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Mary (bell7) reads extravagantly in 2019, a fine fifth thread

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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1bell7
Aug 21, 8:55pm Top

Hello and welcome, whether you've been following my reading for years or are just joining in now!

If you haven't met me or read any of my early introductions, I'm Mary a librarian in western Massachusetts. I have no spouse or kids but I do have a very busy life, and you'll often seen me commenting on work, my niece & nephew, Bible study, knitting, or sports. I read somewhere between 100-120 books a year, a lot of fantasy, but also contemporary fiction, historical fiction, and mysteries as well as a smattering of other things that have interesting characters and engaging writing. For nonfiction, I especially love books about books, history and more. There's a lot I'll try, though I'm picky about romance and don't particularly go for horror. One thing I am trying to do consciously this year is read more diversely. You can track my progress in this spreadsheet.

I love that people's reading taste is so individual and I love hearing what makes a book work or not work for you, so even if you disagree with my take on a particular book, I'd love to hear what you think!

I'm a doting Auntie Mimi to my niece and nephew, and they'll serve as my thread toppers throughout the year. Here are selfies with Mia and Matthew on our way to Virginia Beach in June:



2bell7
Edited: Sep 12, 10:42pm Top

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

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

3bell7
Edited: Sep 15, 8:07pm Top

Currently Reading
Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold

Devotionals/Bible reading
A Year with C.S. Lewis
Ecclesiastes, 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles & Ephesians
Everyone's a Theologian by R.C. Sproul

4bell7
Edited: Sep 15, 8:08pm Top

September
83. New Suns: original speculative fiction by people of color edited by Nisi Shawl
82. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
81. Educated: a memoir by Tara Westover
80. Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
79. Playing in the Dark by Toni Morrison
78. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

August
77. Nest by Esther Ehrlich
76. A Better Man by Louise Penny
75. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
74. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
73. Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie
72. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
71. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London originally in Britain)
70. Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist
69. The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
68. Laguardia by Nnedi Okorafor

July
67. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
66. Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
65. Medicus by Ruth Downie
64. The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
63. The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth by Ken Krimstein
62. I Was Their American Dream by Malaka Gharib
61. Sea Glass by Anita Shreve
60. For Every One by Jason Reynolds
59. The Record Keeper by Agnes Gomillion
58. The Bay Path and along the way by Levi B. Chase
57. The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

5bell7
Edited: Aug 21, 8:59pm Top

Earlier in 2019:

June
56. The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
55. The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman
54. The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
53. The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz
52. Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
51. The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
50. Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
49. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
48. Mere Humanity by Donald T. Williams

May
47. Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key
46. The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
45. If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
44. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
43. Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
42. Ruined by Reading by Lynne Sharon Schwartz
41. Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon
40. Cape Cod Collected by Jim Coogan and Jack Sheedy
39. Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea by Sarah Pinsker
38. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

April
37. A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
36. Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Charles M. Blow
35. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
34. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
33. Red Bird: poems by Mary Oliver
32. Evicted: poverty and profit in the American city by Matthew Desmond
31. Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper
30. Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley
29. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

6bell7
Aug 21, 8:57pm Top

March
28. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
27. Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman
26. The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
25. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
24. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
23. How Long 'Til Black Future Month? by N. K. Jemisin
22. The Woman Who Would Be King by Kara Cooney
21. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
20. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
19. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam

February
18. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
17. The Skin I'm In by Sharon Flake
16. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
15. The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore
14. Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev
13. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
12. The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay

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

7ronincats
Edited: Aug 21, 9:13pm Top

Happy New Thread, Mary!! And I love your photos!

8bell7
Aug 21, 9:11pm Top

And finally, here are some photos from meeting up with Marianne (michigantrumpet) yesterday. We went to The Mount, Edith Wharton's house in Lenox from 1902-1911 or thereabouts, and attended an author talk in the barn, followed by lunch on the terrace, a walk through the gardens, and a guided tour of the house. I'm afraid I haven't quite figured out how to get the photos she sent me of the two of us, as my phone is not an iphone. But once I figure it out, I'll post that too.

The author was Patricia Miller, a journalist who writes about politics and religion and their intersection with sex and morality. The book is Bringing Down the Colonel, the true story of a woman who sued a former fiance, Congressman Breckenridge, for breach of contract in the 1890s. She told a fascinating story and had old photographs of the people involved and now of course I want to read the book. We refrained from buying them and decided to get library copies.

Here's a couple of the photos I took:



The back of the house looking back up the grass steps from near the gardens.



The fountain of the walled garden.



A close up of one of the arches in the walls, showing the plants climbing the walls and the sun coming through the opening.



One piece of Wharton's library. Apparently she had over 4,000 volumes and annotated the books she read. Some of them were lost in the blitz in a warehouse in London, but 2,700 have been purchased and are back at The Mount, many of which can be seen the bookshelves of an absolutely gorgeous, cozy library (this picture does not do it justice). I'd love to see this as a Legacy Library project - there are a limited number of copies of the catalogue, but it's quite thorough for the 2,700 volumes that are known. You can have a two-person private tour of the library for $150 and I'm definitely thinking about it.

9bell7
Aug 21, 9:12pm Top

>7 ronincats: Thanks, Roni!

10msf59
Aug 21, 9:27pm Top

Happy New Thread, Mary. Hooray for a Meet Up, with Marianne, one of my very favorite LTers. I would love to visit The Mount someday. Looks amazing. Great photos.

Looking forward to your thoughts on The Starless Sea.

11foggidawn
Aug 21, 11:04pm Top

Happy new thread! Our library book club did Educated a while back, and it generated some good discussion. Hope it does the same for you.

12charl08
Aug 22, 2:48am Top

>8 bell7: That sounds amazing! Wow. It looks really beautiful.
And I love the idea of the legacy library on LT here. I came across a library recently that I thought would be good on here, but have no idea how to do that.

Happy new thread!

13scaifea
Aug 22, 6:14am Top

Happy new thread, Mary!

14jnwelch
Aug 22, 7:03am Top

Happy New Thread, Mary!

We visited the Mount on one of our visits to Pittsfield/Richmond, and loved it. Beautiful home and grounds, and that library was a snug little dream.

I'm glad you got to meet up with Marianne - what a cool place to do that. We didn't eat on the terrace, but I remember it well.

15figsfromthistle
Aug 22, 7:22am Top

Happy new thread.

What an awesome meetup! Wharton's library is to die for.
I see that your book club is going to be reading Educated in September. I hope you enjoy it. So far one of my best reads this year.

16richardderus
Aug 22, 4:29pm Top

>8 bell7: A two-person tour?!? OMG OMG OMG

I *really* want to go and I can't even travel to NYC anymore, darn it all. I wish your thunderstorms had held off a day. Well, Educated should bring in the punters (as the saying goes).

"Thanks" for the newly arrived TBR fattener!

17bell7
Edited: Aug 22, 7:23pm Top

>10 msf59: Thanks, Mark, we had a fabulous time! There will definitely be more meetups in our future. I'm thinking going out to the Boston Book Festival, actually. I will let you know about The Starless Sea - I started it today and so far I think it's going to be immensely satisfying.

>11 foggidawn: Thanks, Misti, I hope so too!

>12 charl08: The Legacy Library page gives you good places to start. Jeremy works at the University of Virginia now but he's still the point person for that as far as I can tell - I helped catalog a couple a long time ago when I had much more free time but haven't been involved since the International Space Station one went up. I enjoy comparing my library with the Legacy Libraries.

>13 scaifea: Thanks, Amber!

>14 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe! The Mount was definitely a great meetup place; I loved the library too. We went back to check out the catalogue. There's so much in the Pittsfield/Richmond area, I could spend a ton of time just in Massachusetts seeing many places of interest.

>15 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita! Good to know about Educated. It wasn't a title that was jumping out at me personally, but everyone in my book group voted to read it, so I will do so with good humor and hope to be wowed!

>16 richardderus: RIGHT? I saved the paper, I'm still pondering. And yeah, it was too bad about the storms but whatcha gonna do? I can't reschedule, there's so much going on in the room, and the Classics Book Discussion meets the week after and consistently draws a large number of people (I think they're at least in the 10-12 range). And you're welcome! I just picked up September's so if I'm timely getting through it, you'll have another one soonish. 'Cause we all need larger TBR piles.

