foggidawn reads in 2019: thread the first
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Welcome! I'm foggi, and this is my twelfth year on LibraryThing and my ninth year in this group! I'm a collection development librarian/youth materials selector (means I buy all the kids' and teen books) for the public library system in a medium-sized Ohio town, and a voracious reader.
I'll read anything that catches my fancy, but here are some of the kinds of books I particularly like:
Books for kids and teens
Fantasy for any age -- plus the occasional work of science fiction
Inspirational fiction, if the writing is good
Mysteries, particularly cozies and golden age British detective stories
The occasional memoir or biography
Here are some of the other things I like, which can distract me from reading, but which I may occasionally post about here:
Theatre -- both viewing live theatre and participating in community theatre. I wasn't successful in my pursuit of the latter in 2018, but perhaps I will have better luck this year.
Sewing -- it's a love/hate relationship, really. I'm only barely proficient at it, so it's slow going when I get on a sewing kick, but when it goes right, I love the results.
Gardening -- I've been trying container gardening lately, and though I didn't harvest much last year, I'm hoping for better outcomes this time around.
Gaming -- I love board games when I can find people to play them with (which is not as often as I like) and I occasionally play video games, but most often I waste my time playing games on my phone. Right now, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Pokemon Go.
Dogs -- you can see my dog Sophie in the photo above, and 2019 might also be the year I obtain a second dog as a companion for her. Sophie became a "tripawd" last year, but is adapting well to the three-legged life.
Family -- I recently became a first-time aunt! I'm always looking forward to my next chance to see the baby, and I'm working on building up his library. Also, my parents recently retired and moved to their newly-built cabin in rural Pennsylvania, so I foresee many visits there, as well.
Thanks for visiting my thread!
2019 Reading Resolution
For the past two years, I've had some success making a New Year's resolution regarding reading. I usually read as my whimsy takes me, but I've found I can manage a small set list of books to conquer. The first year, I tackled some of my oldest TBR books. Last year, I read ten "classic" works that had been languishing on my shelf. This year, I face my no-longer-secret shame: unread Early Reviewer books.
I've been participating in the LTER program for at least ten years now, and I'm usually pretty good about reading and reviewing the books I receive. However, over the years a handful have slipped through the cracks. This is the year to fulfill my obligations to those books. There are only eight of them, though the Jim Henson bio is a bit of a chunk. (Better tackle it sooner, rather than later.) Here are the titles:
The Wonderling by Mira Bartok
The Apprentices by Maile Meloy
Unspoken by Dee Henderson
The Book of Pearl by Timothee deFombelle
Shakespeare's Prop Room by John Leland
Jim Henson by Brian Jay Jones
All Things New by Lynn Austin (That's the galley in the black binding, on the bottom of the stack)
Wren Journeymage by Sherwood Smith (ebook, not pictured)
I'm allowing myself to DNF any of these books that don't grab me, as long as I have read enough of them to be able to articulate in a review why they did not work for me. Of course, I hope to finish and enjoy all of them!
The End-of-Year Book Meme
(Each answer is a title read in 2018)
Describe yourself: The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I
Describe how you feel: Truly Devious
Describe where you currently live: The Ruined City
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: The Long-Lost Home
Your favorite form of transportation: The Phoenix and the Carpet
Your best friend is: Emergency Contact
You and your friends are: Real Friends
What’s the weather like: Snowspelled
You fear: Prairie Fires
What is the best advice you have to give: Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Thought for the day: You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P!
How you would like to die: In Other Lands
Your soul’s present condition: We Are Okay
Happy New Year, Foggi! Looking forward to the BBs I know I'll pick up from you.
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, Foggy, this year.
Welcome Leah, Amber, Rachel, Fuzzi, Micky, Anne, and Paul! Thank you for your kind words. I am home from vacation, so will soon get around to visiting all of your threads and fixing up mine.
(1 book read)
Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome by Ty Tashiro — A psychologist looks at some data about awkwardness and draws some conclusions.
Confession: I listened to the audiobook version of this work, and sometimes my mind wandered. I don’t often listen to audiobook nonfiction, as I’m more of a visual learner, but this book’s intriguing subject and conversational tone made for a generally positive listening experience, even if I may have missed some details. This is definitely intended as a popular, rather than scholarly, work. I’m not sure if did everything promised in the subtitle, but it gave me some thoughts to chew on.
I was supposed to get this book from the Early Reviewers program, but it never arrived. I saw that it was available as an e-audiobook through one of my library’s ebook platforms, so I borrowed it there.
Welcome, Lori and Roni!
I've just about got my opening posts above all tidied up -- now, to visit a few more threads before the exhaustion of the day sends me off to bed.
Hello, I'm stopping by to drop a star on your thread and say I hope to be more present in 2019 as I so like your choices of reading materials.
