MickyFine's 2019 Reading Quest, Fourth Adventure

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75 Books Challenge for 2019

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MickyFine's 2019 Reading Quest, Fourth Adventure

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1MickyFine
Edited: Nov 7, 2019, 1:04pm



I'm Micky, 33-year-old librarian and general reading nerd. I'm a collections librarian for the public library system in Edmonton and as a result I read a solid chunk of non-fiction as I select it for work every day. The rest of my reading is a wide mix of genres but there's usually a healthy dose of romance, fantasy, YA, and historical fiction in the mix. This year, in an effort to whittle down my to be read list (referred to as The List) I'm attempting to read 150 books this year. In addition to books, I'm likely to discuss life events (sometimes featuring Mr. Fine), whatever I'm watching on TV, and our cats, Smee & Ash. Posters and lurkers alike are welcome.

January
1. Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas - Laura Sook Duncombe
2. Vision in White - Nora Roberts
3. My Lady's Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel - Kitty Curan & Larissa Zageris
4. The Burning Page - Genevieve Cogman
5. The Governess Game - Tessa Dare
6. Renegades - Marissa Meyer
7. The Tea Dragon Society - Katie O'Neill
8. How to Fracture a Fairy Tale - Jane Yolen
9. Lumberjanes: Parents' Day! - Shannon Watters & Kat Lehy
10. Cocaine Blues - Kerry Greenwood
11. The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures - Library of Congress
12. The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster - Scott Wilbanks
13. Due or Die - Jenn McKinlay
14. We Should All Be Feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
15. Regency Buck - Georgette Heyer
16. Her Every Wish - Courtney Milan
Favourite read(s):


February
17. The Undateable - Sarah Title
18. A Rogue of Her Own - Grace Burrowes
19. Four to Score - Janet Evanovich
20. Paris by the Book - Liam Callanan
21. A Week to Be Wicked - Tessa Dare
22. The Story Girl - L.M. Montgomery
23. Mockingbird: I Can Explain - Chelsea Cain
24. Mockingbird: My Feminist Agenda - Chelsea Cain
25. Happy Go Money - Melissa Leong
26. Giant Days, Vol. 1 - John W. Allison & Whitney Cogar
27. Consumed - J.R. Ward
Favourite read(s):


March
28. The Loving Cup - Winston Graham
29. Rainshadow Road - Lisa Kleypas
30. Archenemies - Marissa Meyer
31. Giant Days, vol. 2 - John Allison
32. Do You Want to Start a Scandal - Tessa Dare
33. The Blue Castle - L.M. Montgomery
34. Circle - Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen
35. The Lost Plot - Genevieve Cogman
36. I Love Lucy: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom - Greg Oppenheimer
37. The Golden Road - L.M. Montgomery
38. Tempest - Beverly Jenkins
39. How to Give Your Cat a Bath in Five Easy Steps - Nicola Winstanley
40. The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett - Nathan Ward
Favourite read(s):

2MickyFine
Edited: Sep 30, 2019, 12:54pm

April
41. Bed of Roses - Nora Roberts
42. First Earl I See Tonight - Anna Bennett
43. 4:50 From Paddington - Agatha Christie
44. The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London - Christopher Skaife
45. The Little Brooklyn Bakery - Julie Caplin
46. Switch and Bait - Ricki Schultz
47. One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter - Scaachi Koul
48. Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear
49. When the Irish Invaded Canada - Christopher Klein
Favourite(s):


May
50. As You Like It - William Shakespeare (re-read)
51. The Library Book - Susan Orlean
52. Amazing Spider-Man: Edge of Spider-Verse - David Hine et. al.
53. Keepers of the Record: The History of the Hudson's Bay Company Archives - Deidre Simmons
54. Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince - V.E. Schwab
55. Venetia - Georgette Heyer
56. Spider-Verse - Dan Slott et. al.
57. Spider-Gwen: Most Wanted? - Jason Latour
58. High Five - Janet Evanovich
59. It's All a Game - Tristan Donovan
60. Teetotaled - Maia Chance
61. Jane of Lantern Hill - L.M. Montgomery
62. Big Stone Gap - Adriana Trigiani
63. Spider-Gwen: Greater Power - Jason Latour
64. Three Men in a Boat, To Say Nothing of the Dog - Jerome K. Jerome
Favourite(s):


June
65. Unseemly Science - Rod Duncan
66. The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side - Agatha Christie
67. Chaotic Good - Whitney Gardner
68. Without a Summer - Mary Robinette Kowal
69. Spider-Women - Dennis Hopeless
70. Everything, Everything - Nicola Yoon
71. Dragonshadow - Elle Katharine White
72. Lumberjanes: Time After Crime - Shannon Watters et. al.
73. Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold - Stephen Fry
74. Spider-Gwen: Weapon of Choice - Jason Latour
Favourite(s):

3MickyFine
Edited: Sep 30, 2019, 12:56pm

July
75. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
76. A Useful Woman - Darcie Wilde
77. Anne's Alphabet - Kelly Hill
78. Heartburn - Nora Ephron
79. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow - Jessica Townsend
80. Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come - Jessica Pan
81. A Purely Private Matter - Darcie Wilde
82. Our Dark Duet - Victoria Schwab
83. Emily of New Moon - L.M. Montgomery
84. The Chai Factor - Farah Heron
85. The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes - Bill Watterson
86. The Matchmaker's List - Sonya Lalli
Favourite(s):


August
87. Rick Mercer Final Report - Rick Mercer
88. Kim's Convenience - Ins Choi
89. Carry On, Jeeves - P.G. Wodehouse
90. Double Income, No Kids Yet: The Complete Series 1 - David Spicer
91. Time and Time Again - Robert Silverberg
92. Three Bedrooms, One Corpse - Charlaine Harris
93. Double Income, No Kids Yet: The Complete Series 2 - David Spicer
94. The Joy of Cookies - Cookie Monster
95. Double Income, No Kids Yet: The Complete Series 3 - David Spicer
96. Early Riser - Jasper Fforde
97. Beauty and the Clockwork Beast - Nancy Campbell Allen
98. More Than Meets the Eye - Karen Witemeyer
99. Gin and Panic - Maia Chance
100. Reticence - Gail Carriger
Favourite(s):


September
101. A Doll's House - Henrik Ibsen
102. The Sunny Side - A.A. Milne
103. The Big Over Easy - Jasper Fforde
104. Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow - Jessica Townsend
105. Lumberjanes: Jackalope Springs Eternal - Shannon Watters
106. Emma - Jane Austen
107. My Life in France - Julia Child
108. Bridal Boot Camp - Meg Cabot
109. Now? Not Yet! - Gina Perry
110. Muse of Nightmares - Laini Taylor
111. Attachments - Rainbow Rowell (re-read)
112. Twilight - Stephenie Meyer (re-read)
113. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
114. New Moon - Stephenie Meyer (re-read)
115. Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer (re-read)
116. Mansfield Park - Jane Austen
117. Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer (re-read)
118. Big Mushy Happy Lump - Sarah Andersen
Favourite(s):

4MickyFine
Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 5:09pm

October
119. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers
120. Pumpkinheads - Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks
121. Alanna: The First Adventure - Tamora Pierce
122. Cheaper by the Dozen - Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. & Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
123. The Girl Who Knew Too Much - Amanda Quick
124. A Caribbean Mystery - Agatha Christie
125. Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire - Carol Dyhouse
126. In the Hand of the Goddess - Tamora Pierce
127. Lord John and the Private Matter - Diana Gabaldon
128. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man - Tamora Pierce
129. Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give - Ada Calhoun
130. A Room with a View - E.M. Forster
131. Sorry, Wrong Number - Lucille Fletcher
132. Lioness Rampant - Tamora Pierce
133. My One and Only Duke - Grace Burrowes
134. The Last Dragonslayer - Jasper Fforde
Favourite(s):


November
135. Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier
136. That Summer - Lauren Willig
137. Batwoman: The Many Arms of Death - Marguerite Bennett et. al.
138. Spider-Man Noir: The Complete Collection - David Hine et. al.
139. The Duke Is But a Dream - Anna Bennett
140. Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language - Amanda Montell
141. Tash Hearts Tolstoy - Kathryn Ormsbee
142. The Wallflower Wager - Tessa Dare
143. The 5 Love Languages - Gary Chapman
144. How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse - K. Eason
145. Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating - Christina Lauren
146. Alma and the Beast - Esme Shapiro
147. Supernova - Marissa Meyer
148. Pygmalion - George Bernard Shaw
149. Birds of a Feather - Jacqueline Winspear
Favourite(s):


December
150. Shady Characters - Keith Houston
151. Strange Planet - Nathan W. Pyle
152. At Bertram's Hotel - Agatha Christie
153. How the Dukes Stole Christmas - Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Joanna Shupe
154. 10 Blind Dates - Ashley Elston
155. The Importance of Being Ernie (and Bert) - Bert and Ernie
156. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (re-read)
157. Not the Duke's Darling - Elizabeth Hoyt
158. Patience for Christmas - Grace Burrowes
159. The Thief - Megan Whalen Turner
160. Spider-Gwen: Long Distance - Jason Latour
161. Star Wars vs Star Trek - Matt Forbeck
162. Spider-Gwen: Predators - Jason Latour
163. Don't You Forget About Me - Mhairi McFarlane
164. Spider-Gwen: Gwenom - Jason Latour
Favourite(s):

5MickyFine
Edited: Sep 30, 2019, 12:57pm

My rating system:

/ = Ran screaming in the other direction (aka did not finish)
* = Suffered through it for reasons I'm still not sure of
** = Had far more flaws than virtues
*** = A read I don't regret but could use some improvement
**** = A good, solid read that I might revisit
***** = Loved it beyond reason and will probably re-read in short order

6MickyFine
Sep 30, 2019, 12:57pm

This thread is officially open for business for the final quarter of the year!

7foggidawn
Sep 30, 2019, 1:04pm

Happy new thread!

8richardderus
Sep 30, 2019, 1:17pm

New thread orisons, Micky, and much good reading this quarter.

9PaulCranswick
Sep 30, 2019, 1:23pm

Happy new thread, Micky.

10jnwelch
Sep 30, 2019, 1:39pm

Happy New Thread, Micky!

Have you heard of Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors? I have a feeling you'd like it. (Forgive me if I missed it on your list up there!)

11leahbird
Sep 30, 2019, 2:43pm

Happy New thread!

12curioussquared
Sep 30, 2019, 5:19pm

Happy new thread!!

13figsfromthistle
Sep 30, 2019, 7:08pm

Happy new one!

14Familyhistorian
Oct 1, 2019, 1:12am

Happy new thread, Micky!

15drneutron
Oct 1, 2019, 10:58am

Happy new thread!

16FAMeulstee
Oct 1, 2019, 3:31pm

Happy new thread, Micky!

17MickyFine
Oct 2, 2019, 10:48am

Thanks to Foggi, Richard, Joe, Leah, Natalie, Figs, Meg, Jim, and Anita for the new thread well wishes. I'm hoping to have a book review to post tomorrow.

>10 jnwelch: That one has been on The List for a few months already. I'll get to it at some point. :)

18MickyFine
Oct 3, 2019, 11:39am

Book 119



The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers

I adored this mellow science fiction tale of a small mixed-species crew going on a long haul trip to a distant planet to build a wormhole back to more populated space. Each of the crew members are well-developed and over the course of the novel you can't help but fall in love with the entire group. The novel is a bit episodic as the crew do things like visit friends/family, go shopping for supplies, and learn more about each other but the book feels cohesive throughout. If you like Firefly, this book is probably going to appeal (even if its crew is far more law-abiding). Highly recommended.

Rating: *****

19MickyFine
Oct 3, 2019, 11:45am

Book 120



Pumpkinheads - Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks

Deja and Josiah have worked at the local pumpkin patch every fall for the past three years. On their final night, Deja is pushing Josiah to finally talk to the girl he's had a crush on the whole time, while they also try and enjoy every last second of their time in patch.

