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lycomayflower reads with intent in 2018 again (part 2)

This is a continuation of the topic lycomayflower reads with intent in 2018.

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 4:59pm Top

Welcome to the my 2018 reading thread, part two! Click here to go to my introduction post. The picture above is of my shelf o' Arthurian and Robin Hood lit. It might be looking to expand into neighboring territory. ;-)

This first post contains an on-going list of the books I've read this year, with the most recent reads at the top. Click on the book title to go to the book's post within the thread, where you will find a review. Numbers in parentheses are page counts for each book. Click here to visit my 2017 thread. Click here to visit the first of my 2018 threads.

Total Pages: 24,073

170.) Jane Austen Cover to Cover (223)
169.) The Earl I Ruined (294)
168.) Christmas at Eagle Pond (78)
167.) A Christmas Carol (131)
166.) Giant Days volume 6 (~100)
165.) Giant Days volume 5 (~100)
164.) The Birds' Christmas Carol (audio)
163.) The Tale of the Nutcracker (88)
162.) Nutcracker and Mouse King (58)
161.) Hidden Christmas (audio)
160.) Two Old Women (127)
159.) The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins (237)
158.) Jingle Bell Pop (audio)
157.) A Child's Christmas in Wales (audio)
156.) Check, Please: Hockey (250)
155.) Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give (165)
154.) Step Aside, Pops (166)
153.) Good Omens (367)
152.) Together for Kwanzaa
151.) The Tale of Three Trees
150.) The Polar Express
149.) The Nutcracker
148.) Silent Night
147.) Merry Christmas, Little Elliot
146.) Dear Santa, Love Rachel Rosenstein
145.) A Hanukkah with Mazel
144.) Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins
143.) A Best Christmas Pageant Ever (108 pages)

142.) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (652)
141.) I Saw Three Ships (63)
140.) Milly and the Macy's Parade
139.) Don't Let Auntie Mabel Bless the Table
138.) The Memory Cupboard
137.) Squanto's Journey
136.) 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving
135.) Gracias the Thanksgiving Turkey
134.) The Wondering Years (221)
133.) A Private Gentleman (375)
132.) Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast
131.) Kindergarrrten Bus
130.) The Man Who Fell to Earth (209)
129.) Grumpy Monkey
128.) Paperback Crush (243)
127.) Seven Days of Us (380)
126.) This Is How It Always Is (327)

125.) We Were Eight Years in Power (367)
124.) Matilda (audio)
123.) The Horse Mistress (209)
122.) Convenience Store Woman (163)
121.) I'll Be There for You (243)
120.) Giant Days volume 4 (~100)
119.) Giant Days volume 3 (~100)
118.) Giant Days volume 2 (~100)
117.) A Sharp Solitude (356)
116.) Room on the Broom
115.) The Rough Patch
114.) Giant Days volume 1 (~100)
113.) Quiet Girl in a Noisy World (178)
112.) Nobody Likes a Goblin
111.) The Adventures of Beekle
110.) Hello, Lighthouse
109.) Wolf in the Snow

108.) An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (341)
107.) Runaways: Find Your Way Home (~100)
106.) Green Arrow: Hunters Moon (~100)
105.) You Learn By Living (208)
104.) Ex Libris (audio)
103.) The Duke I Tempted (297)
102.) The Secret History (559)
101.) The Understatement of the Year (304)
100.) Hudson's Luck (334)
99.) Out of Nowhere (254)
98.) In the Middle of Somewhere (332)
97.) Bury Me Deep (211)
96.) I'd Rather Be Reading (145)
95.) Meg Jo Beth Amy (221)
94.) The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
93.) Interstellar Cinderella
92.) Last Stop on Market Street
91.) The Day You Begin

90.) Parable of the Sower (329)
89.) The Longbow Hunters (153)
88.) The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh (49)
87.) Bridge of Sighs (528)
86.) Miss Rumphius
85.) Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
84.) Kitten's First Full Moon

83.) Over and Over Again (700)
82.) Arrow: Vengeance (448)
81.) Edwin Morgan New Selected Poems (179)
80.) Bear and Wolf
79.) Autoboyography (407)
78.) Green Arrow: Year One (~100)
77.) Old Hat
76.) Grandma's Purse

75.) Art & Max
74.) Still Life (312)
73.) I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing (audio)
72.) Pashmina (169)
71.) The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (441)
70.) The Ulysses Delusion (181)
69.) When Katie Met Cassidy (264)
68.) Dragon Was Terrible
67.) Waiting for the Biblioburro
66.) Interrupting Chicken
65.) The Secret Footprints
64.) The Duke and the Domina (358)
63.) If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, Don't!

62.) A Game of Crowns (299)
61.) Texts from Jane Eyre (227)
60.) Page by Paige (~150)
59.) The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs (355)
58.) Time Was (142)
57.) The Tea Dragon Society (71)
56.) The Color Purple (289)
55.) Time of Wonder
54.) Return
53.) Quest
52.) The Empath's Survival Guide (245)

51.) The Uncommon Reader (audio)
50.) Educated (audio)
49.) Akata Witch (349)
48.) The Wilder Life (331)
47.) In Conclusion, Don't Worry about It (audio)
46.) Witch, Please (audio)
45.) The Female Persuasion (454)
44.) The Princess and the Pony
43.) The Name Jar
42.) The Different Dragon
41.) Journey
40.) This Is the Rope
39.) A Gentleman in Moscow (462)

38.) The Stranger in the Woods (203)
37.) All Out (353)
36.) Harry Potter's Bookshelf (286)
35.) Camp Austen (audio)
34.) The Quotidian Mysteries (88)
33.) The Prince and the Dressmaker (277)
32.) Feel Free (435)
31.) Grabbling
30.) Boat of Dreams
29.) SkySisters
28.) Dragons Love Tacos
27.) Triangle
26.) The Good Boy (310)
25.) A Wrinkle in Time (245)
24.) The Daughter of Time (205)
23.) The Lawrence Browne Affair (304)

22.) Romancing the Beat (78)
21.) The Water Is Wide (258)
20.) The Big Snow
19.) White Houses (218)
18.) Whereas (101)
17.) Peter Darling (204)
16.) A Perfect Day
15.) Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match
14.) Not Quite Narwhal
13.) Prelude to Bruise (103)
12.) Bound to Be a Groom (186)
11.) Dryland (216)

10.) Q's Legacy (177)
9.) No Time to Spare (215)
8.) Sated (172)
7.) Eliza and Her Monsters (385)
6.) The Homecoming (115)
5.) A Story for Bear
4.) The Gentle Lion and the Little Owlet
3.) A Wolf's Tale
2.) How to Blow it with a Billionaire (356)
1.) A Is for Alibi (307)

Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 12:14pm Top

Hello! My name is Laura, and this is the eleventh year I've kept an LT thread tracking and reviewing my reading. I read pretty widely, but I'm most likely to read romance, memoir, mysteries, YA, sci-fi, fantasy, and literary fiction. I'm in my mid-thirties, recently worked as an editor, am married to a fellow reader, and carry on living in the south (it's been the majority of my adult life now) despite constantly missing winter and wanting to move back north (I grew up in north-east Pennsylvania). When I'm not reading, I like to do photography, write, crochet, bowl, swim, and watch TV. I also keep a bookish blog at https://wonderatsix.blogspot.com/. Please feel free to talk to me there or here on LT. I love a good bookish conversation!

Edited: Dec 24, 2018, 12:42pm Top

As part of my goal in 2018 to read with more intent, I'm aiming to read (at least) ten books I've been meaning to read. I have a tentative list of books to choose from, but essentially this is another way of saying "books that came onto my TBR sometime in the last couple of years."

Ten Books I've Been Meaning to Read

1. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle
2. A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles
3. The Wilder Life, Wendy McClure
4. Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor
5. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
6. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, Becky Chambers
7. Still Life, Louise Penny
8. Green Arrow: Year One, Andy Diggle and Jock
9. Edwin Morgan New Selected Poems, Edwin Morgan
10. Bridge of Sighs, Richard Russo
11. We Were Eight Years in Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates
12. The Man Who Fell to Earth, Walter Tevis
13. Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
14. Step Aside, Pops, Kate Beaton

Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 12:18pm Top

As part of my goal in 2018 to read with more intent, I'm aiming to read (at least) ten books by authors of color. I have a tentative list of books from my TBR to choose from, but I will count any book I haven't read before by a person of color.

Ten Books by Authors of Color

1. Sated, Rebekah Weatherspoon
2. Prelude to Bruise, Saeed Jones
3. Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match, Monica Brown
4. Whereas, Layli Long Soldier
5. SkySisters, Jan Bourdeau Waboose
6. Feel Free, Zadie Smith
7. The Prince and the Dressmaker, Jen Wang
8. This Is the Rope, Jacqueline Woodson
9. The Name Jar, Yangsook Choi
10. Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor
11. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
12. The Secret Footprints, Julia Alvarez
13. Waiting for the Biblioburro, Monica Brown
14. Pashmina, Nidhi Chanani
15. Grandma's Purse, Vanessa Brantley-Newton
16. Arrow: Vengeance, Oscar Balderrama
17. Over and Over Again, Cole McCade
18. Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler
19. The Day You Begin, Jacqueline Woodson
20.) Quiet Girl in a Noisy World, Debbie Tung
21.) Convenience Store Woman, Sayaka Murata
22.) We Were Eight Years in Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates
23.) Don't Let Auntie Mabel Bless the Table, Vanessa Brantley Newton
24.) Together for Kwanzaa, Juwanda G. Ford
25.) Check, Please: Hockey, Ngozi Ukazu
26.) Two Old Women, Velma Wallis

Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 12:18pm Top

As part of my goal in 2018 to read with more intent, I'm aiming to read (at least) ten books by LGBTQIA authors. I have a tentative list of books from my TBR to choose from, but I will count any book I haven't read before by an LGBTQIA author.

Ten Books by LGBTQIA Authors

1. Dryland, Sara Jaffe
2. Prelude to Bruise, Saeed Jones
3. Peter Darling, Austin Chant
4. White Houses, Amy Bloom
5. All Out, various
6. The Different Dragon, Jennifer Bryan
7. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
8. Texts from Jane Eyre, Daniel Mallory Ortberg
9. When Katie Met Cassidy, Camille Perri
10. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, Becky Chambers
11. Autoboyography, Christina Lauren (Lauren Billings)
12. Edwin Morgan New Selected Poems, Edwin Morgan
13. Over and Over Again, Cole McCade

Edited: Dec 20, 2018, 2:02pm Top

As part of my goal in 2018 to read with more intent, I'm aiming to read (at least) three books of poetry, three books in translation, and four nonfiction books that are not memoirs. I have a tentative list of books from my TBR to choose from, but I will count any book I haven't read before that fits these categories.

3-3-4 Books of Poetry, Translation, and Non-Memoir Nonfiction

1. Prelude to Bruise, Saeed Jones
2. Whereas, Layli Long Soldier
3. Edwin Morgan New Selected Poems, Edwin Morgan
4. Convenience Store Woman, Sayaka Murata
5. Nutcracker and Mouse King, E.T. A. Hoffmann
6. The Tale of the Nutcracker, Alexander Dumas
7. The Stranger in the Woods, Michael Finkel
8. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, Steve Brusatte
9. The Ulysses Delusion, Cecilia Konchar Farr
10. I'll Be There for You, Kelsey Miller
11. We Were Eight Years in Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates
12. Paperback Crush, Gabrielle Moss
13. Jingle Bell Pop, John Seabrook
14. Hidden Christmas, Timothy Keller

Edited: Jul 6, 2018, 12:38pm Top

76.) Grandma's Purse, Vanessa Brantley-Newton ****

Picture book about a little girl who loves to see what's in her grandma's purse. Bright and fun.

