foggidawn reads in 2019: thread the fifth

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Talk75 Books Challenge for 2019

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foggidawn reads in 2019: thread the fifth

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Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 11:39am

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, 2019, 10:46am

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: Dec 11, 2019, 9:24am

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: The Way of the Househusband
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, 2019, 9:58am

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, 2019, 10:25am

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

Nov 4, 2019, 10:32am

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, 2019, 10:51am

>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, 2019, 11:02am

(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, 2019, 11:46am

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, 2019, 11:51am

>1 foggidawn: Lottie is PRECIOUS

Nov 4, 2019, 2:59pm

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, 2019, 3:08pm

Welcome Lottie! What a delightful face!

Oh, happy new thread!

Nov 4, 2019, 4:43pm

Happy new thread!

Nov 4, 2019, 6:33pm

Yay, puppy!

Nov 4, 2019, 7:00pm

Happy new one!

Nov 4, 2019, 7:20pm

Happy new thread, Foggi.

Nov 4, 2019, 9:49pm

MORE Lottie photos!!! Please!

Nov 5, 2019, 5:36am

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

Edited: Nov 5, 2019, 9:28am

>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, 2019, 10:03am

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, 2019, 11:50am

Loved your "pupdate" ~ great word to coin.

Nov 5, 2019, 12:16pm

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

Nov 5, 2019, 12:55pm

>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, 2019, 1:29pm

>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, 2019, 1:33pm

>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, 2019, 1:49pm

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

Nov 5, 2019, 4:10pm

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, 2019, 4:13pm

>17 ronincats: The darling!

Nov 5, 2019, 8:55pm

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

Nov 6, 2019, 5:26am

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

Nov 7, 2019, 3:44pm

>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, 2019, 3:55pm

(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, 2019, 12:56pm


Nov 11, 2019, 9:36am

>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, 2019, 11:44am

>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, 2019, 12:57pm

>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, 2019, 1:07pm

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

Nov 11, 2019, 8:19pm

>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, 2019, 8:32pm

>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, 2019, 8:35am

(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, 2019, 8:44pm

>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, 2019, 10:25pm

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, 2019, 1:27am

>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, 2019, 8:40am

>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, 2019, 9:03pm

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

Nov 14, 2019, 1:43pm

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

Nov 18, 2019, 10:35am

(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, 2019, 10:44am

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, 2019, 1:40pm

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

Nov 18, 2019, 3:09pm

>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, 2019, 3:15pm

>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, 2019, 3:23pm

>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, 2019, 4:35pm

>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, 2019, 7:45pm

>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, 2019, 9:25am

>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, 2019, 9:30am

(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, 2019, 9:42am

(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, 2019, 4:12pm

>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, 2019, 12:08pm

>56 foggidawn: *happy dance*

Nov 24, 2019, 1:40pm

(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, 2019, 1:44pm

>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, 2019, 10:17am

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

Nov 25, 2019, 10:53am

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

Nov 25, 2019, 3:10pm

(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, 2019, 8:53am

(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, 2019, 4:21pm

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dec 2, 2019, 10:11am

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

Dec 2, 2019, 10:46am

(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, 2019, 11:22am

(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, 2019, 1:28pm

(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, 2019, 5:42pm

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

Dec 2, 2019, 6:20pm

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, 2019, 9:16pm

>69 foggidawn: What great 5-✩ review!

Thanks for the amusing commentary.

Dec 4, 2019, 8:30am

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

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

>73 SandyAMcPherson: You're welcome.

Dec 4, 2019, 11:58am

>74 foggidawn: Awww. Such a good girl.

Dec 4, 2019, 12:37pm

>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, 2019, 1:44pm

>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, 2019, 2:44pm

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

Dec 4, 2019, 3:25pm

>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, 2019, 9:31pm

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


Dec 5, 2019, 5:32am

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

Dec 5, 2019, 12:50pm

>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, 2019, 1:43pm

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

Dec 6, 2019, 8:55am

>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!

Dec 6, 2019, 8:57am

>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.

Dec 6, 2019, 12:19pm

>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.

Dec 6, 2019, 12:42pm

>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!

Dec 6, 2019, 12:51pm

>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!

Dec 6, 2019, 12:53pm

(138 books read)

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

Dec 7, 2019, 11:45pm

We had a springer spaniel when I was young and it seemed to take an age to house train the little fellow - Toby.

