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foggidawn reads in 2019: thread the fifth

This is a continuation of the topic foggidawn reads in 2019: thread the fourth.

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Edited: Nov 22, 4:00pm Top

Welcome! I'm foggi, and this is my twelfth year on LibraryThing and my ninth year in this group! I'm a collection development librarian/youth materials selector (means I buy all the kids' and teen books) for the public library system in a medium-sized Ohio town, and a voracious reader.

I'll read anything that catches my fancy, but here are some of the kinds of books I particularly like:

Books for kids and teens

Fantasy for any age -- plus the occasional work of science fiction

Inspirational fiction, if the writing is good

Mysteries, particularly cozies and golden age British detective stories

The occasional memoir or biography

Here are some of the other things I like, which can distract me from reading, but which I may occasionally post about here:

Theatre -- both viewing live theatre and participating in community theatre. Ijust wrapped up a show that ran the second and third weekends in November -- so exciting! But it really cut into my reading time.

Sewing -- it's a love/hate relationship, really. I'm only barely proficient at it, so it's slow going when I get on a sewing kick, but when it goes right, I love the results. I have at least one project to accomplish before the holidays...

Gardening -- I've been trying container gardening lately. I had a pretty good season, though of course it's pretty much over at this point. Looking forward to next year!

Gaming -- I love board games when I can find people to play them with (which is not as often as I like) and I occasionally play video games, but most often I waste my time playing games on my phone. Right now, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and Pokemon Go.

Dogs -- My Sophie passed away on April 12th of this year. I have been very lonely without a dog, but I've just adopted a darling Springer Spaniel puppy pictured above -- Lottie!

Family and friends -- I recently became a first-time aunt! I'm always looking forward to my next chance to see the baby, and I'm working on building up his library. Also, my parents recently retired and moved to their newly-built cabin in rural Pennsylvania, so I foresee many visits there, as well. At home, I've recently had a college friend move in with me, proving that I can still surprise myself sometimes. Our weird platonic house-sharing arrangement may occasionally be something I mention in my posts.

Thanks for visiting my thread!

Edited: Nov 18, 10:46am Top

2019 Reading Resolution

For the past two years, I've had some success making a New Year's resolution regarding reading. I usually read as my whimsy takes me, but I've found I can manage a small set list of books to conquer. The first year, I tackled some of my oldest TBR books. Last year, I read ten "classic" works that had been languishing on my shelf. This year, I face my no-longer-secret shame: unread Early Reviewer books.

I've been participating in the LTER program for at least ten years now, and I'm usually pretty good about reading and reviewing the books I receive. However, over the years a handful have slipped through the cracks. This is the year to fulfill my obligations to those books. There are only eight of them, though the Jim Henson bio is a bit of a chunk. (Better tackle it sooner, rather than later.) Here are the titles:

The Wonderling by Mira Bartok DNF, reviewed 1/20/19
The Apprentices by Maile Meloy
Unspoken by Dee Henderson
The Book of Pearl by Timothee deFombelle
Shakespeare's Prop Room by John Leland DNF, reviewed 2/25/19
Jim Henson by Brian Jay Jones
All Things New by Lynn Austin (galley in black binding) Read, reviewed 3/13/19
Wren Journeymage by Sherwood Smith (ebook, not pictured)
Juana & Lucas: Big Problemas by Juana Medina (received in 2019, not pictured) Read, reviewed 3/22/19
Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo (received in 2019, not pictured) Read, reviewed 11/6/19

I'm allowing myself to DNF any of these books that don't grab me, as long as I have read enough of them to be able to articulate in a review why they did not work for me.

Edited: Nov 4, 9:22am Top

I don't usually do a lot of challenges, but I'm going to try slotting in the books after I read them with the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. I'm going to see if I can be okay with not reading every single category, or if I spend December looking for a self-published business book written in prison...

The Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

1 - An epistolary novel or collection of letters
2 - An alternate history novel
3 - A book by a woman and/or AOC (Author of Color) that won a literary award in 2018: The Poet X
4 - A humor book: Heart and Brain
5 - A book by a journalist or about journalism: The Undateable
6 - A book by an AOC set in or about space
7 - An #ownvoices book set in Mexico or Central America: Juana & Lucas: Big Problemas
8 - An #ownvoices book set in Oceania
9 - A book published prior to January 1, 2019, with fewer than 100 reviews on Goodreads: Finessing Clarissa
10 - A translated book written by and/or translated by a woman: The Winter Promise
11 - A book of manga
12 - A book in which an animal or inanimate object is a point-of-view character: The Lost Girl
13 - A book by or about someone that identifies as neurodiverse: The Girl He Used to Know
14 - A cozy mystery
15 - A book of mythology or folklore
16 - An historical romance by an AOC
17 - A business book
18 - A novel by a trans or nonbinary author
19 - A book of nonviolent true crime
20 - A book written in prison
21 - A comic by an LGBTQIA creator: Something New
22 - A children’s or middle grade book (not YA) that has won a diversity award since 2009
23 - A self-published book
24 - A collection of poetry published since 2014

Edited: Nov 4, 9:58am Top

Books Read (so far) in 2019

(Rereads are in italics, new favorites in bold.)

1. Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome by Ty Tashiro
2. The Bride of Ivy Green by Julie Klassen
3. A Rather Lovely Inheritance by C.A. Belmond
4. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
5. The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
6. A Rather Curious Engagement by C.A. Belmond
7. A Rather Charming Invitation by C.A. Belmond
8. A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
9. The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
10. The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson
11. The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan
12. Dog Songs by Mary Oliver
13. Heart and Brain by Nick Seluk
14. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
15. The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan
16. A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos

17. The Undateable by Sarah Title
18. Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert's Story by Debbie Tung
19. Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land
20. In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan
21. The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
22. Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
23. Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan
24. How to Date Men When You Hate Men by Blythe Roberson
25. The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty
26. The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu
27. Level 13: A Slacker Novel by Gordon Korman
28. Kind of Coping by Marzi Wilson
29. Early Riser by Jasper Fforde
30. The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
31. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
32. Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan
33. All Things New by Lynn Austin
34. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
35. Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
36. Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
37. Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

38. New Kid by Jerry Craft
39. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
40. Juana & Lucas: Big Problemas by Juana Medina
41. Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
42. Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
43. Eventown by Corey Ann Haydu
44. Archenemies by Marissa Meyer
45. A Bachelor Establishment by Isabella Barclay
46. Bryony and Roses by T. Kingfisher
47. Nate Expectations by Tim Federle
48. Lessons from Lucy by Dave Barry
49. Fame Adjacent by Sarah Skilton
50. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
51. My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life by Rachel Cohn
52. Refining Felicity by Marion Chesney
53. Perfecting Fiona by Marion Chesney
54. Enlightening Delilah by Marion Chesney
55. Finessing Clarissa by Marion Chesney

56. Curse of the WerePenguin by Allan Woodrow
57. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
58. Animating Maria by Marion Chesney
59. Marrying Harriet by Marion Chesney

60. The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
61. Becoming Us by Robin Jones Gunn
62. The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
63. Owl's Outstanding Donuts
64. Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann
65. A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
66. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
67. Best Babysitters Ever by Caroline Cala
68. Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins
69. The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary
70. Manfried Saves the Day by Caitlin Major
71. Thornbound by Stephanie Burgis
72. The Good, the Bad, and the Bossy by Caroline Cara
73. Click by Kayla Miller
74. Ordinary Girls by Blair Thornburgh
75. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
76. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
77. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
78. Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
79. A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata
80. Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy
81. Last Bus to Everland by Sophie Cameron
82. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
83. Whispers by Robin Jones Gunn
84. Echoes by Robin Jones Gunn
85. Sunsets by Robin Jones Gunn
86. Clouds by Robin Jones Gunn
87. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

88. Camp by Kayla Miller
89. Creakers by Tom Fletcher
90. Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come by Jessica Pan
91. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
92. Blubber by Judy Blume
93. Waterfalls by Robin Jones Gunn
94. The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion
95. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
96. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
97. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley
98. Awards for Good Boys: Tales of Dating, Double Standards, and Doom by Shelby Lorman
99. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
100. Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
101. Just Peachy by Holly Chisholm
102. Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict
103. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
104. Gmorning, Gnight: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda, illustrated by Jonny Sun
105. Friend or Fiction by Abby Cooper
106. Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell
107. The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
108. The Dinner Party by Neil Simon
109. Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley
110. I'm Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi
111. Something New by Lucy Knisley
112. Guts by Raina Telgemeier
113. Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer, illustrated by Maurice Sendak
114. The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
115. Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton

116. The Peacock Detectives by Carly Nugent
117. Best Friends by Shannon Hale
118. The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater: Essays on Crafting by Alanna Okun
119. The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman
120. A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner
121. A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth
122. Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption, edited by Daniel Jones
123. Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church by Megan Phelps-Roper
124. Frankly in Love by David Yoon
125. How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway

That's it for my stuff -- you can post below!

