foggidawn reads in 2018, thread 3
This is a continuation of the topic foggidawn reads in 2018, thread 2.
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Welcome! I'm foggi, and this is my eleventh year on LibraryThing and my eighth year in this group! I'm a collection development librarian/youth materials selector (means I buy all the kids' and teen books) for the public library system in a medium-sized Ohio town, and a voracious reader.
I'll read anything that catches my fancy, but here are some of the kinds of books I particularly like:
Books for kids and teens
Fantasy for any age -- plus the occasional work of science fiction
Inspirational fiction, if the writing is good
Mysteries, particularly cozies and golden age British detective stories
The occasional memoir or biography
Here are some of the other things I like, which can distract me from reading, but which I may occasionally post about here:
Theatre -- both viewing live theatre and participating in community theatre. I didn't do any of the latter in 2017, but I'm planning to audition for a show this fall, so...
Sewing -- it's a love/hate relationship, really. I'm only barely proficient at it, so it's slow going when I get on a sewing kick, but when it goes right, I love the results.
Gardening -- last year I had the tiniest, saddest garden, but this year I'm delving into container gardening. The results have been mixed so far, but at least I'm having fun!
Gaming -- I love board games when I can find people to play them with (which is not as often as I like) and I occasionally play video games, but most often I waste my time playing games on my phone. Right now, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Pokemon Go.
Dogs -- you can see my dog Sophie in the photo above, and 2018 might also be the year I obtain a second dog as a companion for her.
Family -- I recently became a first-time aunt! I'm always looking forward to my next chance to see the baby, and I'm working on building up his library. Also, my parents recently retired and moved to their newly-built cabin in rural Pennsylvania, so I foresee many visits there, as well.
Thanks for visiting my thread!
2018 Reading Resolution -- COMPLETED!
Last year, for the first time, I made a bookish reading resolution: to read or discard some of my oldest TBR books. I read seven and discarded six (most of which I tried reading and decided I could do without). With that modest success under my belt, I'm going to make a new resolution: to read some of my long-unread "classics."
I've chosen 10 books, many of them fairly short. In case you can't see the titles in the above picture, they are:
Books read in 2018
(Italics denotes a reread, Bold denotes a new favorite.)
1. That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E. K. Johnston
2. The Phoenix and the Carpet by E. Nesbit
3. Landscape with Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson
4. China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
5. Real Friends by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
6. Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
7. WhatsHisFace by Gordon Korman
8. The Takedown by Corrie Wang
9. A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt
10. Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt
11. Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt
12. Come a Stranger by Cynthia Voigt
13. Bolivar by Sean Rubin
14. The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen
15. The Runner by Cynthia Voigt
16. Spinning by Tillie Walden
17. Sons From Afar by Cynthia Voigt
18. Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
19. Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz
20. The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I by Carolyn Mackler
21. Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis
22. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
23. Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks by Annie Spence
24. Blue Window by Adina Rishe Gewirtz
25. Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar
26. Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
27. A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack
28. Seventeen Against the Dealer by Cynthia Voigt
29. The Garden of Wisdom: Earth Tales from the Middle East, edited by Michael J. Caduto
30. Winterhouse by Ben Guterson
31. At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
32. Africa is My Home: A Child of the Amistad by Monica Edinger
33. A Light in the Window by Jan Karon
34. Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
35. Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
36. The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill
37. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
38. American Panda by Gloria Chao
39. Bilgewater by Jane Gardam
40. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
41. Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
42. Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
43. Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
44. Something Under the Bed is Drooling by Bill Watterson
45. Yukon Ho! by Bill Watterson
46. Weirdos from Another Planet by Bill Watterson
47. The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell
48. The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis
49. All Summer Long by Hope Larson
50. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
51. Emma, Vol. 1 by Kaoru Mori
52. Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
53. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
54. The Hotel Between by Sean Easley
55. Keturah by Lisa T. Bergren
56. The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright
57. The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright
58. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
59. My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris
60. Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright
61. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill
62. Sunset Lullaby by Robin Jones Gunn
63. Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze by Elizabeth Enright
64. The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
65. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
66. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall
67. The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall
68. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
69. The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall
70. The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall
71. The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan
72. From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon
73. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
74. Bob by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass
75. Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey
76. The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain
77. Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty
78. Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
79. Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
80. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
81. Save the Date by Morgan Matson
82. Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea by Lynne Rae Perkins
83. One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
84. Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
85. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
86. Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn
87. Manfried the Man by Caitlin Major
88. Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn
89. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
90. Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery
91. My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton
92. Puddin' by Julie Murphy
93. The Ruined City by John Wilson
94. The Rose Legacy by Jessica Day George
95. Bellfield Hall, or, The Observations of Miss Dido Kent by Anna Dean
96. My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma
97. The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr
98. Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu
99. Pride by Ibi Zoboi
That's it for my introductory materials -- feel free to post below!
>4 foggidawn: Thank you, I will! Glad you kept Sophie up there...she looks so comfy.
>5 laytonwoman3rd: Thanks! I thought about using a different photo of her, but I like that one because of the books in the background.
Happy new thread, Foggi! Looking forward to seeing what book sends you over into triple digits. :)
>12 MickyFine: Thanks! I'm listening to one book and reading another at present, so we'll see which one makes it to the end first. Usually, I'd bet on the paper book rather than the audiobook, but the audiobook is very good, and I keep trying to listen to it whenever possible, so...
>11 foggidawn: so glad you kept Sophie on the OP. I like seeing the same cute photo on every thread of yours. :)
(100 books read)
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett -- A group of dignitaries are brought together in an unnamed South American country for a special occasion: a party at the Vice-President's mansion. Just at the end of the performance by world-renowned opera singer Roxane Coss, the lights go out, and a group of terrorists swarm through the building. They came to capture the President, but he is not at the party -- he stayed home to watch a special episode of his favorite soap opera. Instead, they take hostages -- first, all of the building's occupants, but eventually they let the workers and some of the guests go. The group of hostages that remains consists of 39 men and one woman: Roxane Coss. As negotiations drag on, the hostages and terrorists form an unexpected community. There are games of chess, fine French cooking, and opera -- sublime, intimate performances by the world's foremost lyric soprano. Despite the fear and discomfort, for some in the building, this is the best time of their lives. But it can't last forever...
I loved everything about this book, right up until the epilogue, which I hated. I think that, if there had been a second book in between the last chapter and the epilogue, if I had been able to see how things developed, I could have appreciated it, but as it was, it just felt jarring and abrupt. However, the rest of the book is so good that I highly recommend it. I listened to the audiobook, and I highly recommend that format, as well: there are many hard-to-pronounce names, a sprinkling of Spanish words, and the narrator does an excellent job with all of the different voices and accents. I could hardly put it down, and found myself listening whenever I had a snippet of time.
>17 foggidawn: Congrats on 100 and with what sounds like a great book! I have been meaning to read some Patchett for a while. Perhaps this is the year!
>18 curioussquared: It's the first of hers that I have read, though I wouldn't be averse to reading more.
One of my favorite all time books! The first arc they gave me when I went to work at our local book sellers. I thought everything would be that good :)
She comes a lot for author visits. Go see her if you ever get the chance. All of her books are great, but Bel Canto is the best!