Charming with deft illustrations, I enjoyed this read. The plot beats feel a bit familiar (Rowell has done some short stories with similar vibes) but it doesn't make the narrative any less enjoyable. A fun and quick read if you're looking for a fluffy palate cleanser.

Rating: ***

20MickyFine
Oct 3, 2019, 11:50am

Ditched



A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder - Dianne Freeman

Sigh. I read the first chapter and couldn't make myself do a full Pearl-rule. For a novel set in 1899 the dialogue and internal thoughts were just too modern in their tone and the characterizations seemed to flip flop within the same chapter (evil in-laws, except protagonist is also super sympathetic and maybe they're not so evil...). The writing isn't bad, just mediocre and I know there's better things out there so I'm moving on to better reading pastures.

Rating: /

21MickyFine
Oct 3, 2019, 11:56am

Ok LT friends who have read the follow up novels to A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, weigh in on whether I should read them. I know from reading the blurbs they're about completely different characters. Do they suffer in comparison? Should I just keep my shiny love for this novel and treat it as a stand-alone in my mind?

22richardderus
Oct 3, 2019, 12:26pm

>18 MickyFine: I'm so glad that you love that book, too!

>21 MickyFine: I say leave its pristine charm untarnished. The Voice of Experience.

(But the other books aren't *bad* you understand. They just aren't...effervescent...the way this one is, and that is always a sad thing to me.)

23jnwelch
Oct 3, 2019, 3:47pm

I thought the second one was good (A Closed and Common Orbit), and see it's got almost 5 stars over on Amazon, with a lot of readers. I didn't like Record of a Spaceborn Few, but see that it's got almost 5 stars on Amazon, too, albeit from a lot fewer readers (500+ versus 193). The new one, a novella, To Be Taught, If Fortunate, was really good, and rekindled my interest in Becky Chambers.

Nice to see you liked Pumpkinheads. Me, too. A fluffy palate cleanser. That sounds right.

24MickyFine
Oct 4, 2019, 10:48am

>22 richardderus: >23 jnwelch: Thank you, Richard and Joe for your input. :)

25MickyFine
Oct 4, 2019, 11:03am

Book 121



Alanna: The First Adventure - Tamora Pierce

Alanna has always wanted to be a knight and she's not going to let anything, including her sex, stop her from reaching her goal. When her father sends her and her twin brother, Thom, off to be trained Alanna convinces her brother to trade places with her. She'll become Alan and train to be a knight, while Thom will go off to a convent to study sorcery. As Alanna settles into her life as a page at the castle, she'll also come to term with her abilities both as a fighter and a magical healer.

An excellent start to a fantasy series that, while targeted at the younger end of the teen spectrum, is a compelling read for more mature readers. Alanna's adventures are fun reading, the establishment of her group of friends in the castle is enjoyable, and the hints of what might lie ahead for Alanna is intriguing. Having read the Bekka Cooper series first, it's fun to see Cooper descendants show up here. I'm definitely eager to pick up the next book in the series.

Rating: ****

26curioussquared
Oct 4, 2019, 1:31pm

>121 I'm so glad you're reading these and you enjoyed the first one! I hope you keep loving the series :)

27katiekrug
Oct 4, 2019, 2:48pm

Happy new thread, Micky!

28The_Hibernator
Oct 5, 2019, 9:29pm

>25 MickyFine: I really ought to read a Tamora Pierce book. What age range are they for, by the way? My husband reads books to the kids, and I'm trying to think of something after he finishes Warriors.

29jnwelch
Oct 6, 2019, 4:48pm

We loved the Alanna series, Micky. It was one of our daughter’s favorite series as a teen, so we read them, too. I remember them all as being fun reads.

30curioussquared
Oct 6, 2019, 8:52pm

>28 The_Hibernator: I started reading them in 3rd grade and was probably a little young; there's never anything explicit, but sex is mentioned a few times throughout the various series. I'm still a huge fan now in my late 20s :)

31MickyFine
Oct 7, 2019, 11:21am

>26 curioussquared: Thanks, Natalie. I enjoyed it enough I actually put the next book on hold right away rather than waiting for the next book to come up in my shuffle of The List. High praise for me. :)

>27 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie. Happy to see you made it over here.

>28 The_Hibernator: It depends on the series from what I've read so far. The first Alanna book is definitely middle grade but I'd classify the Bekka Cooper series as teen. I haven't read as much so I defer to Natalie's response in >30 curioussquared:.

>29 jnwelch: I'm late to the series but I'm finding them enjoyable reads as an adult, Joe.

32MickyFine
Oct 7, 2019, 11:38am

Book 122



Cheaper by the Dozen - Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. & Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

A yellowed paperback copy of this book made its way from my Mom's shelves to mine back when I was a teen and on a serious classics kick but I hadn't picked it up before now. Discussing the book with her this weekend, I learned that she'd bought it for school and didn't like it much. My opinion didn't vary from hers. Two of the elder of the Gilbreth siblings write this memoir of their years growing up in a family of twelve children in the early 1900s, but the primary focus of the memoir is their father. With strong opinions and a large personality, you can tell from the tone of the text that these children adore the memory of their father but as an outside observer, he comes across as a bit of jerk. A motion study engineer (essentially he consulted as an efficiency expert for mostly factories, reducing the number of motions workers needed to make for a job), I'll give him credit for making his wife an equal partner in his professional life. But his views on child-rearing were a bit bizarre and while they were effective, he'd give some modern helicopter parents a run for their money. With far fewer anecdotes of the hijinks the children got up to in such a large family, the narrative wasn't quite what I expected. The writing is also a product of its time with several moments of casual racism. My biggest takeaway was the boggling fact that the Gilbreths had twelve children in seventeen years (with no multiple births) and that Frank Gilbreth senior passed away when the youngest was two years old. I'd be far more fascinated to read a tale of Lillian Gilbreth single parenting all those children. Not recommended.

Rating: ***

33richardderus
Oct 7, 2019, 2:39pm

>32 MickyFine: That was an early favorite read of mine...my sisters are more like aunts than sisters because of the age gap...and I was mostly surprised by the fact that Anne, one of the eldest, died but this is...never...mentioned...except in one footnote.

That jarred on me.

I did love the "therbligs" as the name of the units of work Daddy used...his name anagramized...heh.

34MickyFine
Oct 8, 2019, 11:38am

>33 richardderus: I can see it's appeal for you, Richard. I don't think my edition even had the footnote about Anne. Sigh.

35MickyFine
Oct 9, 2019, 11:03am

Book 123



The Girl Who Knew Too Much - Amanda Quick

Irene Glasson started over in 1930s Los Angeles like so many others. But while on a story for a small Hollywood gossip newspaper in the small resort town of Burning Cove, she discovers a body that may be linked to one of the most promising new stars, Nick Tremayne. As bodies begin to pile up, Irene will have to rely on the help of local resort owner, Oliver Ward, to get out of the mess alive.

A perfectly adequate mystery with a well-written 1930s setting. Amanda Quick (pen name of romance write Jayne Anne Krentz) gets the plot going with a bang and keeps everything churning along at a solid pace. While her characters have interesting backgrounds and careers, I finished the novel feeling like I got no insight into their internal emotional lives, why they really cared about each other, or why I should care much about their HEA. I didn't hate the novel but I won't be inclined to pick up other books in the series.

Rating: ***

36MickyFine
Oct 10, 2019, 11:30am

Book 124



A Caribbean Mystery - Agatha Christie

Miss Marple's nephew has kindly sent her to the Caribbean for a comfortable stay at resort. While Miss Marple isn't quite sure how she feels about the unvarying weather (how is one to start a conversation without the English weather to rely upon as a topic?), when one of the the other guests is found dead Miss Marple finds that her ability to understand personalities and motives works no matter where she is.

Regardless of where she is, spending time with Miss Marple is a reliably enjoyable experience. Even as she gets older and the definition of what's socially acceptable changes, she remains so sharp and never truly adrift. There are a couple moments of racism towards the locals, which are uncomfortable for a modern reader, but otherwise the novel holds up really well. A solid outing for the series.

Rating: ****

37richardderus
Oct 10, 2019, 2:16pm

>36 MickyFine: I do so love Miss Marple. I find, though, that I like her better in the ITV series than on the page...Elephants Can Remember (made as a Poirot) was a particularly stark example of why the TV show got some things right that she didn't...but there aren't many writers up to Dame Agatha's best.

38MickyFine
Oct 10, 2019, 3:11pm

>37 richardderus: There's a great passage at the beginning of the book where Miss Marple is reading a modern novel her nephew has given her and she has an internal monologue about how all the modern kids seem to talk about sex more but no one enjoys it as much as when it was talked about less. I found it quite funny.

39PawsforThought
Oct 10, 2019, 3:59pm

>36 MickyFine: I read A Caribbean Mystery a few years ago and really liked it. I wasn't sure I would because of the very different setting, but it was a good read.

And I remember that passage about talking about sex vs enjoying it. I thought it was a fun comment, too.

40MickyFine
Edited: Oct 11, 2019, 3:50pm

I'm getting close to finishing my current read (Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire for the curious) and I've got a stack of five library books waiting on the nightstand for me for my extra long weekend. Plus I've got season three of The Good Fight out from the library as well. With that entertainment and two dinners over the course of four days, I'm not sure how much I'll be checking in here. So for all the Canadians (or wannabes) who wander through here:

41richardderus
Oct 11, 2019, 4:06pm

Happy Thanksgiving! Monday, isn't it?

42katiekrug
Oct 11, 2019, 4:14pm

Have a good holiday, Micky!

43Familyhistorian
Oct 12, 2019, 1:06am

Happy Thanksgiving, Micky. I'll miss it this year as I will be in the US where it will be just a normal day. Enjoy your dinners and entertainment.

44PaulCranswick
Oct 12, 2019, 10:11pm

Happy Thanksgiving, Micky

45richardderus
Oct 15, 2019, 6:40pm

46MickyFine
Oct 16, 2019, 11:29am

>41 richardderus: Yes, it was Monday. I had family Thanksgiving on Saturday and Friendsgiving on Monday. :)

>42 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie. I did!

>43 Familyhistorian: It's always weird coming back to work and getting emails from various things I subscribe to that are American that didn't pause. Of course, it's also a pain come November when you have a question for an American-based vendor and everyone is off for American Thanskgving. ;)

>44 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul!

>45 richardderus: I do love Unshelved. Completely accurate interaction too.

47swynn
Oct 16, 2019, 12:50pm

>45 richardderus: "I love the sound policy makes when I break it." I'd wear that T-shirt.

48MickyFine
Oct 16, 2019, 2:43pm

Book 125



Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire - Carol Dyhouse

An academic-ish exploration of male heartthrob figures from popular culture (largely book and film) from the last century and a half. I have a lot of mixed feelings about the book. The writing is perfectly functional and the thesis is well laid out but I'm not sure Dyhouse really delivers. Her introduction discusses flipping the framing of popular culture into looking at what has appealed to women and while she outlines some examples and comes up with themes, she never really digs into the bigger question of WHY these figures were appealing. You can also tell her areas of specialty as Lord Byron comes up multiple times as does Rudolph Valentino but any male heartthrob figures that appeared after about 1950 tend to crop up only once in a paragraph or two. The book isn't bad but it wasn't what I was hoping for. YMMV.

Rating: ***

49MickyFine
Oct 16, 2019, 2:51pm

Book 126



In the Hand of the Goddess - Tamora Pierce

Recounts Alanna's adventures as a Squire, preparing to become a knight and revealing her sex to all of her friends who have known her only as a boy.

I wasn't as enthralled with this second book in the quartet finding the plot a bit too episodic with an insufficient sense of time between events. I'll definitely be finishing the series but I'm hoping the writing and plotting in the next book is much smoother.

Rating: ***

50laytonwoman3rd
Oct 16, 2019, 9:40pm

>32 MickyFine: I have an old copy of that one around here somewhere...I forget whose shelves I found it on. I had a vague recollection of having loved it long ago, so I gave it a nostalgic re-read. I think the portrayal of dear old Dad was meant to be amusing, and I did have a couple laughs, but I also agree that it hasn't aged very well. Steve Martin made a movie version of it 15 years ago or so, but it took a lot of liberties with the book.