Nov 4, 10:25am Top

OMG, I'm "dying" from the Lottie cuteness already!

Nov 4, 10:32am Top

I see you re-read The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett.

I re-read this book in August and I found it didn't add up to the same fun and enjoyment as when I first read it a few years ago (I'm a late arrival to the Pratchett oeuvre). I still enjoyed it and all, but it didn't strike me as wonderfully.
Did you like it as much in the reread?

Nov 4, 10:51am Top

>5 SandyAMcPherson: I know just what you mean!

>6 SandyAMcPherson: It's hard to say if I enjoyed it as much. I listened to the audiobook for the reread, and it was back around the time that Sophie died, so I was just looking for something familiar that wouldn't suffer too much if my attention wandered.

Nov 4, 11:02am Top

(126 books read)

10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston -- Sophie is excited to spend some quality time with her boyfriend Griffin over the holiday break -- until she overhears him telling a friend that he's bummed that she's staying in town. With that relationship over, Sophie heads down the road to her grandparents' house to fill the break with her loud and loving extended family. When her grandmother hears about Sophie's breakup, she hatches a plan to get Sophie to have some fun over the break: the family will set Sophie up with ten blind dates over the holidays. Some of the dates are sweet and fun, some hilarious and/or heinous. But the whole time, Sophie can't help but wish she was being set up with Wes, the boy next door, with whom she has been friends as long as she can remember. Could they maybe be more than friends?

This was a cute holiday romance. It was pretty clear which way things were going from the start, but the characters are lovable and the premise is fun, so a little predictability is forgivable. Recommended if you're looking for a nice Christmas read.

Nov 4, 11:46am Top

Happy new thread! Lottie is adorable! I hope you're getting used to each other and that things are going well since you got her. I've really liked a couple of Ashley Elston's novels, so I plan on reading 10 Blind Dates when our library copy is returned. This one sounds a lot different from the ones I read before, so I'm curious to see how it goes.

Nov 4, 11:51am Top

>1 foggidawn: Lottie is PRECIOUS

Nov 4, 2:59pm Top

Happy New Thread, foggi!

I agree - Lottie is precious. I'm glad she found you.

I may have missed it - what did you think of Unfollow? I haven't read the book, but I've been reading about her story. Yikes!

Edited: Nov 4, 3:08pm Top

Welcome Lottie! What a delightful face!

Oh, happy new thread!

Nov 4, 4:43pm Top

Happy new thread!

Nov 4, 6:33pm Top

Yay, puppy!

Nov 4, 7:00pm Top

Happy new one!

Nov 4, 7:20pm Top

Happy new thread, Foggi.

Nov 4, 9:49pm Top

MORE Lottie photos!!! Please!

Nov 5, 5:36am Top

Happy new thread! Please give scritches to Lottie for me.

Edited: Nov 5, 9:28am Top

>9 aktakukac: Thanks! This is the first of Elston's novels that I've read. Looking at her other books, it does seem like a bit of a departure.

>10 curioussquared: I won't argue. ;-)

>11 jnwelch: Thanks! I liked Unfollow, though I found it hard reading in spots because of the subject matter. My full review is on the work page.

>12 quondame: Thanks!

>13 drneutron: Thank you!

>14 compskibook: Indeed.

>15 figsfromthistle: Thanks!

>16 PaulCranswick: And thank you, too.

>17 ronincats:

>18 scaifea: Consider it done. :-)

Nov 5, 10:03am Top

Life with Lottie Pupdate:

Obviously, I got the cutest puppy ever, and Rob and I are both in love with her. She's very nearly housebroken (only a couple of small accidents), and she's extremely anxious to please. In the days she was with my mom, she learned that she had to sit to get a treat, and now she will come up and sit in front of us, as if to say, "See what a good girl I am?" (This generally works out well for her.) We call it her "good girl pose." Of course, she's chewing everything she can, including out fingers, and we do a lot of redirecting to get her to chew acceptable items instead. But she's just so endearing!

Some of my co-workers threw me a surprise puppy shower yesterday, because they are just the best. I was completely surprised -- I walked into the conference room and they all said "Surprise!" and I said "For what?" It took me a minute to understand what was going on! There were cookies shaped like Springer Spaniels and several other tasty treats, and gifts of toys and dog treats. Later in the day, I brought Lottie in briefly to say hello. She was a bit overwhelmed with all of the new people, and she cried during the car ride -- maybe because car rides up until now have meant major life changes for her. I'm hoping she grows to like car rides once she realizes that they can lead to fun experiences. She got a lot of cuddles later, though, so I don't think she was too traumatized (and she slept well last night).