(101 books read)
Meet Cute by Jennifer Armentrout et. al. -- A collection of short stories, exactly as the title indicates: a baker's dozen of stories featuring couples meeting in various circumstances. Unfortunately, though I enjoyed many of these stories, I didn't love any of them. In a few cases, the stories felt incomplete, like reading just the beginning of a story, and I would have liked to hear more about them. In other cases, there was not enough room for character development, and the stories themselves evaporated from my memory before I even finished reading the book. Plus, two or three were written in second person, which I hate. Recommended only if you absolutely love short-form romance.
>17 foggidawn: Congratulations on your 100!
I don't know if it's meant to be or not, but Bel Canto sounds like it's funny.
>24 fuzzi: Thanks! There have been years (though not recent ones) when I could expect to reach a second hundred by the end of the year, but lately, 150 seems to be about as good as it gets.
>25 FAMeulstee: and >26 scaifea: Thanks for stopping by!
>27 humouress: Thanks! I wouldn't call it a funny book, but it did have some lighthearted moments.
(102 books read)
Front Desk by Kelly Yang — Mia’s parents have struggled to find work in America ever since they got off the plane from China. When they find a job as motel managers, it seems like an amazing stroke of luck: they can live in the motel rent-free and make good money if they can bring in enough customers. Mia is excited (though also a little scared) to help watch the front desk while her parents clean the rooms. But when the motel owner proves to be stingy and racist, Mia tries to come up with a better solution for her family. She helps some friends along the way, but will her struggles to better her own situation pay off?
This delightful middle-grade book is based in part on the author’s own childhood experiences. She provides a helpful author’s note at the end which explains some of the challenges Chinese immigrants faced in the early 1990s, the setting for this book. Some of the fictional events come together too smoothly to be entirely believable, but I think that young readers will enjoy this story and empathize with Mia’s big feelings and even bigger plans.
For some reason, I can't stand the phrase "meet cute". Whenever I see that book the title annoys me, so I'm glad it's not a must-read.
>30 _Zoe_: Never heard that phrase before. I took an instant dislike to it myself.
(103 books read)
The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff -- Young centurion Marcus Flavius Aquila's father disappeared with the doomed Ninth Legion in northern Britain. When Marcus takes a post in Britain, he hopes to hear or discover something of the lost Ninth, but a wound taken in battle cuts his military career short. After he recovers, he embarks on a dangerous mission to discover what happened to the Ninth, and to retrieve their bronze Eagle, the symbol of Roman power and victory, which may be in the hands of the northern tribes.
This story of high adventure in the long past is one that I probably would have enjoyed as a child, but I never crossed paths with it at the time. The writing is lovely and the pacing is strong. It's a quick read (the audiobook I listened to was under five hours), full of goodness with nothing extraneous. For all that, I'd say I liked it but didn't love it. If historical fiction set in the days of the Roman Empire appeals to you, I'd say give this a try, no matter your age.
(104 books read)
Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer -- A London street urchin becomes a ship's boy on a Navy vessel, and must hide the fact that she is a girl from the rest of the crew.
I was recommending this series, and particularly Katherine Kellgren's excellent narration, to a friend, which made me want to re-listen to this. It's still excellent, though bittersweet since both author and narrator have passed away in the last few years.
Glad to see you've had some good reads recently. One of these days I'll get back to the Bloody Jack series.
Hi, foggi. I've returned from a several week trip to visit family and am catching up on threads now. Happy new thread!
>35 MickyFine: I'm having a lot of fun rereading (re-listening to?) it!
>36 jennyifer24: Hmm. . . I don't know that I could pick a favorite among the first three books. After that, the series settles down and is, as you say, solidly good, but I do think the first three are the best.
>37 ronincats: Welcome back! I'll be glad to see more activity on your thread again.
(105 books read)
Curse of the Blue Tattoo by L.A. Meyer -- The irrepressible Jacky is enrolled in a Boston finishing school, as she can't remain at sea now that they know she's not a boy. The idea is for the school to make a lady of her, but that may prove more difficult than expected...
Still enjoying (and tearing through) this re-listen!
>39 foggidawn: That's as far as I've made it through the series so far. Book three is on The List so I'll get to it eventually. :)
>40 MickyFine: In Book 3, she goes back to sea. While I do love book 2, I feel like the seafaring books have a bit of an edge over the other ones.
(106 books read)
Under the Jolly Roger by L.A. Meyer -- Jacky is back at sea for more swashbuckling adventures. This almost feels like two books to me, as each half is a different adventure on a different ship. The second half of the book is Jacky in her element, and I love it. Also, Higgins makes his first appearance in this book, and everything is better with Higgins.
(107 books read)
The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani — It’s 1947, and India has just gained independence from British rule. 12-year-old Nisha’s family has lived in Mirpur Khas for as long as Nisha can remember, but now they must leave: Nisha’s father is Hindu, and Mirpur Khas falls within the part of India that is now the new Muslim country of Pakistan. The country’s leaders have partitioned India along religious lines, displacing millions. As refugees stream both ways across the new border, violence erupts. But Nisha’s deceased mother was Muslim, so she finds herself wondering where her place is in this new India.
This book is gripping and well-written. Both the political turmoil and Nisha’s inner struggles are given weight and dignity. I’m sure this is an unfamiliar part of world history to many American children, making this an important book as well as an interesting one. It’s sure to inspire additional research in many of its readers.
(108 books read)
In the Belly of the Bloodhound by L.A. Meyer — Jacky returns to Boston and the Lawson Peabody School, seeing as she’s wanted for piracy in Britain. But when a school outing turns into a kidnapping, Jacky embarks on her most dangerous adventure yet . . . this time, accompanied by 30 well-bred schoolgirls.
Still enjoying this reread very much!
>39 foggidawn: Is that "tearing" as in speed or "tearing" as in crying? I'm doing both through the Incorrigible Children books right now. Katy's signing off message at the end gets me every time.
>47 leahbird: Both, to tell the truth! Yes, hearing “This is Katherine Kellgren. We hope you enjoyed...” is a bittersweet moment now.
(109 books read)
Mississippi Jack by L.A. Meyer -- Pursued by British Intelligence, Jacky must flee to the American interior, working her way down the Allegheny, Ohio, and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans. This is maybe my least-favorite book in the series, though still a good book, of course.
(110 books read)
In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan -- When 13-year-old Elliot is taken to the Wall, which apparently is the gateway to a magical land that none of the other kids in his class can see, he's highly skeptical. Did that woman in leather just buy him from his teacher? Are these people perverts or serial killers? Is Elliot going to be forced to become a child soldier? On the other hand, his dad is not going to miss him, and there are supposedly mermaids in this land, so. Upon arrival in the training camp, he meets an insufferable blond warrior named Luke Sunborn, and a kick-butt female elf named Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle (Serene, to her friends). Over the next several years, Elliot learns the ins and outs of this magical world, and finds it a pretty miserable place. He's in the council training track, while Serene (whom he immediately crushes on) is in warrior training with Luke. The cabins are cold, the beds are hard, and they expect him to write with a quill. Worse, the council training cadets are generally ignored by the warriors, because war is the most important thing. Elliot, a pacifist, knows that he could make a difference with treaties and agreements, if only he were allowed to get anywhere near them. As he watches Luke and Serene grow closer, it becomes obvious to Elliot that, in any fantasy story, he would be doomed to become evil -- but really, he's never been interested in embracing the tropes.
