lycomayflower acknowledges the paradox of choice in 2019

Talk75 Books Challenge for 2019

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lycomayflower acknowledges the paradox of choice in 2019

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Edited: Sep 30, 2019, 9:22pm

Welcome to the my 2019 reading thread! Click here to go to my introduction post. The picture above is of my beloved golden retriever, Thursday, showing me what she thinks of reading instead of playing with the dogbit.

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

Total Pages: 15,028

68.) A Girl Like Her (288)
67.) The Lost City of Z (319)
66.) Gilmore Girls: A Cultural History (192)
65.) TV Goes to Hell (252)
64.) Giant Days vol 9 (~100)
63.) Unicorn Bowling (~100)
62.) Pumpkinheads (211)
61.) With the Fire on High (392)
60.) Tinsel Fish (134)

59.) Every Heart a Doorway (169)
58.) Murmuration (300)
57.) Sailing Alone Around the Room (172)
56.) Small Spaces (216)
55.) Sharp Objects (393)
54.) The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (259)
53.) The Keeper of Lost Things (278)
52.) Ziggy, Stardust & Me (347)
51.) Children of Blood and Bone (525)
50.) His Saint (284)

49.) Once Upon a Haunted Moor (112)
48.) In the Hunt:Unauthorized Essays on Supernatural (275)
47.) Gaudy Night (501)
46.) Arrows of the Queen (206)
45.) Driftwood (200)
44.) Counting by 7s (378)
43.) Phoebe and Her Unicorn in Unicorn Theater (~100)

42.) Unicorn of Many Hats (~100)
41.) Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm (~100)
40.) Unicorn Crossing (~100)
39.) Razzle Dazzle Unicorn (~100)
38.) Ghosts (~150)
37.) Unicorn vs. Goblins (~100)
36.) Giant Days vol 8 (~100)
35.) Unicorn on a Roll (~100)
34.) Band Sinister (240)
33.) Grandma Gatewood Hikes the Appalachian Trail
32.) Supernatural: Nevermore (315)
31.) Phoebe and Her Unicorn (~100)

30.) Kidnapped (221)
29.) The Passages of H.M. (454)
28.) Facing West (275)
27.) Ordeal by Innocence (269)
26.) Ship It (375)
25.) Eloise The Ultimate Edition (~100)
24.) Becoming (426)

23.) Meet the Austins (223)
22.) Well-Read Black Girl (239)
21.) To Night Owl From Dogfish (314)
20.) Bunny Day
19.) The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted (293)

18.) The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (373)
17.) A Visitor's Guide to Mystic Falls (190)
16.) The Vampire Diaries: The Struggle (235)
15.) The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening (253)
14.) Once Upon a Winter's Eve (153)
13.) The Gardener
12.) Grandma Lena's Big Ol' Turnip
11.) Border (375)

10.) Giant Days volume 7 (~100)
9.) I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening) (194)
8.) Can I Come, Too?
7.) Rough Canvas (352)

6.) The Queen's Progress
5.) A Cathedral of Myth and Bone (352)
4.) A Study in Scarlet Women (323)
3.) Aquicorn Cove (94)
2.) Book Love (137)
1.) The Book of Strange New Things (500)

Edited: Sep 30, 2019, 9:23pm

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

Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 6:04pm

In 2018 I:

Read 170 books (including 60 picture books)
Read 24,073 pages

Print: 157
Audio: 12
Electronic: 1

Fiction: 136
Nonfiction: 31
Poetry: 3

My Top Five-ish First-Time Reads of 2018 were:
Check, Please: Hockey
We Were Eight Years in Power
The Duke I Tempted
Giant Days volume 1
Interstellar Cinderella
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
The Tea Dragon Society

In 2018, I completed the reading challenges I set myself, and in 2019, I will try to:

*read ten books by authors of color
*read ten books by LGBTQIA authors
*complete a sixteen-point challenge that reflects where I want to see my reading go in the coming year (see my 2019 thread post for the specific points)
*stay within my new book budget
*read new books as they come into the house whenever possible
*make a habit of reading one book at a time
*stay more engaged on LT threads rather than lurking quite so much
*avoid reading books just because I think I ought to and/or just to increase my total number of reads for the year
*keep better track of my numbers for the categories I like to track

Edited: Sep 30, 2019, 9:23pm

As part of my ongoing goal in 2019 to read with more intent, I'm aiming to read (at least) ten books by authors of color. I have a tentative list of books from my TBR to choose from, but I will count any book I haven't read before by a person of color.

Ten Books by Authors of Color

1.) Book Love, Debbie Tung
2.) A Study in Scarlet Women, Sherry Thomas
3.) Grandma Lena's Big Ol' Turnip, Denia Lewis Hester
4.) Well-Read Black Girl, various, edited by Gloria Edim
5.) Becoming, Michelle Obama
6.) Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi
7.) The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Ernest J. Gaines
8.) With the Fire on High, Elizabeth Acevedo
9.) A Girl Like Her, Talia Hibbert

Edited: Sep 30, 2019, 9:24pm

As part of my ongoing goal in 2019 to read with more intent, I'm aiming to read (at least) ten books by LGBTQIA authors. I have a tentative list of books from my TBR to choose from, but I will count any book I haven't read before by an LGBTQIA author.

Ten Books by LGBTQIA Authors

1.) Ship It, Britta Lundin
2.) Driftwood, Harper Fox
3.) Once Upon a Haunted Moor, Harper Fox
4.) Ziggy, Stardust & Me, James Brandon
5.) Murmuration, TJ Klune
6.) Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire
7.) Tinsel Fish, Harper Fox

Edited: Sep 30, 2019, 9:24pm

Aside from continuing to try to make sure I'm reading works by authors from backgrounds and situations that differ from my own, I have chosen sixteen challenge categories for myself in 2019 that reflect the kinds of reading I want to be sure I'm doing this year. Those categories are:

1.) A book of poetry
Sailing Alone Around the Room

2.) A short story collection from my shelves

3.) Any nonfiction work about religion from my shelves

4.) A nonfiction work about religion from my shelves not by C.S. Lewis

5.) A nonfiction work about science

6.) A mystery novel
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

7.) An sff novel from my shelves
Arrows of the Queen

8.) A novel in translation of a language I did not read in 2018

9.) A graphic novel from my shelves

10.) A middle grade novel from my shelves

11.) A Book of the Month book from my shelves

12.) A book I've purchased within 48 hours of starting it
I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening)

13.) A book from my shelves purchased before 2010

14.) The second book in a series I started before 2019

15.) A book I have abandoned in the past
A Study in Scarlet Women

16.) A book that satisfies the American Authors Challenge on LibraryThing
The Passages of H.M.

"From my shelves" essentially means "came into my possession before 2019."

Dec 30, 2018, 2:05pm

Good lord, Laura, this massive challenge thing is downright intimidating! Best of luck in making them work for you.

Dec 30, 2018, 3:36pm

Welcome back!

Dec 30, 2018, 4:46pm

Wow, Laura! You have set some impressive goals. Good luck!

Dec 30, 2018, 5:54pm

>7 richardderus: Thanks, Richard! I'm hoping it's just going to gently push me in the direction I want to go anyway. *fingers crossed* I haven't set myself up to be annoyed by it.

>8 drneutron: Thanks, Jim!

>9 alcottacre: Thank you! I hope they prove to be *doably* impressive!

Dec 30, 2018, 6:01pm

Setting down my cushion Laura. Patting Thursday's head.

Dec 30, 2018, 6:03pm

>11 Caroline_McElwee: Welcome! Give a shout if you get tired of being Thursday's cushion.

Dec 30, 2018, 11:55pm

Happy to see you back, Laura. Looking forward to keeping up with all your reading in 2019.

Dec 31, 2018, 2:38am

Happy New Year Laura!

Dec 31, 2018, 8:15am

Happy reading in 2019, Laura!

Dec 31, 2018, 8:53am

>6 lycomayflower: Your optimism astounds me. But No. 16 there needs work...."a" book?

Dec 31, 2018, 9:55am

>Well, that's the challenge part. Doesn't mean I won't read more than that for the AAC.

Which optimism?

Dec 31, 2018, 11:02am

Happy 2019! You have some series goals here, and that's awesome! :)

Dec 31, 2018, 11:18am

>1 lycomayflower: HI THURSDAY!!!!

Oh, hi to you too, Laura :-)

Dec 31, 2018, 6:53pm

I am here for the dog. And also your reading :)

Happy new year!

Dec 31, 2018, 7:00pm

Good luck with all your challenges!!

Jan 1, 2019, 10:56am

>18 ChelleBearss: Happy New Year! Thanks!

>19 norabelle414: Hehe. I'm pretty content letting Thursday be the attention-getter around here.

>20 katiekrug: :-) Happy New Year!

>21 Berly: Thanks! Happy New Year!

Jan 1, 2019, 1:55pm

It's the year-end meme that's been going around--the idea is that you fill in your answers with titles of books you've read in the past year. Here's mine:

Describe yourself: Quiet Girl in a Noisy World

Describe how you feel: You Learn by Living

Describe where you currently live: In the Middle of Somewhere

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Hello, Lighthouse

Your favorite form of transportation: I Saw Three Ships

Your best friend is: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

You and your friends are: I'll Be There for You

What’s the weather like: The Rough Patch

You fear: A Sharp Solitude

What is the best advice you have to give: In Conclusion, Don't Worry about It

Thought for the day: Nobody Likes a Goblin

How you would like to die: Sated

Your soul’s present condition: The Quotidian Mysteries

Jan 1, 2019, 3:02pm

I love your meme responses!

Jan 1, 2019, 4:00pm

>24 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie!

Jan 1, 2019, 5:06pm

Dropping off my star, Laura!

Jan 1, 2019, 6:31pm

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, Laura, this year.

Jan 2, 2019, 8:13am

Great meme answers, Laura!

Jan 2, 2019, 9:22am

>26 ronincats: Hi, Roni!

>27 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! Hope 2019 treats you great!

