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Mary (bell7) reads extravagantly in 2019

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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1bell7
Edited: Dec 25, 2018, 2:32pm Top

Welcome to my first thread of 2019!

A little about me: I'm a daughter, sister, and aunt. I'm a librarian working and living in western Massachusetts where I was born and raised. I'm in my mid-30s and single with no kids, but rent an in-law apartment from some family friends (I may refer to my "landlords" occasionally as the man of the house and the lady of the house) while I save up for a place of my own.

My reading is all over the place, so you'll see anything from fantasy (still my go-to genre) to historical fiction to contemporary fiction to mystery. I'm picky about romance and don't like horror, but I'll try almost anything. I've decided no challenges for me this year: I have to read about 12 books for my work book club (see post #2) and otherwise I like to pick whatever I'm in the mood for. My goals for 2019, however, are to read more globally and diversely and I'll be using a spreadsheet from BookRiot to attempt to keep track of that. I'm also going to "read through the library" in the sense that when I'm looking for a new read I may dip into the shelves at the library where I work and (slowly) read from A-Z through the fiction. My "rules" are one book I want to read on each shelf. I can skip shelves entirely where nothing appeals to me or they're full of popular authors (like David Baldacci or James Patterson). And I don't have to finish the book - the attempt counts.

Outside of reading? I enjoy sports, particularly football, tennis, hockey and baseball. I'm a New York Giants fan all the way, but otherwise I go for Boston sports teams. Roger Federer is still my favorite tennis player to watch - not sure who I would support after he retires. I also enjoy knitting and will occasionally post pictures of my current projects.

My niece Mia (3) and nephew Matthew (1) are my sister A's kids and live outside of DC. They'll figure as my thread toppers throughout the year as has become tradition for me. I typically get out to visit them a couple of times a year. Here are a couple from them coming up to visit on Thanksgiving:


Mia admiring the huge Christmas tree (colored lights get her exclaiming "Halloween! Rainbows!")


Matthew playing in the mirror. He's had a haircut since, but it does tend to curl when it gets long, so they may both have curly hair.

2bell7
Edited: Feb 19, 9:47am Top

One of my job responsibilities is facilitating one of our library book clubs (there's 3 - an afternoon one with my boss, an evening one with me, and a classics one with a volunteer). I'll often comment on the discussions we have since they give me a greater appreciation for what we read together and people have seemed to enjoy that the last couple of years. Here's what we're reading in 2019 -

January - My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, pH.D. COMPLETED
February - Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese COMPLETED
March - Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
April - Evicted by Matthew Desmond
May - Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon
June - The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
July - Sea Glass by Anita Shreve
August - The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
September - Educated by Tara Westover
October - Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
November - Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
December - A House Among the Trees by Julia Glass

3bell7
Dec 25, 2018, 2:23pm Top

Favorites of 2018 (roughly in the order read):

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin (this trilogy was phenomenal - start with The Fifth Season)
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (and sequels - another fantastic trilogy)
The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Bibliophile by Jane Mount

4bell7
Edited: Feb 19, 9:51am Top

Currently Reading
The Skin I'm In by Sharon Flake

Devotionals/Bible reading
Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper
A Year with C.S. Lewis
Deuteronomy & Galatians

January
1. The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker
2. The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott
3. My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.
4. Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks
5. The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
6. When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
7. Everyday Millionaires by Chris Hogan
8. Stars Uncharted by S. K. Dunstall
9. The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren
10. The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King
11. Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung

February
12. The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay
13. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
14. Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev
15. The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore
16. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

March

5bell7
Dec 25, 2018, 2:26pm Top

Alright - the thread's officially open for business!

I may finish a book or two this week, and on January 1 I'll update with what I'm currently reading. Happy 2019!

6drneutron
Dec 25, 2018, 2:49pm Top

Welcome back, Mary!

7katiekrug
Dec 25, 2018, 2:52pm Top

Cheers to a new year, Mary!

8bell7
Dec 25, 2018, 6:03pm Top

>6 drneutron: Thanks, Jim!

>7 katiekrug: Cheers, Katie!

9neverstopreading
Dec 25, 2018, 6:29pm Top

Starring because your profile says you're a Bruins fan 🏒

10bell7
Dec 25, 2018, 6:33pm Top

>9 neverstopreading: indeed I am. Thanks for stopping by, Cody!

11richardderus
Dec 25, 2018, 7:59pm Top

Hi Mary, happy 2019. A week early.

12bell7
Dec 25, 2018, 8:35pm Top

>11 richardderus: happy early 2019, Richard!

13bohemima
Dec 25, 2018, 9:42pm Top

Just dropping a 🌟

14bell7
Dec 26, 2018, 8:13am Top

>13 bohemima: Welcome, Gail!

15bohemima
Dec 26, 2018, 9:13am Top

Thankee, Ma’am.

16norabelle414
Dec 26, 2018, 10:23am Top

Happy almost New Year!

17bell7
Dec 26, 2018, 9:34pm Top

>16 norabelle414: thanks, Nora! I can't believe how fast the years go...

18MickyFine
Dec 27, 2018, 3:21pm Top

Dropping off a star for you, Mary! Can't wait to see what reads you tackle this year. :)

19bell7
Dec 27, 2018, 8:12pm Top

>18 MickyFine: Nice to see you, Micky!

20The_Hibernator
Dec 31, 2018, 3:33am Top

Happy New Year Mary!

21FAMeulstee
Dec 31, 2018, 9:03am Top

Happy reading in 2019, Mary!

22lycomayflower
Dec 31, 2018, 2:48pm Top

*waves* Hiya, Mary!

23bell7
Dec 31, 2018, 6:29pm Top

>20 The_Hibernator: Thanks, Rachel - love that image!

>21 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita! I'm looking forward to seeing what this year brings.

>22 lycomayflower: *waves back* Hi, Laura!

24alcottacre
Dec 31, 2018, 9:13pm Top

Happy New Year, Mary!

I loved A Gentleman in Moscow when I read it, so I am very happy to see it on your best of 2018 list :)

25bell7
Jan 1, 9:52am Top

>24 alcottacre: Happy New Year to you too, Stasia! So glad you enjoyed A Gentleman in Moscow too - I'm hoping to read his other book Rules of Civility soonish.

26crazy4reading
Jan 1, 1:28pm Top

Happy New Year!

27bell7
Jan 1, 2:46pm Top

>26 crazy4reading: Thanks, Monica, you too!

28bell7
Jan 1, 3:31pm Top

2018 included a few meetups with 75ers - Katie (katiekrug), Joe (jnwelch), and meeting up with Nora (norabelle414) and others before the National Book Festival. Of most of them, I have no photographs, but here is a belated one of me & Joe (photo credits to the kind employee there who took some with our phones):



Looking forward to meeting friends new & old this year!

29drneutron
Jan 1, 4:07pm Top

Cool pic!

30bell7
Jan 1, 4:08pm Top

>29 drneutron: Thanks, Jim! It was a neat place, a diner that had been converted from a railroad car and had a second room set up as a gallery with local art.

31PaulCranswick
Jan 1, 7:02pm Top



Happy 2019
A year full of books
A year full of friends
A year full of all your wishes realised

I look forward to keeping up with you, Mary, this year.

32msf59
Jan 1, 7:06pm Top

Happy New Year, Mary and Happy New Thread. Have a great year of reading!

>28 bell7: Love the Meet Up photo!

33ronincats
Jan 1, 9:42pm Top

Dropping off my star, Mary!

34bell7
Jan 2, 10:25am Top

>31 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! Best wishes for the new year to you as well.

>32 msf59: Happy New Year, Mark! And thanks - it was a blast!

>33 ronincats: *waves* Hi Roni!

35aktakukac
Jan 2, 3:27pm Top

Hi, Mary! Happy reading this year!

36foggidawn
Jan 2, 4:57pm Top

Happy New Year and happy new thread! I look forward to following your reading this year.

37bell7
Jan 2, 8:54pm Top

>35 aktakukac: Thanks, Rachel! Nice to see you!

>36 foggidawn: Happy new year to you, too, foggi! Will be following along on your thread as well.

38bell7
Jan 2, 9:06pm Top

1. The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker
Why now? I came across this BuzzFeed list and figured this book on making your gatherings meaningful would be a good read this time of year, when many of us gather with family and friends

In The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters Priya Parker makes an impassioned case for creating more meaningful gatherings and walks you through each step, from having a purpose to the closing, and everything in between. Using myriad examples from her own life and professional practice, Parker illustrates the ways in which you as the host can create a memorable occasion, whether it's your next business meeting or a social hour with friends.

Almost anyone can get something out of this book. If you're human and not a hermit, you most likely gather in some way over some occasion at some point - weddings, funerals, hosting a few friends to dinner - these are all gatherings. In business, a meeting, a conference - these are gatherings too. Parker takes general principles that you can apply in almost any situation. She talks about having a specific purpose to the gathering, and using that to make decisions about where it is located and how you structure the event. From there, she uses her expertise to explain ways in which you can make a more meaningful, memorable gathering: but unlike most books on gatherings, she's less interested in logistics than in people. I liked that she includes examples of times she didn't get it right. She's not setting herself up as a perfect person who's got it all down; she's learning too, and she's here to explain what she's learned and why she believes in doing things the way she lays it out. I'm hoping to put some of this into practice in some of the gatherings I'm involved in personally and professionally. 4.5 stars.

39bell7
Jan 2, 9:28pm Top

Just for fun - the book title list that's been making the rounds, all titles taken from books read in 2018:

Describe Yourself: Bibliophile
Describe How You Feel: No Time to Spare
Describe Where You Currently Live: Dog Sense (I'm watching some 'til Feb. 4)
If You Could Go Anywhere, Where Would You Go: The Library at the Edge of the World
Your Favorite Form of Transportation: Howl's Moving Castle
Your Best Friend is: Wild
You and Your Friends are: Blessings
What's the Weather Like: Court of Frost and Starlight
You Fear: The Word is Murder
What's the Best Advice You Have to Give: Happiness is a Choice You Make
Thought for the Day: Get a Financial Life
How I Would Like to Die: In Paradise
My Soul's Present Condition: Ordinary Grace

40katiekrug
Jan 2, 9:42pm Top

>39 bell7: - Well done! I especially like your weather and advice.

41lycomayflower
Jan 3, 8:38am Top

>39 bell7: Great answers! I, too, really like the advice.

42BLBera
Jan 3, 9:07am Top

Happy New Year, Mary. You have a great list of favorites from last year.

43richardderus
Jan 3, 10:02am Top

>38 bell7: Professional Hermit says well done you for enjoying and explaining that title I shall never, ever need to read.

44bell7
Jan 3, 10:20am Top

>40 katiekrug: Ha! Thanks - the weather one was a toughie, but I thought that selection was pretty good for a cold winter's night myself.

>41 lycomayflower: Thanks, Laura!

>42 BLBera: Happy new year, Beth! I enjoyed remembering some of my best reads putting it together.

>43 richardderus: Well, thank you sir. I find that one of the best compliments to a review if I can describe it in such a way you know why I dis/liked it and know if you would too :)

45thornton37814
Jan 3, 11:03am Top

Good meme answers.

46MickyFine
Jan 3, 1:30pm Top

Adding my admiration to your meme answers, Mary. And congrats on finishing your first book of the year!