They are great fun if you live in the country and need a walking companion.

Have a lovely weekend.

Dec 9, 2019, 8:58am

>90 PaulCranswick: Yeah, we're still working on the house training aspect. She does fine at night, and even during the parts of the day when she is confined to the kitchen (there are usually a few hours when both Rob and I are at work, though fortunately our schedules don't overlap for the whole work day), but like a human toddler, when she is playing, she doesn't always want to stop for a potty break, so if I'm not watching closely, she will go make a puddle in a corner rather than asking to go out. We'll get there... I hope. Right now, our walking adventures are confined to the back yard, but I do think she'll be great to take on walks when she is just a little bigger.

Dec 9, 2019, 9:08am

(139 books read)

Strange Planet by Nathan W. Pyle -- Odd blue beings with a distinctive speech pattern live on a planet eerily similar to ours. Their observations of everyday life and customs highlight the humor and absurdity of our human existence.

If you've never encountered these beings, or if you've seen a few comics here and there, but would like to see more, this book is an excellent c o m p e n d i u m (as the beings' creator might say). If you've a big fan (as I am), the book is fun to have, but there's not a huge amount of new content, and none of the new comics was an immediate favorite for me. The book is worth getting (I'm giving a copy to my housemate for Hanukkah), just know that much of it is content that is already available online.

Dec 9, 2019, 12:21pm

Micky loved Strange Planet, too, foggi. I added it to the WL. He's new to me, so this'll be a good intro.

Dec 9, 2019, 12:25pm

>93 jnwelch: Oh, I think you'll love them, Joe!

Edited: Dec 10, 2019, 2:59pm

(140 books read)

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch -- Mirka, an 11-year-old resident of the Orthodox Jewish community of Hereville, dreams of fighting monsters and slaying dragons. An encounter with a strange woman in a mysterious house in the woods (and a confrontation with a talking pig) leads to Mirka's first battle. If she can outwit a troll, she can earn her sword. But what if the battle involves Mirka's greatest weakness?

I've been wanting to read this graphic novel ever since it was released, lo these many years ago. I finally got around to it, and it was lots of fun! Mirka's a great character, and I like her stepmother Fruma as well. Recommended to those who enjoy juvenile graphic novels.

Edited: Dec 10, 2019, 3:19pm

Well, I feel like I'm coming down to the wire for my double-75 this year -- I have 21 days to read 10 books. Fortunately, some of those days are vacation, when I might be expected to get through several.

Having the puppy is really slowing me down, though truly my reading pace had slowed before I got Lottie, so I can't blame her entirely!

I do have the following books on the go, so they're the easiest targets to get me to my goal:

The Way of the Househusband -- it's silly that it's taking me multiple days to read a single volume of a manga, but there you have it. I should get this one done soon, maybe even tonight.

The Apprentices -- This one falls in my personal reading goal (unreviewed ER books), so I'm really determined to get it done. It's proving a quick read so far, when I actually find reading time.

Lalani of the Distant Sea -- I'm listening to this e-audiobook, and if I could just remember to turn it on, when I'm cooking dinner, for instance, I'm sure I could get through it before it automatically returns to the library.

The Ultimate Guide to Raising a Puppy -- I got a little irritated at this one and set it aside, so it may end up being a DNF, but I might pick it back up and finish it. (If you're curious why I got irritated, the author insinuates that introverts are not good dog owners and have trouble bonding with their pets. This is the dumbest thing ever. Have you actually met any introverts? Most of us like animals better than people.)

I'm also reading The Fellowship of the Ring aloud to Rob, but we're only to Tom Bombadil, so I don't think there's any way we will finish by the end of the year, especially with me going out of town. And, speaking of reading aloud, while on vacation my family will most likely read A Christmas Carol, as is our custom, so that's one more book that's likely to get added to my count.

Dec 10, 2019, 3:22pm

>96 foggidawn: introverts are not good dog owners and have trouble bonding with their pets.
Ew! I hope you write a review.

Dec 10, 2019, 3:26pm

Yeah, animals are way cooler than people...and that author just demonstrated why!

Dec 10, 2019, 3:31pm

>96 foggidawn: You can do it! 2 days per book is totally doable :) Also, um, I'd much rather hang out with my dogs than most people. Also, we walk around the neighborhood a LOT, and I can tell you the names of all the dogs we meet regularly... but none of the people, lol. I have my priorities straight.

