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RidgewayGirl Reads Some Books in 2020 -- First Quarter

2020 Category Challenge

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Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 8:55pm Top

Another year of reading with the Category Challenge! This year's theme is the artist Kelly Reemtsen and most of my categories are ones that have worked well in past years, but I've added a few news ones.

Let's get this party started! And by "party" I mean "reading quietly in a comfortable chair."

The pictures in my challenge are all by Kelly Reemtsen. If you're interested in finding out more about this amazing artist, here's an article: https://artmazemag.com/kelly-reemtsen/

Edited: Mar 29, 11:29am Top

Currently Reading

Recently Read

Books Acquired

Reading miscellany:

Owned Books Read: 8

Library Books Read: 14 -- Reading for the Tournament of Books is skewing things here

Ebooks/netgalley: 4

Books Acquired: 26 -- Not a great start to the year of only bringing home as many books as I read from my shelves, but I don't regret any of them.

Edited: Mar 25, 12:48pm Top

Category One.

A Map of the World

Books by authors from different countries.

1. Optic Nerve by Maria Gainza, translated from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead
2. A Girl Returned by Donatella Di Pietrantonio, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein

Edited: Feb 23, 2:26pm Top

Category Two.

We Need Diverse Books

1. Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
2. Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Diáz
3. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Edited: Mar 11, 12:43pm Top

Category Three.

Books by Women

1. Looker by Laura Sims
2. Oval by Elvia Wilk
3. Certain American States by Catherine Lacey

Edited: Mar 11, 12:44pm Top

Category Four.

The Rooster

Every year I follow The Morning News Tournament of Books, also known as The Rooster because of the grand prize - a live rooster. This year's competitors can be found here: https://themorningnews.org/article/the-2020-tournament-of-books-shortlist-and-ju...

1. Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (2020 longlist)
2. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo (2020 Competitor)
3. Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen by Dexter Palmer (2020 Competitor)
4. Saudade by Suneeta Peres da Costa (2020 Competitor)
5. We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin (2020 Competitor)
6. Overthrow by Caleb Crain (2020 Competitor)
7. Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

Edited: Mar 31, 11:33am Top

Category Five.

Expats, Immigrants, Works in Translation

1. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, translated from the Spanish by Magda Bogin
2. Dominicana by Angie Cruz

Edited: Jan 26, 1:36pm Top

Category Six.

Books I Own -- I brought them home for a reason.

Edited: Mar 21, 12:57pm Top

Category Seven.

Crime. True or Fiction, It's All Deadly

1. Her Daughter's Mother by Daniela Petrova
2. The Body Double by Emily Beyda
3. Dry County by Jake Hinkson

Edited: Mar 28, 5:37pm Top

Category Eight.

Countries, States, Cities, Towns -- Books with Place Names in Their Titles

1. Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda

Edited: Mar 8, 12:08pm Top

Category Nine.

CATs and Book Clubs

1. The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea (February book club)
2. Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston (March book club)

Edited: Mar 25, 12:49pm Top

Category Ten.

Published in 2020

What can I say? I like fresh books.

1. Stateway's Garden by Jasmon Drain
2. Apeirogon by Colum McCann

Edited: Jan 30, 1:15pm Top

Category Eleven.

The Ebook and Nothing But

While I generally prefer to read a physical copy, I tend to have a book or two going on my iPad.

1. Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 8:52pm Top

Category Twelve.

The Overflow

Get it? The overflow?

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 8:59pm Top

And this thread is open to visitors. While I won't be posting any books here until next year, feel free to stake out a comfortable chair and grab a drink. My 2019 thread is still active for another day or so!

Dec 30, 2019, 9:05pm Top

Good luck with your 2020 reading!

Dec 30, 2019, 9:11pm Top

>16 Tess_W: Thanks, Tess! I'm almost sorry that I'm stuck reading in 2019 for another day and a half.

Dec 30, 2019, 9:32pm Top

I love these paintings and want all of those dresses, especially the polkadot ones!

Have a great reading year!

Dec 30, 2019, 9:38pm Top

Thanks for introducing Kelly Reemtsen to me. I do like her painting although the headless bodies make me uneasy. I read the interview with her and understand her reasoning but...they still make me jittery.