51MickyFine
Oct 17, 2019, 10:29am

>50 laytonwoman3rd: There are a few funny moments for sure but I just couldn't look with fondness on a man whose own children stated that he viewed them as interchangeable cogs.

52MickyFine
Edited: Oct 18, 2019, 12:38pm

Book 127



Lord John and the Private Matter - Diana Gabaldon

Lord John Grey has returned from his exile as the governor of Ardsmuir prison and is back in London, waiting to join his regiment on their next deployment. In the meantime, he's facing the unpleasant task of having to interfere in his cousin, Olivia's engagement, as he's discovered her fiance may have syphilis. He's also pulled into an investigation into the murder of one of the lower ranking members of his regiment who may have been entangled in espionage.

Lord John Grey has always been one of my favourite characters in the Outlander series, so it was fun to dive into one of his many adventures that have been alluded to in the main series. Gabaldon's historical fiction writing chops are in evidence here as she evokes 18th century London with details large and small. It's interesting to spend time in the younger Lord John's head as he balances his public face with his personal desires. Enjoyable if you're fully embedded in all things Outlander.

Rating: ****

53richardderus
Oct 17, 2019, 11:23am

>52 MickyFine: Micky, if that's your first Lord John story, may I recommend the three-novella collection Lord John and the Hand of Devils? It's a prequel, a sequel, and a down-the-liner for this book.

54MickyFine
Edited: Oct 17, 2019, 4:21pm

>53 richardderus: Oh I've got plans to tackle all of Gabaldon's various Outlander novel(la)s and short stories that aren't the big eight (when oh when will nine arrive?) so I'll definitely be getting to that one. :)

55MickyFine
Oct 18, 2019, 1:06pm

Book 128



The Woman Who Rides Like a Man - Tamora Pierce

Alanna spends most of her first year as a knight amongst the Bhazir in the southern deserts, where she becomes more involved than she planned. Plus her entanglements with Prince Jonathan and with George Cooper, King of the Rogues, continue to tie her up in knots no matter how close or far she might be from the two men.

Happily, this third book in the series returns the excellent writing quality of the first. The plot is well done, Alanna continues to grow as a person in interesting ways, and the expansion of the world is fascinating. And if I could turn off the critical part of my brain that would be it. But instead, I ended up having squidgy feelings about the book because it's (unintentionally?) a white saviour narrative. Sigh. I'll be finishing the quartet because I want to know how things end up for Alanna but I also don't think I'll be revisiting these books.

Rating: ***1/2

56MickyFine
Oct 18, 2019, 4:04pm

Book 129



Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give - Ada Calhoun

A collection of memoir-ish essays in which Ada Calhoun reflects on the advice she'd give in wedding toasts if she could completely honest about the realities of marriage from her position as a woman married nearly twenty years. The conceit of toasts falls apart pretty quickly here as the book is really more a collection of essays reflecting on some of the challenges in Calhoun's marriage with her husband, Neal. While some of the essays had me laughing at some reactions in recognition, I found that more often the quotations from writers/religious leaders were more intriguing insights than Calhoun's own (Tolkien had some fascinating thoughts on marriage). I did rub the wrong way against some of her thoughts on fidelity and monogamy as she seemed to consider it much more fluid and that that experience was universal, which really doesn't mesh with me. Otherwise, it was funny and occasionally sweet and ultimately a very fast read. Cautiously recommended.

Rating: ***

57MickyFine
Oct 21, 2019, 1:04pm

Book 130



A Room with a View - E.M. Forster

An audio drama adaptation of the classic novel. Perfectly enjoyable way to revisit the classic novel. Includes an interview after the play with the actor who plays Mr. Emerson senior who played George Emerson in the 1980s film with Helena Bonham Carter. Recommended if you enjoy the format.

Rating: ****

58MickyFine
Oct 21, 2019, 1:10pm

Ditched



A Murder for the Books - Victoria Gilbert

Pearl-ruled this cozy mystery featuring a librarian who lives in a small town in Virginia who discovers a body in her library's archives. The writing is fine, if a bit clunky in spots and the plot moves a bit slowly. What made me set it aside was how much librarian work nitty-gritty is included in the text. While having a book set in a library written by a librarian is usually a pro, in this case the author libsplains way too much both to other characters and in her internal thoughts (for the benefit of the reader). I don't want to spend time reading a character's internal thought process about using quotation marks in a search to ensure more accurate results. I already know and I doubt the average reader cares. YMMV.

Rating: /

59MickyFine
Oct 21, 2019, 1:17pm

Book 131



Sorry, Wrong Number - Lucille Fletcher

A one-act audio drama in which an invalid woman accidentally overhears a telephone call plotting the murder of a woman and then slowly realizes that the woman is her. A very quick listen (under half an hour) that does a decent job of building suspense even if the main character is pretty insufferable.

Rating: ***

60richardderus
Oct 21, 2019, 3:28pm

>58 MickyFine: I might actually want to be in on that conversation. I'm surprised to say that! What can it hurt, after all, since actuarially I can expect to live 23 more years and I read about 100 books a year? Pshaw! One of 2300?

::eyeroll::

61MickyFine
Oct 22, 2019, 11:22am

>60 richardderus: Give it a go, Richard. Learn some of the magic!

62laytonwoman3rd
Oct 22, 2019, 1:48pm

>59 MickyFine: Oh...that sounds like a good one. Would you pop over to the Drama thread in the 2019 AAC and share that review? Radio drama is a lot of fun, and I don't think anyone else has mentioned that in the challenge so far.

63MickyFine
Oct 22, 2019, 3:28pm

>62 laytonwoman3rd: Happy to oblige, Linda!

64laytonwoman3rd
Oct 22, 2019, 4:04pm

65MickyFine
Oct 24, 2019, 10:20am

Book 132



Lioness Rampant - Tamora Pierce

In the final book of the quartet, Alanna goes on a quest for a magical artifact and then returns home to Tortall where powerful forces threaten everything and everyone she loves.

A well-drawn conclusion to the series, I was pleased with how things turned out for Alanna even if I had predicted it from the beginning. The action in the final conflict is rapid-paced and much more surprising than most of the plot arcs. Overall, I enjoyed the series and this final book leaves me fonder of it than I have been after some of the previous books.

Rating: ****

66norabelle414
Oct 24, 2019, 11:37am

Tamora Pierce is pretty open about her earlier books being less socially conscious than she would want them to be now, which makes me feel better about liking them than I would if she refused to acknowledge their flaws.

67MickyFine
Oct 24, 2019, 1:39pm

>66 norabelle414: That does make me feel better about these.

I do feel bad the editions I read were stuck with terrible covers that some marketer obviously thought would appeal to teens.

68richardderus
Oct 24, 2019, 1:40pm

>65 MickyFine:, >66 norabelle414: It's the same reason I still feel comfortable about venerating UKL's magisterial-if-heteronormative The Left Hand of Darkness...she admitted that was a failure on her part and said, if she'd done the book now, it wouldn't have been so limited.

69norabelle414
Edited: Oct 24, 2019, 2:11pm

>67 MickyFine: Yeah that's... not great. My copy of Terrier is in that same publication series and I only allow it to exist because it's got a cat on it.

>68 richardderus: It's so refreshing when public figures don't double down on their mistakes!

70MickyFine
Oct 24, 2019, 2:42pm

>68 richardderus: I really need to try Le Guin. I've got one of her books on The List. Just haven't made it there yet. A feeling I'm sure you know well.

>69 norabelle414: I think I read that same edition back when I read that trilogy. Somehow that one doesn't seem quite as bad as these ones. I think it's all the glowing and the very 2003 hair cut on the model.

71curioussquared
Oct 24, 2019, 2:51pm

>67 MickyFine: These ones do have particularly bad covers, don't they? Like they were trying to make them look paranormal and vampiric because that's what the teens want.

My covers will always be the technicolor ones from the 90s and early 2000s.

72MickyFine
Oct 25, 2019, 10:19am

>71 curioussquared: Yes! Hopefully the next time they're reissued they get better covers.

73MickyFine
Oct 28, 2019, 2:55pm

Book 133



My One and Only Duke - Grace Burrowes

Banker Quin Wentworth has been condemned to Newgate prison and a death sentence. When by chance he meets the daughter of a vicar who regularly visits the prison, he is charmed by her. When he learns that said daughter, Jane, is also widowed and with child he thinks he'll come to her aid by offering her marriage and a healthy portion of funds to support herself and the child after his imminent death. However, when Quin is suddenly pardoned after it's discovered that he's the heir to a Duke's estate he and Jane must determine whether there is enough between them to make a marriage.

A thoroughly charming historical romance with an intriguing and quirky cast of characters. The Wentworth siblings are entertaining with their personality traits developed in a destitute youth and Quin and Jane are charming and hold the reader's attention as the plot progresses. It did take me a lot longer than usual for this genre to get a good read on Quin but watching both him and Jane grow as people and a couple was thoroughly enjoyable. I liked it enough that I'll be reading the rest of the series.

Rating: ****

74MickyFine
Oct 28, 2019, 3:04pm

Book 134



The Last Dragonslayer - Jasper Fforde

Jennifer Strange is just a nearly sixteen-year-old foundling on contract as an indentured servant to a corporation of sorcerers in the Kingdom of Hereford. However, when the death of the last dragon at the hands of a dragonslayer is predicted by almost every seer in the kingdom as being imminent, a cascade of events puts Jennifer at the heart of everything that will affect dragons, magic, and fate of multiple kingdoms.

Yet another fun and quirky world from Jasper Fforde. His love for puns and plays on word are in full evidence even as he weaves a tale that riffs on the typical dragon tale. While the book is marketed for teens and the protagonist is one, there's no discernible difference in tone or language from this and Fforde's adult novels. Lots of fun and highly recommended. Also, a great starting point if you've never tried Fforde before.

Rating: ****

75MickyFine
Oct 31, 2019, 11:13am

I found Waldo!

76katiekrug
Oct 31, 2019, 11:17am

77The_Hibernator
Oct 31, 2019, 11:47am

>75 MickyFine: Love it. I don't have a costume this year. Happy Halloween!

78laytonwoman3rd
Oct 31, 2019, 1:36pm

>75 MickyFine: Delightful

79scaifea
Nov 1, 2019, 5:39am

80aktakukac
Nov 1, 2019, 10:33am

>75 MickyFine: Great costume! Yesterday I just wore a long-sleeve shirt, sweater, warm pants, and scarf to work, because it was freezing and ended up snowing.

81Ape
Nov 2, 2019, 11:18am

I agree with everyone above!

82richardderus
Nov 2, 2019, 12:54pm

>75 MickyFine: *baaawww* Good thing you live so far away. I'd just have to pinch your cheeks and chuck you under the chin!

Hospital trips are cheaper in Canada, though...

83MickyFine
Nov 4, 2019, 12:27pm

Aww, thanks all!

84MickyFine
Nov 4, 2019, 1:53pm

October Summary





Numbers in parentheses are for year to date.

Books read: 16 (134)
Books ditched: 2 (10)

Fiction: 13 (110)
Non-fiction: 3 (24)

Library: 15 (98)
Mine: 1 (26)
Borrowed elsewhere: 0 (0)

Re-reads: 0 (6)

Female authors: 15 (99)
Male authors: 3 (38)

Adult fiction: 7 (74)
YA fiction: 6 (30)
Children's fiction: 0 (11)

Pages: 4,440 (38,299)

Average rating: 3.6 (3.71)

Average time to read book: 2.8 days (3.12 days)

Favourite book(s): The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet still has me feeling fuzzy feelings about how smart and charming it was.

85MickyFine
Nov 4, 2019, 2:04pm

Book 135



Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier

The classic gothic novel in which the unnamed narrator recounts her marriage to Maxim de Winter, whose first wife, Rebecca, looms large everywhere in spite of her death.