47bell7
Jan 3, 6:44pm Top

>45 thornton37814: Thanks, Lori!

>46 MickyFine: Thanks on both counts, Micky!

48bell7
Jan 3, 8:00pm Top

Whelp, yesterday was a crazy-busy day where I think I had about a 45 minute window to sit still (when I wrote my review and meme answers) between walking dogs, work, doctor's appointment...

Today is a little more relaxed, at least in the evening. I decided not to cook, just walked the dogs and had a sandwich for supper. I'm off tomorrow, with just a few errands I need to run, and I'll probably bake some chicken breast, roast some potatoes and Brussel sprouts to have meals for a couple of days.

I took some time this evening to catch up on threads and star some new ones I'd missed in the crazy turnover of the last few days from one 75 group to the other. I've also officially decided on my first DNF of the year - Half a King by Joe Abercrombie is just not impressing me. The thrust of the story is that Yarvi is the second son of the king who wants to be a scholar, but when his father and older brother are treacherously killed he's thrust into the throne he never asked for. He happens to have one hand, the other crippled with only a thumb and one small finger (which, the narrator reminds us constantly, means he can't hold a weapon and fight - to which I want to know, why exactly?). It has some potential, but I'm not invested in the characters and the writing style annoys me, with a LOT of dialog and stilted "fantasy" narration. Meh. The Goblin Emperor had a similar premise and better execution.

49Donna828
Jan 3, 9:28pm Top

Mary, I loved your meme responses. Those are a fun way to review the past year's books. I've heard such good things about Labyrinth of the Spirits. I need to get moving on my reread of The Shadow of the Wind for next Tuesday night's book group. I thought I had another week! I read it back in 2011 but remember it fairly well. Still, it will be good to visit Barcelona and The Cemetery of Lost Books again. I might even go on and read the rest of the series while the first one is fresh in my mind again.

I look forward to seeing what you're reading again this year. My goodness, you've already finished one and given up on another. No sense in wasting time on a book that doesn't resonate with you. Happy Reading in 2019!

50Ameise1
Jan 4, 2:29am Top

Happy reading in 2019, Mary. Dropped a star.

51jnwelch
Jan 4, 2:47pm Top

Happy New Year, Mary!

>28 bell7: Meeting you in person in Stockbridge was one of the highlights of last year for me. With any luck we can do it again this coming fall, when we plan to visit western Mass again.

>2 bell7: Great book club reading list. I thought both Year of Wonders and Evicted were amazing.

>3 bell7: Fun group of favorites. That N.K. Jemison trilogy is special, isn't it. I loved A Gentleman in Moscow, and I keep nudging my wife to read it.

52Crazymamie
Jan 4, 7:14pm Top

Hoping 2019 is full of happy for you, Mary! Looking forward to again following your reading adventures and seeing more photos of the cuties up top.

53bell7
Jan 4, 8:23pm Top

>49 Donna828: Thanks, Donna! I loved The Shadow of the Wind, and liked the next two okay - though even the one I especially had difficulty with I would like to reread now that the series is complete. I really loved how The Labyrinth of the Spirits brought everything together. I hope you enjoyed your book club! And yeah, I'm definitely in the camp of stop reading a book if it's not working for whatever reason. It wasn't grabbing me and I didn't want to be reading it when I wasn't, if that makes sense, so I decided it's just going back.

>50 Ameise1: Thanks for coming by, Barbara!

>51 jnwelch: Happy new year, Joe! I would love to try to meet up again in the fall. I'm looking forward to all of my book club reads, including the rereads for me (Cutting for Stone was a favorite and The Underground Railroad will not only have a lot to talk about but is a bit of a departure for our group). I have been recommending N.K. Jemisin left and right to fantasy readers - in fact, my landlords' son is visiting and I told him to check out my copy of The Fifth Season during his visit. And oh, A Gentleman in Moscow was lovely wasn't it? That was an unexpected find, our library copies have been off the shelf more than on and I decided to see what all the fuss was about.

>52 Crazymamie: Thanks, Mamie! I'm hoping to get down to DC for the American Library Association conference in June, in which case I will definitely have some updated photos!

54Berly
Jan 4, 9:56pm Top

>1 bell7: Great photos of the kiddos. Where have you lived in MA? I have lived in Sudbury, Wellesley, Brighton, Amherst and Weymouth although not in that order and not consecutively.

>2 bell7: Wow, I love the books you picked to discuss! I've read about 3/4 of them.

>39 bell7: Ha! "Your Favorite Form of Transportation: Howl's Moving Castle" I used the same anser for where I live. My opions weren't very good. I had Monsoon Mansion, The Dead House, Killman Creek or The Gray House. Yikes! Your other answers are great. : )

So now I am caught up and your thread is starred and I wish you a happy.....and lots of ....



55bell7
Jan 5, 6:44pm Top

>54 Berly: Thanks, Kim! Not to be coy, but one of the few things I keep general on my threads is where I live, so I'll PM you the answer to that. My book discussion group is really fun and even when I don't love the book, we always have a great discussion. I almost had Howl's Moving Castle for where I live too! It was actually pretty hard for me to come up with some of those, so thanks for thinking they're all great haha. You did have some tough competition there for places lived ;) Happy new year!

56bell7
Jan 5, 7:06pm Top

2. The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott
Why now? It was on the next shelf of my read-through-the-library mini-challenge. I picked it up because I've liked the sound of Kate Alcott's (actually a pseudonym for Patricia O'Brien) historical fiction, and Lowell is in my home state.

When Alice arrives in Lowell in 1832, she's left her family's farm behind and dreams of making a new life for herself in the mills. When she arrives at the dormitory, Lovey and the other girls take her under their wing and she soon starts to see the harsh conditions, long hours, and dangerous work they do on the looms. Meanwhile, the owner, Hiram Fiske, is most worried about the bottom line. His son Samuel, however, sees the value in making changes and may have a bit of an interest in Alice herself. Then one of the mill girls is murdered, and the careful balance of power at the factory may shift dramatically.

There were aspects of this that were well done and interesting explorations in power struggles between mill owners, religious leaders, and the workers themselves but I kept wanting more somehow. Alice was a likable enough character, but I never quite "got" how she and Lovey became friends. The author tells more than shows, so I often reacted with a "But why?" when I was told a character felt a certain way, for example. Details about mill work were inserted somewhat awkwardly in conversation at times, as if the author wanted the readers to know a certain list of things but then get on with the story she wanted to tell. I was interested knowing that this was based on a true story - an actual murder trial that occurred in a mill town - and would have liked to have more information in the author's note at the back, which gave very little additional information and no bibliography. 3.5 stars.

57bell7
Jan 5, 7:58pm Top

Yesterday's errands and cooking had me exhausted, so today I took it easy. My only errand was to get my car inspected - and it passed! None of the drama from 2017/18 that some of you may remember...

Other than that, I've been busily knitting and reading. I watched both Clueless and Night at the Museum for the first time. Actually I'm not 100% sure I haven't seen Clueless before, but if so my memory of it was very dim. (I kept thinking that Josh looked like a young Ryan Reynolds and I was really surprised when I looked it up on IMDB to find it was actually Paul Rudd.) I kind of want to reread Emma now. And Night at the Museum was fun too - I didn't really know the plot or who was in it other than Ben Stiller and Robin Williams, so it was fun to discover some of the characters as they were introduced.

While watching, I knitted away and finished up a scarf/hat set I was making and started on a pair of fingerless gloves. I made some cotton ones for a volunteer's husband, and she said they're falling apart and could I make a new pair? So I'm hoping to have them done to give her Tuesday.

58Whisper1
Jan 5, 8:50pm Top

>28 bell7: Meet ups are such fun!!!! It sounds like today was a lovely day for you. We took it easy as well. However, there still some nagging decorations to put away. I remember the year that the pocket doors did not open, indicating that my grandmother was not going to have a Christmas tree that year. It was so difficult for me because I loved her so and it seemed to indicate that she had less energy.

Now, this year we debated about putting up a tree. In the end, tradition won out. We have way too many special Hallmark and Old World decorations to put on a tree.

I hope 2019 is a special one for you Mary!

59Familyhistorian
Jan 6, 6:05pm Top

>57 bell7: Yay for your car passing the inspection and an easier day, Mary. I hope that 2019 brings a lot more fun meet ups (with photos) your way.

60bell7
Jan 6, 7:37pm Top

>58 Whisper1: They are a lot of fun! I am starting to make a habit of letting fellow LTers know almost anytime I'm traveling just in case we can meet up in the area. You're way ahead of me getting the tree down since I'm dogsitting (and traveling) so much it will most likely be up until March. At least it's artificial! It will be a sad day for me when I cannot or don't quite have the energy for it anymore. Wishing you a wonderful day, Linda!

>59 Familyhistorian: Yes! I was so excited it passed. Of course, now my brakes are making funny noises... but I'm almost sure it's a thing that my previous car had, where the thing the brake pads squeeze is bent so it just makes a noise and kinda bumps a little under my foot (I'm not explaining this well...). It was doing this before the inspection, and it couldn't possibly have passed if there was a real issue, so while I'll get it checked soon just to make sure, I'm not really worried about it. I will try to remember to take photos at any 2019 meetups :)

Yesterday I also watched the Bruins, which was a fun win for four in a row. I'm now currently cheering for the Bears because I would rather the Eagles not win again. I will also go for anyone who plays the Cowboys. Other than that I'm not very invested in the playoffs this year haha.

61MickyFine
Jan 7, 3:40pm Top

>57 bell7: Wow. I can't imagine not having seen Clueless. I've been watching it regularly since I was a teenager. It's one of my go-to feel good films. :)

62richardderus
Jan 7, 3:57pm Top

If I've ever seen Clueless, it's lost to memory. That's sorta sad, in a way, but then again if I remembered everything I'd ever seen/read, I wouldn't need to write reviews now would I?

63bell7
Jan 7, 8:18pm Top

>61 MickyFine: Hehe. I actually think I might've. It was right in the wheelhouse of the kind of romcoms my friends and I were watching as teenagers, and the right time period too. In fact, one of my friends and I watched every iteration of Emma we could possibly get our hands on so I'd almost be more shocked if we hadn't. BUT if we did, it was probably at a sleepover and the chances were 50/50 that we were talking all through it and only half paying attention (especially if she'd already seen it, actually).

>62 richardderus: If I remembered everything I'd seen/read... hmmmm... not sure I'd want that really. Plus there's the fun of rediscovering something when I did forget details. That being said, though I'm not as familiar with your movie taste as your book taste, I don't think you'd go for Clueless much.

64MickyFine
Jan 8, 12:27pm Top

>63 bell7: That makes sense. I was a bit young when Clueless initially came out, but like many things, I discovered it on VHS at the library when it was age appropriate. :)

65katiekrug
Jan 8, 12:37pm Top

Amy Heckerling was involved in the making of the musical of 'Clueless' that I saw last month. I wasn't expecting much, but it was so much fun. It's in a limited run in NY but I'm hoping it'll find a home. I'd love to see it again!

66bell7
Edited: Jan 8, 3:53pm Top

>64 MickyFine: I think I was 12. Possibly a little bit young but I saw every iteration of Emma by age 15 when said friend moved out of state. Very possible that was one of the movies in the intervening 3 years. We probably got it from Blockbuster ;)

>65 katiekrug: Ooh, that sounds fun. Glad it was a hit with you, Katie!