Look forward to following you in 2020!

Edited: Mar 28, 5:39pm Top

And the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge!

1. A book published in 2020. -- The Body Double by Emily Beyda

2. A book by a trans or non-binary author.

3. A book with a great first line.

4. A book about a book club.

5. A book set in a city that has hosted the Olympics. -- Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

6. A bildungsroman.

7. The first book you touch on a shelf with your eyes closed.

8. A book with an upside-down image on the cover.

9. A book with a map. -- The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston

10. A book recommended on a podcast.

11. An anthology.

12. A book that passes the Bechdel test. -- A Girl Returned by Donatella Di Pietrantonio

13. A book with the same title as a movie or tv show.

14. A book by an author with flora or fauna in their name. -- Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda

15. A book published in July.

16. A book by or about a woman in STEM.

17. A book that won an award in 2019.

18. A book on a subject you know nothing about. -- Stateway's Garden by Jasmon Drain

19. A book with only words on the cover, no images or graphics. -- Optic Nerve by Maria Gainza

20. A book with a pun in the title.

21. A book featuring one of the seven deadly sins. -- Looker by Laura Sims

22. A book with a robot, AI or cyborg character.

23. A book with a bird on the cover. -- Apeirogon by Colum McCann

24. A fiction or non-fiction book about a world leader.

25. A book with "gold," "silver" or "bronze" in the title.

26. A book by a WoC. -- Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

27. A book with at least a four star rating on LT. -- The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

28. A book you meant to read in 2019.

29. A book about or involving social media.

30. A book with a book on its cover.

31. A medical thriller. -- Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen by Dexter Palmer

32. A book with a made up language.

33. A book set in a country beginning with "C."

34. A book you picked up because of the title.

35. A book with a three word title. -- Her Daughter's Mother by Daniela Petrova

36. A book with a pink cover. -- Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg

37. A western.

38. A book by or about a journalist. -- Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Diáz

39. A banned book.

40. Your favorite prompt from a past PopSugar challenge.

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 9:55pm Top

Great to see you all set up and ready for 2020. I'm looking forward to all the book bullets. Those dresses make me think of my Mom - a real 1950's housewife who always wore a full dress and pearls in case anyone dropped by.

Ack! I am trying to avoid the 2020 PopSugar Challenge as I already have so many challenges on the go! Not looking! Not looking!

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 9:57pm Top

rp, I fell in love with Reemtsen's work the first time I saw it.

clue, I like that unease. It gives them power.

Judy, yes, it's the tension between the proper and vintage dresses and the way the painting imply that the women depicted are ready for anything, including violence. And I got sucked into the Pop Sugar challenge last year and enjoyed it although I didn't finish it.

Dec 30, 2019, 10:16pm Top

The pictures imply competence as well as being ready to tackle anything. An interesting artist!

Dec 30, 2019, 10:16pm Top

>21 RidgewayGirl: >22 DeltaQueen50: I didn't plan to do PopSugar this year either as I already have too many books as it is. But there are some great prompts in there. Should I, shouldn't I?!

Dec 30, 2019, 10:27pm Top

>24 hailelib: I'm glad you like Reemtsen's work. I find the paintings fascinating.

>25 JayneCM: Obviously, I think you should just jump right in. I'm sure you can fill the spaces with books off of your tbr shelf.

Dec 31, 2019, 5:27am Top

I love this! I've got you starred and look forward to all of your reads. I'm still thinking about the Pop Sugar, although at the moment I'm seriously considering the Advanced portion of it, which focuses on 20's prompts.

Dec 31, 2019, 6:51am Top

The pictures are fascinating, thank for introducing Reemtsen to us. Have another great year of reading!

Dec 31, 2019, 7:22am Top

Glad to see you here, finally, Kay. Hope you have a great reading year - I'm sure I'll be taking a few BBs from you. Great pics! Love the boldness and color!

Dec 31, 2019, 2:24pm Top

I was unfamiliar with this artist but I love the pictures you've used. I'll need to look into finding out more about her.

Happy Reading!!

Dec 31, 2019, 11:45pm Top

Hanging out my star to follow along!

