of Trewissick with their Great Uncle Merry, who brings along a strange boy named Will. The three children once more find themselves drawn into the fight of the light against the dark, and quickly discover that Will may be more than he seems.
This entry focuses a little more on Jane than the boys, and it's good to see her get her time in the spotlight. I also enjoyed bringing together the characters from books 1 and 2 in the series. I didn't have as much trouble with this audiobook as with the previous book in the series, even though I'm fairly sure it was the same reader -- maybe just because I listened to it straight through while sick in bed instead of here and there. 4.5 stars.
Going forward, I'm halfway through the audiobook of The Grey King, and I've started A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara which I've heard great things about -- and while I love the YA fantasy stuff I've been reading, it'll be good to get into a different genre.
30 books read: The Grey King by Susan Cooper
Recovering from a severe case of Hepatitis, Will is sent to convalesce with his cousins in Wales. There, he meets a strange boy named Bran and his dog Cafall -- not to mention the cruel neighbor who owns the farm next door, Caradog Prichard. As Halloween approaches, time is running out, and Will struggles to remember the quest he was tasked with before his illness.
This might be my favorite of the series. Will's cousins and the other inhabitants of the farm are a colorful cast of characters, and because Will had a specific quest to follow this time, the plot seemed a little more driven and less coincidental. And the audiobook was great -- I loved hearing all the Welsh words! 5 stars.
I'm halfway through A Little Life which is fantastic so far -- an 800 page emotional roller coaster.
31 books books read: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
A Little Life starts by following four college friends, Malcolm, JB, Willem, and Jude, as they leave school and strike out in New York, each respectively brilliant in their own way. The book starts by giving equal weight to each of the boys, but slowly shifts to focus more and more on the enigmatic Jude, whose traumatic past is a mystery to his friends: they know only that whatever Jude is hiding, it is horrific, and it is the reason he came to college with leg braces and now can only walk with a pronounced limp. Over 800 pages, A Little Life examines relationships and friendships and explores every emotion, from the deepest grief to self-hatred to elation and love.
This book WRECKED me. Then, it picked me up and put me back together again, only to once again destroy me. Never have I cried so much on public transportation. I stayed up way past my bedtime the past two nights because I literally could not put it down -- the first time, because I had to wait until certain events were resolved and I could go to sleep knowing characters were, for the moment, safe; and the second time, because first I only had 150 pages left and then I only had 100 pages left and then I was sobbing snotty tears for the entire last 100 pages of the book and obviously couldn't sleep until it was done. I cared so much about each of the characters, and watching Jude rising and falling over and over was devastating. This is one of those books where entering the real world again is a shock. I want one of my friends to read it just to talk about it with somebody, but I also don't know if I can recommend it in good conscience to anyone because the themes and traumas within are so awful. Five well-deserved stars.
Well. I wanted something different from Tamora Pierce, and I certainly got it with this.
>49 MickyFine: Thanks! I feel like all books were that immersive when I was a kid, and it just doesn't happen as much anymore. Gotta savor it!
32 books read: Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle
This fourth entry in the Time Quintet puts the twins, Sandy and Dennys, in the spotlight for the first time. When they accidentally interfere in one of their father's experiments, the twins are cast off into a faraway desert land, where they meet a tribal people, strange creatures called seraphim and nephilim, and, among other things, dog-sized woolly mammoths. They must find their way home, somehow, but first, they have to figure out where -- and when -- they are.
I'm honestly not sure I ever got this far in the series when I first read these books as a kid. I actually think I remember checking this one out from my elementary school library, not being able to get past the first few pages, and returning it, unread. I can see why. After spending the first three books with Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin, it's tough to leave them and jump back in time (this book was written after, but takes place before, A Swiftly Tilting Planet) and follow the twins on what seems to be a side quest, of sorts -- it's not really important to the events of the previous books. I think it's a diverting story, especially in terms of how it draws on history and the Bible, but not quite at the same level as the other books. I also don't find Sandy and Dennys as compelling as their siblings, even though I always liked their appearances in the previous books. 3.5 stars.
I've been a bit AWOL -- I was traveling for work last week, and then traveling to visit boyfriend's family in California this past weekend, so it's been busy. But I've managed to fit in some reading!
33 books read: Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce
Daine and the Tortallen delegation travel to the Carthaki Empire to hopefully broker a peace before an all-out war begins. Nothing is as it seems, and even Daine's powers begin to act in mysterious ways...
As I expected, it was fun to listen to this right after Tempests and Slaughter and my new perspective on some of the characters, Ozorne, Varice, and Lindhall especially. I also had completely forgotten that Master Chioke even appeared in this book, but he was there too! I enjoyed the story as always. I feel like I'm more aware this reading of Daine and Numair's relationship progressing, which is fun to watch.
34 books read: Gifts by Ursula K. Le Guin
Orrec and Gry live in the poverty-stricken Uplands, where certain families are born with powerful magical gifts. Gifts recounts their childhoods and their coming of age together as they learn terrible truths.
I had never heard of this series before reading a list of Le Guin's books after her unfortunate passing earlier this year. It's a quick read, with the type of world building that drops you right in and yet feels instantly familiar. I almost felt like it was too short for me to be fully immersed, but I enjoyed my brief stay and will read the second installment soon. 3.5 stars.
35 books read: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
Alex has schizophrenia. She sees things that aren't there, and endlessly documents her surrounding in photos to try to figure out what's real and what's a hallucination. After an incident at her old high school, she starts her senior year at the public school, determined not to let anybody find out about her condition.
Zappia's newer novel, Eliza and Her Monsters, was one of my top books of 2017. Made You Up is a similarly excellent treatment of mental illness. I didn't love it quite as much as Eliza and Her Monsters, but I loved the characters and couldn't put it down. Highly recommended -- 4 stars.
36 books read: Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor
In this final installment of the Binti trilogy, Binti, in her role as master harmonizer, tries desperately to heal the age-old rivalry between the Khoush and the Meduse.
Nnedi Okorafor was one of my favorite author discoveries in 2017 and she's quickly grown to be one of my favorites. I loved the first two Binti books, as well as Who Fears Death, and this one was no exception. Binti is such a fabulous character. One thing I love about Okorafor's books is that each one feels like nothing I've ever read before -- they are so fresh and innovative. This was a satisfying conclusion to Binti's story, and I recommend the whole series to anybody. They're short, but absorbing. I might have to reread them all soon -- this installment picks up right on the heels of the last one, and it took me a little to adjust back to Binti's world. 4.5 stars.
>54 mstrust: We did, thanks for asking! We were visiting my boyfriend Tim's grandma, who just turned an impressive 96 last week, and some aunts and uncles. We got to take a quick trip to see some of the redwoods, too.
>55 curioussquared: Nice! My mom had wanted to see the Redwoods for years but Dad hated traveling, so she finally got there about three years ago with her two sisters for company. The pictures they took were so great.
>56 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul! I think it helps that I've been cataloguing my reading all along -- this is just one more place to do it :)
>57 mstrust: I went to one part of the redwoods years ago with my parents and brother, but the ones we saw last weekend were a different set. The trees are nothing short of incredible. Some of them are over 2000 years old. It's very weird to look at a tree and think, "This tree has been growing here in this spot since before the birth of Jesus."
37 books read: Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper
Apparently I remembered nothing about this installment in the series! It all seemed totally new to me. A satisfying conclusion and a fun reread.
38 books read: The Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce
Continuing my Tortall audiobook reread. This one has always been my least favorite of Daine's series -- I think it's because Daine and Numair spend so much time alone in the Divine Realms, and we don't get to see any of the rest of the diverse cast of Tortallan characters. But, the ending is great and super satisfying.
39 books read: An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L'Engle
I never got to this one as a kid, either. Polly O'Keefe, Meg and Calvin's daughter, visits her grandparents house and ends up visiting a time 3,000 years in the past. And, it's all complicated by a persistent and annoying bad influence friend/boyfriend, Zachary, who seems intent on leading Polly in the wrong direction.
I don't know, I just didn't enjoy this very much. It seemed like a lot of the same themes from the previous books were rehashed in a less interesting way. I didn't realize this was a crossover with A Ring of Endless Light until reading about the book just now -- apparently I don't remember enough from that one, either. Also, I found it very weird that Meg and Calvin were barely mentioned, and that Charles Wallace's fate seems kind of up in the air -- he's mentioned, but unlike the other Murry siblings, we don't find out what he's doing out in the world, and Polly's grandparents have redone his room for her. Did I miss something? I also just found out that we meet Polly in some of L'Engle's other books, so maybe there's something there? Anyway, the book itself seemed stale and I didn't really like any of the characters. Two stars.
I'm currently trying to rush through Hero at the Fall before I leave on Friday for an 11-day trip to Europe with some of my best friends from college. I'm loving it as much as I have the other Rebel of the Sands books -- some of my favorite YA fantasy to come out in the past few years. Hopefully I finish in time, as I don't want to have to check it out from the library again after I get home!
>60 MickyFine: We're going to Portugal and France :) I've been to France a couple times, but never to Portugal. I'm super excited about both!
Sounds like your trip will be splendid!
For your return, PICTURE US IN THE LIGHT is my new favorite YA novel - hope you enjoy it too.
I'm back! Europe was fantastic, and it was great to catch up with friends -- it was like we were back in college again! France was beautiful as always, and Portugal was stunning -- I want to go back very soon.
I paid a visit to Shakespeare and Company in Paris -- I make it a point to visit whenever I'm there. It captures everything a bookstore should be, and I love the reading rooms on the upper level. This visit was brief, but in one of the upstairs reading rooms, we came upon an older woman with an electric kettle and a tray of mugs, who invited us to stay for the "Mad Hatter's Tea Party" for poetry readings and recitations in English, and songs in any language. I wish we could have stayed longer!
I also found a small bookstore in Montmartre and picked up a few French YA novels: Léo : Mon secret est une chance and another whose name I can't remember right now. Hopefully they'll help me keep up my French!
I read some books! Here's the list:
40 books read: Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton
Such a good end to the series! Hamilton's characters grow so much over the trilogy and truly come into their own in this finale. 4.5 stars.
41 books read: His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
I read this several years ago but for some reason never continued the series. I honestly have no idea why -- I remember loving this when I read it originally. I read Uprooted last year and it blew me away, which inspired me to go back to Temeraire! I loved this just as much as I did the first time, and now I'm actually planning to continue. Five stars.
42 books read: First Test by Tamora Pierce
Continuing the Tortall audio reread. I love Kel's story so much -- she's so dang determined that you can't NOT like her. I'm still torn between this quartet and the Alanna books as my favorite, and I don't think I'll ever be able to choose.
43 books read: Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
I was really excited when I heard there was a YA book about Artemesia Gentilleschi coming out -- I immediately put it on hold. I took a few art history classes in college and loved learning about the painter who's often the only female artist taught in courses about the Renaissance. What I didn't realize about this book is that it's largely told in verse. This is a powerful book, and I enjoyed it, but verse novels are generally not my style, and I was a little let down when I opened it and realized. Still interesting overall! 3.5 stars.