67bell7
Jan 9, 7:47pm Top

Well, it's been quite the week so far. Yesterday I walked the dogs twice, worked 12-8, fed the dogs, walked the dogs, and scheduled time to take a shower and do my nails before bed. That was pretty much my day. I'm going to have to start getting up a little earlier, because I've been about 5 minutes late to work for the past week while I've been dogsitting (longer commute? different routine? not sure what the culprit is, exactly). So I've got my lunch already packed in the fridge and I'll set my alarm to 7 instead of 7:30 and see if that helps. Needless to say, not a lot of reading happening.

I'm still whittling away at Musicophilia and will start My Stroke of Insight tonight because I have book discussion on Wednesday. Friday, I'm only working 9-2 and Saturday I have off with only an oil change scheduled, so I should make progress in both.

68richardderus
Jan 9, 7:57pm Top

>67 bell7: That tuckered me out reading it. Not sad I had nothing like so much to do today. I went to return library books and pick one up, stopped at the fruitstand for some apples, and thence homeward to read.

I love being a boring old man!

69bell7
Jan 9, 8:05pm Top

>68 richardderus: Heh. Yeah, some dogsitting jobs are kinda cushy and I read a lot because I'm not distracted by puttering around at home. This one is not like that. But I get caught up on podcasts while I walk these dogs, so not all is lost? Your day sounds lovely! I will not really get a day completely off like that until my February trip, but I am very much looking forward to sitting on a balcony with an ocean view reading for a couple of days before the wedding party shows up...

70MickyFine
Jan 10, 10:28am Top

Wishing you a wee bit of down time in between all that dog walking, Mary. This is why I'm sticking with having cats. None of that walking nonsense. ;)

71streamsong
Jan 10, 11:23am Top

A late Happy New Year since I am so tardy with New Year visits. As always, I look forward to following your reads and adventures.

Well you got me - I haven't rewatched Clueless for a long time, so I did a library request. In my case, my daughter introduced it to me while she was in her teenage years. I definitely need some light and fluffy in the long January evenings.

Hooray for a good car check and also for dog sitting. I miss my Ginny since losing her in October. I have a friend who dogwalks for the local humane society. Maybe I'll give that a try until I'm ready for a new set of paws in my house.

72bell7
Edited: Jan 12, 5:50pm Top

>70 MickyFine: thanks Micky! My chance of downtime is today, and it wasn't much, but I did get to sit and knit while I got my brakes fixed today...😁

>71 streamsong: happy New year, Janet! Hope you enjoy your rewatch of Clueless. It's funny, I enjoy that kind of story as a movie, but I look for something completely different in books. I'm sorry to hear about your losing Ginny 💔. Maybe dogwalking would be a good thing. I watch other people's pets as a way to supplement my income a bit as I save up for my own place, but personally I wouldn't want all the responsibility that comes with ownership - not least of which would be finding someone to watch pets when I go away!

If I'm mostly MIA, it's just that the Internet here kicked out a few days ago and I don't want to meet with anyone's set of cards resetting the router and modem. So I have the data on my phone but will be mostly without internet the next few weeks. Ah well - more reading time! I'm hard at work reading My Stroke of Insight this weekend for Wednesday's book club.

73Whisper1
Jan 12, 7:14pm Top

>60 bell7: A few years ago, I was stranded in an airport for an entire day (I think it was Newark.) When I was able to get the very last flight to Dayton, Ohio, I wrote about my trivails on facebook. Immediately, I had a post from Caroline who happened to be two gates down. We had a drink together and talked as though we knew each other forever! Thus, I confirm your telling people when you are traveling. You just never know......

74bell7
Jan 13, 4:16pm Top

>73 Whisper1: Oh yes, I recall you sharing that experience a few years ago as well. How wonderful to be able to meet up like that and make the best out of a challenging situation! Meet ups are the best :)

75bell7
Jan 13, 4:27pm Top

3. My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.
Why now? It moved to the top of the pile when it got to be about a week before my book club meeting

In 1996 at the age of 37, brain doctor Jill Bolte Taylor suffered a stroke, a massive bleed in her left hemisphere that affected her ability both to speak and interpret language. Miraculously, she was able to get help and recovered; here she shares her experience and the insight she believes she gained from the time she spent processing the world primarily through the right hemisphere of her brain.

The structure of the book lends itself to a threefold purpose:
1. Warn others of potential stroke symptoms so they can recognize warning signs in themselves or family/friends
2. Give a stroke victim's experience of care and recovery so family and caregivers can better provide help
3. Share her "insights" gained from the time she spent with only a functional right hemisphere

Our brains are complicated, intricate, amazing things and I am not alone in being captured by hemisphere lateralization, recovery from brain trauma, and the brain's plasticity. Dr. Taylor's detailed description of the morning of her stroke and the difficulties she had stringing thoughts together to get help were utterly fascinating. Unfortunately, she lost me after that. Her descriptions of recovery were impressionistic, with only a few concrete examples, especially post-surgery where she compressed about eight years in the same amount of space she'd spent detailing the one morning of the stroke. Certainly this may have been because of her left hemisphere damage, but after the detail of the first part, this reader found it disappointing. She also begins to get repetitive - I don't know how many variations of "I was wounded, not deaf" I read, and she begins to introduce some italicized phrases that carry over into part 3, such as "one with the universe" and "step to the right." Finally, I didn't find her insights all that insightful. Is it really that groundbreaking to discover you can break a chain of negative self-talk by choosing to think of something else? I am, admittedly, extremely sensory and analytical, so she really lost me when she started talking about angel cards and the like. Your mileage may vary. 3 stars.

I finished this last night, mostly read in two chunks from Wednesday to Saturday. Our discussion is this coming Wednesday, and it will be interesting to hear what others have to say about it. One of the people in the group had a family member who recently had a stroke, so I'm especially interested in hearing her take and hope she comes.

76bell7
Jan 13, 4:33pm Top

The weekend has been action-packed, starting with my day off yesterday and an oil change that turned into a major break job (I knew they were making funny noises, so I asked them to check it). A few hours later and a few dollars poorer, I grabbed some groceries and went back to the dogs, walked them, made some chicken soup (my lunch/dinner for the work week), and read a good chunk in My Stroke of Insight. I also got quite a bit of knitting done in a sweater for my nephew while waiting for the car, so I should take a photo or two and post them when I get a chance.

About 9 p.m. the fire alarm went off. I got one of the dogs outside and was going back for the other one went it stopped. So I thought, well, a spider tripped the laser or something, all's well and went back in. I walked the dogs, went through my evening routine getting things ready for today, and went to bed.

The alarms went off again at 2:15 a.m., and I had enough time to get myself out of bed, bundle up, get the dogs out and call 911. I was waiting for the fire department arrival when they stopped...again. They came, looked around, said they were old alarms and maybe some plaster from the ceiling fell in, but they couldn't even tell me which one had triggered the alarms because they were all off now. They showed me what to do to get them to stop if it happened again. Meanwhile, the homeowners were alerted the front door had been open, and called to make sure everything was okay. So I explained what happened, they're buying some alarms and hoping to have someone replace the alarms for me soon. I'm tired to say the least, and just hoping that it doesn't happen again in the meantime so I can sleep well tonight!

77alcottacre
Jan 13, 4:35pm Top

>3 bell7: I think I liked that one slightly ore when I read it, but not much more than you did. Sorry your past couple of reads have been duds.

I have never seen Clueless. Just not my cuppa.

78bell7
Jan 13, 4:39pm Top

>77 alcottacre: Yeah, unfortunately they started well and just didn't fulfill my hopes. Ah well! I went through the questions for My Stroke of Insight today at work and I do think we'll have a lot to talk about. Sometimes it's easier for me to analyze a work that I have some reservations about - I tend to observe more and think more deeply when I'm not being carried along by a story because I'm observing my own reaction to it: why didn't it work? I enjoyed Clueless as a nice mindless watch, though I'm not sure I'd seek it out to watch it over and over again. Princess Bride is more my cuppa for that.

79Donna828
Jan 13, 8:25pm Top

What an exciting time you had with the malfunctioning alarms! Thank goodness there wasn't a fire. You sound like a very reliable dog sitter.

Btw, the ten people who attended my Book Group last Tuesday unanimously loved The Shadow of the Wind!

80richardderus
Jan 13, 10:40pm Top

>76 bell7: That reminds me of this place. The inmates are to a wrinkled old one tobacco smokers. Many have the usual smokers' sense of privilege, and despite a very advanced alarm system that detects them every time, try to smoke in their rooms. The alarm goes off. They're castigated. They don't want to go outside and smoke in the cold. They do it again. The alarm goes off. Repeat ad infinitum ad nauseam.

So a better week ahead for you!

81bell7
Jan 14, 11:29am Top

>79 Donna828: Yes, quite the exciting early Sunday morning! And thank you, I do rather enjoy my dogsitting gigs, even if this one in particular is a lot more work than most (because the dogs need to be walked more and the commute is longer, not because of the alarm!). I'm so glad your group enjoyed The Shadow of the Wind! At some point I want to reread the whole series. I feel like I would have a better appreciation for The Angel's Game, for example, now that I've read the rest.

>80 richardderus: Oh no! That sounds rough for the rest of you. Do you have to all assemble outside regardless, or does the staff know the regular offenders and take care of it without having you all upended first?

Serendipitously, the homeowners' daughter and her husband had just bought alarms for their own house, so they came last night and changed out the oldest one that had been tripped. They left me the others in case anything happened again, but I think I should be good for the remaining 3 weeks!

Almost done with Musicophilia, another somewhat mediocre read but it's held my interest enough to keep going. It's been a month for nonfiction (3 out of 4 so far - very unusual for me!), and I have a few more lined up even after this one. But the book I brought with me to read on break is The Travelling Cat Chronicles, for something a little different.

82richardderus
Jan 14, 11:59am Top

>81 bell7: None of the staff much care, really, as there are no consequences other than a talking-to about smoking and fire and the law. It has no effect, natch, since all addicts are selfish and think their "right" to personal freedom trumps (word chosen carefully) everyone else's right to a safe and pleasant living space.

Musicophilia was a Pearl-Ruler for me.

Happy week ahead!

83bell7
Jan 14, 12:21pm Top

>82 richardderus: Ugh, how frustrating! I'm super sensitive to the smell of smoke myself, and have often had to stand upwind of a smoker just so I didn't start a coughing fit.

84bell7
Edited: Jan 30, 8:59pm Top

4. Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks
Why now? Funny story, that. I was searching for an audiobook to listen to before bed and found this one narrated by John Lee, who I had confused with *Christopher* Lee and thought it would be fun to listen to him read me a book. It was well-narrated, but was not Christopher Lee. I owned the book at one point, so thought it might be a book off my shelf - but no to that either, I must have passed it on unread. Ah well. It was entertaining.

Neurologist and prolific author Oliver Sacks turns his attention to music and the brain in this collection of case studies of patients and others.