From the first sentence, this novel is utterly compelling. Du Maurier's prose is so evocative that her descriptions come to life on the page. Her unnamed narrator is a fascinating figure and her frequent daydreams/fantasies provide an intriguing insight to this character and her world. Of course, as a study of a marriage the novel is dark but compelling and as a mystery it holds up fantastically well. If you haven't dipped into this classic yet, I highly recommend it.

Rating: ****

86curioussquared
Nov 4, 2019, 2:50pm

>85 MickyFine: I felt the same about Rebecca when I read it for the first time a few years ago. So good!!

87jnwelch
Nov 4, 2019, 3:06pm

Ditto, Micky. Rebecca really casts a spell.

88richardderus
Nov 4, 2019, 3:13pm

>85 MickyFine: I add to the Rebecca love.

89aktakukac
Nov 4, 2019, 3:58pm

I say I'm going to read Rebecca every year. Maybe next year??

90scaifea
Nov 5, 2019, 5:41am

Woot for Rebecca! Love that one. Have you seen the Hitchcock film?

91archerygirl
Nov 5, 2019, 7:18am

I love the Alanna novels best of Tamora Pierce's work, but that may be partially because they're the first I found and I found them exactly when I needed them. I reread them last year and I still love them, although I'm also aware that they're not as socially conscious as they would be if they were written now.

Pierce is great (got to see her at a con a couple of years ago and she's wonderful) and I feel happy to still count her as a favourite because she admits her early books have flaws. As people noted, some authors double-down on their mistakes and it's refreshing when one doesn't.

92norabelle414
Nov 5, 2019, 8:54am

>91 archerygirl: When you saw Tamora Pierce did she do the thing where she pretends to be old and crotchety but it's just an act?? That bit killed when I saw her at the National Book Festival.

93MickyFine
Nov 5, 2019, 12:24pm

Glad to see I'm not alone in liking Rebecca.

>90 scaifea: I haven't. Do you recommend it? The academic essay at the back of the edition I read noted that Hitchcock made major changes to the plot so I wasn't sure whether it's worth watching.

>91 archerygirl: I'm looking forward to exploring more of her books. So far I've just done Beka Cooper and Alanna.

94archerygirl
Nov 6, 2019, 4:10am

>92 norabelle414: Heh, she didn't do that at all! She was just being her warm, wonderful self the whole time :D I kind of would have loved to see her pretending to be old and crotchety.

>93 MickyFine: You've got lots of great Pierce books to look forward to :-)

95scaifea
Nov 6, 2019, 5:56am

>93 MickyFine: Yes, there are some differences, but the movie is gorgeous and wonderful in its own right. I highly recommend it.

96norabelle414
Nov 7, 2019, 10:47am

Am I remembering correctly that yesterday was your birthday? Did you do anything fun?

97MickyFine
Nov 7, 2019, 1:03pm

>94 archerygirl: Glad to hear it, Kathy.

>95 scaifea: I've placed a hold on it at the library, Amber. :)

>96 norabelle414: It was my birthday yesterday! I'm now a whopping 33! I did lots of fun things. My husband and I both took the day off, we went out for breakfast, there was a bunch of shopping (taking advantage of all those birthday coupons) for clothes, books, and other fun things, we went out for dinner, and then wrapped up the evening quietly and continued our Buffy rewatch.

For the inquiring minds, I bought/was gifted the following books:

The Wallflower Wager - Tessa Dare
Any Duchess Will Do - Tessa Dare
The Big Over Easy - Jasper Fforde
How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse - K. Eason

Plus my husband's birthday was just a few days before mine and he acquired a bunch of books of his own, including Supernova by Marissa Meyer, which I'll definitely be borrowing when he's finished.

98norabelle414
Nov 7, 2019, 1:08pm

>97 MickyFine: Happy belated birthday!

99katiekrug
Nov 7, 2019, 1:23pm

Belated happy birthday wishes, Micky! Sounds like it was a good one.

100bell7
Nov 7, 2019, 1:27pm

Happy belated birthday, and nice book haul! I've been eyeing How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse so I'm looking forward to your thoughts on it, whenever that may be :)

101MickyFine
Nov 7, 2019, 2:49pm

Thanks Nora, Katie, and Mary for the birthday well wishes.

>100 bell7: I actually stuck it into my nightstand stack so I'll probably get to it this month.

102MickyFine
Nov 7, 2019, 2:57pm

Book 136



That Summer - Lauren Willig

In 2009, Julia Conley has been struggling with finding work in the wake of losing her finance job in the 2008 recession. When she receives word that she's inherited a large house in England from her great-aunt she plans to spend only the summer there cleaning it up and preparing to sell it. In 1849, Imogen Grantham has spent nearly a decade trapped in a loveless marriage when she meets an up and coming painter named Gavin Thorne.

A case of two narratives intertwining and mirroring each other in two different places with great effect. Both storylines are well done with the historical content never feeling too modern. All of the characters are compelling and I never spent time wishing more page time for one narrative arc over another. While the endings aren't particularly surprising, they're well-crafted and I enjoyed my time with them. Recommended to fans of historical fiction, those who enjoy books about art/artists, Anglophiles, and family drama lovers.

Rating: ****

103MickyFine
Nov 7, 2019, 3:18pm

Book 137



Batwoman: The Many Arms of Death - Marguerite Bennett et. al.

Katherine Kane is on a quest to track down who might be selling dangerous weapons on the black market. In the course of her investigation she's drawn back to the island that used to be run by a former lover and that has now been taken over by a corporation whose goals are darker than they seem.

I spent this entire volume being So Lost. In theory there's an explanation of Batwoman's backstory thus far at the beginning of the volume but it's done in weird comic panels with insufficient text and I couldn't wrap my brain around what was going on or even who Batwoman is. And then the final comic included in the volume involves a jump forward into the future and I got even more lost. Probably more enjoyable for those who are deeply immersed into the whole Batman universe but not a great entry point.

Rating: **

104MickyFine
Nov 7, 2019, 3:27pm

Book 138



Spider-Man Noir: The Complete Collection - David Hine et. al.

A collection of two Spider-Man Noir story arcs, a couple comics that were part of the Spider-Verse event, and a Spider-Geddon comic.

These are so well done. Translating Spider-Man to the grittiness of 1930s noir is done so seamlessly with Peter working with his Aunt May who's a communist agitator in the tent camps of those hit hardest by the Depression. Two of the major Spider-Man villains make their appearances in the initial two arcs and they're both reimagined gorgeously. Highly recommended if you like Spider-Man, liked the Spider-Man Noir character in Spider-Verse (book or film), or enjoy a noir-ish romp.

Rating: ****

105bell7
Nov 7, 2019, 8:27pm

>101 MickyFine: Ah, your TBR pile works something like mine then. Nightstand books are those I intend to read over the next month or so as well.

106PawsforThought
Nov 8, 2019, 2:24am

>101 MickyFine: & >105 bell7: I'm another member of the "books that are soon to be read are on the bedside table" club. Though in my case it's primarily library books.

107scaifea
Nov 8, 2019, 5:31am

Oh! Happy birthday, then! Sounds like you have a great time.

Charlie and I are watching Buffy right now, too! (First time for him and about the 15th rewatch for me.) He was an instant fan.

108jnwelch
Nov 8, 2019, 8:45am

Spider-man Noir sounds good. I did like that character in the Spider-verse movie. Adding it to the WL.

109aktakukac
Nov 8, 2019, 9:48am

Happy Belated Birthday! You share your birthday with my dad, one of his brothers (they were born on the same day but 8 years apart), and a friend of mine. I have had to move some of my nightstand stack of books to the floor by my bed because it's getting too tall...

110MickyFine
Nov 8, 2019, 1:55pm

>105 bell7: Nightstand books are where it's at!

>106 PawsforThought: Mine are mostly library books also.

>107 scaifea: Thanks, Amber! We're over halfway through season 2. We just watched the episode when Angelus kills Jenny and it still upsets me every time.

>108 jnwelch: I think you'll really enjoy it, Joe.

>109 aktakukac: I usually try to keep the nightstand stack to about 6 or less books. I only ever have one book on the go and since I work at the library there's usually a pretty constant flux of books in and out over the course of a month. :)

111Ape
Nov 8, 2019, 4:38pm

Happy belated birthday, Micky! I know I'm late, but this just means you get to celebrate longer, right?

112MickyFine
Nov 8, 2019, 5:14pm

>111 Ape: Definitely! And thank you! :)

113richardderus
Nov 8, 2019, 9:58pm

Happy "*snort* you're HOW young now?" day, and congratulations on giving yourself the right kind of relatives who'll give you book coupons unprompted.

Many happy reading hours this weekend.

114humouress
Nov 10, 2019, 4:57am

Belated happy birthday to you and Mr Fine!

>74 MickyFine: Snap!

These are my Alanna books - or rather, I have books 2 and 3 (so far)

115PaulCranswick
Nov 10, 2019, 6:54am

Also belated greetings from me Micky.

116Ape
Nov 10, 2019, 1:00pm

>114 humouress: Ooooh, I like those covers. :)

117humouress
Nov 10, 2019, 9:51pm

>116 Ape: *Curtseys*

I don't mind the covers Micky has with Alanna and the light behind her but I'm not fond of the third one. I don't like fiction covers with photographs of people as a general rule; if I remember correctly, you're another one who doesn't like them.

118scaifea
Nov 11, 2019, 6:05am

>110 MickyFine: Oh, yes, I *love* that scene! So unexpected and so well done, I think. I love that he doesn't kill her in the traditional vampire way, but instead simply breaks her neck, as if to add insult to injury murder. Very Angelus of him.

119Ape
Nov 11, 2019, 10:55am

>117 humouress:: Definitely! People are the worst! (on covers)

120MickyFine
Nov 12, 2019, 12:28pm

>113 richardderus: Thanks, Richard!

>114 humouress: Those are the covers that showed up in my library's catalogue (so we probably have some of them somewhere) but I ended up with other covers.

>115 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul.

>118 scaifea: Yes, I think Joss Whedon says something similar in the commentary on the episode.

>119 Ape: Well then, avert your eyes from my next read. :P

121MickyFine
Nov 12, 2019, 12:43pm

Book 139



The Duke Is But a Dream - Anna Bennett

Lily Hartley is the anonymous author of the Debutante's Revenge, one of the most-discussed and scandalous columns amongst the London ton. However, while Lily regularly dishes out advice to debutantes on how to find true romance while fending one's way through the marriage mart, she has very little personal experience. While disguised as a boy to deliver her latest column, she ends up caught in a brawl, hits her head, and loses her memory. Also involved in the brawl is Nash, Duke of Stonebridge who takes the unconscious and unknown woman home with him. While Lily struggles to remember who she is neither she and Nash can deny the building attraction between them.

A charming historical romance that takes the cliched amnesia plot and makes it an intriguing obstacle to the romance going on. Lily is a perfectly charming protagonist and the Duke's household is a lovely space for her to recuperate. While there are no surprises in the plot, it's still an enjoyable journey. Also, the epigraphs from the Debutante's Revenge at the beginning of each chapter are often quite funny. Recommended if it the plot summary tickles your fancy.

Rating: ****

122MickyFine
Nov 12, 2019, 12:51pm

Book 140



Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language - Amanda Montell

Amanda Montell explores studies in sociolinguistics that explore how the very language we use supports the default system of patriarchy and how as everyday users we can try to be more proactive in how we use English as feminists.

I adored this book from the opening introduction. While the linguistics studies Montell is unpacking are rigorous and academic, she makes them clear and understandable for a general audience while being smart and funny and entertaining. Whether she's exploring the swears we use, the euphemisms we use for genitalia, or how women talk amongst themselves, everything is well explored and clear for the non-expert. Highly recommended for all feminists but also for those who are just curious about how English really works.

Rating: ****

123katiekrug
Nov 12, 2019, 12:59pm

124Ape
Nov 12, 2019, 2:56pm

>121 MickyFine: Eeeeeeewwww!