44 books read: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
Another book I was a little blindsided by. I had downloaded this to my kindle without really knowing what it was about -- I think I assumed it was just some sort of funny memoir, and I started reading it on my trip when I needed a lighthearted break post-Blood Water Paint. Little did I know it's about the writer's experiences grappling with depression and mental illness! Very funny in parts, but very serious in others. 4 stars.
45 books read: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Okay, THIS was the lighthearted book I was looking for after Blood Water Paint. I loved the premise, I loved the characters, I loved all of it. Just so enjoyable! Will be looking for more of Julie Murphy's books. 5 stars.
46 books read: Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
A cute Norse novella from Neil Gaiman, who's always enjoyable. Loved the illustrations. 3.5 stars.
47 books read: Page by Tamora Pierce
More of Kel's story. I love that we meet Jump the dog in this one! I'm a sucker for a good dog in a book.
48 books read: Secrets of Six-Figure Women by Barbara Stanny
This is not really my usual fare, but I started a book club for the women's group at my office and this is May's pick. I'm always really skeptical of any book that's even vaguely self help-y, and this was no exception. I did like the interview excerpts with the six-figure women and the data she used throughout -- I'm all about the real-life stories and hard facts. 3 stars.
That's it for now! Currently reading The Last of August and listening to Squire.
I'm glad you had a great trip! A visit to Shakespeare and Co. would definitely be a highlight.
Sounds like a fabulous trip and plenty of books read. Hope the adjustment back to everyday life isn't too rough. :)
>66 foggidawn: Glad to see more Kel love! Oh man, thanks for the heads up on Puddin'. It's on hold now!
>67 mstrust: Thank you! I've been to Shakespeare and Co. 3-4 times now (I studied in Paris in college, so I had the opportunity to go a few times) and it never disappoints.
>68 MickyFine: It was so great! Definitely hard to go back to work :)
49 books read: The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro
The sequel to A Study in Charlotte, these books follow Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson, descendants of the famous Sherlock and Dr. Watson. In this entry, Charlotte and Jamie visit England and the Holmes estate and end up traveling across Europe in search of Charlotte's uncle Leander while tangling with the Moriarty family. The stories are fun and I love how Charlotte and Jamie interact, though I didn't like this one quite as much as the first. 3 stars.
50 books read: Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
I'm not sure why I wasn't the biggest fan of this book. I really liked the individual characters, especially Kaori, but somehow everything didn't really come together for me, and the ending was lacking -- I wanted the story to start right where it ended. The whole book was cute, with good messages -- I just didn't really love it. 2.5 stars.
51 books read: Catwings by Ursula K. Le Guin
Jane Tabby isn't quite sure why her four kittens were born with wings, but she loves them and raises them all the same. When their city neighborhood gets too dangerous, she sends the four kittens out of the city to find a new home.
So sweet! I didn't realize until recently that Le Guin wrote for children, and this book is simply charming. 5 stars.
52 books read: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Belly has spent every summer of her life at the beach house with her family and her mother's best friend, Susannah, and Susannah's two sons, Conrad and Jeremiah. But this summer is different -- Belly is older, her brother Steven has to leave only a few weeks in, and Conrad and Jeremiah are acting strangely.
This was a cute read, but I didn't find Belly very compelling and wanted a little more from all of the characters. Not as good as Han's other series starting with To All the Boys I Loved Before, which is coming out as a Netflix movie this summer. I'll probably finish the trilogy since they're pretty short, but I hope the next two are better! 3 stars.
Thanks, Paul! Hope you had a great weekend :)
53 books read: Squire by Tamora Pierce
I think this might be my favorite of Kel's series. I love Lord Raoul and the rest of the King's Own, and Kel grows so much over the course of the book. Now, on to Lady Knight!
I'm in the middle of Strange the Dreamer on my Kindle, which I'm absolutely loving. None of Laini Taylor's other books have looked interesting to me, but this one is blowing me away. I'm also about halfway through My Family and Other Animals, but as a paper book I own, it'll have to wait until I get through the backlog of library ebooks on my Kindle.
Strange the Dreamer is so great! And you're lucky that you're reading it not too far in advance of the release of the follow-up. :)
>74 MickyFine: Ooh, glad it's coming out (relatively) soon!
It's been a busy few weeks! My boyfriend and I recently bought our first house and we're moving this weekend. That's been taking up most of my time, but I've still managed to get through a few books:
54 books read: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Loved this. Laszlo is such a great character, and I loved the mythology of the story. I found the book started a lot more strongly than it ended, and I wasn't very happy with the almost-cliffhanger ending. Interested to see if Taylor can redeem it in the second book. 4 stars.
55 books read: Where I Live by Brenda Rufener
Linden Rose has a big secret: For over a year, she's been homeless, sleeping at school when she can manage it and outside when she can't. Her best friends, Ham and Seung, don't know, and she's determined to keep it that way. All she has to do is hold out until she turns 18 and graduates, and she'll be home free. Things get a little complicated when her friendship with Seung starts to become something different -- and when a journalist from out of town takes an interest in her.
Parts of this book were fantastic. Rufener really conveys the fear and stress Linden lives with every day as she describes the lengths she goes to in order to be able to get into the school at night to sleep -- not to mention little things like showering, washing her clothes, and scraping enough money together to buy some food. However, other aspects were a little frustrating. Linden's friends clearly have some idea what she goes through, and at a certain point I just wanted her to TELL them. There were also some spots where the writing was fairly unpolished -- I lost track of what was happening a few times and had to backtrack to puzzle it out. But overall, a captivating, surprisingly suspenseful read. 3 stars.
56 books read: Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce
A satisfying end to Kel's story. 5 stars.
57 books read: Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
Tess never seems to do anything right, no matter how hard she tries, and has accepted that she has been born bad -- what else could it be with the shame she brought upon her family? After she ruins her twin sister's wedding, it seems like her only choice is to join a convent. Instead, she decides to leave her family, disguise herself as a boy, and set off to wherever the road will take her. Along the way, she meets old and new friends, and is also forced to confront long-buried emotions and memories.
This book is set in the same land as Hartman's other books, Seraphina (which I read several years ago) and Shadow Scale (which I haven't read). I remember enjoying Seraphina but not loving it enough to pick up the sequel. However, when I saw Rachel Hartman speak earlier this year with Tamora Pierce, the synopsis of this new novel intrigued me enough that I picked it up -- and I'm SO glad I did.
Tess is Seraphina's younger half sister, but this book stands alone enough that you don't need to have read Hartman's other novels, although you will get a better sense of the worldbuilding/magic aspects of the world if you read Seraphina first. This starts off as a tough book to read. Tess is NOT a likeable character throughout the first third of the book, and she knows it -- she's full of shame and self-loathing, and it makes for some heavy reading. But the best part of the book is Tess's transformation and growth over the course of her journey, as well as Hartman's slow reveal of the scars of her past. Highly recommended, if you can get past the beginning. 4 stars.
>77 ronincats: Thanks, Roni! The move went well, all things considered, and we are SO excited to be in a house of our own where we can stay for many, many years. The only downside right now is we're trying to paint and redo the hardwood floors on the main floor of the house, which is taking a while to get organized -- so for the moment, we're living in the full apartment in the basement. Which means we'll have to basically "move" again when the upstairs is ready! Such a pain, but I know it'll be great once we're in.
I hope you enjoy Tess!
58 books read: The Tin Princess by Philip Pullman
Becky, a young woman from the kingdom of Razkavia living in London in exile with her mother and grandmother, thinks she's just heading to a German tutoring position, but it turns into much, much more. Soon, she's headed back to Razkavia with her pupil, Adelaide, a poor girl from the London slums who happens to have married the Razkavian prince, and Jim, a private detective/soldier/writer who has vowed to protect Adelaide. As they arrive in Razkavia, Becky, Adelaide, and Jim are soon deeply involved in a political plot they can't even truly fathom.
This is a sort of companion novel to Pullman's Sally Lockhart mysteries -- Sally appears are a character, but very briefly. Adelaide and Jim are both characters we've met before, but Becky is new. I enjoyed this, but didn't find it quite as compelling as the novels starring Sally. 3.5 stars.
59 books read: It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han
Continuing Belly's story -- spoilers ahead! Everything seemed to be going Belly's way at the end of the last book, but as this one starts, Belly and Conrad are broken up, and Susannah succumbed to her cancer a few months before. Belly's not looking forward to her first-ever summer not spent at Cousins beach with Jeremiah and Conrad. Suddenly, Jeremiah turns up asking her for help -- Conrad, who's supposed to be in summer school, has disappeared, right before his midterms. Together, they embark on a road trip to find him.
These books are pure fluff. I'm still not enjoying them as much as Han's other series, but there's something about her character writing that grabs me. 3 stars.
I have fallen woefully behind on reading books off my own shelf! I just can't seem to stop putting books on hold on my Kindle. E-readers and library downloads make it too easy.
I was camping all weekend and made a big dent in Longbourn, which I am loving, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which I'm rereading for my IRL book club and loving just as much as I did the first time I read it. I still have about 250 pages to read before tomorrow's meeting, though, so it's unlikely I'll finish in time. On deck are Wren's Quest and Leah on the Offbeat, both on my Kindle.
I'm also in the middle of Trickster's Choice on audio, but haven't had too much time to listen lately and I'm getting a little worried I won't finish before my loan expires. Fingers crossed! As soon as I can actually start really unpacking, I'm sure I'll be listening a ton, since that's prime audiobook time. But we've been so busy that I've hardly unpacked anything.
60 books read: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Toru Okada is just your average guy. Having recently quit his job, he's spending some time unemployed trying to figure out what his next step is. But after his cat goes missing and his wife soon follows, he finds himself on a strange journey through Tokyo and dreams, in a land peopled by strange women in vinyl hats and sinister politicians.
I think you have to be a certain kind of reader to enjoy Murakami -- okay with open questions and hazy endings. My book club enjoyed this overall, but some were so frustrated at the ending that it spoiled the book a bit for them. I love it! This was my first Murakami and it was fun to go back to it after having read many others -- I think it's one of his weirder ones, but almost more accessible than some others that may be less weird overtly. (I'm thinking of A Wild Sheep Chase in particular.) 5 stars.
Murakami's weirdness intimidates me so much I have yet to attempt any of his books. Even knowing I could Pearl rule it if I don't like it has not motivated me to give him a try yet.
>82 MickyFine: I think you'll like Murakami if you like magical realism in general -- Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, Kafka, some of Nabokov's non-Lolita work. And if you're looking for a less-weird entry to start with, I highly recommend Norwegian Wood, which is Murakami's take on a typical coming-of-age novel -- I don't think there's any magical realism stuff going on at all.