All good wishes for a wonderful 2019!
Happy New Year Foggi! And happy new thread!
Wishing you and your family the best for 2019.
Happy New Year, Foggi. I love the list of favorites - how could you choose only five?
Great idea to finish the ER books. I also have a few. I may copy your idea and post them as a reminder.
Welcome, Linda, Natalie, Humouress, and Beth! Glad to see all of you here!
>27 BLBera: Copy away! I'm hoping to finish off these books early in the year, and then return to chipping away at some older TBR books. Hopefully, having the picture and post about them will keep them in the forefront of my mind. I also have them on a little shelf on my hall table near the front door, so I can't forget about them so easily.
>28 lycomayflower: Thanks!
Hi Foggi! You lured me in with the promise of a pooch photo :) Super cute!
Hope you have a great 2019!
Happy New Year
I'll have to check out Tess of the Road, I was going to give it a miss, but now seeing it as one of your books of the year...
I've made a start on Spinning Silver and expect to love it, making it a slow read at present.
>2 foggidawn: I stopped requesting ER books, not many came my way anyway as I'm based in New Zealand. The last two, I confess that I read them but never got round to writing the review...and it has been some years now.
The Wonderling gets good reviews but I have to admit that I let it go back to the library unread.
Greetings, Rachel, Chelle, Nora, and Kerry! Thanks for stopping by!
>33 avatiakh: Yes, I was surprised at how much I liked Tess. I really loved Seraphina, so it was interesting to see her story from a different (and not particularly flattering!) angle.
I've gotten pickier about the ER books that I request, over the years. I still can't resist looking at the list, but I've gotten better at determining what I'll actually want to read, versus what just intrigues me at the moment. Plus, in my current job, publishers and book vendors send galleys directly to me occasionally, so I try to leave the ER books to people who don't enjoy that privilege. (That said, I just got notification that I won a book in the most recent batch -- when/if it arrives, I'll have to add it to the stack in >2 foggidawn: )
>33 avatiakh: Well, that’s better than me. I haven’t read my last two ER books and it’s been a while so I can’t remember where I parked them (they’re e-books since I don’t live in the States).
>3 foggidawn: Man, you are good - knowing what the best books of 2019 are already! :)
Snagging your list to add to my list of lists - I am collecting everyone's to see what I missed last year.
I need to re-read Death Comes for the Archbishop again. Cather is one of my favorite writers. My Antonia is one of my all-time favorite books.
Happy New Year, foggi!
(2 books read)
The Bride of Ivy Green by Julie Klassen — In this final volume of the Tales from Ivy Hill, spinster Mercy Grove is feeling pushed out of her beloved home by her new sister-in-law. She takes a position as a governess, though that is a step down for her, but soon finds herself pursued by two men. Meanwhile, Jane Bell still struggles with her fears about marriage, and a newcomer to town attempts to hide from her past in order to make a fresh start.
I’ve enjoyed this well-written inspirational series. Klassen’s characters may occasionally express rather modern sentiments, but this tendency is not as egregious as I’ve seen in books by other authors. Klassen also manages to keep me guessing about certain plot twists. If you enjoy historical inspirationals, I recommend this series (start at the beginning, of course).
>41 foggidawn: I'm glad to know that series is well-written. It sounded like an interesting series, but I've been hesitant to read it because much inspirational fiction suffers in the writing department.
>42 thornton37814: I hear you! I find Klassen to be reliable in that regard.
(3 books read)
A Rather Lovely Inheritance by C.A. Belmond — Penny Nichols is in Europe working on a film set when she gets a call from her parents: she needs to drop everything and go to London immediately, because her aunt Penelope has died, and Penny must attend the reading of the will. Penny doesn’t expect much, maybe a few mementos, but she does as requested, and of course, the inheritance turns out to be both larger and more complicated than expected.
This was a light and fun book to listen to. Somewhere I saw it described as a “caper,” which suits it: there are elements of romance, mystery, and family drama, but it all goes down easily. I particularly recommend the audiobook, read by the late, great Katherine Kellgren.
(4 books read)
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang — Frances dreams of making fabulous creations, rather than the ordinary dresses sewn in the shop where she works. When she creates a shocking masterpiece for a customer, she almost loses her job, but an intriguing (and lucrative) offer from a stranger takes her to the palace itself. She will be Prince Sebastian’s seamstress. The Prince has a secret known only to his valet: occasionally, he likes to wear dresses. As Lady Crystallia, he wows society with Frances’s daring creations. But as long as his identity is secret, Frances must remain unknown as well. And if it became known that Prince Sebastian was Lady Crystallia, what would happen?