In non-puppy news, we're officially in Tech Week for the show (at my college theatre we called it Hell Week). Last night was a bit rough, but we got through it, and I think we have a solid show; we're just working out the last few wrinkles. The set is in place and all of the costumes are done, and we open on Friday! The time has flown by. This has been a really great, friendly group of actors to work with, and it's been a nice first experience with this community theatre. I hope to work with them again in future. They're doing The Mousetrap in the spring, and if the timing works out, I'll probably audition for that, especially if Rob is still living with me (as I expect he will be). He's just gotten onto the list to sub at the city schools, which is exciting news. We're hoping that will lead to more permanent opportunities along that line.

Of course, this has left little time for reading -- I have one book nearly finished, and I've started and discarded a few others (not even far enough in to do a DNF review). I'm thinking this may be the first year that I don't manage a double-75, but if I can manage 12 books a month for November and December I will just make it -- and once the play is over, I'll have a little more reading time, at least. I'm despairing of completing my Reading Resolution, though maybe I can read all except that big biography? And the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge is right out, though really I never planned to completing it anyway -- I was just trying to see how close I could get. ("Not very" is the answer, of course.) I do realize that for many people, 126 books is an unimaginably good reading year, so it seems ungracious and maybe a little pretentious of me to lament my "low" numbers, but it is a low reading year for me. A good year, all in all, though, so I'm not truly complaining.

Thanks for reading this long post!

Nov 5, 11:50am Top

Loved your "pupdate" ~ great word to coin.

Nov 5, 12:16pm Top

>21 SandyAMcPherson: I borrowed it from somewhere on the Internet, but thanks!

Nov 5, 12:55pm Top

>20 foggidawn: The puppy shower sounds so cute!! I know, I'm sad that I'm only at about ~110 when I didn't even manage to hit 75 all the years I was super busy in college. I think it's partly because I was doing so well early in the year that I was finally on pace to hit 150. I don't think it's going to happen now but hey, who knows! It would be great to hit 130 again like I did last year, which was my highest ever.

Nov 5, 1:29pm Top

>8 foggidawn: BB. This is precisely the kind of fluffy holiday romance I enjoy. Submitted it to my colleague who does Juv/YA selection. :)

>20 foggidawn: Glad to hear life is good even it is very full. Lottie is SO CUTE!!!

Nov 5, 1:33pm Top

>23 curioussquared: Yes, I was on track to hit 160+ for the first half or two-thirds of the year, but slowed considerably. And there have been years past when I thought I would be able to make up reading numbers in December, but I have learned now that that never actually happens. :-)

Nov 5, 1:49pm Top

>24 MickyFine: Hope you like it as much as I did!

Nov 5, 4:10pm Top

Happy new thread, Foggi!

Thanks for the Lottie pictures and update, she is adorable!
How nice of your co-workers to do a puppy shower :-)

Nov 5, 4:13pm Top

>17 ronincats: The darling!

Nov 5, 8:55pm Top

>19 foggidawn: awwwww. Puppy love mirrored in those eyes.

Nov 6, 5:26am Top

Thanks for the pupdate! I'm so glad that things are going so well so you and her!

Nov 7, 3:44pm Top

>27 FAMeulstee: Thanks! Yes, it was incredibly sweet of them.

>28 quondame: I won't argue. ;-)

>29 fuzzi: Yes. She is so sweet (even when she is chewing on my fingers).

>30 scaifea: Thanks! I'm glad to hear how well things are going for you, too. :-D

Nov 7, 3:55pm Top

(127 books read)

Beverly, Right Here -- 14-year-old Beverly has run away from home before, but this time she's determined to make her own way in the world. Her beloved dog Buddy has just died, and there's nothing to keep her at home with her alcoholic mother -- except, maybe, her best friend Raymie. Lying about her age, Beverly gets a job busing tables at a fish restaurant. She finds an elderly woman who offers her a place to stay, and a friend in Elmer, a boy a couple years older, who works at a nearby convenience store. But will Beverly learn to let these new people into her heart?

This story has a bittersweet feel, with the loss of Buddy running through the whole thing. DiCamillo's writing is excellent as always. If you've enjoyed the other two books in this trilogy, this one is worth your time.

Nov 10, 12:56pm Top


Nov 11, 9:36am Top

>33 Ape: Thanks!

I set my LibraryThing profile picture to one of Lottie, so if you can't get enough of the cuteness, take a look at my profile!

Edited: Nov 11, 11:44am Top

>34 foggidawn: Looks like your puppy took over *the best chair* for reading!

