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Christina reads the 2019 Category Challenge, Part 3

This is a continuation of the topic Christina reads the 2019 Category Challenge, Part 2.

2019 Category Challenge

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1christina_reads
Oct 1, 10:11am Top

My 2019 Category Challenge, Part 3


(Charles Edward Perugini, "Girl Reading")

Hello, and welcome to part 3 of my 2019 Category Challenge thread! I have reached my target of 75 books for the year, so now I'm going to see if I can make it to 100! I also still need to complete two of my categories. The original plan was to read 25 books in each of three categories:

1. Books acquired before January 1, 2019. This category can include both physical books and e-books; rereads also count. I need to read four more books to complete this category, which should be doable with three months to go!

2. Books acquired on or after January 1, 2019. This category is now complete, although I'm still adding more books to it! It includes books I buy, books given or loaned to me, and library books.

3. Books for Bingo. As in previous years, I plan to cover the entire BingoDOG card. Each book I read will only count in one category, so if I use it for Bingo, I can't place it in category 1 or 2. I have just two more Bingo squares to fill!

I said at the beginning of the year that my goal for 2019 is to enjoy what I'm reading, and thus far I've achieved that goal. Hoping for a few more great reads before the end of the year!


2christina_reads
Edited: Dec 2, 9:24pm Top

1. Books Acquired before January 1, 2019


(Jean-Honoré Fragonard, "La Liseuse")

1. Bria Quinlan, Worth the Fall (10/4/18)
2. Alan Melville, Death of Anton (8/26/17)
3. Agatha Christie, Sad Cypress (8/8/06) - reread
4. Loretta Chase, The Devil's Delilah (7/19/18)
5. L.M. Montgomery, The Blue Castle (6/29/09) - reread
6. Grace Burrowes, A Rogue of Her Own (12/15/18)
7. Lucy Parker, Pretty Face (2/20/17) - reread
8. Jane Austen, Emma (8/8/06) - reread
9. Georgette Heyer, Duplicate Death (6/19/12)
10. Connie Willis, Bellwether (12/10/07) - reread
11. J. Kathleen Cheney, The Golden City (3/7/15)
12. Cindy Anstey, Duels & Deception (12/15/18)
13. Patricia C. Wrede, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (4/16/16)
14. Georgette Heyer, Devil's Cub (7/28/08) - reread
15. Jonna Gjevre, Arcanos Unraveled (8/30/18)
16. John Bude, The Cornish Coast Murder (1/14/16)
17. Alexander McCall Smith, Portuguese Irregular Verbs (9/29/12)
18. Katherine Addison, The Goblin Emperor (8/30/16)
19. Anthony Trollope, Doctor Thorne (8/5/13)
20. Leo Bruce, Dead Man's Shoes (4/9/18)
21. Jasper Fforde, The Woman Who Died a Lot (10/16/12)
22. Amanda Grange, Henry Tilney's Diary (3/12/13)
23. Kristin Cashore, Graceling (11/13/09)
24. Patricia Wynn, The Spider's Touch (5/24/13)
25. Mary Stewart, Nine Coaches Waiting (10/6/07) - reread

*****

26. Alice Tilton, The Cut Direct (1/28/14)
27. Rainbow Rowell, Attachments (12/25/12) - reread
28. Jane Austen, Persuasion (8/8/06) - reread
29. Edmund Crispin, The Moving Toyshop (11/4/17)

3christina_reads
Edited: Nov 30, 8:41pm Top

2. Books Acquired on or after January 1, 2019


(Darren Thompson, "No Place to Sit")

1. Leigh Bardugo, King of Scars
2. Alan Bradley, The Golden Tresses of the Dead
3. Jessie Mihalik, Polaris Rising
4. C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
5. Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
6. Frank Sheed, To Know Christ Jesus
7. Sophie Kinsella, I Owe You One
8. Josie Silver, One Day in December
9. Ngaio Marsh, Enter a Murderer
10. Jasmine Guillory, The Proposal
11. Soniah Kamal, Unmarriageable
12. Gail Honeyman, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
13. Jessica Khoury, Last of Her Name
14. Lucy Parker, The Austen Playbook
15. Raymond Postgate, Verdict of Twelve
16. Elinor Lipman, Good Riddance
17. Jennifer E. Smith, Field Notes on Love
18. Mary Balogh, A Counterfeit Betrothal / The Notorious Rake
19. Esi Edugyan, Washington Black
20. Beth O'Leary, The Flatshare
21. Mariana Zapata, The Wall of Winnipeg and Me
22. Ellis Peters, The Heretic's Apprentice
23. Veronica Henry, How to Find Love in a Bookshop
24. Margaret Rogerson, Sorcery of Thorns
25. Julia Quinn, Ten Things I Love about You

*****

26. Abby Jimenez, The Friend Zone
27. Mary Balogh, The Famous Heroine / The Plumed Bonnet
28. Linda Holmes, Evvie Drake Starts Over
29. J. Kathleen Cheney, The Seat of Magic
30. Abbi Waxman, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
31. Kristan Higgins, Life and Other Inconveniences
32. Evie Dunmore, Bringing Down the Duke
33. Jen DeLuca, Well Met
34. Alix E. Harrow, The Ten Thousand Doors of January
35. Francis Duncan, Murder Has a Motive
36. Sarah M. Eden, The Lady and the Highwayman
37. Jessie Mihalik, Aurora Blazing
38. Mhairi McFarlane, Don't You Forget about Me
39. Mimi Matthews, A Holiday by Gaslight
40. Maggie Stiefvater, Call Down the Hawk
41. Jenny Colgan, The Bookshop on the Shore

4christina_reads
Edited: Nov 4, 1:05pm Top

3. Books for Bingo



1. McKelle George, Speak Easy, Speak Love (artistic character: one main character is a novelist, and another is a jazz singer)
2. Stuart Palmer, The Penguin Pool Murder (animal in title/on cover/significant role: penguins are in the title and on the cover)
3. Julia Quinn, What Happens in London (part of a series: book 2 in the Bevelstoke series)
4. Lyra Selene, Amber & Dusk (debut novel)
5. R.S. Grey, Hotshot Doc (related to medicine or health: hero is a doctor, heroine is a surgical assistant)
6. Lissa Evans, Crooked Heart (LT rating of 4.0 or more: 4.14 as of January 20, 2019)
7. Victoria Aveyard, Red Queen (children's or young adult: YA fantasy novel)
8. Loretta Chase, Viscount Vagabond (alliterative title)
9. Jennifer Crusie, Crazy for You (title contains homophone word: for/four/fore, you/ewe)
10. Kelly Jones, Murder, Magic, and What We Wore (main title has 6+ words)
11. Sally Thorne, 99 Percent Mine (about or featuring siblings: central conflict is that the main character is in love with her twin brother's best friend)
12. Meagan Spooner, Hunted (fairy tale: Beauty and the Beast retelling)
13. Lindsey Kelk, One in a Million (read a CAT: Feb CalendarCAT = Valentine's Day, Feb AlphaKIT = K, O)
14. AJ Pearce, Dear Mrs. Bird (author uses middle name or initial)
15. Annie Darling, True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop (cover has at least 2 human figures: silhouettes of the hero and heroine)
16. Robert Cardinal Sarah with Nicolas Diat, God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith (book in translation: translated from the French by Michael J. Miller)
17. Stephanie Burgis, Kat, Incorrigible (mentioned in another book: Murder, Magic, and What We Wore)
18. Oyinkan Braithwaite, My Sister, the Serial Killer (prize-winning book: won the 2019 Morning News Tournament of Books)
19. Mary Stewart, The Stormy Petrel (title contains weather word/book centers around weather event: "stormy")
20. Ann Patchett, Bel Canto (made into a movie)
21. Edward Grierson, The Second Man (book bullet: from NinieB)
22. Anne Fadiman, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader (short stories or essays: essay collection)
23. Jenny Colgan, Meet Me at the Cupcake Café (food-related title or topic: heroine opens a bakery)
24. Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks, Pumpkinheads (graphic novel)
25. Jenn Bennett, The Lady Rogue (Eastern European author or setting: set mostly in Romania)

5christina_reads
Edited: Dec 2, 9:26pm Top

CATs


(Charles Wysocki, "Frederick the Literate")

I may participate in some or all of the CATs, depending on what they turn out to be. But I plan to treat them as take-it-or-leave-it challenges; I won't do all of them every month.