I’d been hearing good things about this graphic novel, and it was indeed just as charming as I had heard. The artwork is lovely (plenty of gorgeous swirling fabrics, for one thing) and the story is sweet. If you enjoy graphic novels with a romantic plot line, I definitely recommend this one.
>44 foggidawn: Glad you like this one! Are you going to continue with the series? I’ve been meaning to get back to it for years now. Maybe later this year.
>41 foggidawn: I'll happily take a recommendation for a well-written inspirational romance. They're tough to find. :)
>50 MickyFine: I find that my consumption of inspirational romance has declined over the last several years for just that reason. I still enjoy one occasionally, but they probably made up 40-50% of my reading in my teens and early 20s (my pre-LT, pre-library school days). And now, revisiting old favorites (or reading new books by old favorite authors) I can more easily see some of the weaknesses in the writing.
(5 books read)
The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth -- "A Woodlands heart always finds its way home." It's what Cervus the Great Stag told Philippa, Jamie, and Evelyn when they arrived in the Woodlands, called out of the misery and terror of hiding in a London bomb shelter into the beauty and serenity of the forest. And it's what Cervus told them, five and a half years later, when he sent them back and told them that he would not be able to call them again. Life after the Woodlands has been an adjustment for all three of them. Jamie has set his mind on conquering academics and making his way in this world, and Philippa has done the same, albeit with lipstick and nylons and school projects and social clubs. But Evelyn's Woodlands heart refuses to accept the return to this world, and she pines for what she considers her true home. She wanders the forests around her boarding school late at night, often without shoes or coat, yearning for the same call that drew her away before -- and Philippa, outwardly so collected and sophisticated, has been doing all she can to help Evelyn adjust. But now Philippa has gone away to school in America, leaving Evelyn on her own for the first time since they returned. Will Evelyn be able to finally make her way in this world?
This is a beautiful book, full of deep emotion and difficult choices. One gets the sense that there can't really be a happy ending for these characters, though one hopes for certain outcomes above others. The narration follows Evelyn for the first half of the book, immersing the reader in Evelyn's desperate longing for her other world, and then switches to Philippa for the second half of the book, adding complexity to the emotional tone as one learns more about both sisters. Layered in with Evelyn's narration are snippets of their lives in the Woodlands, and interspersed with Philippa's are memories of life after the Woodlands but before the book's current events. Both sisters relate strongly to art (poetry for Evelyn, visual art for Philippa) as a means of making sense of their lives and emotions.
Though you certainly can understand and enjoy this book without having read The Chronicles of Narnia, if you have read those books, you can't help but see how this book takes those events and characters and asks, "What if?" What might happen after Narnia, to someone like Lucy who loved that world with all her heart? Why might Susan have made the decision to become very grown up, as far from her fantasy-realm self as possible? I felt that this book was both a love letter to and a criticism of Narnia. However, I didn't find the Woodlands sections themselves very compelling, which is why I'd rate this book 4.5 instead of 5 stars -- there just wasn't enough depth there to really convey why Evelyn felt such an emotional connection. Understandable, since this book isn't really about the Woodlands, it's about life after. Still, I felt that those portions paled in comparison with the rest of the book, which brought tears to my eyes more than once. Highly recommended both to those who loved and still love Narnia, and to those who loved but found themselves disillusioned by it later on.
(6 books read)
A Rather Curious Engagement by C.A. Belmond -- Penny Nichols, now an heiress with a London flat, a classic car, and co-ownership of a villa on the Riviera with her boyfriend Jeremy, sets out for a summer of relaxation and deliberation: the two have agreed to take the summer to think about future enterprises, investments, and what they want their lives to look like in the years ahead. In service to this goal, they decide to purchase a vintage yacht. In the course of events, they get caught up in the search for a missing family heirloom, a search which could turn deadly if they get too close to facts that certain individuals may wish not to disclose.
Another lovely little audiobook, pleasant to listen to (Kellgren again, of course) with a light, engaging plot. I listened to this mostly while feeling under the weather, and it was just right for those circumstances.
>52 foggidawn: This sounds really interesting! I was never a huge Narnia fan but I enjoyed The Magicians series, which is less "What happens after?" and more just a much darker take on it in general.
>54 quondame: The Problem of Susan gets me EVERY TIME, and Susan's fate is one of the biggest reasons I never got super into Narnia.
>54 quondame: I've read (and very much enjoyed) Among Others but not "The Problem of Susan" -- I'll have to get to that, and see if Gaiman can convince me where others have failed. :-)
>55 curioussquared: I read the first book of The Magicians, and kept meaning to get back to it, but haven't yet. I liked it well enough, but the second book wasn't out yet when I read the first one, and I just never got around to picking it up once it was. I'm a big fan of Narnia, but I can understand others having a more complicated relationship with it.