Dec 10, 2019, 3:34pm

>97 norabelle414: Yes, I've read enough of it that I will definitely be writing a review, either way.

>98 Ape: Precisely.

Dec 10, 2019, 3:35pm

>99 curioussquared: Hahaha! Glad I'm not the only one. And yes, a book every two days is doable, especially with several books already on the go.

Dec 10, 2019, 4:11pm

>96 foggidawn: The Ultimate Guide to Raising a Puppy would have met an ultimate end.....

Dec 10, 2019, 4:17pm

>102 quondame: Yeah, but it's a library book, so...

Edited: Dec 11, 2019, 9:25am

(141 books read)

The Way of the House Husband Vol. 1 by Kousuke Oono -- Once, he was known as the Immortal Dragon, the most feared gangster in the country. Now, he's a house husband, expertly chopping vegetables for dinner and seeking out the best deals on groceries. Of course, his old life hasn't left him completely behind...

Oh, manga. I keep trying, but it's a struggle for me. I can see that this book is cute and funny, and if you enjoy manga and the premise appeals to you, definitely give this one a try. I just don't really get it -- which gives me some sympathy for people who struggle to enjoy reading the types of books that I most enjoy. I did enjoy his struggle with the Roomba -- and I love the Shiba Inu apron that he wears everywhere.

Fulfills the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge goal #11 - A book of manga.

Dec 12, 2019, 3:15pm

(142 books read)

Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee -- Seventh-grader Mila doesn't realize what's happening when it starts. The comments. Touches. Hugs. A group of boys seems to be targeting her for unwanted attention. Is she imagining things? Just being too sensitive? One of her friends encourages her to go to the assistant principal, but Mila can't imagine telling him about what's going on. She also doesn't want to bother her mom, who is having a difficult time at work. Can Mila find her voice and stand up to her tormentors?

This is such an important book, and it resonates with me because I experienced a similar situation in seventh grade, myself. The character development in this book is excellent, and the way the conflict is resolved is realistic. This is a title that should be in elementary school and middle school libraries (and, of course public libraries) everywhere. If you read juvenile fiction, or work with students in that age range, highly recommended.

Dec 13, 2019, 6:17am

>105 foggidawn: Adding it to the list...

Dec 13, 2019, 8:36am

Moi, aussi. And it is even on the shelf at the library branch nearest to me! The stars aligned, and meant for me to see this.

Edited: Dec 13, 2019, 8:46am

Adding Maybe He Just Likes You to the WL, too, foggi. Oof. Sorry to hear that you went through something similar.

I have trouble getting into manga, too. Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo is a classic science fiction manga that I thought was very good - but it's an undertaking. I think there are six volumes.

An interesting alternative to The Way of the House Husband is A History of Violence, an involving graphic novel that also features an ex-mobster trying to lead a normal life. It was made into an Oscar-nominated David Cronenberg movie starring Viggo Mortenson. But it's very graphic - probably too much so for a lot of readers. The movie toned it down.

Dec 13, 2019, 8:49am

>106 scaifea: Great!

>107 SandyAMcPherson: Always so convenient when that happens.

>108 jnwelch: Thanks! Yes, my brain is just not trained for reading manga. Maybe if I read it more often, it would feel more effortless and the story would flow the way other reading does for me. Interesting graphic novel suggestion, but it sounds a little more suspenseful, whereas The Way of the Househusband is pretty much just comedy.

Dec 16, 2019, 9:20am

I did not manage to finish any books over the weekend, but I did make a bookish cake for the housemate's birthday. When one is making a 42nd birthday cake, there's really only one option as far as theme, right?

I mean, life. The universe. Everything!

Dec 16, 2019, 4:34pm

>110 foggidawn: Ha! Love it!

Dec 16, 2019, 4:35pm

>110 foggidawn: Love it! Your housemate is very lucky!

Dec 17, 2019, 6:44am

>110 foggidawn: That. Is. Perfect!

Dec 17, 2019, 9:06am

>111 jnwelch: and >112 quondame: and >113 scaifea: Thanks! The cake itself came out a little denser and dryer than I would have liked (probably because the recipe calls for the addition of melted white chocolate), but the icing is a white chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream, and I would put it on every cake ever because it came out so well. I'd never done Swiss meringue before, but even with an improvised double boiler (a metal mixing bowl on top of a saucepan), I had a lot of fun learning a new technique.