I also think Murakami has a gift for kind of inserting the weirdness in a way you just accept -- I recently heard his writing described as realistic fiction with touches of fantasy, while other magical realism authors will sometimes write stuff that's more fantastical with touches of reality.
Anyway, I love Murakami, and definitely think you should give him a try if you're at all interested!
>83 curioussquared: Hmm, well you have me giving him more serious consideration than I have in the past. So points for you. :)
>85 mahsdad: Weird in a good way describes Murakami pretty well! I haven't read The Strange Library but read the other two, Sputnik Sweetheart long enough ago that I don't remember anything about it and Wild Sheep Chase just last year. I have Dance Dance Dance, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki waiting on my shelf. While I love Murakami, I find I need breaks between his books, so it takes a while to get through the collections I build up.
61 books read: Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce
Continuing my Tortall audio reread. Aly is a fun heroine and I appreciate that her skills and adventures are very different from those of Alanna, Daine, and Kel.
Still working on Longbourn, and now most of the way through Wren's Quest. Next up is Little Fires Everywhere, and must squeeze Leah on the Offbeat in there, too!
62 books read: Wren's Quest by Sherwood Smith
I read the first in this series, Wren to the Rescue, last year and thought it was cute. When I went to read the next one, though, the Seattle Public Library didn't have it in any format. King County Library System to the rescue! They have the whole series in ebook format. This was also very fun! Nothing too deep, but entertaining, and I'll probably pick up the next book in the series in a month or so. 3 stars.
63 books read: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
This was almost a book club read, but lost out to The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle last month. By the time we voted, though, I had already put this on hold, and I'm glad I still read it! In the planned suburbia of Shaker Heights, Ohio, the Richardson family's lives are shaken up by the arrival of their new tenants, Mia Warren and her daughter, Pearl. Mia and Pearl quickly get involved with all of the Richardson children: Popular, trendy Lexie, sporty Trip, romantic Moody, and misfit Izzy. As their connections deepen, Mia and Pearl's mysterious pasts come to the surface, while Shaker Heights is torn apart by a court case between a woman who abandoned her baby at a fire station and now wants her back from the couple who took her in.
I really enjoyed this. Ng's book is an examination of suburbia and parenthood, specifically asking the question -- what does it mean to be a mother? Really well done. My only qualm was that the end came very suddenly, and I wanted a little more closure. I also felt we could have used more exposure to Izzy throughout the novel. We get to know the other Richardson children very well, but Izzy is always kind of a mystery -- but maybe that was the point? 4 stars.
64 books read: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Leah is a high school senior just trying to finish school and get to college in once piece, navigating friendships, her sexuality, and her mom's new boyfriend along the way.
I devoured this, just like I did Albertalli's other books: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and The Upside of Unrequited. I think this is my least favorite of the three, but it's close -- they are all fantastic. Albertalli has a knack for writing some of the most real teenagers out there.
This is billed as a sequel to Simon, but I don't think you need to have read that one to read this, although you'll be spoiled on the plot of Simon. I would say it's less of a direct sequel than a companion novel -- if a little closer of a companion than Upside of Unrequited was. I do love seeing Albertalli's other characters popping up in all of her books -- it's like being in on an inside joke, and it made we want to reread the other two books. Anyway, this was a delight to read, and I already can't wait for Albertalli's next book! 4.5 stars.
Also, did anybody see the Love, Simon movie? I heard generally positive things but didn't make it to a theater in time, so I'll wait until it's on Netflix or Amazon.
65 books read: The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
The four Penderwick sisters, Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty, along with their father and faithful dog, Hound, arrive at Arundel cottage for their summer vacation, where a troubled young boy, his imposing mother, and an interesting teenage gardener await.
I first read this a few years ago and was enchanted by the Penderwick sisters. This is a recent series, but the Penderwicks read as a purely vintage bunch of sisters: they bring to mind the Pevensie siblings, the children in Edward Eager's books (who earn a nod in from Birdsall in this book), and even the March sisters. I had planned to read the rest of the series but never gotten around to it. I think it was foggidawn who reminded me to look for the rest! So, I listened to this one in preparation for the rest -- the next book is on hold at the library, and (lucky me!) I don't have to wait anymore, as the final book in the series was just released. 4 stars.
>89 curioussquared: Two good reads! I'm glad you're getting around to the Penderwicks again; the whole series is, in my opinion, just as delightful as the first book.
And your review was the straw that broke this camel's back and finally got me to put this book on The List.
66 books read: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Rachel, Chinese but raised in California, is excited when her boyfriend Nick invites her to Singapore to meet his family over the Summer. But when Rachel steps off the plane, it's like she steps into a different world -- the ultra rich world Nick's family lives in every day. Can she reconcile the quiet, sweet, well-mannered professor she lived with in New York with this designer-wearing, helicopter-chartering family fortune heir?
This was so fun! It's been on my backlist for a while but the upcoming movie pushed it to the forefront. Excited to see the film! 3.5 stars.
>93 curioussquared: Glad it found another fan. I was quite fond of the whole trilogy. :)
67 books read: Wren's War by Sherwood Smith
Continuing Wren's story, Wren, journeymage Tyron, Prince Connor, and Princess Teressa escape an attack on the palace and must fight the magician Andreus. Meanwhile, Teressa must show her uncle Duke Fortian that she is strong enough to rule on her own.
This wasn't as compelling as the first two books for me, but they're short reads and I'll probably still read the last book in the series. 3 stars.
Finished a couple more!
68 books read: Trickster's Queen by Tamora Pierce
Still enjoying my Tortall reread. I had a little more trouble getting into this one on audio, for some reason, but still a fun reread.
69 books read: Longbourn by Jo Baker
What a great idea! Longbourn is Pride and Prejudice -- but from the servants' points of view. Sarah, Polly, and Mr. and Mrs. Hill run the Longbourn estate, waiting on and cleaning and cooking for the Bennets and their five daughters. When the Bennets hire a footman, it's the most excitement they've had in years.
Baker expertly weaves the lives of the Longbourn servants with the story we know so well, and I especially liked the P&P quotes used to begin each chapter. I had more trouble getting through the last fourth of the book than the first three quarters, which I tore through, but overall liked the ending. Recommended -- 4.5 stars.
70 books read: Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian
Amelia is headed off to start college in the fall -- but before that, she's ready for one more perfect summer of memories. She's been elected head girl at Meade's Ice Cream stand, where she works with her best friend Cate, and she plans to spend the time she's not working tanning at the lake. But when Molly Meade, the reclusive owner and founder of the stand, dies before the stand even opens for the summer, Amelia's perfect summer seems to grind to a halt. That is, until Molly's grandnephew Grady shows up to take over -- and make some changes.
This was a super fun summer romp! And, now I really want ice cream -- especially the special Home Sweet Home flavor described in the book. 4 stars.
71 books read: The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall
The Penderwick sisters, their father, and faithful Hound are back home on Gardam Street after their dreamy summer vacation at Arundel hall. School has started and everything seems to be back to normal. But when Aunt Claire visits and brings with her a mysterious letter from their mother, who passed away four years ago, the Penderwick sisters find themselves in for more than they bargained for.
I didn't think it was possible to love the Penderwicks more than I did in the first book... but I did! Just totally charming. This entry felt a little less magical and a little more predictable than the first book -- maybe due to the lack of gorgeous country estate and the fact that they were in school? But I was still enthralled and totally satisfied in the best way when I finished. Also, I want to adopt Hound immediately. Five stars.
It's been a while! We hosted a 4th of July BBQ at our new place and I spent a lot of time leading up to the day getting some unpacking done and generally straightening things up. We're currently painting the main floor and will be redoing the hardwoods on that floor as well, so at least there wasn't as much house to prepare! Then, a friend flew into town on the 4th and stayed through the weekend. We did some local sightseeing and then headed up to Canada for a whirlwind 24 hours in Vancouver. I hadn't been since I was a kid, so it was fun to get up there.
I did finish one book before people started arriving on the holiday:
72 books read: The Odyssey by Homer
This is a classic that has been sitting on my shelf for 10+ years that I never got around to and never had to read in school. I decided to try an audio version, which ended up being a great idea! My library has an edition narrated by Anthony Heald which was a treat to listen to. I did find myself reading the Sparknotes along with the audio version, since I would occasionally miss something in the reading that would make it hard to understand who was speaking during a super long monologue or whether or not I was in a flashback. But overall, definitely a fun way to experience a classic. 5 stars.
Next up is Snow Falling on Cedars, a local book -- it takes place on the fictional San Piedro Island, which is loosely based on a few of the islands in Puget Sound near Seattle. It was my pick for this month's book club selection, which I'm hosting on Wednesday. I'm a little over halfway through -- hopefully I can finish by then!
I'm also about halfway through Glamour in Glass, the second in a Regency fantasy series.
I recently realized that my 75th book of the year will also happen to be my 1,000th book since I started keeping track of my reading in 2008. Wow! I'm not sure whether to try to read something special for the occasion or just to continue as usual. I guess we'll see!
Glad to hear you had a nice 4th of July. Good luck with all the house projects!
>99 curioussquared: Wow, that's so cool! Congratulations on the double milestone!
I've not read the Penderwicks books, but I fell in love with The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, so I've been on the lookout for more 'gaggle of siblings on fun adventures' kinds of books.
>101 libraryperilous: Ah! I adore the Vanderbeekers. If you like them, I’m pretty sure you will love the Penderwicks, too.
>100 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky!
>101 libraryperilous: Thanks! I'm excited. I haven't quite kept up with my 100 books a year goal I set when I started, but at the rate I'm reading these days I'm hoping I can make it up eventually. I loved the Vanderbeekers too -- I think you will definitely like the Penderwicks!
Love your dog. Rescue greyhounds are almost perfect dogs
So easy to look after and undemanding and grateful for the smallest kindnesses - tho not the brightest of light bulbs.Tbo even asleep and snoring, they look like art deco masterpieces. Except perhaps when sleeping on back, exposing doolies...
Only thing better than a rescue greyhound is two rescue greybounds.
I absolutely adored The Stone Cage by Nicholas Stuart Gray.
A retelling of the fairy tale of Repunzel, for older children and told mainly by the cat and raven who live with the witch.
I havent tracked down the majority of his books but The Seventh Swan retelling I thought was awful. The hero is the brother who still has a swan's wing for an arm and he's the whingiest misery and his faithful retainer is 100 times a better man but ignored by the romantic interest.
And Edith Nesbitt books are bliss.
>102 foggidawn:, >103 curioussquared: Thanks for the rec. I've added it to my summer list, as it sounds a perfect happy read for a sunny summer day.
>104 roomsofbooks: Welcome to LT!
Ugh, that trope. I especially hate it when the actual nice guy is ignored in favor of the jerk who has to be trained in niceness by the heroine and somehow reforms at the end.
The Stone Cage sounds fabulous.
Sorry if there is a delay in my replies.