Jan 1, 6:00am Top

Dropping a trail of breadcrumbs. Another one who is not familiar with the artist. The contrast between the outfits and the hardware makes for a very interesting mixture of emotions. Hope your 2020 reading is starting well!

Jan 1, 8:29am Top

I love the vintage dresses, although like clue I'm finding the pictures being cut off at the head quite unsettling. Looking forward to seeing what you read this year - I always get plenty of BBs from your threads!

Edited: Jan 1, 4:15pm Top

Welcome, everyone! I think Kelly Reemtsen would be pleased to learn that her paintings are both striking and unsettling. I do wonder what the expressions the women are wearing -- are they smiling or in the middle of a murderous, but necessary task? You choose!

Time for my 2019 reading round-up!

Once again, it was a great reading year. Between the recommendations here, the Tournament of Books and having just accepted that I like to read freshly published books, I'm reading a better quality of book every year and enjoying them more.

Here's the stats:

Number of books read: 126

Number/percentage of books by women: 84 / 67%

Authors' nationalities:
American: 80 / 63%
British: 17 / 13%
Canadian: 8 / 6%
Outside the Anglophile world: 19 / 15%

Number of countries represented: 25

Books by year of publication:
2019: 66 / 52%
2018: 30 / 24%
Before 2000: 4 / 3%

Now on to the new year of reading!

Jan 1, 2:06pm Top

I think I like that there are no heads. I think faces and expressions would predispose you to perceive them in particular ways.

?: Shouldn't your year of publication = # of books/100%

Jan 1, 2:45pm Top

Betty, there were a bunch published between 2000 and 2017 that I didn't include in the stats.

Jan 1, 6:32pm Top

Duh! I should have realized. New Year's hangover?

Jan 1, 6:45pm Top

I also appreciate that there are no heads. In some instances I imagine a stern look, others a smile, and yet in others a look of boredom. Not sure why it varies from picture to picture though.

P.S. I like the way you party. 😁

Jan 1, 7:29pm Top

Betty, I'm just glad you didn't notice that I'd claimed that 124 out of 126 books had been by women, which added up to 67%. I've corrected it now, but it had to be pointed out to me.

Stacy, I agree. Much better without heads.

Jan 1, 8:44pm Top

The reason I find not having heads disconcerting is because women have fought long and hard to be recognized as more than a body. No head, no recognition of brain power. Maybe younger women don't have that concern to the extent that my generation did, I'm in my sixties. It's fantastic if women no longer need to be concerned about total acceptance but I'm not convinced yet.

Jan 1, 9:08pm Top

>40 clue: That's an interesting perspective. It reminded me of an interaction at a book festival earlier this year where a woman asked the women speaking (hosts of a feminist podcast called Unladylike) when young women would be liberated from having to wear all that make-up. One of the women she was asking was wearing bright lipstick and I got the sense of the two women (the one asking the question and the one answering) had a hard time communicating.

Here's the article that led me to Reemtsen. She explains her feminism in it. https://artmazemag.com/kelly-reemtsen/

Jan 2, 1:51am Top

Wonderful art, and a very creative theme. I especially like category 7 "Crime. True or Fiction, It's All Deadly".

I must read more about Kelly Reemsten.

Jan 2, 7:01am Top

>40 clue: That's kind of where I was coming from too. Mainly though, it reminded me of an academic book that I was a critical reader for - the first draft had all this stuff about health and obesity, and it was illustrated with a photo of a fat body with a coke and burger, with the photo cropped at the neck, and I remember going off on a huge rant about fat-shaming and depersonalisation and saying that I wanted nothing to do with the book if that photo was kept in. I had a very considered reply from the editor (who agreed with me), and the picture went. But I've never forgotten my visceral reaction to that dehumanising photo. I don't think these pictures by Kelly Reemsten are dehumanising in the same way at all, quite the opposite, I think (particularly because of the objects they are carrying) there is a lot of agency and dynamism in the pictures, but since then pictures with no heads will always make me go 'uh-oh', at least to start with!

Jan 2, 8:43am Top

Happy new year! I love the art you've featured.

Jan 2, 5:26pm Top

I love the way Kelly Reemtsen mixes dresses with tools in her paintings! Looking forward to another year of following your reading.