January
RandomCAT (your name in print):
TBRCAT (first in, last out):
CalendarCAT ():
SeriesCAT (in translation):

AlphaKIT (Q, A): Julia Quinn, What Happens in London; Lyra Selene, Amber & Dusk; Bria Quinlan, Worth the Fall; Victoria Aveyard, Red Queen; Alan Melville, Death of Anton
SFFKIT (meant to read in 2018):

February
RandomCAT (we need a break!):
TBRCAT (borrowed):

CalendarCAT (Valentine's Day): Sally Thorne, 99 Percent Mine; Lindsey Kelk, One in a Million; Loretta Chase, The Devil's Delilah; Annie Darling, True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop
SeriesCAT (YA/children's): Leigh Bardugo, King of Scars
AlphaKIT (K, O): Lindsey Kelk, One in a Million; Leigh Bardugo, King of Scars
SFFKIT (colonization):

March
RandomCAT (Brexit madness):
TBRCAT (trip or special occasion):
CalendarCAT ():
SeriesCAT (favorite author):

AlphaKIT (U, L): C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms; Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
SFFKIT (mystery):

April
RandomCAT (Easter greetings from the Rooster):
TBRCAT (LT group read or challenge):

CalendarCAT (Lent/Easter): Frank Sheed, To Know Christ Jesus
SeriesCAT (been meaning to get back to):
AlphaKIT (B, M): Stephanie Burgis, Kat, Incorrigible; Ngaio Marsh, Enter a Murderer
SFFKIT (sword and sorcery):

May
RandomCAT (I could have danced all night):
TBRCAT (look at but don't open):
CalendarCAT ():

SeriesCAT (newest in a favorite series): Lucy Parker, The Austen Playbook
AlphaKIT (H, V): Gail Honeyman, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine; Jessica Khoury, Last of Her Name; Raymond Postgate, Verdict of Twelve
SFFKIT (non-US/UK author):

June
RandomCAT (pick a card...any card!): Esi Edugyan, Washington Black
TBRCAT (book bullet):
CalendarCAT ():
SeriesCAT (definitely complete):

AlphaKIT (J, D): Jennifer E. Smith, Field Notes on Love; Georgette Heyer, Duplicate Death; J. Kathleen Cheney, The Golden City; Cindy Anstey, Duels & Deception
SFFKIT (road trip):

July
RandomCAT (all about birds): Mary Stewart, The Stormy Petrel
TBRCAT (author with 2+ books on TBR): John Bude, The Cornish Coast Murder
CalendarCAT ():
SeriesCAT (fantasy): Patricia C. Wrede, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles
AlphaKIT (C, P): Patricia C. Wrede, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles; Mary Stewart, The Stormy Petrel; Ann Patchett, Bel Canto; Ellis Peters, The Heretic's Apprentice; John Bude, The Cornish Coast Murder; Mary Balogh, The Famous Heroine / The Plumed Bonnet
SFFKIT (space opera):

August
RandomCAT (back to school): Alexander McCall Smith, Portuguese Irregular Verbs
TBRCAT (excited when purchased but still unread): Alexander McCall Smith, Portuguese Irregular Verbs
CalendarCAT ():
SeriesCAT (set in country/region where you don't live): Alexander McCall Smith, Portuguese Irregular Verbs; J. Kathleen Cheney, The Seat of Magic
AlphaKIT (N, I): Alexander McCall Smith, Portuguese Irregular Verbs; Abbi Waxman, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
SFFKIT (alternate history): J. Kathleen Cheney, The Seat of Magic

September
RandomCAT (equinox):
TBRCAT (classic): Anthony Trollope, Doctor Thorne
CalendarCAT ():
SeriesCAT (mystery): Leo Bruce, Dead Man's Shoes
AlphaKIT (F, W): Jasper Fforde, The Woman Who Died a Lot; Jen DeLuca, Well Met
SFFKIT (series): Jasper Fforde, The Woman Who Died a Lot

October
RandomCAT (knockoffs, follow-ups, tributes, parodies): Amanda Grange, Henry Tilney's Diary
TBRCAT (purchased for visual appeal):
CalendarCAT (Halloween): Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks, Pumpkinheads
SeriesCAT (historical): Patricia Wynn, The Spider's Touch
AlphaKIT (G, T): Alix E. Harrow, The Ten Thousand Doors of January; Amanda Grange, Henry Tilney's Diary; Kristin Cashore, Graceling; Patricia Wynn, The Spider's Touch
SFFKIT (comedy):

November
RandomCAT (childhood memories):
TBRCAT (gift):
CalendarCAT ():
SeriesCAT (female protagonist):

AlphaKIT (S, Y): Mhairi McFarlane, Don't You Forget about Me; Maggie Stiefvater, Call Down the Hawk; Jenny Colgan, The Bookshop on the Shore
SFFKIT (award winner):

December
RandomCAT (season's readings): Edmund Crispin, The Moving Toyshop
TBRCAT (too cheap to resist): Edmund Crispin, The Moving Toyshop
CalendarCAT ():
SeriesCAT (new to you):
AlphaKIT (E, R): Edmund Crispin, The Moving Toyshop
SFFKIT (end-of-year wrap-up):

Year-long
AlphaKIT (X, Z): Mariana Zapata, The Wall of Winnipeg and Me; Abby Jimenez, The Friend Zone

6MissWatson
Oct 1, 10:46am Top

Happy new thread!

7christina_reads
Oct 1, 11:13am Top

>6 MissWatson: Thanks, Birgit!

8RidgewayGirl
Oct 1, 2:32pm Top

Happy new thread! And just two squares left on the BINGOdog.

9christina_reads
Oct 1, 3:38pm Top

>8 RidgewayGirl: Thanks, Kay! I've already decided what I'm going to read for my final two Bingo squares: The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett for "Eastern European setting or author" (it's set at least partially in Romania), and Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell for "graphic novel." Hoping to get to at least one of them this month!

10NinieB
Oct 1, 6:30pm Top

Happy new thread!

11rabbitprincess
Oct 1, 7:12pm Top

Woo hoo, so close to a blackout on your bingo card!

12christina_reads
Oct 2, 10:05am Top

>10 NinieB: Thank you!

>11 rabbitprincess: Yup, I'm so close I can taste it. :)

13Jackie_K
Oct 2, 12:52pm Top

Happy new thread!

14christina_reads
Oct 2, 1:10pm Top

>13 Jackie_K: Thanks for stopping by!