>28 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky!

Jan 3, 2019, 6:56am

Morning, Laura! Raising a glass on this day:

Jan 3, 2019, 7:25am

Happy New Year, Laura!

Jan 3, 2019, 8:31am

>30 scaifea: *loves*

>31 alcottacre: Thanks! You too!

Jan 3, 2019, 8:32am

In honor of Tolkien's birthday today, a toast:

*stands, lifts glass* The professor!

Jan 3, 2019, 9:12am

Happy New Year, Laura. Electric literature has a great list of upcoming books by women of color if you want suggestions. I will get a link for you.

Jan 3, 2019, 12:43pm

>34 BLBera: Happy New Year to you!

And yes please, that sounds great!

Jan 3, 2019, 1:35pm

Hi Laura! Dropping in to say hi and leave a star. Also very excited to see what you read for the Authors of Color and LGBTQIA+ goals!

Jan 3, 2019, 7:24pm

Here you are, Laura:

And here is the list from last year: I read the ones marked and some of them were my best reads of the year:
Electric Literature 46 Books by Women of Color to Read in 2018
🌸When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele
🌸 This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins
🌸🌸Halsey Street by Naima Coster
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
🌸The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

🌸An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
🌸The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu
🌸🌸 The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
🌸Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik
Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad by Krystal Sital
🌸 Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith
Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot
The House of Erzulie by Kirsten Imani Kasai

Bury What We Cannot Take by Kirstin Chen
The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat (I was supposed to get this as an ER)
Everyone Knows You Go Home by Natalia Sylvester
Go Home!, edited by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
My Old Faithful by Yang Huang
🌸 The Beekeeper by Dunya Mikhail
🌸🌸Happiness by Aminatta Forna
Whiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith

Poignant Song:The Life and Music of Lakshmi Shankar
Heads of the Colored People

The Ensemble
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture

Sick: A Memoir
Number One Chinese Restaurant
Tiny Crimes
🌸 Convenience Store Woman
Old in Art School

🌸 Fruit of the Drunken Tree
How to Love a Jamaican
Love War Stories
What We Were Promised

A River of Stars
If You Leave Me
Everyday People: The Color of Life
This Mournable Body

October and Later
All You Can Ever Know
And It Begins Like This
Useful Phrases for Immigrants
The Body Papers

Sorry to take up so much space.

Jan 4, 2019, 1:02am

>23 lycomayflower: I particularly like "What is the best advice you have to give: In Conclusion, Don't Worry about It"!!

Jan 4, 2019, 11:33am

Nice meme answers

Jan 4, 2019, 9:57pm

>1 lycomayflower: Thursday is gorgeous! How old is she?

Jan 6, 2019, 11:20pm

Happy new thread and new year, Laura.

Jan 7, 2019, 9:01am

>36 fredanria: Welcome!

>37 BLBera: This is great! Thank you so much.

>38 Berly: Lol. Advice I should probably take myself more often!

>39 thornton37814: Thanks!

>40 Copperskye: Thank you! Thursday is two and a half, though that pic is just over a year old.

>41 Familyhistorian: Thank you! And to you!

Jan 7, 2019, 9:20am

1.) The Book of Strange New Things, Michel Faber **1/2

The novel follows Peter, a minister chosen by a somewhat shadowy organization to be sent to a foreign planet to minister to the native population of that planet. A good deal of the story is devoted to his concerns about leaving his wife behind and to her letters to him detailing the deteriorating situation on Earth and her increasing crises of mental health and religious faith.

I hoped to enjoy this novel, as it involves three things I usually find deeply compelling in fiction--explorations of other cultures, intimate relationships between people, and explorations of faith--and at first I thought I would. For the first two hundred or so pages, I was drawn to the story, even if upon thinking about it I couldn't really say why. But ultimately it was a huge disappointment. Virtually none of the characters come alive on the page (and for a while their dullness seems like it is going to be a plot point--as if something about the planet or something the organization is doing is sapping them of their vitality or individualism, but no); Peter is a drip; his wife comes off as a whiny, selfish, manipulative shrew (and yet, we are supposed to care deeply about the health of the relationship between her and Peter?); the novel is deeply uninterested in explaining even basic premise-y things (when is this taking place? what planet has Peter traveled to? why is the organization that sent him so close-lipped?); and almost none of the plotty questions I had while reading were ever answered. While I found the read a little unsettling, I would call this book depressed rather than depressing. If it were a person, I suspect I might comment that its affect was off.

The comparison to Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow is probably inevitable given the shared subject matter of the two novels, and the comparison is entirely in Russell's favor as far as I'm concerned. I recommend you read that instead.

Jan 7, 2019, 9:25am

2.) Book Love, Debbie Tung ****

A collection of Tung's comics all centering around books and the reading life. A quick delight. I love Tung's work.

Edited: Jan 7, 2019, 9:33am

3.) Aquicorn Cove, Katie O'Neill ****

A middle grade graphic novel about a girl and her aunt who both love the sea and discover a mystical world beneath the waves. A delightful story with beautiful, colorful illustrations and a great message about conservation. I didn't love this one quite as much as O'Neill's The Tea Dragon Society, but that is more a commentary on just *how much* I loved that one rather than on this one being less good. Recommended.

Jan 7, 2019, 9:55am

>43 lycomayflower: - Bummer about that one. I have it on my Kindle. I only read The Sparrow last year so would have held off and starting the Faber anyway, but now I'm really in no rush...

Jan 7, 2019, 9:59am

>46 katiekrug: Yeah, bummer is the word. It's rare that I wish I hadn't read a book--usually I bail on books that are going to end up less than three or three and half stars for me. So I'm doubly irritated that not only was it not good, but it made me think it might *get* good for long enough that I ended up reading the whole thing. *sigh*

Jan 7, 2019, 10:04am

I know that feeling and hate it. My sympathies...

Jan 7, 2019, 10:32am

>43 lycomayflower: It was turned into a TV pilot called Oasis for Prime, and starred Richard Madden as Peter. The memorable part was Madden walked nude into a shower. That was it. The only memorable thing. An hour on an alien planet with mysterious deaths and all I can recall was a man walking into a shower.

The show was not picked up.

Edited: Jan 7, 2019, 10:54am

>43 lycomayflower: I'm pretty much in agreement with you Laura, whilst I quite enjoyed the book, I was disappointed in it generally, I was expecting more. It went out the door.

>50 Caroline_McElwee: pffft.

Jan 7, 2019, 11:35am

>48 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie.

>49 richardderus: LOL. Given how many times Faber felt the need to tell us the state of Peter's genitals, I'm not surprised.

>50 Caroline_McElwee: I've put mine on my "read" shelf for now, but I suspect it is not long for the household....

Jan 8, 2019, 6:35am

>43 lycomayflower: Ooof. And Russell's book is *so* fabulous, I almost feel sorry for poor Michel.

Jan 8, 2019, 8:54am

>43 lycomayflower: Great comments, Laura. This is one I think I'll pass on. I do want to read The Sparrow.

The Tung collection, however, sounds very appealing.

Jan 8, 2019, 11:35am

Happy New Year and thread! I'm looking forward to seeing how you get along with the resolutions and challenges - they all sound very interesting (and intimidating!). Hopefully you'll enjoy them and we'll all end up with a book bullet or two we might not have been hit by otherwise :-)

>43 lycomayflower: Note to self: don't read that one. Sorry your first read was not good.

Jan 13, 2019, 1:14pm

>52 scaifea: Alllllmost. :-)

>53 BLBera: The Tung was lovely! Hope you enjoy if you read it.

>54 archerygirl: Thanks! My first read was mostly read in 2018, so I'll just pretend my first 2019 read was the comics collection I enjoyed so much!

Edited: Jan 13, 2019, 1:45pm

4.) A Study in Scarlet Women, Sherry Thomas ****

This first book in the Lady Sherlock series establishes the premise of the series, showing how a young woman named Charlotte Holmes comes to set herself up as a kind of consulting detective under the guise of one "Sherlock" Holmes. As we see how all that is coming about, Charlotte also solves a fairly twisty little mystery.

I enjoyed the story a good deal, especially the ways it follows various "ruined" or otherwise ostracized women in the late 19th century and explores their options and the strictures under which they lived. The characterization was also good, and I especially enjoyed the relationship between Charlotte and her sister and between Charlotte and Mrs Watson. The callbacks to the Sherlock cannon were fun, and I suspect, being mostly familiar with Holmes through adaptations and not the original source material, that I missed quite a few. The mystery itself was also satisfying, and Thomas has a deft hand at misdirection. If I had any real disappointments in the book, it was that I didn't see much commentary on the Holmes stories within this telling, and that is one of the joys of retellings for me. It also took me a while to figure out that Thomas was telling her own version of a Sherlock-like character and that the "real" Sherlock known to readers of Conan Doyle was never going to show up. The book is really a twist on the idea of Sherlock, not so much on the stories themselves (at least so far), despite the nods to cannon. That was mostly my own idiosyncratic bugaboo (though I did think the story took a little while to get going.) I expect I will carry on with the series at some point.

***For Book Club

**Fulfills challenge #15 on my personal challenge for 2019, a book I have abandoned in the past

Edited: Jan 13, 2019, 1:43pm

>56 lycomayflower: hmm, that sounds interesting Laura.

Jan 13, 2019, 1:44pm

>56 lycomayflower: It was fun! Definitely a nice reading experience.

Jan 14, 2019, 5:59am

>56 lycomayflower: That one has been on my list for a while, so I will look out for it a bit more urgently now :-)

Jan 22, 2019, 3:10pm

>59 archerygirl: Hope you enjoy it!