125norabelle414
Nov 12, 2019, 3:09pm

>121 MickyFine: I scrolled past this very quickly and thought it said "The Duke is a Dream Butt" and did not bat an eye. I'd read that.

126MickyFine
Nov 13, 2019, 10:18am

>123 katiekrug: I had a feeling that this one would be a BB for you.

>124 Ape: You're welcome. :P

>125 norabelle414: LOL. I mean, there's definitely a stream of romances for you... :)

127richardderus
Nov 13, 2019, 2:30pm

128MickyFine
Nov 13, 2019, 3:21pm

129richardderus
Nov 13, 2019, 3:24pm

Lemon-dill okay?

130MickyFine
Edited: Nov 14, 2019, 10:26am

>129 richardderus: I'm usually pretty traditional about my egg salad but I do love dill...

131archerygirl
Nov 14, 2019, 9:53am

>121 MickyFine: You got me with this one :-)

132MickyFine
Nov 14, 2019, 10:31am

>131 archerygirl: Oh yay! I hope you like it, Kathy.

133MickyFine
Nov 14, 2019, 10:56am

Book 141



Tash Hearts Tolstoy - Kathryn Ormsbee

During the summer before her final year of high school, the web series adaptation of Anna Karenina that Tash has been working on with her best friend, Jack, suddenly gains a tons of followers. Dealing with mild levels of internet fame makes for an even more complicated summer as Tash struggles with her friendships, her family dynamics, and her plans for after high school.

Objectively, this is a solid YA novel. Tash is dealing with a lot of relationship stuff while also struggling with how to share with those closest to her that she's asexual and what that means for her. And I can only imagine how valuable it is for asexual readers to see a representation of themselves. But as an adult reader, I found myself mostly rolling my eyes at how self-absorbed and selfish Tash is for most of the novel. There's a plot line that happens with her parents that I found myself much more interested in, which is probably a sign of getting too old for YA. Recommended for teens who are into web series, classic fiction, or are interested in reading about asexual characters.

Rating: ***

134MickyFine
Nov 18, 2019, 1:04pm

Book 142



The Wallflower Wager - Tessa Dare

Lady Penelope Campion has the softest heart and has yet to meet an animal she couldn't love. However, when Gabriel Duke, known in the highest social circles as the Duke of Ruin, acquires the house next door to Lady Penelope he is less than enthused with her menagerie. When Gabriel demands that Penelope get rid of all her animals, she strikes a deal with him - she'll get rid of the animals if he can find them all loving homes. Gabriel agrees and then quickly discovers how difficult it is to home a two-legged dog, a goat, a Highland steer, an otter, and umpteen kittens. Meanwhile, Penelope is discovering that her gruff neighbour may just be in need of some of her love as much as any of her animal charges.

Tessa Dare is one of my go-to historical romance writers and this new novel did not disappoint. Cute animals, charming characters, steamy romance, and no shying away from the trauma in the characters' pasts (without sensationalizing it either). Highly recommended as ever.

Rating: ****

135MickyFine
Nov 18, 2019, 1:31pm

Book 143



The 5 Love Languages - Gary Chapman

A Christian marriage guide book that highlights how best to communicate love within your marriage.

A contemporary classic that my husband and I were gifted for our wedding. There's some good content in here and I might revisit it occasionally for reminders on some different ideas on how to communicate love.

Rating: ****

136curioussquared
Nov 18, 2019, 1:44pm

>133 MickyFine: I read Tash a year or so ago and pretty much agreed with your review -- I liked the premise way more than the execution.

137MickyFine
Nov 19, 2019, 11:04am

>136 curioussquared: I read YA voraciously in my early twenties and while I still read a steady dose of it, I'm getting much pickier about it.

138richardderus
Nov 19, 2019, 12:02pm

Ahhh, Tessa Dare! Perfect just-enough storytelling. Glad there was a *satisfying* fiction read for you.

139MickyFine
Nov 19, 2019, 3:14pm

>138 richardderus: Yes, it's nice when a book hits just the spot. I've got a feeling my current in-progress read might result in a BB for you. Stay tuned!

140richardderus
Nov 19, 2019, 3:56pm

>139 MickyFine: Ha, well then, see ya in 2020!

141MickyFine
Nov 20, 2019, 10:20am

>140 richardderus: Snort. You know that's why you come around here in the first place. *smooch*

142richardderus
Nov 20, 2019, 10:24am

>141 MickyFine: ...well, when you put it that way, yeah...but! BUT! I just got the *entire*2019*list* put out by the newest Macmillan imprint, Celadon Books, sent to me when I won a contest they ran!! Three sizable boxes of glorious, unexpected pilf!

*happy sigh*

143MickyFine
Edited: Nov 20, 2019, 11:38am

>142 richardderus: An embarrassment of riches! Congrats!

144richardderus
Nov 20, 2019, 12:06pm

>143 MickyFine: Thanks! It turns out that an old publishing friend was sympathetic to my plight and sent me these boxes, so it had nothing to do with a contest...except the one I won when I befriended her 30 years ago!

145MickyFine
Nov 20, 2019, 2:05pm

146Familyhistorian
Nov 20, 2019, 4:24pm

Drags I’m on my phone in transit so it’s hard to make note of the BBs you hit me with, Micky. The noir Spidey does look good!

147MickyFine
Nov 21, 2019, 12:22pm

>146 Familyhistorian: Happy to hand out BBs wherever you are, Meg. ;)

148MickyFine
Nov 21, 2019, 12:54pm

Book 144



How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse - K. Eason

From the moment of Rory Thorne's Naming Day ceremony when thirteen fairies arrived to bestow their blessings (and one curse) her life never quite followed the path of a typical princess. Her father's assassination and the outbreak of war between the Thorne Consortium and another interplanetary alliance are the causes for some of the major changes in her life plans. As part of the peace treaty to end the war she is engaged to the prince of the opposing side. However, when she arrives on the station that is destined to be her new home she finds things are far from what they should be and her efforts to right them will destroy the multiverse as everyone knows it.

I have big heart eyes for this book. It combines so many things I love including a clever riff on a fairy tale trope, a well-developed sci fi universe, a narrative that has several feminist touches, and characters who leap off the page they feel so real. It did take me a bit to sink into the writing style of this one as the way Rory's fairy curse works involves her perceiving a speaker's true meaning when they dissemble and how that's depicted on the page takes a bit of getting used to. The author also throws the reader into the deep end with how the science (which feels like magic more often than not despite the narrator repeatedly reminding us it is a science) works in this multiverse, which makes a fun learning curve for the reader. However, it doesn't take long to be sucked into Rory's life and the political intrigue she must deal with for most of her life. The cast of supporting characters are just as compelling and I finished the book pleased with how the plot arc of this book was tied up while also eager to read the next book. Highly recommended.

Rating: *****

149foggidawn
Nov 21, 2019, 1:13pm

>148 MickyFine: You got me with that one.

150curioussquared
Nov 21, 2019, 1:44pm

>148 MickyFine: This sounds so great. Putting it on hold!

151bell7
Nov 21, 2019, 2:48pm

>148 MickyFine: Welp, guess I made the right choice putting on hold to come in when I get back from Thanksgiving at my sisters. Looking forward to reading that one!

152MickyFine
Nov 22, 2019, 11:25am

>149 foggidawn:, >150 curioussquared:, >151 bell7: Yay for BBs! I hope all of you enjoy it. :)

153MickyFine
Nov 22, 2019, 1:28pm

There's a teaser trailer for a new adaptation of Emma. I'm not sure how I feel about this.

154katiekrug
Nov 22, 2019, 2:02pm

>153 MickyFine: - Emma is my least favorite Austen (of the major 6), but I think this adaptation looks good. I am going to re-read it in anticipation and with an eye to the comedy of it.

Sarah McLean tweeted about the trailer recently. She is On Board.

155MickyFine
Nov 22, 2019, 3:15pm

>154 katiekrug: I totally understand why she's your least favourite. I've got a soft spot for Emma because it was the first Jane Austen novel I ever read. Also, I watched the Gwyneth Paltrow version a lot as a teen.

156MickyFine
Nov 22, 2019, 5:44pm

Book 145



Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating - Christina Lauren

Hazel Bradford is fully aware that she's weird by most people's definition. She also doesn't really care. Josh Im is far more conventional but he's always found Hazel charming from the moment she awkwardly introduced herself to him and then threw up on his shoes at a party in college. When they meet again several years later, Hazel is determined to be besties with Josh and when Josh's romantic life implodes, he's willing to go along with her plan of setting each other up on blind double dates. However, as time goes on everyone who knows Josh and Hazel has only one question: why aren't they dating each other?

A super cute contemporary romance that had me laughing out loud regularly. Hazel is an eccentric but it's a lot of fun to spend time in her point of view and the way she and Josh interact with each other is thoroughly charming. Josh's Korean family and upbringing provide him with solid grounding as a character as well, and make him feel like more than just handsome, decent guy. I also loved the funny details like Hazel's names for all her pets. Plus, the final conflict and resolution didn't go at all the way I expected and while still a bit trope-y were not any less enjoyable. I'll definitely being reading more of Christina Lauren's novels and would recommend it for contemporary romance readers with a moderate tolerance for steamy reading.

Rating: ****

157katiekrug
Nov 22, 2019, 6:49pm

I thought no this is already on my wish list but if not, it will be now! Have a good weekend, Micky.

158scaifea
Nov 23, 2019, 12:10pm

>148 MickyFine: Oooh, wishlisted!

159foggidawn
Nov 24, 2019, 1:54pm

>156 MickyFine: I'm intrigued. Of course, I just said I was going to take a break from romance for a while...

160richardderus
Nov 24, 2019, 5:56pm

>156 MickyFine: Oh, this is the one you thought might be a book-bullet for me? Hm, well, on balance no...not so interested in straight peoples' sex lives...but thanks for thinking of me!

*skedaddles*

161MickyFine
Nov 25, 2019, 10:20am

>157 katiekrug: I did, thanks! Hope you enjoy this one when you get to it.

>158 scaifea: Huzzah!

>159 foggidawn: Put it on a list for next year. :)

>160 richardderus: Snork. Oh RDear, given the number of BBs I've handed out for it already, I have a feeling >148 MickyFine: is coming for you and your want to read list whether you like it or not. ;)

162MickyFine
Nov 25, 2019, 10:42am

Book 146



Alma and the Beast - Esme Shapiro

LT ER book

Alma loves her life braiding the trees, combing the grass, and pet her roof. But one day an almost entirely hairy beast wanders into Alma's world and once Alma gets over her fear, she realizes the beast is scared too and just wants to go home.

Gorgeously rich illustrations make this picture book stand out. The story itself is simple and sweet and there is a sweet mirroring going on between Alma and "the beast" as they travel between Alma's world and the beast's. Another sweet read that will be making its way to my nieces's shelves.

Rating: ****

163norabelle414
Nov 25, 2019, 1:35pm

>148 MickyFine: Hi hello *runs to library*

164MickyFine
Edited: Nov 25, 2019, 3:04pm

>163 norabelle414: Happy to provide more books for your library tower. :)

Also since you're here, some Flash thoughts. Season 3 There is a Malfoy! My surprise and delight at the appearance of Malfoy was great. And although I've only watched the first episode of season 2 of Legends I already like it way better. Such a good season opener. And new handsome face is handsome.

165norabelle414
Nov 25, 2019, 3:57pm

>164 MickyFine: Oh my! I had forgot there was a Malfoy for awhile. He's a good character.

Legends only gets better from now on. I just read an article today about *a thing* that happens at the end of season 3 and all of the actors thought it was too weird and was going to doom their show. But it was so good! You'll know it when you see it.

Who, Nick Zano? Very handsome.

You're so close to the first crossover!!!