The downside of my weekend was taking Lottie out in a dusting of snow Saturday morning. She saw a squirrel and started to run, so I started to move a little more quickly in that direction so she wouldn't hit the end of her retractable leash so hard. Next thing I knew, I was on the ground and everything hurt. I pulled a hamstring and bruised or strained various other body parts. Fortunately, I kept my grip on the leash. When Lottie saw me on the ground, she ran back towards the door of the house, howling. I think she was trying to get help. Good girl. Fortunately, I was able to get up and hobble in, and I can get around all right -- I'm just still very achy and grumpy.

Dec 17, 2019, 9:21am

(143 books read)

How to Be Alone: If You Want To, and Even If You Don't by Lane Moore -- A series of essays about Moore's life and the trauma she experienced growing up in an abusive family, then experiencing other abusive relationships and encounters.

From the title, I had expected something more like essays on a theme, whereas this book turned out to be more just a regular memoir, albeit with themes of loneliness and longing running through it. Moore's style is caustic, bitter, and authentic, and certain parts of it resonated strongly with me. On the other hand, Moore occasionally comes across as dismissive of people who may have experienced different sorts of trauma than she. I'd hesitate to recommend this, because I think Moore's narrative voice is not going to be for everyone. If you're intrigued, maybe read the first chapter and see if you like it.

Dec 17, 2019, 9:29am

Foggi pulled a hamstring and bruised or strained various other body parts

You have my utmost sympathy with falling and consequent bruises and hurting all over. Adult skeletons and joints sure don't rebound to health quickly. My teen and 20's years were full of rough and tumble but I sure don't manage that now. Paying the piper I am. Hope you have some care and nurturing from your housemate.

Dec 17, 2019, 9:37am

>116 SandyAMcPherson: Yes, over the past five years or so I've marveled at how much longer it takes each time I injure something. I fully expect to be feeling some aches and pains for the rest of the year from this. (A couple of years ago I jammed my little toe, and I thought for a while that it was never going to get better!) Unfortunately, I'm bad at accepting care from people, though he's asked often if there's anything he can do.

Edited: Dec 19, 2019, 8:50am

As is their custom, the LibraryThing staff have listed their top five reads of the year, inspiring me to do likewise:


1. The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary
2. The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
3. A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
4. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
5. Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

Honorable mentions: A Winter's Promise by Christelle Dabos, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Of course, I still have seven books to get through to meet my goal for the year, so maybe something fantastic will come along and shake everything up...

Dec 17, 2019, 12:03pm

Ooof, sorry to hear about your fall and wishing you a quick-ish recovery. Great top five list. I haven't even pondered mine yet.

Dec 17, 2019, 2:43pm

>119 MickyFine: I don't always do mine so early, but I had definite opinions this year.

Dec 17, 2019, 2:50pm

>114 foggidawn: Oh dear. Falls are a real problem. After a somewhat younger friend ended up with a metal infused ankle simple because she had turned to answer a question while walking I have tried to minimize momentum. I sort of step pause my way to the car and back, carefully negotiating the few steps - especially that last small half step hiding in the shadows.

I hope nothing is torn or strained!

Edited: Dec 17, 2019, 3:07pm

>118 foggidawn:, LT staff listed their top five reads of the year? 🎉 🎉!
I better start paying more attention to the larger world of LibraryThing. Probably some fabby BB's in there, too.

Never have I read so many books from the current year's publishing calendar. It has been completely, awesomely marvellous... for one thing, when I meet up with my coffee ladies, I can actually participate in the 'what have you read lately' discussions.

What was even more exciting ~ when I went to the page in foggi's post, there are ARCHIVES!! So much data on which to biblio-geek.

(That's a word, no? biblio-geek?)

Dec 18, 2019, 8:39am


The Ultimate Guide to Raising a Puppy by Victoria Stilwell -- "The more extroverted you are, the more attentive your puppy will be, but if you have a more introverted personality that inhibits your communicative abilities, your pup might struggle to understand you." (p. 87)

Aaand that's where this author lost me. Lady, have you ever met any introverts? We're not actually incapable of communication, for one thing, and most of us like animals better than people. (For instance, I certainly like every animal on this planet more than I like you.) Implying that we're not suited to be dog owners is going to alienate 40-50% of your potential readership, but hey, you do you. I just wasn't expecting to be introvert-shamed in a puppy training manual.