Jan 22, 2019, 3:19pm

5.) A Cathedral of Myth and Bone, Kat Howard ***1/2

This collection of fantasy-adjacent short stories was full of really fascinating ideas and premises, all retelling and reshaping myths, legends, and the ideas and tropes contained within them. While the collection was hit and miss for me, with some stories working much better than others, unfortunately on the whole most of them simply didn't land. For most of the stories I was thrilled and enchanted by the premise, by the idea of whatever reworking Howard was doing in that tale, but at the end of the story I didn't feel like I got much out of it beyond that premise. It was as if the interesting bit was solely the "what if," and the execution of the full story around the what-if was never as strong as the hook. Disappointing, but also: YMMV. I have a long track record of not loving short stories, so if you *do* love them, this collection may work much better for you.

Jan 23, 2019, 10:21am

Hi, Laura. Finally getting around to visiting the threads. Thursday is a beautiful dog! If we could manage a dog in our 4 cat household, it would be a golden or a collie (had one when I was young and she was the best dog ever - no offense, Thursday!)

Jan 23, 2019, 2:59pm

>56 lycomayflower: I'm a little full-up on Sherlock these days. I'm happy the series will get a second chance, though, since finding a new series is a positive readerly treat. Yay you!

>61 lycomayflower: I'm a short-story lover indeed, so I'll try that out because that sounds like my jam to the life.

Feb 3, 2019, 4:38pm

>62 rretzler: Thank you! We (and my grandparents) had shelties when I was growing up, and we loved them to bits. We picked a golden because we thought she might get on better in our (then) two-cat household than a herding dog. Otherwise I might have had another sheltie!

>63 richardderus: Sherlock sure has had himself adapted left, right, and center lately, hasn't he?

>64 lycomayflower: Cool! Hope you enjoy!

Feb 3, 2019, 4:44pm

6.) The Queen's Progress: An Elizabethan Alphabet, Celeste Davidson Mannis, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline ****

An alphabet picture book that gives a rhyme for each letter to do with Queen Elizabeth I's summer holiday royal progress ("An A for adventure. Our spirits are high! Fare thee well London. All's ready. Let's fly!") and then provides a short paragraph explaining a historical aspect of the royal progress. The pictures illustrate the rhyme and the information, often with a little "extra" narrative thrown in. Fascinating and lavishly illustrated, though I am a little "hmm?" about who this book is for. The information and illustrations seem 8+, while the overall format (alphabet book) seems a good deal younger. Perhaps I underestimate older children's willingness to return to "younger" formats if executed well.

Edited: Feb 15, 2019, 2:39pm

7.) Rough Canvas, Joey W. Hill ****

This BDSM-themed erotic romance follows Marcus and Thomas as they try to navigate the things about their lives and responsibilities they think will keep them apart and find a way to be together. A solid story underpins this romance, and I was invested in seeing how these two were going to work themselves out. At first I was afraid the novel was going to be mostly sex and little plot, but eventually all the emotion that is simmering under everything right from the start came to a head (sorry, sorry, sorry) and the real meat of the plot got going. As is so often true of romance novels, some of the best scenes are not between the two leads but between one of them and someone else who means something to them. A couple of such scenes in this one were killer (not that there weren't *also* excellent, affecting scenes between the heroes as well). If I had any complaint, it is that (again, like so many erotic romances I've read), the book feels top heavy when it comes to sex. In the first third or so, I was absolutely exhausted by how much sex was on the page, ("Dang, they're going to do it again?") and in the last third or so, the sex largely fades to black. It just feels uneven. That said, if this is the kind of book you enjoy, recommended.

Feb 15, 2019, 2:52am

Delurking to say Hi! I had to laugh at your complaint on the top heaviness of the sex in Rough Canvas: ("Dang, they're going to do it again?") ; )

Feb 15, 2019, 11:12am

>66 lycomayflower: *whispers* Wrong word, there Dr. K. *ducks behind the OED*

Feb 15, 2019, 2:44pm

>67 Berly: LOL. I mean, it was *tiring*, and I was only reading it!

>68 laytonwoman3rd: *blows whistle* Foul! The member is reprimanded in the strongest terms for pointing out an error weeks after the fact! A penalty of five stets is assessed!

Feb 15, 2019, 4:58pm

>69 lycomayflower: Pfui! Weeks it was not. And will you stop with the sex puns already?

Feb 15, 2019, 5:43pm

>70 laytonwoman3rd: I don't know *what* you are referring to.

Feb 16, 2019, 4:35pm

8.) Can I Come, Too?, Brian Patten and Nicola Bayley ****

A gorgeously illustrated picture book about a mouse who decides to try to find the biggest creature in the world. As she meets more and more animals bigger than herself, they all ask if they can come along on the adventure. I had three suspicions about how the story might come out (that the biggest creature would be a whale, or the group of friends as a whole, or God) and it turned out to be the most straight forward of these. A lovely book, whose anthropomorphized animals are never-the-less drawn very realistically and whose message of inclusiveness and being together is a delight. Recommended.

Edited: Mar 9, 2019, 12:56pm

9.) I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening), Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers ****

The hosts of the podcast Pantsuit Politics ("Sarah from the left. Beth from the right. No shouting. No insults. Plenty of nuance.") have written a book about what they call "a better way to talk politics." They explore where they think political discussions have gone wrong in our country lately, ask why, and provide some guidance for thinking about your political engagement and the way you approach talking about politics with others. Their goal is always thinking about "the other side" not as opponents but as fellow Americans and always how to move conversations forward, not how to "win." This is good stuff, nicely presented, with each chapter offering up ways to think about one aspect of political conversations, examples from Sarah and Beth that use real issues to explore the guidance they suggest, and exercises for putting their guidance into practice. Highly recommended.

**Fulfills challenge #12 on my personal challenge for 2019, a book I've purchased within 48 hours of starting it

Feb 17, 2019, 7:07am

>73 lycomayflower: I love that podcast. Sarah and Beth saved my sanity after the 2016 election. I listened religiously while I was commuting, but haven't kept up with podcasts in general for quite a while now. I knew they were working on a book and I'm glad to see it's a good one.

Feb 17, 2019, 8:54am

>73 lycomayflower: well if ever there was a time for such a book Laura.

Feb 24, 2019, 6:50pm

>74 lauralkeet: Sarah and Beth saved my sanity after the 2016 election. Same.

>75 Caroline_McElwee: For sure.

Feb 24, 2019, 6:54pm

10.) Giant Days vol. 7, John Allison, Liz Fleming, and Max Sarin ****

More uni adventures for our group of friends. I continue to love this and am now doling it out one volume at a time spread out over weeks because I'm going to catch up soon. And then I will be *forced* to wait moooonths. Boo.

Feb 28, 2019, 12:54pm

I read vol. 1 and liked it but didn't love it as you do. I'm giving it at least another volume to figure out if it's something I like enough to want to keep up with. Was there a particular volume that you really loved, Laura? With graphic novels I'm willing to give them more leeway since they're such fast reads but I'm also a firm believer in not wasting time on a series just to finish it if it's not working for you.

Mar 9, 2019, 12:21pm

>78 MickyFine: I was pretty taken with it right from the start, but I do remember that it takes til volume 2 or 3 for the full cast of characters to really arrive on the scene fully. So the full breadth of it is probably not on display in volume one, but it also remains pretty much the same *thing*, in atmosphere, pitch, theme etc throughout (as far as I've gotten, anyway).

Edited: Mar 9, 2019, 12:34pm

11.) Border, Kapka Kassabova ***1/2

Part travel memoir, part mediation on borders, Kassabova's book is an exploration of the people, geography, and history of the borders between Turkey, Greece, and Bulgaria. This is well written and the material is well presented, but I never quite settled into it. While Kassabova does explore history further back than the Cold War and does discuss the geography of the place, I was hoping for something that was more evenly balanced. This felt Cold War, Cold War, Cold War, to me, and that is not a criticism as such but rather just the reason *I* got impatient with it. It was also far more unsettling than I was in a place to sit with right now. I probably would have enjoyed the book more at a different time.

I read this with my book club, and the other members all liked it much more than I did, some very much. So YMMV considerably.

Edited: Mar 9, 2019, 12:37pm

12.) Grandma Lena's Big Ol' Turnip, Denia Lewis Hester ***1/2

This picture book recasts a traditional Russian tale into a suburban environment. Grandma Lena plants a turnip that grows to unbelievable proportions and needs the help of all the family to pull it up. Then she makes all manner of good southern food out of it and invites the whole neighborhood to a picnic. Pleasant with nice illustrations.

13.) The Gardener, Sarah Stewart ****

This picture book tells the story of a young girl sent from the country to the city to live with an uncle during the depression. The story is told through her short letters home and revolves around her months-long projects to create a garden on her building's roof and to get her uncle to smile. A sweet story, and the illustrations and wonderful. They are so detailed that I'm sure you'd find more and more to look at with each read.

Both of these are off to the nieces as part of their Easter package from me.

Edited: Mar 11, 2019, 1:51pm

14.) Once Upon a Winter's Eve, Tessa Dare ***1/2

A holiday novella in Dare's Spindle Cove series. A strange man stumbles into the Christmas ball and collapses at Violet's feet. Thus begins a short adventure involving his identity and a romance. The man is someone from Violet's past, but it takes a while for her to recognize him. If there's any real flaw in this story, it's that it takes too long for that to get revealed definitively. I was impatient with the characters (and the pov) during the bit where she thought maybe it was her old friend/lover but she wasn't sure. Entertaining, and (as I expect from romance novellas) just the right dose of quick romantic fun for when I wasn't in the mood for a full-length story. There's little in the way of Christmassy detail here, so I wouldn't hesitate to read it "out of season," if you're inclined. It also stood alone just fine.

Apr 3, 2019, 10:47am


Apr 4, 2019, 12:18pm

Apr 7, 2019, 12:07pm

Wishing you a tremendous Sunday, Laura.

Apr 9, 2019, 11:56am

>85 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul!