166MickyFine
Nov 25, 2019, 5:05pm

>165 norabelle414: Yay for crossovers! Although I'm not sure we'll get in any DCU watching this week. Stupid real-life commitments. ;)

167richardderus
Nov 25, 2019, 5:54pm

>161 MickyFine: *quakes* butbutbut MICKY I just *culled* a heap o'books and and and I just can't go through all that again and it's it's just...
...
...
...hopeless. *sigh* Elfster? Oh, Elfster!

168MickyFine
Nov 26, 2019, 10:02am

>167 richardderus: Welcome to the party. *smooch*

169MickyFine
Nov 27, 2019, 11:46am

Book 147



Supernova - Marissa Meyer

In this final volume of the trilogy both Adrian and Nova must face the repercussions of the lies they've told as the great conflict between the Renegades and Anarchists comes to a dramatic head.

A solid resolution to this YA superhero tale. Obviously there's a lot of plot to wrap up and plenty of action to go around by Meyer manages to space it out well some quieter beats so that the reader doesn't feel exhausted by the sheer volume of everything going on. Fans of the series should be very happy with this final volume. Also, how gorgeous is that cover?

Rating: ****

170MickyFine
Nov 29, 2019, 10:33am

Book 148



Pygmalion - George Bernard Shaw

A radio drama production of Shaw's classic tale of Eliza Doolittle and Professor Henry Higgins. The production is solid but not sparkling as with some other audio productions I've listened to from the BBC. However, the recording also includes a shorter radio play "The B Word" which is about the production of the play, GBS's relationship with Mrs. Patrick Campbell who played Eliza, and the scandal over the use of the word "bloody" towards the end of the first half of the play, which was a delight to listen to and worth the price of entry.

Rating: ****

171MickyFine
Nov 29, 2019, 5:26pm

Book 149



Birds of a Feather - Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs is hired by grocery magnate Joseph Waite to find and return his runaway, adult daughter, Charlotte. However, it quickly becomes clear that Charlotte's disappearance has some sort of tie to the recent well-publicized murder of another woman in London. Now Maisie must not only find Charlotte but determine what binds her to the murdered woman.

This second entry in the Maisie Dobbs series is a sedately paced mystery. Winspear does an excellent job of setting the scene in London in 1930 and makes the world seem very real immediately. The mystery is well-crafted, even if I had the murderer figured out before the big reveal (although not too far in advance so I mostly felt smug rather than bored). However, there are some scenes that feel a bit... mystical and it's unclear whether Maisie is finding some clues because of her Buddhist training, her woman's intuition, or some other slightly beyond the normal ability. But it feels a bit out of place in this otherwise logical mystery series which otherwise feels reminiscent of Agatha Christie's and Arthur Conan Doyle's more deductive detectives. Enjoyable enough that I plan to continue with the series.

Rating: ***

172PawsforThought
Nov 30, 2019, 6:21am

>171 MickyFine: I'm glad to hear you like the book enough to continue. I was unimpressed enough with the first book that I decided not to continue. I think it was partly my expectations being too high.

173jnwelch
Nov 30, 2019, 3:29pm

>169 MickyFine: Thanks for the tip on Marissa Meyer's Renegades trilogy. I added it to the WL.

174lkernagh
Dec 1, 2019, 2:24pm

Hi Micky, Stopping by to get caught up. Love your Halloween costume! Hard to believe that it is now December.

175MickyFine
Dec 2, 2019, 1:18pm

>172 PawsforThought: I find the characters interesting enough that I'm willing to keep reading.

>173 jnwelch: An excellent choice, Joe.

>174 lkernagh: Thanks, Lori! It's lovely to see you. December did creep up fast this year. :)

176foggidawn
Dec 2, 2019, 1:31pm

>169 MickyFine: Ooh, I need to get to that one!

177MickyFine
Dec 2, 2019, 3:55pm

November Summary





Numbers in parentheses are for year to date.

Books read: 15 (149)
Books ditched: 0 (10)

Fiction: 12 (122)
Non-fiction: 3 (27)

Library: 10 (108)
Mine: 5 (31)
Borrowed elsewhere: 0 (0)

Re-reads: 0 (6)

Female authors: 13 (112)
Male authors: 3 (41)

Adult fiction: 9 (83)
YA fiction: 2 (32)
Children's fiction: 1 (12)

Pages: 4,476 (42,775)

Average rating: 3.8 (3.76)

Average time to read book: 2.9 days (3.01 days)

Favourite book(s): How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse was a delight and one of my few five-star reads this year.

178MickyFine
Dec 2, 2019, 3:56pm

>176 foggidawn: Yes! And then we can discuss the epilogue because I have feelings.

179MickyFine
Dec 3, 2019, 10:51am

I was slowly getting The List down to below 150 for the first time all year and then I read this BookRiot article of 20 Must-Read Time Travel Books and I added probably half of them. Sigh.

180foggidawn
Dec 3, 2019, 11:08am

>179 MickyFine: I struggle mightily to keep my list under 200, so I think I will not look at that article...

181MickyFine
Dec 3, 2019, 12:05pm

>180 foggidawn: Fair. I'll just hit you with BBs later. ;)

182curioussquared
Dec 3, 2019, 1:46pm

>179 MickyFine: Must... not... click... the link....

183MickyFine
Dec 4, 2019, 10:49am

184richardderus
Dec 4, 2019, 10:58am

I shall have you to know, Librarian Lady with the Book Cannon, that I added Wordslut to my Elfster gift-getting list on the strength of your warbles...and this morning I awoke to find it in my cyberstocking. Very excited indeed.

185MickyFine
Dec 4, 2019, 11:07am

Book 150



Shady Characters - Keith Houston

Keith Houston writes a history of a selection of punctuation and typographic marks including the asterisk, the @ sign, and the interrobang. Teasing out not only the origins of where these marks came from, Houston also traces the various purposes the marks have served over their lifetime. What could be a potentially dry history, Houston imbues with plenty of wit, which makes for entertaining reading. Easy to read straight through or dip in and out of as desired. Recommended if you enjoy books about words, grammar, and/or punctuation.

Rating: ****

186MickyFine
Dec 4, 2019, 11:08am

>184 richardderus: Woohoo! I hope you enjoy it!

187MickyFine
Edited: Dec 4, 2019, 11:37am

And I'm proud to declare that I have reached (and surpassed) my goal of 150 books. Did it put any dent in The List as hoped? Not at all, the total number is higher than when I started in January. Sigh. #readerproblems

188richardderus
Dec 4, 2019, 11:27am

>185 MickyFine: 2x75!

Brava, Micky!

189MickyFine
Dec 4, 2019, 11:37am

>188 richardderus: Thanks, Richard!

190MickyFine
Edited: Dec 4, 2019, 11:43am

Book 151



Strange Planet - Nathan W. Pyle

A collection of Nathan W. Pyle's charming comics of aliens experiencing life on Earth. I find constant delight in how the alien's phrase their observations and highly recommend checking out his stuff if you haven't before.

Rating: *****

Also, the release day of his book he posted a lovely comic about libraries.

191foggidawn
Dec 4, 2019, 12:13pm

Congrats on 150+ books read! I'm struggling toward that number, but it's going to be a near thing this year.

I'm awaiting my hold to come in on Strange Planet. I bought a copy to give to my housemate for Hanukkah, and have valiantly resisted cracking it open and reading it before gifting!

192richardderus
Dec 4, 2019, 12:31pm

>190 MickyFine: My absolute all-time fave rave comic moment was when the aliens tossed confetti for some reason and one of them says "Tiny trash!"

I can brighten my day at any time simply recalling that.

193jnwelch
Dec 4, 2019, 1:05pm

Oh, you got me, Micky, with Strange Planet. Adding it to the WL. He sounds like he's a good guy, too, in that linked comic.

194foggidawn
Dec 4, 2019, 1:50pm

>193 jnwelch: Fun fact: Nathan Pyle graduated from the same college as me, a couple years later. It's a small school, so I would expect to have known him at least by sight, but I have no recollection of him, alas. Still, cool that we share an alma mater.

195MickyFine
Dec 4, 2019, 4:12pm

>191 foggidawn: Thanks! I mean, it is a fast read. I read it in less than an hour so you could probably sneak in a read before you wrap it up. ;)

>192 richardderus: Aww.

>193 jnwelch: Huzzah! Enjoy them, Joe.

>194 foggidawn: Cool!

196MickyFine
Edited: Dec 4, 2019, 4:17pm

Book Riot has posted both their 2020 Reading Log and their Read Harder Challenge. I think I'm going to try using their log next year and see how I like it. It comes with the challenge built into the spreadsheet so I might dabble in that as well but I'm not committing myself to reading a book for all 24 categories.

197aktakukac
Dec 4, 2019, 4:58pm

Great job getting to 150+ books! I can't believe it's time to start thinking about 2020 reading goals and challenges!

198PawsforThought
Dec 4, 2019, 5:05pm

>185 MickyFine: Oooh, that sounds like it would be right up my alley.

199bell7
Dec 4, 2019, 6:33pm

>190 MickyFine: Oooh, glad to see you're a Strange Planet fan too. I pre-ordered the book and only read a few of the comics, but I'll most likely finish it up sometime in the next few days. I follow him on Instagram and have screenshotted some to share with my family, including his descriptions of hockey and American football.

200scaifea
Dec 5, 2019, 5:27am

Woot for 150!! Congrats!!

201MickyFine
Dec 5, 2019, 12:53pm

>197 aktakukac: Thanks, Rachel!

>198 PawsforThought: It's a bit older so some of its "up to date" info is a bit dated but the historical content is top-notch.

>199 bell7: As a cat owner, I often get a good chuckle out of his cat cartoons.

>200 scaifea: Thanks, Amber. It's the most books I've ever read since starting. Go me!

202FAMeulstee
Dec 5, 2019, 5:40pm

>185 MickyFine: Congratulations on reaching 2 x 75, Micky!

203leahbird
Dec 6, 2019, 1:06am

>192 richardderus: Those aliens must work in Sustainability! 🤣 We're horrible buzz kills when it comes to confetti, glitter, and balloons. Garth Brooks played the stadium at my work recently and they shot off confetti cannons. Every single person on my team screamed in horror (it turned out to at least be paper and not plastic).

204MickyFine
Dec 6, 2019, 10:33am

>202 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita!

205richardderus
Dec 6, 2019, 12:22pm

>203 leahbird: Ha! Yes, I'm always appalled at Mylar in the, erm, flesh? material? How does one adapt sayings gracefully, I wonder.

Happy Friday, Micky!

206MickyFine
Dec 6, 2019, 12:28pm

Book 152



At Bertram's Hotel - Agatha Christie

Miss Marple is on vacation for two weeks in London and staying at the quietly posh Bertram's Hotel, which has the most impressive knack of conjuring up the bygone Edwardian era. But all at the hotel is not what it seems...

Not the strongest of the Miss Marple mysteries but the novel is still thoroughly enjoyable for how Christie describes her settings and characters. It's a lovely world to spend time in, regardless of the crime in which Miss Marple inevitably becomes involved. A perfectly satisfactory read for established fans of the series but not the best of entry points if you're just dabbling in Miss Marple's tales.

Rating: ****

207swynn
Dec 6, 2019, 1:16pm

>185 MickyFine:: You got me at interrobang.

Congratulations on 150!

208MickyFine
Dec 6, 2019, 5:16pm

>207 swynn: Thank you! I hope you enjoy Shady Characters whenever you get to it.

209PawsforThought
Dec 7, 2019, 6:28pm

>206 MickyFine: I really liked Bertram's Hotel even though is was different from classic Christie and it took me a while to really get into.

210lkernagh
Dec 8, 2019, 5:33pm

Congratulations on meeting your reading goal! I will be lucky if I get 65 books read this year... it has been a rather busy 2019. ;-)

211Familyhistorian
Dec 8, 2019, 6:01pm

Congrats on surpassing 150, Micky! I really must read At Bertram’s Hotel again soon. I love the setting in that one.

212jnwelch
Dec 9, 2019, 11:32am

Nice review of At Bertram's Hotel, Micky. I agree with all of that. It's one of my favorites of hers because of the settings and characters and atmosphere, but it is an unusual one and it makes sense that it wouldn't be a great entry book for new Agatha readers.