18drneutron
Aug 22, 7:16pm Top

Happy new thread!

19bell7
Aug 22, 7:22pm Top

74. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
Why now? It was a possibility for one of the squares in Summer Reading bingo ("Read a travel book") and the July selection for the Monthly Author Read group. Yes, I know I'm behind on both.

Peter Mayle and his wife decided to pick up from their home in the UK and move to Provence. In this classic expatriate travel memoir, Mayle recounts a year from January to December recounting stories of their neighbors, fixing up the house, great food to eat, and all sorts of experiences they had in their first year in Provence.

First written in 1989, this book is 30 years old so of course there's a sense of reading it and realizing that it's probably changed dramatically since Mayle wrote the book. But he writes with a humorous eye and a real love for the place and its people that make for really enjoyable reading. It reminded me a lot of my favorite Bill Bryson stories with a little less whining and sarcasm. 4 stars.

20bell7
Edited: Aug 22, 7:23pm Top

>18 drneutron: Thanks, Jim!

If I missed anyone, holler away!

21bell7
Aug 22, 7:25pm Top

I started The Starless Sea today on break at work - I am so loving it only 30 pages in that let me just say it's a good thing I'm *not* working tomorrow. I should be packing for a dogsitting job, however, so I think I'll go do that and have some guilt-free reading time this evening.

22bell7
Aug 23, 8:33am Top

Happy Friday! I have today off and am spending a relaxing morning meanderingly getting ready for my dogsitting job. I'll schlep all my stuff over at some point, do a grocery shopping, and get settled. Then in the afternoon I'm planning a trip to a small local zoo with a friend and her kids.

The Starless Sea will factor into my reading this weekend. It's lovely: very much about reading and storytelling, something I know a lot of LTers will appreciate. It's a good readalike for The Shadow of the Wind and Among Others, especially as Morgenstern references several familiar titles (even the obscure one that still comes up as the most common touchstone when you first put her title in). I expect I'll read a chunk today and won't have a ton of time tomorrow, as I'll be working and then take my little out to a local food fest.

23PaulCranswick
Aug 23, 11:55pm Top

>22 bell7: Mornings meandering are mostly marvellous, Mary (couldn't help a little alliteration there!)

Happy new thread and have a splendid weekend.

24FAMeulstee
Aug 24, 7:40am Top

Happy new thread, Mary!

>8 bell7: Thank for sharing a picture of Wharton's library, a private tour sounds lovely.

25bell7
Aug 24, 9:15am Top

>23 PaulCranswick: Ha, I like the alliteration, Paul! I spent what I thought was a long time getting caught up on threads and packing, but when I got there they were still packing up the car... so, I dropped off food and went off to a library where I don't work to print out the U.S. Open draws and then did my full grocery shopping on my way back. Hope you're having a great weekend, too!

>24 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita! I think it would be really fun to have a private tour, see some of her books and the marginalia.

26bell7
Aug 24, 9:21am Top

I'm working today and then taking my little out for the afternoon at a food festival. Should be fun, if busy! And of course I did enough of a grocery shopping that I have stuff I really should cook tonight even if I don't actually eat it. Oh well! I accidentally left my phone behind where I'm dogsitting so it feels... not like I'm missing a limb, exactly, but maybe a pinky. Something is not quite right and it's irritating me that it's irritating.

I didn't get to read as much as I hoped yesterday in The Starless Sea, but I'm about a fourth of the way through and really enjoying it so far. Now that I'm not commuting far, I have the audio of Nest going in a CD player in the kitchen, and I turn it on when I'm busy puttering around, cooking or cleaning. I made myself pizza yesterday, turned on the oven and burned a couple of bags of stuff that had been stored in the oven, so that gave me a little more time cleaning/listening than I'd anticipated. I'd actually read Nest about 4 years ago and completely forgot, but the details of the story feel brand-new to me so I've kept going. It's a bit of a toss up right now which of these will make book #75.

27richardderus
Aug 24, 12:46pm Top

>26 bell7: burned a couple of bags of stuff that had been stored in the oven

*aghast*

Someone stores things in an oven. ...?!?...

28bell7
Aug 24, 6:27pm Top

>27 richardderus: I mean, some of it was trays and cooking things. But there were also some bags of nuts and chips, and those got rather roasted.

29MickyFine
Aug 25, 2:21pm Top

Happy new thread, Mary.

Sounds like whichever book is #75, it'll be a good read for you. :)

30Familyhistorian
Aug 25, 4:31pm Top

Happy new thread, Mary.

The meet up sounds like great fun and I love the pictures you posted.

Some people never use their oven and use it for storage instead. Something I became aware of when my father was on his own and I had to take all the stuff out of the oven if I wanted to use it when I visited him. I hope the toasted stuff didn't give you too much of a mess to clean up.

31bell7
Edited: Aug 26, 8:08am Top

>29 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky!

>30 Familyhistorian: Thanks, Meg! Yeah, I think they use the oven for mixed purposes. There are actually two ovens, one stacked on top of the other and the top one mostly had cookie sheets and trays and things, while the bottom one had some food and a bowl and more trays. So I'm thinking they mostly use the top one and just put stuff on the counter or in the bottom one when they cook. It wasn't terrible, I just threw out the really burned stuff, but there's one metal bowl that I can't get all the melted plastic off of. Ah well...

32bell7
Aug 26, 8:07am Top

Monday and back to work today! Over the weekend, I've been reading the same books and discovered the miniseries of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell on Netflix when I was messing around on the TV. I have two episodes left and am not sure exactly when I'll be watching them now that the US Open has started too. I brought the sweater I'm knitting along with me and made good progress last night while binge-watching.

At work today, I have some prep I want to do for a volunteer training next week and Ancestry program the week after that. I already have 7 people signed up for a Sept. 12 program, so I think that one will be well-attended. I may see if I can get a volunteer to help me out for that one. After work, I'm going to the town's Selectmen's meeting, as they're going to present me with something for working for the town for 20 years (as of Aug. 30, isn't that unbelievable?). And in between work and that, of course, I'll be taking care of the dogs.

33jnwelch
Edited: Aug 26, 8:58am Top

Hi, Mary.

I loved that adaptation of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I thought they did a great job of capturing the weirdness of the book.

Congrats on getting the award for 20 years of working for the town. You must've started when you were 5? They're lucky to have you, and obviously know it.

34souloftherose
Aug 26, 12:39pm Top

Stopping by to say hello, Mary!

The pictures of The Mount look beautiful and I am very excited to hear you're enjoying The Starless Sea so much. I don't think that's released here until November but I noticed my library has it listed as on order so I've added myself to the reserve list (think I might even be first on the reserve list).

>32 bell7:, >33 jnwelch: Adding that I also really enjoyed that adaptation of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - very atmospheric.

35richardderus
Aug 26, 3:47pm Top

>32 bell7: et seq. I also enjoyed the miniseries for its atmospheric fidelity to the book.

Congratulations on your town-service anniversary! And thanks for the lovely card.

36bell7
Aug 26, 5:59pm Top

>33 jnwelch: I read the book back when I was in grad school, Joe, and remember absolutely loving it. I'm almost positive I have a copy of my own now and the miniseries is definitely making me want to go back and reread. Thank you and Ha! about the work anniversary. Some of my patrons certainly look at me strangely when I say how long I've been there.

>34 souloftherose: Thanks, Heather! I have an ARC that someone picked up at Book Expo America for me, but the book isn't coming out here 'til November either. I'll be very excited to recommend it to patrons. I've been noticing more fantasy readers lately and enjoying having books ready to suggest when they come in to the library (my town by and large likes mysteries and thrillers, while SFF has had historically poor circulation, but I think that's changing a little).