I found this a delightful and engrossing read. It takes a look at a lot of the standard fare of juvenile and YA fantasy, and says, "But why, though?" Elliot starts out as an annoying little squirt, and through incremental character development, written with an extraordinarily light hand, the reader (or at least, this reader) comes to love him. It's like a book written from the perspective of Eustace from The Chronicles of Narnia, except without the drastic events that lead to his change of heart. (Some of the language and situations are much more advanced -- this is definitely a book for teen or adult readers who loved Narnia but maybe haven't yet gotten to The Magicians, not for the innocent 8-year-old looking for a Narnia readalike.) Some of the situations are tragic (Elliot notes how his warrior friends go from being sickened by their first kills, to killing without a hint of remorse), while some are delightfully comic (Elvish society is matriarchal, which leads to some hilarious conversations with Serene). Recommended for fantasy fans, as it turns fantasy tropes on their heads with an affectionate hand, without sacrificing character development and a satisfying plot.
(111 books read)
My Bonny Light Horseman by L.A. Meyer — The intelligence service catches up with Jacky, but instead of killing her, they force her to be a spy in France. They may regret this decision...
I like this book better than the last, though it is, of course, a bit over the top. Still, fun to read (or listen to)!
(112 books read)
Ruby on the Outside by Nora Raleigh Baskin -- When Ruby was very young, her mother was arrested and sent to prison. Life with her aunt is Ruby's "normal," but she has a lot of big, complicated feelings about her mother, whom she visits weekly at the women's correctional facility near their home. Ruby doesn't like the other kids in her class to know about her mom, so she's never had a really close friend -- at least, not until she meets Margalit, a carefree girl of her own age who lives nearby. Over the summer, the two girls form a close bond -- but will Ruby's secret tear their friendship apart?
This book offers a perspective not often seen in children's literature, and it's valuable for that, to start. The emotion in the book is well-written, and that's the real heart of the story. I thought that both Ruby and Margalit seemed a little too perfect to be believed, Margalit in her honesty and forthrightness, and Ruby in her described behavior from the night of the arrest -- she seemed to behave in a much more mature fashion than one would expect from such a young child. But I think elementary school readers will relate to the story, and the resolution is reassuring but realistic. Recommended for readers who enjoy realistic works of juvenile fiction.
(113 books read)
Rapture of the Deep by L.A. Meyer -- The Intelligence Service has another mission for Jacky, but this one is right up her alley: retrieving Spanish treasure from the depths of the Caribbean Sea. But will all of that treasure go to King George? Knowing Jacky, probably not!
This is one of my favorite of the later books in the series. There are definitely parts of the book that I could do without, but the main adventure is delightful.
>44 foggidawn: Oh, you tempt me.
>50 foggidawn: ... and again. The only thing buffering me from book bullets is the fact that they're hard to find over here. I could order them and buy them for my shelves, but since they're stuffed almost full, any available space is reserved for 'absolutely must have' books.
>56 humouress: When my parents were living overseas, Mom went over to ebooks for just that reason. On the other hand, I’m much more likely to forget about an ebook I have bought/borrowed: out of sight, out of mind. So, I sympathize with your plight.
(114 books read)
The Wake of the Lorelei Lee by L.A Meyer — Thinking her name cleared, Jacky returns to London and is caught, imprisoned, and sentenced to transportation. Worse, her own ship will be used to transport her and over 200 female criminals and prostitutes to Australia. Of course, being Jacky, she is not without resources...
I’m now to the point in the series where I have only read the books once or twice, so I’m enjoying being surprised by some of the smaller details. I don’t always like or agree with Jacky, but she’s always amusing, that’s for sure!
(115 books read)
Matilda Bone by Karen Cushman — Matilda grew up in a manor house, where the only work expected of her was to assist Father Leufredus, the priest, in his studies. She knows Latin and some Greek, the names and stories of hundreds of saints, and how to be meek and obedient. None of this helps her much when Father Leufredus is called to London, and apprentices Matilda to a bone setter named Red Peg in a town halfway between London and Oxford. Peg is full of good humor and common sense, but all Matilda can see is how different she is from the priest and his teachings. Can Matilda look beyond her preconceptions and find a place in her new life?
I typically like Cushman’s historical fiction, but Matilda is a difficult character to love. She does soften up a bit by the end, but reading about her self-imposed misery for most of the book is not a lot of fun. And, while I liked some of the secondary characters, I had trouble keeping them straight. Recommended only to those who can’t get enough of Cushman’s writing.
>57 foggidawn: Thank you :0)
Oh gosh - e-books; I have a couple of LT ERs that are a couple of years old at least that I haven't read yet. Overdrive is useful, though, when I remember that I have it.
>60 humouress: Yeah... I have a few ink-and-paper ER books that I owe reviews on. That's going to be my bookish resolution for next year.
Speaking of which, if anyone is wondering, I've kind of stalled on reading my unread classics, but I haven't given up yet! I just need to step it up a bit.
(116 books read)
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry — The Younger family can’t seem to catch a break. For years, maybe even decades, they’ve lived in a two-bedroom apartment on the south side of Chicago. The head of the family has recently died, and the insurance money is coming: $10,000, more than any of them have ever had. Will Walter get the business opportunity he’s been hoping for? Will it put Beneatha through college and medical school? Maybe get the little house in the suburbs that Ruth dreams of for her children? Or will it slip away somehow, as so many of their dreams have done?
I’d love to see a live performance of this show someday. It’s powerfully written, but I can only imagine the impact it must have when staged. In any event, I’m glad I finally took the time to read it.
>62 foggidawn: I read that one last year (I think?) and was really impressed by it, too.
>62 foggidawn: I saw a performance of A Raisin in the Sun a couple years ago and it was really fantastic. I was expecting it to be depressing but it was hopeful in the end.
Hi, all! It’s been a few days since I last posted, so here’s a real-life update:
My sweet Sophie, seen at the top of this thread, had a tumor on her right front leg. It was wrapped around the leg in such a way that removing the tumor was not possible. So, yesterday, they amputated her leg. She’s still early in the recovery process, and last night was pretty rough, but today she is doing well. The medications seem to be controlling the pain so far, and she is eating, drinking, and getting around better than I expected at this early date. The doctor says they will want to keep an eye on her lymph nodes at future checkups, but there’s no indication at this point of the cancer having spread, so I’m hoping for many more happy years with my tripod dog.
(117 books read)
The Mark of the Golden Dragon by L.A. Meyer — After a typhoon separates Jacky from the rest of her crew, she works her way back to London, via Rangoon.
Definitely not my favorite of the series. The
>66 foggidawn: Sorry to hear about Sophie, but glad that she is doing well! The good thing is that most dogs do so well as tripods (or "tripawds" as I like to call them) that they hardly seem to know they're missing a leg. I hope the adjustment period is quick!
I'm *so* glad that there's a happy ending to this for Sophie and for you! Please give her a hug and some ear scritches from me (and a hug for you, too - I know this must have been so stressful!).
>66 foggidawn: Sorry for Sophie, happy she is on the mend. Hugs for you both!
(118 books read)
Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling) — A government official hires Strike and Robin because he is being blackmailed, but the investigation soon takes a darker turn...