Edited to clarify that I don't mean Lottie's 'reading' just the adults!

Nov 11, 12:57pm Top

>35 SandyAMcPherson: She usually shares that chair with me, but has taken to sitting in it on her own when I am not in the room!

Nov 11, 1:07pm Top

>34 foggidawn: I can't handle it!! She is too cute :)

Nov 11, 8:19pm Top

>37 curioussquared: I could let her chew on your hands for a while. It offsets the cute a little bit, though (fortunately for her) not entirely.

Nov 11, 8:32pm Top

>38 foggidawn: LOL. This is like when Otter cuddles angelically all day and then decides he needs to destroy something to remind me that he is not ENTIRELY a good boy. I think he's in his teenage rebellious stage -- he chewed up my nice new hardcover copy of Akata Warrior last week :(

Edited: Nov 12, 8:35am Top

(128 books read)

The (Other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat and Fierce, edited by Angie Manfredi — A collection of essays and poems by young adult authors, activists, and influencers. This collection is all about body positivity; it made me cry because I’m a long way from there, despite being a lot older than the intended audience. Recommended for readers looking to read positive thoughts on larger bodies, or for those interested in knowing more about the issues fat people regularly face.

Nov 11, 8:44pm Top

>39 curioussquared: She just got ejected from my lap for biting down hard on the same spot on my right index finger where she drew blood last night. She also thinks that sweaters turn the wearer into a giant chew toy. I’m not sure my wardrobe will survive this phase.

Nov 11, 10:25pm Top

My previous dog Tirzah was wonderful, but took almost two years to learn to obey. She used to bite my arms (the small puppy-teeth scars still show) but then I started shoving a soft chew toy in her mouth whenever she bit. She finally learned what was okay to bite and what was not.

As an adult if she were scolded she would go get one of her "teddy" toys, lie down in a corner and chew on it in frustration!

Nov 12, 1:27am Top

>41 foggidawn: Lottie! Hoomans are not for biting!! Otter has a habit of giving what we call "love nibbles" -- when he's feeling particularly affectionate and cuddly he will give your clothes (or skin, if yours happens to be exposed) little nibbly bites. It's cute until you realize they HURT! He has left bruises before....

>42 fuzzi: We do this with Otter, too, and he has mostly learned what's okay and what's not okay. At this point he usually only chews unapproved items when he's looking for attention. I blame myself for the book chewing because we do occasionally let him shred unimportant papers and I guess a book isn't too far removed from a nice chewy stack of paper...

Nov 12, 8:40am Top

>42 fuzzi: Yes, we're doing the thing with the toys, too -- I never pick her up without one, now! I'm sure she will learn eventually, but I have a feeling it's going to be a long, steep climb...

>43 curioussquared: We're trying to encourage kisses, not biting, but at this point in her life she's also much more inclined to show her affection with her teeth.

Nov 13, 9:03pm Top

Whew, I'm so far behind but luckily it's mostly cute dog talk!

Nov 14, 1:43pm Top

>45 leahbird: And hey, now you're all caught up!

Nov 18, 10:35am Top

(129 books read)

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert -- Chloe's life flashes before her eyes on the morning she is almost hit by an SUV -- and she realizes at that moment that her life so far has been pretty boring. She makes a list of things to change and new experiences to try, but she stalls quickly. She needs someone to tutor her in the art of getting a life -- so she asks Redford Morgan, her building supervisor. Red's been undeniably attracted to Chloe ever since she moved in, but the last time he dated a poor little rich girl, it didn't go so well. But when he agrees to help, the sparks start flying almost immediately...

I enjoyed this cute romance with a plus-size main character. Chloe is Black and has fibromyalgia, so bonus points for intersectionality. The romance is a little steamier than I usually choose to read, but if that's your thing, you will probably really enjoy this book.

Nov 18, 10:44am Top

So, the play is over, and my life should start getting slightly less hectic for a while -- at least, as much as is possible considering that I still have a young puppy at home! I'm hoping to get back on pace with my reading now. I'm in the middle of three books at the moment: Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale by Adam Minter, The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, and the audiobook of A Useful Woman by Darcie Wilde. I'll almost certainly finish the first and last ones soon, but may have to return The Starless Sea to the library before I get around to finishing it (I've only read a few pages, really). I'm also hoping to double down on some of those Early Reviewer books that I meant to read this year, and I have a book that needs reviewing professionally that I need to tackle soon. Lots of good reading to be done, and I'm hoping that now I will have a little time in which to do it!