77.) Old Hat, Emily Gravett ****1/2

In this picture book, a dog tries to keep up with the hat styles sported by all his friends. Ultimately he learns to wear what he likes. The characters leap to life off the page, in large part due to their humorous expressions. Recommended.

Jul 6, 2018, 1:23pm Top

>7 lycomayflower: You didn't give #76 to the sprouts, did you? They don't need any new ideas!

Jul 6, 2018, 1:27pm Top

>8 laytonwoman3rd: LOL--no, it was just a library book for my own reading. It didn't hit quite a high enough standard for getting a copy for the sprouts, so no worries. ;-)

Jul 6, 2018, 1:42pm Top

Happy New Thread, Laura!

Jul 6, 2018, 1:54pm Top

Happy new thread!

Jul 6, 2018, 3:12pm Top

Happy new thread, Laura! And congrats on surpassing the magic number!

Jul 6, 2018, 3:27pm Top

Jul 6, 2018, 9:00pm Top

Happy new thread, Laura. What happened to book 75? Congrats for reading it, whatever it was.

Jul 6, 2018, 10:17pm Top

Happy new thread!

Jul 7, 2018, 11:49am Top

Happy new thread, Laura, and congratulations on reaching 75!

Jul 7, 2018, 5:47pm Top

Yay for a new thread and reading 75+ books!

Jul 8, 2018, 8:49am Top

Happy new thread, Laura!

Is that Pascal on top of the bookshelf up there?
Also, I love the Frodo picture in the background.

Jul 11, 2018, 1:29pm Top

>14 Familyhistorian:, >15 drneutron:, >16 FAMeulstee:, >17 Kassilem:, >18 scaifea: Thank you, all!

>14 Familyhistorian: It's at the very tail end of the last thread. It was a picture book about which I only said a sentence or so--easily missed!

>18 scaifea: It is! Good old Frodo, lazing under a tree with a book.

Jul 11, 2018, 1:38pm Top

78.) Green Arrow: Year One, Andy Diggle, Jock ***1/2

I went into this comics collection knowing that the origin story here for Green Arrow would be completely unrelated to the origin story in the TV show Arrow (what I love), so it's not that I was disappointed that *this* Oliver Queen/GA is not *that* Oliver Queen/GA but I was disappointed in this story in comparison to that one. The story just seems flat (and a little rushed?)--I don't quite buy the transformation Oliver has to undergo. *shrug* Comics aren't wholly my bag, so this reaction might be partly because the format doesn't completely resonate with me. Some of the art, however, is absolutely stunning.

Jul 11, 2018, 1:50pm Top

79.) Autoboyography, Christina Lauren ****

In this YA contemporary romance, Tanner lives in Provo, Utah, not necessarily the easiest place to be bisexual. His father is Jewish, his mother is ex-LDS, and the family moved to Provo from California when Tanner was a teen, so he always feels somewhat like an outsider in town and at school, though he has a loving, supportive family and a best friend named Autumn. During his senior year of high school, Tanner finds himself falling for LDS golden boy Sebastian Brother, who TAs the creative writing seminar Tanner is taking. Eventually he discovers Sebastian reciprocates his feelings, and then thing get reeeally complicated. I loved all the characters here, as well as the format of the book (most of it takes the form of the autobiographical novel Tanner is writing in his seminar). The depiction of the complications that arise for Tanner and Sebastian is tender and lovely, and I really appreciated the way Lauren grapples with Sebastian's faith and never lets the story brush off how important it is to him, despite the difficulties it causes him. I thought the book dragged a little around the three/fourths mark, but on the whole this was a wonderful, engaging read. Recommended.

Jul 11, 2018, 4:05pm Top

>20 lycomayflower: Green Arrow is The Fiancé's absolute favourite comics character. He had me read Green Arrow: Quiver, which is a decent read but also really embedded in the larger DCU so I definitely had questions to ask him to figure out larger universe things.

Jul 12, 2018, 1:20pm Top

>22 MickyFine: The Fiancé clearly has excellent taste in comics characters. ;-) Despite enjoying most of the comics movie/TV adaptations I've seen and liking graphic novels, I can't seem to make the leap over into the comics themselves. Partly it's definitely the lack of knowledge about the universes.

Jul 12, 2018, 2:10pm Top

>23 lycomayflower: Comics is definitely an area where it's tough to make the jump in. I've been lucky to have a knowledgeable nerd guiding my reading experience and on-call for questions if I come across characters or plot references that I don't get.

Jul 18, 2018, 7:05pm Top

>25 lycomayflower: I don't know why my comment isn't posting on the blog. I've done it twice now. It seems to do what it's supposed to....gives me no failure message of any kind...but it doesn't show up. So let me say here that I believe my favorite TV character (that being Frank Reagan) already reads rather widely and would probably be ahead of me on that front. If he hasn't read Bruno, Chief of Police, though, he might get a kick out of that.

Jul 21, 2018, 5:45pm Top

>26 laytonwoman3rd: I had that trouble trying to get the post to go up too. I had to log out and back in repeatedly to get it to go.

Jul 21, 2018, 5:48pm Top

80.) Bear and Wolf, Daniel Salmieri ****

Bear and Wolf come across one another on a snowy day in the forest and walk the forest together, noticing things. This is just lovely and the illustrations are perfect.

Edited: Jul 23, 2018, 5:32pm Top

DNF: Archer's Voice, Mia Sheridan

This romance started out well and then started annoying me so much with all its little details that made no sense. The thing that finally flung me so far out of the story that I couldn't get back in was the author's treatment of the characters' use of ASL. The hero supposedly taught himself sign language from a book? And has never used it with anyone until the heroine shows up but he can sign fluently with her? And they have great long conversations that are rendered in italics as if they are speaking those exact words in ASL? Despite ASL being its own language, not some kind of physical transliteration of English? I just didn't trust anything about the story anymore after this on top of so many other little things that felt off.

Jul 25, 2018, 9:33pm Top

>26 laytonwoman3rd: I was able to post a comment on your blog with no problem, Laura. Maybe it was a momentary blip. I need to fix my pic though, it cuts off my head. *sigh*

Edited: Jul 26, 2018, 10:49am Top

>30 Familyhistorian: It's still not letting me post. I don't get an option as to what profile to use, either. The menu just says "Google account" without my username, even though I am currently logged in to my Google profile. Puzzling. I may have grumbled to the mayflower before about my issues with Google.

Jul 30, 2018, 12:49pm Top

>30 Familyhistorian:, >31 laytonwoman3rd: Weird. I wonder what's going on with it.

Jul 30, 2018, 12:55pm Top

81.) Edwin Morgan New Selected Poems, Edwin Morgan ****

Of all the poetry collections I've read, this is probably the one in which I was engaged by the biggest percentage of the poems. There's still a lot here that just makes me do a *derp* face, but a lot of it also really struck me. For just pure awesome, you can't beat "The Loch Ness Monster's Song," and "The Video Box No. 25" is one of those rare poems (for me) that just absolutely knocked me on my arse. Recommended.

Jul 30, 2018, 1:06pm Top

82.) Arrow: Vengeance, Oscar Balderrama and Lauren Certo ***

This first tie-in novel to the CW TV series Arrow sounded like a neat premise but in execution it was fairly lackluster. This is meant to be read after one has seen season two of the show, and the novel provides background for the three major villains of season two and then retells season two from those villains' points of view. The villains in season two were great, and I see why doing a book from their povs was appealing, but unfortunately the book just doesn't add much to what we already know about them. We get a handful of details about their pasts we didn't have before and a couple of little moments that fill in bits we weren't privy to in the season, but it's definitely not 448 pages of new or interesting or compelling stuff about these guys. And all the stuff I love most about Arrow (Oliver and the rest of the main cast, the crime-fighting, the archery) is mostly off the page here (naturally, given the structure of the story). I feel like this would have been a *much* better idea for a comics tie-in. The writing was competent genre "get the stuff on the page," so I don't see any reason why I won't check out the other Arrow tie-ins, in the hopes that they have more interesting stories to tell.

Jul 30, 2018, 2:12pm Top

>34 lycomayflower: Sorry that one didn't match expectations. That's always such a bummer.

Aug 3, 2018, 2:16pm Top

83.) Over and Over Again, Cole McCade ***1/2

This May/December romance taking place on a goat farm in the Yorkshire Dales follows Luca and Imre as they navigate their feelings for each other, Luca's attempt to figure out who he wants to be, and Imre's fears about entering into a relationship with somone so much younger then himself. The setting is very nicely evoked, the representation of Imre as demisexual is handled pretty well, and there's some great scenes between Luca and Imre as they sort themselves out. But on the whole I felt like I didn't know the characters as well as I should have (especially given how long the book was).

Aug 3, 2018, 2:17pm Top

>35 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky. Yeah, it is. :-/

Aug 3, 2018, 2:23pm Top

84.) Kitten's First Full Moon, Kevin Henkes ***

A kitten see the full moon and thinks it's a saucer of milk then tries to get to it. Cute and very simplistic. The art does a great job of capturing "cat."

85.) Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas ***1/2

Wilfrid is a little boy who lives next door to a care home. He has many friends amongst the elderly residents of the home, and when he learns that one of them is losing her memory, he tries to help her get it back. Nice and touching, if perhaps a little overly optimistic about how dementia works.

86.) Miss Rumphius, Barbara Cooney ****

Miss Rumpius's grandfather told her that one of the most important things she must do in life is make the world beautiful. This picture book follows her as she discovers how she will do that. Nice message and the illustrations (stunning) are absolutely the star here.

Aug 3, 2018, 4:26pm Top

>36 lycomayflower:, >38 lycomayflower: Are these what you are meant to be reading???

Aug 3, 2018, 4:36pm Top

>39 laytonwoman3rd: I finished all these *days* ago

Aug 3, 2018, 4:45pm Top


Aug 4, 2018, 8:03am Top

Oh, I LOVE Miss Rumphius!

Aug 4, 2018, 1:25pm Top

Our house loves Miss Rumphius, too!

Aug 5, 2018, 5:06pm Top

>38 lycomayflower: Aww, Kitten’s First Full Moon is one of my favorites.

Aug 6, 2018, 2:25pm Top

87.) Bridge of Sighs, Richard Russo ***1/2

It's hard to deny that the scope of this novel, with its several points of view, depiction of a whole town, and portrait of three families living there, is impressive. And it all hangs together, which over the course of 528 densely-packed pages is no small feat. But I just didn't enjoy the novel much at all. I got more engaged in the last quarter or so, but it took some doing to get to that point, let me tell you. If this hadn't been a book club book I was determined to finish, I almost certainly would have quit *well* before I got to the stuff I kind of sort of enjoyed.

Much of the narrative, especially in the first half of the book, takes the form of Lou Charles "Lucy" Lynch recalling his childhood, and while there are some deft portrayals of characters and of what it was like to live in a small town in the 50s, not much of it is super compelling. Or at least it wasn't to me. Lucy is not a particularly interesting character, and Russo just failed to make me care about him (or most anyone else in the story, although some of them come much more to life in that aforementioned last quarter of the book). I felt throughout the book that Russo had made very strange choices about what to put on the page, especially when it's revealed that Lucy is an unreliable narrator to the point he has left out *the* most important, compelling, and telling piece of information about his childhood.