I enjoyed this almost as much as earlier books in the series. After the events of the previous book, it felt as if the stakes were not quite as high, but that’s all right (as I recall, the last book was almost too much for me). This book also spent a lot of time focusing on Robin’s personal life — again, fine by me, but if you’re just here for the mystery, know that it gets slowed down a bit by the character development. Recommended to fans of the series.
Hi, all — a quick pupdate about Sophie: she continues to do well, and I can see her getting a little better every day. Stitches come out on Tuesday. Her appetite has returned, and she’s only on the mildest painkiller and an antibiotic at this point.
As for a reading update, I’m working in one of my neglected classics, plus an oddly slow-moving graphic novel that I should, nevertheless, finish soon. My audiobook spree has hit a roadblock because my mother is visiting, so I don’t have as much solitary listening time. However, I’m sure I’ll get back to it eventually.
(119 books read)
Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy — Young dairymaid Tess Durbeyfield goes to work for a supposed cousin when her father learns that their family roots go back to the noble D’Urberville family. The degenerate son of the upstart modern D’Urbervilles rapes her. Some time later, she finds both work and love elsewhere, but can she truly move on from her past trauma?
I knew from the start that this was going to be a downer, and yes, it turned out to be just as depressing as expected. I kept hoping for a happy ending for Tess, and it so nearly could have been. I got pretty irritated at Angel Clare, let me tell you. I can see how this work gained its classic status; the writing is lovely in spots (strewn with classical allusions that I didn’t always take the time to grasp, though) and the plot fairly compelling. Not one I’ll read again, but I’m glad I finally got around to it.
>83 norabelle414: I've heard it's one of his less-depressing ones. Maybe next time I challenge myself to read more classics, I'll include that one.
I'm feeling pretty good about my read-more-classics resolution, by the way! Three books left, and the Tolstoy is short, at least. I'm saving the Dickens for a treat at the end, since of all of them, it's the one I'm most sure I'll enjoy.
(120 books read)
Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi -- After a family tragedy Emily, Navin, and their mom move into an old house that used to belong to their great-grandfather, a self-made inventor. When Emily finds a mysterious amulet, the family is drawn into wild and dangerous adventures in a fantasy world.
I can see how this series has gained so much popularity with kids -- it's got plenty of action, good pacing, and a strong plot. Being a graphic novel, it's naturally a quick read (I read it over the course of a couple of lunch breaks). I probably won't continue with the series, but I'd recommend it to kids who love graphic novels, if there are still any out there who haven't found it yet.
(121 books read)
A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories by Angela McAllister -- reviewed elsewhere, just including it in my count here.
I haven't dropped by for a while, so I missed the news about Sophie. I'm glad she's improving.
>86 foggidawn: Charlie is really into this series right now, too. I've read the first one and agree that it's pretty good!
(122 books read)
Viva Jacquelina by L.A. Meyer — Jacky is sent to Spain, wanders around for a while, spends some time in an artists’ colony, wanders around for a while longer. Also, magic mushrooms.
This continues to be one of my least favorite of the books. Jacky is on land and separated from all of her friends. The plot meanders, the bit with the mushrooms feels stupid and contrived, and the secondary characters are tired retreads of earlier types. Kellgren’s narration is good, of course, but the book itself is, unfortunately, mediocre. I’m going to finish off the series, as I have made it this far, but in the future I may be content to read just the first few books.
(123 books read)
Castle Waiting, Volume I by Linda Medley — Picture Sleeping Beauty’s castle, just after the princess is awakened by True Love’s Kiss. When the prince and princess ride off into the sunset... what happens to the castle and the rest of its inhabitants? In Medley’s graphic novel, it becomes a sort of refuge for all kinds of quirky characters. Few of them get to share their full stories in this volume, and the narrative rambles all over the place, with the last seven chapters dedicated to a story within the story about an unconventional order of bearded nuns. It’s a charming world, and I wouldn’t mind spending more time there, but the peripatetic nature of the story meant that I felt no urgency to keep reading, and I put this book down several times in favor of more compelling reads. Still, if you like fantasy stories and graphic novels, you might want to give this a try.
(124 books read)
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor — I can’t even begin to summarize this sequel to Strange the Dreamer without spoiling some aspect of the previous book, so I’m not going to try. I’ll just say that this book is even more tightly written than the first. It’s a gripping, intense read, and it builds beautifully on the elements introduced in the first book. Of course, it’s essential to read the first book before trying this one, but I highly recommend both.
>95 foggidawn: Ooof. I did love the first one. I need to get my name on the library list...
(125 books read)
Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith -- When Louise's younger brother is cast as the Tin Man in their high school production of The Wizard of Oz, he's one of three minority students cast in major roles, and some members of the community are not happy about it. In her position as reporter for the school newspaper, Lou has a front-row seat to the rising tensions, and reflects on the many ways racism affects her life and the lives of those around her.
I love the premise of this book, with elements of theatre and journalism along with deep, important themes. However, I found the writing a little choppy, the dialogue a little stilted, and the characters not entirely relatable -- I never caught the emotion between the main character and her romantic partner, for instance. Perhaps because of those shortcomings, the book felt very message-y. I did learn some interesting (and unpleasant) stuff about L. Frank Baum, who was apparently racist in the extreme. We do need diverse books, and readers can learn a lot from this one -- I'm just hoping for better writing in future efforts along this line.
>100 curioussquared: Another one hit by the Muse of Nightmares book bullet!
(126 books read)
Unclaimed Baggage by Jen Doll — At first, teens Doris, Nell, and Grant seem to have nothing in common beyond their summer job at a thrift store that sells the contents of suitcases left at airports. As they get to know one another, a deep friendship develops, and they find that they can help each other through the difficulties they are currently facing.
This is a nice, feel-good story. There’s some romance, but the book is much more about friendship and dealing with one’s past. I found the writing a little pedantic in places, exhibiting a tendency toward unnecessary explanations (see what I did there?). And the chapters were written from the point of view of the three main characters, but I didn’t find their voices very distinctive; several times I had to look back and see who was talking now. (Also, I could have done without the chapters from the perspective of the suitcase — I found that a little too precious.) But despite some quibbles, I found it an enjoyable read, over all. I’d recommend it for younger teens.
(127 books read)
My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemper -- This celebrity memoir from the star of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt reflects on many of the roles she has played, both on screen and in life. These essays are arranged in some semblance of chronological order, so the reader gets a view into all of the stages of Kemper's life so far. For me, about half of the essays landed satisfactorily, with a laugh or a smile, but the other half left me wondering, "Why are you telling me this?" On the whole, Kemper comes off as funny and relatable, and probably as close to a normal person as one can find in show business. She does a fair bit of name-dropping, but that's to be expected in this sort of work. If you've enjoyed similar books by Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, or Mindy Kaling, you'll probably enjoy this one.
>93 foggidawn: Mr. Fine has that on his birthday wishlist so I'm waiting to see if he gets it and then I'll snag it to read after him. #marriedperks
(128 books read)
Boston Jacky by L.A. Meyer — Jacky returns to Boston, buys property, and gets in considerable legal trouble.
Meh. Not much happens in this book, really. One more, and I’ll be done rereading the series!
(129 books read)
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson — Six students in a Brooklyn elementary school are given one hour a week to just talk together, with no adults present. As they share their stories, friendship and understanding develops among them.