>35 richardderus: Definitely enjoyable, and since I can't, in fact, get the US Open on the TV I'll definitely be finishing it this week. Thank you and you're welcome :)

37bell7
Aug 27, 2:17pm Top

Went to the Selectmen's meeting last night to get said award of recognition for 20 years' service. My actual 20th anniversary will be Friday and it counts the part-time job I had in high school and college. I was first on the agenda, so simply accepted the award, had the photo op and skipped out to go back to the dogs and reading my book.

This being my late day, the morning was a little weird and the dogs are probably totally thrown off on their regular schedule (they're used to a snack and a walk in the middle of the day which happened around 11). I also got in an oil change. The folks there tell me that my engine should be perfectly fine as long as I keep on top of checking the oil and filling it when I need to. So, I need to buy more oil sometime in the next 1,000 miles but at least I know I don't need to replace the engine and the car should last awhile, at least 'til I decide I want to buy another one *shrug*.

I have about 10-15 pages left of The Starless Sea which of course is driving me crazy... Will finish it on my break and then I have the newest Louise Penny mystery ready to go. I also have a book of nonfiction, The History of Kidderminster (no touchstone), a book of essays by Toni Morrison, and the short story collection New Suns. I'll probably be dipping into all of them for the rest of the week, as I prefer to spread out my short story and essay reading rather than reading a bunch in a row. I won't promise any reviews tonight because I also want to be watching the rest of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. But it might happen.

38bell7
Aug 27, 5:45pm Top

75. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Why now? I received the ARC from friends/colleagues in our interlibrary loan bins and put it right to the top of the to read pile. I LOVED The Night Circus and was very excited to get a sneak peek of this one.

E-ARC received from Edelweiss/Above the Treeline in exchange for an honest review. I also received a signed copy of the ARC as a gift. Opinions all my own. Officially comes out November 5 in the US/UK/Canada, I believe.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is the son of a fortune teller and a grad student who really likes stories and video games but hasn't quite figured out what to do with his life. When he happens upon a mysterious book in the college library entitled Sweet Sorrows, he finds himself in the story and can't put it down. Where did the book come from? What is the Starless Sea - and why is he in the book?

Fans of The Night Circus will be ecstatic over Erin Morgenstern's latest, a riff on storytelling in multiple formats (yep, even video games). The intricate plot includes stories with fairy tale qualities alongside Zachary's tale in interlaced chapters, blurring reality and illusion and leaving you wondering about the importance of stories in books and the ones you tell yourself. Recommended for fans of The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Among Others by Jo Walton. 5 stars.

Some readers may be put off by the intricacy of multiple storylines, but I really enjoyed that aspect of it and would read it again just to tease apart the way she brings it altogether. And Richard, fair warning, cats factor in to the story a bit but not in a way that you'd hate - I think.

39richardderus
Aug 27, 6:22pm Top

>38 bell7: NOOOOOOOO NOT...THEM!!!!!

::uncontrollable sobbing::

40bell7
Aug 27, 7:20pm Top

>39 richardderus: I mean... bees do too, and for what it's worth I have a huge phobia of them IRL but it didn't bother me for story purposes.

41msf59
Aug 27, 8:44pm Top

Hooray for The Starless Sea, Mary! Your 75th and 5 stars? Could it get any better? Wow! I am getting so pumped on this one.

42foggidawn
Aug 27, 11:15pm Top

>38 bell7: Nice! I am so looking forward to that one.

43charl08
Aug 28, 8:04am Top

>38 bell7: Unconcerned by cats, adding this to the wishlist - sounds a bit Thursday Next-ish.

44figsfromthistle
Aug 28, 8:47am Top

Congrats on reaching 75 books read!

45jnwelch
Aug 28, 9:07am Top

>38 bell7: Oh, that's great news, Mary! My wife and daughter loved Night Circus, and convinced me to read it - and I loved it, too. I just told Debbi your reaction to the new one, The Starless Sea, and she was thrilled. Our daughter will be, too. Looking forward to reading it when it comes out.

46bell7
Edited: Aug 28, 6:55pm Top

>41 msf59:, >42 foggidawn:, >43 charl08:, >45 jnwelch: I do hope I'm not overselling it for you all...but I did think it was wonderful.

>44 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita!

47foggidawn
Aug 28, 10:12am Top

>46 bell7: Oh, I was excited as soon as I saw the publication announcement a couple months back.

48streamsong
Edited: Aug 28, 10:23am Top

Wow - Edith Wharton's home and library are gorgeous. Thank you for sharing your photos!

And congrats on the 20 year service award and for meeting the 75!

I'll look forward to The Starless Sea. Loved your review. Storytelling! Hooray!

49drneutron
Aug 28, 12:58pm Top

Congrats on hitting 75!

50MickyFine
Aug 28, 1:51pm Top

Felicitations on reaching the magic number!

51FAMeulstee
Aug 28, 6:03pm Top

>38 bell7: Congratulations on reaching 75, Mary!

52bell7
Aug 28, 6:59pm Top

>47 foggidawn: Good to know! I won't feel pressure for hyping it up on you ;)

>48 streamsong: Thanks, Janet! Glad you enjoyed the Mount photos, and hope you love The Starless Sea.

>49 drneutron:, >50 MickyFine: and >51 FAMeulstee: Thanks Micky, Jim, and Anita!

Whew! Look at all the visitors with the double whammy of fabulous new book and reaching 75 :)

Oh, and I did finish Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell last night. I thought they did a good job making it atmospheric and historical with just that little weird twist, similar to the book but in a visual way. I'm going to have to bookhorn in a reread at some point because I've been wracking my brain but I cannot for the life of me remember if the ending was the same or not. Also, they about perfectly cast the Man with the Thistledown Hair.

53richardderus
Aug 28, 8:24pm Top

I didn't attend to the celebratory nature of read #75:

Yay.

Even if it was sullied by...them.

54bell7
Aug 28, 8:58pm Top

>53 richardderus: *snort* Thanks, Richard :)

55kidzdoc
Aug 29, 4:39pm Top

Happy new thread, Mary! Congratulations on reading 75 books again this year. Nice auntie photos and photos of Edith Wharton's former home.

More importantly, what have you been cooking this week?

56bell7
Aug 29, 5:53pm Top

>55 kidzdoc: Thank you, Darryl! I've mostly stuck with some oldies but easy: spaghetti tonight, salad, and turkey burgers. But I did try one new recipe, Herb and Citrus Roast Chicken, that came out pretty good:

INGREDIENTS:
1/4 cup olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons sugar

2 whole lemons, one juiced and one sliced

2 whole oranges, one juiced and one sliced

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

10-12 pieces (about 4 1/2 lbs.) bone-in chicken parts (thighs and legs are best), pat dry

1 medium onion (any kind), thinly sliced

1 teaspoon dried thyme, or fresh chopped

1 tablespoon dried rosemary, or fresh chopped

Chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, parsley), for garnish, optional

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, garlic, sugar, lemon juice, orange juice, Italian seasoning, paprika, onion powder, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.

Place chicken in a rimmed 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Place parts skin side up and spread them out evenly in the pan. Pour olive oil mixture all over chicken, turning pieces to coat all sides. (If you marinated the chicken in this mixture, still add it all in). Arrange slices of lemon, orange and onion around and under the chicken. Sprinkle all over generously with thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper.

Bake uncovered for about 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked and juices run clear. Remove parts to a serving platter and garnish with additional chopped fresh herbs, if desired.

Enjoy!

Just 30-40 minutes is all that's needed to bake this recipe with chicken breasts in place of chicken parts.

I had chicken thighs with no bone and still had to cook it closer to the hour mark. I also didn't have a full 13 x 9 pan, I halved the recipe and used a tray which probably didn't make the citrus as flavorful as it could've (I put slices above and under the chicken), but I did marinade it and thought that part was tasty. I would try it again or try it and tweak it with different herbs/sides. I had a cilantro lime Rice-a-Roni that was pretty tasty with it.

57kidzdoc
Aug 30, 7:23am Top

>56 bell7: That sounds great, Mary! Thanks for posting the recipe. Can I ask you to post it in The Kitchen as well?

That reminds me...I tried two or three recipes from Soup for Syria this month. I'll post them to The Kitchen this weekend.