I've read Hallucinations and Gratitude, and own two other books by Sacks that I'm interested in reading. His collections of case studies both shine light on how the brain works and what it can do when it works uniquely in an individual. I found this one of his weaker books. Music is the driving force behind it, but the case studies are all over the place, running the gamut from perfect pitch (very closely related to music) to an individual who had such severe amnesia and short term memory loss that he couldn't remember anything within a few minutes but who nonetheless could still relate to music. Some chapters were organized thematically and introduced several case studies; a few were one unique case study, only a few pages long. And for some reason, this one in particular had a lot of notes referring to case studies that were explored more fully in his earlier books. I carried on because I did enjoy what I was learning, but it's probably not a book I'd reread nor one I'd recommend as an introduction to Sacks' work. 3.5 stars.

85bell7
Edited: Jan 30, 8:59pm Top

Happy Tuesday!

I started my work week Sunday, making today the halfway point. Hallelujah! My boss has been out sick so far this week, which has left me the senior staff member in what's been a very eventful week for us. In addition to the regular day in and day out, we have two major building projects starting the week, and I attended a trustees' meeting tonight in the director's absence.

I am very much looking forward to Friday! I'm off that day, and will be switching out to a calmer dogsitting job for the long weekend before coming back to the labs for another two weeks.

86The_Hibernator
Jan 17, 10:01am Top

>84 bell7: I've been interested in that book since it came out.

87richardderus
Jan 17, 10:05am Top

>85 bell7: Trustees' meetings are a close second to board meetings in dullness. Attention must be paid because the business is truly important, but damn it's boring! Kudos for not falling asleep and drooling on the agenda.

At least I assume you didn't....

88bell7
Jan 17, 8:56pm Top

>86 The_Hibernator: it definitely has some interesting tidbits, and was kinda interesting to read alongside My Stroke of Insight, Katie.

>87 richardderus: well, we spent nearly the first hour on paint colors and most of the second hour was about how the library director (my boss) could be evaluated. I zoned after awhile on the paint colors (I really don't have a strong opinion, and in the end they left a bit up in the air and came back on Wednesday - my boss meet with them). The part about evaluation was pretty interesting to me, actually. Apparently there's a really specific way they have to do it to comply with open meeting law *and* give her a confidential evaluation. I know I'm probably weird for being fascinated by the details there.

89richardderus
Jan 17, 10:12pm Top

*toys with spork*really my my*inserts spork into eye socket*you don't say*POP*

90bell7
Jan 18, 9:41am Top

>89 richardderus: now now, Richard, I'll go to the meetings and you don't have to. Please leave your eyes out of this 😉 maybe the paint fumes were getting to my head, as the project itself started Wednesday.

91bell7
Jan 18, 10:37am Top

Happy Friday! Please excuse any typos, as I'm attempting to write this on my phone.

Today is a day off from the library, and I'm switching dogsitting jobs. I'm mostly packed, though I want to have a last minute look through the books I've brought to decide what to bring with me and what can stay. I'll pack the car this afternoon, and I also have to change the bed. That should do it otherwise.

I finished The Travelling Cat Chronicles last night, and I will write up a review later when I have a laptop and I'm no longer painstakingly looking for typos from the phone keyboard (the router here needs to be reset for the WiFi to work, and I don't want to mess with that).

92MickyFine
Jan 18, 5:21pm Top

Glad you survived the board meeting. Enjoy your weekend with different pups!

93richardderus
Jan 18, 5:34pm Top

>91 bell7: I'm impressed that you typed so much on your teensy little keyboard!

Happy pupperstime.

94katiekrug
Jan 19, 10:09am Top

Hi Mary! Sorry about the adventures with alarms - been there, no fun, pleaseneveragain.

Hope you enjoy your respite from the labs for the weekend :)

95bell7
Jan 19, 5:50pm Top

>92 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! So far so good.

>93 richardderus: Heh. I'm slightly helped by being able to drag my finger over the letters on the phone - I "write" out a word, and the keyboard either figures out what I most likely mean by the combo of letters and (I think) catches on to my particular phrasing or word choice. Makes it *slightly* easier but I don't always get the right word in there.

>94 katiekrug: Well like I told the homeowners, Katie, at least it wasn't a real fire!

96bell7
Jan 19, 6:01pm Top

5. The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
Why now? Patrons requesting this title first put it on my radar, and I purchased it for the library and have been eying it on the new shelf, nabbing it one day when it was sitting there. I picked it up to read this week because I needed some lighter fiction to balance out all the nonfiction I've been reading lately and knew it would be a quick read.

Nana, a former stray taken in by a young man named Satoru, narrates much of this story of a road trip he takes with his adopted owner who suddenly announced he can no longer take care of Nana. The cat isn't quite sure what's going on, but as he meets each friend from Satoru's past and learns his story, he begins to understand the owner who took him in.

I enjoyed the story and the device of using a tough-guy stray to tell the story. It took me a little while to get in the flow, because it's a little jarring to go from one friend to the other, and to switch from Nana telling the story to the history being filled in by a third-person narrator. I wasn't always sure what the cat was learning from reminiscences of the friends and what was being filled in for the reader. But there was a certain charm to the story and while nothing was truly unexpected, it did bring tears to my eyes in the end. 4 stars.

97bell7
Edited: Jan 19, 6:10pm Top

I arrived at the weekend dogsitting job last night and ended up spending hours Skyping with my youngest sister in Halifax. She's having a good time but has more downtime than she's used to. It was really nice to catch up a bit and trade ideas for a summer road trip. I think we're leaning towards Cape Cod, starting from the tip and working our way west.

Today I took a quick trip to feed and change the litter for cats for a friend. I sat and read in the room one of the cats was in (I'm pretty sure the other was under the bed, but he's been hiding from me every time I come) until the one who had been sitting on the bed with me got up and walked into the other room. The owner had asked me to stick around to give them a little human company, but I figured if they were done with me then that was time to go :) I came back to walk the dog, then headed out to a yoga class and hanging out at a bar with friends for a few hours after. You guys - I actually did a side plank without modifying it by putting a knee on the ground! This is a first, and I was so excited I'm pretty sure I audibly said, "Yes!" while on the mat.

This evening and tomorrow were going to be pretty busy, but things got cancelled/rescheduled due to the coming snow. I am anticipating a lovely evening watching the Australian Open and reading, followed by a very lowkey day of reading and knitting. The plow should come sometime tomorrow, and I've got nowhere I've got to be until Monday afternoon. I am so excited!

98PaulCranswick
Jan 20, 4:19am Top

Good luck with the dogsitting, Mary. xx

99bell7
Jan 20, 9:38am Top

>98 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! So far, so good.

We had a good six inches (maybe a little more) of snow today, and now it's freezing rain that should turn back to snow before it all wraps up. I have absolutely nothing planned for this miserable weathery day, so I'm hunkered down with the dog and four cats inside, watching the Australian Open and reading. Bliss. Since Federer got knocked out, I'll be going for young American Tiafoe to pull off an upset - I actually saw him play Federer in a first-round match at the US Open and was impressed by his game. For the women, I like Sloane Stephens quite a bit so I'm enjoying watching her live match this morning, and I'd also like to see Ash Barty go far. Because of the time difference, I'm not sure I'll get to see either of the finals but it's been fun to watch what matches I can over the long weekend.

100bell7
Jan 20, 12:49pm Top

6. When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka
Why now? A bit of a whim, since the e-book and audio were available through my library's Overdrive account. I read The Buddha in the Attic for book club and have been meaning to try this one too.

In California, 1942 - a woman and her son and daughter are evacuated from their home and brought to an internment camp. Their experiences, in a series of descriptive impressions and memories, follow them through the war years and returning home afterward.

This short novel packs a powerful punch. Otsuka is deliberate in every detail of her craft, from the images she evokes to what she leaves out or only mentions in passing, to the shifts in points of view. The lack of characters' names create a sort of distance from them, yet at the same time, we're given an almost universal example of what the experience was like for a family. And that example is so heartbreaking, almost cringe-inducing and, all the more powerful for the spare writing style. It makes for a very uncomfortable reading experience - which is, of course, precisely what it's meant to be. I can't fault Otsuka for flawlessly executing the story she set out to write. I admire it, but I don't like it. 3 stars.

101katiekrug
Jan 20, 12:54pm Top

>100 bell7: - I listened to that one last year and felt the same, though I think I rated it a wee bit higher (which means nothing since ratings are so personal).

We got a little bit of snow and then it changed to regular rain over night, so now everything is wet and soggy and the temps are going to plummet. High tomorrow of only 16F. I'll have to venture out to the dentist to pick up my night guard, but otherwise I'm staying home!

102bell7
Edited: Jan 20, 1:11pm Top

>101 katiekrug: I had a hard time coming up with a rating for it, Katie, because I didn't enjoy it in most ways but it couldn't have been done any other way. (I rated Of Mice and Men exactly the same for that reason too). We've got a winter weather advisory tonight for below 0 temps, so I'm very glad to not go anywhere today and have one quick errand to run tomorrow. Other than that and switching houses again, I'm staying put too!

Edited to get the touchstone to work, correct my numbering, and correct my spelling!

103bell7
Jan 20, 6:18pm Top

7. Everyday Millionaires by Chris Hogan
Why now? The financial podcast I listen to has been talking their new book out for a while now, and I pre-ordered the book - after it arrived, it was high on my list of books to read after the book club book was complete.

Chris Hogan, a financial coach at Ramsey Solutions, breaks down a survey study of 10,000 (yes, you read that right) millionaires in the U.S. to discover traits they have in common and encourage others that they, too, can build wealth through hard work, living within their means, and saving for the future.

I think what this book suffers from most is preaching to the choir. The first half of the book is busting millionaire myths - that people with a net worth of a million dollars (in most cases, not huge paycheck earners) inherited wealth or that they went to prestigious universities. Hogan builds a case that millionaires are actually pretty average people. Many of them went to state school, and 74% never inherited anything. The second half of the book then delves into character or personality qualities of millionaires; for example, they are goal-oriented. It ends up being very repetitive and not really teaching me to do anything differently from what I'm already doing: budgeting, living within my means, saving in retirement plans. I could've done with a short article that gave me the percentages, but other than that there's nothing new for me here and his motivational-speaker tone was really grating. 3 stars.

Those of you who have been following my reading for a while may remember that I took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University a couple of years ago and have been dipping into personal finance books ever since. This was by one of the people on their team, and I was most interested in the results of the survey. I found the structure, making it more of a self-help book, kind of aggravating (I just want the numbers!), but others who are maybe less familiar with FPU or the podcast may find it useful.

104bell7
Jan 21, 8:59am Top

Yesterday was an incredibly nice lazy day while it snowed/iced outside. I finished two books I'd been reading for a few days and read about 100 pages in another I just started. I'm now reading Stars Uncharted and The Good Neighbor. I even had time for a nap in there, and really enjoyed watching the Australian Open and AFC Championship game (I was going for Kansas City) in the evening.

Today will be *almost* as lazy as yesterday, at least at the start. I am switching where I'm dogsitting, so I've got to clean off my car at some point. And I need to grocery shop to have something to bring to work to eat for the next few days. Then I'll be back to walking the labs, too, but it's so cold today (high of 4 F and currently -3) that these will be very quick just-hurry-up-and-pee walks tonight.

105alcottacre
Jan 21, 10:17am Top

>96 bell7: Adding that one to the BlackHole!

>100 bell7: I liked that one more than you did, but I agree that it is a book more to be admired and appreciated than liked.

Happy Monday, Mary!