I was skeptical of the premise at first — that it would be allowed, and that it would result in the deep discussion that happens in the book. Woodson sells me on that, at least with this group of characters. There’s not much plot to this book; it seems to be mostly focused on showing how many current events and concerns relate to kids on a personal level. As an adult reader, I thought the lessons being imparted were a little too obvious, but I’d be interested to see how kids react. The writing is strong, though the decision to represent dialogue with italics rather than quotation marks bugged me. Recommended to readers of realistic juvenile fiction, particularly teachers, as I can see this being useful in a classroom setting.
(130 books read)
The Long-Lost Home by Maryrose Wood — Plucky governess Penelope Lumley is exiled to Russia, while the Incorrigible children are back at Ashton Place, at the mercy of the enigmatic Edward Ashton. Moreover, the curse on the Ashton family seems to be coming to a head. Will all of the disparate elements come together in time?
This book does a good job of tying up all of the loose ends of the series. If you’ve enjoyed it up to this point, you should find this a satisfying read. It’s been a while since I read the last book, so some of the details were a little hazy — I recommend having the other books fresh in your memory, if possible.
Side note: The author dedicated the book to Katy, or Katherine Kellgren, audiobook narrator of the first five books in the series, who passed away earlier this year. There’s a touching author’s note at the end. I know many of you are fans of the inimitable Katy. It brought a tear to my eye, for sure.
(131 books read)
Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo — It’s 3:00 in the morning when Granny tells Louisiana to get in the car, because the day of reckoning has arrived. It’s time to break the curse that hangs over them. Shortly after crossing the state line from Florida to Georgia, Granny’s teeth begin to bother her so much that she can’t continue on. After some emergency dental surgery, Granny and Louisiana land at the Good Night, Sleep Tight Motel — and that’s just the beginning of Louisiana’s story. There will be tears and songs and cake and forgiveness before it’s all told, not to mention friendship and several bags of peanuts.
Sometimes I read a quirky Southern story with an obnoxiously folksy feel to it, and I wonder why I bother. But then I pick up a book by Kate DiCamillo. And when tears are rolling down my face as I turn the final page, I remember. Doggone it, Kate, you did it again.
>108 foggidawn: You remind me that I read the first of these and liked it quite a bit back when, but never got back to this series.
>110 ronincats: The series is complete now, so you can zip right through it, should you so choose.
>108 foggidawn: I'm waiting for my audio hold to come in on this one. I'm looking forward to finishing the series, but kind of dreading it at the same time.
>112 aktakukac: Yeah, I chose to read the book rather than listen, this time.
(132 books read)
Wild Rover No More by L.A. Meyer -- Framed for treason by an old enemy, Jacky is on the run from the American government. Unfortunately, she can't run forever...
So, there it is: I've completed my re-listen of the Bloody Jack series. This book was better than the previous one, but still not up to the standards of the first three or four books in the series. In the future, I'll probably just stick to reading those when I get a craving for some of Jacky's antics. In this reread, some of the weak points of the series showed through: plenty of historical inaccuracies, for instance (the
(133 books read)
You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino -- Jilly P thinks she knows a few things about interacting with people who are Black and Deaf -- she has Black family members, and a Black, Deaf online friend. But when her baby sister is born deaf, she finds she still has a lot to learn about that, and about other things happening in the world as well.
This was a good, quick read, with great characters. It's didactic in spots, but the author's note makes it clear that it was written with didactic intent. I thought it was interesting that Jilly and her friend never had to face up to the low-level bullying that they were doing in their chat room, but maybe that's a topic for another book -- after all, everybody in this world still has things to learn.
(134 books read)
Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy — We first meet Marilla Cuthbert as a middle-aged spinster when Anne arrives at Green Gables, but there are hints of her story hidden in Montgomery’s narrative. Here, McCoy fleshes out for us a possible back-story: Marilla’s girlhood, her tentative romance with John Blythe, her lifelong friendship with Rachel Lynde, her devotion to her brother Matthew and their home, Green Gables. Montgomery fans will recognize many key elements, from place and character names (the Sloanes, the Andrews, the Pyes . . . even a young Lavender Lewis makes a brief appearance) to the infamous currant wine. Even Marilla’s headaches and weak vision get a nod. The plot is pleasant, though a bit heavy and bittersweet, as readers familiar with Anne’s story know that romance is not going to work out for Marilla. Still, I enjoyed this book very much, and would recommend it to fans of Montgomery’s originals. It certainly made me want to reread Anne!
(135 books read)
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery -- A girl orphan shows up at the Cuthbert farm, when they had particularly asked for a boy. They should send her back, Marilla Cuthbert opines -- but her brother Matthew is unaccountably inclined to keep the winsome child. As Anne grows up, she gets in many humorous scrapes due to her impulsive nature, but still manages to charm all those around her, even strict Marilla.
I've read this book more times than I have bothered to count, but having recently read Marilla of Green Gables, I was in the mood for a reread, and an audiobook made a pleasant companion for my weekend chores. It's still as charming as ever! I thought the audiobook narration by Susie Berneis was fairly good, but not great.
>116 foggidawn: I'm not sure if I'm going to read that one or not but you've nudged me slightly closer to the yes side. ;)
>120 MickyFine: It sticks close to the spirit of the originals, but fails to capture some of the delicacy of the writing, and lacks some of the humor of the originals. There's nothing in it that will upset Montgomery fans, I don't think, and as long as you're not expecting it to rise to the level of Montgomery's writing, it's an enjoyable read.
>121 foggidawn: Thanks for that additional feedback. I've been hesitant to read it because I'd go into it wanting Montgomery's writing style and then being disappointed. It's the same reason I typically avoid Austen sequels. I think I'll leave it on the mental maybe shelf for now but I'm happy you enjoyed it.
>122 MickyFine: I have the same problem with a lot of Austen sequels, so I know what you mean.
Anne of Green Gables really makes me think about the adoption system.
(136 books read)
Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery — The continuing adventures of a certain red-haired orphan, now old enough to teach at Avonlea school.
The book is charming, of course, and I love the Miss Lavender plot line. However, I disliked Tara Ward’s audiobook narration. She mispronounced certain words (something a good producer should have caught), made some strange choices about how to interpret certain phrases, and I absolutely hated her male voices, particularly Davy and Gilbert. So, I’ll be checking out a different version for the next book.
It's November! I have relatively few plans for this month, so I'm toying with trying NaNoWriMo again this year. I'm not mentally prepared for it, and I don't think I've ever completed the challenge (though I seem to remember coming close, eight or nine years ago, maybe). It would cut into my reading time, just when I'm on track to have a particularly good reading year -- but on the other hand, it seems like a good way to force myself to get back into writing, which I've hardly done at all for the past several years. Hmmmm...
>129 foggidawn: I always toy with the idea of trying NaNoWriMo but I've never been brave enough to actually try doing it. I'll be your cheerleader if you do try tackling it!
(137 books read)
Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery — Anne is now in college, rooming with dear friends and having a delightful time. Gilbert Blythe is there, too. Will Anne ever admit that her feelings for him go beyond simple childhood friendship?
This may actually be my favorite of the Anne books. I do love it so. I found an audiobook with a different narrator than the last. She did an acceptable job, but not a fantastic one.
(138 books read)
Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery -- Anne spends the three years before her marriage as a high school principal in Summerside, P.E.I., and faces many new challenges there.