58bell7
Aug 30, 8:41am Top

>57 kidzdoc: I'd honestly forgotten I'd made it this week 'til you asked, so thanks for the push. I'll post it in the Kitchen as well and look forward to hearing about your recipes too.

59bell7
Aug 30, 6:53pm Top

76. A Better Man by Louise Penny
Why now? I've been enjoying this series for a long time (thanks to fellow 75ers) and grabbed the library's "bestseller" (un-holdable second) copy the day it came out. It's a Drop Everything And Read book.

Louise Penny's 15th entry in the Armand Gamache series finds him newly demoted to Chief Inspector - a position that just so happens to also be held by his son-in-law, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, until his and Annie's imminent move to Paris. One of the new agents asks them to look into a missing persons case for her friend, the father of a woman named Vivienne who appears to be in an abusive marriage and may be in danger. While this is happening, sudden thaw causes flooding rivers that threaten cities and towns across the province, including the Bella Bella near Three Pines, where Clara is having a bit of a crisis because critics - and Twitter - have not been kind to her latest work.

There is...a lot going on here, and while I usually like the more intricately plotted entries in this series, I had a mixed reaction to its execution here. I did enjoy seeing character development and the suggestion of new directions in which the story might go in future installments. The mystery itself was a little confusing and frustrating, and I'm not totally satisfied with the conclusion. The ideas the author seems to want to explore about social media are potentially interesting, but hindered by the fact that - unless I'm totally misreading it - she doesn't describe how one would use Instagram accurately. I seldom read series this long, and I may be getting to the point where I'm ready to leave Three Pines behind. It's compelling, but I'm ready to either see the series develop in a new way or see what Penny would write with a completely different setting and characters. 3.5 stars.

In case you're wondering about my Instagram comment: She has one of the investigators create an Instagram account and look through the posts of a pottery artist. Convinced there's a "private account" behind the public one with all the nice pictures, the agent poses as a gallery and asks for access to the private account. That's... not how it works. I have a private account, not a public one, on Instagram and that doesn't mean I'm posting nudes and all the sordid things I don't want people to see, it's to protect my privacy because I use my real name and location and post photos of where I am and my niece and nephew (both minors). I don't give people "access" to the account where they can then see private messages. They request to follow me and I approve or not. Then they can see the photos and comments. I don't have some public and some private, I have the option of one or the other, so I'm really confused why the agent was convinced there was a "private" account behind the public photos. I don't believe for a second that the PR person in charge of the artist's Instagram would be stupid enough to have a gallery follow a private account and see comments they've posted between her and her lover - who, by the way, *is* the artist who doesn't have Internet which is why she's in charge of the account. So, wait... they literally can't message/comment either. Unless she takes a turn with the account and he comments as the account below her which is...dumb. So that irked me more than a little haha.

60bell7
Aug 30, 7:03pm Top

Happy Friday! I'm back home after a week of dogsitting, and suddenly feel very tired. I've mostly unpacked and have laundry going now. I am putting off a grocery shopping 'til later and don't currently feel like cooking.

My brother gave me an invite to a Fantasy Football league and the draft was Thursday. I drafted what I thought was a decent team, but the league gave me a B- and projects I'll finish 7th. But well, that's why they play the game, no? I'm not going to worry about it too much *shrug* and it'll be fun to mess around with my brothers and smack talk them if I win. I think most of the other teams are my brother R.'s co-workers.

I've got the US Open on and will be picking a new book to read while I wait for my laundry to finish, and then call it an evening.

61richardderus
Aug 30, 8:06pm Top

>59 bell7: I fell off the Three Pines express some time ago...there was a boat trip and a completely in-credible identity disguising that caused it...but the spoiler? That'd really get up my nose!

Have a happier reading weekend.

62bell7
Aug 30, 8:37pm Top

>61 richardderus: It really took me out of the story, getting all eye-rolly and annoyed. I read the book quickly, it has good pacing, compelling storylines and I love the characters. But it's starting to feel too stretched, too much of the same thing instead of natural developments and possibly leaving some characters behind. I don't remember the boat thing, which of the books was that one?

Next up:
I started reading the short story collection New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color edited by Nisi Shawl. I first heard of this because of LeVar Burton Reads podcast; he reads one of these stories, and wrote the foreword.
I'll also be reading A History of Kidderminster to learn more about from whence my ancestors came. I'm most interested in this book because it has a chapter talking about non-conformists, and my great-great-grandfather's family who was living there in the mid-1800s were Methodists.

63richardderus
Aug 30, 9:33pm Top

>62 bell7: The Long Way Home, tenth in the series.

64PaulCranswick
Aug 30, 11:55pm Top

>62 bell7: Wow, Mary, I would be surprised if that is gripping read.

Sir Rowland Hill the inventor of the modern postal system and the Penny Black stamp was born in Kidderminster and Robert Page the lead singer of Led Zeppelin grew up there.

65bell7
Aug 31, 7:22am Top

>63 richardderus: I had to reread my review and remember a bit, but it looks like what turned you off was barely a blip for me...but I was very emotionally invested in the story and even cried (that takes a lot), so it could be that I let go some minor things that irked me. It's funny what catches some reader's eye and takes them out of the story - my Instagram reaction will obviously not affect everyone, and so far I'm the one who gave the book it's lowest rating.

>64 PaulCranswick: It's not exactly riveting, Paul, but I'm only in the Middle Ages haha. Interesting to know about Sir Rowland Hill, and I'll have to tell my brother that about the lead singer of Led Zeppelin. The part related to my family would be the weaving and mills in the mid-1800s (my great-great-grandfather Arthur Bell was born there in 1865 and his father Richard was born there in 1823) and I haven't decided yet if I'm going to read from beginning to end or just skip to what's relevant and move on. The family moved to Halifax sometime between the birth of Arthur and his younger sister Lily in 1869, so it's a fairly specific time period that I'm sure they lived there. Arthur and at least three of his siblings came over to the United States, and at least one sibling stayed behind and died in Kidderminster in 1919, so it's possible I would still have cousins there. Arthur followed the mill jobs (he was a carpet weaver in 1930) from Philadelphia to small towns in Western Massachusetts, so that branch of my family has lived in this area for about 100 years.

66bell7
Aug 31, 7:26am Top

I have a fairly busy Saturday to kick off the long weekend. This morning I'm going tag saling (yes, I'm from New England - does one say garage saling or yard saling the same way?) with my dad, and then in the afternoon I'm attending my cousin's baby shower. This is her first, and I'm really excited for her. She's due in October so I'll have to be working away at the Christmas stocking for the baby. Her sister tells me they know the baby's sex and name already, but I think they're keeping mum to most people so I'm not aware of either.

Now that I'm home I have full access to the US Open as well, and I'm planning on watching a bunch over the weekend.

67msf59
Aug 31, 7:46am Top

Morning, Mary. Happy Saturday. Enjoy the holiday weekend and your various "saling" adventures.

68katiekrug
Aug 31, 3:06pm Top

Belated congrats on 75, Mary!

I'm looking forward to the Gauff-Osaka match tonight :)

69bell7
Aug 31, 7:22pm Top

>67 msf59: Thanks, Mark! We had a fun time driving around town, I bought some new books and clothes, and now am relaxing at home.

>68 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie! I've got the match on now, and now that I've done adulty things like balance my checkbook and breakdown my savings, I'm planning on enjoying some of it! I don't have a huge favorite in this one, but I've definitely enjoyed Gauff's game and am curious to see how she does here.

70bell7
Aug 31, 7:29pm Top

77. Nest by Esther Ehrlich
Why now? I thought this was on my list for being an honor or award book, maybe Newbery or Mass Book Awards, but now I can't find it so I don't know how the title originally came to me. I needed some audiobooks while i was commuting from a far away dogsitting job, and that's when I started this. I'd forgotten I read it in 2015.

Here's my original review:

Naomi, or Chirp as everyone calls her, is an eleven-year-old living on the Cape with her sister Rachel and her parents in the 1970s. She loves to dance and to watch birds, and is generally an average girl though she stands out a bit in the community for being Jewish. Her mom, a dancer, has been having some leg trouble, and Chirp is worried about her - what will happen if her mom can't dance anymore? Can she keep her mother's spirits up?