213MickyFine
Dec 13, 2019, 1:54pm

Thanks, Lori and Meg for the reading goal congratulations.

And glad to see other fans of the recent Christie in Joe and Paws. :)

214MickyFine
Dec 13, 2019, 1:58pm

I'm here, I promise. It's been a bit of week. Last Friday I slipped on the stairs in my house and managed to bang up my right elbow and hyper-extend my big toe on my left foot, which led to bruising, swelling, and a bit of hobbling around for a couple days. I then followed it up by coming down with a cold on Sunday evening and spending the whole week at home fighting it (I will muffle the choice words about supervisors who come in to work sick in a new space where the staff is much closer together instead of staying home - sick days aren't just for the sick person!). On the bright side, I'm getting much closer to feeling like my normal self today and I did manage to finish some festive reads this week even with my attention span being pretty rubbish.

215norabelle414
Dec 13, 2019, 2:01pm

Ugh toe problems! Ugh coworkers coming in sick! Feel better soon!

216foggidawn
Dec 13, 2019, 2:10pm

>214 MickyFine: Sorry to hear it!

217katiekrug
Dec 13, 2019, 2:13pm

Boo to slips and inconsiderate colleagues. Glad you got some festive reading done, though! Shall I prepare my WL for some additions?

218MickyFine
Dec 13, 2019, 2:21pm

Book 153



How the Dukes Stole Christmas - Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Joanna Shupe

A collection of four Christmas historical romance novellas and I was surprisingly pleased with every story in the collection, even though I mostly just picked it up for Tessa Dare's tales. The stories aren't particularly strongly tied together (there is one small plot point that crosses over from story to story) but all of them manage to put a historical romance twist on narratives from popular Christmas tales. Suffice to say I recommend it if you want a festive read and historical romance is one of your reading jams but I'll give further notes on each of the stories below.

"Meet Me in Mayfair" by Tessa Dare
Louisa Ward needs a Christmas miracle - she needs to marry rich quickly to save her family from being turned out of their Mayfair home just after Christmas. However, at the ball where she means to find such a miracle man she ends of up meeting the very Duke who has called in her father's debt and is the cause for her family's upcoming move to the back of beyond. On a single evening they end up touring Mayfair together and discovering something between them as well. A really sweet romance that happily doesn't feel too rushed as Dare does put in some intimate moments but no one jumps into sex after just meeting that night.

"The Duke of Christmas Present" by Sarah MacLean
A riff on A Christmas Carol sees Eben, Duke of Allryd hating Christmas because it's the time of year his neighbour and childhood sweetheart, Lady Jacqueline Mosby, left him twelve years ago. This year she suddenly waltzes back into his life and his kitchen leaving him to face the question of just who exactly left whom. I really loved this story and it's my favourite of the four stories in the collection. I'll definitely be seeking out more of Sarah MacLean's work.

"Heiress Alone" by Sophie Jordan
Annis Bannister's family forgets her when they quickly depart their Scottish castle to avoid being stranded there in the face of a massive snowstorm. When a group of rogue bandits begin terrorizing the neighbourhood, Annis must rely on the surly Duke who is her neighbour. I was pretty meh about this one although I did like the idea as a riff on Home Alone.

"Christmas in Central Park" by Joanna Shupe
Rose Walker has a popular advice column in a New York paper as Mrs. Walker, society matron extraordinaire. Of course, neither her readers nor the paper's owner, Duke Havemeyer, know that she's just the daughter of a housemaid who's trying to make her way in journalism. When Duke demands that Rose host a dinner just days before Christmas for the editorial board, she must scramble to find a husband, a house, and a staff in order to keep her job. What doesn't help are the sparks that fly between her and Duke. Charming and solid tale, it mostly made me want to watch Christmas in Connecticut of which I've only ever seen parts.

Rating: ****

219katiekrug
Dec 13, 2019, 2:25pm

Ha! I already own this one. But now I'm thinking I need to read it pronto.

220MickyFine
Edited: Dec 13, 2019, 2:26pm

>215 norabelle414: Thanks, Nora!

>216 foggidawn: Thanks, Foggi.

>217 katiekrug: Ha! It's a good choice!

221katiekrug
Dec 13, 2019, 2:29pm

I've only read one book by MacLean, but I follow her on Twitter where she is very vocal. I plan to read more by her and have a few on my Kindle already.

I read two Jordan novels earlier this year and liked them a lot.

222MickyFine
Edited: Dec 13, 2019, 2:39pm

Book 154



10 Blind Dates - Ashley Elston

Sophie is completely psyched to have some freedom from her parents and spend the Christmas holidays with her boyfriend, while her parents take care of Sophie's pregnant older sister who's having complications. What Sophie didn't plan for is her boyfriend suddenly deciding he wants to break up instead of spending the holiday break together. Heartbroken, Sophie's large and boisterous extended family comes to rescue, lead by her Nonna who comes up with a plan to set Sophie up on ten blind dates with different guys over the course of the break. While Sophie isn't super keen on the plan, she ends up finding the fun in all the crazy dates and the love that waits for her at home.

A really sweet YA romance, Sophie is a smart and sympathetic protagonist who thankfully doesn't spend much time wallowing in post-break-up angst. Instead, we get lots of fun with her large, Southern, Italian-descent family who are lovely on the whole along with some cute and some hysterically bad blind dates. The romance for Sophie is pretty predictable but the journey is highly enjoyable and the setting in Louisiana makes for a different approach to Christmas. Cute and recommended if the summary sounds like your jam.

Rating: ****

Thanks to Foggi who put this on The List

223MickyFine
Dec 13, 2019, 2:37pm

>221 katiekrug: I don't think I've read Jordan before and there was a bit of peril after peril in her story which, while true to the source material, didn't really strike my fancy so I'm not racing out to read more. I've read one Joanna Shupe novel before and she specializes in an interesting time period (Gilded Age New York) but she's not an author I've felt compelled to read more of either.

224katiekrug
Dec 13, 2019, 2:43pm

I'd not heard of Shupe, but I do like that time period, so I might see what the library has on offer...

225foggidawn
Dec 13, 2019, 3:14pm

>222 MickyFine: Yay! Glad you liked it.

226aktakukac
Dec 13, 2019, 4:06pm

Glad you are feeling better and could get some reading in while getting over the cold. I have >222 MickyFine: checked out and am looking forward to it. I have loved some of the author's other novels, but this one sounds much different from the ones I read.

227richardderus
Dec 14, 2019, 9:10am

Oh well, jolly reads go a ways toward making the misery of a Christmas Cold bearable. Big warm hot-toddy-infused hugs.

228MickyFine
Dec 16, 2019, 3:37pm

>226 aktakukac: Thanks, Rachel. I hope you enjoy it!

>227 richardderus: Many thanks, Richard. I'm probably back to about 95% healthy. :)

229MickyFine
Dec 16, 2019, 3:47pm

Book 155



The Importance of Being Ernie (and Bert) - Bert and Ernie

A cute collection of thoughts and jokes on friendship and being roommates from the Sesame Street duo. Not quite as cute as Cookie Monster's book that I read earlier this year, but charming and a very fast read.

Rating: ***

230bell7
Dec 18, 2019, 6:36pm

I hope you're healing from your fall and the cold and getting some good reading in!

231MickyFine
Dec 19, 2019, 10:34am

>230 bell7: Thanks, Mary. The cold has disappeared, my foot and elbow are still a bit tender but not too bad, and I just finished one of my favourite re-reads. :)

232MickyFine
Edited: Dec 19, 2019, 10:47am

Book 156



Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (re-read)

I received this beautiful edition of P&P from my husband for our first anniversary and while it's taken a few months, I finally gave it a read. Being one of my favourite books of all-time, it was of course, a perfect reading experience and awesome gift for our "paper" anniversary.

Rating: *****

The right hand side of the photo is a sample of the gorgeous marbled endpapers on this edition. It also has gilt-edged pages. Tres swanky, no?

233katiekrug
Dec 19, 2019, 11:46am

>232 MickyFine: - Well done, Mr.Fine!

234curioussquared
Dec 19, 2019, 11:57am

>232 MickyFine: Sooooo pretty!! *heart eyes emoji*

235jnwelch
Dec 19, 2019, 7:01pm

Lovely - you married a smart fellow.

236Familyhistorian
Dec 19, 2019, 7:58pm

Nice to hear that you are healthy again, Micky. Good plan to get everything over with at once. Book 156 was an inspired gift!

237MickyFine
Dec 20, 2019, 10:38am

>233 katiekrug: He definitely rocked the gift giving this year.

>234 curioussquared: It's really lovely.

>235 jnwelch: I sure did.

>236 Familyhistorian: Thanks, Meg. He really surprised me with it, for sure.

238norabelle414
Dec 20, 2019, 10:48am

First anniversary already?? Where did the time go?

239MickyFine
Dec 20, 2019, 1:16pm

>238 norabelle414: I know, right? Although I'm pretty excited for our second anniversary. We've booked a trip to the mountains for a week, which should be lovely in the fall. :)

240richardderus
Dec 21, 2019, 4:08pm

Soviet Santa says "Happy Yule!" Solstice Greetings to all. Read more here: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/soviet-santa

241MickyFine
Dec 23, 2019, 10:35am

>240 richardderus: Thanks, Richard.

242MickyFine
Dec 23, 2019, 10:59am

Book 157



Not the Duke's Darling - Elizabeth Hoyt

Freya de Moray has grown up understanding that the male dominated world is not necessarily the only way to run things. As a member of the Wise Women, she grew up in Scotland knowing that women are just as strong and powerful as men and that they can work together to make life better for each other. Unfortunately some outsiders believe the Wise Women are witches and a new act headed to Parliament is about to make witch hunting and witch trials legal again. Unless Freya can find leverage against the Lord sponsoring the act, she and her community will be at risk. As a result she heads to a house party in northern England to try and learn more. At the same party is Christopher Renshaw, the Duke of Harlowe a man Freya has detested since her teens for the role he played in a scandal that traumatized three families including Freya's own. But as Christopher and Freya clash, the sparks fly and these two strong-willed individuals will have to discover whether a relationship is even possible.

A new series from Elizabeth Hoyt and I am so here for it! This first entry is fantastically well-executed with strong characters, a compelling plot, and, of course, swoonworthy romance. There's also a strong feminist thread in here that feels both contemporary and historically relevant. In addition, Hoyt sets up a lot of intriguing points to explore further including the Greycourt tragedy (for which the series is named) and the exploits of the Wise Women. Excellent Georgian historical romance that I can't recommend enough.

Rating: ****

The book also includes a Christmas novella by Grace Burrowes, which I'll be reviewing separately.

243ChelleBearss
Dec 23, 2019, 2:35pm



Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

244MickyFine
Dec 23, 2019, 2:56pm

>243 ChelleBearss: Thanks, Chelle, I wish the same for you and yours!

245MickyFine
Dec 24, 2019, 12:18pm

Book 158



Patience for Christmas - Grace Burrowes

Patience Friendly keeps her household afloat by her work writing an advice column for one of the London broadsheets. When her publisher, Dougal MacHugh, comes up with the idea of doing twelve days of columns leading up to Christmas in competition with another advice column Patience is unsure. But as she dives into the work she finds herself thriving and also finds herself looking at Dougal with a whole new appreciation.

A charming holiday romance set in the writing world. Despite suffering from an atrocious case of book name, Patience is a sympathetic character and while the whole plot is pretty predictable, it's still enjoyable. Like some of other Burrowes's work that I've read, her transitions between thoughts feel a bit rough and I often feel like I've missed something in the reading but I think some of that is her style. But not even that flaw is going to keep me from reading a holiday romance just days before Christmas.

Rating: ***

246jnwelch
Dec 24, 2019, 6:01pm

Happy Holidays, Micky!

247PaulCranswick
Dec 25, 2019, 9:25pm



Thank you for keeping me company in 2019.......onward to 2020.

248AMQS
Dec 26, 2019, 2:08am




Merry Christmas to you and your family!