Back to the Tara Ward audiobook narration. I didn't like it any better for this one than for Anne of Avonlea, but it was the only version readily available to me. Other than that, I've always enjoyed this book, though I feel that the ending (as regards
I'm neutral on the Anne books, but Anne of the Island is definitely my favorite. They have so much fun!
>139 norabelle414: It's an idyllic college story, for sure! And it made me miss my own college roommates -- we lived in the dorms, rather than in an adorable rented house, but we had just as much fun, I think.
I love the Anne books, but they're not my favorites by Montgomery -- I like The Blue Castle best of all, followed by Jane of Lantern Hill and the Pat books, then the Anne books. (However, for the record, I don't like the Emily books at all!)
>140 foggidawn: I'm slowly acquiring all of Montgomery's books with the gorgeous Tundra covers and reading them as I acquire them as I haven't read most of them. So far Anne remains top of the list although really I've only read her and the second Pat book (for some reason the publisher released the second book but not the first *shrug*). I've got both the story girl books (the basis for Canadian television institution of my childhood, Road to Avonlea), Jane of Lantern Hill, and the first Emily book waiting for me on my shelves at home.
>141 MickyFine: Oh, those Tundra covers! I'd love to collect them, myself. That is weird, about the Pat books. The second one is darker, or perhaps just more melancholy, than the first -- and if you don't read the first book, I'd think you wouldn't be as invested in the Pat/Hilary romance. The Story Girl books I can take or leave -- they're somewhere below the Anne books, but well above the Emily ones, in my ranking.
>2 foggidawn: Interesting, I have the same goal. Now that I am retired, I vow to one by one go through all the containers of books. Those that I bought under the spell of a book sale and they may have looked good, and I haven't read yet, will get a firm looking over. I have way too many books, and I really think that many will not be read.
>140 foggidawn: I like the Anne books but don't love them and I don't think I ever made it past Anne of the Island. But I reread the first one last year and really enjoyed it, and I'm wondering if I just didn't read them at the right point in my childhood -- I might have been too young. I'm considering giving the series another try soon and also exploring more of Montgomery's books! I'll have to keep an eye out for The Blue Castle.
Ooooh, Happy Thingaversary! What will you treat yourself to in the way of books?
>148 Whisper1: I still have three books left of the ten I originally selected, or actually two and a half, since I’ve started in on the O’Connor. I still think I can do it, if I don’t get too distracted by other books! And I already know what my resolution will be next year...
>149 curioussquared: Yes, do look for The Blue Castle! It’s a stand-alone, so less of a time commitment than the whole Anne series. And, if you have to stop somewhere, Anne of the Island is actually a pretty good stopping point.
>150 rretzler: Oh, Beverly Tapinski definitely needs her own book! And thanks for the Thingaversary wishes. I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t get on LT at all yesterday, but I’ll make up for it with some book purchases.
>151 ronincats: Thanks! I’m planning on treating myself to a bookstore visit tomorrow, and maybe some online book shopping, too. I’ll post about my purchases, though I don’t know that I’ll achieve the ideal 12+1 for this Thingaversary.
(139 books read)
Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery -- Now married to her true love Gilbert, Anne settles in to a new home and community -- the home she's been dreaming of for years.
This is probably the most melancholy of the Anne books, focusing as it does on Leslie's tragic history (though there are certain other, spoilery, elements that contribute to the atmosphere of the book. I'll admit it: I don't love any of these later Anne books as much as I love the earlier ones, though I still like them a great deal.
(140 books read)
The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden by Karina Yan Glaser -- It's summer, and the Vanderbeeker siblings have no intention of taking on a gardening project, as Miss Josie and Mr. Jeet encourage them to do. But when a sudden health problem besets Mr. Jeet, they have a change of heart. They ask the distracted minister of the church they attend if they can create a garden in a overgrown lot, and he doesn't actually say no, so they charge ahead with their plan. But many challenges beset them -- and even if they manage to complete the project, will Mr. Jeet be well enough to enjoy it?
Another charming Vanderbeeker story! Of course, as I'm a big fan of The Secret Garden, to which this book obviously owes a debt, my fondness for it may not come as a surprise. I thought some of the gardening elements may have been a little bit simplified and smoothed out for the intrepid Vanderbeekers, but it's a sweet book, bubbling over with goodwill and enthusiasm, much like its young protagonists. Recommended if you liked the first book, or if you enjoy middle grade realistic fiction with a wholesome vibe.
(141 books read)
Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak -- A week is a long time to spend confined to your house as a family, especially if each of you is hiding something from the others. Andrew and Emma Birch and their two grown daughters are spending Christmas together for the first time in years, and because eldest daughter Olivia, a doctor, has been working among patients of a deadly disease outbreak in Africa, they will spend it in strict quarantine. And due to the things that each member of the family is not telling the others, it's bound to be anything but a calm, quiet week at the country estate.
I enjoyed this a great deal. The author does an excellent job with characterization -- I found my self both liking and being annoyed by each character in turn (though, of course, some annoyed me more than others!). She also walks a fine line with the possibility that Olivia might develop symptoms of the disease, finding ways to keep up the dramatic tension, when it might have otherwise evaporated. And all of that is balanced with plenty of pleasantly humorous moments. If you enjoy family dramas, especially set during the Christmas season, you'll probably find this to be just the thing.
(142 books read)
Skyward by Brandon Sanderson -- Spensa has dreamed of being a fighter pilot like her father ever since she can remember. Unfortunately, her father fled from a pivotal battle and was shot down by his own squadron and branded a coward, so the likelihood of her being allowed to attend flight school, much less pilot a spacecraft, seems pretty low. Spensa knows that her father was a hero, not a coward -- and she also knows that she could be the best pilot on the planet if they would just let her. Can her sheer determination to find a way or make one get her where she wants to go?
This is a fast, gripping read. I never liked Spensa much, but in spite of that, I found myself wanting her to succeed. (And many of the secondary characters were a lot of fun.) The plotting is all you might expect from Sanderson, with twists and turns galore. Improbable points in the worldbuilding turn out to fit perfectly within the book's internal logic later on, and the book is wrapped up satisfactorily, though the promised sequel can't come soon enough. If you enjoy sci-fi, or Sanderson's other books, don't miss this one.
>157 foggidawn: Woot! Glad you enjoyed.
(143 books read)
The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy — This novella opens with a scene reminiscent of the one shown to Scrooge by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come: Ivan Ilyich has died, and his friends, colleagues, and relations gather for the funeral, but also to advance their own interests. Who will be promoted into his old position? Can his wife wrangle a better pension out of the government? And the weekly card game will go on as scheduled, won’t it? The reader then gets a survey of Ivan’s life, from school days, to married life, through career advancements, and through the illness that eventually leads to his death. There’s a lot of focus on the big questions: why death, and why pain? Did Ivan lead the life he was meant to lead? What if he got it all wrong?
One gets the sense that Tolstoy was working through his thoughts on these matters. It would be silly to say that I “enjoyed” this book, but I appreciated it (though, when it comes to the Russians, I’ll take Dostoyevsky over Tolstoy any day). It’s a big subject for such a small volume; I’m glad I finally read it, though I probably won’t read it again.
(144 books read)
Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery — Now mother to five with another on the way, Anne shares the stage with her young brood, though she does occasionally take back the spotlight.