Dec 18, 2019, 9:04am

>123 foggidawn: I could see some slight argument for extroverts being better dog owners because it's so important for dogs to socialize with other dogs, which sometimes requires owners to socialize with other owners, but to assert that introverts can't communicate with a dog is so wild!!

Edited: Dec 18, 2019, 9:20am

>124 norabelle414: Yes, I can see that argument, but that was not at all what she was getting at in that part of the book. And even if it had been, there are better, less insulting ways for her to word that sentiment.

Dec 19, 2019, 8:43am

I missed responding to a couple of posts above -- sorry!

>121 quondame: That seems wise. I'm certainly being more careful while walking Lottie now! I don't think I tore anything, because I'm healing (slowly, in very small increments, but enough that I can tell I'm getting better).

>122 SandyAMcPherson: Glad you liked their post! I always fine it interesting, and particularly exciting when one of them lists a book that I also loved (for instance, this year Abby's list includes A Darker Shade of Magic, which was in my top five a year or two ago). And biblio-geek certainly should be a word, as I'm sure we all know what you mean by it!

Dec 19, 2019, 4:48pm

(144 books read)

My Boyfriend is a Bear by Pamela Ribon -- Nora's had some bad dating luck, but all that changes when she meets the bear of her dreams. (Yes, literally, a bear.) Of course, it's a little difficult explaining their relationship to friends and family -- and what's going to happen when hibernation season rolls around?

A friend recommended this as a cute romance, and I can see that, but I couldn't ever quite get past being squicked out by the concept. Your mileage may vary.

Dec 19, 2019, 5:09pm

>127 foggidawn: Well, the title certainly catches your attention...

Dec 20, 2019, 8:45am

>128 curioussquared: Yeah, it's not subtle.

Dec 20, 2019, 8:28pm

>114 foggidawn: sorry to hear about your tumble. I never tried the retractable, but still use a standard 6' webbing leash. When Tirzah was a half-grown puppy she saw a squirrel and bolted toward it while I was distracted, and her 50ish pounds yanked me off my feet, and down on the cement driveway. I wouldn't want to do that again.

I hope you're feeling better.

Dec 20, 2019, 8:57pm

Wishing you a weekend of staying upright and getting close to 2x75.

Dec 21, 2019, 6:35am

>130 fuzzi: Yes, I was glad my fall happened in the yard, not on cement!

>131 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul. I’m hoping for some good reading time this week.

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 11:31am

(145 books read)

Caddy’s World by Hilary McKay — (Here’s the review I wrote the first time I read this book:) Before Darling Michael, before the hamsters, even before Permanent Rose, there were four friends -- Alison, who hates everyone; Ruby, the clever one; Beth, who is perfect; and Cadmium Gold Casson, bravest of the brave. "You four will be friends," their first primary school teacher instructed . . . and so they were. But now, during Caddy's twelfth summer, her beautiful, unchanging friendship seems to be coming apart. Alison's parents are threatening to sell their house and move their family to Tasmania. Ruby has been offered the chance at a scholarship to a private school. Beth is growing too big for her beloved pony, and Caddy's family is in even more of an uproar than usual because Eve is at the hospital with the new baby, which seems so small that Caddy can't see how it could possibly survive. Will the four friends be torn apart by circumstances, or can they make it through together?

I love the Cassons, and Caddy has always been the most distant one, since she is nearly grown up in the other books. It's lovely to get to know her better here. I don't know if there will be more books in the series (Caddy and Rose have had two books each; I think Saffy and Indigo need more books now), but the epilogue in Caddy's World made me want to pick up Saffy's Angel again and reread the rest of the series.

Dec 21, 2019, 6:22pm

Greetings to my fellow biblio-geeks! It has been a privilege to chatter here with you.

A winter solstice is the moment in time when the Earth's tilt away from the Sun is at its maximum and the Sun's maximum elevation in the sky is at its lowest. Thus the ice crystals form magical lighting effects ~

Sundogs and a sunrise on the Winter Solstice

Dec 22, 2019, 11:05pm

I could have sworn I already posted this, but...

>134 SandyAMcPherson: Thanks!

Happy Solstice (slightly belated), and Hanukkah Sameach to all who celebrate those holidays! I’m enjoying my vacation, and should finish a book or two tomorrow.