I was confused about which conversations I've read, let alone replied to... but just noticed I can call up all my replies.
I don't know what was going on in NSG's head with The Seventh Swan. I was so disappointed in it. Yet sometimes I find the tiny and devoted followers of NSG rate it their favorite!
The Stone Cage is a joy and still makes a tear roll at the end, if I am feeling even slightly emotional - tho the ending isn't sad and is about kindness and loyalty and maybe even family. I am just going to see if I can do the square brackets for the book. I was told about them in another thread and presumed they would be next to normal brackets on my phone - and they weren't - but then stumbled across them when I pressed the wrong symbol for something. If I do something wrong to do with phones/computers, it is due to being computer illiterate. I am a very late and old convert to even ownership of a mobile phone.
While it is near me. perfect for dipping into on short waits OR if you do have books in the loo...
Anything for a vote by Joseph Cummins
Dirty Tricks, Cheap Shots and October Surprises in U.S. Presidential Campaigns
Up to George W Bush in my opshop bought copy.
You can fill 5 mins following each election. Perfect for queues
>106 roomsofbooks: When you’re in a thread, the header of the posts you’ve read shows up as a lighter shade of tan, while new posts are darker. When you click on a thread, it should jump automatically to your first unread post, though sometimes longer threads take a couple seconds to load.
73 books read: Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
The small island community of San Piedro in Puget Sound is shaken when the body of a local fisherman, Carl Heine, is found drowned, caught in the net of his own boat. The story gets more complicated when a battery, a boat tie, and a fishing gaff belonging to Kabuo Miyamoto are found on Carl's boat. Kabuo says he didn't do it, but the evidence points the other way -- not to mention that only 10 years prior during WW II, San Piedro's Japanese population was sent to internment camps, and island feelings toward the Japanese population are still cold. Over the course of the trial, old grudges, friendships, and romances are brought back to life as the island battles the worst snow storm it's seen in years.
What a beautiful book. I'm not really a mystery reader, but I was gripped by this from the beginning. Going in, I was a little worried this would be a snooty kind of literary book, but it wasn't at all -- the prose was lovely and also extremely readable, and I couldn't put it down. If you ever want to get a feel for the landscape of the Pacific Northwest, this is a great book for it -- Guterson's descriptions of the fictional San Piedro (based on a few real-life island) are some of the best writing in the book, and perfectly capture the feel of the area. 5 stars.
74 books read: Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal
This was a fun continuation in the series starting with Shades of Milk of Honey, which I read last year. I think Kowal's magic system is really interesting, and the plot itself, while not great, made for a fun romp. I'll probably read the rest in the series sooner rather than later. 3 stars.
I think I've decided to read A Tale of Two Cities for my 75th/1,000th book, a classic that has been sitting on my shelves unread since I started keeping track of my reading in 2008. I'm a little worried that I'll finish Rooftoppers on audio before I make it through the Dickens, but I'll do my best to put it off a little!
>107 foggidawn: ? I might be too impatient. So far I seem to always arrive at the start of the thread and have to whizz for AGES until I get to the bottom, to see if I need to reply.
>109 curioussquared: A Tale of Two Cities is one of my favourite Dickens books. I hope you enjoy!
I had a set of the paperback Illustrated Classics editions in the mid-80s. A Tale of Two Cities was one of my favorites, and I loved it when I read the real thing as an adult, too. Dickens is a favorite of mine, especially David Coppefield.
I didn't enjoy Rooftoppers that much, but I liked The Explorer and I have The Wolf Wilder out from the library now.
>111 MickyFine: >112 libraryperilous: I'm about 3/4 done with A Tale of Two Cities and loving it. Maybe my favorite Dickens so far, which isn't saying much as I've only read David Copperfield and Oliver Twist. Time to change that!
>112 libraryperilous: I'm finding Rooftoppers is exactly what I need on audio -- light and easy to listen to while dog walking. And, the gorgeous Paris depicted in this book is a good counterpoint to the Paris soaked in blood in A Tale of Two Cities. I will keep an eye out for those other books by the same author! I had never heard of her before this book.
75 books read: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
A fitting book for 75 this year and 1,000 since January 2008! I don't think there's much I can say about this novel that hasn't been said a million times before, but I was drawn in from the first page and probably would have finished much sooner if I hadn't been working so much this week. Five stars, and highly recommended.
>115 curioussquared: Congratulations on reaching 75, Natalie!
And on 1,000 books read in 10 years and a bit!
Huzzah on reaching the magic number and with a book that you rated highly!
Sometimes things work out so that you finish six books in a weekend. I'm not really sure what happened! I just kept reading and kept finishing more books. I didn't have a ton of plans this weekend, but I did errands and chores at home, too, so it wasn't like I completely ignored life.
76 books read: Puddin' by Julie Murphy
I really enjoyed this follow-up to Dumplin'! Millie is a fantastic character. I had a bit of trouble getting behind Callie, but I think she had won me over by the end of the book. I liked this a tiny bit less than Dumplin', but it was close, and this is highly recommended. 4.5 stars.
77 books read: We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
Ugh, okay, I was ready for this series to be over. I kept hoping it would rise to the level of Han's other series starting with To All the Boys I Loved Before, but it just... didn't, and this entry was definitely the worst of the three. Belly reads as a more annoying, whiny version of Lara Jean from To All the Boys. The whole series has been Belly wavering between her two childhood family friends, Conrad and Jeremiah, both of whom are conveniently in love with her. This book pushes it to the next level because Belly and Jeremiah decide to GET MARRIED at the tender ages of 19 and 20, mostly to prove that they love each other after Jeremiah cheats on Belly. None of it read as realistic to me (maybe I just didn't hang out with these people in high school and college?) and I just wanted to slap some sense into everyone. Most of the dreamy beachiness of the first book was gone in the second book, and all of it DEFINITELY gone in this one. 2 stars.
78 books read: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
I don't really watch the Daily Show, but I enjoy an episode here and there and like Trevor Noah. This memoir of his childhood in South Africa during and directly after Apartheid is mesmerizing. His mother is an amazing woman -- she decided to have an illegal mixed child with a white man during Apartheid for no reason other than that's what she had decided she wanted. Trevor's reflections on race are woven in with some hilarious, some more sinister anecdotes from his life. There were a few spots where the writing came off a little awkward, but overall it was well done and engaging. 4 stars.
79 books read: Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner
I LOVED this book. Cameron, her twin brother Cooper, and their parents move to sleepy Eugene, OR from Portland, and Cameron is just trying to settle in. An avid costume designer and cosplayer, Cameron and her friends recently won first prize at the Seattle comiccon cosplay competition, but are now facing backlash from internet trolls accusing them of being fake fans. Then, at the local comic store, she runs into the same kind of judgy geek guy. Fed up with the stigma that girls can't be real geeks, Cameron does what any good cosplayer would do and dresses up as a guy to join the comic store's D&D group.
This has pretty much all of my guilty pleasures -- She's the Man style gender swap to prove everyone wrong, talented independent nerdy girl, fandom culture... I devoured it in one sitting. 5 stars.
80 books read: Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell
This book is the charming story of Sophie, rescued as a baby from a shipwreck by Charles, her absentminded scholarly guardian. As Sophie grows up, she wonders more and more about who her mother was, and when she turns 12, spurred by the threat of being removed from Charles' care and put into an orphanage, she and Charles go to Paris to try and find her mother. My biggest problem with this book was that it felt like two different stories -- I loved the charming beginning with Sophie's childhood and the development of her relationship with Charles. The half that takes place in Paris, however, went a lot slower for me -- even though I think it was supposed to be the more exciting part! There seemed like a lot excess info, and I guessed where the end was headed 2 or 3 hours before the end of the audiobook, so the next 2-3 hours to get there dragged on forever. 3 stars.
Congrats on meeting the milestone!
I love A Tale of Two Cities, although I think socialist me took a message Dickens didn't want me to take from the book, as Madame DeFarge is by far my favorite character. I find her quite sympathetic, actually.
>122 libraryperilous: Ha! Yes, I'm not sure that's what Dickens intended. I found Madame DeFarge to be pretty scary! I think sinister is the right word here.
82 books read: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
I've been wanting to read this for quite some time so was excited when it was chosen as our book club pick for next month. It didn't disappoint! Unfortunately I just learned I'll have to miss the book club meeting due to a business trip, but still very glad I read it. 5 stars.
83 books read: The Adventures of Miss Petitfour by Anne Michaels
I received this as an Early Reviewer book earlier this year. When I received it, I realized I hadn't interpreted it as a children's book from the ER description. After finally getting around to reading it, I can see why -- while it's full of cute stories and adorable illustrations, this book hasn't seemed to figure out its audience. It's a little too simplistic for adults and a little too cerebral for kids. 3.5 stars.
84 books read: The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall
I am just loving, loving, loving the Penderwicks. 5 stars.
85 books read: The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr
Another ER book I had put off for a few months. The story of the last dragon and a little girl, Maggie, exploring Vienna and hatching a plot to save the other dragons. This book was a little slow to begin, then became lovely and engrossing in the middle, and then lost steam and ended with the plot tied in a neat, disappointing bow. 3.5 stars.
>125 curioussquared: I borrowed The Language of Spells a few days ago. I haven't read it yet, mostly because I loooooooove friendly dragons, and I'm afraid bad things will happen to the dragon. Sort of like some people avoid books where the dog dies.
>126 libraryperilous: I can confirm this dragon is very friendly! I won't spoil anything else :)
86 books read: Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal
Still enjoying these fun fantasy regencies. 4 stars.
87 books read: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
Everything I've read by Okorafor has been an absolute treat, and Akata Witch is no exception. Her stories always feel so fresh -- like nothing I've read before. Akata Witch has been described as the Nigerian Harry Potter, but I don't think that really captures it at all. Can't wait to get my hands on Akata Warrior! 5 stars.
88 books read: The Hills Have Spies by Mercedes Lackey
The start of a new series in Valdemar, this book follows Perry, the son of Herald Mags, as he and his father embark on a journey that takes them to Valdemar's borders along the Pelagir Hills, where they try to find out what's been happening to all the people who have disappeared from the area. Finally, something new-ish from Lackey! The previous books 5-6 books in the series have been totally lackluster and basically the same plot rehashed each time. While this certainly wasn't up to the standards of the early Valdemar books, it was so good to meet new and different characters and get out of Haven. 3.5 stars.
I tried something by Lackey involving a ship and cross-dressing (two things I love), but I tanked on it in part because it was boring. How do you make hiding out as a man on a ship boring? Anyway, this one sounds like fun, and I'm a sucker for punny titles. Although, no one ever will top The Celery Stalks at Midnight in that department.
>129 libraryperilous: Huh, I thought I'd read pretty much Lackey's entire bibliography, but that one isn't ringing a bell! Her Valdemar series was pretty formative in my middle school years, so at this point I mostly read for nostalgia's sake, and I don't think they would have the same effect on me if I read them from start to finish now.