Part of me has always wished that the focus of these books remained on Anne, but the kids are charming in their own way. I continue to find the audiobook narrators a bit of a trial. This one (Barbara Barnes again) is fair to middling, but once again I feel that a good producer should have caught some of the errors present in the recording. (Mispronunciations, weird phrasing, and a couple of places where I believe typos in the text made it into the recording. Plus, twice near the end she read “Anne” as “Annie” — sacrilege!)
>165 MickyFine: She wasn't as bad as the one they used for Anne of Avonlea, but she wasn't great, to be honest. Like I said, I think competent direction/production could have fixed a lot of the errors. For instance, they should have caught the "Annie" thing. There are instances in the book where the author signals that a particular character is extremely irritating by having them refer to Anne as Annie, but this was not one of those cases.
I've been listening to the editions readily available on Hoopla, because it's easy and I know they will be available. Next time I feel like listening to the series, I will have to do some research and see if I can find editions with better production quality.
>166 foggidawn: I'm just sad at the thought of people who read audiobooks almost exclusively being turned off of the wonders of Anne by a bad narrator. :(
(145 books read)
Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery -- Anne's children and their neighbors the Merediths, the new minister's children, delight in playing in what they call Rainbow Valley.
I had forgotten how much this book is about the Merediths, and how little about the Blythes. They are a charming group to read about, and certainly get into more scrapes than Anne's well-cared-for children. This audiobook narrator, Kate Handford, did a better job than any so far, except that I wasn't crazy about the voice she used for Susan. I'm glad she is also the reader for the final volume in the series. Also, I've spent a certain amount of mental energy reminding myself that "primer" (when defined as a beginning textbook for children) is pronounced "primmer" (short "i," rhymes with "simmer") -- but without exception, every time it's cropped up in this series, the various narrators have pronounced it with a long "i" (rhymes with "timer"). Is this an acceptable usage in Canada, or are they all doing it wrong?
>168 foggidawn: I've only every heard it pronounced with a long "i" up here. But I'm only one Canadian. :P
Handing you tissues in advance of Rilla.
>93 foggidawn: >116 foggidawn: Book bullets galore!
Belated Happy Thingaversary and how did NaNoWriMo go?
And an Anne re-read! I first read the Anne books when I was around the same age as she was in the first book and they (especially the first two) resonated with me, so I've loved them since. I recently started reading the Emily series but put it aside for some reason. It would have been nice to know where Anne originally came from, but I sense that L.M. Montgomery based both characters' situations on her own early childhood and she wasn't, strictly, orphaned so maybe she didn't feel the need to explore that. Or maybe it would have been close to impossible in that day and age to trace back.
>169 MickyFine: Thanks for those tissues! Interesting... maybe I haven’t been as wrong as I thought, all those times I’ve accidentally pronounced it with a long “i”!
>170 humouress: Thanks! I dropped out of NaNo after a quick decision to take vacation for Thanksgiving week and go visit my brother and sister-in-law (and, most importantly, the baby!). I’m going to try to continue writing some each day, but I’m not sure I have what it takes to be a “real” writer, in terms of both discipline and creativity. As for the Anne books, she does learn a little bit about her parents in Anne of the Island, but it’s not really mentioned after that, other than the fact that she names two of her children after them. At that time, that’s probably all that could be done in terms of tracking her family.
(146 books read)
Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery — In this final book in the Anne series, Anne’s children are nearly all grown up, with just Shirley and Rilla still in their teens. Rilla anticipates all the fun her teenage years will bring, what with parties and boys and all, but she gets World War I instead.
When I was a teenager myself, I had very little patience with Rilla, but now I appreciate the character development she goes through. The audiobook narrator was the same as the last book, and continued strong. In fact, this was probably the best of the series in terms of narration, of the versions I listened to.
(147 books read)
Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka — This complex graphic memoir tells the story of Krosoczka’s childhood, up to his high school graduation. The author was raised mostly by his grandparents, due to his mother’s heroin addiction. He doesn’t flinch away from the darker details, but paints a courageous picture of both the difficulties and the warmth of the family surrounding him. Recommended for teens and adults, but not for Krosoczka’s younger fans!
(148 books read)
What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera — Arthur and Ben meet at a New York City post office, where Ben is trying to mail back a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things. Both feel a spark of interest, but they’re separated by a flash mob before they can exchange numbers, or even full names. Can they find each other again in the bustling vastness of the city before Arthur has to go home to Georgia?
A cute read, though not quite as charming as I had hoped. A lot of the drama revolves around people not talking to each other, which gets tiresome after a while, but the character development is good, and teen readers interested in m/m romance will enjoy it.
Almost at a double 75, Foggy.
Trust that you have had a splendid Thanksgiving Weekend. xx
>175 PaulCranswick: Yep, almost there -- and 150 is my "unofficial" goal for the year. If I can finish off two more books in November, anything I read in December will be gravy!
I had a great Thanksgiving week with the family, and am trying to re-adjust to my normal life now.
>172 foggidawn: I spent so much of my time reading Rilla trying really hard not to weep in public. I have strong memories of sniffling profusely while reading in the staff break room. Glad the audio was a good experience for you.
>176 foggidawn: Good luck getting back into the swing of work-a-day life.
>177 MickyFine: I'll admit to doing some weeping in the privacy of my car. And thanks -- I spent most of the day yesterday wading through email and accumulated piles of stuff, so today feels like a second Monday as I start into the week's tasks.
(149 books read)
The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle -- Our narrator awakes in a forest, a woman's name on his lips, with absolutely no memory of who he is or how he got there. Moments later, he sees a woman fleeing a pursuer, then hears a shot. A compass is pressed into his hand and he is directed to a crumbling but grand old house, where some sort of house party is going on. As the story progresses, he learns that he will awaken each morning as a different character in the story, with his memories of what he learned in his previous host still intact. To escape, he must solve the mystery of who kills Evelyn Hardcastle (and no, Evelyn Hardcastle's death is not the one he thinks he witnessed that first morning). Two other characters are trying to solve the mystery -- one may be helping him, the other is almost certainly trying to kill him. Only one can escape at the end of the day.
I really enjoyed this mystery, though I think listening to the audiobook may have been an error -- the narration is excellent, but I focus better on printed text, and I think I missed a few details through listening. If you're better at concentrating on audiobooks, I would certainly recommend this one. But either way, if you're intrigued by the concept, you should give this book a try. There's the mystery of who killed Evelyn Hardcastle, which has plenty of twists and turns in itself, but then there is the added mystery of what is happening to our main character and how events fit together through the day from the perspectives of his various hosts. Is he able to change the events of the day? Who is he, and why is he there? I figured out some things, while others came as complete surprises to me. A nice, complicated mystery.
>179 foggidawn: Can't hit me with that one because it's already on The List. :P
(150 books read)
The Adults by Caroline Hulse -- It's not entirely clear whose idea it was for divorced couple Claire and Matt and their daughter Scarlett, along with Claire and Matt's new partners (and Scarlett's imaginary friend, a five-foot-tall purple rabbit named Posey) to spend the five-day Christmas weekend together in a lodge at a holiday resort. Alex, Matt's new girlfriend, doesn't really want to go, but she also doesn't want to be the one who causes all of the plans to fall apart. Patrick, Claire's new boyfriend, is hoping that agreeing to the plan will build up some brownie points for him with Claire. They can make it work -- after all, they're adults, right?