I was also sometimes impatient with Russo's use of symbolic actions on the part of his characters. For a book that spends so much time and effort trying to portray something real, it sure uses a lot of over-the-top and heavy-handed imagery to make sure we get something that was perfectly apparent from his storytelling.

On the whole, the portrait of the town and families and how class divisions work there and how they affect everyone's lives was well done, but other than that I was just exhausted by the book. If it had been two hundred pages shorter and Russo had focused his attention slightly differently on his characters, I might have enjoyed it quite a bit.

Aug 6, 2018, 2:36pm Top

>42 scaifea:, >43 jnwelch:, >44 foggidawn: :-)

Do any of you have picture book recs? I'm starting to run out of things I've noted to find.

Aug 6, 2018, 3:44pm Top

>46 lycomayflower: Here are some that I particularly like:

Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke
Good Night Owl by Greg Pizzoli
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood
Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman
Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle
Supertruck by Stephen Savage
Waiting by Kevin Henkes
I Don't Like Koala by Sean Ferrell
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown
All the World by Elizabeth Garton Scanlon
One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo

I could go on, but I don't want to slow your thread with too many touchstones.

Aug 6, 2018, 3:52pm Top

>47 foggidawn: ! Thank you, foggi! This is great!

Aug 6, 2018, 3:56pm Top

>48 lycomayflower: You're welcome! Any time you need more recommendations, just ask!

Aug 8, 2018, 3:21pm Top

>50 jnwelch:, >51 scaifea: Woot! Thanks. These'll keep me busy for a while!

Aug 8, 2018, 3:22pm Top

I'm thinking about those little moments in favorite narratives that just don't quite make sense at the blog today.

Edited: Aug 8, 2018, 3:54pm Top

>53 lycomayflower: Naturally, there is the goat/promissory note sequence in The Hamlet, which no one I know has ever been able to figure out, math-wise. I couldn't even begin to describe it, but you know the one I mean.

Edited: Aug 8, 2018, 3:58pm Top

>54 laytonwoman3rd: Naturally. Prices have doubled around here since last year.

I know, I know, that's not The Hamlet.

Aug 8, 2018, 4:30pm Top

Yeah, the math doesn't work in that one either, though. Maybe Uncle Billy simply couldn't be arsed to add?

Aug 9, 2018, 7:35am Top

Oh, also, have I pestered you to read The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore?

Aug 9, 2018, 7:42am Top

Ooh, looks like I'll have to look for Miss Rumphius. I'm on the lookout for good picture books to add to Mia & Matthew's (my niece and nephew) library. Hello, Lighthouse was a recent favorite of mine (the illustrations are just stellar) and I need to get Mia a copy of The Paperbag Princess at some point. I missed it somehow, but what are you looking for in the picture books you're reading?

Aug 9, 2018, 1:25pm Top

Adding to the picture book discussion, I've adored all of the Jon Klassen books I've read and purchased almost all of them for my nieces.

Aug 13, 2018, 10:25am Top

>57 scaifea: I don't think you have! *adds to list*

>58 bell7: Cool. I'll check those out! I think I read The Paperbag Princess when I was a kid, but I don't really remember it. As far as what I'm looking for, I'm really open to pretty much anything anyone recommends. I'm just trying to read widely in the genre. I respond best when the illustrations really work for me, but what works for me is super varied as far as style. Always on the lookout for books written or illustrated by people of color. I like sweet, or humorous, or poignant, but not twee.

>59 MickyFine: Added to the list! Thanks!

Aug 22, 2018, 8:33pm Top

>61 lycomayflower: Yaaay Arrow!

I feel the exact opposite - I don't like watching more than 2 or 3 episodes of a show in a row. I like to sit with them in my head for a bit before watching the next one.

Aug 22, 2018, 8:51pm Top

>61 lycomayflower: Berp-ber-der-derp!! "x" not "z"

Aug 22, 2018, 10:34pm Top

>62 norabelle414: Husbeast is like this! Luckily we are usually on the same-ish page about how fast to go through things we are watching together. Farscape was hard. I wanted to gogogo and he was like, "One episode at a time. Ooooonly one." He refuses to watch Arrow, which has probably saved us from misunderstanding one another with regards to how quickly one should get through a season of it. =P I know if I watch *too many* episodes in a row everything gets all muddled up in my brain. I try to find a balance for each show. It's harder to find a balance with some than others.

Aug 23, 2018, 1:00pm Top

The Fiancé and I have taken to watching one show per evening (although the DC universe we're now alternating between season 3 Arrow and season 1 Flash based on a handy, combined universe viewing guide). Although I haven't yet started watching a show with him yet where I MUST watch every episode right now. We'll see how that goes in the future.

But I have definitely consumed many a show in binge fashion. Galavant is probably the most recent, as I devoured both seasons in 2 days last year. And then promptly watched it all again.

Aug 23, 2018, 2:15pm Top

>66 MickyFine: I had plans to watch Flash and Arrow concurrently on this rewatch. I got about four eps into Flash and realized that I wasnt enjoying it because I wished I was watching Arrow. So I gave that up and just watched the crossovers when they came around. Still planning on going back and watching all of Flash (and probably Legends of Tomorrow) at some point though.

Aug 23, 2018, 3:05pm Top

>67 lycomayflower: I have to admit, I enjoy Flash more than Arrow. Tonally (at least for now) it's much lighter, which is much more what I need at the moment. Hopefully you and Barry get on much better the next time you attempt Flash.

Aug 23, 2018, 3:43pm Top

>68 MickyFine: The tonal difference is a big reason why I couldn't really get into Flash--not because I don't like it's tone. I actually quite like the tone of both shows. But they *are* so different. If I'm in the mood for Arrow, I'm pretty much definitionally not in the mood for Flash, I think. Looking forward to it when I get around to it though, as what I've seen from the crossovers does have me intrigued.

Aug 25, 2018, 5:46pm Top

88.) The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh, K.J. Charles ****

In this historical romance novella, gambling debts and long-standing animosity and attraction lead to an evening of revelations and sex between Gabriel Ashleigh and Francis Webster. Entertaining with a decent amount of characterization in so short a piece.

Edited: Aug 25, 2018, 5:57pm Top

89.) Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters, Mike Grell ****1/2

A collected miniseries of Green Arrow issues from the eighties. Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance move to Seattle where Oliver begins to feel his age a bit. He tries to hunt down a serial killer while Dinah is on the trail of a drug ring. Bad things ensue, and a mysterious archer more skilled than Oliver is also on the scene. Great stuff here (though, jeez the violence towards women) and fantastic art. Also cool to see which elements of this story influenced Arrow.

Aug 25, 2018, 7:48pm Top

>71 lycomayflower: The violence against women and Dinah's outfit as Black Canary... sigh.

Edited: Sep 1, 2018, 12:39pm Top

90.) Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler **1/2

This is my fourth read from Butler, and it's definitely the one I liked the least. The setting is bleak and dystopian, which is mostly not my bag but with which I can get on if I'm sufficiently intrigued by plot or characters. This doesn't have a plot? And I didn't warm to any of the characters. It honestly just felt like one brutal encounter after another until I ran out of pages. The religion the main character "discovers" is sort of compelling but not enough so to generate interest in the face of the other lack; likewise her ability to feel physically the pain of others, which just kind of sits there, being a nuisance when killing is inevitable but otherwise not going anywhere. I know this is the beginning of a duology, but unfortunately nothing about this prompts me to consider carrying on. This is the first time I've given an Octavia Butler book less than four stars, so I may just have been on the wrong wavelength or something for this one. YMMV.

***For Book Club

Edited: Sep 1, 2018, 6:56pm Top

I enjoyed Parable of the Sower (I tend to like dystopic novels), but the sequel was way more depressing and gristly/violent, so you are definitely making a good decision to skip it!

Edited: Sep 1, 2018, 7:00pm Top

Which books by Butler did you read and like? I also read Dawn, but I found it very disturbing, with themes of sexual involvement with one’s oppressors, etc.

Sep 10, 2018, 12:57pm Top

>75 karspeak: I read Dawn, Fledgling, and Kindred. I enjoyed Fledgling the most, but thought Kindred was the best book of those.

Edited: Sep 10, 2018, 2:44pm Top

Sep 20, 2018, 5:14pm Top

Sooo, it's been a minute since I've been here. For a while there it was looking like Hurricane Florence was going to absolutely smash us here--there was talk of rain measured in feet and catastrophic flooding worse than the city has ever encountered. Things aligned so that *didn't* happen--we got about four inches of rain over a long enough period that flooding was minor. Our house did not take on any water (we live in the flood plain of a boisterous stream coming out of the mountains), and we are relieved and grateful to have weathered this storm so comparatively easily, especially as we don't even have to look so far away as North Carolina (my goodness, the destruction there) to see *much* worse flooding. A neighboring county got ten inches to our four-ish, and they are faring worse than we are. All that means my attention was mostly elsewhere (so many books had to be moved *up* and then put back where they belong--and we were advised to evacuate, so we did, etc). But it's passed now, and I'm feeling pretty much just "whew."

I did get a lot of reading done (both just before the ramp up to the storm that I just didn't get here to mention and during the storm/down time in the hotel we decamped to), so a barrel of reviews coming soon!

Sep 20, 2018, 5:23pm Top

91.) The Day You Begin, Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael Lopez ****

Lovely picture book about finding the way and the space to be yourself.

92.) Last Stop on Market Street, Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson ****

Picture book about a boy riding the subway with his grandmother, meeting many kinds of people, and helping out in a soup kitchen. Very good.

93.) Interstellar Cinderella, Deborah Underwood and Meg Hunt ****1/2

A retelling of Cinderella in space where Cinderella uses skill to impress the prince and rejects marriage because she's not ready. Loved this to bits.

94.) The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, William Joyce ****

Very much enjoyed this story of Mr. Morris Lessmore and his custodianship of books. The illustrations are knockout.

Sep 20, 2018, 5:33pm Top

95.) Meg Jo Beth Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, Anne Boyd Rioux ****

Rioux provides a brief biography of Louisa May Alcott, traces the history of the writing and publishing of Little Women, then discusses the novel, its many adaptations through the years, and the effect it has had on literature for children. This was fascinating and very readable. I especially enjoyed the section on various adaptations and how they view the story/what they change, as well as the chapter on the influence the novel has had on later literature, especially YA. Recommended, especially if you have any fondness for Little Women.

Sep 20, 2018, 6:31pm Top

>78 lycomayflower: Glad the deluge was less than expected for you Laura. Good you got some reading done though. I do enjoy settling in my chair with a good book and the rain lashing the window, but when we are talking of storms, of which there appear to be too many right now, that would be unsettling.

Sep 20, 2018, 6:31pm Top

96.) I'd Rather Be Reading, Anne Bogel ****

Anne Bogel of the blog Modern Mrs. Darcy and the podcast What Should I Read Next? has collected here a series of short essays about the reading life. This is mostly a quiet, pleasant collection that doesn't really ask many tough questions but rather lays out recognizable touchstones for bookish people. I might have liked it to have just a tad more substance, but there's no denying reading this was a purely delightful way to spend an afternoon.

Sep 20, 2018, 6:40pm Top

97.) Bury Me Deep, Christopher Pike, ****

Christopher Pike (like R.L. Stine) is one of those authors I steered clear of when I was in the target age demographic for their stuff because I thought they would scare the bejesus out of me (I was probably right--I was a sensitive kid, and I have never particularly like to be scared). I heard this book mentioned somewhere lately and had a "I think I'm brave enough to try some of that" moment. I loved it. It's just enough this side of horror not to scare me now, and I loved the intrigue and the slightly improbable plot populated by teenagers that are both too young and too old to be believably their stated ages. This book also knows a lot about scuba diving and put that on the page in a way that was fascinating. I may check out some more of Pike's books when I'm in the mood for something thriller-ish but want the read to be quick and not super likely to actually freak me out.