Nov 18, 1:40pm Top

>47 foggidawn: This looks cute!
>48 foggidawn: Glad to hear life is calming a bit!

Nov 18, 3:09pm Top

>47 foggidawn: I've seen it compared as a readalike for The Kiss Quotient and given that Hoang's book was too steamy for me, I'm passing on this one also. That said, I'm psyched for this book's existence.

Edited: Nov 18, 3:15pm Top

>49 curioussquared: Thanks!

>50 MickyFine: I couldn't get past the first couple chapters of The Kiss Quotient, but I'd say that Get a Life, Chloe Brown is similar to Hoang's other book, The Bride Test, which I did read. (Both of those titles were more explicit than I'd usually choose to read. I keep getting sucked in by the cute summaries, without considering the level of heat in the book.)

Nov 18, 3:23pm Top

>51 foggidawn: Hmmm, I've got The Bride Test on The List right now because one of my romance reading friends said the steam level wasn't quite as high as The Kiss Quotient. So we'll see how The Bride Test goes and then maybe I'll give Chloe Brown a try.

Nov 18, 4:35pm Top

>52 MickyFine: Sounds like a plan. I think I'm going to take a break from romance for a while -- I've read a relatively large amount so far this year.

Nov 18, 7:45pm Top

>53 foggidawn: I've avoided romance for several years, but I've read a few more this year of that genre as well as the women's fiction category. However, I've noticed an increasing tendency of mystery writers--generally cozy or police procedurals--to include romance. Sometimes the romance is stronger than the mystery. I don't like that.

Nov 22, 9:25am Top

>54 thornton37814: Right. I don't mind elements of romance, but when they overpower the plot (in a book that's not intended as a romance)...

Nov 22, 9:30am Top

(130 books read)

Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner -- (Here's my original review of this book) Kamet may be a slave, but he's a powerful one. Entrusted with his master's accounts, promised as a gift to the future emperor, Kamet will someday be one of the most important men in the Mede empire. When an Attolian approaches Kamet and offers him freedom, Kamet sits down and has a good laugh. Why would he leave a position of power in the greatest country in the world for a miserable backwater like Attolia? Then, his master is poisoned. Kamet knows he will be accused, tortured, and killed along with most of his master's other slaves -- but if he runs, the blame for the poisoning might fall on him alone. Kamet had no desire to take the Attolian up on his offer, but it appears he will be doing so whether he wants to or not. Escaping the empire won't be easy, but it's the only way Kamet can stay alive.

Turner's fans have been waiting years for this book, and it does not disappoint. The plot is as intricate, the characters as complex as one would expect. The focus of the story is Kamet and his companion, so we see little of characters from other books in the series. This book could stand alone, though it clicks into the larger framework of the Queen's Thief series like a puzzle piece, and I still recommend starting the series at the beginning.

So, Rob and I have completed our read-aloud of the Queen's Thief series, at least until August, when the next book comes out. Our next read-aloud project may take us until then, as Rob has requested Lord of the Rings (which will be a reread for both of us).

Nov 22, 9:42am Top

(131 books read)

Love Illuminated: Exploring Life's Most Mystifying Subject (with the Help of 50,000 Strangers) by Daniel Jones -- Jones, editor of the New York Times Modern Love column, reflects humorously on several of love's many phases and iterations. He often draws from his own life, but also includes anecdotes gathered from the many essays he has read over the years.

Having enjoyed Modern Love, a collection of some of the column's "greatest hits," I was interested in Jones' own thoughts on the topic. I mostly found it interesting -- the earlier parts of the book more so than the later. I would have liked to have heard more about the way editing the column has influenced his views on love. Mostly, I didn't come away from it feeling "illuminated," but I read it fairly quickly and it did keep my interest. I'd say it's worth reading, but don't go into it with high expectations.

Nov 22, 4:12pm Top

>56 foggidawn: Great review.
I liked this novel almost the best of the series. Book 1 was my favourite and I need to re-read it to decide if T of T surpasses it. I feel that MW Turner's tale-crafting talent is is maturing as she writes through the Thief saga.

I too am patiently awaiting Book #6 as well. August, you say?

Nov 23, 12:08pm Top

>56 foggidawn: *happy dance*

Nov 24, 1:40pm Top

(132 books read)

A Useful Woman by Darcie Wilde -- Impoverished gentlewoman Rosalind Thorne has found ways to make herself useful to the ladies of polite society, organizing social events and so forth. It's not much, but the gifts, dinners, and invitations that she receives help keep her afloat. she couldn't have survived, however, were it not for her godmother, Lady Blanchard, one of the patronesses of Almack's. When a young man if found dead in that very lofty establishment, all of society wants to believe that it was a tragic accident -- but Rosalind is not so sure. Neither, for that matter, is Bow Street Runner Adam Harkness. But if Rosalind pursues an investigation of the death, no matter how discreet, she could risk ruin to her reputation, and her already precarious way of life...