Dec 23, 2019, 8:32am

>114 foggidawn: Sorry to read about your fall, Foggi.
Retractables have their downside, I have been in the same position many times, as our Chow Chows were fervent cat hunters and sometimes pulled me down in a similair way. They always came back looking rather surprised I was on the ground.

Dec 23, 2019, 8:30pm

>136 FAMeulstee: Yes, I like for her to be able to run a bit on leash, and in normal circumstances she wouldn’t have unbalanced me. My own fault for trying to run on slippery ground. She was quite upset by my fall!

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 11:31am

(146 books read)

Saffy’s Angel by Hilary McKay — the true introduction to the delightful Casson family. Having just read the prequel (published well after all of the other books), I definitely recommend reading them in publication order, starting with this one.

Saffron Casson is feeling out of place after an unsettling revelation and the death of her beloved grandfather. His legacy to her is a stone angel from a certain garden in Siena, Italy — but how is Saffron going to get the angel, even supposing it’s still there?

After reading about the Cassons, I feel the urge to call everyone “darling” and start painting abstract masterpieces on the walls. They’re so delightful! Like the Bagthorpes, but less cranky. Recommended.

Dec 24, 2019, 12:42pm

Have a comfy, caring, and very

Merry Christmas!

Dec 24, 2019, 5:48pm

Have a great holiday season, foggi!

Dec 24, 2019, 9:51pm

>139 quondame: Same to you!

>140 jnwelch: Back at you, Joe!

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 11:30am

(147 books read)

Indigo’s Star by Hilary McKay — Indigo Casson has been having trouble with bullies at school, but when their attention shifts to a new target, Indigo makes a new friend. Meanwhile, Rose attempts to draw their father Bill back to the family, as he seems to be drifting away, and Caddy postpones her inevitable romance with Darling Michael by trying out a series of ridiculous boyfriends.

Gosh, I love the Cassons. (Except for Bill, who is a bit of a jerk.) I think this book is even better than the previous one.

Dec 25, 2019, 6:46pm

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, some other tradition or none at all, this is what I wish for you!

Dec 25, 2019, 9:01pm

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

Dec 26, 2019, 2:10am

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Dec 26, 2019, 10:00am

>143 ronincats: and >144 PaulCranswick: and >145 AMQS: Thank you for the holiday greetings! I hope yours were nice, as well.

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 11:30am

(148 books read)

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens — It’s family tradition to read this aloud together every year. We completed the final stave this morning. Merry Christmas!

Edited: Dec 29, 2019, 3:17pm

calm and I could use some friends over here in this new joint...

The 2020 Group is up!

Dec 27, 2019, 5:31pm

>148 drneutron: I’ll be over there on Monday or Tuesday, and I’ll be sure to post a link to my new thread here.

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 11:29am

(149 books read)

Permanent Rose by Hilary McKay— Oh, gosh, more Casson craziness than I can begin to explain! Rose and Indigo are sad because Tom went back to America and hasn’t written or called, Caddy is conflicted about the gorgeous diamond and platinum engagement ring she accepted from Darling Michael, and Saffron is suddenly determined to find out who her biological father is.

These characters continue to delight. Read this series if you enjoy character-driven juvenile fiction; I’d recommend it to adults as well as children. Start with Saffy’s Angel to get the full effect.

Dec 27, 2019, 5:50pm

Ok, Foggi, come by my thread and make your case for reading more Megan Whalen Turner because I read The Thief and I was... underwhelmed.

Dec 27, 2019, 6:18pm

>151 MickyFine: Oh noes! I’ll be over shortly.

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 11:29am

(150 books read)

Caddy Ever After by Hilary McKay — Caddy is getting married, but not to Darling Michael! Horrors! Plus various other Casson antics. Highly enjoyable.

Dec 27, 2019, 6:22pm

>153 foggidawn: woo! That's a great number to hit. Congratulations.

Dec 27, 2019, 7:22pm

>154 fuzzi: Thank you! It was my goal for the year. I expect to finish two or three more before the year ends.

Edited: Dec 27, 2019, 8:25pm

>153 foggidawn: Congratulations on your double!

Dec 27, 2019, 11:17pm

Huzzah for reaching a double 75!

Dec 28, 2019, 2:26pm

>153 foggidawn: Congratulations on reaching your goal with 2 x 75, Foggi!