>56 scaifea: It's a good one.
>57 lycomayflower: Hope you enjoy it when you get to it!
Whenever a review of mine creates a lot of interest like this, I worry that I have oversold it -- but I really did enjoy this book, and it might even end up being one of my favorites of the year (obviously, it's way early to be predicting that), so I feel confident in my recommendation, even if nobody else likes it as much as I did (if that makes sense).
Happy new thread/new year, Foggi! I enjoyed Tess, but really loved Spinning Silver, and Educated is on my short list.
>59 kgriffith: Hi, Kir! I go back and forth about whether Tess should be the honorable mention, and Educated on the best-of list. I find that last year I didn't read as many fantastic books as I have in other years, but that may also have been because I did a fair amount of rereading.
>58 foggidawn: "The Problem of Susan" is a short story which I was able to find online and read in about 10min. There is an essay which discusses it and the idea Here. That C.S. Lewis would have had Susan distracted by real world teenage issues but not her older brother Peter is utter glaringly hypocritical male nonsense.
>61 quondame: Oh, I'm aware of the argument, I just haven't had time to read Gaiman's take on it yet.
>64 MickyFine: Yes, that was the strongest correlation to any book that I have read, although McGuire's work is tinged with horror, whereas this book had none of those overtones.
I had such a nice meetup with scaifea yesterday — she drove up from where she lives to where I live, so I showed her around my library and we had lunch. Who’s next? I’m always glad to have visitors!
>41 foggidawn: I will have to check out that series and let my daughter Catey know about it. She loves historical inspirationals.
>45 foggidawn: My local library has that one! Now on hold for me.
>52 foggidawn: Definitely a BB for me - I still love Narnia despite being 56 years old.
>66 foggidawn: If only we lived closer to each other. . .
>67 alcottacre: If only! It's a bit of a drive, to meet you for lunch. :-)
>54 quondame: Following up, I did read Gaiman's "The Problem of Susan," and found it as subtle as a sledgehammer. (I'm usually a fan of Gaiman's gentler works, but can't stomach his more violent or gory ones -- and this short story definitely falls in the latter camp.) So, he failed to convince me, but as I said above, I can understand how some readers have a more negative reaction than I to Narnia.
>69 foggidawn: I feel Gaiman's story is his own exploration of the feeling toward a piece of beloved literature that violates some basic trust between open, vulnerable, that is child, reader, and author. Doing so, he himself somewhat bruises in adopting female viewpoints. I wonder what the damage is to the very young male reader who compares himself to the purity of Peter. As to the sledgehammer, C.S. Lewis is no master of subtlety.
>70 quondame: True enough, about Lewis. I'd say Peter is offset by both Edmund and Eustace, as Lucy is by Susan -- though, of course, Edmund and Eustace get the chance for redemption early in their story arcs. (Susan does, too, in Prince Caspian -- but of course, as the Gaiman short story points out and as we've been discussing, she takes a more serious fall at the end of The Last Battle, and the reader does not get to see the chance for redemption within the confines of the story for that one.)
(7 books read)
A Rather Charming Invitation by C.A. Belmond — Penny and Jeremy’s wedding is looming ahead, but Penny is having a hard time setting any of the details. Is it cold feet? When a family heirloom disappears amidst all of the preparations, Penny and Jeremy embark on solving another mystery, this one perhaps even closer to home than their earlier cases.
Readers looking for mystery stories will probably be disappointed with these books, which I continue to find charming but difficult to classify. In this particular book, the plot moves at a leisurely pace early on, but picks up momentum in the second half. Once again, I highly recommend the audiobook version, narrated by Katherine Kellgren.
(8 books read)
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan — A proper young lady should not be obsessed with the study of dragons (or any scientific or academic pursuit, really), but Isabella’s parents have never been able to fully discourage her from this odd obsession. When she is fortunate enough to find a husband who does not discourage her from reading scientific texts, she feels that she has been as fortunate as she has any right to expect — but then she hears about an expedition to study dragons firsthand . . .
I’ve been hearing about this series here and there for at least a few years now, and I can’t think why it’s taken me this long to read it! It’s just my thing, what with dragons and the quasi-historical setting that draws in mannerpunk characteristics. I’m delighted to see that there are several more books in the series. I also highly recommend the audiobook version, as Kate Reading’s narration is top-notch.
>73 foggidawn: I've been eye that book for a while. Now it's officially on the wish list.
>73 foggidawn: Congrats on finally starting this series! I've read the first two, and really need to keep going.
>79 norabelle414: I'm currently in a pattern of listening to audiobook series all the way through, so I think that I will probably listen to all of this one the same way -- they're all available on my library's Hoopla service, and I like having an audiobook on the go for any time I have a car ride longer than five minutes.
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