I liked this mystery well enough, though I had trouble really engaging with any of the characters. The mystery element was good, though I thought the pacing could have been tighter. All in all, a fairly good read, but I'm not rushing out to get the next one.

Nov 24, 1:44pm Top

>58 SandyAMcPherson: Thanks! I felt like this book was separated enough from the events and characters of earlier books that a review could be written without too many big spoilers. I agree that the storytelling just gets better and better. The second and third books are still my favorites, but this one is right up there.

>59 scaifea: Indeed. Though there's not nearly enough Gen in this book for my tastes.

Nov 25, 10:17am Top

>60 foggidawn: Sorry that one wasn't more of a hit with you. I really liked it.

Nov 25, 10:53am Top

>62 MickyFine: It may have been the audiobook. The narrator was . . . fine. That might have affected my opinion of the pacing, too.

Nov 25, 3:10pm Top

(133 books read)

Stargazing by Jen Wang -- Christine works hard to be a good student and a dutiful daughter, but when free-spirited Moon moves into the neighborhood, Christine starts longing to be more creative and artistic like her new friend. However, she also struggles with jealousy as Moon makes other, more popular friends. Can she figure out how to be a good friend to Moon, and also express some of her own individuality?

This is a sweet middle-grade friendship story, and there's a big audience for this sort of book right now. I'm sure that this will find its readership among fans of Telgemeier, Hale, Jamieson, and the like.

Nov 26, 8:53am Top

(134 books read)

That Was Awkward: The Art and Etiquette of the Awkward Hug by Emily Flake -- I wanted this to be funnier than it was.

Nov 28, 4:21pm Top

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dec 2, 10:11am Top

>66 quondame: Thanks! Hope you had a good one, too.

Dec 2, 10:46am Top

(135 books read)

Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale by Adam Minter -- What happens to your stuff when you're done with it? Like many people, I donate used items to thrift stores on a regular basis. I've also spent a fair amount of time in the back rooms of various thrift stores, baling discarded clothing and sorting through donated books. So, I had a little background knowledge, but I learned a lot reading Minter's thorough exploration of the global secondhand trade. This is a fascinating look at the world of stuff, from used bookstores in Japan, to secondhand clothing markets in Benin, to mills in India where woolen goods are shredded and recycled into blankets for disaster relief. Minter is realistic about the fate of some segments of the secondhand market ("The good news," an executive at a rag company jokes darkly, "is that nobody wants to get into this business."), but he's also cautiously optimistic about ways in which the secondhand trade could be improved and supported, seeing it as an essential part of global trade, and the natural solution to the problem of all this stuff that humans have accumulated, especially in the past century. Reading the book made me even less inclined to shop than I normally am (and I'm not much of a shopper), but I found it a fascinating read, and not as depressing as it might have been. If you're intrigued about the ways our used stuff moves around the world, I'd recommend this book. Bonus points if you borrow, rather than buy, it.

Dec 2, 11:22am Top

(136 books read)

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren -- Quirky Hazel had a crush on Josh back in college. When he re-enters her life seven years later, she decides that they should be best friends. Obviously, they're not going to be anything more -- she puked on his shoes when they first met, and their interactions haven't gotten any less embarrassing. After a painful breakup between Josh and his girlfriend, Josh and Hazel hit on a plan to set each up on blind double-dates. These always seem to turn into hilarious adventures, but pretty soon it becomes obvious to everyone around them that Josh and Hazel should actually be dating each other.

I said earlier that I should take a break from romance novels, and then Micky reviewed this one, and I needed an audiobook for my Thanksgiving car trip, so I thought, "Why not?" This is a fun, moderately steamy read. I wanted Hazel's quirks to be less cute, but no, she was pretty much a manic pixie dream girl (albeit a confident, self-aware one). Still, if you are less curmudgeonly than I about romance right now, you'll probably enjoy this one a lot. (I enjoyed it, just grumpily.)

Dec 2, 1:28pm Top

(137 books read)

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds -- The bell rings. The school doors burst open. Students scatter in every direction. But what happens in that space between school and home? Jason Reynolds knows -- or imagines -- ten different answers in this book of loosely connected stories.