Jan 3, 7:00pm Top

Another thank you for Kelly Reemstsen - these are fantastic. Good luck with this year's party!

Jan 4, 11:33am Top

Welcome to my thread, everyone! I love that Reemtsen's work is causing some interesting conversations and feelings.

I could have, it turns out, based my challenge on cats living in my house. We have just added a new family member - a high school friend of my daughter's dropped out of university, returning home with a cat, who was not allowed in the house. We were the emergency foster until the person he thought would take the cat returned from the break, but that has fallen through. We do have too many cats, but she's a sweet little thing and she's already endured too many changes in her young life so here she will stay. I'll post a picture soon - my son already has dozens of her on his phone.

Jan 4, 12:19pm Top

Interesting categories, as always, Kay. I'm looking forward to some very exciting book reviews.

Jan 4, 12:43pm Top

Thanks, Birgit! I'm looking forward to your reading this year, too!

Jan 4, 4:32pm Top

>47 RidgewayGirl: Yaaaaay more kitties! Looking forward to pictures :)

Jan 5, 10:56am Top

rp, I'll have to get one soon. She's spending her time looking around intently, figuring out what's what. She also has a weird fondness for dirty socks. Given that my son is a teenage boy, these are available in abundance on the floor of his room. She picks them up and carries them around, leaving them in unexpected places.

Edited: Jan 5, 11:33am Top

Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory is a collection of short stories by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, who is better known as the creator of Bojack Horseman. There's a distinctive tone to these stories, which feature sad sack twenty-somethings navigating romantic life and enduring break-ups in what is probably the hip part of Brooklyn, not that I would know which part of Brooklyn that is specifically. Bob-Waksberg gives his stories a distinctive voice, using bizarre situations, but peopling them with characters who are relentlessly ordinary.

I read the first story and was utterly delighted its odd angles and with its tone. I read the second story and was likewise delighted. But by the fourth or the sixth story, the pattern was losing its luster. These stories are the kind that would surprise and charm when encountered in a magazine, sandwiched between a serious article about Yemen and a short story about cancer, but stacked together, they lose the ability to astonish.

That said, the two longest stories in this collection were the strongest. The Average of All Possible Things is a typical Bob-Waksberg story, but the length allows it to lose its gimmicks and reach for heart. And More of the You That You Already Are is a George Saunders-style tale of a sad sack trying to keep his job at a theme park where weird things are happening.

Jan 9, 1:47pm Top

Here's our newest family member. Freya enjoys bird-watching and teenage socks. She is still adjusting to the existence of the dog.

Jan 9, 2:16pm Top

>53 RidgewayGirl: She's gorgeous!

Jan 9, 3:25pm Top

>53 RidgewayGirl: Meow to Freya from my boys! She's beautiful!

Jan 9, 3:38pm Top

I don't particularly like cats (actually I just don't care one way or the other), but that's an adorable picture. My dog used to stand leaning on the window ledge to look out.

Jan 9, 3:43pm Top

>53 RidgewayGirl: Hello Freya. She's a lovely looking cat, with beautiful white socks.

Jan 9, 4:45pm Top

Awww, she's sweet!

Jan 9, 6:41pm Top

AWWWWWW adorable kitty!!!! So fluffy! She looks like she's wearing trousers :D

Jan 9, 9:46pm Top

She is beautiful!!!

Jan 9, 9:55pm Top

Another resolution is to keep up in 2020 with all my friends on LT. Happy New Year!

Jan 10, 12:41am Top

Welcome Freya! Great name (also my granddaughter's name!) and very cute.

Jan 10, 3:03am Top

Freya looks like a lovely addition to your household. I love that picture.

Jan 10, 12:30pm Top

Thank you all for welcoming Freya. She's the first long-haired cat we've ever had move in with us and we are delighted with her fluffiness.

Jan 10, 4:31pm Top

>53 RidgewayGirl: So beautiful! She looks happy. It's nice that she won't need to move again in the near-term. I've heard that is particularly hard for cats.

Jan 10, 8:37pm Top

I'm looking forward to following your reading again this year. Freya is adorable!