106bell7
Jan 21, 10:27am Top

>105 alcottacre: Oh excellent, I hit Stasia with a BB! :D Hope you enjoy it. I kept feeling like I *ought* to like When the Emperor was Divine better, but the simple truth is I'm very much a character reader and I didn't like feeling the distance I did by having it be almost dreamlike (sometimes nightmare!) and not giving them names. I get what the author was going for, and I think she did it successfully, but I'm just not the right reader for it. Happy Monday to you too!

107bell7
Jan 21, 10:28am Top

Update on my plans for the day: I am mostly packed and I cleaned the car off. My fingers were frozen enough after that - part 2 is going to be shoveling out behind it (the plow did most of the work, but there's a good bit of snow I can't just push the car through).

108richardderus
Jan 22, 6:24pm Top

>100 bell7: That was one of my favorite books of the Aughties. Permaybehaps it's due for a re-read....

>103 bell7: That's the trouble I most often have with those books. I end up flipping around to find the nuggets I'm not familiar with, and that makes the read less than enjoyable despite my interest in the subject.

I'm glad you didn't freeze solid in this Arctic blast just passed.

109bell7
Edited: Jan 23, 6:47pm Top

>108 richardderus: I'd be interested in your thoughts if you give it a reread. And yeah, maybe it's getting to that point with a lot of books on finances. Plus, most of the books I have read agree on the broader points and disagree on some details. It's just about gotten to the point where I'm going to start rating those books more based on how much I agree with the author... Btw, did I send you the January BookPage in my last package? I can't remember if I looked through it or not, and we have extra at the library along with February, so I'll grab one of not.

110richardderus
Jan 23, 11:09pm Top

I don't recall the January edition arriving. If I didn't PM you a thanks, it didn't. I'll go look and report tomorrow.

111bell7
Jan 24, 2:17pm Top

>110 richardderus: I think I might've been crazy busy in the holiday season plus dogsitting jobs that I didn't get to the January issue myself. Anyway, I grabbed one at work today and I'll try to send both Jan. and Feb. soon(ish). Before my vacation, anyway.

Finished a couple of books yesterday and today. I'll be posting reviews soon - just taking a short break at work and figuring out knitting pattern instructions for my nephew's sweater (currently about a third? of the way done - I'll post pictures soonish too).

112richardderus
Jan 24, 7:32pm Top

>111 bell7: I can well understand that. And always remember that there's no rush when doing a kindness for someone, especially me, with my cozy cocoon all snug about me.

113bell7
Jan 25, 11:06am Top

>112 richardderus: Not really rushing, just my lame attempt at being organized :D
Glad to see you're in such good spirits, and hope you have a wonderful weekend!

114bell7
Jan 25, 11:20am Top

8. Stars Uncharted by S.K. Dunstall
Why now? A friend recommended this to me months ago, and I requested it from the library because it was one of the only fiction books I had on my holds list and wanted to balance out all the nonfiction with something a little lighter and easier to read.

Nika Rik Terri, well-known body modder, runs into trouble when someone from a powerful company forces her to use her body exchanger, using her body to commit murder while she heals his body. She was planning to leave her abusive boyfriend anyway, but this just gives her a stronger reason to disappear. Meanwhile, Josune Arriola has left her ship for a special mission: stay close to captain Hammond Roystan. When her ship nullspaces right in front of them and they find the crew murdered by a company, the stakes suddenly get high. Can the crew outrun the company in a universe where the Big Twenty-Seven even have the police in their pockets?

I wanted to like this book more than I did, as it definitely has shades of Firefly in it and sets up what could be an interesting world - heck, universe - to explore. I almost wanted this to be a TV series rather than a book - I had trouble visualizing the different worlds/planets they visit, and what the spaceships or mod machines (the way you can change how you look on a whim) looked like and worked. The plot itself is a little light, too, as it's really just them being chased for the majority of the time, and you don't really know why. Or, well, I did kind of figure it out actually. Things were telegraphed early on and not very subtly. It has promise, though, and while the story is self-contained it left room for sequels. 3.5 stars.

I can't tell if I'm reading not great stuff this month or just in a really crabby reading mood.

115bell7
Jan 25, 11:27am Top

9. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
Why now? It's been on my shelves partially read for *years* and I decided to dust it off, read it, and either keep it or pass it on. I've been reading it along with my read through the Bible.

Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren pens this forty-day devotional designed to introduce the five purposes of your life: worship God, fellowship with other believers, become more like Jesus, serve others in the church, and share the gospel with others.

My church used this years ago for a church-wide campaign of reading it together and having several sermons in a row tied into it. I couldn't remember if I'd only read parts of it or the whole thing, and all I really remembered was that his narrative voice was far too excited for my taste and that he quoted from the Message a lot. Well, that's still fairly true (though he quotes from a lot of different versions and the Message was just one of them), but I actually enjoyed reading and found a lot of his points personally challenging and applicable. What he has to say isn't groundbreaking, but is Biblically sound and solid, and a good reminder for anyone whether just starting on their faith journey or following Christ for awhile, on what it means to live out a Christian life. 4.5 stars.

116bell7
Jan 25, 11:32am Top

Happy Friday! My morning's been kind of nutty, because I left my phone at work yesterday and didn't want the hour long round trip just to get it back that night. So I went to work to pick it up, learned with people out I'd be working 12-5 (I'd offered), and promptly left to run errands of getting my laptop, picking up a prescription, and letting someone's cats out before heading back to walk the dogs one more time before work.

Since I finished a couple of books up, I'm reading a couple of new ones. I started the biography of Fred Robers, The Good Neighbor, not long ago and read a couple of chapters last night. I really enjoyed what I read so far, and I'm hoping to read more over the weekend because it's due back to the library on Wednesday and I don't have any renewals left. I'm also listening to / reading I am Malala before bed in the evening. And this morning, I just started The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay, because I need some fiction in my reading. It's set in Bangalore and while I didn't get far over my coffee this morning, the beginning is very promising and the writing lovely. I'm looking forward to reading some more.

And now I am off to go back to work for a 12-5 shift. Happy weekend, and hopefully I will catch up on some threads tonight and tomorrow!

117richardderus
Jan 25, 3:42pm Top

Happy Friday, dear Mary! I'm thrilled that 45 caved since it means I can for sure eat next month...but phew am I fatigued. I posted a TL;DR teaser for my review of The King's Evil. I'm still wrestling that bad boy to the ground. It was an intense read and I want to get all the way into it, wrench open the cupboard doors and saw the green logs into what *I* see as their proper form...and I know how MEGO-inducing that is for others. I still want to because there's so much deeply interesting stuff going on down inside the words. I don't want to make it unnecessary to read the book, though. Where's the balance point?!

So I'm taking an hour off the romp among the threads.

118bell7
Jan 25, 7:59pm Top

>117 richardderus: Happy Friday, Richard! Ah, the kind of book you want to write an essay on... yeah, those can be really hard to review and keep away from spoilers at the same time. Do you find it especially hard to write about books you *like*? My English professors always seemed to think it would be easier, but I've always had an easier time analyzing/criticizing what I didn't. Good luck! Helwig is not an author I'm familiar with, and only Coming through: three novellas and The bishop are in my library system. The King's Evil sounds intriguing.

I'm happy to be back to the dogs and enjoying a quiet evening. I had leftovers for dinner and will cook some things tomorrow to have food for work lunches. I'm sitting in a recliner with Jeopardy on and the labs on the sofa, the yellow on the far left and the chocolate on the right, both cozy and fast asleep. I'll wake them up in an hour and a half or so to go for a final walk and bathroom run for the evening, and then head to bed myself. Meanwhile, I'm going to get warm fuzzy socks and a sweatshirt on, and read.

119richardderus
Jan 25, 8:29pm Top

*happy sigh* the perfect weekend to come kind of a day.

120bell7
Jan 26, 9:01am Top

>119 richardderus: Right? I tell people that Friday is my night to relax, not go out. A cup of tea and good movie or book *all by myself* is perfect after a full week at my job - which I love, but I need some downtime after dealing with people all week.

121bell7
Jan 26, 9:20am Top

My Saturday is beginning at a leisurely pace. I've fed the dogs and had my coffee, sitting in front of the DVRed women's final of the Australian Open. I accidentally saw the result but checking my Twitter feed *oops* but I still wanted to have it on, even if I'm now only half paying attention. I set the DVR for the men's final, too, but it's going to be even harder to not find out who won until after I get back from work tomorrow.

I finish up dogsitting on February 4, and a couple of days later I'll be leaving for a friend's destination wedding. I bought a few things on Amazon that I wanted before my trip - a new charger for my Kindle, because I noticed the plug worn and in need of some electrical tape, and a pair of strappy sandals (first time I've bought footwear online) to wear to the wedding - and I put in an order for Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas since I didn't get it for Christmas and pre-ordered Megan Whalen Turner's new book.

The rest of the day's agenda is to stop at home to swap out some clothes, leave some things I don't need here, and pick up some things I do. I'm hoping to stay and visit a bit with my landlords, since I haven't seen them for several weeks between their traveling and my dogsitting. Then I'll have some food prep to have meals for the week. I'll cook ground turkey burgers and salmon, and I'll cut up cucumbers and make a couple of pita bread pizzas. In a couple of days, I'll need to buy some fresh produce, but I'll have the majority of my meals ready to pack for work or reheat in the evening.

122BLBera
Jan 26, 11:45am Top

Your Saturday sounds great, Mary. I, too, am having a leisurely start to the day.

>114 bell7: Ican't tell if I'm reading not great stuff this month or just in a really crabby reading mood. I am with you. I have looked at my reading this month so far and while I've read some really good books, I feel vaguely dissatisfied.

123bell7
Jan 26, 2:55pm Top

>122 BLBera: Hope you're enjoying your Saturday as well, Beth! I hope you find some more satisfaction in your reading. I'm happy about the number I've finished, but have a similar feeling of dissatisfaction with the books I've chosen. I've got some library books I'm going to try to finish up over the next week and few days, and then I'm bringing my book club book and Kindle (full of ARCs) with me on my trip to Cancun, so we'll see if that kickstarts some better reading. Cutting for Stone was fabulous, and I'm looking forward to the reread for book club.

124bell7
Jan 29, 9:44am Top

Good Tuesday morning! I have six days left of dogsitting and I'm leaving for vacation in 8 days. Woot! At the beginning of this job, it seemed like I would be here forever, and now it's flying by...

I haven't made much progress in reading any of the books I started a few days ago. I'm a little over halfway through The Good Neighbor but I have to step it up, because it's due tomorrow!

Since I don't have any books to report on, here are some photos of my latest knitting project. I'm making a sweater for my nephew, and have completed the back and made good progress on the front (I'd estimate I'm about 40% done) -



And a close up of the cabling:


I'm hoping to finish it before the end of the month, anyway, and mail it down along with a dragon hat that I made for Mia. I'm not going down 'til June, which is a little late in the year for such things.

125scaifea
Jan 30, 10:10am Top

The sweater is adorable! Well done!

126richardderus
Jan 30, 3:29pm Top


I'm crawling around the threads to say I'm not dead but woefully unread, both books and threads. Happy polar vortex.

127bell7
Jan 30, 8:56pm Top

>125 scaifea: Thanks, Amber! I'm getting to a tricky bit at the neck and may post the directions to see if any fellow knitters can help me make heads or tails of it.

>126 richardderus: Nice to see you Richard, even in a decrepit state ;) Stay warm tonight & tomorrow! Brrrrr...