Dec 29, 2019, 8:28am

>153 foggidawn: Awesomely achieved! The Double 75-er.

Yay for you!

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 11:41am

Thank you Susan, Micky, Anita, and Sandy!

I'm back from Christmas -- usually I take the week between Christmas and New Year's off, but this year I decided to conserve my vacation time for a trip I want to take in a few months. Plus, friends of ours were having a Hanukkah party last night that I didn't want to miss.

My Christmas at the farm was great -- Lottie spent a lot of time playing with the other dogs, which helped her be a little calmer and less likely to chew on me. Here's a picture of her with Sasha; I changed my thread topper to this one, as well, because it's just that cute:

I asked for, and received, many cooking/baking-related items -- I got an immersion blender, stackable cooling racks, a pastry bag and tips, a springform pan, and a cheese board. I also got a bookstore gift certificate, so I'll have to decide what I want to get with that. The only actual book I got was a copy of the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (I've had those illustrated editions on my list for the past few years, and somebody finally decided to buy me one). Rob gave me the DVDs of the Rankin-Bass Hobbit and Lord of the Rings animated movies -- we had recently talked about how those (particularly The Hobbit) were staples of both of our childhoods.

Since I know you all like hearing about bookish gifts, here are the books I gifted:

My nephew Joseph got a whole stack of board books, including Dear Zoo, Never Touch a Dragon and Never Touch a Dinosaur, Don't Shake the Present, and Look, There's A Helicopter.

For Mom, I got The Apartment: A Century of Russian History by Alexandra Litvina -- I thought it would remind her of their apartment when they lived in St. Petersburg.

For Dad, I got You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks by Evan Turk, so he can start sharing his love of the parks with the next generation.

For my brother, I got One Day at Disney by Bruce Steele -- he's always listening to Disney podcasts, so I thought he would enjoy this behind-the-scenes book.

For my sister-in-law, I got Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook, Eighth Edition -- she often asks me for reading suggestions for the baby, and there are lots of good lists in that book.

I gave Rob The Truth About Animals by Lucy Cooke (thanks for the recommendation, Nora!) and Gilgamesh: The Life of a Poem by Michael Schmidt for Hanukkah, along with several other small non-book gifts so he would have something to open each night of the holiday.

I hope you all thoroughly enjoyed whatever holidays you celebrate. Here's to a bookish new year for us all!

P.S. I have added cover images to the reviews above that didn't have them.

Dec 30, 2019, 11:42am

>160 foggidawn: You're so welcome! I hope he likes it.

What great books you picked out for everyone!

Dec 30, 2019, 11:47am

>161 norabelle414: Thanks! Picking out books for people is my favorite.

Dec 30, 2019, 12:08pm

(151 books read)

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman -- Nina loves her small life in a little, green, residential pocket of LA. She works in an independent bookstore and fills her spare time with book clubs, yoga classes, and pub trivia competitions. Then, out of the blue, she learns that her father has died, and that he left her something in his will. Since she had no idea who her father was until the lawyer turned up, this comes as quite a shock. Nina meets several members of her newly-acquired family. Some are nice, and some are resentful and suspicious. In the meantime, Nina begins a tentative romance with the captain of a rival quiz team, but can he deal with her occasional panic attacks, and can she come to terms with the fact that he's not much of a reader? Plus, the bookstore is having financial difficulties. Is Nina's carefully curated life about to come crashing down around her?

This was cute and fluffy, a nice audiobook for traveling, as it kept my attention without requiring too much deep thought. It's a little predictable, so if that bothers you in your fluff reading, you may want to steer clear. I also didn't find Nina a terribly sympathetic character, though anxious, bookish women are usually my jam. The conclusion felt a little rushed to me, and a little too perfect (The unlikable characters all get a chance at redemption, the bookstore is saved by Nina's inheritance, the romance is saved by a Grand Romantic Gesture...), but again, that may not be a problem for you. If you're looking for a light and fun read with bookish notes and a charming setting, then this one's for you.

Dec 30, 2019, 2:15pm

>163 foggidawn: I put this one on my Christmas wishlist and got it so it's currently sitting on the nightstand waiting its turn. :)

Dec 30, 2019, 3:43pm

Congrats on 150!

I just put a hold on Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook, which I remember you recommending to me earlier this year.