I enjoy her Elemental Masters series, about wizards using elemental magic in early 20th century Britain, but have always (even as a middle schooler) found the caliber of her other series to be somewhat lower than the Valdemar and Elemental Masters series.
And agree, I loved the punny title, too!
89 books read: Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal
This is probably the most unbelievable and also the most fun of these books so far! I've heard it described as "Jane Austen writes Ocean's Eleven" which is pretty accurate. 4 stars. Excited for the last one in the series, but also sad it's coming to a close!
90 books read: The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall
OMG. This one got me in the feels. I think I cried for about half of the novel. The five year jump was unexpected, but I think done well, and this book did such great justice to Batty. I think Jane got the short end of the stick out of all the siblings, and I would have loved to hear a bit more from her, but overall I just loved loved loved this. I keep wanting to say it's my favorite of the series so far, but then I think about the others and I can't choose! 5 stars.
My work busy season has started in earnest (we do a lot of communications around employee benefits and Open Enrollment season is coming up) and I'm finding myself with a lot less time to read -- or do much of anything besides work! I'm still chugging along at a decent clip for the moment, but I'm expecting my reading pace to slow considerably in the next few weeks.
I started this week traveling for business in the bay area, so I managed to get some good reading done on the plane, and we also had a new hire start on Monday, so I went into the office Wednesday and Thursday and got some reading done on the bus when I otherwise might have worked from home to recover from traveling. Today is a work from home day :)
91 books read: Save the Date by Morgan Matson
Charlie's big family has been fractured since her mom and her brother Mike got in a big fight over something her mom put in her famous comic strip based on their family. Mike hasn't been home in the year and a half since. Her sister Linnie's wedding is fast approaching, and it's the last big event they'll hold in their childhood home before it's sold. Charlie sees the wedding weekend as a last chance to get everyone together before everything changes, so it has to be PERFECT -- but things seem to be going wrong before the weekend has even started.
I loved The Unexpected Everything when I read it in 2016 (dogs! nerdy fantasy-writing love interests!) and I think I liked this one overall, but something was off with the tone of this book. So many things went wrong with the wedding that I think were meant to be funny (?) but came off to me as just stressful. I was tense almost the whole time until the wedding was over! 3.5 stars.
92 books read: Wren Journeymage by Sherwood Smith
An okay conclusion to Wren's journey. I enjoyed it, but I was ready for her story to be over. 3 stars.
93 books read: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
When Alexa gets stuck in an elevator with a handsome stranger, she somehow agrees to be his date to his ex's wedding that weekend. But what was supposed to be just a weekend becomes more weekends as the two visit each other on alternate weekends in LA and Berkeley. But, a failure to communicate leads to problems...
I can't remember how I found this book -- I thought someone here on LT had recommended it, but now I think it might have been from a Book Riot article. Anyway, however I found it, I didn't expect it to be quite so... romance-y. I like my romance with a heavy dose of plot, and this didn't have a ton of it. Most of the issues in the novel would have disappeared if they had spent ANY time talking instead of all of their time in the bedroom. I did like that Alexa was a badass black female lawyer, and that she confronted any race issues head-on. 3 stars.
>133 foggidawn: I was SO happy when the wedding was finally over and nothing more could go wrong! Of course, more things went wrong, but at least they weren't wedding-related :)
94 books read: Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
This has been sitting unread on my shelf for probably over a decade. I finally decided to listen to it on audio. Even for a relatively short audiobook, I found it hard to get through! I had trouble connecting with Odd and found his narrative off-putting -- he has a sort of self-deprecating but also all-knowing voice that for some reason just really annoyed me, and might have been exacerbated by the audio. I liked the story overall, and the ending was devastating, but just didn't really like following Odd around the whole time. I won't be continuing the series. 2.5 stars.
>1 curioussquared: Skeletor looks so cute. I see why you named him that (though I think his namesake had a bit of a raw deal. Yes, I remember He-Man).
>25 curioussquared: Next year, post the questions for the Trivia contest here and we'll help you ;0)
>41 curioussquared: Beautiful photo. It's great to see your meet-up with Tamora Pierce.
>107 foggidawn: >110 roomsofbooks: You need to click on 'posts unread' rather than on the thread title.
All caught up now. Congratulations (belated) on your 75!
>137 curioussquared: I shall have to come by more often. I see we've read many of the same authors in the last year or so.
Yet another Penderwicks fan. *sigh* It looks like I'll have to make an effort to find them and read them.
>138 humouress: They're just charming books :)
95 books read: The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro
In The Last of August, Charlotte Holmes pulled a Reichenbach on Jamie Watson, and now she hasn't been seen for a year. Jamie is just trying to live life as a normal kid with a normal girlfriend and normal friends at Sherringford school. But someone has other ideas... Meanwhile, Charlotte is working toward her goal of eliminating Lucien Moriarty -- all while struggling with her addictions and her terrible loneliness.
I felt this entry in the Charlotte Holmes series went a lot deeper than the last two, and I loved Charlotte as a narrator. The twists at the end were perfectly executed. Looking forward to the 4th book! 4.5 stars.
>139 curioussquared: Skipping your review because I haven't read the second book yet but I'm pleased to hear you really enjoyed this one.
>140 MickyFine: I hope you enjoy it! I thought the second one suffered a bit from middle book syndrome and liked the first and third ones a lot more, but still enjoyed the second one.
I've heard good things about the Charlotte Holmes series.
Could everyone stop talking about the Penderwicks and reminding me that I haven't read them yet and can't right now because I have fifty other books out from the library?! :)
>142 libraryperilous: Making it 51 books can't hurt, right? But I feel your pain... I'm wrapping up a few series right now and hope to curb my library use a bit more after that so I can actually achieve my goal of reading 40 books off my shelf this year!
Finished out August with a couple of rereads:
96 books read: The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Calbraith (AKA JK Rowling)
I am not usually a mystery reader, but I love these books by JK Rowling under a different name -- this is my second time through the series in preparation for Lethal White coming out later this month! Cormoron and Robin's relationship is delightful, and I couldn't put this one down despite having read it before.
97 books read: Terrier by Tamora Pierce
A more disappointing reread. I have never been the biggest fan of these sort of auxiliary Tortall books -- they take place around 200 years earlier than the other books in the series and are also written in diary entry format, which has always set them a bit apart for me. Something I had also forgotten which came across very strongly in the audio format was that the diary format and Beka's lower city upbringing mean that most of the text is riddled with slang words of Pierce's invention. It's not something that has bothered me on previous readings, but along with the diary format, it made listening to the audio version somewhat disjointed. I'm still planning on listening to the others to finish out my Tortall audio reread, but maybe I'll take a little break first.
>131 curioussquared: I liked Valour and Vanity a lot too, but still haven't gotten the fifth book of the series.
>144 curioussquared: I donated all my Tortall books to the middle school down the way earlier this year but reread them all first. Figured I could always find them at the library and, frankly, much as I love the world, they felt a bit too YA this time through. Agree with you about the Beka books being my least favorite, but since I read them in print every time, the slang didn't really bother me.
>145 ronincats: Thanks for stopping by! I have the last book, Of Noble Family, downloaded on my Kindle from the library right now so I will hopefully get to it soon.
My Tortall books are way too nostalgic for me to ever get rid of, but the Beka ones didn't come out until I was in high school and I just don't have the same feelings associated with them.
See, they weren't any of them published until I was 40 years old, so I don't have that special attachment. Plus that gave me a LOT of shelf room...
>144 curioussquared: Huh. I've only read the Beka Cooper books so far (and not even all of those yet) so they've never had anything to suffer against in comparison and I always enjoyed them.
>148 MickyFine: It's not that I don't like them... it's just that they've never quite had the same impact with me as the others, and for some reason I had issues with the audio. I highly recommend you check out the others, by the way! (Not that you don't have enough on your plate right now -- perhaps starting a 20+ book series is not what you need?) :)
>147 ronincats: Totally understand. And yes, that would certainly free up a lot of shelf space!
>149 curioussquared: I'll get to the rest of Pierce's bibliography eventually but it's really rare for me to devour a whole series in a row these day. I'll usually pick up one, put the next one on The List, and wait for it to come up in the shuffle when I pick my next read. :)
>151 MickyFine: Makes sense, it's a huge commitment! I like to cross things off lists, and I enjoy finishing a series for that reason and also so I don't have to be on the lookout for the next books.
I read a few books, despite work being utterly insane right now -- can always count on getting some words read on the commute.
98 books read: A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
The third book in Sabaa Tahir's YA series -- I only learned it was going to be a four book series right before starting this entry, which was a bit disappointing as I was hoping for some closure. I felt this book was wayyyy too long and really flagged in the middle. Once I started speedreading through some of the middle bits, it picked up and I enjoyed the last third. I'm finding I'm less interested in the characters than I was in the first two books, though I thought the big surprise was really well done. I think it was mostly the length and the constant POV switching that made this hard to get through for me, and I'm still planning on picking up the fourth when it's released. 3.5 stars.
99 books read: Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal
The final book in Kowal's Glamourist Histories, and a fitting end! I was really impressed throughout the series at how Kowal kept these stories fresh -- this final novel takes place in Antigua and deals with some pretty heavy themes! I still love Vincent and Jane's relationship. I'm looking forward to reading more of Kowal's works -- I've heard really good things about The Calculating Stars and it's on my list to pick up soon. 4.5 stars.
100 books read: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
I never read this in high school, and it's been sitting on my shelf for some time. I decided to try the audio version narrated by Tom Hollander, and I'm SO glad I did. I think I got the hang of the nadsat much quicker than I would have just reading myself, and Hollander did a fantastic job bringing Alex to life. This is not a pleasant book by any means, but I think it's a worthwhile one, and while I'm not sure I "enjoyed" the read, it was definitely thought-provoking and hard to stop listening to. 4 stars.
Work is still crazy, and will be through October. Boyfriend and I did a quick coffee shop visit this morning, then tidied up the house for about an hour or so, and now I'll spend the rest of the day catching up on job stuff. To top it off, I'm getting tendonitis or something in my wrist -- I think I need to beef up my home workstation to make it more ergonomic. All the furious typing is not making my wrists happy.
>143 curioussquared: I finally ended up returning most of them and starting over. I was trying to be more discerning about my library holds. And then I fell off the wagon this morning. Oh well. :)
>153 curioussquared: I've never tried an audiobook, but I like Tom Hollander very much. Once, on the Tube, I overheard two dudebros talking about their friendship with one of his exes, Daisy someone, and they were name dropping him like they'd met him. I suspect they didn't really know her, either, but we all have secondhand celebrity stories we like to tell.
>154 libraryperilous: Last week, I let a library book I had on my Kindle return to the library unread. A big step for me! I'm trying to be more discerning, too -- I've started tagging books as to be read at some point in my library app instead of just automatically putting things on hold. It seems to be working semi-okay at this point!