Sep 20, 2018, 10:17pm Top

98.) In the Middle of Somewhere, Roan Parrish ****1/2

When Philadelphia native Daniel nervously takes his first professor job at a school in the middle of nowhere Michigan, he doesn't plan on falling for Rex, a shy local. This romance novel follows the two as they negotiate an unexpected relationship and try to figure out how to work one another into their very different lives. I loved this story, not just for the relationship between Daniel and Rex (which was great), but for the spot-on portrayal of what grad school can do to a person and the exploration of Daniel's friendships and his complicated family life. Recommended.

Sep 20, 2018, 10:23pm Top

99.) Out of Nowhere, Roan Parrish ****

The sequel to In the Middle of Somewhere, this is Daniel's brother's book. Colin has hid his sexuality from his family and himself all his life, but Rafe makes him long for a relationship. This is very nearly as good as the first book in the series, and is absolutely aces at depicting Colin's complicated relationship with his family and his slow attempts at getting himself to a good place.

Sep 20, 2018, 10:33pm Top

100.) Hudson's Luck, Lucy Lennox ****1/2

Reeling from a break-up with his girlfriend over a mistaken marriage proposal, Hudson is on a business trip to Ireland when he meets and falls for Charlie, whose family owns the pub Hudson's boss wants to buy. Thing is, Hudson thought he was straight, and with a passel of brothers and a set of grandfathers who are all gay, he's had ample opportunity to think about it. Lennox does an excellent job exploring Hudson's self-examination regarding his sexuality and both Hudson and Charlie are vivid characters on the page. Both Hudson and Charlie have interesting family members who make appearances and flesh out this story wonderfully. Despite its sometimes heavy subject matter, Lennox writes the story with lightness and fills it with joy--I spent a lot of this book with a silly grin on my face. Recommended.

Sep 20, 2018, 10:47pm Top

101.) The Understatement of the Year, Sarina Bowen ****

John Rikker is the first out (not entirely by his choice) Division One college hockey player, and now he's on a team with his high school friend/boyfriend, Michael Graham--who is clearly not out and wants nothing to do with Rikker. They each have to navigate hockey, the team, their feelings for one another, a culture that is not welcoming to gay men, and their shared past. Good stuff, and as with a number of other romances I've read recently, part of what made it so good was how awesome the supporting characters were. There is a scene in this one between Graham and his mom that is just *clutches chest.*

Sep 20, 2018, 10:50pm Top

>81 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline! One of my absolute favorite things is to read while it weathers outside, but having to hop up every half hour to see if the creek is flash flooding takes some of the relaxing out of it. ;-)

Sep 21, 2018, 5:27am Top

I'll second that big "whew!" I'm so glad you and yours and your stuff are okay!

Sep 29, 2018, 5:35pm Top

>89 scaifea: Thanks, Amber!

Edited: Sep 30, 2018, 4:40pm Top

102.) The Secret History, Donna Tartt ***1/2

This is the second time I've read The Secret History, and I feel much about it this time as I did the first time. I just don't really know what to *do* with it. The whole thing is compelling (even on a reluctant second read, it was often hard to put down), but I get to the end and go, "Yes?" Is it a character study? (It seems so, but also: several of the characters never really strikingly differentiate themselves in my mind.) Is it a thriller? (It's too slow and ambiguous for that?) Is it an exploration of evil? Or education? Or misplaced friendship? (If it is any of those things, it certainly doesn't get anywhere satisfying, even in an ambiguous, open sort of a way.) I also just want to leap into the pages and start handing out cookies to all the characters. Just. Have a moment with some sugar, yes? Be pleased for, like, just five flipping minutes, could you? And the campus setting strikes me as wildly, *wildly* unrealistic. *shrug* I know lots of people love this book. As this read was for book club, I'm hoping one of our members is one of them and can shed some light on why they love it. Because I honestly don't get it.

***For Book Club

Edited: Sep 30, 2018, 4:20pm Top

103.) The Duke I Tempted, Scarlett Peckham ****

Historical romance set in the mid-eighteenth century between Archer, a duke, and Poppy, a sort-of nearly aristocratic young woman whom his sister hires to design and execute a garden for her ball. The story revolves around secrets Archer is keeping about his past and his sexuality and Poppy's intense desire to remain an independent woman and build a successful nursery business. Each feels their desires for themselves make their desire for one another untenable, and therein lies the tale. I enjoyed this very much; the story is well written and delightfully paced. Archer and Poppy are great characters and their interactions are by turns compelling, intense, and sweet. And the setting and secondary characters are interesting. Recommended.

Sep 30, 2018, 4:20pm Top

104.) Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, Anne Fadiman, read by Suzanne Toren ****

Enjoyed this reread (this time on audio) of Fadiman's collection of essays about the reading life. Toren does a good job reading it, and the essays feel slightly old-fashioned but in many ways timeless as well.

Sep 30, 2018, 4:21pm Top

>93 lycomayflower: I love this little book Laura. Hmm, may be time for a reread myself, soon.

Sep 30, 2018, 4:23pm Top

>94 Caroline_McElwee: It's a gem, isn't it?

Sep 30, 2018, 4:24pm Top

105.) You Learn By Living, Eleanor Roosevelt ***1/2

I didn't enjoy this as much as I expected to, as I do somewhat consider myself an Eleanor Roosevelt fan. The book occupies some sort of space between a collection of personal essays and a self-help/self-improving book, and that in-betweenery didn't really work for me. Also, while I can certainly deploy my brain in one of its many intended uses and filter out what is good and useful here from what no longer feels relevant and/or now smacks of hurtfulness (teach children to cry to themselves in the bath so as not to bother others with their personal upsets?!), there was just a little too much I had to filter out for this to be a fully enjoyable read. Still, some good stuff here. Worth the read, if not as great a read as I'd hoped.

Sep 30, 2018, 4:27pm Top

106.) Green Arrow: Hunters Moon, Mike Grell, Ed Hannigan, Dick Giordano ****

The first volume in Grell's long follow-up to The Longbow Hunters. I enjoyed this very much and am definitely falling for this version of Oliver Queen. (This version of OQ can be spotted wearing an ugly Christmas sweater what matches his socks. Be still my heart.) As with The Longbow Hunters, jeez the violence against woman, though. Also, TW for graphic gay bashing in the last set of issues collected here.

Sep 30, 2018, 4:28pm Top

107.) Runaways: Find Your Way Home, Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka ****1/2

I didn't know thing one about Runaways until Rainbow Rowell started writing for it, and I only picked it up because of her. And I *loved* it. This picks up where the most recent run left off (sort of), and I could tell that there were bits that would have resonated more strongly if I had read those; however, Rowell does an excellent job of making the emotional moments land for a new reader. I was never confused, and I was immediately enamored of the characters. I'll be carrying on with this.

Sep 30, 2018, 4:31pm Top

108.) An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, Hank Green ****

Hank Green's debut has a sci-fi plot that was intriguing and enjoyable, but really it's about sudden fame and the interconnected, social- media-infused world we now live in. I didn't love any of the characters, which made the handful of draggy bits seem even more draggy, but that is really a personal reaction rather than anything approaching an objective criticism of the book. The main character, April May, is kind of unlikeable, and that is largely the point. Green does some really great stuff with allowing her to be flawed and exploring how her personality interacts with her circumstance. For anyone who has seen a lot of Green's content as himself (watched his Youtube videos, listened to his podcasts), as I have, it may sometimes feel like Green is talking at you out of the novel's pages (where it should be April May, as the pov is first person), but it still mostly works. If I have any real criticism of the book it is this: YOU CALL THAT AN ENDING HANK HOW DARE. Ahem. Mostly recommended, especially if you are a Hank Green/Vlog Brothers fan and/or if you are fascinated by the way the internet and social media are impacting our cultures. I think this would be a fascinating book to read alongside The Nix, incidentally, as I think they both get at much of the same things in some pretty varied ways.

Sep 30, 2018, 4:56pm Top

>96 lycomayflower: So Eleanor Roosevelt raised the Everly Brothers, then?

Sep 30, 2018, 4:57pm Top

>100 laytonwoman3rd: That's in the rain, no?

Sep 30, 2018, 8:54pm Top

>99 lycomayflower: I bought that book for our library collection largely because I thought it would be a good teen/adult crossover with our John Green fans. I'm glad it's mostly a good one, and I'm hoping to read it eventually myself. Fortunately (?) I've never seen any of the Vlog Brothers videos so I won't have his voice in my head instead of April May's ;)

Sep 30, 2018, 9:32pm Top

>101 lycomayflower: Same concept.

Oct 12, 2018, 1:36pm Top


Lots of excellent, thoughtful reviews occurred in my absence, I see.

Edited: Oct 12, 2018, 3:22pm Top

>102 bell7: LOL. It was only mildly distracting, but I did kind of wish I could get Hank Green Voice out of my head!

>104 MickyFine: Hiya! Thanks!

Oct 12, 2018, 3:37pm Top

109.) Wolf in the Snow, Matthew Cordell ***1/2

A girl and a wolf find each other in the snow. I really enjoyed the illustrations in this one.

110.) Hello, Lighthouse, Sophie Blackall ***1/2

The story of a lighthouse keeper, how he does his job, and how he and his family live in a lighthouse. Neat. Pleasant illustrations, and I really liked peeking into the business of keeping a lighthouse going before automation.

111.) The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, Dan Santat ***1/2

Amusing. Didn't quite do it for me fully.

112.) Nobody Likes a Goblin, Ben Hatke ****

Very much enjoyed the illustrations in this story of a goblin who is unwanted--until he finds other goblins! Fun.

Oct 12, 2018, 3:38pm Top

113.) Quiet Girl in a Noisy World, Debbie Tung ****

Collection of comics about an introverted young woman as she navigates the world as an introvert, struggles with the ways others don't understand her, and finds those who do. Funny and touching. Recommended.

Oct 12, 2018, 3:41pm Top

114.) Giant Days volume 1, John W. Allison ****1/2

In this comics collection, three girls room next to each other at university and have become one another's best friends. The navigate university, parties, significant others, getting the flu, and so on--all the stuff that feels so important in college, because it *is.* I just loved this to bits and will be reading all the rest of it. Recommended.

Oct 16, 2018, 1:50pm Top

>108 lycomayflower: Hmmm, it's considered a readalike for Lumberjanes, which I adore so I think I'm hit.

Oct 19, 2018, 3:02pm Top

>109 MickyFine: Similar feel, I'd say, definitely.

Edited: Oct 19, 2018, 3:07pm Top

A blog post?! A blog post. Talking about my "core" books.

Oct 22, 2018, 5:20pm Top

>99 lycomayflower: I think I liked An Absolutely Remarkable Thing a little more than you, but I agree with your sentiment. Interestingly, while I do watch a lot of the Brother's Green's content (including their podcast which I quite enjoy) didn't really have his voice in my head, even the Andy chapter.

As far as the ending goes, yeah, I'll give you that. It is his first book after all. I sort of knew what was coming, but it still got me in the feels a bit. Maybe he'll do better in the sequel.

It was a definite worthwhile read. IMO.

Oct 24, 2018, 2:32pm Top

>112 mahsdad: Definitely worthwhile. I hope he keeps writing fiction. I certainly enjoyed it enough to see what else he comes up with (either a sequel to this one or something else entirely).