I thought this book was all right, but not great. The adult characters are well-drawn, but I didn't find Scarlett to be an entirely convincing 7-year-old. I also thought that the big climactic event was pretty unlikely for various reasons that I won't go into for fear of spoilers. Part of my problem may have been that I was looking for more of a holiday story, and this really could have taken place at any time of year. I don't regret reading it, but I'd only recommend it if the premise really intrigues you.
Thanks, all! It looks like I may finish more books this year than last year, which is encouraging.
(151 books read)
Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor — A collection of short stories about the most miserable assemblage of humanity imaginable.
I’m giving myself permission not to like Flannery O’Connor. I read some of her work in college, and later picked up this volume in a used bookstore. It took me years to get around to it, and I must admit that I found reading it a struggle. It’s so very depressing. There’s not a likable character in the book, and reading about deplorable people getting what they deserve is not exactly uplifting. Lots of people like O’Connor’s writing; I am not one of them.
(152 books read)
An Almost Perfect Christmas by Nina Stibbe — A collection of short stories and humorous essays about Christmas. Very British, moderately funny (I smiled several times, but never laughed outright). If you’re already feeling a little jaded with all the holiday cheer, this might suit your mood.
(153 books read)
Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie -- In any other family, it might look like a cozy holiday reunion -- all of Simeon Lee's children and their spouses assembled for the holidays. But the Lee family is seeped in biting sarcasm and revenge served cold, and before the holiday is over, they will find Simeon Lee lying in a puddle of blood. Nearly everyone hated the old man -- but who hated him enough to kill him?
It's been a long time since I read through all of the Poirot mysteries, so this one sparked only a few dim memories for me, and the ending came as a surprise. If you're looking for an enjoyable whodunit set at Christmas, this is a good one -- and the audiobook version is likewise well-executed.
>193 foggidawn: Christmas setting by Christie??? Oooh, must see if I can get to it.
>194 MickyFine: Being Christie, it's reasonably short -- the audiobook was just over 6 hours.
(154 books read)
A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson — When Wendy Harper returns to the seaside cottage in Maine where she spent many childhood summers, her plan is to fix the house up quickly and put it on the market. Her 12-year-old son Jackson wants to live there year-round, but Wendy can’t see how she could make a living in a little tourist town, despite the fact that it seems busier than she expected based on her memories. She has a few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas to get everything done, and no time for romance . . . even if local artisan Caleb Colton does seem particularly charming and attentive. As the days go by, Wendy finds herself wishing there was some way she could stay.
This inspirational novella was a pleasant diversion, nice and Christmassy, though not particularly deep or realistic. Jackson was way too perfect for an adolescent, and the ending of the book seemed rather abrupt. However, I’d still recommend it to readers of inspirational fiction looking for a nice, seasonal selection. I listened to the audiobook, and would recommend that format.
>173 foggidawn: This looks very interesting. I never doubt your choices as often, you and I seem to like the same books
>196 foggidawn: Read your summary and had an itchy feeling I'd read the book before but I think it was a different inspirational romance that involved fixing up a parent's house over the summer to sell. Otherwise, details seem pretty similar. Ah tropes. :)
>200 MickyFine: Yes, there are only so many ways to get the Big City Gal back to the small town so she can meet that sheriff or fireman or small business owner next door. Having to deal with an inherited property is a classic plot maneuver.
(155 books read)
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens -- A family is caught up in the drama and terror of the French Revolution.
Often I can summarize the plot of a classic, even one I have not read, because it's such a touchstone in the general culture. Not so this book. I knew the first line and the last line, but not much about what happened in between (just, blah, blah, blah, French Revolution, blah, blah, blah...). Now, having read it, I still find it a little difficult to summarize. It's a great story, full of love and sacrifice, high ideals and Revolutionary fervor. As with all of the classics I've tackled this year, I'm glad I read it -- and (which is not the case with all the classics I read this year), I'm keeping it on my shelf against the possibility of future rereadings.
And that completes my 2018 Reading Resolution: Unread Classics!
(You can see the original reading resolution in post >2 foggidawn: above.)
Of the "classics" I tackled this year, my three favorites are Death Comes for the Archbishop, A Tale of Two Cities, and A Raisin in the Sun.
My least favorite was Everything That Rises Must Converge.
I'm glad I finally got around to reading those! Some will remain on my shelf, while others will make their ways to new homes.
I'm liking the practice of making a reading resolution each year, so I've already decided that next year, I will focus on my personal shame: unread Early Reviewer books. Watch for the title list in my 2019 thread!
(156 books read)
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover — Growing up in rural Idaho, Tara Westover never questioned her father’s authority over the family. Public schools were centers for government brainwashing, medicine was actually poison, the end of the world was at hand and their family were the only ones who would be truly prepared. At the age of 17, Tara leaves the mountain to attend college. Her journey through higher education is marked by a changing relationship with her family, as she both longs to maintain those close bonds, while also acknowledging the experiences that were harmful and abusive.
This is a harrowing read in many ways. Injuries sustained by Westover and her father and brothers are the stuff of nightmares, and certain instances of emotional manipulation and abuse are equally chilling. On the other hand, Westover extends a surprising amount of grace to her family, even those who failed her repeatedly. Recommended.
>203 foggidawn: good job! I did manage to read (or at least endeavor to read!) three or four classics this year.
>205 fuzzi: Good job! I’m hoping that, in the future, I’ll remember to read a few each year without having to make a resolution.
(157 books read)
Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller -- Caroline, her husband Charles, and her daughters Mary and Laura travel from Pepin, Wisconsin, to Indian Territory in Kansas. Caroline is pregnant during the journey, and gives birth to baby Carrie in their snug little cabin on the Kansas prairie.
This story stays close to the events of Little House on the Prairie, with a few notable digressions to accommodate the historical record of the Ingalls family's travels, which Wilder had streamlined a bit for her stories. This book is as firmly rooted in Caroline's perspective as the Little House books are in Laura's. There's a lot about the mystical power of womanhood (not couched in those terms, of course, but Caroline does wax eloquent about it in the privacy of her own mind) -- pregnancy, giving birth, nursing -- and, of course, a lot about all of the hard work a woman's life typically comprised in that period, particularly when traveling by wagon or setting up a homestead. There's relatively little about the girls, which is disconcerting. And, in an attempt to stay close to the source material (I think), Laura does not make a very convincing 3-year-old (because Wilder fudged the timeline, Laura seems slightly older in the Little House books, so it's less surprising for her to be as articulate and self-aware as she is). I had some trouble relating to Caroline, who comes across as rigid and stoic, seeing tears as shameful (I see no shame in crying when you are leaving all of your relations behind, possibly never to see them again -- or, for that matter, in crying when you've just dropped a log on your ankle). But this book does give readers a window into her internal life. I think readers who loved the Little House books are most likely to enjoy this one, though it will also appeal to readers who enjoy historical fiction from a female perspective. Notably, the problematic attitudes towards Native Americans that exist in the original book are present here, as well, though softened and mitigated a bit. The author's note admits that the Ingalls' opinions and attitudes were unjustified, based on their own prejudices -- but if that's an aspect of the original that bothered you, you may want to be aware that it exists here, as well.
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