Edited: Apr 9, 2019, 12:29pm

Life Update:

Welp, we've moved. (About ten minutes up the road.) We got tired of wondering if *this time* was going to be the time our creek flooded our first floor, so right around Christmas we started the process of finding a new place. Fifteen weeks on, we are moved out of the old house and fully set up in the new one (as of yesterday, when I unpacked the last of the book boxes). Now it's just hanging a few pictures and getting the books properly organized... and selling the old place. The realtor says he can shift it. We'll see. I'm fairly confident in him, and it's a very good house, except for that flooding threat. This is me actively trying to avoid an anxiety spiral. =/

The new place is very nice but is taking a little getting used to, as its layout is completely different from the old place, as is its location. We're on a cul-de-sac here deep in a (very pleasant) neighborhood, where before we were across the street from a hay field and while our neighbors were actually pretty close by, we had to work to *see* them from our house. I'm dealing with all the usual "new place" stuff, like hearing every blessed sound the house makes (including a radon reduction fan which runs constantly and which I somehow managed not to hear when we looked at the place repeatedly before buying or during the inspection. Here's hoping that means I can unhear it because right now it's driving me a bit nuts), and flipping fourteen light switches before hitting the one I need. On the plus side, built-in bookshelves! Gorgeous flowering trees throughout the neighborhood! No flood threat!

Reading has been thin on the ground, though there has been some. I am several (four?) reviews behind. Look for those to show up over the next few days. Hope to be more of a presence on the threads now that things have calmed down a bit too.

Apr 9, 2019, 12:31pm

Congrats on the new house! As you know, we are going through that ourselves, so I feel some of your trepidation, but also excitement.

I'm sure it will start to feel like home in no time!

Apr 9, 2019, 1:18pm

>87 lycomayflower: Exciting! Wishing you all the luck with the settling in.

Edited: Apr 11, 2019, 6:09am

Seriously? 15 weeks and you're all unpacked?! We're coming up on a year and most of my books are still in boxes (I'm waiting on Tomm to build my new bookshelves). *sigh*

Congrats on the new house, though! We loved living on a cul-de-sac in Wisconsin. It made living in the middle of town seem like living not in the middle of town.

Apr 10, 2019, 3:05pm

>87 lycomayflower: Wishing you years of joy and reading in your new home Laura. Has Thursday settled in?

Apr 17, 2019, 11:41am

>88 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie! I *like* the house a lot. It will be a bit before it feels like home, I think, but I'm confident that it will.

>89 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky!

>90 scaifea: Thanks, Amber! Yeeeah, I have to unpack if I want to have any chance to stay on top of the anxiety a major change like this can spike. So, unpacked yay! The flip side is that I am *still* exhausted and burned out, a week after all the real *moving* is done. But! Not down the well of an anxiety spiral! Calling it a win.

>91 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline! Thursday was pretty verklempt for the first few days, but has pretty much settled in now. We can tell she's not one hundred percent at her ease yet, but she's pretty calm and happy and settling into her new routine. I think it helps immensely that she's still going to the doggie day care she did before. A big chunk of her life is just as it was before. I pushed really hard for us to get a house that was close enough to where we were before for us to keep sending her there, and I'm super glad I did now.

Apr 17, 2019, 11:58am

15.) The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening, L.J. Smith ****

16.) The Vampire Diaries: The Struggle, L.J. Smith ****

I've had some volumes of The Vampire Diaries on my shelves for a while now, and I can't for the life of me remember why. I do enjoy modern vampire stories, so maybe I just snagged them at some point simply because vampires. Last month I started watching the show for the first time and I thought, sure why not.

These books are very different from the TV series that was based on them, but it was a lot of fun to see the different little threads that the show picked up and what they changed. I'd say the show is a much better supernatural teenager soap than these books are supernatural YA, but I also enjoyed the books on their own merit. They do, however, feel very dated, not just in their content but in their form. These were published in the early 90s, when YA was an entirely different beast than it is now, and that difference is abundantly apparent here. (In a word, I'd call these books "unsophisticated.")

As a note, I'll point out that, as always, my star rating is meant to indicate how well I *enjoyed* the book, not represent some attempt at an objective assessment of how good it is. Often my enjoyment stars and my assessment stars (if I gave those) would probably line up pretty well. In some cases they are likely far apart. This is one of those cases. Take that as a caveat lector, I suppose.

Apr 17, 2019, 12:15pm

17.) A Visitor's Guide to Mystic Falls, edited by Red and Vee ****

A collection of critical essays by YA authors about The Vampire Diaries TV show published after the first season had aired. Worth a read if reading light criticism is a way you like to interact with media you love, though as with any book of this type, some pieces were better than others. I like Claudia Gray's piece about the use of the Civil War in the show's flashbacks (and especially her calling out the weird* race relations contained in them). Kiersten White's critique of Stefan activated my "do you even like the show?"/"shh, let people like things" switches pretty hard. The rest were entertaining and worthwhile but don't stand out now, a month on from reading them.

*"Weird" is putting it very mildly. The show largely erases race (and slavery (!)), especially in the past, in a way that is deeply problematic and disturbing (and probably, to be honest, has aged really poorly). Someday I hope to find an article that really dives into it. The Gray piece was not that, but it was good for what it was trying to do.

Apr 17, 2019, 12:37pm

18.) The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley ****1/2

I've been putting off this first in the Flavia de Luce series for a long time, afraid it would be, I don't know, twee, or that Flavia would be just too precocious. Oh contraire, piston puss! I *loved* this book. (Flavia *is* a bit too precocious, but I didn't care.) The mystery was entertaining (and I felt like it learned me things, which is a thing I adore when fiction does it well), and I just wanted to keep picking up the book to get back to the setting and the characters. Bradley created a world I wanted to return to and set in a while. I'm looking forward to reading more of these. The book was also universally enjoyed by members of my book club, which makes for fairly lousy conversation but is happy-making as it is so rare.

***For Book Club

Apr 17, 2019, 12:50pm

I've read all the Flavia books, and I always thought her precociousness was the point. I can see it being annoying to some people, but I think those who complain about it even being there are missing the point entirely.

Apr 17, 2019, 1:00pm

19.) The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted, Robert Hillman ****

I almost passed on this one entirely because its title and cover made me think it was going to be the kind of light, possibly gooey, relationship fiction that I am in the mood for about once a year and already own enough of unread to get me through a decade at least. Then I came across a copy in the bookstore and read the first few pages and was all "Welp. It's not that." and bought it. And read it in three days. I wasn't quite prepared for how rough of a read it was going to be (even after I realized it wasn't going to be light)--check the end of my review for a content advisory), but I'm really glad I read it. The story is set in the sixties in Australia and follows two characters--Tom and Hannah--both of whom have been knocked around pretty hard by life, Tom in sort of "ordinary" ways involving a cheating a wife and a son he is prevented from seeing, and Hannah through the almost unthinkable atrocities of the Holocaust. Hillman's telling of their stories is tender and beautiful and unflinching. I need to let this one percolate a bit, as I think he may have been doing something pretty amazing with his juxtaposition of the stories of these two, saying something about what we label "unthinkable" and set apart as the worst that humanity does to its own, versus what we accept as "normal," if hard. Recommended but, content advisory: graphic animal death; emotional abuse and excessive, abusive corporal punishment of a minor; persistent threat of rape and violence against women in a post-war setting; and sustained scenes of the atrocities of the Holocaust and concentration camps.

Apr 17, 2019, 1:03pm

>95 lycomayflower:, >96 katiekrug: hmm, I also thought Flavia might be too twee. I absolutely *do not* need to start another series right now, but endorsement from you and Katie makes for a pretty strong recommendation.

Edited: Apr 17, 2019, 1:13pm

>96 katiekrug: Oh, that's a good way to put it! I sort of see it as a slightly unrealistic part of the premise, but it *is* the premise, so if you're not willing to roll with that, the book is probably not for you. Somewhere around page thirty or so I thought, "Gosh, she sure knows *a lot* of stuff for only being alive for eleven years," and that was the last time I gave it any thought at all (until we briefly discussed it at book club and everyone was all "Yep, she's precocious, who cares!")

Apr 17, 2019, 1:13pm

>98 lauralkeet: I totally understand not wanting to start another series, but gosh it was fun!

Apr 17, 2019, 4:50pm

>97 lycomayflower: I'm surprised you got through all that....must have been a really compelling story line.

>96 katiekrug: I think I'm going to have to go back to Flavia. I remember being put off by the reader when I listened to the second book in the series. I wasn't entirely captivated by Flavia anyway, and the voice did me in. But quite likely I could get into her world on the page if I gave it another try.

Edited: Apr 27, 2019, 8:28pm

20.) Bunny Day: Telling Time from Breakfast to Bedtime, Rick Walton and Paige Miglio ****

A picture book following an anthropomorphic bunny family through their day. The text says what the bunnies are doing and what time they are doing it. Each illustration includes an analog clock within the scene showing the appropriate time. I imagine this would be a good start to helping children tell time on clocks with hands, though there is no complexity to the times shown (they are all on the hour). Aside from that, the book is sweet and shows a family doing things together, including getting chores done in a timely fashion so that everyone can enjoy more fun activities together afterwards. A book that can teach some lessons without feeling overly didactic or preachy. The illustrations are rich (lots of "new" things to see on repeat readings) and lovely.

Apr 26, 2019, 11:55am

>101 laytonwoman3rd: Yes, and... hmm, quiet, perhaps? It wasn't particularly tense, despite being full of awful things.

Edited: Apr 27, 2019, 8:28pm

21.) To Night Owl From Dogfish, Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer ****

An epistolary middle grade novel about two girls who discover their dads are dating and set out to sabotage the dads' plans for the girls to become friends in anticipation of merging their families. The comparison to The Parent Trap is inevitable, and it's a good comp for the initial premise (if inside out) and the tone--though this novel is not a retelling of tPT, for the story goes in entirely its own directions.

This was a delight to read. I loved all the characters, and I thought Sloan and Wolitzer captured the ever shifting and morphing idiosyncratic interests of pre-adolescents perfectly. The format was fun, especially as we occasionally get letters (emails, mostly, really) from other characters aside from the two girls. Recommended.