I'm having trouble thinking of exactly how to describe this story. In some ways it was very quiet and understated. Most of the "action" is the interaction between characters: Chirp and her family, Joey the neighbor kid with whom she becomes friends, her teacher at school who seems doomed to misinterpret everything she does. Chirp is a great character and her voice is genuine, not sounding too smart or too young to my ear. I loved the details about the Cape and birdwatching. Adults reading the text will recognize more than children might - like the boy with OCD or the girl who isn't great with social cues. I can't quite put my finger on what didn't make it a perfect/excellent read for me, either. Maybe it was the way that the ending didn't quite resolve some things I hoped to see change. I know it's like real life, but I like more closure than that. Maybe it's that she and her friend just had to run away to Boston towards the end, and it felt like a classic story trope of trying to escape your problems and then returning home. Maybe it's just that I read it in a day when I was sick and grumpy so no matter what I read, I was going to find something to nitpick.


Not much to add - I do think this is one adults like to praise but kids wouldn't necessarily find and enjoy on their own. I'm also even more annoyed this time around that Joey goes back into an abusive situation and it doesn't appear that anyone's going to do anything about it. So apparently I'm just as grumpy reading it this time around, and it took me 11 days this time.

71bell7
Aug 31, 7:56pm Top

August in review

77. Nest by Esther Ehrlich
76. A Better Man by Louise Penny
75. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
74. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
73. Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie
72. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
71. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London originally in Britain)
70. Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist
69. The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
68. LaGuardia by Nnedi Okorafor

Books read: 10
Fiction/Nonfiction/Graphic Novels/Poetry/Plays: 8/1/1/0/0
Children's/Teen/Adult: 1/0/9
Library/Mine/Borrowed: 8/2/0
Rereads: 1

Standouts: I don't usually count rereads, but because I liked it so much more this time around, The Underground Railroad. Also The Starless Sea was simply marvelous

Thoughts: I was all over the board this month in my reading - both topic and anywhere from 2-5 stars - but then, life all over the place too this month. I listened to three audiobooks (two completely, one with about 50 pages read) and read/listened to Two Steps Forward, which is a higher number than usual for me, but definitely was impacted by my commute.

Not specific to this month, but I've still kept steady in my reading diversely - my goal was at least 25% for the year and it's hovering around 30% for #OwnVoices reads so far. I'd actually like to see it even higher than that, which shouldn't be hard because there are some really talented writers out there. I want to read a couple of N.K. Jemisin series I never finished and I have a book by Jason Reynolds on deck to read too. I haven't done a great job of reading globally, only one book in translation, but I think if I try to do too much I just get frustrated so, it is what it is for this year. I've also been reading 9-10 books a month, so I'm well on pace to read about 110-115 books, which is right about where I expect my numbers most years.

72bell7
Edited: Aug 31, 9:01pm Top

And in random life news, my youngest brother is engaged and I'm SUPER excited. I think I screamed in their (him & fiancee's) ears when they called me to tell me.

73jnwelch
Sep 1, 10:58am Top

Congratulations on the great news about your brother and his fiancee, Mary!

Following your thinking on the latest Louise Penny Inspector Gamache mystery, I lost my steam on the series a couple of books ago. I love the characters, especially Gamache, but the stories got convoluted and . . . I don't know what. Not engaging enough for me, unfortunately.

74richardderus
Sep 1, 1:01pm Top

>71 bell7: A good month, despite the low lows. Nest made my radar and then fell off it when I realized that I'd mistaken it for that triple-barrelled-name lady's book...Cynthia d'Something Something...and I didn't like the way this one sounded too much.

I hope you're having a lovely, sunny Labor Day weekend. It's been beautiful, but the forecast says rain tomorrow. Poor runners!

75bell7
Sep 2, 7:35am Top

>73 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe. I agree, it seems that several folks ran out of steam at certain points in the series. There were a few titles that kept me going and I won't say for certain that I'd never read another one, but this entry sure didn't leave me hungry for the next.

>74 richardderus: Yes it was a good month, Richard. I don't think this Nest would do much for you; the other was Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney and it was getting some buzz a few years ago when it came out but I haven't read it myself. It's been a very nice Labor Day weekend, enjoyable weather and a nice balance of busyness and tennis watching.

76bell7
Sep 2, 7:38am Top

Today's plan is to grocery shop and have a little food prep ready for the week, watching tennis, and going to dinner at my newly-engaged brother's house.

I'm currently reading A History of Kidderminster, New Suns, Playing in the Dark and The Golem and the Jinni. I'll potentially finish one or two today if I can get enough time to read in front of the US Open. Better get started on my day and write up my grocery list!

77bell7
Sep 2, 10:01pm Top

78. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Why now? I think fellow LTers first put this on my radar, but it was based on what was currently available as an audiobook/ebook library borrow option when I was looking for one to listen to / read before bed.

Tracing two individuals and two immigrant groups, we meet a golem who was created as the "perfect wife" for her master who then dies, and she has to find her own way in New York City, and a jinn that comes out of a bottle and lives with a Syrian immigrant tinsmith. The two could not be more different, but as two outsiders as magical creatures in a human city they meet and begin a friendship.

This was a really thoughtful take on the immigrant experience, set in turn-of-the-20th century New York City, which just happened to be compounded by having two magical creatures. I found it a really delightful story and enjoyed the slow burn of the plot that finally brought the narrative threads together in a pretty exciting denouement. 4.5 stars.

The author listed Alif the Unseen and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell among her influences, and I think both would be good readalikes for very different reasons. Her website/Twitter says there's going to be a sequel called The Iron Season, but it doesn't look like there's a date for that yet. I'll have to keep my eyes open.

78bell7
Sep 4, 8:43am Top

In the midst of a busy week. My boss is at a conference for the next few days, so I'll be in charge and doing payroll and turnover (adding up the $$ from the cash register to turn in to Town Hall). I have a training for new volunteers tomorrow, and I only work 9-2 on Friday, so I'll have four hours on the desk and one to run to Town Hall with the money and pick up our check receipts. At least it'll go fast!

As if that weren't enough, I unexpectedly heard about a small home (2 beds, 1 bath) that may be going on the market, so I spent yesterday morning getting pre-approved for a mortgage and *may* be checking it out this week. If not, I'm perfectly happy to wait another year like I'd planned and build up the full 20% down payment. But it's making the week interesting, at the very least.

Reading the same books as listed in >76 bell7:, minus The Golem and the Jinni of course, and started Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch last night.

I couldn't keep myself up for the US Open last night, so I was disappointed to hear that Fed lost in 5. It sure will make the rest of the tournament interesting - we may well have a new major winner on Sunday! But I won't feel so bad about missing most of the final for the football game now.

79norabelle414
Sep 4, 9:49am Top

>78 bell7: Fingers crossed on buying a house!!! How exciting!

80msf59
Sep 4, 10:34am Top

Happy Wednesday, Mary. Hooray for The Golem and the upcoming sequel. I really liked that book too.

81richardderus
Sep 4, 12:11pm Top

>78 bell7: That's a solid week of productive busyness. I'm eager to hear more about the possible new home!

82Donna828
Sep 4, 3:44pm Top

Happy New Thread, Mary! I'm a big Edith Wharton fan so I really appreciate those pictures taken at The Mount. That sounds like a wonderful spot for a meetup.

Congratulations on reading 75+ books and in getting your community service award.

I'm not the biggest Louise Penny fan on LT but I am in love with Three Pines. I think I stick around for the atmosphere and Ruth's hijinks! I should be getting my copy from the library any day now. I'm not on Instagram but I am bothered when authors make mistakes about things like that. I try to be forgiving, but I really don't understand why nobody catches those errors.

The idea of a new house sounds very exciting. I'll stay tuned...

83MickyFine
Sep 4, 4:21pm Top

Oooh, exciting things going on with you! Good luck being the responsible grown-up at work for the rest of the week. I hope the house is adorable and perfect for you!