I NEVER listened to audiobooks until about a year ago, except for a brief period when I had a long commute where I had to drive instead of taking public transit. They have revolutionized my dog walking, and I credit my all-time high books read total last year to starting to listen to audiobooks.
You know, I didn't even realize who Tom Hollander was until your comment! I NEVER would have pegged him as Mr. Collins from the audiobook narration :)
101 books read: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
I liked this, but somewhat less than Little Fires Everywhere which I read earlier this year. This was our read for the book club I run in the women's group at work, and I think my overall feeling toward it was frustration. I just wanted to shake each of the characters and yell at them to TALK to each other. But it was engaging, and tough to put down. 3.5 stars.
>147 ronincats: Oh, no! I've just bought my first Pierce (though I've read quite a few from libraries), ostensibly for the kids but it ended up on my shelves because I'm not sure if my boys would appreciate The Woman Who Rides Like a Man. They might but I'm not sure. The completist in me is contemplating at least getting the Alanna series.
>153 curioussquared: Congratulations on 100!
>155 curioussquared: *gasp* Unread!? ;0)
I need to work out how to get Overdrive books on my Kindle. I'm sure it'll be fairly simple once I get around to it.
>157 humouress: yes, it's pretty simple once you start! I HIGHLY recommend the Libby app, which is basically the more user-friendly version of the Overdrive app. It's easy to use and pretty intuitive, and I found it a lot more straightforward to use than the actual Overdrive app.
Been too busy with work and home remodels to really keep up, but I've finished a few books:
102 books read: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
103 books read: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
104 books read: Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
Loved rereading the Galbraith, thought the Oluo was fantastic and a great intro to a touchy subject that EVERYONE should read, and enjoyed this installment in the Beka Cooper series on audio more than the first -- perhaps because I was listening at 1.5x speed?
105 books read: Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
I think this last of the trilogy may have been the cheesiest of all, but I enjoyed the satisfying ending and seeing everything wrapped up.
106 books read: Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
Definitely a little too grisly for me at parts, but I like Strike and Robin too much to stop reading, and I found the mystery so gripping that even though I had read it before and mostly remembered who did it by the time I was a quarter in, I couldn't put this down all weekend even though I should have done more catching up on work. So excited for Lethal White! Planning on picking up a copy (maybe this weekend?) as a birthday present to myself.
>161 curioussquared: Yeah, Rich People Problems was cheesy, but so much fun! Enjoy Lethal White!
>161 curioussquared: Oh, I didn't know the books were a trilogy with the same characters. I thought they were linked novels. Does Crazy Rich Asians end on a cliffhanger? I'd like to read it, but I don't like committing to series with cliffhangers.
>163 libraryperilous: No cliffhangers! Each of them is really a complete novel with a new storyline, they just happen to also follow up on some of the same characters while also delving deeper into the lives of others. You can totally just read the first book without feeling like you need to read on. I agree -- nothing makes me more angry than reading a book and only discovering upon the totally unresolved cliffhanger ending that I'm going to have to wait to finish the story!
>164 curioussquared: lol, I did this with the Steerswoman books. I thought the series was completed. They were published in the early 90s! And then, around midway through the fourth book, I was like, "Oh, no. There aren't enough pages left." I'm glad I read them anyway, because they became favorites, but still, v frustrating.
Thanks for the rec. I definitely will check out the first book.
>165 libraryperilous: I hope you enjoy it!
I read a few more books:
107 books read: Ship It by Britta Lundin
I... have mixed feelings about this book. Ship It tells the story of Claire, a huge fangirl for the show Demon Heart, who attends a convention to see her favorite actors on a panel and then wins the opportunity to attend the rest of the convention tour with the cast. She ships the two main characters, Smokey and Heart, and is sure they're going to get together in the last episode of the season -- until Forest, the actor who plays Smokey, crushes her dreams at the first con. She decides to use her time traveling with the cast and crew to try to change their minds (never mind that the season finale has already been filmed).
There were aspects of this I liked -- I appreciate Lundin's commitment to more on-screen representation and I always enjoy a good fandom book. But Claire was a problematic character and crossed WAY too many lines, in my opinion. And I found the romance in the book off-putting, not cute. Not really recommended unless you're really committed to books about fandom.
108 books read: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
What an odd little book! Keiko has worked in a convenience story for 18 years, since she was in college. She has trouble interacting with people and understanding normal human behavior in the normal world, but in the convenience store, she has a purpose, and the store manual tells her how to act. Her family is frustrated with her dead-end job and lack of interest in any kind of relationship. A short but powerful book -- I'm still thinking about it a few days later.
>158 drneutron: I think I can only get Overdrive on Kindle if I'm in the States :0( Or was that Libby? Definitely can't use Libby with non-US libraries but I suspect it applies to both.
I've been using Overdrive on my mobile devices and I LOVE the idea. e-books are still not my go-to choice but being able to borrow library books when you can't physically get to the library is wonderful.
>167 humouress: Libby is just OverDrive’s new and improved app, so I imagine they would have the same usage limitations.
>168 foggidawn: I'd have thought so too, but maybe they're rolling it out slowly. It's a bit frustrating now that I've tried to get Libby because whenever I use Overdrive, I get Libby ads but I know I can't use it. :0/
109 books read: March: Book 1 by John Lewis
Such a powerful graphic novel! I'm not a huge graphic novel reader, but I tend to like the good ones -- and this was certainly one of the good ones. I have the next two books lined up to read soon -- I scored this one as a bargain book at my favorite local bookstore, Third Place Books, and then happened to find the next two on discount when I stopped by Powell's on our way to the Oregon Coast in August. Five stars.
We have Libby in Canada, but to the best of my knowledge you can only get library ebooks from OverDrive/Libby onto Kindles in the US. Everywhere else, Amazon still refuses to cooperate with libraries at all. :/
110 books read: My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Think you know everything about Jane Eyre? You thought wrong! To start with, there were WAY more ghosts...
This was super fun. I think I might have liked it marginally less than My Lady Jane, but they were pretty equivalent. One thing it does very well is point out just how very problematic Jane Eyre is -- something that's definitely been done before, but probably never in a way that was this fun. Very occasionally I got a little annoyed with the voice of the authors, but most of the time it worked well. 4 stars.
Jane Eyre is the only novel I ever have Dorothy Parkered across the room. But this retelling sounds like good fun!
>176 libraryperilous: I'm a sucker for Jane Eyre but also fully aware of its faults :)
111 books read: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
After a meteorite hits near Washington DC and wipes out most of the US government in the early 1950s, Elma Wexler, computer for the National Advisory Committee of Aeronautics and former WASP, and her husband Nathaniel, one of the lead engineers, take the lead in developing the space program and beginning the process of colonizing the stars. Elma knows she's qualified to become an astronaut -- except for the fact that she's a woman.
I loved this SO MUCH. I hated pretty much every moment I had to work instead of reading this book. I enjoyed Kowal's glamourist series that I finished earlier this year, but this book was on another level. 5 stars, and definitely one of my favorites of the year. I have the second one on hold already!
112 books read: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
After Taylor and her family learn of her dad's fatal pancreatic cancer diagnosis, the family goes up to their cabin in the Poconos for one last summer.
I didn't know what this book would be about going in so I was a little surprised at how heavy it was. Honestly, the big problem with it is that, for me at least, Taylor was an utterly uninteresting main character. There was also a lot of drama built up about what exactly she did to her best friend and boyfriend, Lucy and Henry, five years ago (when she was only TWELVE), and I found the resolution of that story pretty uninteresting and hard to believe. But, I also sobbed just about as hard as I've ever sobbed during the last 25 minutes of reading -- that part was very, very well done. So, 3.5 stars overall.
>178 ronincats: I hope you love it! I only learned about the novella after reading The Calculating Stars, and I understand it takes place in the far future. Now that I've started at the beginning of Elma's story, I figure I'll catch up with the novella after the rest of the books.
113 books read: The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall
A satisfying end to the Penderwicks' story. In this final installment, we jump several years into the future. Rosalind is getting married at Arundel, and Lydia, now eleven years old, is so excited to visit the magical estate she's heard so many stories about.
While I enjoyed this series conclusion, it felt... a little safe, maybe? Just not very high-stakes? I'm not sure how to describe it. After the emotional impact of The Penderwicks in Spring (I cried for probably the last third of the book, at least), this just felt like it was missing some oomph, even though I was fairly happy with where everyone ended up. Still great, though! 4 stars.
>180 foggidawn: Yay! This is one of those books that I want everyone to read. I can't stop telling all my friends about it.
Life/books update: We have been working on some home remodels on the house we bought in April, and living in the more updated basement apartment in the meantime. Now that everything is almost done, we're getting close to actually moving into the main living space! Just need to install new baseboards and do some paint touch-ups.
One of the things I'm most excited about is finally having all of my books in my home! Previous rentals have not been able to accommodate my collection, which my parents have kindly stored for me. But now, not only will I be able to have several shelves around the whole house, but I'm planning a little library! There's a small room upstairs that's too narrow and oddly shaped to be called a bedroom, but is definitely way bigger than your typical closet. I'm lining it with bookshelves, adding a cozy rug, comfy chair, lamp, and side table, and filling it with all my books! I bought eight bookcases from IKEA a few weeks ago in preparation. I promise I'll post pictures when it's done!
I swear I'm also excited to decorate/furnish the rest of the house... I just get really thrilled at the idea of cozy attic reading nooks.
OMG, how exciting! Both to finally be in your own home, having taken the time to fix everything to your liking, AND to be able to set up a little library/reading room and get all your books around you again! Definitely waiting for pictures.
>182 curioussquared: That reading nook sounds delightful! I'm using the dining room in my current house as a library/study, since my table works nicely in the breakfast nook. It's nice to have a space dedicated for books, but I would like to add a comfy chair and lamp. Just need to figure out how to accomplish it in the existing space...
>183 ronincats: Thanks! We're so excited. The daylight basement is actually pretty nice, but it's still a basement, and as people who thrive on natural light, we're looking forward to moving upstairs :) The house still needs some work -- we need to replace a part of the roof, and we're planning to do a kitchen remodel in the next five years or so -- but the main living space is looking great :) Plus, as long as the book nook is complete, who really needs an updated kitchen?
>184 foggidawn: A comfy chair and a lamp are definitely a must! I'm sure you can squeeze them in somehow :) My little attic room has a window that's fairly near the ground on one wall. I'm planning to try to put the chair sort of in front it but without blocking all the light somehow. Now that I type it out, it sounds kind of impossible... I'll report back, haha.