Edited: Apr 27, 2019, 8:28pm

22.) Well-Read Black Girl, edited by Glory Edim ****

This is an excellent collection of short essays by black American women, each discussing the first time they saw themselves in fiction. In addition to the experience of reading the essays themselves for the insight they provide, the collection as a whole is an indispensable set of recommendations for further reading, both within the essays and in the lists of books by black women included throughout. Recommended.

Apr 27, 2019, 9:00pm

23.) Meet the Austins, Madeleine L'Engle ****1/2

Well, dang. I'm glad I didn't let my totally lukewarm reaction to A Wrinkle in Time stop me from picking up this first novel in L'Engle's The Austin Family Chronicles. I've said that I enjoyed the first bit of A Wrinkle in Time, before the kids go off on the adventure, while the rest of it left me pretty cold. This book is like nothing but that first bit that I liked! The story follows the Austins, a family of six, and centers around second oldest Austin child Vicky. At the start of the story the Austins take in a spoiled and recently orphaned child of a family friend, and the novel revolves around the family's reactions to this disruption to their lives, but really it's just wonderful slice of life stuff, dealing with hard things, big emotions, growing up, and figuring out who you are and where you fit in the universe. That last bit is specifically Christian in the book, but I think the experience of the seeking would be widely applicable, regardless of the reader's religious feelings. I will be reading more of this series. Recommended.

Apr 28, 2019, 10:54am

>105 lycomayflower: Is No. 22 your own? Might want to borry the loan of it, as we say.

Apr 28, 2019, 11:27am

>107 laytonwoman3rd: It is! I'll stick it in your Mother's Day box, shall I? Unless you be wanting it sooner like.

Apr 28, 2019, 12:17pm

That will work just fine.

May 2, 2019, 4:27pm

>106 lycomayflower: I have only ever read Troubling a Star from that series but I ADORED it as a child and borrowed it multiple times from the library. All I can remember of the plot now is something about the Falklands war (which as a child in the 90s I don't think I even knew what it really was), a trip to Antarctica, penguins, and cellos. I really should track down a copy and see if I still enjoy it as an adult.

May 3, 2019, 5:17pm

>110 MickyFine: Oh my god, Troubling a Star! I must have memorized that cover/first chapter from all the times I read it at the end of my copy of A Swiftly Tilting Planet - but I never got around to actually reading the book!

May 7, 2019, 11:47am

>110 MickyFine: Interesting! I'm very much looking forward to reading the rest of the series, and I hope they all work as well for as the first did. I'm intrigued by penguins and cellos!

>111 fredanria: *waves*

Edited: May 7, 2019, 11:59am

24.) Becoming, Michelle Obama ****

I very much enjoyed Obama's book about her life, especially her early years (through college), her first meeting Barack Obama, and the presidential years. I read this fairly slowly over the course of about a month, which I think was just right for me, as I was invested in reading it and seeing what Obama had to say but there really was no thrust to the book--I mean, it's not like I was itching to find out what happened. The whole thing did make me a little sad though, as it drives home for me how great I think BHO was for us and, well. Now, here we are where we are. *sigh*

***For Book Club

Edited: May 7, 2019, 3:16pm

25.) Eloise The Ultimate Edition, Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight ****

This edition compiles the four original Eloise books--Eloise, Eloise in Paris, Eloise at Christmastime, and Eloise in Moscow--along with a "scrapbook" by Marie Brenner, which tells a brief history of the Eloise books and provides lots of photos of the author and illustrator. I was new to Eloise--I'm sure I'd seen her image before, but I didn't know much about her and certainly never read any of the books before--and this collection was (mostly) a delight. The scrapbook was interesting, and I loved loved loved the first book, Eloise, which tells of Eloise's life living with Nanny in the Plaza hotel in the fifties. It's part absurd, part adorable, part silly, and all wonderful. I also liked Eloise at Christmastime very much. The other two books didn't do as much for me, but Eloise in Paris was a good deal more enjoyable than Eloise in Moscow, which I wrinkled my nose at and actually said, "I don't get it." Perhaps, more than the others, it was a product of its time and doesn't translate well to someone born twenty-five years after it was written. So though I cawn't quite unequivocally say, "Oooooooo I absolutely love Eloise," I will recommend checking her out if you've never met her. Just skibble down to your library and get a copy. But maybe skip the trip to Russia.

Edited: May 19, 2019, 8:05pm

26.) Ship It, Britta Lundin ***1/2

A contemporary YA novel about Claire, a young woman who is a Big Name Fan in a new fandom with a strong contingent of the fandom vocal that they believe the male leads on the fandom's show should be in a romantic relationship. When Claire presses the issue at the Q&A at a panel at a con, she sets in motion a series of minor crises in the show's fandom and within the ranks of the show's show runner and actors.

I enjoyed this book a good deal, and was especially happy to find that I was equally interested in both point of view characters--the second pov is that of one of the actors on the show--especially as in books that switch povs that is often not the case. I liked the depiction of fandom, and there were passages where I felt super "seen," as we say now. The book wasn't without its flaws however, chief among them being some questionable behavior on Claire's part toward her love interest. I also wish the book had examined a little more thoroughly the questions it raised about fandom and what a show does or does not "owe" its fans. The story raises great questions, but it didn't always follow through as well as I would have liked. And ultimately I'm not sure I'm really on board with a lot of the conclusions it kind of sort of makes.

May 19, 2019, 8:09pm

27.) Ordeal by Innocence, Agatha Christie ***

This is one of Christie's "stand alone" mysteries, of which there are *far* more than I had previously realized. I read this as a buddy read with an old friend, and the discussion of the book was by far the most interesting aspect of this reading experience as a whole. The book isn't bad, exactly, but the pacing was odd (it dragged *a lot* in the middle), and there were little to no clues or detecting that a reader could follow. Add in some period-appropriate and largely not malicious but still (at best) quite distasteful attitudes towards race, and this Christie falls pretty far down my list of favorites from her.

May 19, 2019, 8:20pm

28.) Facing West, Lucy Lennox ****

A contemporary romance following Weston Wilde, a young small-town doctor from a well-loved family, and Nico Salerno, a black sheep who ran away from that same small town as a teen and has only returned fifteen years later after learning his sister has died and left her baby daughter in his custody. West and Nico have to work out a lot of issues between them, and watching them do so was a delight. This was a great combination of sweet and sexy, enemies to lovers and small town. I also just loved the Wilde family, which is enormous and loving and heckles its members adorably. This is the first book in this series, but the second I've read. I'll be getting on to the rest of them in time.

Edited: May 19, 2019, 9:22pm

Just finished up some crocheting projects, both for my cousin's new baby. I've discovered the blanket has a hole in it. Theoretically, I know how to fix that, but I've never had to do it before. So it's off to the local yarn shop tomorrow to see if anyone there can walk me through it. The hole *would* be in almost the exact center of the silly thing, so frogging back and reworking from the problem is an... undesirable solution. :-P Really happy with the wee baby cloche though.

May 19, 2019, 9:42pm

>118 lycomayflower: If her hair turns out to be ginger, won't she rock that hat?

May 20, 2019, 2:38am

>118 lycomayflower: nice! Did you know there's a Needlearts group here on LT where some of us share what we're working on? Come on over and pull up a chair!

May 20, 2019, 6:51am

>118 lycomayflower: Oooh, lovely! Rats about the hole, though, and that it's right in the middle. I hope the yarn shop folks can help (I'm sure they can).

And yes, what Laura said! Come join us (although I'm awful at posting over there these days)!

May 22, 2019, 4:02pm

>118 lycomayflower: nice knitting Laura.

May 31, 2019, 3:38pm

>119 laytonwoman3rd: Lol. Quite stylish.

>120 lauralkeet: Thanks! I did not! Will check it out.

>121 scaifea: Thanks! They did help (as I, too, was sure they would). Lovely folk, yarn shop folk.

>122 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks!

Edited: May 31, 2019, 3:50pm

29.) The Passages of H.M., Jay Parini ***1/2

This fictionalized biography of Herman Melville follows him from a young man to death, using known facts about his life as a framework and filling in the details of conversation and some incident through fiction. The tale is told from two points of view: one a close third to Herman himself, the other a first person pov of his wife, Lizzie, who the author says in his note that he had to "make up" since so little is known of her.

I can't say I cared overly much for the book, unfortunately (I love Moby Dick). Mostly, I think, it just didn't have that spark that makes one really enjoy a book. The writing is fine, and Parini's imagining of Melville is full. But I find I don't care for him much, and I really didn't warm to Lizzie, although oddly, I found her sections more compelling than his. Perhaps I simply grew impatient with Herman and his inability to get anywhere (whether physically, intellectually, metaphysically or what-have-you) with his homoerotic desire (although one might argue that he got somewhere literarily with it, I suppose). I might have liked, in a novel, some more growth and arrival at self-awareness from the main character, but that may have caused the book to lack the verisimilitude the author was going for.

So, not my favorite, but in a way that feels a bit more me than the book. And it does make me think I'll check out something else by Parini, perhaps one of his straight-up biographies.

***For the AAC and fulfills challenge #16 on my personal challenge for 2019, a book that satisfies the American Authors Challenge on LibraryThing

Jun 1, 2019, 11:29am

30.) Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson ****

This was one of my very favoritest books when I was eleven or so, and it holds up pretty well now. David's adventures are saved from being too episodic (which I usually don't care for) by the drive to get home and claim his inheritance. Alan Breck Stewart (he bears a king's name!) is entertaining throughout, and there's a good deal of Scottish Highland politics, scenery, and culture, which is just as fascinating to me now as it was when I was a kid. I had forgotten just how long David and Alan mess about in the Highlands, going from one sympathetic family or clan to another (this bit is much shortened in the 1960 Disney movie, which I watched ad nauseam in the same period I was reading the book over and over). There's also an important bit as they exit the Highlands which was changed from book to film (and I think the film version is better). Overall an enjoyable read, and one which was enriched by the fact that since I'd last read it, I've been to some of the places where the book is set (particularly Edinburgh).