84bell7
Sep 4, 9:49pm Top

>79 norabelle414: Thanks! Not sure if it'll happen this week or in the next year or so (my estimate for how long it'll take me to get the full 20% down payment), but I'll keep you posted :)

>80 msf59: Happy Wednesday, Mark! Wasn't The Golem and the Jinni a fun one? I enjoyed their friendship and the story.

>81 richardderus: Yes indeed, Richard, the week's going by fast with everything going on! I'm hoping to see the house with my parents tomorrow, so I'll let you know more for sure.

>82 Donna828: The Mount was a blast, and I'll definitely have to read more Wharton - I've only read The Age of Innocence. I do love Three Pines and all the characters there. I'll look forward to your thoughts on it, Donna.

>83 MickyFine: Ha, thank Micky, the days are going by super fast with all the stuff that has to get done. There's only 12.5 hours left in my work week!

85bell7
Sep 4, 9:59pm Top

79. Playing in the Dark by Toni Morrison
Why now? With the news of Toni Morrison's recent passing, I wanted to read a book by her and this is the one I own (library discard).

Three essays on that originated as Toni Morrison's William E. Massey, Sr., Lectures given at Harvard are here in written form, exploring the way in which an "Africanist" persona is contrasted with individualistic whiteness in American literature.

Morrison delivers a challenging read that's just as prescient and timely now as it was when it was printed in 1992. She never calls authors racist, but talks about examples from the works of Poe, Hemingway, Twain and more, and analyzes the way in which race is presented in their works. Her argument that there's a sort of persona that becomes an other, a contrast for protagonists and a fill in for danger or subjugation is especially compelling. My reading was impeded somewhat by not having read the works she was analyzing, and I would want to reread it to get the full impact and mull over her points more. Excellent reading for any student of American literature who would like to think more about how race is written. 4.5 stars.

86bell7
Edited: Sep 5, 9:02pm Top

I saw the house today...and was not too excited, really. I have no good reason I can really say, maybe that it was small (almost claustrophobic, like, if there were one other person living with me I'd feel like we were tripping over each other) but mostly it just didn't feel like home. *shrug* It was useful to go through the process and I'm certainly not sorry I did it - I feel confident that when the time and house is right I can make a good decision, and that's a good thing to come away with. I have a realtor friend I may ask to start sending me good potentials and see if I can't see a few more places and get an idea of what's really in my price range and if I'm being unrealistic about what I have in my head vs. the reality.

Work continued to be very busy as I anticipated, but I did start training a couple of new volunteers and have payroll ready to go for tomorrow. I'll run the cash register in the a.m., get that all sorted and run to Town Hall for the one hour I'm *not* scheduled on the reference desk. It's my short day - last time before it switches to Mondays again! - and then I'll be off at two. I'm going over my brother and his fiance's in the evening; her siblings are all coming to visit (I've met two out of three so far) and we're going to hang out and play games.

I haven't had much time to read tonight, as I had the house showing and got back in time to have dinner and put on the US Open women's semis. I've been hard at work on that Christmas stocking for my cousin and have made excellent progress yesterday and today. The baby's due Oct. 27 so I'll have it ready in plenty of time and will just have to duplicate stitch in the name and year.

87MickyFine
Edited: Sep 6, 1:41pm Top

>86 bell7: I did some house looking when I was still single and some of the houses in my range, in the areas of the city I was willing to live in were less than ideal. Mr. Fine and I are planning to buy out in suburbia next year and now my problem is looking at gorgeous houses I'd love that will be in our price range but haven't quite finished saving for yet and can't have. I'm under a self ban from looking at real estate websites for a while.

88bell7
Sep 8, 9:05am Top

>87 MickyFine: Yeah, that's one of the reasons I hadn't been seriously looking, because I know it's possible but not likely in until maybe a year from now in the price range I'm looking for. It doesn't help any that I really want to hold out for a 15 year fixed rate mortgage, which severely restricts the price (and thus the size) I can look for. But it was encouraging to run the numbers and realize how close I am to getting there, so while I'm not quite ready to troll all the real estate sites, I may talk to a realtor friend of mine to reach out beginning feelers and see some houses to get a sense of what's out there and in my price range before I absolutely commit to being ready to buy.

89bell7
Sep 8, 9:16am Top

It's been a very busy couple of days: Friday night went over to my brother G.'s and had fun with my (local) siblings and hers (one brother I'd never met before), as well as two of her co-workers. We ate and played games, and I was the first one to leave at like 10:30 which is super late for me. Saturday was a group meeting at my church for one of the ministries I'll be participating in this year, I got some training on some software I'll be using for data entry. Then I went to a sports yoga class that kicked my butt, my shoulders and abs are so sore today I'm contemplating a trip in the hot tub. A bunch of us from class hung out for awhile afterwards, and then I'd planned on going to a place where my brother R. was playing music, but talked so long we missed the show and only got to say hi to him before he went off to another show and I went home absolutely exhausted. I went to bed at like 8:30, and read or dozed 'til I really fell asleep for the night.

Today is church, a lunch and sign up for small groups kick after service. Mine is full again so I won't have a table for sign ups, but I did offer to help serve food, so I'm committed to staying to that for awhile. And then of course it's the start of football season so I'll be headed over to my parents for Giants/Cowboys at 4:25.

And then... I'm back to work. It'll be more last-minute than I like to be, but I may ask my boss if I can take Wednesday as a personal day just to be able to have a relaxed day to myself to do stuff at home. Next weekend is going to be just as busy as this was. I have Monday the 16th off, but have lunch plans and the start of small group, so while it won't have a ton of things planned both will take my time and energy.

Needless to say, have made little progress reading any books. Will be started Educated for book group soon.

90MickyFine
Sep 9, 1:16pm Top

Sounds like a crazy full weekend, Mary. Hopefully you get that Wednesday off. :)

91bell7
Sep 10, 8:43pm Top

>90 MickyFine: I looked at the schedule, realized I had to train a volunteer in the morning and was scheduled in the desk for 3-5 p.m. and chickened out from even asking. But now I'm coming down with a cold so I just may leave early tomorrow anyways? Fun times.

In other news, while I just barely started Educated yesterday and meant to read more tonight, I left it at work so I'm going to change into PJs, read a fun book and go to bed early. Have a great night, all!

92bell7
Sep 11, 10:28am Top

Well, as I mentioned to Micky in >91 bell7:, I've come down with a cold. I'm downright miserable today and can barely stand without feeling exhausted. I've got my chair set up with book, laptop, and tea and will ply myself with chicken soup, tea, OJ and decongestants all day. I did have decide to run into work to prepare a couple of things for volunteers coming in the morning, send an email to a colleague regarding a program I have tomorrow, and shoot my boss a text to let her know I'd be out sick today and much of tomorrow. I have a program on using Ancestry scheduled for tomorrow night, and I will plan on going in for 3 hours, strictly for that. In the meantime, today is as low key as I can possibly make it with reading, DVD watching and napping planned.

93katiekrug
Sep 11, 10:34am Top

I'm sorry you're not feeling well. I had a cold last week, and it's lingering a bit now but not badly. I hope you feel better soon!!

94foggidawn
Sep 11, 11:09am Top

>92 bell7: Hope you feel better soon! Sounds miserable, but at least you can take the time to go easy on yourself while you're feeling poorly.

95MickyFine
Sep 11, 1:01pm Top

Sorry to hear you've come down with a bug. Hopefully all your rest will kick it to the curb tout suite!

96charl08
Sep 11, 2:04pm Top

Just adding to the get well wishes: hope you feel more the thing soon.

97richardderus
Sep 11, 2:15pm Top

>86 bell7: A wonderful use of disappointment.

>92 bell7: Blech! I am so sorry. I hope you feel better soon.

My finger is improving daily, the antibiotic lethargy is continuing so it's still working, and The Testaments came in for me today!! The librarians saw my name on the holds list and our library bought one, instead of relying on the system's multiple copies. That way I got my hold immediately instead of being wherever I was in the triple digits.

They like me. They really like me.

98bell7
Sep 11, 6:36pm Top

Thanks Katie, Misti, Micky, Charlotte, and Richard for the commiserations and well-wishes.