Edited: Oct 24, 2018, 2:33pm Top

Two weeks in a row?! Amazing. At the blog today, I ponder the point of The Great American Read.

Edited: Oct 24, 2018, 3:23pm Top

115.) The Rough Patch, Brian Lies ****1/2

In this exquisitely illustrated picture book, an anthropomorphic fox loves his pet dog and does everything with him, especially gardening. One day the dog dies (of old age--no brutal accident or anything), and the fox falls into a terrible grief, which is chiefly represented by his letting his garden go to weed.

This slammed me right in the heart. It's a lovely examination of grief and how one can slowly move out of it, but it is *ahem* rough going. I found the choice of a fox for the main character given his pet was a dog slightly odd, but I got over it pretty quick. Recommended, but know what you're letting yourself in for.

Oct 24, 2018, 3:23pm Top

116.) Room on the Broom, Julia Donaldson ****

A fun, silly picture book about a witch and all the animals she finds room for on her broom. I picked this up as a Halloween treat for the nieces, and found it a lovely, atmospheric (but not scary) read with fun illustrations.

Oct 24, 2018, 3:28pm Top

117.) A Sharp Solitude, Christine Carbo ****

An entertaining mystery that moves mostly like a light character study. I really don't see how you could have figured out who did it, but it feels like the point was more to know and understand the two main characters. I enjoyed this very much while I was reading it, but find most of the particulars have left me now, a week on. I remember the atmosphere of it, though, which I quite liked, so I may pick up more by Carbo.

Oct 24, 2018, 3:34pm Top

118.) Giant Days vol. 2, John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Max Sarin ****1/2

119.) Giant Days vol. 3, John Allison and Max Sarin ****1/2

120.) Giant Days vol. 4, John Allison and Max Sarin ****1/2

The continued uni adventures of Daisy, Esther, and Susan and their friends Ed and McGraw. I'm just loving this comic to bits.The art, the situations, the supporting characters, and the heart at the core of all of it is just outstanding. 100% my kind of thing.

Oct 25, 2018, 5:21am Top

Staying away from The Rough Patch, for reasons.

Room on the Broom is one of our favorite Halloween reads!

Nov 4, 2018, 10:32am Top

>119 scaifea: I'm not sure how The Rough Patch ended up on my library list without me realizing what it was about, but I would have avoided it as well had I known!

Nov 4, 2018, 10:37am Top

121.) I'll Be There for You: The One about Friends, Kelsey Miller ****

I'll Be There for You is a well-researched mostly oral history of the TV show Friends, primarily focusing on how the show came about, how the actors fared during the whole process, and what the show meant (and still means) in American (and other) culture. It does a good job at all that, and I enjoyed it very much. (And I learned a lot of things that I think a lot of people at least a few years older than me probably just sort of absorbed in the early Friends days--I was too young to be paying attention at first). I might have wished for a little more analysis of the show as content, but the book never promises that, so. Does what it says it would and does it well.

Nov 4, 2018, 10:46am Top

122.) Convenience Store Woman, Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori ***

This short Japanese novel perplexed me, mostly, I think, because I don't know enough about Japanese culture to get which (if any) bits of the story were over the top and/or satire. Keiko works at a 24-hour convenience store and has done so for eighteen years--"too long," according to her family and co-workers. It's time she either got a "real" job or got married. But Keiko is perfectly content with her part-time job and tiny apartment. There's obviously commentary about conformity and cultural/societal expectations going on here, but Keiko also seems possibly on the autism spectrum? Or perhaps a sociopath? Or maybe not? And it is the ambiguity about that point that I can't quite read--and also the intensity of everyone's insistence that she cannot remain a convenience store worker. Is that exaggerated in service of the point? Or not? Ultimately I'm glad I read this and feel like it was entirely worthwhile, but I'm still not sure what to do with it. And that's okay.

Nov 4, 2018, 10:51am Top

123.) The Horse Mistress, R.A. Steffan ***1/2

A fantasy romance, The Horse Mistress follows three characters, all of whom do not conform to their society's norms regarding either gender or sexuality. The three eventually form a polyamorous relationship. I enjoyed the story well enough--the characters were all right, the representation seemed decent, and the world building was okay. But for a book that so fully lands in my wheelhouse, it just kind of sat there for me.

Edited: Nov 4, 2018, 11:06am Top

124.) Matilda, Roald Dahl, read by Kate Winslet ****1/2

I remember Matilda from childhood, but in listening to it this time I realized that mostly I remembered only the first half of it (about up to the chocolate cake). I had completely forgotten Matilda's supernatural abilities and all the particulars of how the villain is comeuppanced. I wonder if I only reread the bits that were so specifically about reading as a kid. Anyway, I enjoyed listening to this so very much. Dahl does his weird kids/terrible adults/singular awesome adult thing brilliantly here. And Kate Winslet does a spectacular job reading it. I did note a fair number of unfortunate characterizations (the villain is "large" and it's part of her villainy and we are. not. allowed. to. forget. it. there's some class stuff that's a little *grimace*. I suspect that someone who wanted to think about it a little harder than I can right now could come up with something pretty damning about lesbianism being associated with villainy too), but it mostly stays at the level of "we can talk about this" rather than "this completely ruins the whole book." For me at least. YMMV.

Edited: Nov 4, 2018, 12:02pm Top

125.) We Were Eight Years in Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates ****1/2

We Were Eight Years in Power collects eight of Coates's essays originally published in The Atlantic--one from each year of Barack Obama's presidency--as well as an introduction, a reflection on each essay written for the collection, and an epilogue, written after the 2016 election. The essays are all about race, and a few of them are also about the Obamas specifically. This collection is required reading for any American who wants to understand where we are as a country and work to get to some reckoning with why. I found the pieces about the Civil War, reparations, mass incarceration, and the ascent of our 45th president particularly compelling and convicting. This is a hard read but a desperately necessary one. Recommended.

Nov 4, 2018, 11:56am Top

>125 lycomayflower: that is very near the top of my tbr pile Laura. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Edited: Nov 4, 2018, 12:26pm Top

126.) This Is How It Always Is, Laurie Frankel ****

This Is How It Always Is follows Rosie and Penn and their five sons, the youngest of whom begins to insist at age five that he is a girl. The story is more about parenting than anything else, and as such I thought was pretty marvelous. I loved all the characters and the conceit throughout where Penn tells the children an ongoing fairy tale which comments on their lives. (I gather that some readers were really impatient with this, but I thought Frankel used it to quite good effect, not just to comment on events in the story but also to explore story versus life.) In her author's note, Frankel makes clear a few things: she has a young child who is trans*, and this novel is in no way that child's story. It's important, I think, for us to know as readers whether we are reading own voices stories or not, so I appreciate this transparency. But I have some hesitant quibbles about the way this story seems more story than reflection of life. Claude (who for a long while is Poppy and then is Claude again for awhile before being Poppy again, it seems for good (?)--the ambiguity is intentional on the story's part) sometimes behaves in ways that don't line up with what I understand to be expectations for trans* children, and some of Rosie and Penn's decisions about how to parent Claude strike me as very unlikely (they talk to a counselor but never even consider whether Claude should? when Poppy starts to struggle with her identity after being outed at school, they never consider trying to connect her with any support groups? or reach out to other families with trans* children?). I also wasn't sure about the final fourth or so of the novel, when Rosie takes Claude with her to Thailand when she works there as a doctor in a remote village. This feels like it was entirely a way to introduce into the story Buddhism and the idea of there being a third path. This seemed "literary fiction-y" when I think the story needed something more grounded in straight realism. It's a story resolution to the questions the novel brings up, not a reality resolution. Despite this being a story, I think this was the wrong tack to take. So overall I really enjoyed the experience of reading this book, but I have problems with it as well.

Nov 4, 2018, 12:05pm Top

>126 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline. Hope you enjoy it when you get to it!

Nov 5, 2018, 2:24pm Top

127.) Seven Days of Us, Francesca Hornak ****

The Birch family will all be together for Christmas for the first time in years--and they'll be spending it at their country house in quarantine as eldest daughter Olivia has just returned from a months-long aid trip to Africa to treat patients at the center of an outbreak of a hemorrhagic fever. As they are all cooped up together until Olivia is officially declared symptom free, their enforced proximity intensifies the pressure of the holidays--a situation made even more volatile by the fact that every member of the family is keeping something to themselves that they really probably ought to tell everyone about.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel that works like a character study of a family. All the characters were interesting and I cared about each of them (even the ones I found annoying). The tone is just the right mix of light and heavy--think a slightly heavier, slightly less overtly humorousThe Family Stone set in the UK rather than New England, and you'll about have it. Recommended if this sounds your kind of thing.

Nov 5, 2018, 4:19pm Top

>129 lycomayflower: It does sound kind of interesting...

Nov 11, 2018, 10:16am Top

>130 foggidawn: I see on your thread you read it...

Nov 11, 2018, 10:51am Top

128.) Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of '80s and '90s Teen Fiction, Gabrielle Moss ****

A large format book with glossy pages, Paperback Crush is a light history of... teen fiction from the 80s and 90s. Moss traces the trends in "teen" fiction at the time, discusses how that fiction reflected the concerns of kids and parents in those years, and offers interviews with and insights into the authors of the books. A great deal of the books here strike me not really as teen fiction but more like late middle grade (protaganists so often seem to be twelve), although a fair number of them are about kids in their late teens dealing with weighty matters, like sex and drugs and violence. One of things that really struck me reading this was how very different current YA feels compared to the teen fiction of thirty years ago. A very high percentage of the books discussed have their covers reproduced here, and one of the chief pleasures of reading this was looking at those old book covers--they bring back my late tween and early teen years in a crash. This was an enjoyable read, and I recommend it to anyone interested in fiction for young adults (especially if you were a young adult in the 80s or 90s). My only quibbles with the book are that it is sometimes just way too snarky (the text is often humorous but often overshoots the mark) and that it leaves out a lot of teen books from the era that were marketed to boys. R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike are here (I think those were kind of marketed gender neutral, but my recollection was that a lot of boys read them, while pretty much no boys of my acquaintance read say, The Babysitters Club), but where are all those endless books about boys playing sports and/or discovering their teacher was an alien? The book feels lopsided, and I don't think the author cares (in the introduction she pretty much says she wrote about what she wanted to write about). That's fine, but it does feel like there's an important piece of this (admittedly light) cultural history missing.

Edited: Nov 11, 2018, 11:10am Top

129.) Grumpy Monkey, Suzanne Lang and Max Lang ****1/2

Jim the Monkey wakes up grumpy one morning. All his animal friends try to help him feel happy, suggesting all kinds of things, like smiling, unhunching his shoulders, hopping, and so on. Eventually Jim realizes that it's okay to feel grumpy and that if he just lets himself feel that way for a while, eventually he'll feel something different. I loved this book. The illustrations are great and very funny, and the message that it's okay to feel what you're feeling is presented perfectly.

One of several picture books I've picked up to give to the nieces for Christmas.

Nov 12, 2018, 9:49am Top

>131 lycomayflower: Yep! I liked it.

Nov 15, 2018, 10:08am Top

Nov 15, 2018, 10:23am Top

130.) The Man Who Fell to Earth, Walter Tevis ***

Well, this was strange. Written in the sixties but set in the eighties, this is the story of an alien who comes to earth with plans to build a ship to send back to his planet to bring the rest of his people (which is a small number--they are dying out) to earth in order to manipulate the people of earth into not blowing themselves up with nukes. How he is going to do that is somewhat part of the story. Ultimately, he fails, partly because he is desperately lonely, partly because humans get in his way, and partly because he becomes an alcoholic. I was perplexed by this story from the beginning, maybe because Tevis gets the eighties so very, very wrong (I mean, he wasn't to know, of course, but if there was any real speculation on his part here, it was poor), and that made it quite hard to invest in the story. I also felt held at a distance from all of the characters, and the story worked out in pretty much exactly how I figured it would--which was not terribly compelling. Perhaps this is one of those books that really needed to be read when it was written. For me it was just this side of a dud.