I saw >163 foggidawn: on the shelf at work earlier today, but I was good and left it there since I have too many library books checked out at the moment. I am tentatively planning on reading it in 2020.

Dec 31, 2019, 8:45am

>164 MickyFine: Hope you enjoy it!

>165 aktakukac: Thanks!

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 2:04pm

End-of-Year Book Meme time!

Note: I always have enough answers to do the meme at least twice, so this year I'm including alternate answers. Feel free to let me know which you like better!

Describe yourself: The Undateable alternately, A Useful Woman

Describe how you feel: Kind of Coping alternately, Awkward

Describe where you currently live: The Flatshare alternately, A Bachelor Establishment

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Within the Sanctuary of Wings alternately, A Place to Belong

Your favorite time of day is: Sunsets alternately, Gmorning, Gnight

Your favorite form of transportation: Last Bus to Everland alternately, The Vanishing Stair

Your best friend is: New Kid alternately, Friend or Fiction

You and your friends are: The Good, the Bad, and the Bossy alternately, Pumpkinheads

What’s the weather like: A Winter's Promise alternately, Clouds

You fear: Tooth and Claw alternately, How to Date Men When You Hate Men

What is the best advice you have to give: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone alternately, Look Both Ways

Thought for the day: Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come alternately, I'm Judging You

How you would like to die: Stargazing alternately, The Light Between Worlds

Your soul’s present condition: Thornbound alternately, The Great Alone

What is life for you: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill alternately, A Conspiracy of Kings

Dec 31, 2019, 10:03am

Reading Resolution and Book Challenge Wrap-Up:

I think this is the first year that I've failed to complete my reading resolution, though I made some progress.

Of the 8 original books, I removed 3 from the list -- 2 DNF, and one completed. I reviewed all three, since the challenge was to review old ER books. That sounds pretty dire, but I did read and review two of the ER books that I received in 2019. I've half-finished The Apprentices, and was hoping to finish it off before the end of the year, but I'm resigning myself to the idea that I probably will not. It will be finished in early 2020, and I'm thinking I may carry over these books, adding a couple of late 2019 ER books that didn't get read yet, and make that my reading resolution for next year. I also started two others (The Book of Pearl and Wren Journeymage), but didn't get far enough in either of them to review them, or even decide if I wanted to read or DNF them.

For the first time, I attempted the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, and filled 10 of the 24 categories. I knew I probably wouldn't fill all of them, but still. I probably won't attempt it again. I like the idea of reading challenges, but the reality is that I always feel a little harried at the end to fill the categories that don't necessarily appeal to me.

This has been a tough reading year for me -- though I scraped across the goal line I had set for myself (a double 75), my reading total is still about ten books shy of my usual, and I feel that I padded it with some short books and graphic novels. It's been a year of dizzying highs and devastating lows for me. On one hand, Sophie's death broke my heart and sent me into a months-long depression, which was followed by a pretty sharp bout of anxiety before Rob's arrival. On the other hand, having Rob around has been a positive thing, Lottie is a delight, and I found a way into the local community theatre scene, which was a lot of fun. I've made some new friends, reconnected with some old friends, and seen one promising friendship die, inexplicably. But every single thing I have listed, on either side, meant either less time or less mental energy for reading, so I should probably be glad that I met my goal at all.

I'm hoping that 2020 will see my life settle on a more even keel, with a good balance of reading time and other activities. I'm also wishing for the best for all of you, whatever that means to you! I'll be setting up my thread in the new group later on -- see you all there!

Dec 31, 2019, 12:47pm

>167 foggidawn: I prefer your second choice for your description of yourself. Otherwise all of your choices are great! It being my first year of reading such a high number of titles, I definitely had multiple choices for some of selections.

>168 foggidawn: It's definitely been a mixed bag of a year for you. Sending hugs and well wishes for a 2020 that shines!

Dec 31, 2019, 12:51pm

>169 MickyFine: Thanks! Both are accurate, but I'll admit that the second one is more positive. I also thought about using Quiet Girl in a Noisy World for that category.

Dec 31, 2019, 2:23pm

Here it is:

My 2020 Thread!

See you all there!

Dec 31, 2019, 6:10pm

(152 books read)

Forever Rose by Hilary McKay — The conclusion of the Casson saga. Wraps things up nicely. I am sad to leave them. (But glad to have finished my reread before the end of the year.)