114 books read: Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
At school, Emily is known as "the girl who hangs out with Sloane," and she's okay with that. Her best friend Sloane is more interesting than she is, and is always the one who comes up with crazy things for them to do. But then, Sloane and her family disappear without warning and without a trace, right before what was supposed to be a perfect summer. The only thing Emily has left is a to-do list Sloane sends her, including such items as "Go skinny dipping," "Kiss a stranger," and "Dance until dawn." Even though most items on the list scare her, Emily now finds herself friendless, with a summer devoid of plans, and the list seems to be the only possible way to find Sloane. So, she gets started -- making friends and coming out of her shell along the way.
A fun summer romance! I really like Matson's particular brand of slightly nerdy love interest. This is my fourth novel of her and she definitely has a type :) I found Emily to be a more believable character than Taylor in Second Chance Summer, and the cast of secondary characters is really great in this one, too. I think my favorite Matson is still the first one I read, The Unexpected Everything, but I'm enjoying working my way through her bibliography. 4 stars.
115 books read: My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
The (mostly) true story of the eccentric Durrell family, who move from pre-WW II England to the Greek island of Corfu. There, they settle in to the never-boring island life and make friends with the island's equally eccentric inhabitants.
I was introduced to the Durrells through the charming PBS series The Durrells in Corfu, available to stream via Amazon if you're in the US and well worth a watch! This memoir by the youngest of the Durrell family, Gerry, is just as charming. 4 stars.
Reading nook update: Four out of eight IKEA bookcases have been built -- it's starting to take shape and I love it already!
Reading corner sounds nice and cozy. Can't wait to see it when it's finished!!
The reading nook sounds perfect. Can't wait to see the pics. Good luck!
Here's a sneak peek of the nook, with 6/8 bookcases built. This is about half the room -- it's about 2 of those bookcases wide, and 8 of those bookcases long. So, when they're done, the 8 small bookcases will line the wall with the lower ceiling, and the other taller walls will have taller bookcases.
116 books read: Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
The latest installment in the adventures of Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott. This one is the longest yet at 600+ pages, and I understand those who feel it could have used a stronger editor's hand, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I love Cormoran and Robin, and I love getting to know them better, and the complex mystery is just a bonus :)
My best friend and I are planning on shelling out for a Cinemax subscription for a month or so to watch the Strike miniseries put out by the BBC. I'll report back!
116 books beats my previous year's record of 115 books in a year, so anything else I get done this year is just above and beyond! :) However, I'm woefully behind on my goal of 40 books off my shelf. So, I'm going to be focusing on that goal for the rest of the year. I'm at 25 right now, so I need 15 for the rest of the year -- I think it should be doable!
>191 curioussquared: Good luck with finishing those books off your own shelves. I was trying to do one a month this year and I'm woefully behind at this point. Although I feel like a Gabaldon should count as multiple books given the page counts. ;)
Ooooohhhhhh, that looks amazing. Love the extra coziness from the slanted ceiling and the gentle color combo of white and mint. Beautiful. So excited for you!
>192 ronincats: >193 foggidawn: >195 FAMeulstee: >196 libraryperilous: Thanks, everyone! I know, I already like spending time there just building the book cases. Hoping to get the last two book cases finished this weekend and also get rid of the cheap old desk that the old owners of the house left there. I'd try to use it for something, but it's so cheap it's literally sagging in the middle.
>194 MickyFine: Thanks! I know, it feels like such an achievable goal at the beginning of the year, but now it's November (!) and I'm getting a little worried. I definitely agree a Gabaldon should count as more than one -- I keep meaning to get to Outlander, but the size is daunting!
That reading room looks great already! You're going to have many hours of enjoyment there.
>198 curioussquared: So cute! I didn't even attempt to put anything on our Coral. She holds a grudge.
>199 MickyFine: Good to know! I have an extremely fat mass market paperback of the first one which has kind of been putting me off. Maybe it's time to just check out the ebook from the library.
>200 ronincats: Thanks :) We knew we had to buy the costume when the dog model in the picture on Amazon was a greyhound! Unfortunately, it actually fits really really badly -- but it's good enough for some photos.
>201 mstrust: Thanks! I can't wait until it's ready. I finished building all the small book cases this weekend -- now to acquire some taller shelves, some cozy rugs, and a comfy chair! Skelly is the kind of dog who is so desperate for attention at all times that he doesn't even care what you're doing to him as long as you touch him and give him pets. I took him to the vet to get a few shots last week and he was so excited that all the vet techs in the back room were happy to see him that I don't think he even noticed the shots part. He is such a ham.
>202 curioussquared: Sophie has always been the same way with the vet and the vet techs, though it will be interesting to see if her recent adventures (she had a leg amputated due to cancer a little over a month ago) will influence her attitude towards vet visits in the future. But she's never minded shots, as long as a couple of people are petting her and fussing over her.
I've been doing some reading (and quite a bit of listening)!
117 books read: Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
Well, I'm FINALLY done with my Tortall reread -- I won't do Tempests and Slaughter since I already read it once this year. This one took me forever to listen to -- I had to check it out from the library twice. I've only read this one the once when it came out 5 or 6 years ago, and had forgotten most of the plot. I enjoyed parts of this, but really hated the ending, and it's definitely cemented my opinion that this trilogy is Pierce's weakest. Not sure if I'll include the Beka books the next time I reread Tortall.
118 books read: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
I bought this one a few months ago and had to put it off until I worked through my mountain of library holds. Plus, while I like to buy nice hardcover editions of books I'm excited about, it generally takes me a bit longer to read them because I avoid schlepping them back and forth to work to read on my commute. But this was so worth the wait! Novik delivered again with a stunning fairy tale retelling. I was impressed at the intricacy of this book -- it felt like a finely woven tapestry of story threads. Every piece of plot mattered and it was exciting to see everything come together at the end. I think it's really hard to do a book with so many narrators so well -- one reason I couldn't get very far in the Game of Thrones series was that I thought the narrator switching was super clumsy and had I couldn't make myself slog through the chapters with characters I didn't like. Not so in Spinning Silver. Each narrator's POV added to the plot and added a new dimension to the story, and also helped me to understand and like each character. I think I may still like Uprooted a tiny bit more, but this was a great book. Five stars.
119 books read: Matilda Bone by Karen Cushman
I picked this one up at a library sale a few years ago because I remembered enjoying Cushman's Catherine Called Birdy and The Midwife's Apprentice. This one was pretty disappointing. Matilda was an unlikable protagonist. Even though the book is short, her growth over the course of this novel still felt like it took too long. I wanted to shake her a few times. The audiobook I listened to had a section at the end where Cushman explains how she did so much research into medieval medicine for this book that she had to remind herself she was writing a novel, not a history book. Honestly, you could definitely tell -- at times it definitely felt like I was reading an explanation of how medieval bonesetters worked instead of a middle grade novel. 3 stars.
120 books read: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming
I had never read this classic children's book before and decided to check it out on audio from the library. I was delighted to find that the version they have is narrated by David Tennant! I could listen to him talk all day -- I only wish he'd read it in his native Scottish accent. This was a cute romp -- very different from the classic film. I didn't love it, but it was a pleasant listen while walking the dog. 3.5 stars.
>205 foggidawn: Oooh, thank you for the tip! I will have to check that one out.
>203 foggidawn: I hope Sophie continues to love the vet! How is she doing as a tripawd? My parents had an Irish Wolfhound who absolutely adored the vet, even after he got the skin torn off one of his paws by a passing car and had to go in daily for cleanings. They kept him intact because they had heard it was better for very big dogs and could help extend their short life spans. However, when he was about 6, he had some kind of illness and the vet felt it would be better to neuter him at that point. He was never quite as excited about the vet after that surgery... but he did live almost 4 more years :)
>207 curioussquared: She has adapted really well to the tripawd life. She still has a little trouble with the dog-sized steps up to the bed (which she had been using with confidence for a year or more before the surgery -- I bought them because my mattress is tall and I didn't want her to hurt herself getting on and off it as she got older), but she's getting more confident with them, and she has no trouble at all with people-sized stairs. Other than that, she is still bouncy and energetic, though I think she's a little more clingy than she used to be, and she isn't as insistent about rousting me out of bed in the mornings (possibly because she knows she will have to navigate the steps).
>208 foggidawn: I'm glad she is adapting well!! Hopefully she continues to get more confident with the little stairs and in general. Dogs are so resilient.
121 books read: Chocolat by Joanne Harris
Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk move to a rural French town where the cowed inhabitants are ruled by the church and the priest there, Pere Reynaud. Undaunted by the town's challenges, Vianne starts a chocolate shop, and starts helping the villagers bloom, one by one.
I loved this! I'm a sucker for small French towns, and I wasn't aware of the mystic/witchy element of the book before starting to read it, but I really enjoyed that part. It kind of had the feel of Practical Magic, but French. Harris makes you fall in love with each character, from old Armande to Anouk and her imaginary bunny friend, Pantoufle. Despite the fact that we got Pere Reynaud's POV in alternating chapters, I had trouble truly empathizing or understanding the priest and his motivations, and given that Harris casts him as a sort of overarching "Black Man," I wonder if that was intentional -- but I think that may have made the novel slightly weaker. Overall, a cozy and satisfying read, and one more down off my shelf! 4 stars.
Here's a little bump for a cause close to my heart: On Tuesday, Florida voters passed amendment 13, which will end greyhound racing in the state by the end of 2020. Only 6 US states allow dog racing, and Florida has something like 11 of 18 of the US's remaining dog tracks, so this is really a death blow to dog racing in the US in general.
I'm really happy about this overall -- I do believe that racing greyhounds are mostly well-treated, but there are definitely some rotten apple trainers and owners who horribly mistreat their dogs, and just too many have died participating in an outdated sport that fewer and fewer people are betting on each year. Skelly raced in Florida and while he loves people and is a happy-go-lucky dog overall, he came to us with the worst case of hookworms the vet had ever seen. It took us over a year of persistent deworming to eradicate them, and he has permanent bowel damage as a result.
Anyway, the passage of amendment 13 means that over the next two years, and probably sooner rather than later as owners start to shutter tracks early and start offloading their dogs, about 15,000 dogs (8,000 active racers and 7,000 breeding dogs/dogs in training) will need to find homes.Adoption groups are standing by to help, but it's going to take a massive effort. The goal is to avoid any less ethical owners from deciding it's easier to dump their no-longer-profitable dogs at kill shelters in Florida.
Greyhounds are the sweetest, goofiest, most docile and loving animals, and they all deserve great homes with lots of couch space. Contrary to what you might think, while they can run very fast, they don't need much exercise -- a few walks a day and an occasional zoom in an open space will do. They make great apartment dogs!
Consider adopting, fostering, volunteering, or donating to support your local adoption agency! We are hoping to adopt another soon, and possibly start fostering :)
Here's a cute picture of Skelly -- thanks for reading my long post!
>210 curioussquared: One of the rare cases where I prefer the film to the book.
>212 MickyFine: The movie is on my to-watch list now! I'm one of those book-before-movie purists. Glad to know you enjoyed it!
My uncles have adopted abused racing greyhounds a few times now. Such a beautiful breed!