Nov 15, 2018, 10:32am Top

131.) Kindergarrrten Bus, Mike Ornstein and Kevin M. Barry ****

In this picture book, the Kindergarrrten Bus is driven by a pirate. All the new kindergarteners are frightened about going to kindergarten for the first time, and the pirate insists there's nothing to be afraid of. When the pirate's parrot flies out the bus window when they hit a pothole, the pirate is too afraid to keep driving the bus without his parrot. The children convince him that it's okay to be scared and the thing to do is acknowledge his fear and do what he has to despite being scared, not pretend he *isn't* scared. A very important message for children (and adults!) here, presented perhaps just a *wee* bit heavy-handedly, but probably not so much so that kids of the intended age won't enjoy it. And the illustrations are great.

Another one for the holiday gift pile for the nieces.

Edited: Nov 15, 2018, 6:17pm Top

132.) Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, Josh Funk and Brendan Kearney ****1/2

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are great friends... until they hear that there's only one drop of syrup left and they fight over who should get it. This picture book follows them as they race through a landscape of food to try to get to the syrup first. The text is rhyming couplets telling the story of their journey past (and sometimes into!) all the other food, and it is charming and funny. The illustrations are excellent. Of course in the end the two friends decide maybe sharing would be better than fighting, and the story does an excellent job of avoiding making the message in the end too (wait for it) syrupy. Heee. Recommended.

Another destined for the nieces.

Nov 15, 2018, 10:41am Top

>136 lycomayflower: I'm sure I read this years ago Laura, but after I saw the film they made of it with David Bowie as the alien. I'm not sure what I would think about either book or film now, 30 years later, but I remember being heartbroken by the treatment of the alien at the end, and the ignorance of man. Sadly, I'm not so sure we would be any better now, still more interested in experimenting on him than in listening to his warnings.

Nov 15, 2018, 10:46am Top

>139 Caroline_McElwee: Yep, I think we would be just as bad now, if not worse. I think one of the reasons the book didn't fully work for me was that I recognized that what was happening was heartbreaking, but I didn't feel it.

Nov 15, 2018, 5:17pm Top

>138 lycomayflower: Excellent pun! Also, that sounds super cute.

Edited: Nov 15, 2018, 5:23pm Top

>141 MickyFine: Hehehe. Thanks! The book was great fun.

Edited: Nov 19, 2018, 4:14pm Top

133.) A Private Gentleman, Heidi Cullinan ****

In 1840s London, Lord George Albert Westin prefers to keep his own company and to tend a variety of plants about which he is something of an expert. His social anxiety and a stutter make him a disappointment to his father and almost a complete social outcast. When he meets prostitute Michael Vallant, he finds a kindred spirit and begins to fall in love--as does Michael with him. But Michael has a secret that he believes means they could never be together, and the whole situation is further complicated by Westin's increasing reliance on opium to calm his nerves.

I enjoyed this romance novel, not least for the ways it carefully explores anxiety, addiction, and abuse. Westin and Michael were fun to hang out with, and I was invested in their journey to an HEA. It did maybe take a bit too long to get through its middle, but the end just about made up for it. TW for sexual abuse of a minor.

Edited: Nov 19, 2018, 4:55pm Top

134.) The Wondering Years: How Pop Culture Helped Me Answer Life's Biggest Questions, Knox McCoy ***1/2

Through a combination of memoir and analysis of pop culture, McCoy explores questions about God, his relationship with his evangelical upbringing, and how best to live in the world. Entertaining with some good insight--especially into what it looks like to be a socially liberal evangelical Christian. While I certainly enjoyed the book and tore right through it, I find myself struggling a bit to remember much from it having finished it.

Nov 19, 2018, 4:26pm Top

>144 lycomayflower: A "socially liberal evangelical Christian"...you don't meet one of those every day. Interesting.

Edited: Nov 19, 2018, 5:01pm Top

135.) Gracias the Thanksgiving Turkey, Joy Cowley and Joe Cepeda ***

When Miguel's father sends him a turkey to fatten up for Thanksgiving dinner, Miguel takes on the task--no easy feat in New York City--but starts to love the turkey as a pet. Light angst about the fate of the turkey ensues. This story didn't do a whole lot for me, although the depiction (mostly coming through in the illustrations) of Miguel's sense of family and community in a diverse environment was nice.

136.) 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving, Catherine O'Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac ****1/2

This picture book was put together by the Plimouth Plantation living history museum and consists of long informative text blocks--about the Wampanoag people, the English settlers at what they called Plymouth, and the three-day feast shared by both cultures that forms part of the basis for the American mythology around the Thanksgiving holiday--and photographs of a re-enactment of that three-day feast put on by the museum in the fall of 2000. Fascinating and informative book.

137.) Squanto's Journey, Joseph Bruchac and Greg Shed ***1/2

The story of Squanto (Tisquantum), a member of the Wampanoag people who was captured by the English and sold as a slave in Spain. Eventually he made it back to his home (in present day Massachusetts) and was present during the three-day feasting shared by members of the Wampanoag and English settlers in 1621 that eventually became part of the basis for the American mythology around Thanksgiving as a holiday. An important story nicely told and beautifully illustrated.

(Margaret and Joseph Bruchac are siblings.)

138.) The Memory Cupboard, Charlotte Herman and Ben F. Stahl ***1/2

When the heroine of the story accidentally drops and breaks a treasured gravy boat at Thanksgiving, her grandmother shows her her "memory cupboard," where she keeps all the small broken items she has accumulated over the years--and where she "keeps" the memories that go with all those items. A very nice concept and I love the overt message that people are more important than things, but the presentation of the story didn't quite do it for me. The illustrations, however, are stunning.

139.) Don't Let Auntie Mabel Bless the Table, Vanessa Brantley Newton ****

At a big Sunday dinner attended by a crowd of friends and family, Auntie Mabel does the blessing--and won't quit! This fun picture book with rhyming text mostly consists of Auntie Mabel's nearly-never-ending blessing of the table. Both the text and the illustrations (which feature a lovely diversity of folks at Sunday dinner) are a delight.

140.) Milly and the Macy's Parade, Shana Corey and Brett Helquist ****

In 1924, Milly has recently moved to New York City from Poland with her parents. She loves the city--and especially Macy's department store--but her father and many of the other immigrant workers at Macy's are sad, particularly in the face of the coming holidays, because they miss the celebrations of their home countries. Milly (in an unlikely but nice turn) finds Mr. Macy and suggests that they put on a celebration that draws on the holiday traditions of the immigrants who work at Macy's. And thus the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (originally called the Macy's Christmas Parade) is born.

I enjoyed this picture book very much. The story is pleasant and a nice way to commemorate the fact that Macy's parade did originally feature immigrant employees of Macy's. The art is fantastic, with the styles and atmosphere of 1920s New York making a great showing.

Nov 19, 2018, 4:57pm Top

>145 laytonwoman3rd: Mmmphmm. I probably meet more of them down here than you would up there. And "socially liberal evangelical Christian" is my phrase--I don't know that that's exactly how he would put it. But it certainly seems from his writing that all those words in that order apply.

Nov 28, 2018, 2:16pm Top

141.) I Saw Three Ships, Elizabeth Goudge ***1/2

This novella-length middle-grade Christmas story takes the carol "I Saw Three Ships" as inspiration and follows the Christmas wishes and fates of several connected members of a seaside town. Pleasant, with charming illustrations.

Nov 28, 2018, 2:50pm Top

142.) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling ****1/2

I've been dipping in and out of this reread since at least May, and read the last half in about two giant gulps in the last few days. I love this one so much, especially for all the history bits and Voldy backstory.

Points of Noticing (Probably Back-Half Heavy) (And Spoilers) (And Butterbeer) (Not Really Any Butterbeer)

--I. Have Found. A MISTAKE. *klaxon* It's of the someone picks something up that someone else already put away variety and thus not super interesting, but I am complete rubbish at noticing these kinds of things when I'm reading at my leisure, so I'm clasping this one with both hands, okay. I didn't note where it was (rubbish) but it involved Luna and Ron.

--Slughorn, y'all. What a brilliant little bit of characterization JKR does with him. One doesn't exactly like him, and yet somehow one *does.*

--And speaking of characterization, I noticed on this read that the trio are getting nicely more complicated in their personalities. All three of them do things in this book that are subtlety not the nicest (as opposed to more outsized character flaws like Harry's saving people thing). Notice, for instance, just how selfish and dismissive Ron and Hermione are about Hagrid's grief over Aragog. They become more and more complex as time goes on.

--The first half of "A Very Frosty Christmas" is hilarious. I gigglesnorted my way through it despite knowing where all the jokes would land, having read it so many times already.

--Dumbledore and the potion in the cave is just so, so awful. So. awful.

--It's heartbreaking watching so many different characters find out Dumbledore is dead. And so well illustrates how much he was counted on and sets up so well Harry's conflict over him at the start of HP7.

--"Sectumsempra" is one of those chapters that makes me long for bits of HP from other characters' povs. Draco. Snape. Either would be fascinating.

--Ginny. *sigh* I guess some people find Ginny tragically underdeveloped, but I think JKR does an stellar job sketching her in these brilliant little moments. Her conversation with Harry about their future is just so *grins wistfully*

Nov 28, 2018, 2:53pm Top

>149 lycomayflower: You're making me crave an HP reread. Stop it.

Edited: Nov 28, 2018, 3:12pm Top

>150 foggidawn: Oh (chocolate frogs), I'm (the Knight Bus) sorry (snorkacks). I'm sure (Hoggy Hoggy Hogwarts) you (pumpkin juice) don't have time (Mauraders) to do (Dumblydore) a reread right now.

*runs away*

Edited: Nov 28, 2018, 4:35pm Top

Come on over to the blog for a wee consideration of when someone has changed my mind about wanting to read a book.

Nov 28, 2018, 9:19pm Top

>152 lycomayflower: So join the AAC in December, and re-read the Fitzgerald. *Groucho eyebrows*

Dec 5, 2018, 1:25pm Top

Edited: Dec 6, 2018, 3:29pm Top

143.) The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Barbara Robinson ***

I have the vaguest recollection of seeing the movie that was based on this middle grade chapter book yonks back. I forget how I came across the book now, but I certainly never read it as a kid. I'm afraid this story of a Christmas pageant "taken over" by the local "bad kids" didn't do a lot for me. The Herdmans, a large group of siblings who terrorize the other children in school (and their teachers) and seem to be in desperate need of some CPS intervention, decide they want to be in the annual Christmas pageant. Through the course of rehearsals and the pageant itself, the narrator (who is really just an observer) and the other kids grasp more fully this idea about accepting and loving everyone. Eh? I dunno. It just doesn't work for me. Yeah, these kids need love and acceptance, but in the form of a safe environment, good food, and some affection, not so much (just) being allowed to participate in the pageant? And all the other kids in the book deserve to have an adult sort this situation out and stop the Herdmans from bullying and physically abusing every other kid in town? I think maybe this is a book that needs to be read at the right age, before adult sensibilities show up and get in the way.