15christina_reads
Oct 4, 2:45pm Top



Book #78: Alix E. Harrow, The Ten Thousand Doors of January
CATs: Alpha (T = Ten, Thousand)
Bingo: none

In the first years of the 20th century, January Scaller lives a small, safe life in the home of her guardian, Cornelius Locke. Locke House is large and richly appointed, full of rare treasures from faraway lands. January’s father works for Mr. Locke by finding these treasures, so he is often gone for months or years at a time. As a result, January grows up feeling lonely and out of place. Then one day she finds a book called The Ten Thousand Doors, and it introduces her to the concept of Doors, or portals to other worlds, which introduce change and new ideas and revolutions. January is captivated by the book and by the idea of Doors, especially when the book turns out to have a connection to certain surprising abilities of her own. Eventually January sets off on a quest for her past, a quest that involves finding and passing through the right Door. But a malevolent society of rich and powerful men is bent on closing the Doors, and she must ultimately use everything she’s learned to preserve the freedom of multiple worlds.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced YA adventure novel, this is not the book for you. It takes its time in setting up January’s character, her world, and a seemingly unrelated plot that (predictably) ties in with the main story. In fact, nothing really happens plot-wise until about halfway through the book! Normally this would bother me, but in this case, I was immersed in the lovely writing and the magical, faintly gothic atmosphere. I’m not usually someone who reads for setting or style, but there are some books that you just sink into — that feel like magic — and for me, this is one of those books. In terms of characters, this is very much January’s story, and much of the book focuses on her thoughts and reactions to things. I would have liked some more insight into Jane and Samuel, two of January’s allies who help her in her quest. We do get their backstory, especially Jane’s, in some depth, but I never felt like I really got to know them as people or understand what made them tick. The book contains some (slightly heavy-handed, I thought) social commentary and a lovely, quiet romance. Overall, I really liked it and think it will end up on my top 10 list for 2019!

16christina_reads
Oct 7, 5:48pm Top



Book #79: Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks, Pumpkinheads
CATs: Calendar (Halloween)
Bingo: graphic novel

Deja and Josiah are high school seniors who have worked at the local pumpkin patch every fall for the past three years. They don’t interact much in winter, spring, or summer, but when they’re working together at the Succotash Hut, they’re firm friends. This year, introspective Josiah is contemplating the bittersweet fact that tonight is his last night at the patch; in response, outgoing Deja declares that they need to make the most of it by having an adventure. She encourages Josiah to finally approach his longtime crush, the girl who works at the Fudge Shoppe, but Josiah will only do it if Deja comes along for moral support. Their mission takes them all over the pumpkin patch, from the various food vendors to the bumper cars to the corn maze. Along the way, they reminisce about how they first met and about how much they’ve enjoyed their time at the patch. When Josiah finally catches up with the Fudge Shoppe girl, he realizes that he needs to accomplish one more mission before leaving the pumpkin patch behind.

I’m a big Rainbow Rowell fan, so I was predisposed to like this book even though I don’t normally read graphic novels. And I will say that, while Faith Erin Hicks’s art is very cute and charming, it didn’t add very much to the story for me. But I think I’m just not a very visual person, so your mileage may vary! Anyway, I very much enjoyed the story, which perfectly encapsulates that bittersweet feeling of nostalgia that comes with the end of an era. I also loved the contrast between Josiah and Deja in their attitude toward change: Josiah is a melancholy, head-in-the-clouds type, whereas Deja is more pragmatic and confident. She gives him the kick in the pants he needs to get out of his own head, while his gentleness and sincerity disarm her. I completely bought their friendship and enjoyed watching it develop as the story unfolded. The plot is not particularly suspenseful, but there were times when I genuinely didn’t know how everything would turn out. (I had certain hopes, but I wasn’t sure until a fair way into the book.) Overall, this is a lightweight but very enjoyable story, and I’d love to see it as a movie!

17christina_reads
Oct 8, 12:09pm Top

This past weekend was my local library's semi-annual sale, so of course I came away with several books (and a couple of DVDs)!



Dorothy L. Sayers and Robert Eustace, The Documents in the Case -- I'm intrigued to read a Sayers story that doesn't feature Lord Peter Wimsey.

Mary Balogh, Only Enchanting -- I really enjoy Balogh's Regency romances, so I'm always happy to pick them up for cheap!

Clare Darcy, Lydia -- I've read a few of Darcy's books, and she's clearly a Georgette Heyer knockoff...but I do love Heyer, so I enjoy anything in the same style.

Francis Duncan, So Pretty a Problem -- I've now read two of Duncan's mystery novels and liked them both, so why not try a third?

Anne Bogel, I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life -- I'm a big fan of the author's podcasts, What Should I Read Next? and One Great Book.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade -- Definitely the best Indiana Jones film!

Good News -- I have a soft spot for this movie musical starring June Allyson and Peter Lawford.

John Bude, The Cheltenham Square Murder -- I love a good British Library Crime Classic!

J. Jefferson Farjeon, Seven Dead -- I've been wanting to read more Farjeon ever since really enjoying the bizarre The Z Murders.

China Miéville, Embassytown -- I've already read and enjoyed this one, but I definitely need to read it again now that I know what's going on! It's a hard book to get into, but I think it rewards the reader's patience.

Neil Gaiman, American Gods -- Time to finally read this one!

18VivienneR
Oct 8, 12:52pm Top

Happy new thread and congratulations on a great haul from the book sale.

19christina_reads
Oct 8, 3:12pm Top

>18 VivienneR: Thank you! I'm excited for my new books. :)

20NinieB
Oct 8, 6:16pm Top

>17 christina_reads: Great haul! I would love to read several of your new TBRs!

21tess_schoolmarm
Oct 8, 9:41pm Top

Nice haul! Enjoy!

22christina_reads
Oct 9, 9:58am Top

>20 NinieB: >21 tess_schoolmarm: Thanks! I probably won't get to them anytime soon, but hope springs eternal...

23Helenliz
Oct 9, 12:38pm Top

I love your thread topper image.
And that's a nice book haul. I love a good library book sale, can't seem to resist...

24christina_reads
Oct 9, 1:53pm Top

>23 Helenliz: I think library sales are kryptonite for most of us! :)

25christina_reads
Oct 10, 4:16pm Top



Book #80: Amanda Grange, Henry Tilney’s Diary
CATs: Random (tribute = Northanger Abbey); Alpha (G = Grange, T = Tilney)
Bingo: none

This novel in diary format tells the story of Northanger Abbey from Henry Tilney’s point of view. It starts several years before the beginning of Austen’s novel, when Henry is 16. He and his sister Eleanor are extremely close, and they bond over their shared love of gothic novels. He is less close with his father, a rigid disciplinarian who is obsessed with finding rich and/or titled mates for his children. And while he loves his older brother, Frederick, the latter’s wild behavior and cynical view of women keep Henry at a distance. Henry is determined to become a true hero, and he dreams of one day meeting the perfect heroine. During a family trip to Bath, he meets the naïve and engaging Catherine Moreland, and the more time he spends with her, the more he believes that she could be the girl he’s searching for. Eleanor truly likes her also, and even his father treats her with a surprising warmth and distinction. But when his father’s opinion of Catherine suddenly changes, Henry is faced with a decision as dramatic as any he’s encountered within the pages of a novel.