I'm happy that it and prop 4 passed.
Spinning Silver is one of my favorite books of the year. Like you, I felt as though all the details were carefully crafted to enhance the story. I probably could have done without the
I remember liking Matilda Bone because I liked all the medico-historical details, but I agree that she's not a particularly likable character, even toward the end.
>214 libraryperilous: Agree that all the medical history bits in Matilda Bone were interesting, but at the same time there were so many that they kind of drew me out of the story. I'm glad to have read it, but don't think I'll ever pick it up again.
I hope every one of those dogs finds a loving home. And your Skelly looks like a very good boy!
>216 mstrust: I'm biased, but I'd say he is the best boy! Our greyhound adoption group is already projecting that they'll be taking in 50-60 more dogs before mid-December, and they're hoping to double the amount of adoptions they normally do in the next year. I'm trying to convince my boyfriend that we can foster -- he's sure that we won't be able to resist adopting all of them -- which I agree is a concern! :)
>173 MickyFine: *sigh* Well, there you go.
>176 libraryperilous: Dorothy Parkered?
>182 curioussquared: Excitement! Looking forward to the pictures.
>190 curioussquared: Ooh - I see something ...
>198 curioussquared: Our Jasper would have chewed that off and swallowed half of it in seconds.
(sorry - have to skim through the rest)
>219 humouress: Thanks for visiting! I will post more photos of the library room as I make progress. The 8 bookshelves I bought are built now, but I've been distracted because we're finally making progress on the other parts of the house -- we should hopefully be ready to move upstairs by the week after Thanksgiving if not sooner!
I'm working through a few TBRs off my shelf now but haven't finished anything in the last few days.
Did anybody else watch the Dumplin' trailer? I didn't realize it's coming out so soon! I think it looks great and can't wait!
>219 humouress: She is credited with saying, "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force." I believe there's no actual evidence she said this, but I refuse to give up my use of the phrase 'Dorothy Parkered'. :)
>223 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul!
It's been a while since I've visited! I read a few books:
123 books read: The Young Unicorns by Madeleine L'Engle
I think this book convinced me that I'm done with L'Engle for a while. It was very weird. I read A Ring of Endless Light a few years ago and remember enjoying it. This one just came off as a corny mystery with none of the charm present in that entry in the Austins books or in the early Time Quintet books. Overall it was fine, but I think this is a perfect example of a book that's feeling its age. Maybe if I had read it when I was younger? 2.5 stars.
124 books read: Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
This month's book club pick was a little too real. In a near-future US, abortion and IVF have been outlawed due to the Personhood amendment, and women who try to cross to get abortions in Canada are arrested and sent back at the Pink Wall. Red Clocks follows four women in a small Oregon town who are affected by the new laws: a high school English teacher, a stay-at-home mom, a pregnant teen, and a "witch" who lives in the forest and deals in herbs and medicines. Red Clocks is written in a rather experimental writing style, and it put me off at first -- I might have discarded it or declined to pick it up in the first place if I had been reading it for myself and not for book group. But I soon found myself drawn in and I actually really liked the writing style by the end. Four stars.
125 books read: Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
Mila and her father have planned a spring break trip from London to upstate NY to visit her dad's old friend, Matthew. But before they even leave, Matthew's wife lets them know that Matthew has disappeared, leaving her and their infant son alone. Mila and her dad decide to continue their trip nonetheless, and spend it looking for Matthew. Together they embark on a road trip to try to solve the mystery of Matthew's disappearance.
This was a funny little book. I loved Rosoff's book Just in Case, and enjoyed How I Live Now, but was underwhelmed by There is No Dog. Picture Me Gone is a quiet, gentle story -- Not the most exciting, but I was drawn in, and I enjoyed Mila's character and her world. 3.5 stars.
I read more books!
126 books read: The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn
Rachel and her colleague Liam have been selected to go back in time to research Jane Austen and acquire her lost letters to her sister, Cassandra, as well as her lost novel The Watsons. Posing as a brother and sister who grew up in Jamaica, they must succeed at infiltrating 19th century British high society and gaining the trust first of Jane's brother Henry and then of Jane herself. Soon, the stakes grow higher and higher and Rachel and Liam find themselves growing closer to both each other and the Austen family.
I LOVED this book. On Thursday, I had a day trip to Orange County for a client meeting and didn't want to lug a paper book on the plan, so cracked this library book open on my Kindle. It turned out to be the perfect read for the day: I read half of it on my flight down in the morning, and finished the rest during our descent into Seattle on the flight home. I was totally engrossed the whole time -- it was such a fun story! 5 stars.
127 books read: Léo: Mon secret est une chance by Gwenaele Barussaud
It's 1869. Léonore is a factory worker from a small French town. She is mostly content with her straightforward life: happy for her stable job, that she received something of an education, and content with her small family. But when the factory owner is to be honored by Napoleon III, Léo is chosen as part of the delegation of workers to travel to Paris with the owner and meet the emperor and receive the award. With this news, her life changes, as her parents take her aside and tell her that she is not who she thinks: Her parents are actually rich Parisians who brought her to the small town and left her with a wet-nurse, and then never came to claim her. Armed with her new knowledge, her parents' old address, and the blanket she arrived with as a baby, embroidered with her initials, Léo travels to a Paris on the verge of a revolution on a mission to find her parents and discover her destiny.
I picked up this French YA novel while I was in France last Spring. I only had a few minutes in the bookstore while my friends waited for me (they like books, but can't read French as I can), so chose it pretty much only based on the cover. I liked Léo's story, but in the end found her a little annoying and thought the book was lacking something in charm. Overall, I'm happy I read it, and it was great to stretch my French muscles in a way I haven't really since college. 3.5 stars.
128 books read: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine. Really. Her physical needs are met and she has no emotional needs. But when her veneer begins to crack, Eleanor starts to realize that she may not be quite so fine after all.
This book WRECKED me. At the start of the book, Eleanor is so disconnected and sad to be almost off-putting -- she has successfully distanced herself from humanity in a way to almost ensure that nobody will try to break through her walls. Reading Eleanor's journey from fine, to really really not fine, to getting somewhere better, was emotionally devastating and so, so important. While hard to read at times and maybe not a great choice for people who are not in a great emotional state, I think this book has a lot of really important things to say about loneliness and mental health and should be required reading for anyone who is up for it. 5 stars.
129 books read: The White Giraffe by Lauren St. John
After her parents die in a house fire, Martine is sent to South Africa, where the grandmother she never knew she had works on a game reserve. Almost as soon as she gets there, Martine realizes that things may not be as they seem, and she seems to be connected to an old legend of a girl and a white giraffe...
This middle grade novel was a pleasant listen, but didn't feel like anything special to me. Probably enjoyable for elementary schoolers. I enjoyed the narrator's South African accents and the descriptions of Africa. 3 stars.
I'm now 6 books away from my goal of reading 40 off my own shelves, which seems very doable. Right now I'm (finally!) in the middle of Outlander, which I'm loving -- what took me so long?
I'm also only 21 books away from reading 150 from the year -- seems so close, and yet so far! I don't think it's doable, especially with all the busyness of the holidays and finally moving into our newly remodeled upstairs of our house, but it's nice to think that I might be able to reach that number some year in the future. I've never been so close before!
I'm trying to make it to 100, which is a few less than I usually read in a year, but I'm fine either way.
>227 mstrust: Good luck to you, too! I know, it's a totally arbitrary goal and I am already thrilled that I've read so much this year, but I just like big round numbers :)
>226 curioussquared: Ah, you are several ahead of me--I just finished #30 off my own shelf, but that's an improvement. I liked The Jane Austen Project a lot, but it just bugged the heck out of me that they showed up at the inn at the beginning with no luggage--like they wouldn't know no respectable inn would take in a couple with no abigail AND no luggage!!!!
>229 ronincats: Yes, 34 this year was a big improvement for me, too. Agreed -- I tried not to think too hard about the time travel specifics in the Jane Austen Project, and just focus on enjoying the story!
One of my goals for next year is to not buy any books until I finish reading all 200+ I already own.
I am expecting this goal to fail spectacularly very early in the year so I can forget all about it and go back to hoarding tomes.
Congrats, both >229 ronincats: and >230 curioussquared: on reading so many of your already-owned books! I am very impressed.
>231 libraryperilous: Thanks! That's usually one of my goals, too, but I, too, always fail spectacularly. I tend to hover right around 300 unread -- whenever I make significant inroads, I always manage to replenish the deficit.
>231 libraryperilous: I have made that same goal for myself this year too, with a few built-in exceptions. I need some restraint.
>233 humouress: Looks like we all know ourselves pretty well!
>234 mstrust: Yes, I must always have the built-in exceptions. I can't NOT buy a book I've been waiting for for years!
Still working on Outlander -- loving it, but it's definitely a long one!
I'm headed to Austin for a long weekend tomorrow evening, returning Tuesday night. Another friend from Seattle and I are vising our other best friend from college, who's in grad school outside of Houston. I've never been to Austin and it should be a fun girls trip! I expect I'll get some reading done on the flights at least, but I won't make progress on Outlander as I'm only bringing my kindle.
>235 curioussquared: I know the feeling about working your way through a Gabaldon tome. I'm reading the most recent one and it's probably going to take 2-3 weeks for me to finish it. Glad you're enjoying your first adventure with Claire and Jamie. :)
>236 ronincats:, >237 libraryperilous: Thanks! It was a great trip -- always nice to see a friend who lives far away.
>238 MickyFine: I know! I feel like I'm actually reading pretty quickly, but there's just so much of it and it's such a big book that it's not always convenient to carry around. I think I'd be done already if it had come on my trip.
I read some more books! And all off my shelf, too.
130 books read: The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty
I had never read any Welty before and was glad I picked this up. Light on plot by heavy on characterization. Laurel and Fay are very real. 4 stars.
131 books read: Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
This book had a blurb on the front comparing it to Chasing Vermeer, and I definitely got that vibe -- but I actually enjoyed it way more than Chasing Vermeer. After her grandpa Jack dies, Theodora has to figure out how she and her mother, who spends all her time in her own personal world of math, are going to survive in New York when all they have left is a little less than $500. Her grandpa left her only with a few mysterious words -- as he died, he rasped, "it's under the egg." Theo is soon on a mission to find out what he meant, and that mission leads her to new friends and insight into her grandfather's past that she never dreamed of. 4 stars.
132 books read: Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner
This has been on my shelf FOREVER. I think I tried to read it when I was a lot younger and didn't get into it -- and I can see why. This was a really gorgeously written book, but it's very slow, and again, not a lot of plot. It's based on a ballad and you can kind of tell -- while Kushner's version has added layers from multiple POVs and side characters, it's still the basic story of minstrel goes to fairyland, comes back, can only speak the truth. A nice read, but not the most compelling and I might have had more trouble finishing if I hadn't been trapped on a plane. 3.5 stars.
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