Dec 6, 2018, 3:33pm Top

>156 lycomayflower: That's too funny. My parents love this book and tried to get me to like it when I was a kid and I did not care for it *at all*. So maybe more of a personality thing than an age thing?

Dec 6, 2018, 3:35pm Top

>157 norabelle414: Oh good, I'm glad I'm not the only one. All the other LT reviews seem to think it's great and hilarious!

Dec 6, 2018, 4:06pm Top

>158 lycomayflower: Some of it could come from the fact that my parents were both raised Christian but they did not raise me that way, so they had lots of good nostalgia feels associated with Christmas pageants and I had NO IDEA what a Christmas pageant even was.

I really like this review: http://www.librarything.com/work/30680/reviews/2604364

Dec 6, 2018, 4:31pm Top

144.) Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins, Eric A. Kimmel ****1/2

Herschel arrives in a village where they don't celebrate Hanukkah because the goblins won't let them. Herschel volunteers to take care of this problem so that the light of Hanukkah can return to the village. He outsmarts each of seven goblins that arrive on each of the first seven nights of Hanukkah, but will the king of the goblins, arriving on the eighth night, be too much for him? This is just a delight, from the illustrations to the ways Herschel outsmarts the goblins, to the more serious confrontation with the horrible king of the goblins. Recommended.

145.) Hanukkah with Mazel, Joel Edward Stein ****

A young painter living alone finds and saves a cat and they share Hanukkah together. Lovely.

146.) Dear Santa, Love Rachel Rosenstein, Amanda Peet ****

Rachel Rosenstein lives in the only house in the neighborhood not decorated for Christmas. Most of the time she loves being Jewish, but at Christmastime she just feels left out. She asks her parents if they can celebrate, but they say no. So she writes to Santa. In a burst of realism that is maybe both shocking and refreshing for a kids' book, this does not work (I mean, of course it doesn't?). Rachel carries on not getting to celebrate Christmas. In the end, she and her family go out for Chinese on Christmas evening and meet many of Rachel's classmates who also don't celebrate Christmas, because they come from other faiths. There's something bittersweet and lovely about this story, though perhaps readers from backgrounds other than my own (culturally Christian and religiously Christian-adjacent) might see it differently. Recommended, but I think I would pre-read before sharing with little people (especially if they believe in Santa and you want them to keep doing so for a bit).

147.) Merry Christmas, Little Elliot, Mike Curato ****1/2

I guess there are a lot of books about Elliot, but this is the first I've come across him. He's an anthropomorphic elephant (or maybe, given his bipedalism and his coloring (polka dots), an anthropomorphic stuffed animal elephant?), and he is adorbs. In this installment, he can't get into the Christmas spirit, even after trying many of the usual Christmassy things. Then he and his friend find a lost letter to Santa, and when Elliot reads it, he knows he has to do something right away. I won't give away what the letter said or what they do, but I legit teared up, y'all. Recommended. One for the nieces for Christmas.

148.) Silent Night, Lara Hawthorne ****1/2

This picture book tells the nativity story through pictures and lyrics from "Silent Night." It's a very nice concept, and I love love love the illustrations, which will go a long way to de-Europeanize this story for your kids, if that is a thing you would like to do. This setting is very clearly the middle east, and the people in the story are very clearly of northern African, Middle Eastern, and Asian descent, as they should be. Recommended. Another for the nieces.

149.) The Nutcracker, Susan Jeffers

A retelling of the Nutcracker ballet (which is already a retelling, of course). Well done, and the real star here is the pictures, which are stunning. Also for the nieces.

150.) The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg ***1/2

Somehow I never really came across this as a kid (it came out when I was five, so I don't know why). After reading it now, I think maybe I *have* read it before, almost certainly as an adult. This book is one of those that I always think of as a touchstone of kids' picture books, especially holiday ones, but I have to say that I was left with a feeling of "that's it?" at the end. Although I will say the pictures are lovely.

151.) The Tale of Three Trees, Angela Elwell Hunt ***1/2

Three trees all have grand wishes for their future. Once they get cut down, they all think their wishes aren't going to come true until each of them is used for something relevant to Christ's life (the manger, a boat, and the cross) and they realize they were put to the best use after all. I can't decide if I think this (apparently traditional?) tale is clever and kind of lovely or a bit icky and awful. I'm leaning toward icky and awful, though I'm not sure I can unpack why. Putting that aside for further thinking, perhaps.

152.) Together for Kwanzaa, Juwanda G. Ford ****

This picture book uses the frame of a little girl waiting on her college-age brother to come home (he's stuck in a snowstorm) to illustrate the principles of Kwanzaa. It does a good job of introducing those principles and what they mean (and includes a pronunciation guide for the Swahili words, which is great). It is very focused on the information rather than the story, but as such is probably a good way of introducing and/or discussing Kwanzaa with slightly older kids.

Dec 6, 2018, 4:32pm Top

>159 norabelle414: Haha! That's great.

Dec 6, 2018, 4:35pm Top

Congratulations on reaching 2 x 75 Laura!

Dec 6, 2018, 4:40pm Top

Edited: Dec 6, 2018, 5:04pm Top

153.) Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett ***1/2

I enjoyed this to a point. I *do* think it's quite funny, but a very little of it goes a long way for me. (This is generally how I feel about Pratchett; it's been too long since I've read any Gaiman to really get any sense of him in this book.) In one of those weird coincidences, I was listening to some backlist of a podcast (A Good Read) where they were discussing Pratchett's Small Gods. One of the guests (Bill Paterson) had this to say: "I loved great chunks--I love his thinking and his wit, but to me there's too many words. I spill most of them. It's like getting a big tub of popcorn like when you go to the cinema these days...it's all kind of coming over the top. I find I get lost." Just so.

***For Book Club

Dec 6, 2018, 4:56pm Top

"...there's too many words. I spill most of them." OMG, my favorite line of the year!!

Dec 6, 2018, 4:56pm Top

>165 laytonwoman3rd: Isn't it great?!

Dec 7, 2018, 8:39am Top

>165 laytonwoman3rd: I love that line, too! I can so relate.

Dec 9, 2018, 8:57am Top

>156 lycomayflower: Yup, same.

>164 lycomayflower: Yup, same (about Pratchett).

Dec 17, 2018, 3:25pm Top

>167 foggidawn: :-)

>168 scaifea: I always knew you were a lady of good taste. ;-)

Dec 17, 2018, 3:26pm Top

154.) Step Aside, Pops, Kate Beaton ****

The second collection of the comic Hark, A Vagrant! I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the first, mostly because more of the subject matter was unknown to me beforehand, but the style and the wit are just as in the first. A pretty safe bet for fans of the first volume.

Edited: Dec 17, 2018, 3:46pm Top

155.) Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give, Ada Calhoun ****

A sort of memoir in essays, this book explores what it's like to be married. Not a self-help book, but definitely a memoir that could help you think about what marriage is. Insightful and pleasant, even when it was difficult. A good read.

Edited: Dec 17, 2018, 3:46pm Top

156.) Check, Please Book 1: Hockey, Ngozi Ukazu ****1/2

I absolutely loved this collection of the webcomic Check, Please. It follows Eric "Bitty" Bittle during his first two years playing hockey in college. It's part coming-of-age-at-college, part hockey fannishness, and a lot of friendship and looking for and finding acceptance. Oh. And baking. It's just a great warm hug of wonderful and fun and squish. Recommended.

Edited: Dec 17, 2018, 3:47pm Top

157.) A Child's Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas, read by the author ****1/2

The TV movie version of A Child's Christmas in Wales from the 80s is one of my all-time favorite Christmas films, and that was how I first knew of this story. It wasn't until later that I ever actually read the short story it was based on, so the "correct" interpretation of the text in my mind will always be Denholm Elliot's performance of it in that movie (it's not verbatim or complete there, but you get a lot of it). So hearing Thomas perform it is always a little wrong-footing, even if still wonderful in its own way. The text itself is a delightful, sometimes slightly dark, detail-rich prose poem about Christmas in Wales in the early 20th century. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Dec 17, 2018, 3:50pm Top

158.) Jingle Bell Pop, John Seabrook, read by Erin Moon ****

This Audible Original explores the history of popular Christmas music, starting with "Silent Night" but focusing mostly on secular songs from the 20th and 21st century. This was a fascinating (if short) discussion of what makes a good Christmas song and why new Christmas songs rarely stick around for more than a year or two, as well as the history of the writing of a few songs in particular (such as "Santa, Baby" and "White Christmas.") If I had any quibble, it's that I wished they had been able to (?) include more of the music discussed.

Edited: Dec 17, 2018, 4:12pm Top

159.) The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins, Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and Carey Pietsch ****

This graphic novel is an adaptation of the D&D game the McElroy brothers (My Brother, My Brother, and Me) and their dad play on their podcast The Adventure Zone. I jumped into this without any previous experience with the podcast (aside from knowing it exists), and followed it with pleasure and without any problems. The adventure is fun and funny, with a fair amount of battling, a lot of banter, and a dash of meta (I particularly love when the DM pops up in the corner of a panel to comment on the action).

Edited: Dec 17, 2018, 4:12pm Top

160.) Two Old Women, Velma Wallis ***1/2

When two old women are left behind by their tribe in the Alaska winter during times of great hardship, the women decide to work together to dust off their skills and survive. And they do. I was hoping this was going to ping my love for fiction that details how various kinds of work get done, but for whatever reason it didn't. Some of that kind of detail is here, but I just wasn't wrapped up in it as I expected to be. YMMV.

Dec 17, 2018, 4:31pm Top

161.) Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ, Timothy Keller, read by Sean Pratt ***1/2

This short work focuses on the biblical passages dealing with Christ's birth and performs exegesis on them in order to reveal what they tell us about what it means to be Christian. I found the exegesis very illuminating and pretty well done but grew weary of what I will call the preaching and its evangelical bent. Other Christian apologists are a bit more my speed (*waves to C.S. Lewis*), but I was interested enough in Keller's exegesis that I will likely read another, longer work of his. I wasn't in love with the presentation by the narrator, but that did not rise to the level of putting me off listening to the audiobook.

Dec 20, 2018, 1:18pm Top

162.) Nutcracker and Mouse King, E.T.A. Hoffmann, translated by Joachim Neugroschel ***

I've seen the Nutcracker ballet several times, but this was my first experience with the novella that originates the tale. Iiii think I'll stick with the ballet. What a load of tedious nonsense. And the translation so often fell with a clang, especially in the dialogue. According to some supplementary matter (by Jack Zipes) I have, the story is "all about igniting the imagination of Marie* so that she can act and realize her inner dreams and desires in opposition to a conventional and prescriptive upbringing." I can see that, I suppose, but boy did I mostly just feel like I was crawling through molasses for not much payoff. This is one of the very rare instances when I wish I had read introductory matter before reading the text.

*Clara in many US versions of the ballet

163.) The Tale of the Nutcracker, Alexander Dumas, translated by Joachim Neugroschel ***1/2

Dumas's retelling (or at times just a translation? he does change some things, but other bits are clearly just rewordings of the original--apparently the circumstances under which Dumas produced his version are lost) of Hoffmann's tale. I enjoyed this version much more, primarily because it read better. I was much more drawn into the tale, and nothing hit my ear with a clang (as in the Hoffmann). To what degree this is a function of the respective translations into English, I could not say.

Dec 20, 2018, 1:24pm Top

>178 lycomayflower: Could you just please not ever ever use the word "exegesis" again in my presence, you....you....PhD, you.