Austen pastiches are so hard to get right. If you stray too far from the original source material, you risk offending the Janeites who probably comprise your target audience. But if you follow the original too slavishly, you come across as a weak imitation and compare unfavorably to the real thing. So Amanda Grange walks a thin tightrope here, I think with mixed success. The early chapters of the book were unexpectedly entertaining, and I loved learning more about the Tilney family’s backstory, especially how the three siblings related to each other growing up. I wanted more of Henry’s banter with Eleanor, more insight into Frederick, and more of Eleanor’s romance (which is briefly mentioned in Northanger Abbey and slightly expanded upon here). The second half of the book, when Henry meets Catherine Moreland, is a little less fun, mostly because Grange copies and pastes most of the dialogue directly from Austen’s novel. Again, I can understand why she did it that way, but I wanted a little more originality. Still, this is a fun read, and I’m always happy to see Northanger Abbey and Henry Tilney getting some love!

26christina_reads
Oct 10, 4:19pm Top



Book #81: Francis Duncan, Murder Has a Motive
CATs: none
Bingo: none

When retired tobacconist Mordecai Tremaine accepts an invitation to visit his friends Paul and Jean Russell in the quaint village of Dalmering, he has no idea that he’ll shortly be called upon to use his skills as an amateur detective. But the day before he arrives in town, a local woman named Lydia Dare is found stabbed to death on the path that leads to her cottage. Mordecai’s friends ask him to help solve the murder, and he is more than willing to do so, especially when he learns that his friend Inspector Boyce is the Scotland Yard man in charge of the case. As Mordecai gets to know Lydia’s friends and neighbors, it seems that all the clues are pointing toward Martin Vaughan, an old friend of Lydia’s who was in love with her, even though she’d just gotten engaged to another man. But Mordecai is unconvinced, and as he continues to search for more suspects, the killer has ample opportunity to strike again.

I’ve read one other book featuring Mordecai Tremaine, Murder for Christmas, and I find my feelings about this book are the same: it’s an interesting, competently written Golden Age mystery, but not particularly groundbreaking or unique. I like Mordecai; he doesn’t have the theatrical idiosyncrasies of Poirot, but rather is kind and unassuming, preferring to fade into the background most of the time. I also really liked Inspector Boyce, and the conversations between him and Mordecai were my favorite scenes in the book. I felt that most of the other characters were pretty flat; they all seemed to be more stock characters than nuanced individuals. The mystery is clever and (I think) plays fair; I even spotted a pivotal clue, though I didn’t follow it to its logical conclusion. I’m not entirely sure I buy the murderer’s psychology, but I’m willing to suspend my disbelief. Overall, I like Francis Duncan and am glad I have a couple more of his books on my shelves, but I can see why he never became as popular as, say, Agatha Christie.

27rabbitprincess
Oct 10, 4:53pm Top

>26 christina_reads: And that's a nice cover, too!

28christina_reads
Oct 10, 6:26pm Top

>27 rabbitprincess: I agree, I really like all the new covers for this series.

29RidgewayGirl
Oct 12, 7:30pm Top

>17 christina_reads: Nice haul!

>25 christina_reads: I'm a sucker for chick-lit based on Austen's novels, but not the direct sequels, pastiches, etc... That one does have a very pretty cover.

30christina_reads
Oct 16, 10:46am Top

>29 RidgewayGirl: I always want to read all the Austen-inspired stuff, but it's almost never fully satisfying. Thank goodness for the library, so that at least I'm not spending money on it!

31christina_reads
Oct 16, 10:47am Top



Book #82: Kristin Cashore, Graceling
CATs: Alpha (G = Graceling)
Bingo: none

Throughout the Seven Kingdoms, some individuals have superhuman powers known as Graces. A person’s Grace might be harmless or even useful, such as the ability to swim incredibly fast or to easily perform complex mathematics. But even those Graced with these benign abilities are viewed with suspicion and fear. Katsa, the niece of King Randa, is Graced with superhuman strength, which means that Randa uses her as a threat and a punishment to anyone who crosses him. Katsa hates being used to harm innocent people, and she has begun to fight back by forming a secret Council to rescue those whom Randa seeks to hurt. In the course of one of the Council’s missions, Katsa meets Po, a prince of a nearby kingdom who is Graced with fighting. As they become closer, Po encourages Katsa to stand up for herself at Randa’s court. The two of them also encounter a mysterious plot that sends them on a journey to the farthest reaches of the Seven Kingdoms, where they discover a king hiding a terrible Grace.

I bought this book when it first came out (10+ years ago!) because there was so much good buzz surrounding it; now I finally understand what the fuss was about! I found this book an enjoyable and compelling read. Katsa is a somewhat typical “strong female heroine,” but she’s saved from being too perfect because her Grace is powerless against the Grace of the book’s villain. I liked her stubbornness and independence, and I liked that she was nowhere near as emotionally fluent as the hero. Po is a dream of a love interest; not only is he handsome and able to fight Katsa as an equal, but he also truly respects her and doesn’t try to change her, even when she’s at her most frustrating. My biggest complaint with the book is that the pacing is odd. It almost seems like three different books — one at Randa’s court, another during Katsa and Po’s journey, and a third about the final showdown with the evil king. Personally, I was most interested in the first section, and I would have liked to read an entire novel about the Council and how Katsa finally gets the courage to stand up to Randa. Nevertheless, I would definitely recommend this book to YA fantasy fans!

32pammab
Oct 17, 8:08pm Top

>16 christina_reads: Love the timing on Pumpkinheads! I'll have to go looking for it; maybe I can read it before Halloween as well. So glad for the positive review from you, especially that it stands up without being a particularly visual graphic novel reader.

33pammab
Oct 17, 8:16pm Top

>31 christina_reads: I remember hearing about Graceling! It was everywhere for a while, but I didn't pick it up then. I'll have to check it out at the library.... sounds just like the sort of stuff I've been gravitating to lately. Review much appreciated.

34christina_reads
Oct 18, 10:36am Top

>32 pammab: Pumpkinheads is definitely a great seasonal read...and since you're enjoying Rainbow Rowell lately, I think you would like this one!

>33 pammab: Graceling was a pleasant surprise for me. Lately I've been feeling a little burned out on YA fantasy, but this one was very compelling!

35DeltaQueen50
Oct 18, 2:04pm Top

>31 christina_reads: So glad that you enjoyed Graceling, Christina. That book holds special memories for me as it and Hunger Games were the first two books that another LTer recommended to me when I first joined this site. These books were also my first excursion into the YA world where I still love to go. :)

36christina_reads
Oct 20, 3:25pm Top

>35 DeltaQueen50: I still haven't read The Hunger Games yet, Judy! But I'm really glad to have finally discovered Graceling!

37christina_reads
Oct 28, 4:49pm Top



Book #83: Sarah M. Eden, The Lady and the Highwayman
CATs: none
Bingo: none

In 1860s London, Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a respectable girls’ school who also writes “silver fork” novels that cater to the tastes of the gentry and aristocracy. However, she also secretly writes “penny dreadfuls” — lurid, sensational stories full of adventure and danger — under the pseudonym Charles King. Meanwhile, Fletcher Walker is another writer of penny dreadfuls, but the success of Mr. King’s stories is beginning to eat away at his profits. Fletcher is disturbed by this because he needs money to fund the mission of the Dread Penny Society, a group of penny dreadful writers who have pledged to help London’s street children escape from the gutter and lead safer, happier lives. This goal is extremely important to Fletcher, who was once himself a forgotten child of the streets. When he meets Elizabeth at a party, he decides to enlist her help in discovering Mr. King’s identity. She agrees, hoping to throw him off the scent; but the more time they spend together, the more they are drawn to each other despite their very different backgrounds.