There's plenty of heart here, and humor. Kids will see themselves in this book, and that's fantastic, and makes it worth purchasing and recommending. But for me, I wanted things to come together somehow in the end, and they just didn't. I think it's the nature of short stories -- I wanted more from all of them. If you enjoy short stories about funny, diverse, complicated kids, this is a book worth perusing.

Dec 2, 5:42pm Top

>69 foggidawn: LOL I'm glad you grumpily enjoyed it.

Dec 2, 6:20pm Top

Looks like you've read some interesting stuff lately! Mostly I'm here because I think it's high time we see some more Lottie pics :)

Dec 2, 9:16pm Top

>69 foggidawn: What great 5-✩ review!

Thanks for the amusing commentary.

Dec 4, 8:30am Top

>71 MickyFine: Grumble, grumble, grumble. ;-)

>72 curioussquared: Ask, and you shall receive...

>73 SandyAMcPherson: You're welcome.

Dec 4, 11:58am Top

>74 foggidawn: Awww. Such a good girl.

Dec 4, 12:37pm Top

>74 foggidawn: Such a cutie!! Is that a hedgehog toy on the right? Those are particular favorites in our house -- Otter has gone through three of various sizes *eyeroll*

Dec 4, 1:44pm Top

>75 MickyFine: She is the goodest girl.

>76 curioussquared: Yes, the hedgehog was gifted to her by one of my work friends. Those three are her bedroom toys, and she assembled them around her like that without any input from me, so I had to take the picture.

Dec 4, 2:44pm Top

>77 foggidawn: You have to have your toys assembled correctly! Very important.

Dec 4, 3:25pm Top

>78 curioussquared: Yes, she has a definite schema. The squeaky toys are mostly strewn across the kitchen, where Rob will step on them before he's had his coffee in the mornings and I will step on them while trying to cook dinner, producing many pleasing (to Lottie) loud squeaking noises. The balls are under the recliner or the plant stand, meaning that I periodically have to get down on my hands and knees to retrieve them, which she also finds extremely diverting.

Dec 4, 9:31pm Top

>74 foggidawn: 1....2...3...


Dec 5, 5:32am Top

>74 foggidawn: How is she that stinking cute?! *love*

Dec 5, 12:50pm Top

>79 foggidawn: I can see she is very smart! Otter also likes to leave squeaky toys in the kitchen, and also by my side of the bed where I will step on them in the middle of the night. Very courteous.

Dec 5, 1:43pm Top

>74 foggidawn: Isn't that an adorable picture of Lottie! I'm sure most pictures of her are, though!

Yesterday, 8:55am Top

>80 fuzzi: Yes, indeed.

>81 scaifea: I don't know how she manages it.

>82 curioussquared: She really is! She is a natural at fetch; I didn't even have to use treats to get her to retrieve. (Getting her to hand the toy over without a mini-game of tug first is another thing, but we're working on that.) And yesterday she saw a bird in a bush and did the most adorable little "point" at it. It's such fun to watch those instincts kicking in. Sounds like Otter has discovered that squeaky toys are a dog's natural alarm system -- in those locations, you can't get up without alerting him, and he will also know when you are doing something involving food!

>83 aktakukac: They're either adorable or completely blurry, because she's so often in motion!

Yesterday, 8:57am Top

>74 foggidawn: Bawwww how totally adorable.

That's so funny (though I'm sure not when you're tripping over them) that she'll leave the squeaky toys in places that get the maximum effect.

Yesterday, 12:19pm Top

>84 foggidawn: I love (and envy) that your Springer is behaving so well.

Our Springers *never* seemed to go naturally into a point. They seemed to think flushing the birds was their job. As I recall, they were darn good at retrieving ducks from swamps though.

Yesterday, 12:42pm Top

>84 foggidawn: The little point sounds so cute!! Otter's only developing instincts seem to be chasing rabbits and squirrels, lol. Which I guess is what racing greyhounds have been pretty much bred to do!

Yesterday, 12:51pm Top

>86 SandyAMcPherson: Well, Lottie's never going to be a hunter, so I'm not sure how useful some of these abilities are going to be. I do want to try agility classes with her when she's a little older, and a dog-breeding friend of mine has suggested field trials, so we'll see what's out there.

>87 curioussquared: It was adorable! Of course, she also has an uncanny knack for finding whatever disgusting thing there is to find on the ground outside. That's one that all dogs share, I believe!

Yesterday, 12:53pm Top

(138 books read)

The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter by Aaron Reynolds -- reviewing elsewhere, just including it in my count here.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2019

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