Dec 20, 2018, 1:36pm Top

164.) The Birds' Christmas Carol, Kate Douglas Wiggin, read by Marnye Young ****

A short children's novel from the late 19th century, The Birds' Christmas Carol tells the story of Carol Bird, a girl born on Christmas Day who is uncommonly sweet and kind. She is also ill, and by the time she is ten, she has been bed-ridden for years. Most of the book tells of her plans to hold a Christmas dinner party for all the children (nine of them) of the poor family next door and then of the party itself. In the end, Carol dies happy and peacefully after the dinner party has concluded and while listening to the choir at the church next door. I have vague recollections of having read this as a kid (I have a vivid memory of the cover of the yellow Apple paperback edition) and listened to it now mostly because I couldn't for anything remember whether Carol survived or not. Listening to it now, two things struck me: 1) it's properly funny in parts (especially Mrs. Ruggle getting her children ready to attend the party at the "big house") and 2) Carol, despite being the red-hot center of a morality tale for children, is genuinely sweet and pleasant rather than sickly treacly and creepily "too good." While her goodness is not quite believable, neither is it off-putting. I enjoyed the audio presentation, though I think the narrator's performance increases the twee factor--which the text itself is not free from, but which it manages not to drown in either.

Edited: Dec 20, 2018, 1:54pm Top

>179 laytonwoman3rd: But... but that's the word for what I was talking about. *crosses arms. mutters* Philistine. Hmph.

Dec 20, 2018, 1:52pm Top

165.) Giant Days, Volume 5, John Allison and Max Sarin ****1/2

Eventually I am going to run out of what already exists of this comic (it's currently ongoing), and then I am going to be very sad. I just love every one of the characters to bits. Reading a new volume is like wrapping up in a favorite blanket with a mug of something lovely to drink.

Dec 21, 2018, 6:47am Top

>178 lycomayflower: Yeah, I'm not sure it's all the translation, really. I've read several of Hoffmann's stories, and they've all clanked in places for me. I do love his ideas, but he should have handed them over to someone else to write. Honestly, I'd love for Neil Gaiman to pick them up and dust them off for us. He can bring the right amount of slightly creepy to them.

>179 laytonwoman3rd: >181 lycomayflower: That word (in its modern pronunciation - most of my brain *really* wants that g to be hard because it's supposed to be, forsobbingoutloudit'sGreekafterall) makes me think it in my head as an expletive: "exeJESUS, what's going on in here?!"

Dec 21, 2018, 9:40am Top

Dec 21, 2018, 10:02am Top

Find the Light—Reflect the Light—Be the Light

Happy Yule 2018!

Dec 22, 2018, 12:19pm Top

>183 scaifea: Oh good. I was wondering if I was missing something or not giving it enough of a chance. Glad to hear I'm not alone in my dislike.

>184 laytonwoman3rd: Look here, Mims.

>185 richardderus: Thank you, Richard!

Dec 22, 2018, 2:45pm Top

166.) Giant Days volume 6, John Allison and Max Sarin ****1/2

Rapidly becoming one of my favorite things, not just one of my favorite comics series. I just fall deeper and deeper in love with all the characters, especially Daisy. And the art consistently makes me laugh (the expressions!).

Edited: Dec 23, 2018, 11:12am Top

A Merry Christmas, all my lovely thread visitors!

Dec 23, 2018, 11:33am Top

Lovely tree, and lovely tree guard Laura. I hope you have a wonderful festive season.

Dec 23, 2018, 6:58pm Top

I'm listening to your favourite Christmas CD, you recommended last year Laura: The Scottish Christmas.

Dec 24, 2018, 10:27am Top

>188 lycomayflower: Merry Christmas, Laura! Excellent doggo pic. :)

Dec 24, 2018, 11:31am Top

>189 Caroline_McElwee:, >190 Caroline_McElwee: Thank you, Caroline! You too! And I'm so glad you enjoy that Christmas album. It's one of my absolute favorites.

>191 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! Merry Christmas!

Dec 24, 2018, 11:35am Top

167.) A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

This annual reread loses none of its wonderfulness from year to year, but I did find this year that I know the text so well that I kind of wasn't really *reading* it. Next year I may listen to a good audio version instead to take a break of sorts from it and see if I can "see" the text again the year after.

Dec 24, 2018, 11:46am Top

To Laura, Merry Christmas. May the new year bring health, joy and new adventures.

Here is something for your Christmas tree.

Dec 24, 2018, 11:48am Top

>194 Caroline_McElwee: Lovely! Thanks!

Dec 24, 2018, 1:48pm Top

>193 lycomayflower: I did my annual rewatch of A Muppet Christmas Carol last night (the best version IMO). :)

Dec 25, 2018, 3:56am Top

Happy holidays, Laura

Dec 28, 2018, 11:09am Top

>196 MickyFine: Light the lamp, not the rat!

>197 PaulCranswick: Thank you! Hope your holidays have been great!

Dec 28, 2018, 11:10am Top

Come on over to the blog today to hear about my favorite reads of 2018.

Edited: Dec 28, 2018, 12:12pm Top

>198 lycomayflower: Almost every year, I text that exact line to my brother when I'm watching it as it was always one of our favourite bits when we were growing up. :)

>199 lycomayflower: And dangit, Laura, I'm supposed to be safe from BBs at this time of year. Took one for The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.

Dec 29, 2018, 8:58pm Top

Yeah, Small Angry Planet got me, too.

Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 11:18am Top

168.) Christmas at Eagle Pond, Donald Hall ****

Hall's imagining of what it would have been like to spend Christmas at Eagle Pond when he was a boy (having only ever actually been there in childhood in summer). A pleasant read, filled with fascinating details of what life was like in rural Vermont in the early forties. Didn't quite spark the joy for me that some other short Christmas pieces do and thus not likely destined to be a favorite holiday read I come back to over and over, but a lovely thing to have read this year on Christmas Eve afternoon.

Dec 30, 2018, 11:20am Top

>200 MickyFine: Hehe. That bit and the part where Rizzo walks through the fence to get his jelly beans after the great drama about jumping off of it are probably my favorite parts of the movie. Love it!

>200 MickyFine:, >201 foggidawn: Mwuuuhahahaha! No one is safe from my BBs, not even in the dregs of the year! ;-) I hope you both enjoy. It really was an excellent read.

Dec 30, 2018, 11:35am Top

169.) The Earl I Ruined, Scarlett Peckham ****

When Lady Constance ruins the Earl of Apthorp's reputation and puts the future of a bill he's sponsoring in Parliment in jeopardy, she concocts a scheme to fix it--which involves their pretending to be engaged. This would be complicated enough on it's own, but--surprise!--Apthorp has been secretly in love with Constance for years, and Constance quickly finds herself falling for him. The story treads a number of well-used romance tropes (and there's a number of beats where many things would be solved if the characters just talked to each other), but the story is well enough put together, the characters are interesting enough, and the ancillary bits of their relationship are unique enough, that I was content to sit still for it. In particular, Julian frequents an establishment we would call a BDSM club if this were a contemporary romance, and the exploration of his desires and how he explains them to Constance and her reactions are worth the read in and of themselves.

Dec 30, 2018, 3:32pm Top

170.) Jane Austen Cover to Cover, Margaret C. Sullivan ****

A medium-sized coffee-table book, Jane Austen Cover to Cover is a pictorial history of the covers of editions of Jane Austen's novels from their first printings through roughly 2009. The accompanying text offers some facts on the history of printing, discusses trends in book covers, and offers light analysis of how well various covers represent the texts inside. The real star here is, of course, the reproductions of the covers, but the text is well done and made reading this an informative and complete experience. This was a Christmas gift from Husbeast, and it has been a delight to sit with it in the afternoons this past week.

Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 5:05pm Top

I'm calling it there for 2018. I'm less than 100 pages into a 500-page novel at the moment, so I can't imagine I'll be finishing anything more before the end of the year.

So, here's my year in review for 2018:

Total Books Completed: 170
Total Number of Pages Read: 24,073

Top Five** First-Time Reads of 2018:
(**Since I read so many picture books (and so many more of them than I ever have before, or likely ever will again) and that swelled my numbers like whoa, I'm giving myself more than five in this category this year.)
Check, Please: Hockey
We Were Eight Years in Power
The Duke I Tempted
Giant Days volume 1
Interstellar Cinderella
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
The Tea Dragon Society

Worst First-Time Reads of 2018 (chosen from completed reads only):
The Stranger in the Woods
Akata Witch
Parable of the Sower
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Nutcracker and Mouse King

Longest Read of 2017:
Over and Over Again

2018 Purchases Read in 2018: 46 (14%--oops)
Shelf Reads: 14
Average Number of Pages in Books Completed: 246

Reads Broken Down By Category:

Print: 157
Audio: 12
Electronic: 1

Fiction: 136
Nonfiction: 31
Poetry: 3
Male Writers: ~72
Female Writers: ~100
Authors of Color: 26
LGBTQ Authors: 13
In Translation: 3
Rereads: 12
Long (>500 pages): 4
Cont Lit/Lit Fic: 14
Classics: 2
Young Adult: 9
Middle Grade: 6
Picture Books: 60
Romance: 17
Mystery/Thriller: 5
SFF: 12
Graphic Novels (and comics): 17

Thoughts about 2018 Reading

Picture Books Put Me Over the Top
This was the year of the picture book, to be sure. I read sixty picture books this year, which is about fifty more than I've ever done in one calendar year in the past. I enjoyed that thoroughly, but I think I will be cutting back on them dramatically. I've gotten a nice sense of what kinds of picture books are out there and learned that I enjoyed them, but they also feel a little like clutter and filler in my reading life. I will definitely not be cutting them out all together, but will restrict myself to those I'm considering for my nieces plus the odd one here or there that's been recommended to me that I didn't get to in 2018.

But I Read a Lot Otherwise as Well
The exciting news is that, even minus the picture books, this was my best reading year by count ever. I read 110 books (again, not counting picture books), beating my previous best by three books. By page count, this is my second best year (I'm about 1300 pages behind 2015, which before this year was also my best year by book count.)

I Completed All My Challenges
I'm happy to have beat my previous best by book count (and to have topped 24,000 pages read in the year, which was not a specific goal for 2018, but which is a loose perpetual goal, as it seems a good average number of pages to be reading a day (~65), but what really makes me happy is that I completed all the goals I set for myself, including reading ten books from my shelves, reading ten books by authors of color, reading ten books by LGBTQIA authors, reading three books of poetry, reading three books in translation, and reading four books of nonfiction that were not memoirs.

Goals for 2019
My reading life goals for 2019 are a continuation of 2018's:

*10 books by AOC
*10 books by LGBTQIA authors

coupled with new goals:

*a sixteen-point challenge that reflects where I want to see my reading go in the coming year (see my 2019 thread for the specific points)
*staying within my new book budget
*reading new books as they come into the house whenever possible
*making a habit of reading one book at a time
*staying more engaged on LT threads rather than lurking quite so much
*avoiding reading books just because I think I ought to and/or just to increase my total number of reads for the year
*keeping better track of my numbers for the categories I like to track (my numbers this year are a little approximate for some categories, e.g. male and female because picture books and comics often have multiple authors and I didn't keep track through the year)

Dec 30, 2018, 5:07pm Top

ICYMI in all that jumble of round up in the post above, I'm here for 2019. Come on over, fix yourself a hot bevy, pull up a cushion, and say hi!

Dec 30, 2018, 7:42pm Top

Looks like you had a great reading year! I hope 2019 is as good or better!

Dec 31, 2018, 12:35pm Top

Jan 1, 10:54am Top

>208 drneutron: Thanks!

>209 thornton37814: Thanks! Happy New Year to you!

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2018

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