I found this book fairly enjoyable, but it requires a lot of suspension of disbelief! The idea that all of London’s penny dreadful writers would be members of a secret society designed to rescue impoverished children is a fun one, but I also found it rather silly. Also, it’s very odd that Fletcher would ask Elizabeth for help in tracking down Mr. King, since (as far as he knows) she only writes “respectable” novels — plus, they barely know each other in the beginning! I also found the plot a bit of a mess; there’s the “who is Mr. King?” story, the escapades of the Dread Penny Society (which hint at a nefarious enemy who is never revealed, but perhaps that will come in a sequel), and the romance between Fletcher and Elizabeth, but it’s hard to say which is the main point of the novel. It’s all a bit of a jumble. That said, I enjoyed reading a historical romance set in a later period than the Regency, and I appreciated the main characters’ desire to make their world a better place. I’m not sure if the author is planning a sequel to this book, but I’ll read it if it ever materializes.

38christina_reads
Oct 28, 4:53pm Top



Book #84: Patricia Wynn, The Spider’s Touch
CATs: Series (historical = set in 1715); Alpha (T = Touch)
Bingo: none

***Warning: SPOILERS for The Birth of Blue Satan.***

This second book in the Blue Satan and Mrs. Kean series picks up shortly after the first one left off. Gideon, Viscount St. Mars, is accused of his father’s murder and, though innocent, has fled to France. There he is approached by supporters of James Stuart and asked to aid the Jacobite cause by returning to England and assessing whether the people would rise up to overthrow George I and restore the Stuart dynasty to the English throne. Gideon is reluctant to embrace the Jacobite cause wholeheartedly, but he agrees to the mission. Meanwhile, Hester Kean is living with her cousin Isabella and the rest of her family, who are trying to ingratiate themselves at George I’s court. However, the family unwittingly becomes close with a number of Jacobite spies and sympathizers. When Gideon returns to England and sees Hester’s plight, he is determined to protect her. And when one of Hester’s Jacobite acquaintances is murdered during an opera performance, she and Gideon team up to solve the mystery.

I don’t know why more novels aren’t set during the early 18th century, when the conflict between Hanover supporters and Jacobites provides such a compelling conflict and backdrop for dramatic action! So I’m very glad that this series exists, and I enjoyed this second installment very much. It had been a few years since I’d read the first book, but Wynn does a good job of catching up readers and reminding them of the most important plot points. I also appreciated the historical note at the very beginning of the book, which provides some much-needed context for the events of the novel. As for the book itself, I really like both Gideon and Hester as characters, and I especially like how Hester’s role (though necessarily a bit more passive, because she’s both a woman and a dependent) is just as vital as Gideon’s. The book starts out slowly because it follows each of them in turn, but it picks up once they start sharing scenes together. I’m definitely here for the inevitable romance! The mystery plot is probably the weakest element, as the culprit is fairly obvious, and I felt it was an uncreative way to resolve that character’s arc. Still, I really liked this book and will definitely continue with the series!

39christina_reads
Oct 28, 4:56pm Top



Book #85: Jessie Mihalik, Aurora Blazing
CATs: none
Bingo: none

Bianca von Hasenberg, a daughter of one of the three High Houses in the Consortium (an interplanetary governing body), adopts the public persona of an empty-headed space princess. But she’s actually an extremely gifted intelligence-gatherer with a wide network of informants, usually women she has quietly rescued from bad domestic situations. Thanks to the illicit experiments of her late husband, Gregory, Bianca also has the ability to detect and decode nearly any message sent via technology, no matter how complex its encryption. So when Bianca’s brother Ferdinand — the heir to House von Hasenberg — is kidnapped, she feels compelled to use her expertise to save him. But Ian Bishop, House von Hasenberg’s head of security, is determined to protect Bianca by refusing to let her participate in the investigation. Bianca doesn’t take his orders lying down, however, and soon she’s on the run with an angry, and infuriatingly attractive, Ian in hot pursuit. Eventually, they realize that they will accomplish more by working together, but their fragile trust may not survive all the dangerous ordeals that await them.

I enjoyed the first book in this series, Polaris Rising, and was excited for this sequel, which seemed like it would contain more of my favorite romance tropes—forced proximity, enemies to lovers, grumpy hero, and so on. But while those tropes do exist in the book, they fell flat for me, mostly because the romance definitely takes a backseat to the external plot in this book. It’s almost the halfway point before Bianca and Ian end up on the same spaceship, and even then, there isn’t very much development of their relationship. The turn from enemies to lovers seems very abrupt, and Ian’s shift in demeanor was particularly jarring to me. The character development is clumsy; Bianca and Ian each get a scene where one explains a tragic incident in his/her past to the other, but that’s it. It all feels very rote. I wanted more about Ian’s past, especially how he was able to become the head of House von Hasenberg security before age 30, and I think Bianca’s disastrous marriage should have been explored in more depth too. Plot-wise, there’s plenty of action, as well as fun tech discussions if you’re into that sort of thing. But overall, I’m pretty “meh” on this book. I will probably still read the third one when it comes out next year, though!

40christina_reads
Oct 28, 4:58pm Top



Book #86: Mary Stewart, Nine Coaches Waiting
CATs: none
Bingo: none

I remember liking this book when I first read it, possibly 10 or more years ago now. And upon rereading, I’m happy to say that it definitely holds up! The plot is classic romantic suspense: orphan Linda Martin gets a job as a governess at the French estate of Valmy, where she encounters various mysterious people, a creepy atmosphere, and some sinister accidents that keep befalling her and her young pupil. It’s gothic and romantic, and I think fans of Jane Eyre and Rebecca would really enjoy it! I had a great time revisiting the story just in time for Halloween. As an added bonus, the book is set in the French countryside near the town of Thonon-les-Bains, a town I actually visited a couple years ago! It’s always fun to be able to picture a book’s setting as you’re reading it.

41christina_reads
Oct 31, 10:22am Top

October recap

Happy Halloween, everyone! And congrats to the Nationals on their first-ever World Series win...I don't really follow baseball, but I can't help being excited for my home team! This month I also had a lovely visit from my bookish friend Sophie, and we basically spent an entire weekend hanging out in bookstores (hence the large number of books acquired this month). All in all, an excellent October! Here's what I read this month.

1. Alix E. Harrow, The Ten Thousand Doors of January
2. Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks, Pumpkinheads
3. Amanda Grange, Henry Tilney’s Diary
4. Francis Duncan, Murder Has a Motive
5. Kristin Cashore, Graceling
6. Sarah M. Eden, The Lady and the Highwayman
7. Patricia Wynn, The Spider’s Touch
8. Jessie Mihalik, Aurora Blazing
9. Mary Stewart, Nine Coaches Waiting

Book of the month:
The Ten Thousand Doors of January, while slow-paced, was utterly magical.

Dishonorable mention:
No real duds this month, but I was a bit disappointed in Aurora Blazing. Too much technobabble, not enough character development.

CATs completed:
RandomCAT (knockoffs, follow-ups, tributes, parodies): Henry Tilney’s Diary is a retelling of Northanger Abbey from the hero’s point of view.
CalendarCAT (Halloween): Pumpkinheads is set in a pumpkin patch on Halloween.
SeriesCAT (historical): The Spider’s Touch is the second book in a mystery series set in 18th-century England.
AlphaKIT (G, T): Alix E. Harrow, The *Ten *Thousand Doors of January; Amanda *Grange, Henry *Tilney’s Diary; Kristin Cashore, *Graceling; Patricia Wynn, The Spider’s *Touch

Bingo squares completed:
- Graphic novel: Pumpkinheads is a graphic novel.