***For Book Club

Jun 1, 2019, 12:27pm

>115 lycomayflower: *owowow* Book-bulleted with ANOTHER YA. No wonder that was the last post I read here! A Cathedral of Myth and Bone wasn't enough for your markspersonship badge?! Noooooooo hadda use me as target practice even yet.


>116 lycomayflower: I was really ambivalent about this story the longer I thought about it. But, like most all Dame Ags's stuff, I thought about it.

Have a lovely weekend.

Jun 5, 2019, 10:02am

>126 richardderus: Muuwhahahahaha. I'll be interested to hear what you think when you get to it. Reactions were mixed, I gather.

Yeah, not one of Christie's best, for sure.

Jun 5, 2019, 10:08am

31.) Phoebe and Her Unicorn, Dana Simpson ****1/2

Though it is marketed as middle grade, this comics collection about a fourth-grader and her unicorn best friend would appeal far beyond the 8-12ers. It reminded me of both Calvin and Hobbes and Wallace the Brave but is fully its own thing too. Phoebe is a little bit of an outsider, so when she rescues a unicorn and is granted a wish, she wishes for the unicorn to be her best friend. And then adventures ensue, including run-ins with a mean-girl at school and summertime adventures. The humor stands out and I love Marigold Heavenly Nostrils and her commentary on human life. I'll be reading more. Recommended.

Edited: Jun 5, 2019, 10:29am

32.) Supernatural: Nevermore, Keith R.A. DeCandido ***1/2

The first original Supernatural tie-in novel. This is set during the second season, and was a decent, pretty entertaining read. DeCandido gets Sam and Dean pretty much right (less so Dean), and the story is interesting, if a little anti-climactic-y in the end. I might have liked a little more insight into the brothers, rather than just a good facsimile of what we see on the show, but I imagine that's not really what a book like this is aiming for. (There's always fanfic for that, I suppose.) My only real complaint is that some of the characterization felt a bit too... on the nose and therefore not *quite* right? But this was good enough that I'll probably try a few more, especially as the book introduced a black character who ended up neither a bad guy nor dead, so points there over the show. =p

Jun 7, 2019, 10:04am

33.) Grandma Gatewood Hikes the Appalachian Trail, Jennifer Thermes ****

This picture book tells the story of Emma "Grandma" Gatewood's thru-hike of the Appalachian trail for a kid audience. The illustrations are nice (the various maps of the trail are standouts), and I suspect the idea of a grandmother setting out on her own with a knapsack to hike from Georgia to Maine would spark the imaginations of a lot of kids. Some good light info on the trail and what you might find there, including a longer text write-up (as well as a timeline) of the history of the trail and of Gatewood's walking it at the end of the book. I enjoyed this and am sending it to one of my nieces for her birthday.

Edited: Jun 15, 2019, 1:28pm

34.) Band Sinister, KJ Charles ****1/2

I haven't read a ton of KJ Charles, but this is my favorite of what I have read. Set in the Regency, the story revolves around siblings Guy and Amanda Frisby, who live in the country on an allowance provided by their aunt. Previous family scandals compel them to stay out of society, and they have a somewhat happy (if starkly limited) life together. When Amanda breaks her leg on the property of a notoriously scandalous neighbor and is forced to stay in his home while she convalesces (I love this nod to Pride and Prejudice), Guy joins her, partly out of genuine sibling warmth and partly to protect her and her reputation. But the neighbor turns out to be not what he seems (and neither is his "band" of guests), and both siblings end up falling for members of the company. The story mostly focuses on Guy and Philip (the scandalous neighbor), but Amanda's love story chugs along in the background nicely (I'd love to see a book devoted to her, either set during this same period or later). A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Jun 17, 2019, 11:01am

>131 lycomayflower: The plot sounds like it might also have been influenced by a Georgette Heyer I read recently, Venetia.

Jun 17, 2019, 1:51pm

>131 lycomayflower: I liked Band Sinister as well, Laura, though her other MM Regency/Georgians are just as appealing to me.

>132 MickyFine: Pretty much beat-for-beat like Venetia, Micky. Steal from the best is always a maxim that leads to success.

Edited: Jun 18, 2019, 1:03pm

>132 MickyFine:, >133 richardderus: Y'all make me want to check
out Venetia!

>133 richardderus: I'm not sure I've read any others by her in that period. Will have to.

Jun 18, 2019, 11:42am

>134 lycomayflower: It's a solid Heyer to check out. I'm all in favour of that plan.

Jun 20, 2019, 3:40pm

Experiencing a bit of a reading slump, so I've been reading some graphic novels/comics.

35.) Unicorn on a Roll, Dana Simpson ****
This continues to be great. I love Phoebe and especially Marigold Heavenly Nostrils.

36.) Giant Days vol 8, John Allison ****
Giant Days is for sure my favorite comic I'm reading. I only have one more volume before I'm caught up, and I'm sad about that. At least the next volume comes out shortly.

37.) Unicorn vs. Goblins, Dana Simpson ****
Honestly, I just wish these were longer. I miiiight have gone out and bought the entire series so I have more on deck, but they go so quick.

Jun 20, 2019, 3:47pm

>136 lycomayflower: All reading is good reading.

I just read volume 11 of Lumberjanes and adored it as always.

Jun 20, 2019, 3:58pm

>137 MickyFine: All reading is good reading. Definitely! I'm kind of a little proud of myself for recognizing the slump and just finding something that grabs me instead of trying to force "all words" reading when that's apparently not where my head is at.

Jun 20, 2019, 9:57pm

Lumberjanes was the answer to a Jeopardy question last night....and I got it!

Jun 30, 2019, 7:29pm

I’m way behind here, missed out on the move and everything. Has your previous place been sold?

Jul 2, 2019, 4:19pm

38.) Ghosts, Raina Telgemeier ****

A middle grade graphic novel about Cat and her family, who move towns for the health of her younger sister, who has cystic fibrosis. Their new town is haunted by the friendly ghosts of previous residents of the town. We follow Cat as she deals with her feelings about her sister and her illness, copes with the move, and considers how she feels about her family heritage, especially as her sister sets up an altar hoping their grandmother's ghost will come to visit. This was a great read, especially its treatment of and information about the Day of the Dead. Recommended.

Jul 2, 2019, 4:20pm

>140 Familyhistorian: It's under contract! We should close mid-month.

Jul 2, 2019, 4:28pm

39.) Razzle Dazzle Unicorn, Dana Simpson ****

40.) Unicorn Crossing, Dana Simpson ****

41.) Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm, Dana Simpson ***1/2

42.) Unicorn of Many Hats, Dana Simpson ****

I continue to really enjoy this middle grade comics series. Volume 6 (Magic Storm) was a proper graphic novel, with a continuous plot throughout, and I didn't enjoy that one as much. But on the whole I enthusiastically recommend these, and definitely not just to middle-grade-aged readers.

Jul 2, 2019, 4:29pm

>139 laytonwoman3rd: Impressive. Most impressive.

Jul 2, 2019, 5:16pm

>144 lycomayflower: Yes,'re responsible, of course.

Jul 3, 2019, 5:50am

>141 lycomayflower: Laura: I'm a big Telgemeier fan, myself, and Charlie, too. He just finished this one last week and *loved* it.

Jul 14, 2019, 11:28pm

Hope all is well Laura and that you had a lovely weekend.

Jul 23, 2019, 9:38am

>146 scaifea: I have another one here in reserve for the next time I want something quick and perfect.

>147 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul!

Jul 23, 2019, 9:39am

Way behind here...

43.) Phoebe and Her Unicorn in Unicorn Theater ****

Coming close to running out of these, and that makes me sad. This was another great one.

Edited: Jul 23, 2019, 9:48am

44.) Counting by 7s, Holly Goldberg Sloan ***1/2

I previously read (and enjoyed immensely) the book that HGS co-wrote with Meg Wolitzer, but this middle-grade story didn't do much for me. I think it was meant to be quirky and hopeful in the face of tragedy, but the quirky didn't really work for me and that rather made the whole thing fall apart.

Edited: Jul 23, 2019, 9:49am

45.) Driftwood, Harper Fox ****

A romance novel about two vets each struggling with his own demons as a result of his time in the service. Thomas deals mostly by trying to hide, and Flynn deals by taking risks he shouldn't and staying in relationships he really shouldn't. This was the best kind of romance novel for me--it is deeply interested in exploring and developing character, and there's a lot of plot ticking away along with the love story. It's also got very nice sentences. Recommended.

Edited: Jul 23, 2019, 10:08am

46.) Arrows of the Queen, Mercedes Lackey ****

This first book in the Arrows trilogy, set in Lackey's Valdemar, was mostly enjoyable. It's pretty episodic, which I don't love, but I liked Talia and the whole set up here enough to carry on. Since I first read the Magic's Whatsit" trilogy in my early twenties, I've been wanting to return to this world, and I'm glad I did. I mean to continue on with this trilogy soonish, and I hope that the next book will be a little more plotty.

***Fulfills challenge #7 on my personal challenge for 2019, an sff novel from my shelves

Jul 23, 2019, 10:10am

>149 lycomayflower: You could start over....oh,

Aug 1, 2019, 3:27pm

47.) Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers ****

This is a Lord Peter Wimsey novel with Harriet Vane, but honestly it's mostly Harriet for a good chunk of the story. This was my first foray into any Lord Peter books, and it probably wasn't the best place to start. Harriet and Peter have important history that I can't fully grasp having not read the previous book where it developed, but I was able to muddle through. The detecting here was largely in the background (I'm not sure that you could figure out who was behind the mysterious and disturbing goings on from info that was provided), but I didn't mind too much as the real interest of the story for me was in Peter and Harriet's relationship and how they worked through what marriage between them might be like. I got a bit of a bad taste in my mouth at a few points where I thought that not just some characters' but also Sayers's views on some things (unmarried women, the working class, criminals etc) were pretty unpleasant. Not sure I want to read more of her work, but I might be interested in reading something *about* her. In any case, I'm glad I read this, not least because I read it along with a friend and we had a great discussion about it.