128bell7
Edited: Jan 30, 9:18pm Top

10. The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King
Why now? I first heard of this from the same Buzzfeed list that got me to read The Art of Gathering, and after seeing the documentary on Fred Rogers and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, I really wanted to read it.

Using copious interviews with friends and family of Fred Rogers, Maxwell King fleshes out a detailed biography of the man who became a "neighbor" to generations of children.

From growing up the only child (until his sister was adopted 11 years later) of a wealthy couple in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, to having a vision for what the medium of television could bring to early childhood education and finally to having one of the best-loved children's programs of all time, Fred Rogers was an incredibly driven and gifted man with an extraordinary capacity to love and hear others. King paints a picture of a sensitive child growing into a pretty amazing individual, drawing significantly on personal interviews with Rogers' family members - his wife, his sister, his kids - and friends and co-workers. I grew up with Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and loved the land of Make Believe and the operas, so that portion of the book was the most interesting to me, reading about the great care Mister Rogers took in crafting each show and making sure that nothing he said, not a word, would cause a child alarm. I had songs in my head that I'd almost forgotten all week because I was reading about them, from "It's Such a Good Feeling" to "It's You I Like." There were a lot of details I did not know, and a few anecdotes that made me laugh out loud. Because King covering so much material in a loosely chronological way but also inserting themes, such as music or Rogers' values, it does get repetitive. King didn't seem to want to leave anything out, so while the read was long, it's a lovely tribute to a man I highly respect. 4 stars.

And yes, I did put a hold on a DVD to rewatch some episodes after vacation sometime.

Edited to add: I'd originally thought to listen to the audio (didn't get to it), but for any interested, it's narrated by LeVar Burton.

129richardderus
Jan 31, 11:54am Top

>128 bell7: Fred Rogers was a truly beautiful spirit. His place in the world cannot ever be filled, but through video magic, I'm grateful it doesn't have to be yet.

130bell7
Jan 31, 6:41pm Top

>129 richardderus: He was a special, one-of-a-kind guy and one of my heroes.

131bell7
Jan 31, 6:48pm Top

11. Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung
Why now? Joe (jnwelch) was warbling about it on his thread, and I knew I'd be able to squeeze it in before I went away on vacation.

Debbie Tung tells her story, from graduate school to a couple of years later, of learning about who she is and learning to embrace it, in panels showing both humor and awkwardness in situations in which introverts will recognize themselves. I especially loved the scenes with her extrovert husband and how understanding he was of her difference. Though I don't have the same shyness or social anxiety as the author, I could relate to a lot of what she said - like how excited she gets about having nothing to do this weekend (I *might* have done that when a bachelorette party was postponed last weekend due to snow) and brings a book everywhere, even when she know she can't read it. This is a really delightful collection that may appeal to readers of Sarah's Scribbles (Adulthood is a Myth and Big Mushy Happy Lump), though the drawing in Quiet Girl is more realistic. 4.5 stars.

I'm going to look for Book Love when I get back from vacation.

132katiekrug
Jan 31, 6:52pm Top

Have you decided on your vacation reads, Mary?

133bell7
Jan 31, 7:08pm Top

January in review
1. The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker
2. The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott
3. My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.
4. Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks
5. The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
6. When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
7. Everyday Millionaires by Chris Hogan
8. Stars Uncharted by S. K. Dunstall
9. The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren
10. The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King
11. Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung

Books read: 11
Fiction/Nonfiction/Graphic Novels/Poetry/Plays: 4/6/1/0/0
Children's/Teen/Adult: 0/0/11
Library/Mine/Borrowed: 10/1/0
Rereads: 0

Standouts: I probably enjoyed Quiet Girl in a Noisy World most, and learned the most from The Art of Gathering and The Good Neighbor

Thoughts: I'm really surprised by how many books I read, and the fact that more than half were nonfiction. SIX nonfiction books in a month is incredibly high for me. And they're all for adults (I think - it's possible Quiet Girl was a YA book, but it didn't feel like that to me, and she was an adult so...). But over the years since grad school my numbers have been tracking more and more to adult reading and less children's and YA (it used to be half and half!). Somewhere in the middle of the month I felt vaguely dissatisfied with my reading, and I did read a fair number of 3-3.5 stars, only 3 that I gave the "I would reread" rating of 4.5. With the last three books, it finished strong after all, and I'm looking forward to what February brings. I have three books I'm in the midst of, will bring my Kindle to Cancun with me, and with also have Cutting for Stone to prep for book club.

134msf59
Jan 31, 7:17pm Top

Sweet Thursday, Mary. I like your "January in review" list. Like you I was enticed to request Quiet Girl in a Noisy World from the library after Joe's warbling. I will pick it up this weekend.

Have a wonderful vacation. Going anywhere?

135bell7
Jan 31, 7:18pm Top

>132 katiekrug: Oops, I cross-posted with you, Katie! I'm only expecting to have time the first days I get there before the crowd arrives, because then many days will be filled with excursions and socializing, I'm sure. But that doesn't stop me from bringing a lot *just in case*. Here's the rundown of vacation reads:

I'll probably bring I am Malala, which I'm currently reading and it's mine, so there's no pressure to finish it before I go. I've also got a book we're using for my Bible study group, Don't Waste Your Life, and I'll probably take some time to read ahead in it (I'm leading the discussions).
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese is for book club just six days after I get back, so I'll probably bring it and save it for the plane ride back.

I have a bunch of ARCs on my Kindle to choose from, and that will make up the bulk of my vacation reading. Most of them are books that have already come out and I'm behind on -
Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev (comes out in May)
The Huntress by Kate Quinn (Feb. 26)
What to Read and Why by Francine Prose (backlist)
The Bad-ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer (backlist)
are all contenders

I have a few e-books on hold from the library, and if any of them become available and I have access to Wi-Fi (I can't imagine I won't at an all-inclusive resort?), I'll probably download one of them to read too.

So... plenty to choose from! Though I definitely wanted paper books for the plane.

136bell7
Jan 31, 7:20pm Top

>134 msf59: Thanks, Mark! I bet you'll enjoy Quiet Girl quite a bit. I'm going to Cancun! I'm traveling on my own, but it's actually for a friend's wedding, so several of her friends, including my brother and his girlfriend, will eventually be coming down too. I'm the only one who booked an entire week, though, and I'm arriving two days before anyone else. I'm planning on reading on my balcony and not leaving the resort at all!

137msf59
Jan 31, 7:24pm Top

Ooh, have a great time in Cancun. We went there as a family, exactly a year ago and had a terrific time. Our first time in the Rivera Maya. It was a bit cooler then. We couldn't swim but it was still beautiful. Reading on the balcony sounds lovely.

138bell7
Jan 31, 7:27pm Top

>137 msf59: I've looked at the extended forecast, and they're saying highs in the 80s and lows in the 70s. I will be a happy camper, though I'll probably only swim indoors. I leave on Thursday and am really looking forward to it!

139richardderus
Jan 31, 7:49pm Top

So you and Joe agree, that quiet lady thing is terrible and I needn't bother my pretty little head with it. Got it. Good! *brisk hand-dusting* Off to see what tempting treats the world served up today. Ciao for now!

140bell7
Jan 31, 7:51pm Top

141katiekrug
Jan 31, 9:28pm Top

>135 bell7: - Lots of options is good :)

Interesting about wanting paper books for the plane. I prefer reading on my Kindle on planes - not sure why.

If I don't check in again before you leave, have a great time!

142jnwelch
Feb 1, 10:12am Top

Hi, Mary. I'm glad you enjoyed Quiet Girl in a Noisy World. I loved her relationship with her extrovert husband, too. You'll have fun with Book Love when you get to it.

Have fun in Cancun! What a perfect time to go and get some relief from the cold.

143bell7
Feb 2, 9:36am Top

>141 katiekrug: I think my preference was affected by flying on airlines that either had you stash electronics or wait until after takeoff to turn them on. The most common flight I take is to DC, which is short to begin with, and takeoffs and landings are the hardest parts for me (I don't like flying). So putting my nose in a book in an aisle seat and pretending I'm on a bus or something is how I cope. And thanks, Katie! I'm sure I will - I'll share a few photos when I return :D

>142 jnwelch: I'm sure I'll love Book Love. One of the series of panels I really enjoyed was the one about how she brings a book everywhere even when she knows she can't read it. I've... been known to bring a book to the bar where my brother's band is playing, and just leave it in my purse. I'm not sure he'd understand why I'd do that, but Debbie Tung would! And yes, I'm very much looking forward to some relief from the cold - I should be arriving to temps in the 80s (lows in the 70s) for most of the week.

144bell7
Feb 2, 9:51am Top

Happy Saturday, everyone! The folks I'm dogsitting for had a friend come down for the weekend to a show for her dog, and for one of the ones I'm sitting. So it's just me and miss Sophie, a lazy, stubborn but sweet-when-she-wants-to-be yellow lab that is currently sleeping all curled up on the other recliner. We're going to hang out for the day. Sometime midday when it's no longer in single digits, I'll take her for the first full walk she's had in awhile.

Yesterday I didn't read much in it, but I did make good progress on Matthew's sweater. After a few false starts reading the pattern, I finally figured it out and finished the front. I did a lot of a sleeve before realizing I read the pattern wrong and took a bunch of rows out because knew I'd never remember how to make the other one the same. But I'm happy with how much I've completed over the last few weeks, and I'll probably finish it sometime after I get back from Cancun.

I'm going to bring the majority of my stuff home today and leave myself only what I need until I wrap up on Monday. This is still a fair amount of stuff - books I'm reading, work clothes, my Keurig, etc. I'll probably try to get a jump start on packing so I don't have as much to do on Tuesday morning. And tonight I'm having dinner at my parents' house. My other goal is to finish The Far Field in time to return it by Wednesday.

145richardderus
Feb 2, 1:30pm Top

>144 bell7: I am so very happy to be able to breathe and not hack a lung out that I could spit. It's a great deal warmer today than yesterday, which was warmer and less windy than the vortex days. It will be 40°/4C tomorrow!! Break out the swimmys, time to beach it.

Not really, but "Break out the rolly-cart, time to have a grocery run" is so much less colorful and interesting an image, no?

I'm busily tarting up a grateful warble for The Reluctant Widow's ability to engage my fragile attention span without challenging my (temporarily, one hopes) diminished powers. I'm almost at "I rilly likeded it" level, so "I found it a typical high-Heyer dish of froth" is positively Shakespearean by comparison.

Your plan for a relaxing Saturday sounds ideal, so I'm hoping it comes off without a hitch.

146The_Hibernator
Feb 3, 10:14am Top

>124 bell7: That's beautiful. I wish I could do stuff like that, but I don't have the patience to learn!

147BLBera
Feb 3, 11:34am Top

>124 bell7: That is beautiful, Mary. I would like to learn how to knit.

The Tung looks good; I'll have to check to see if my library has it.

148bell7
Feb 3, 4:42pm Top

>145 richardderus: Glad you're on the upswing and able to get out & about in the warmer temps! Walking the dog this morning in 30 degree weather felt absolutely balmy after these last few days. Saturday was indeed wonderfully relaxing, and I accomplished most of my vacation packing to boot. The friend staying for the weekend offered to give the dogs the last walk of the night, so I was able to stay after dinner at my parents and visit for a few hours instead of hurrying back, and we had a nice time. I shall take a look at your thread for said new review.