Books acquired in October:
China Miéville, Embassytown
J. Jefferson Farjeon, Seven Dead
John Bude, The Cheltenham Square Murder
Anne Bogel, I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life
Dorothy L. Sayers and Robert Eustace, The Documents in the Case
Mary Balogh, Only Enchanting
Clare Darcy, Lydia
Francis Duncan, So Pretty a Problem
Neil Gaiman, American Gods
Kristin Cashore, Fire
Kristin Cashore, Bitterblue
Mary Balogh, A Summer to Remember
Sherry Thomas, A Conspiracy in Belgravia
Charlotte Armstrong, The Unsuspected

42RidgewayGirl
Oct 31, 3:07pm Top

Nothing is better than time with a friend who likes bookstores, too.

43christina_reads
Oct 31, 3:09pm Top

>42 RidgewayGirl: Definitely! And most of my local friends aren't quite as obsessed as I am, so it can be hard to find people to go bookstore-hopping with!

44JayneCM
Nov 1, 1:11am Top

>43 christina_reads: That would be wonderful! My hubby thinks ten minutes in one bookshop is plenty. No way would I be able to visit more than one in a day!

45christina_reads
Nov 1, 11:19pm Top

>44 JayneCM: Ten minutes? That barely gets you past the New Releases table!

46JayneCM
Nov 2, 4:16am Top

>45 christina_reads: Exactly! He is not a reader, so browsing in a bookshop is not his thing. He says he will wait out the front for me but then I feel I have to hurry. Better to go alone!

47tess_schoolmarm
Nov 2, 9:22am Top

I can't find anybody that wants to spend 1-2 hours in a bookstore so I go by myself. It has turned into a "pilgrimage" for me. I only go twice a year, so I shop and then have lunch someplace odd that my friends or husband would not want to eat at--some little hole in the wall: Talita's Tacos, Sevah (vegetarian sub sandwiches), etc.

48JayneCM
Nov 3, 2:15am Top

>47 tess_schoolmarm: That sounds perfect! It is no fun when you know you have to hurry.

49christina_reads
Nov 4, 10:31am Top

>46 JayneCM: I almost always go to the bookstore alone, and it's great because I can go at my own pace.

>47 tess_schoolmarm: That sounds like a lovely ritual!

50pammab
Nov 5, 5:30pm Top

>41 christina_reads: I see you acquired both Fire and Bitterblue -- Graceling really did a number on you, I see!

51christina_reads
Nov 5, 5:41pm Top

>50 pammab: Well, I was wavering on whether or not I'd read them, and then my friend basically peer-pressured me into buying them at a used bookstore! So now I'm in for the rest of the series, I guess! :)

52christina_reads
Nov 11, 6:09pm Top



Book #87: Jenn Bennett, The Lady Rogue
CATs: none
Bingo: Eastern European author or setting

An unconventional young woman growing up in the 1930s, Theodora Fox has a thirst for adventure. Her father, Richard, is a well-known treasure hunter who travels the world collecting rare and precious artifacts. Yet despite Theo’s eagerness to accompany her father on these trips, he usually ends up leaving her behind, allegedly for her own protection. When Richard fails to return from one such trip, Theo is worried that he’s gotten into trouble and decides to take matters into her own hands. With the help of Huck Gallagher, Richard’s protégé and her own former love interest, she looks for clues in her father’s journal and soon realizes that he was on the trail of a supposedly magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler, a.k.a. Vlad Dracula. Now Theo and Huck must retrace her father’s footsteps into Romania, where they soon discover that they aren’t the only ones on Richard’s trail. They also encounter murder, magic, and a dangerous secret society with its own plans for Dracula’s ring.

This book sounded like it was going to be a fun, adventurous romp, but unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it. I find myself getting a bit grumpy about YA lately, and this book is a good example of why: I just found Theo to be incredibly immature. She’s one of those headstrong, anachronistic heroines with implausibly amazing skills (in Theo’s case, codebreaking) and a fairly self-centered worldview. She doesn’t really grow or change throughout the novel, although I’ll grant that she does make one very good decision at a climactic moment. But I just didn’t care about her or her quest. The treasure-hunting aspect of the novel is also disappointing, since Theo and Huck are terrible detectives; they wander around Romania cluelessly and finally stumble upon the exact individuals who can tell them what’s going on and what to do next. Finally, the romance irritated me; it was all angst and physical attraction, no true compatibility. Also, I hated the characterization of Huck — he’s from Northern Ireland, and he’s an incredibly broad stereotype (says “Jaysus” all the time, calls Theo “banshee” as a pet name). In short, this one definitely wasn’t for me.

53christina_reads
Nov 11, 6:14pm Top



Book #88: Mhairi McFarlane, Don’t You Forget about Me
CATs: Alpha (Y = You)
Bingo: none

Thirtysomething Georgina Horspool is somewhat lost in life. She’s just been fired from a terrible waitressing job, only to walk in on her boyfriend cheating on her with his assistant. She’s also dealing with her judgmental mother and sister, who never miss an opportunity to criticize her life choices and who are having a field day with these latest crises. So when Georgina’s brother-in-law gives her a tip about a newly renovated pub that’s hiring bartenders, she jumps at the chance of gainful employment. Unfortunately, one of the owners of the pub is Lucas McCarthy, Georgina’s first love — and her first heartbreak. Back in high school, when they were paired together for a class assignment, Georgina fell hard for Lucas, and she could have sworn that the feeling was mutual. But a brutal incident at the end-of-year dance drove them apart, and they haven’t talked since. Now Lucas is smart, successful, and handsomer than ever . . . but he doesn’t even remember Georgina. As she wrestles with her complicated feelings about Lucas, Georgina also finds the strength to stand up for herself and mend the various relationships in her life.

Mhairi McFarlane has become one of my go-to authors for British “chick lit” with emotional depth. While Georgina’s situation is by no means unique in the genre — single, underemployed, dealing with family problems and low self-esteem — I found her both likable and relatable, and I was immediately rooting for her to overcome the various challenges in her life. I was drawn to her funny, self-deprecating voice and her vibrant personality that emerges when she’s hanging out with her friends. I also really enjoyed the development of her relationship with Lucas, which plays a prominent role in the story. I’m not usually a fan of second-chance romances, but the plot really worked for me here, in part because the reasons for their initial breakup are so understandable. (I don’t want to spoil the plot, but the incident at the end-of-year dance does involve sexual trauma (not perpetrated by Lucas), so be warned if you’re sensitive to that issue.) Lucas in particular didn’t handle things well, but I ultimately forgave him because (1) he was young and stupid and (2) he gives very good grovel in the end. Overall, if you like this genre, I’d definitely recommend this book, as well as McFarlane’s other novels.

54christina_reads
Nov 11, 6:19pm Top



Book #89: Alice Tilton, The Cut Direct
CATs: none
Bingo: none

Leonidas Witherall, a retired professor at a boys’ school, can’t imagine why anyone would want to murder him; but within the first few chapters of this book, he is twice run over by a car. The perpetrator looks like one of Witherall’s former pupils, an unpleasant young man named Bennington Brett. But when Witherall regains consciousness after the second vehicular assault, he wakes up in a chair across from Brett’s corpse. Concerned that he’ll be the number-one suspect if he calls the police, Witherall decides that the only available course of action is to solve the murder himself. Along the way, he accumulates a motley crew of assistants, including a drinking pal of Bennington’s, the Brett household’s beautiful secretary, a mobster and his girlfriend, and the kindly widow next door — whose brother just happens to be the local chief of police. Of course, Witherall’s attempts to investigate are hampered by the fact that his description is all over the police reports and the newspapers. As his efforts to evade capture become ever more farcical, he slowly begins to piece the mystery together.