I slept for 3 hours this afternoon, and still feel completely wiped out. I did manage to read half of Educated and finished Moon over Soho. I'm going to try to make progress in A History of Kidderminster (or skip to the part relevant to my family history and leave the rest unread) so I can return it to the library whenever I next work. I'm still planning on going in for a couple of hours *just* to run my program - it's almost maxed out with 19 people and I *really* don't want to reschedule. I have a fair amount of plans for the weekend and really hope I'm feeling more energetic soon!

>97 richardderus: I hope you enjoy The Testaments, Richard, and it's good to hear that your librarians are ordering books for you. (Buying books and talking about them are two of my favorite parts of the job, honestly.) I have yet to read The Handmaid's Tale and really should get on that. And glad to hear that finger's improving!

99bell7
Edited: Sep 11, 6:50pm Top

80. Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
Why now? I enjoyed book 1 and saw that the audio was available to download through my library system, so decided to read the book alongside listening before bed.

Constable Peter Grant is a fairly normal copper in London, except for one thing - he's learning to practice magic under one Thomas Nightingale, and the two of them are called in on any, well, unusual case. When jazz musicians begin dying for no particular reason, leaving a faint sense of magic used behind in the tune of the jazz classic "Body and Soul," Grant is on the case.

The second book in the series starts soon after the first left off, with Leslie, for example, still dealing with the physical aftermath of Peter's first case, and the rivers of London still present as secondary characters. There are these threads that continue, but the story and mystery also finish and leave this a story wholly its own. I enjoyed the setting and genre-bendedness of the story, and I like Grant's narration and humor. The sex read like, well, a hetero guy wrote it and though it did end up having a point in the story I'd figured out part of it way before Peter himself had. A fun, light read and while I'll probably read the next one eventually I won't knock myself out to get a copy soon. 3.5 stars.

Edited to fix touchstone. And then again to fix my numbering.

100richardderus
Sep 11, 7:08pm Top

>99 bell7: re spoiler, oh dear. Seldom if ever a happy thing.

101bell7
Sep 12, 9:20am Top

>100 richardderus: It knocked off half a star, anyway, and makes me more reluctant to pick up book #3.

102bell7
Sep 12, 9:24am Top

DNF - A History of Kidderminster by Nigel Gilbert

I guess I knew going into it that a book on the history of an industrial town of carpet weavers in the center of England was hardly going to be riveting reading. I trudged through approx. 100 pages because my 3rd great grandfather Richard was born there, got married near there, and had several kids (including my 2nd great grandfather Arthur) there until moving to Halifax c. 1869. I did read through the chapter on non-conformists, which was actually about the Puritans in the mid 1600s as opposed to the Methodists that my family was. And I did skip ahead to read about the industrial period when I know my family was living there, in 1823-1869. I did learn that Richard was around 5 when a major strike happened, that the school system was lousy when he was a kid and getting better around the time they moved to Halifax. Sanitation was also lousy. It makes me wonder if 1) that’s why they moved and 2) that’s why he died at 45?

Anyway, not enough there to keep me reading every word. My ancestors were the mill workers, not the rich people that get named in such histories. I learned what I wanted to about the conditions they were living in and now can move on to reading that piques my interest more. Oh, and if you’re wondering, Arthur was my immigrant ancestor. He came to the U.S. when he was approximately 14 and worked in mills all his life, whether in NY, Philadelphia, CT or MA. Some of his siblings came over, too, though whether that was together or separately I have no idea. I wasn’t able to figure out what happened to all his sisters, but one brother, Enoch, married and brought his family back to Kidderminster, where he died in 1919.

At this point, to learn more about my Kidderminster ancestors, I probably have to go there and start looking through church records.

103bell7
Sep 12, 4:08pm Top

81. Educated: a memoir by Tara Westover
Why now? My book club read for next week

Tara was the youngest of seven children, growing up in rural Idaho, to a survivalist father who distrusted the government and doctors, and a mother who was a midwife and herbalist.

Though you might expect this memoir to be a "weird childhood, but look now I went to college and I'm normal!" story, that's a reduction and doesn't do justice to Tara's story. One of the epigraphs reads "I believe finally, that education must be conceived as a continuing reconstruction of experience; that the process and the goal of education and one and the same thing." That, I think, gets to the heart of what Tara's attempting in writing and exploring her story. As a child, she had one experience, driven by her parents' perception of facts and what got passed on to her. As she grew older, as some of her brothers left the family fold and one encouraged her to get an education, and as she goes to college and has wider experiences, she starts to look at her own story with new eyes. She doesn't shy away from the fact that memory is faulty, and even includes a couple of footnotes explaining alternate ways something may have happened. But what she does do is reconstruct her experience, powerfully and empathetically. I highly recommend this book. 4.5 stars.

I wouldn't have picked this up if it weren't for my book club. I was homeschooled - and my mother was very by-the-book, we're going to be organized and disciplined, created a transcript and everything. So I too have no GED or high school diploma, but I have 3 college degrees. Because of my experience, and that of many that I know, I can be extra picky about how homeschooling is represented or misrepresented in mainstream books. But that's not at all what Tara experienced (she basically had no formal education at all, and had to teach herself enough math to pass the ACT) and not how she portrays it (she mentions that one of her brothers homeschooled his kids and that they had a high standard of education). She even is careful to say this isn't representative of mainstream Mormonisn or any other religion - it's just her life experience. Anyway, I'm glad I read it and I'm looking forward to the discussion next week.

104foggidawn
Sep 12, 4:22pm Top

>103 bell7: Like you, I was homeschooled by an organized and determined mother. I like to tell people that I never got a high school diploma, but once you've got your master's degree, it hardly matters. ;-)

105bell7
Sep 12, 4:39pm Top

>104 foggidawn: Ha! Love it. And so very true... I actually had the following conversation with someone at the community college I went to -

Woman behind the desk: You should get your GED.

Me: But...I'm already in college and you don't need my GED for me to attend here.

WBTD: Other colleges might need it.

Me: I'm going to have my degree here, and then I'll be a transfer student so they'll only need my college transcript, right?

WBTD: Oh...yeah, that's true.

Though I will say, getting a GED used to have more of a stigma than the equivalent test does now. When I was being homeschooled, people were very concerned that my parents might be inflating my grades...and then I went to college and learned about scaling!

106bell7
Sep 12, 4:53pm Top

Well, I *feel* a little better, but am still pretty tired and have a low-grade fever. So no going into work to run a program for me - they don't want my germs!

I've officially taken tomorrow and Sunday off, too. Not how I'd anticipated the week going, but clearly I needed the rest. I've finished my book club book and will have plenty of time to prepare for small group on Monday night, two things I was super stressed about.

Am off to ply myself with more fluids, read good books, and possibly watch a movie.

107msf59
Sep 12, 5:38pm Top

Loved your thoughts, on Educated, Mary and your backstory with your own homeschooling background. I also loved this memoir .

108bell7
Sep 12, 10:32pm Top

>107 msf59: Thanks, Mark! It was a good one, wasn't it? It's still been super popular in my library, and only by working the holds system to my advantage was I able to get several copies for my book club.

109bell7
Sep 12, 10:39pm Top

82. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Why now? After seeing Jason Reynolds as the keynote speaker at ALA, I decided to read some of his books, and this was one that I'd requested a few weeks ago - I found the audio (read by him) available to download and planned on reading a little bit before heading to bed...only to discover it was written in verse and super intense, so read it in one sitting.

Will's brother Shawn is murdered, and even at fifteen Will knows the Rules: 1. No crying 2. No snitching 3. Get revenge. Planning on doing just that the next morning, he gets in an elevator, his brother's gun tucked in his pants. But he's in for a wild ride.

This novel in verse is intense. I thought I understood the direction it might go in, but with the first visitor Will has in his elevator, I realized I was along for the ride myself. I read it in one sitting, in only a couple of hours. Without judgment, Reynolds presents the life Will has left and the legacy of one man killing another that has led up to this moment. For all that it was short, I was completely invested and almost cried at parts. 4.5 stars.

Okay, it is ridiculously hard to properly review this without spoilers. Anyone read this one? What did you think?