>146 The_Hibernator: Thanks, Rachel! I started with scarves and baby blankets, both of which knit up much faster than sweaters (this is only my third). I was motivated to learn a few years ago because I'd always wanted to and never made the time until my grandmother was given two years to live - I decided I wanted her to see me working on projects and carrying on the tradition before she passed away (more than four years after that "2 years" began). She did, and now I have copies of her mother's (my great-grandmother's) Christmas stocking patterns that I've used to make stockings for my niece and nephew - truly carrying on the tradition. Did I see on your thread that you crochet some? Those projects, I hear, move along faster than knitting, though I'm not a crocheter myself (isn't funny it seems to be either one of the other?)

>147 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! I had a combo of Internet videos and aid from my grandmother (particularly in learning to purl, which I couldn't quite get from the video, and just general pattern reading). I hope you're able to get your hands on a copy, I think you'll like Quiet Girl!

149PaulCranswick
Feb 4, 6:47pm Top

As the weather warms across the Northern Hemisphere I think of my season-less days and mourn. Nothing more energising than having spring bring the natural world to life.

150ronincats
Feb 4, 9:43pm Top

The knitting looks great, Mary. I have the Dunstall book home from the library now--I've been reading her Linesman series, which is fairly entertaining space opera. Have a great vacation!

151bell7
Edited: Feb 6, 7:51am Top

>149 PaulCranswick: The last few days have felt like spring, Paul, after some unseasonably cold weather. Though it's been a weird winter and I don't appreciate shoveling, it's true that having seasons changes your appreciation for the new life of spring and warmer weather. I hope you have a wonderful rest of the week and that life is less stressful soon.

>150 ronincats: Thanks, Roni! Oh, I'm looking forward to your thoughts on the Dunstall book. I'll make sure to catch up on your thread when I get back.

152bell7
Feb 6, 7:54am Top

Today's my last day to work before Cancun!

When I get to work, I'll check in to my flight. Then after work, I'm headed to a friend's place near Boston so I don't have to deal with getting up terribly early (6 a.m. instead of 4 a.m., yes please) tomorrow. We should have a nice visit - she's offered to keep my car for the week, and I've offered her the use of it, so that I don't have to pay for parking for a week.

I may not have remembered to pack exactly everything, but I have my passport, clothes, and books so the essentials are taken care of. I'm bringing some electronics but going Wi-Fi only, so I probably won't be checking in often. I'll be back with stories, books read, and photos!

153streamsong
Feb 6, 11:03am Top

Hooray! Cancun sounds wonderful! Have a great trip!

I will be looking forward to all your stories and photos - and tales of books read and (perhaps) books acquired.

154richardderus
Feb 6, 12:53pm Top

Safe journey and delightful visit!

155figsfromthistle
Feb 6, 1:12pm Top

May you have a wonderful trip!

156FAMeulstee
Feb 6, 5:55pm Top

Safe travels, Mary!

157bell7
Feb 8, 9:16am Top

Thanks Janet, Richard, Anita and Anita!

The flight was uneventful and arrived about 1pm. I think a few flights arrived at once, as it was three winding, claustrophobic lines of people shuffling into the country. I'd brought only carry-on but they'd need folks to offer to check bags which I did (nice bonus, I got to board earlier), so picked the bag up, went through customs and we directed to the shuttle to my resort. I got all checked in, put off all promotions they wanted me to buy with "I'm waiting till the other wedding guests arrive," and had a late lunch/early dinner. I'd been up since 5, so I enjoyed the sunset from my balcony, read a bit and went to bed early. Cancun is definitely on a different schedule from little old me. The concerts started after sunset (it was a little funny to hear American jazz and pop tunes). Now, in the morning, the music is instrumental and the beach peaceful with only a few people walking or seated on the chairs.

My "partial" ocean view is a complete ocean view and lovely. It's amazing how the colors of the palm trees and the water change at different times of day. Breakfast was buffet style and delicious, and now I'm sitting on my balcony again enjoying a good book. I finished two yesterday and have started to read on my Kindle. It's actually pretty humid for paper books (perfect weather in the 70s to low 80s and I can't believe I'm wearing shorts on February) so I may stow them away in my bags for most of the week.

The other folks coming for the wedding should start arriving tomorrow. I'll miss my solitude but I'm looking forward to planning things to do together and saying a definite yes to some excursions and no to all the other things people keep trying to sell me.

158MickyFine
Feb 8, 1:40pm Top

Enjoy your warm weather vacation, Mary. I've got some serious envy here. Hopefully the arrival of the wedding party still leaves you with some good solo down time.

159richardderus
Feb 8, 4:38pm Top

>157 bell7: So deeply grateful you're getting a respite from the cold...and that I'm not there! I hated not having wintertime when I lived in South Texas.

160bell7
Feb 8, 8:57pm Top

>158 MickyFine: thanks, Micky! We'll see what the schedule ends up being like, but my guess is I can still manage quiet mornings since I think I'm less of a night owl than most of the guests!

>159 richardderus: I'm enjoying the respite, Richard, and I'll enjoy getting back home all the more for it. I've been having the strangest sort of culture shock being at a place where people almost aggressively want to give you food, drinks, and room service. It's lovely, but exhausting in a weird way. But the wedding will be gorgeous and this will most likely be a once in a lifetime trip for me, so I'm not complaining :)

161bell7
Edited: Feb 8, 9:11pm Top

12. The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay
Why now? I had seen a positive review for this debut novel by a young woman born in Bangalore and writing about India, so I took this holds from the library soon after the book came out. Finally picked it up because the due date approaches...

Shalini reflects on events that took place soon after her mother's death. Feeling adrift, she travels to Kashmir in search of a man who had been friendly with her mother during Shalini's childhood. Will he have the answers she seeks?

The first few pages of the story had me intrigued and wondering exactly what was the story behind Shalini's mother and Bashir Ahmed, the traveling salesman from Kashmir. Shalini starts out an innocent, seeing things through a very childlike perspective, and only as she meets people from the towns who have experienced some of the violence between their family members and the Indian army does she realize events she thought she understood may not be so black and white. The author has a way with descriptions and I enjoyed how she paints a picture of small scenes with words. The plot, though, seemed a little lacking, a lot of secrecy and build up to final revelations that either fell flat for me (I'd already figured some out) or just made me angry. 3.5 stars.

Has anyone else read this one? I'm dancing around the ending in my review, but would move to talk about it with someone who's finished it.

Edited to get the touchstone to work - for some reason, I always have to do that on my mobile devices, though I'm going to stop noting it in each post...

162bell7
Edited: Feb 8, 9:25pm Top

13. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Why now? The audio was available and I own the book, so I decided it was a good read to start before I left and take on vacation with me

Malala grew up in Pakistan in a lovely valley on the Afghan border. Though her culture does now ordinarily encourage women's education, even as a young teen Malala believed strongly that she should seek knowledge and spoke out against militants who would deny girls education. This is her story.

I didn't know much about the youngest winner of the Nobel peace prize before picking up this book. Malala shares her experience growing up in Pashtun culture, as a young Muslim girl and teenager, the daughter of an educator with parents who supported her even when she was targeted by the Taliban. In fact, it was really interesting to read about news events I was familiar with, such as the killing of bin Laden, from a non-American viewpoint. Malala's fearless passion for women's education is inspiring. 4 stars.

163bell7
Edited: Feb 8, 9:42pm Top

14. Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev
Why now? I have the ARC on my Kindle and decided it would be excellent beach reading

Trisha Raje is a successful surgeon who has perfected the art of removing cancer from tricky spots, but she can't quite figure people out, or get over being the black sheep of the family. When the chef at her brother's campaign events just so happens to be DJ Caine, the brother of one of her patients, Trisha is suddenly thrown into situations seeing him a bit too much for comfort.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the romances I like best are either by Jane Austen or reference her work. Okay that's a slight exaggeration. All kidding aside, this was an absolutely fantastic story. We get enough of both Trisha and DJ's points of view and backstory to cheer them both on as they start to fall in love and have one misunderstanding after another. Trisha's large family, their drama and dynamics, are endearing and relatable. Dev shows a range of identity and experiences through her culturally diverse cast. And yes, I enjoyed the Austen references. The story was more inspired by than a retelling, but character names and a few situations will have Janeites grinning with anticipation and recognition. Just delightful reading. Now excuse me while I go look up everything Sonali Dev has written. 4.5 stars.

The book comes out in May.

164richardderus
Feb 8, 10:14pm Top

>163 bell7: That sounds tempting. It also sounds like the perfect holiday-in-the-sun read. Happy happy, joy joy!

165MickyFine
Feb 9, 11:45am Top

>163 bell7: You hit me, Mary.

Glad to see you're getting in plenty of beach reads.

166bell7
Edited: Feb 9, 11:49am Top

>164 richardderus: it was pitch perfect holiday reading, which is making it tough for whatever ends up being my follow up read.

>165 MickyFine: aw, yes! I think you'll really enjoy it, Micky. Have you read any of her others? I've been thinking of trying A Bollywood Affair soon.

167streamsong
Feb 9, 11:57am Top

I'm glad you're having a great time reading and soaking in sun before the other guests arrive. What a great plan!

>163 bell7: This one sounds fun. I've added it to my never-ending 'rec by LT'ers list'

168MickyFine
Feb 9, 3:44pm Top

>166 bell7: I haven't tried anything by her before so I'm looking forward to my first experience.

169bell7
Feb 9, 3:51pm Top

>167 streamsong: hope you enjoy it, Janet! Yes, after two days of introverting, I'm actually kinda looking forward to seeing my friends & hanging out with them! I'm hoping I can continue to get that balance of time together and alone, as this resort has a lot of people around and music constantly playing - am extrovert's paradise!

>168 MickyFine: nice! Just note that the one I read doesn't come out for a couple of months.... Though you bring a librarian, you might be able to score an e-ARC like I did?

170MickyFine
Feb 9, 4:11pm Top

>169 bell7: I probably could if I really exerted myself. But I'm not lacking for things to read at the moment (there are 6 books on hold waiting for me to pick them up when I go back to work on Monday) so I'll probably just wait for its release date.

171alcottacre
Feb 9, 4:27pm Top

>128 bell7: Adding that one to the BlackHole. Thanks for the recommendation, Mary!

>131 bell7: If that one was not already in the BlackHole, I would be adding it. Too bad my local library does not have a copy!

>162 bell7: Another one for the BlackHole!

>163 bell7: Another BB! I need to stay away from your thread, Mary.

I hope you are continuing to love Cancun!

172Berly
Feb 9, 4:59pm Top

Mary--Argghhhg! I lost you somehow, but I am back. Just in time to celebrate Cancun with you -- very jealous!! I hope you have a fantastic time and it looks like the reading is already off to a great start. Try not to be overwhelmed by the in-you-face hospitality. LOL

173jnwelch
Edited: Feb 10, 1:43pm Top

>163 bell7: Wow, good review of Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors, Mary. You convinced me. Onto the WL it goes, and a thumb for the review.

P.S. Review not posted on the book page?

174bell7
Edited: Feb 10, 10:08pm Top

>170 MickyFine: I totally get that. I have a whole bunch of reserves that should much in right when I get back too.