Aug 1, 2019, 3:41pm

48.) In the Hunt: Unauthorized Essays on Supernatural ****

This collection of essays about the TV show Supernatural was published (or at least all of the essays were written) after season three but before season four, so it's *really* early in the show's run and thus some of the points made are laughable now (one essay makes a point about how the SPN universe contains demons but no angels. whelp.). But on the whole I really enjoyed this and found many of the essays really insightful. One on Dean as a mothering figure is great; another fascinating essay discusses how SPN uses "masculine characters to traverse a female landscape." A couple on the Impala as a third main character are interesting (apparently the state of the Impala (clean or dirty) usually reflects Dean's state of mind--neat). A few of the essays felt like filler, and one or two were just terrible--one, about Dean as the character we want to be and Sam as the character we really are, I think seriously misreads Dean, unless you stopped watching at about the midpoint of season one, and is written in a way that I think is supposed to be clever but which just made me cross. But generally I was thrilled to spend two afternoons with this, and it learned me a few things.

Aug 1, 2019, 3:51pm

49.) Once Upon a Haunted Moor, Harper Fox ****

This is the first novella in a mystery series about a policeman in Cornwall and the clairvoyant he falls in love with and partners with to solve crimes. A tad light on the mystery, but a lovely bit of character and atmosphere and setting. I'll be more than happy to settle in with Gideon and Lee for more little adventures in Cornwall.

Aug 1, 2019, 4:07pm

>155 lycomayflower: "Stuck in time" tie-in books like that are so funny. I have a book about the 2013 TV show Sleepy Hollow that I was obsessed with at the time, published between the first and second seasons, but the show went way off the rails in the last season and it's so weird to look back at the book now!

Aug 1, 2019, 6:50pm

>155 lycomayflower: Oddly enough that reminds me that I have a "What's next for Harry Potter?" type book that came out before the final one that I want to read still...

Aug 1, 2019, 10:45pm

>158 bell7: Yes! My mom has one of those, too!

Aug 5, 2019, 4:18am

>156 lycomayflower: That looks like one to seek out, Laura, as Cornwall is a favourite spot of mine.

Aug 10, 2019, 11:54am

>157 norabelle414:, >158 bell7: They are an odd/fascinating experience to read later! I have a Harry Potter one that was written between books 6 and 7, that I read in that timeframe. I keep meaning to go back and look at it again because I only really remember the bits that were hilariously wrong now. I'd like to know if he got anything uncannily spot on.

Aug 10, 2019, 11:54am

>160 PaulCranswick: It was light on the mystery/plot, but the atmosphere was nice!

Edited: Aug 10, 2019, 12:03pm

50.) His Saint, Lucy Lennox ****

Another in Lennox's Forever Wilde romance series, this one follows vetturned body guard Saint when he is assigned to the son of a wealthy family who has been the victim of repeated break-ins. The two fall in love (natch), and Lennox does a great job, as usual, with character development and with situating her heroes among their families and acquaintances. The secondary characters in a Lennox novel always raise them above the already high level the romance story itself achieves. This one also has a decent little mystery running along side the love story (who keeps breaking in to Augie's house?). It's not earth shattering plottiness, but I was entertained and interested. Recommended.

Edited: Aug 10, 2019, 12:13pm

51.) Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi ***

I was all set to love this, but I'm afraid it disappointed. I can't decide if I think it just didn't spark for me or if there's something more objectively meh about it. I read it for book club, and no one there liked it either (though most of them are not usually fantasy readers, so that honestly doesn't help me out a whole lot). The story is told from three different points of view, and I found little to nothing differentiated those three povs. I also didn't love the use of first person present tense. Finally, nothing about the book really came alive for me, not the characters, not the world building. And by the end I felt like the plot was just one thing after another. I really like the idea of a fantasy story based in an African culture rather than a European one, and Adeyemi's desire to put the struggles of black Americans against police figures into a fantasy setting I think is a great idea, but I wasn't feeling it as a story. I dunno. YMMV.

Edited: Aug 10, 2019, 12:42pm

52.) Ziggy, Stardust & Me, James Brandon ****

I enjoyed this YA novel about a teenaged boy in the seventies struggling to accept his sexuality while being told from all sides that he is "sick." The writing is lovely, the main character has a distinct, captivating voice, and his budding relationship with Web, a Lakota boy dealing with oppression and violence himself, is handled nicely. While this was an entertaining read, it was also a hard one: content warnings for racism and homophobia (and accompanying language), violence, and scenes of "conversion therapy."

Aug 10, 2019, 12:49pm

>165 lycomayflower: As a David Bowie fan, I may add that to my list Laura.

Aug 10, 2019, 1:36pm

>164 lycomayflower: And now, I see, Disney is making a movie or a series or something, from it. Could be a clue in that.

Aug 10, 2019, 1:55pm

>167 laytonwoman3rd: Errr, what's the clue?

Aug 10, 2019, 2:25pm

That it's the kind of thing Disney might want to turn into a movie...ergo, not necessarily something that would wow you.

Aug 10, 2019, 3:51pm

>166 Caroline_McElwee: There was, indeed, much Bowie references in it, and that was lovely.

>167 laytonwoman3rd: Mmm, I'm not sure that that follows....

Aug 11, 2019, 9:36am

>164 lycomayflower: Ooof. I'm listening to this one now, so I'm skipping your review (other than that first sentence, which isn't encouraging). I'm not too far in yet, but I haven't been grabbed like I thought I would be, what with all the hoopla around the book. Dang.

Aug 17, 2019, 11:23am

>171 scaifea: I'll be very interested to hear what you thought. I wondered as I was reading if the audiobook might have been a better way to go....

Aug 17, 2019, 6:02pm

>164 lycomayflower: I liked this more than you did, but it didn't quite live up to the hype for me either. Book 2 is coming out in October, I think, so I'm hoping to get to it before I hear too many things about it and see if I like it better (this is, I'm fairly sure, why I like Fire better than Graceling).

Aug 19, 2019, 6:08am

>172 lycomayflower: I'm about halfway through now after this weekend's travel-listening. I don't hate it, but I'm not absolutely enthralled, either. The audio is pretty great, though - the narrator has a gorgeous voice.

Aug 27, 2019, 1:57pm

>173 bell7: Hype can be such a double-edged sword. Good for the author for sales and bringing the book to readers who might otherwise not know about it, but also making it almost impossible for the book to live up to what people have heard about it going in.

>174 scaifea: I'm glad you don't hate it! I think a lot of books can really thrive on audio if they have a great narrator where they might otherwise be more meh.

Edited: Aug 27, 2019, 4:56pm

53.) The Keeper of Lost Things, Ruth Hogan ***1/2

A quirky, mostly gentle novel about a woman who needs to find her way again who is left a house and a collection of "lost things" (mostly small found objects like gloves and buttons) by her employer. He wanted her to return them to their owners. The story is peopled with the house's gardener (the love interest), a teenager from next door (a new friend), and a ghost (maybe?), and interspersed among the main narrative are the stories of many of the lost things. Pulled me along and was a pleasant diversion, but little of it has stuck with me.

Edited: Aug 27, 2019, 5:04pm

54.) The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Ernest J. Gaines ****

Miss Jane Pittman begins her story when she is about eleven years old, just as she and her fellow slaves learn that they are now free. Then she tells of her life over the following hundred years, as she lives through reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement. Gaines brings Jane alive and, especially in the beginning of the novel, I was riveted by her story. Some of the later incidents (excepting the final one, where I was again riveted), didn’t engage me quite as much, but on the whole I am very glad to have read this novel and feel like I learned things in the best way that story telling can teach. I’ll be looking out for more by Gaines.

Edited: Aug 27, 2019, 4:50pm

55.) Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn **1/2

Young reporter Camille returns to her small hometown in hopes of getting a scoop on a possible serial killer of young girls operating there. As she investigates, we learn about her messed up family. This story was populated with unhappy, unpleasant, uninteresting people, and the plot was lackluster. By a third of the way through I wanted to scream at Camille, “Get away from your mother and Google Munchausen’s, for cripe’s sake!” I was certain from early on that the awful things happening were all perpetuated by Camille’s mother, her little sister, or some combination of the two. I was not wrong, and thus the only real propellent behind the story (would there be a twist?) turned out to be a nonstarter. Blech. If I hadn’t been reading for Book Club, I’d have quit before page one hundred.

Edited: Aug 27, 2019, 5:06pm

56.) Small Spaces, Katherine Arden ***1/2

A middle-grade novel about a sixth-grade girl who finds a strange book and then realizes that the events in the book parallel the history of a farm to which her class is taking a field trip. And then the scarecrows start to come alive, and the girl and her classmates have to survive and solve the mystery of the supernatural whatnots going on. I really enjoyed the characters and the writing here and appreciated the creepy but not scary elements (NB that for younger readers, my creepy might well be their scary), but the action was a little too “one adventure we have to survive after another” for me to fully fall in the love with the story. And it dragged a bit for me in the middle. But, I did read the whole thing in one sitting, and I liked the bits I liked well enough that I’ll likely try the sequel someday.

Edited: Aug 31, 2019, 1:17pm

57.) Sailing Alone Around the Room, Billy Collins ****

This is probably the first time I've read a poetry collection and really felt like I "got" all of it. And I truly enjoyed the whole thing! I *can* be taught! (Or maybe I just hadn't found the thing that clicked?) Some favorites were "Fishing on the Susquehanna in July," "The Death of the Hat," and "Nightclub."

***Fulfills challenge #1 on my personal challenge for 2019, a book of poetry

Aug 31, 2019, 1:04pm

58.) Murmuration, TJ Klune ***1/2

Mike Frazier lives a cozy life in an idyllic 1950s town where all the townsfolk are eagerly waiting for him and his almost boyfriend Sean to finally make things official. But things don't seem quite right to Mike (readers were clued in right away by this 1950s town's enthusiasm for Mike's relationship with another man), and he slowly starts to pick at the seams of his life. This is a slow burn of a novel, with Mike and Sean's relationship coming together at a glacial but somehow lovely pace, and the mystery of what is really going being revealed in tiny tiny layers until "Mike" wakes up from a coma in a hospital and learns that he's been part of an experiment to create a world for coma patients inside their heads. Then begins a fight between Greg, the "real" personality, and "Mike," the created personality from the coma world--who will win, and which future will that personality choose: "real" life or coma life with a future with Sean? Utlimately I guess this is at least in part a story about fighting for love, but I enjoyed the romance *far* more than the sff elements, mostly because I felt the romance was done better. I will definitely be checking out more Klune (the sentence writing was aces, as was the character development) to see if I like some of his other work better.