Jan 11, 12:59pm Top

>65 pammab: That was certainly part of my reasoning. She's been moved around enough for a small cat. She spends much of her time intently watching everything we do -- so she watched me fold laundry today, from both on top of and inside the dryer, and she closely observed my husband doing catbox duty. She was in the middle of the pets when treats were being distributed this morning, so I think she'll be fine.

>66 mathgirl40: I'm eagerly following your reading this year, too. And she really is.

Jan 11, 2:49pm Top

>53 RidgewayGirl: What an adorable gal! I am sure that she will have lots to observe with other cats, a dog, and teenagers around.

Jan 11, 3:39pm Top

>68 cbl_tn: Cats and dogs are so resilient and willing to adapt to whatever situation they find themselves in. I inherited an older cat, Homer, who lived his life in the doting care of a retired couple and who then had to adjust to cats, dog and teenagers. Here he is watching TV with my son and my husband. He's perfectly at home.

Jan 11, 8:02pm Top

>69 RidgewayGirl: Awww he looks so comfy and relaxed! Such a good boy :)

Jan 12, 11:35am Top

>70 rabbitprincess: He's a delightful, crotchety old man.

Jan 12, 11:36am Top

She was the only person in the house who had the key to her uncle's tunnel of books, along with his permission to take them out and read them. Blanca argued that her reading should be monitored because there were certain things that were inappropriate for her age, but her Uncle Jaime felt that people never read what did not interest them and if it interested them that meant they were sufficiently mature to read it.

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende is a glorious, heart-breaking, confounding novel about three generations of a Chilean family. It focuses on Clara, a clairvoyant, dreamy woman who can move salt cellars with her mind and who becomes the great love of both Férula and her brother Esteban, a violent, reactionary man; her daughter Blanca, whose great love for the son of a peasant farmer on her father's estate will both tear her family apart and save them; and Alba, Blanca's daughter, who will be the family member who sees them all through the military takeover with her courage and love.

I approached this book as one that would be an effort to read, and found instead a drama-filled and well paced novel in which three very different women live in an odd world, where magical things happen as a matter of course, where women are expected to behave in certain ways but where they are often, but not always, able to circumvent the expectations placed on them. It's an extraordinary novel and I enjoyed reading it. I ended up carrying around with me to grab a few sentences or pages throughout the day.

Jan 12, 11:49am Top

<72 Wonderful review! I will place this on my wishlist!

Jan 12, 3:39pm Top

>53 RidgewayGirl: - Adorable and curious!

Jan 13, 12:02am Top

>72 RidgewayGirl: Books carried around for stolen moments are so wonderful! I am so glad this one treated you to that.

Jan 13, 10:52am Top

>73 Tess_W: Tess, I'd be very interested in finding out what you think of it.

>74 lkernagh: She really is, Lori. She's a curious little thing, always following us around as we go about our day and today she came to stare at the Terminex guy.

>75 pammab: I do love to be fully immersed in a novel like that, but it's hard to move on to the next book once you've finished that one.

Jan 15, 9:35pm Top

>72 RidgewayGirl: I've put this one off because I also thought it would be an effort to read. Thanks for the encouraging review - it sounds fantastic.

Jan 16, 12:09pm Top

>77 madhatter22: Isn't it so funny how those books that get labeled as "modern classics" end up feeling intimidating? And every time I push myself to read one anyway, I end up wondering why I hadn't read it earlier.

Jan 16, 3:04pm Top

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha begins with the shooting of a black teenage girl in Los Angeles, an event which takes place shortly after the Rodney King beating and which sets off a series of riots. Ava is sent to the corner store to pick up milk one morning. The pregnant Korean shopkeeper accuses her of shoplifting and the argument which follows ends with Ava shot in the back.

Decades later, Ava's brother Shawn has built a life for himself, a steady job, a family and a determination to keep things calm. And Grace is a pharmacist, living with her parents and working in their small pharmacy. Her older sister is estranged from their mother, and no one in the family will tell her why.

Cha has written a novel that directly confronts how racism affects us today, and how wounds that are not treated will fester. It's a novel that embraces nuance and uncomfortable areas alike, diving into Korean American culture, and how disenfranchisement and racism fuels violence. There were several moments that made me uncomfortable and Cha didn't flinch from making her characters deeply flawed. This novel gave me a lot to think about.