This second book in the Witherall series is just as much madcap fun as the first book, Beginning with a Bash. The book is light, breezy, and full of delicious banter; it reminds me of the great screwball comedies of the 1930s, and I really wish someone would adapt the series for television. The opening chapters of the book are a little bewildering because Witherall himself doesn’t know what has happened to him, but it’s actually pretty easy to follow all the strands of the somewhat convoluted plot. As a mystery, I’m not sure it’s entirely successful; some aspects of the solution aren’t fair play, although I think astute readers will spot the culprit fairly quickly. But the characters, the dialogue, and the humor more than make up for any plot deficiencies. I especially loved Mrs. Price, the thoroughly respectable widow who wholeheartedly embraces Witherall’s schemes, even going so far as to use police resources to help him out of various difficulties. In short, this book (and, so far, the series) is a delight, especially for fans of movies like His Girl Friday and Bringing Up Baby.

55christina_reads
Nov 11, 6:20pm Top



Book #90: Rainbow Rowell, Attachments
CATs: none
Bingo: none

I absolutely adore this book, which is a sweet, funny romcom that also features a wonderful female friendship. Jennifer and Beth are best friends who work at the same newspaper, and they’re constantly sending each other personal emails from their work accounts. Lincoln is the IT security specialist whose job is to flag inappropriate uses of the email system. But when he begins to flag Beth and Jennifer’s emails, he soon faces an ethical dilemma: he doesn’t want to send them a warning. He wants to be their friend . . . and maybe, in Beth’s case, more than a friend. In the wrong hands, this premise would be extremely problematic, but Rowell somehow manages to pull it off without making Lincoln seem like a creep. Plus, it’s funny and charming and just all-around delightful!

56NinieB
Nov 11, 6:30pm Top

>52 christina_reads: Anachronistic historical fiction is really a drag, gotta say.

57christina_reads
Nov 11, 6:34pm Top

>56 NinieB: Yes, and I didn't even get to the linguistic anachronisms! Admittedly, I didn't look this up, but I feel like people in the 1930s didn't use the phrase "on the regular."

58NinieB
Nov 11, 6:38pm Top

>58 NinieB: On the other hand Attachments sounds like great fun—bb here.

59christina_reads
Nov 11, 6:44pm Top

>58 NinieB: Oh, I hope you like it!

60Tanya-dogearedcopy
Nov 11, 9:44pm Top

>53 christina_reads: I have this one in my stacks and have been trying to carve out some reading time! I'm currently stuck in a what I thought was going to be an angsty romance (sometimes I'm in the mood for something ridiculously over-the-top like Maya Banks's The Mistress) but No Broken Beast (by Nicole snow is t is turning into some kind of weird thriller involving a super soldier and a sweets confectioner. I think I'll probably put this one down and go back to the stacks for Don't You Forget About Me :-)

61rabbitprincess
Nov 12, 9:45am Top

>53 christina_reads: Aaaaaand now I have Simple Minds stuck in my head :)

62hailelib
Nov 12, 9:58am Top

>54 christina_reads:

The Witherall books are often just right for a fun read.

63christina_reads
Nov 12, 11:04am Top

>60 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I hope you enjoy Don't You Forget about Me! I stayed up way too late to finish it, if that helps. :)

>61 rabbitprincess: You're welcome. ;)

>62 hailelib: They're so enjoyable! I really need to get my hands on the rest of the series.

64christina_reads
Nov 13, 4:03pm Top



Book #91: Mimi Matthews, A Holiday by Gaslight
CATs: none
Bingo: none

Sophie Appersett is the elder daughter of an impoverished noble family. Her father has squandered the family fortune, including Sophie’s dowry, on modernizations to the estate, such as the implementation of gaslight. As a result, Sophie knows it’s her duty to marry money, even if means looking outside her own class for a husband. Edward Sharpe is a prosperous tradesman whose fortune is large enough to overcome his lack of gentility. But although he’s asked Sophie’s father for permission to court her, he shows no sign of being in love with her. In fact, Ned is interested in Sophie, but he doesn’t want to commit any breaches of etiquette in his courtship, so he takes refuge in silence. Frustrated, Sophie decides to break things off — but a further conversation with Ned convinces her to try once more. He’ll attend her family’s extravagant Christmas party, and they will both make an effort to know one another better. But will their fledgling relationship survive the obstacles presented by their respective families?

Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I’m already starting to get into the spirit of things, although I’m desperately trying to wait until after Thanksgiving to break out my Christmas music! So this holiday-set romance novella was bound to catch my eye, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the premise, which has a sort of marriage-of-convenience flavor (one of my favorite tropes!) but even better because the hero and heroine are actually honest with each other, almost from the very beginning! They communicate well, and almost all the conflict is driven by Sophie’s truly appalling father and his determination to bleed Ned dry in order to improve Appersett House. I like that the book engages with the technological and scientific innovations of the Victorian period; in addition to gaslight, indoor plumbing and the theories of Charles Darwin are also mentioned. My one complaint is that the characterization is a little flat, especially for the secondary characters, but that’s understandable given the length of the story (only about 160 pages in the print version). Overall, I really liked this one and will definitely seek out the author’s full-length novels!

65LittleTaiko
Nov 13, 4:52pm Top

>38 christina_reads: - Love this series! The mystery might not always be the strongest but the setting and characters are worth it.

66christina_reads
Nov 13, 6:12pm Top

>65 LittleTaiko: I agree! Looking forward to reading book #3 sometime next year.

67pammab
Nov 14, 8:28pm Top

>55 christina_reads: Agreed! Attachments has such a ridiculous premise, but it works. Rainbow Rowell writes a fantastic romance.

>64 christina_reads: (I'm already singing Christmas carols when no one is around to judge.)

68christina_reads
Nov 15, 9:36am Top

>67 pammab: She really does! And also, I'm glad I'm not the only one who's ready for Christmas carols. :)

69mathgirl40
Nov 17, 1:28pm Top

>55 christina_reads: Thanks for reminding me that I need to read more Rainbow Rowell. I'd read Eleanor and Park ages ago and really liked it.

70JayneCM
Nov 17, 11:12pm Top

>69 mathgirl40: I just did a re-read of Eleanor and Park and still loved it. I also have Landline here to read - when I get to it!

71christina_reads
Nov 18, 3:45pm Top

>69 mathgirl40: Yes, you do! I've really liked all her books so far.

>70 JayneCM: Landline is a good one -- and it's set at Christmas, so now would be a good time to read it! ;)

72christina_reads
Nov 18, 5:44pm Top

Well, I've succumbed to temptation and posted my 2020 challenge thread! Check it out here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/313130. Of course, I'm still working on this year's challenge, but I just can't seem to stop myself from planning ahead.

73JayneCM
Nov 19, 2:16am Top

>71 christina_reads: Great - I think it is due back at the library in two weeks so I will fit it in soon.

>72 christina_reads: I had been wanting to set mine up for a while but waited until someone else did first! Now I have to stop myself going over there and planning, instead of finishing up my 2019 reading.

74NinieB
Nov 19, 8:36am Top

>72 christina_reads: Planning ahead is so much fun! We all have great reading ambitions, so trying to make the best use of the time available is a worthy expenditure of some of it. You have nothing to apologize for.

75christina_reads
Nov 19, 10:03am Top

>73 JayneCM: The lure of the 2020 challenge is strong!