Aug 31, 2019, 1:26pm

Husbeast will be away for a few days shortly so, as is my habit when that happens, I'm taking the time to read, read, read. I'm extending my time "off" to read from today through next Sunday (he won't be gone that whole time) as a treat to myself since the house buying/selling/moving is completely over and done. Gonna see how many of these I can read in nine days. If anyone wants to urge me to read anything in particular from that pile, have at it!

Aug 31, 2019, 3:32pm

I'm reading Unicorn Bowling'll whip through it, and it's very good. Gotta say I don't recognize the rest of them. And YAY for Billy Collins.

Aug 31, 2019, 4:03pm

Adding a yay for Billy Collins.

Enjoy your reading binge Laura.

Aug 31, 2019, 10:43pm

Wow, what a great stack! I'm very jealous of your free reading time.

Sep 1, 2019, 10:22am

>183 laytonwoman3rd: You can't *skip ahead*.

Billy Collins was indeed much yay.

>184 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline!

>185 norabelle414: Thanks, Nora!

Sep 1, 2019, 10:25am

59.) Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire ****

I had a little trouble sinking into this book, I think because the sentences and I didn't always get on. (This is distinct from my thinking the sentences weren't *good*--just sometimes an author's writing doesn't work great for me.) I loved, loved, loved McGuire's premise of a home for children who have returned from portal worlds, though, so I'm likely to try some more books in this series.

Sep 1, 2019, 9:45pm

>186 lycomayflower: I certainly can...especially when it's the only one available to me.

Sep 2, 2019, 11:45am

60.) Tinsel Fish, Harper Fox ****

The second Cornish mystery with Gideon and Lee, this time involving a seemingly haunted house that has a detrimental affect on Lee. This story was much creepier than the first in the series, but I still enjoyed it a good deal. I especially enjoyed the arrival of Gideon's brother, who is a fascinating enigma. I do kind of feel like these novellas could stand to be a little longer though.

Sep 2, 2019, 12:09pm

Sep 3, 2019, 5:42am

>182 lycomayflower: I can't remember: Is the Turner a re-read or will this be your first encounter with Gen?

Sep 3, 2019, 9:12am

>193 scaifea: It will be my first encounter!

Sep 3, 2019, 10:50am

61.) With the Fire on High, Elizabeth Acevedo ****

YA novel about high school senior Emoni, who is a single mom and an aspiring chef. I enjoyed so much about this novel, including the main character, the sentence writing, and the food details. The pacing felt off, however, especially in the middle, with several events seeming like they could be the story's climax but weren't. But ultimately I was very pleased with the read, particularly as I loved the way Emoni worked out a way to follow her dreams without feeling like she was letting her responsibilities slide.

Edited: Sep 3, 2019, 2:18pm

62.) Pumpkinheads, Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks *****

This YA graphic novel follows two best friends as they work their local pumpkin patch on Halloween night of their senior year of high school. This will be their last night in the patch ever, and they both feel some kind of way about that. I loved this, from the characters to the art to the rep. And it makes me want autumn right. now. plox.

Sep 3, 2019, 2:24pm

Did a little baking, the apple cake that was a favorite when I was a kid:

Sep 3, 2019, 4:11pm

A bit skimpy on the apples, were you?

Sep 4, 2019, 5:53am

>194 lycomayflower: Oh. Holy. Moly. If you don't just absolutely fall in love with Gen, I will cry. No pressure or anything.

>197 lycomayflower: I'll be right over. I'll bring tea!

>198 laytonwoman3rd: Linda: You should come, too, and bring your own version of the cake, with lots of apples. I'm happy to sample both and deal out opinions.

Sep 4, 2019, 9:57am

>199 scaifea: Well, she has assured me that there were plenty of apples in the cake, and I have to say, having seen photos of the whole thing that she didn't post here, I've never made one that looked any better. I guess I must concede that I taught her pretty well. Or maybe it's just in her genes, having generations of bakers behind her.

Sep 4, 2019, 10:08am

>200 laytonwoman3rd: Linda: Sooo, what you're saying is I'm not getting two cakes...

Edited: Sep 4, 2019, 10:38am

>198 laytonwoman3rd: I followed the recipe pre*cise*ly.

>199 scaifea: Well now I'm a mix of really excited to read something you love so much and a little scared of what if I don't like it. Like 60/40.

Ooo yes, you are welcome here any time!

>200 laytonwoman3rd: Aw, shucks.

>201 scaifea: She's sneaky like that, ya know?

Sep 4, 2019, 11:01am

>201 scaifea:, >202 lycomayflower: We could share the recipe, couldn't we?

Sep 4, 2019, 11:14am

>202 lycomayflower: I did say "no pressure," you know. And you'll absolutely love it, I don't think there's any doubt.

>203 laytonwoman3rd: Linda: Well, I suppose the recipe would be a close second after actually having it baked *for* me... (read: Oh, yes, please, I'd love the recipe if you don't mind sharing)

Sep 4, 2019, 12:06pm

>204 scaifea: Iiii can make pressure out of anything. (I'm mostly kidding. I'm quite looking forward to checking this book out. Have had it on the TBR for yonks.)

Recipe! (I think you should be able to grab this image and print? If it is not being agreeable, let me know and I can type it in for you. Also: please to excuse the giant mess I make out of recipes when I bake.)

Sep 5, 2019, 5:26am

>205 lycomayflower: Yep, I think that will work - thanks!

Edited: Sep 9, 2019, 6:09pm

63.) Unicorn Bowling, Dana Simpson ****

Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn collection. These continue to be the best. This one is more of the same, but it doesn't get old. Nothing beats Marigold Heavenly Nostrils in her bowling outfit (the shoes!). I hope Simpson carries on for a long time.

64.) Giant Days, Volume Nine, John Allison et al ****

Big changes are on the horizon for the gang as they finish their second year of uni and look ahead to their last. I just love this series to bits. I enjoy every character, and the humor, and the art. I'll be sad when this ends.

Edited: Sep 9, 2019, 6:06pm

Well, I got a touch slumpy in the back half of my week+ of reading, so I didn't get through quite as much as I hoped. This is not a bad pile, though.

Sep 10, 2019, 4:43am

Definitely not a bad pile! I really liked With the Fire on High, too, and I’ve got Pumpkinheads on the WL.

Sep 24, 2019, 11:40am

>209 jnwelch: Pumpkinheads was so fun. Hope you enjoy when you get to it!

Sep 24, 2019, 12:04pm

65.) TV Goes to Hell: An Unofficial Road Map to Supernatural, eds. Stacey Abbott and David Lavery ****

This anthology of critical essays about Supernatural was wildly hit or miss for me. A few of the pieces were some of the worst examples of the ways academic-facing critical writing sometimes wallows in obscuring language and privileges critical lenses over illuminating discussion of the primary text in question. BUT some of the essays were written in clear and concise language and succeeded in making compelling arguments about the show (without sacrificing rigor *gasp*), and those I enjoyed. All of the essays were written before season six, but the book came out after six had aired, so some of the supplementary material includes season six: there's a great episode guide which would be helpful for reference.

The essays I found particularly good/useful/illuminating were:
"Televisual Folklore: Rescuing Supernatural from the Fakelore Realm"
"Crossing Over: Network Transition, Critical Reception, and Supernatural Longevity"
"Plagiarism or Props?: Homage to Neil Gaiman in Eric Kripke's Supernatural"

Sep 24, 2019, 12:26pm

66.) Gilmore Girls: A Cultural History, Lara C. Stache and Rachel D. Davidson ****

This book is part of a series called The Cultural History of Television, and it provides fairly surface-level yet substantive discussions of Gilmore Girls with regards to several cultural topics, such as feminism, class, popular culture, romance, and so on. It didn't offer any earth-shattering insights into the show or anything, but for a person who *likes* to sit around and theorize about TV for fun, it was entertaining. It would probably be a nice introduction to starting to think about TV critically if one wanted such a thing.

Sep 25, 2019, 5:33am

>211 lycomayflower: Is the Gaiman essay about all the Good Omensy bits?

Sep 27, 2019, 10:25am

>213 scaifea: Yis. And American Gods and Neverwhere. Aaaand I think also the Sandman comics? I've forgotten already now. Whoops.

Sep 29, 2019, 1:28pm

67.) The Lost City of Z, David Grann ***1/2

Grann relates his own trip into the Amazon in search of clues to what happened to early 20th-century explorer Percy Fawcett, as well as providing a narrative constructed from primary sources of Fawcett's various expeditions into the jungle. Can't say this did a lot for me. The jungle bits with Fawcett started to feel like one thing after another, with a lot of gross details about how the jungle will eat you. I enjoyed the bits that were straight up geography and the very very end when Grann talks about the archaeological discoveries made in the Amazon well after Fawcett disappeared during one of his quests for the city of Z.

***For Book Club

Sep 30, 2019, 6:01am

Sep 30, 2019, 6:04am

>215 lycomayflower: Don't see me reading that one Laura - is it the 26th book in a series!?

Sep 30, 2019, 9:11pm

Sep 30, 2019, 9:14pm

68.) A Girl Like Her, Talia Hibbert ****

A contemporary romance with an inter-racial couple and representation of autistic spectrum disorder on the page. I loved the characters and the interactions between the hero and heroine. Thought the pacing was maybe a little off. But I enjoyed the book and will likely read more by Hibbert.

Sep 30, 2019, 9:51pm

Ladies and gents all, new thread time.