249Berly
Dec 26, 2019, 11:50pm

Best wishes this holiday season!! See you in 2020!


250MickyFine
Edited: Dec 27, 2019, 4:57pm

Thank you, Joe, Paul, Anne, and Kim for the Christmas wishes.

We had a smaller family get together on Christmas Day and Mr. Fine made his first turkey (it was delicious). We're doing a bigger family Christmas on New Year's Day as my brother and his family are traveling with his in-laws for Christmas this year.

So far I've just done a gift exchange with my husband, which of course included books. He gave me The Bookish Life of Nina Hill and Kill the Farm Boy. Looking forward to reading them both.

251MickyFine
Dec 27, 2019, 5:10pm

Book 159



The Thief - Megan Whalen Turner

Gen is the best thief there's every been in Sounis. Just ask him. But after bragging once too often about his exploits, he's ended up in prison for his thievery. However, he's been recruited for a mission for the King which promises to cement his reputation as the best thief there's ever been.

With riffs on Greek mythology, Gen's tale is a quiet quest novel. For a novel that's only a little over 200 pages, it takes quite a bit of time to get going narratively. I also spent over half the novel being thoroughly irritated by Gen who mostly just complains and is brattish. Not a bad novel but not one that blew me away.

Rating: ***

Ok, I know there's several hardcore fans for this novel and series around LT so make your case for me trying the next book in the series. As of right now, I'm on the fence about reading more with a slight inclination to the no side.

252MickyFine
Dec 27, 2019, 5:18pm

Book 160



Spider-Gwen: Long Distance - Jason Latour

This collected volume is a bit of a mess in terms of narrative arc. It starts off setting up the potential for conflict between the now powerless Gwen and Kingpin Matt Murdock. But then the remaining issues are just a series of one-offs that don't follow through on the initial set-up. Some of the stories are pretty silly, if fun and the only one I really enjoyed was one in which Gwen and female Wolverine switch bodies.

Rating: **

253foggidawn
Dec 27, 2019, 7:28pm

>251 MickyFine: Ah, but the complaining was to distract from the stuff he was really doing: keeping in shape, honing his skills, and generally just being so heckin’ clever. Whenever Gen is being obnoxious, it’s a cover for something seriously strategic. Gen never feels the need to look cool and impress others, so he often plays the fool (or brat or bumpkin) to accomplish his own goals.

254MickyFine
Dec 27, 2019, 11:16pm

>253 foggidawn: I saw that. I just found him super annoying anyway.

255scaifea
Dec 28, 2019, 5:58am

I just found him super annoying anyway.

MY EYES!! IT BURNS!!!

Fine. That's totally fine. You don't have to love Gen. Yep, that's just fine. I'll be fine.

256bell7
Dec 28, 2019, 9:27am

>251 MickyFine: Future novels in the series are in third person so you get a little less of the complaining. If you don't like Queen of Attolia, though, I'd say go ahead and stop the series.

257Familyhistorian
Dec 28, 2019, 6:24pm

>242 MickyFine: The Hoyt book looks interesting, Micky. Have fun at your second Christmas!

258norabelle414
Dec 30, 2019, 9:33am

Although I enjoyed The Thief, I think my expectations were set way too high by how many people I know who are obsessed with the series! I do plan to continue reading them but with more tempered expectations.

259MickyFine
Dec 30, 2019, 11:19am

>255 scaifea: There, there Amber. Just less competition for your book boyfriend. ;)

>256 bell7: Ok. I'll put it on the want to read list and see how things go. Thanks!

>257 Familyhistorian: Hoyt is one of my must-read historical romance authors so I definitely recommend her.

>258 norabelle414: I think I'm in that same boat, Nora. Weigh anchor for ship Tempered Expectations.

260MickyFine
Dec 30, 2019, 12:17pm

Book 161



Star Wars vs. Star Trek - Matt Forbeck

One fanboy's take on how the Star Wars universe compares with that of Star Trek. Published in 2011, this book has languished on my shelves since I was gifted it for Christmas many years ago. As an exercise it's pretty fun to see Forbeck's takes on various character match ups, see how much of each fandom I've absorbed in my ability to answer quiz questions, and pick up the occasional factoid. However, as a read the format becomes a bit grating after a bit - choose two roughly similar characters, describe each of them, and provide a fictional imagining of a face-off between them. I also got extraordinarily irritated in the first chapter when Forbeck notes that both universes are pretty male-heavy but then justifies it by saying that women don't really read/watch science fiction anyway. Largely skimmed and one that's not likely to survive my next purging of my library.

Rating: **

261MickyFine
Dec 30, 2019, 12:58pm

Book 162



Spider-Gwen: Predators - Jason Latour

Kingpin Matt Murdock uses his leverage over Gwen to send her to take down Harry Osbourn's Lizard with a serum that will cause the Lizard contaminant to leave Harry's system but in the process create a sentient, parasitic goo that only Gwen can survive. As Gwen grapples with whether giving Harry the serum will actually save him from completely turning into the Lizard or if Murdock has some other plans up his sleeve, she must also protect Harry from SHIELD assassins Wolverine and Kitty Pryde.

A really solid story arc for Gwen and I enjoyed every second of it. Watching her grapple with which choice is the lesser of two evils is compelling stuff, seeing an alternate backstory for Wolverine is fun, and trying to figure out just what malevolent plan Murdock is orchestrating is fun reading. Plus the threat of Venom!

Rating: ***

262richardderus
Dec 30, 2019, 1:14pm

>260 MickyFine: Oh HELLS no. This death-cage-match rivalry is too, too tedious to me.

So! The new theme is up! Y'all got plenty interested when I asked which of the two themes, the Ladies of Science Fiction or the year 1960 in the world's doings, so I'm happy to announce the decision:

It's the Ladies of Science Fiction...AND 1960 in Kulcher. Each month I'll alternate between the themes. This thread, it's Andre Norton, and I focus on her 1960 book Storm Over Warlock. January's thread(s) will all be Ladies. February's will be the year 1960 in some way or shape or form...whatever is bright and shiny and catches my eye. A lot happened that year in politics and film and business, so...well...it's fertile ground.

Come take a look!

263MickyFine
Dec 30, 2019, 1:30pm

Book 163



Don't You Forget About Me - Mhairi McFarlane

Georgina Horspool fell in love hard towards the end of sixth form with Lucas McCarthy, the quiet, observant, Irish boy she was partnered with for a project on Wuthering Heights. Over a decade later, Georgina is still struggling to find her way in the world and has just lost her job and her boyfriend on the same day. When she's offered a job at a new pub, she jumps at the chance even after learning that one of the co-owners is Lucas whose life has had a much stronger upward trajectory than her own. As Georgina tries to figure out what she wants from life she can't also help wondering if Lucas even remembers her from their teens.

Filled with a multitude of laugh out loud moments, there's also a strong heart at the centre of McFarlane's novel. Georgina is a sympathetic protagonist as she grapples with the pains and traumas of her past, while also trying to figure out just what she wants to do with herself. While the cover might leave you with the impression that this is a fluffy romance novel, the romance is secondary to Georgina's own journey. Full of Britishisms, this novel should appeal to fans of Bridget Jones.

Rating: ***

264MickyFine
Dec 30, 2019, 1:32pm

>262 richardderus: I'll come take a look. *smooch*

265curioussquared
Dec 30, 2019, 4:17pm

>263 MickyFine: This looks cute! Plus, I'm a sucker for a dog on a cover.

266MickyFine
Dec 30, 2019, 4:20pm

>265 curioussquared: He's a sweet dog too. :)

267foggidawn
Dec 30, 2019, 4:41pm

>263 MickyFine: Already on the TBR!

268MickyFine
Dec 30, 2019, 5:08pm

269MickyFine
Dec 30, 2019, 5:16pm

Book 164



Spider-Gwen: Gwenom - Jason Latour

After saving Harry Osbourn, Gwen is left with the consequences: Venom. As she grapples with whether revenge is the right course for everything that's happened with her Dad, Matt Murdock is still convinced everything will turn out precisely how we wants it.

Such an excellent volume! Gwenom is a fascinating take on Spider-Gwen, everything in the plot is coming to a major head, and the developments in the final issue of this volume has me super eager to finish the Spider-Gwen story arc.

Rating: ****

270MickyFine
Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 5:25pm

And that's my last read for the year. I've started another book but with working a full day on New Year's Eve I seriously doubt I'll get through the whole thing by midnight tomorrow (especially since I doubt I'm going to stay up until midnight anyway). Year end summary, book meme, and setting up of a 2020 thread will probably happen tomorrow.

271MickyFine
Dec 30, 2019, 10:16pm

December Summary





Numbers in parentheses are for year to date.

Books read: 15 (164)
Books ditched: 0 (10)

Fiction: 11 (133)
Non-fiction: 4 (31)

Library: 13 (121)
Mine: 2 (33)
Borrowed elsewhere: 0 (0)

Re-reads: 0 (6)

Female authors: 11 (123)
Male authors: 8 (49)

Adult fiction: 6 (89)
YA fiction: 5 (37)
Children's fiction: 0 (12)

Pages: 3,687 (46,462)

Average rating: 3.5 (3.63)

Average time to read book: 2.5 days (2.76 days)

Favourite book(s): Strange Planet walked away with five stars this month and it really is super cute and highly recommended.

272MickyFine
Dec 31, 2019, 10:25am

Year Over Year Comparison

My reading trends for the past five years.

Books Read
2019: 164
2018: 116
2017: 91
2016: 120
2015: 90

Pages Read
2019: 46,462
2018: 35,832
2017: 30,562
2016: 42,960
2015: 34,178

Fiction Books
2019: 133
2018: 101
2017: 72
2016: 98
2015: 80

Non-Fiction Books
2019: 31
2018: 15
2017: 19
2016: 22
2015: 10

Re-reads:
2019: 6
2018: 2
2017: 2
2016: 8
2015: 7

Author Gender Breakdown
2019: 123 female, 49 male
2018: 76 female, 42 male
2017: 71 female, 23 male
2016: 89 female, 35 male
2015: 57 female, 42 male

Owned vs. Borrowed
2019: 121 library, 33 mine, 0 elsewhere
2018: 91 library, 9 mine, 16 elsewhere
2017: 73 library, 6 mine, 12 elsewhere
2016: 103 library, 16 mine, 1 elsewhere
2015: 76 library, 14 mine

Average Time to Read a Book
2019: 2.76 days
2018: 5.12 days
2017: 7.09 days
2016: 3.04 days
2015: 3.74 days

273MickyFine
Dec 31, 2019, 10:48am

And finally, my favourite bit of the year-end wrap up: the book meme!

Describe yourself: Big Mushy Happy Lump

Describe how you feel: Chaotic Good

Describe where you currently live: The Blue Castle

Your favourite time of day is: Everything, Everything

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Paris by the Book

Your favorite form of transportation: 4:50 from Paddington

Your best friend is: A Useful Woman

You and your friends are: Renegades

What’s the weather like: The Sunny Side

You fear: Crime and Punishment

What is the best advice you have to give: How to Give Your Cat a Bath in Five Easy Steps

Thought for the day: We Should All Be Feminists

How I would like to die: Three Bedrooms, One Corpse

My soul’s present condition: As You Like It

What is life for you: A Purely Private Matter

274katiekrug
Dec 31, 2019, 11:15am

I love your self-description!

275foggidawn
Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 11:39am

Hah! Love the book meme answers. The one that made me laugh out loud is how you would like to die. And I don't have that final question on my list -- will have to add it! (Ooh, or the one about time of day!)

276MickyFine
Dec 31, 2019, 11:28am

>274 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie!

>275 foggidawn: Bless cozy mysteries for providing excellent titles for that question. I compared my list against Katie's and discovered I was missing a couple questions so I added them in for this year. :)

277MickyFine
Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 11:29am

Y'all are welcome to party here until midnight but if you want to get a jump on things come do the jitterbug with me on my new thread.

2020 THREAD THIS WAY!