110scaifea
Sep 13, 6:56am Top

A fever now, too? Ooof. I hope it clears up for you toot sweet and I'm glad to see that you're taking the time off you need to get well!

I need to get round to Educated. The audio version has won some awards, so I'm hoping to go that route, and soon.

I was completely blown away by Long Way Down; you're absolutely right that it's intense. So good, and so important, I think. Should be required school reading.

111bell7
Sep 13, 7:23am Top

>110 scaifea: Thanks, Amber! I will probably take a nap today to get enough sleep too. I hope you enjoy Educated when you get to it!

Ooh ooh, so Long Way Down. Which was brilliant, by the way. I'm really curious how you read the ending: Was "You coming?" an invitation to kill Riggs and end up with them? Or to leave the gun behind? I usually hate ambivalent endings, but wow, was it powerful to end it before his decision! And I totally agree with you about required school reading. Not only is in an important subject, I defy anyone to read it and tell me reading is boring. Also if you were a teacher you just may be able to get Jason Reynolds to come to your school, which would be a huge plus.

112bell7
Sep 13, 7:39am Top

Still feeling sick, too early to say how bad. I'm planning on spending much of the day reading and relaxing. I had a lot of plans for the weekend, starting this evening with my cousin's show, but I've been so wiped out the past two days it's impossible to say how much of that will happen. I may have to modify some things - such as something lowkey with my little rather than hiking tomorrow.

Currently I'm only reading a collection of short stories, so I'll probably start a new book soon. I've been listening to What if? before falling asleep the past couple of nights, and while Wil Wheaton's reading is fabulous, I can't see the comics in that format. The e-book is really poorly formatted so that no matter what size I make the font the right margin is wonky and words start to bleed over into the next "page", making it almost impossible to read. I'll probably get the book when I get back to work on Tuesday, or make a trip this weekend to my local library to get the paper book.

On my nightstand now:

Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Behind the Lines by Andrew Carroll

These will likely show up reviewed on my thread over the next few days. I'm thinking of starting Paladin of Souls and Palaces for the People next.

113scaifea
Sep 13, 7:55am Top

>111 bell7: Ooof, it's been long enough since I read it that I can't remember details very well, but yeah, that ending was powerful. I have a love/loathe relationship with ambiguity in endings, but this one is *so* well done and I love that we don't really know what his decision will be. I think if it had ended with him deciding one way or another, it would maybe have felt too pat? Anyway, I loved it from start to finish.

114bell7
Sep 13, 8:23am Top

>113 scaifea: I usually really dislike ambiguity in endings but I completely agree with you on this one.

115streamsong
Sep 13, 9:04am Top

I'm sorry that you are still feeling poorly. I hope you have a relaxing day of reading - feel better soon!

Congrats to your brother!

It sounds like your plan to home ownership is a wise one. Still, it never hurts to let your realtor friend know that if the perfect home comes along, you might be interested.

I loved your review of The Golem and the Jinni. I've seen it mentioned several times, but now it's seriously on my tbr list.

116bell7
Edited: Sep 14, 8:04pm Top

>115 streamsong: thanks, Janet, I've got some energy back, thank goodness, and did enjoy having some relaxing days. That's exactly what I'm hoping for with this realtor, she knows me and hope I'll approach the money part of it well, so between her, my landlord really knowing his stuff with flipping houses and my dad working as a lawyer in real estate, I'll have a very good team ready to advise me. I hope you enjoy The Golem and the Jinni when you get to it!

117bell7
Sep 14, 8:08pm Top

I had a busy day, hanging out with my little at home, going to my friend's son's birthday party, then dogsitting. I've fed and walked then, and now all four labs are spread out in the room sleeping. In about an hour or so I'll take them for their last walks before bed, feed and walk them in the morning and head out to start my day.

For now, though, a little time for reading.

I've left my knitting at home, but I'm making good progress on the sweater I'm working on and started on one of the sleeves today. It uses short rows and wrapping and turning for the shoulder, so I had to look up that technique today, but once I get going I should be able to finish it up pretty fast. I'll take some photos at some point to share.

118bell7
Sep 15, 8:26pm Top

83. New suns: original speculative fiction by people of color edited by Nisi Shawl
Why now? LeVar Burton had read the first short story on his podcast, LeVar Burton Reads, and it took me a few weeks of having it from the library to get to it, but I wanted to check out this diverse collection of SFF short fiction.

It's always so difficult to review short story collections, and this one is no exception. New Suns may be even harder than most. The authors hail from many backgrounds and cultures, including African American, Native American, Japanese, Korean and more. Several are award-winning and well-known authors with other story collections or novels. Some I'd heard of; many, I'm afraid, I did not, but that's part of why I read it - to introduce myself to more and diverse authors writing in genres I enjoy.

The stories themselves are quite as varied as the authors. There's some SF with aliens, there's more fantastical involving magic or djinn, and there's some deliciously creepy leaning-towards-horror tales. Some I enjoyed, others left me cold. But each one did give me a taste of an author I had never read before, and most if not all were excellent examples of short stories complete on their own, not leaving you feeling like they should have been longer. One of my favorites was "The Fine Print," in which a man who has made a contract with a djinn - just as many in his village have - is told he must fulfill the terms, by bringing his firstborn son and realizes just what the fine print has meant all these years. 4 stars.

119bell7
Sep 15, 8:38pm Top

I hope everyone had a good Sunday. This week kicked off our church's Sunday School and small groups, so I rushed all morning, got up fed the dogs, walked the dogs, went home because I forgot things like deodorant that one needs every day, went to church an hour early, had Sunday School, went to service, came home. I spent much of the afternoon watching football and knitting.

The Giants lost again, making them 0-2 so far. I don't expect them to win the Super Bowl or anything, but was hoping for a little better start to the year. I'm in a Fantasy Football league this year, and I'm actually well on my way to being 2-0 to start off the year (one of 3 still undefeated, at least what it looks to be before Monday night football comes around and changes scores last-minute). The only other time I was in a league was with all my siblings, my brother-in-law and his brothers and friends, and I came in 2nd. Now as the only woman in the league with my brothers, one of my brother's co-workers, a friend of theirs, and a bunch of other people I *don't* know, I'm kinda feeling competitive and as much as it's really left to chance I'm hoping to prove I'm decent at this :)

I'm still recovering from the cold and coughing a bit, though feeling a lot better and more energetic. Tomorrow I'm off from work - I was scheduled to work today and be off tomorrow, and when my boss told me to stay home today I asked to take tomorrow as a personal day since I had already made plans. My small group starts that night, so I'll have some final prep to get ready for that, including making a dessert or app to share, and I'm meeting a friend for lunch.

The second half of the month will probably not have nearly as many books finished as the last week has because of my illness. I am, however, reading Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold, and might start Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg soon to have some nonfiction going too. I'm listening to What If? by Randall Munroe and read by Wil Wheaton still and may pick up the book at work on Tuesday to be able to glance at the comics and read through the answers where I think I dozed off part way through (it's a good listen, but I put it on almost exclusively at bedtime to fall asleep to).

120katiekrug
Sep 16, 9:46am Top

I console myself re: the Giants by being glad I'm not, as The Wayne is, a Dolphins fan :)

Glad you're feeling better!

121bell7
Edited: Sep 16, 5:20pm Top

>120 katiekrug: *snort* And ouch... that rout of the Patriots against the Dolphins on Sunday was painful for even not-a-fan. Though Antonio Brown is on my fantasy team, so I wasn't too sad. As my dad reminded us this morning, it's the anniversary of Coach Coughlin declaring, "I think we're a better team than we've shown. Obviously I have no real grounds for saying that, it's just a belief" the year of their improbable Super Bowl run against the 18-0 Patriots. Don't think it'll happen, but there's precedent for saying we're not completely out of the running ;)

122katiekrug
Sep 16, 2:58pm Top

I have a T-shirt with "18-1" on the front and "The not-so-perfect season" on the back :)

123bell7
Sep 16, 5:19pm Top

>122 katiekrug: That is simply beautiful. And would probably get me mugged anywhere near home hahaha.

124richardderus
Yesterday, 10:19pm Top

Hi Mary! Drive-by hug time.

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