>74 NinieB: Haha, thanks! It does seem that many of us are getting excited about next year, so at least I'm not alone!

76lkernagh
Nov 24, 7:32pm Top

>64 christina_reads: - Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I’m already starting to get into the spirit of things, although I’m desperately trying to wait until after Thanksgiving to break out my Christmas music!

I can totally relate to that statement!

77christina_reads
Nov 25, 3:10pm Top

>76 lkernagh: I'm afraid I have started listening to some Christmas music...and I may or may not have put up my (artificial) tree yesterday...

78christina_reads
Edited: Nov 30, 9:01pm Top

November recap

Happy Thanksgiving! This month has just flown by, as it seems to do every year, and my reading did stall a bit . . . I've been busy watching Christmas movies and otherwise getting into the holiday spirit! Nevertheless, here's what I read in November.

1. Jenn Bennett, The Lady Rogue
2. Mhairi McFarlane, Don't You Forget about Me
3. Alice Tilton, The Cut Direct
4. Rainbow Rowell, Attachments
5. Mimi Matthews, A Holiday by Gaslight
6. Maggie Stiefvater, Call Down the Hawk
7. Jenny Colgan, The Bookshop on the Shore

Book of the month:
A Holiday by Gaslight got me really excited about discovering a new author, and I'm eager to read more of Mimi Matthews's books!

Dishonorable mention:
I wasn't a fan of The Lady Rogue. I don't mind some YA novels, but this one was just too YA.

CATs completed:
AlphaKIT (S, Y): Mhairi McFarlane, Don't *You Forget about Me; Maggie *Stiefvater, Call Down the Hawk; Jenny Colgan, The Bookshop on the *Shore

Bingo squares completed:
- Eastern European author or setting: The Lady Rogue is set almost entirely in Romania.

Books acquired in November:
Sherry Thomas, His at Night
Caryl Brahms and S.J. Simon, Don't, Mr. Disraeli!
Christopher Morley, Parnassus on Wheels

***

I've now covered my Bingo card, so looking forward, my final 2019 goal is to get to 100 books read! I'm currently at 93, which means I have 7 left to read in December. It's the final countdown!

79JayneCM
Nov 30, 11:04pm Top

>78 christina_reads: Good luck! You can do it!

I'm never going to read all the books I had listed as I was WAY too ambitious (and will be again in 2020; seems I cannot help myself!)

80christina_reads
Dec 2, 9:23pm Top

>79 JayneCM: Nothing wrong with being ambitious! Especially if the alternative is running out of things to read! *shudder*

81JayneCM
Dec 3, 12:35am Top

>80 christina_reads: I know! That is a definite dread of mine - imagine not taking enough to read on holidays!

82christina_reads
Dec 5, 2:34pm Top



Book #92: Maggie Stiefvater, Call Down the Hawk
CATs: Alpha (S = Stiefvater) - I read this in November
Bingo: none

Ronan Lynch is a dreamer, someone who’s able to take objects from his dreams into the waking world. But lately he’s been having trouble with his dreams: he can’t always control what he brings back, and he’s unable to stay away from his home (near a ley line in Virginia) for any length of time. So when he encounters someone else in his dreams, another dreamer who calls himself Bryde, he’s eager to learn more — even though everyone else in his life warns him it’s incredibly dangerous. Meanwhile, Jordan Hennessy is an art forger on a mission to steal a particular painting that just so happens to have been dreamt by Ronan’s father. But complications ensue when her mission brings her into contact with Declan Lynch, Ronan’s uptight and seemingly boring older brother. And then there’s Carmen Farooq-Lane, who is part of a government agency tasked with finding and killing dreamers, because the agency believes a dreamer will cause the end of the world. But the more she learns about the agency’s agenda and tactics, the more she questions her role.

This book is set in the same world as the Raven Cycle, and while it is technically a stand-alone, I really think having the background from TRC is helpful for understanding the world of the novel and the characters of the Lynch brothers in particular. At the same time, I think fans of TRC might be disappointed by how little the other characters from that series appear. Adam is in a few scenes, but Gansey and Blue only appear briefly via text message. So I’m not quite sure who this book is for, if that makes sense; it seems like it would fall short for both newbies and TRC fans. Also, there’s a lot going on in this book, and I’m not sure it all works; the disparate stories take a long time to converge, and before they do, it can be tedious and confusing to figure out what’s going on. I did really like Declan’s story in this book; he was an intriguing character in the Raven Cycle, and I was glad to see more development for him here. But the Carmen sections particularly dragged and didn’t seem necessary for the plot. Of course, this is the first book in a projected trilogy, so maybe she’ll become more integral later on. But I should say that, while there’s no cliffhanger per se, the main plot lines are not resolved in this book. I’ll most likely continue with the trilogy to find out what happens, but so far I’m not enjoying it as much as the Raven Cycle.

83christina_reads
Dec 5, 2:47pm Top



Book #93: Jenny Colgan, The Bookshop on the Shore
CATs: Alpha (S = Shore) - I read this in November
Bingo: none

Single mom Zoe is at the end of her rope. She adores her four-year-old son, Hari, but is concerned that he still hasn’t started talking; he’s silent even when he cries. Zoe is also struggling financially, and Hari’s father Jaz is too busy chasing his dream of being a DJ to help out with child support. Fortunately, Jaz’s sister Surinder has a solution: her friend Nina needs help with her mobile bookshop in the Scottish highlands, and there’s also a live-in nanny position that Zoe could take to supplement her income and have a place to stay. Desperate, Zoe agrees, but she soon finds that both jobs are more difficult than she’d anticipated. Nina has very specific ideas about the right way to run the bookmobile, and some of Zoe’s innovations don’t go over very well. And at the “big house” where Zoe is to be the new nanny, she finds three out-of-control children who don’t want to listen to her, while their single father Ramsey seems to be totally disconnected from his children’s lives. The longer Zoe perseveres, however, the more successful she becomes, and the more she grows to love her new life. But when Jaz suddenly reenters the picture, she must decide where she truly belongs.

I’ve come to rely on Jenny Colgan for sweet, uplifting books with a hint of romance, and this book delivers on all fronts. It’s sort of a sequel to The Bookshop on the Corner, which focuses on Nina and the opening of her mobile bookshop, but it can be read as a stand-alone. I was in Zoe’s corner from the opening scene, where she’s sitting in a doctor’s office and describing all the times she cries in a given week. I was immediately hoping for good things to happen to her and excited to watch her overcome the various obstacles in her path. She’s a very likable heroine, hardworking and determined to do her best in any given situation. Sure, the actual plot isn’t terribly believable, nor is it unique; of course Zoe will eventually win over the difficult children and find her way to professional and romantic success. I also thought the precocious youngest child was completely implausible, but he was so entertaining that I didn’t mind. I should note that there is some depiction of mental illness in the book (including self-harm), which seems a bit dark for the overall tone of the novel. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this one a lot and look forward to my next Colgan book.

84christina_reads
Dec 5, 2:54pm Top



Book #94: Jane Austen, Persuasion
CATs: none
Bingo: none

As always, it’s a pleasure to immerse myself in a Jane Austen novel. This time around, I found myself very sympathetic to Lady Russell’s position in opposing the original marriage between Anne and Wentworth! Must be an effect of aging, I suppose. :) But of course, I’m glad she came around in the end! Also, does anyone else find it hilarious that the scheming Mrs. Clay’s first name is Penelope, like Odysseus’s faithful wife? I’m sure that’s not accidental, and it makes me love Austen’s sense of humor even more!

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