>171 alcottacre: I know I've been reading some good books when I can got you with that many book bullets, Stasis! Cancun has been fun, the two days to myself was good prep for all the people, and I've spent a lot of time with some more introverted friends so I'm balancing out well so far. I'm thinking tomorrow afternoon might be a good time for a nap...The wedding is Tuesday and we're planning an excursion Wednesday.

>172 Berly: thanks, Kim! It's been quite the experience...not exactly the kind of vacation that calls to me, but fun to celebrate with friends and experience once in a lifetime.

>173 jnwelch: thanks, Joe! I hope you enjoy it - and it took me a little finagling on my phone, but the review is posted now.

175bell7
Edited: Feb 12, 2:16pm Top

Just a quick wave hello and a note that I finished The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore today.

The wedding is tonight, an excursion planned for tomorrow and I'm headed home on three-day, so I will most likely say hi again when I'm back in the states.

176richardderus
Feb 12, 2:21pm Top

>175 bell7: Why the publisher thinks a 6-year-old midlist book is worth $11.99 Kindle is beyond me.

Happy wedding-attending whammys sent you-ward!

177bell7
Feb 12, 2:27pm Top

Heh, I read the library e-book version. And thank you for the whammies - between them and a cup of coffee sitting "cocktail" hour, I will hopefully stay up till a respectable hour.

178MickyFine
Feb 13, 3:35pm Top

I hope you had an excellent time at the festivities and are having a blast on the excursion. Sending you well wishes for your trip back too!

179The_Hibernator
Feb 13, 3:55pm Top

>162 bell7: I thought I am Malala was a pretty good book, too. Though I did wonder if she colored the ending (the not-in-Pakistan part) a little. I can't remember what my exact reasons for those feelings were, though. The rest of the book seemed realistic enough, so I don't know why I'd start doubting the full truth at that point.

180jnwelch
Feb 13, 5:08pm Top

>174 bell7: Thanks - thumbed.

181ronincats
Feb 13, 8:14pm Top

>163 bell7: Definite book bullet there, Mary. Glad you are enjoying your trip.

182msf59
Feb 13, 9:57pm Top

Hi, Mary. I remember having a good time with The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat. I hope you liked it. I had a chance to meet the author, at one of my Booktopia events. Good guy.

183bell7
Feb 16, 7:00pm Top

>178 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! The excursion ended up getting canceled, but it was still a fun week hanging out with friends. Still catching up on sleep after a long travel day - the three-day weekend will help!

>179 The_Hibernator: I could kind of see that, Rachel. Because she was in the midst of all the medical procedures and not super conscious for all of it, it was certainly less of a first-person narrative than her actual memories. And I got the sense that she was glossing over some things when it came to asking for asylum in Britain and exactly how her family was able to join her.

>180 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe!

>181 ronincats: Oooh, excellent, always happy to share, Roni :)

>182 msf59: I enjoyed it, Mark, and thanks for the reminder that I owe a review... I first heard it on the Books on the Nightstand podcast - how cool that he was at Booktopia!

184bell7
Feb 16, 7:08pm Top

15. The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore
Why now? A bit of a lark because the library audio and e-book were both available, which is a perfect combo for reading/listening before bed. I first heard about it on the Books on the Nightstand (sadly now defunct) podcast, and figured it would be a fun read that included diverse characters.

Odette and her friends Barbara Jean and Clarice, dubbed the Supremes ever since high school, have a lot in store for them this year, starting with the death of Big Earl, and Odette seeing ghosts and getting cancer.

It's not often that I read a book by a male author who can really write a main female character convincingly - and Edward Kelsey Moore manages to make three of them. Going back and forth between Odette's first person and a third person narrator, telling the story of the Supremes in middle age and also delving into their past so the reader learns how they got to where they are today. Funny, empowering and heartbreaking in turns, this story has something for everyone, especially those who appreciate a good yarn about friendship set in a small town. 4 stars.

185bell7
Feb 16, 7:26pm Top

Thursday was my travel day home, and it did indeed take most of the day, from an 11:55 a.m. shuttle to the airport to actually pulling in, not to home, but to where I'm dogsitting after 10 p.m. at night. Funnily enough on my exit interview on the way out of Mexico, they asked me like 3 times if anyone had put anything in my bag - I only realized after I was on the plane that they were seeing a single woman traveling alone and wanted to make sure I wasn't running drugs. There were no delays, it was a direct flight, so I was back in Boston and my friend picked me up with my car around 7:30. I got home a couple of hours later in time to grab a few extra things and head to my dogsitting job. Yesterday I managed to work a 5 hour shift and do all my laundry (it still has to be folded).

Today I visited some friends who have 8-month-old fraternal twins, a boy and a girl who were absolutely adorable. The little boy especially took to me, and I got lots of baby hugs which was fabulous. It was also really fun to catch up with my friends, who I've only seen a handful of times since their wedding. The husband has been close friends with my brother since middle/high school and he was essentially my third brother for awhile there. Seeing him as a dad - and of twins, at that - is pretty cool. He's such a doting dad, it's great.

So... the rest of my weekend is going to be church, getting long sleeved hang out clothes from home (I only have the one shirt I used to travel back and forth from Cancun), and celebrate my dad's birthday. Oh and finish reading Cutting for Stone for book club, which probably, in all honesty, is not going to happen until Tuesday.

186richardderus
Feb 17, 9:29am Top

>185 bell7: I'm just pleased that you weren't in Cancun for the shooting!

187charl08
Feb 17, 11:22am Top

Glad to read that you had a good trip. The border questions reminded me of my book getting swabbed coming out of the US. I guess people use hardbacks for purposes other than reading?

188MickyFine
Feb 17, 5:30pm Top

Welcome back! Hopefully resettling back into winter isn't too painful.

189ronincats
Feb 17, 10:09pm Top

Welcome home (or at least to the vicinity of home, given the dogsitting), Mary!

190Ameise1
Feb 18, 3:19am Top

Sending sunny greetings from Davos.

191bell7
Feb 18, 4:59pm Top

>186 richardderus: So am I! A couple of people in the group went off resort and their car was robbed while they were out, which was more than enough excitement.

>187 charl08: Oh wow... surprisingly no one checked my books at any point, Charlotte.

>188 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! It's snowing today, but surprisingly the weather change hasn't felt too terrible. I did have a very confused patron ask about my sunburn on Friday hehe

>189 ronincats: Thanks, Roni! It feels good to be back.

>190 Ameise1: Hi Barbara!

192bell7
Feb 18, 5:06pm Top

Today was a holiday, so I took advantage of the day off to have a restful one. I met a friend for brunch/coffee this morning, so cleaned my car off and got out of the house just for a bit. After getting back, I read some in Cutting for Stone, watched Derry Girls (the folks here have Netflix, woohoo!) and napped. I've now got tater tot hotdish in the oven and I'm going to read like crazy this evening since all other obligations were canceled due to snow. I still have about half of Cutting for Stone left and book discussion on Wednesday, so I'm happy to have the evening in.

After Wednesday, I'll feel significantly caught up on life to start putting my tax stuff together for my accountant and make some doctor's appointments.

193bell7
Feb 19, 10:09am Top

16. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Why now? Book club choice for Wednesday

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin boys growing up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the children of a British surgeon and Carmelite nun from India. Marion relates the story of their birth and growing up, a saga that spans a dictator's rule, a coup, and his becoming a surgeon himself.

Complex characters and vivid descriptions of surgical procedures lend realism to a story which has almost a larger-than-life, epic feel to it with a coming-of-age story and a large cast of characters. While Shiva has an eidetic memory and looks at things rationally, Marion feels almost too deeply in his passions and his quickness to feel betrayed. He retrospectively pieces together his own history, so the reader comes away with knowledge a young boy could never have had about his own parents and those who stepped in and became his family. 4.5 stars.

This was a reread for me and for most of my book club, so I'm curious to hear what our responses will be tomorrow. It's interesting looking back at my old review and the other comments the book has received - while I remember it getting praised when it first came out, reviews on this site are mixed.

My initial review was so different from this one I didn't even start with it like I normally do. I'm going to overwrite it with the new one, so just to have a record of both, here was my initial response:

Marion Stone and his twin brother, Shiva, were born to a British surgeon and an Indian nun in the country of Ethiopia. Now 50, Marion reflects back on his life, his family, and what brought him to where he is today.

In this, my second attempt at reading this book, I found a much different reading experience than when I first picked it up a year and a half ago. Then, I couldn't get past the first hundred pages. As much as I enjoyed the prose and the vivid descriptions, those same vivid descriptions of surgeries and medical procedures did me in. This time, I knew better than to try reading this while eating lunch and actually got past my original stopping point in one sitting. The characters are raw, realistic people and while I didn't always approve of their choices from a moral standpoint, I found myself liking them and caring about them deeply. Marion's story is poignant, sometimes brutal, but ultimately beautiful.

194jnwelch
Feb 19, 10:41am Top

Welcome back, Mary. I’m glad the Cancun trip was a success, and you even got a bit of sunburn. A mental break from winter weather can really help.

Good reviews of Cutting for Stone. Isn’t it interesting how different a book can be in a re-read?

195katiekrug
Feb 19, 10:58am Top

I made it through about half of CfS and then decided I really didn't care enough to finish it. Maybe one day, I'll give it another go.

196MickyFine
Feb 19, 3:32pm Top

Sounds like an excellent day off, Mary. It was a holiday Monday in my neck of the woods too (Family Day) and other than going out for a massage, I enjoyed lounging about the house. :)

197bell7
Feb 20, 8:56am Top

>194 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe! I really do think the mental break was perfectly timed. And it is funny how different a book can be on a reread. Sometimes it's as simple as knowing the outline of the plot and being able to pay attention to other details because I already know what's going to happen. In this case, I'd forgotten a lot of the details (other than the very detailed description of medical procedures and surgeries) but as an older, different reader I was reacting differently to the characters and their choices.

>195 katiekrug: The very first time I tried to read it, I didn't finish it either, Katie. I got too grossed out by some of the medical procedures (it was a real mistake to read about an appendectomy, which I've had, during my lunch). But hey, there are lots of other books out there so if it's not working for you, don't sweat it.

>196 MickyFine: It's lovely to have some of those days, isn't it, Micky? I try to schedule them for myself every so often, but yesterday was even better for being unexpected (and giving me enough time to finish that book club book!).

198bell7
Feb 20, 9:10am Top

Happy Wednesday!

Tonight is book club night if we don't get snowed out. There's so much going on in our meeting room that it's a nightmare to reschedule, so it's happening if we're open and canceled if we close. I'm sure it will be very lightly attended because people won't want to drive in the snow and the dark. If we do close, I'll just leave some time to talk about it next month before Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks.

I have the morning to make some doctor's appointments and read Crazy Rich Asians which I started yesterday after finishing Cutting for Stone. I'm enjoying it so far, but only a few chapters in. The other book I'm reading is The Skin I'm In by Sharon Flake, the first teen book I've read this year.

I'm finally starting to feel like I'm back from vacation, caught up on sleep and getting back into my routine. I'll be dogsitting through the end of this week and am looking forward to Friday (my 9-2) day and starting to watch some Doctor Who. I got behind a few seasons after my friend with BBC America moved away, and I'm looking forward to catching up a bit.

199bell7
Feb 20, 9:24am Top

Please join me on thread #2!

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2019

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