Jan 16, 9:51pm Top

>79 RidgewayGirl: Your House Will Pay is very intriguing to me -- I will seek this one out specifically to see if I can use it for one of my categories this year too.

Jan 17, 11:18am Top

Bernardine Evaristo's Booker Prize-winning novel Girl, Woman, Other explores what it means to be black and a woman in Britain. Beginning with Amma, a lesbian theater director and activist, each chapter focuses on a new character, each connected in some way to the other characters in the novel. So Amma's story is followed by her daughter's, then a friend's, then a girl she knew at school, spiraling outward before settling in to following the family history of Morgan, a young woman not entirely comfortable in her body, and reaching back through time to eventually tell the story of her great-grandmother, a Yorkshire farmer.

I was ready to abandon the novel halfway through the third chapter, as each character became more obsessed with their image, but Evaristo then set that on its head, even as each woman has to consciously decide how she will present herself to the world. I ended up fascinated by each woman's story and how they all fit together. The final part, where all the contemporary women are in the same space, is less satisfying than the previous part, where generations of a single family are followed in reverse chronological order, but I appreciated getting to see how each woman was viewed by others. I do like the format Evaristo used of a series of short stories about women with varying degrees of proximity.

Edited: Jan 21, 12:44pm Top

Before I became pregnant I could be very persuasive, I'd do anything (anything) to get my way, but lately all of my husband's replies had been starting with the word "no."

Optic Nerve by Argentinian author Maria Gainza centers on a woman's life, through the paintings that she loves. Each chapter recounts one aspect of her life; an event, a friend, a character trait, interwoven with her encounter with a piece of art and some details of the artist's life.

. . . Santiago had given me an autobiography to read, and he was planning on bringing it out to coincide with a retrospective of his work. Unaccountably curious, I read it in a single sitting, skipping over the boring parts, until I realized in fact it was all boring parts, one leaden sentence after another.

The narrator's voice is engaging, I liked her right from the beginning. And what she chose to illuminate from each painter's life was fascinating. This novel reminded me of Rachel Cusk's Outline trilogy, although this book has a more detached, cool feel to it, and decidedly less plot. I read with a laptop next to me, as all but a few of the paintings were unfamiliar to me and it was an enjoyable way to learn a little about South American artists. The observations and thoughts of the unnamed protagonist were insightful, although the lack of any plot or greater understanding of her life did leave me feeling that this book is a unmoored from any solid foundation.

Jan 22, 10:55am Top

Madness has hit. I want to rearrange my bookshelves, so that the books that are most visible are different than the ones I've been looking at for months. I'm thinking of doing reverse alphabetical order. Anyone willing to dissuade me?

Jan 22, 12:44pm Top

Oh my gosh! Well that's one way. I did the ones in the living room by color on the spine when we moved. I had to add notes to the books in LT so I could find them later, but I've gotten lots of comments on it.

Jan 22, 1:58pm Top

>84 dudes22: I did that once. It looked fantastic. Then I needed a book and while I remembered correctly that the cover was red, I didn't remember that the spine was black, so that was the end of that.

I'm in the middle of it -- just F through L to sort. Of course, I complicated things by also reshelving my signed hardcovers, which had been on their own shelf and now I may run out of room, right there in the middle of the alphabet.

Jan 22, 2:25pm Top

I need to tidy my shelves up too. Generally I try and keep them in genres-ish on the same shelf, and I have one shelf for fiction (I know! Just the one!). When I tidy it's usually to move the ones that I've read to the back and bring the ones that still need reading to the front.

Edited: Jan 22, 3:24pm Top

>83 RidgewayGirl: Good luck! A rearrangement is due for my books too but reverse alphabetical would be too taxing for my brain. What I really need to do is separate read from unread so that I can see at a glance what I have to choose from.

The problem I usually encounter is that the new arrangement takes up more space! I have come to the conclusion that they multiply when taken off the shelves.

ETA: I love your fluffy new cat.

Jan 22, 3:38pm Top

>86 Jackie_K: I considered that. But I do like the look of very different authors being next to each other. I do separate out my non-fiction by subject.

Ok, going back in to see if all those books will miraculously fit on the remaining two shelves!

Jan 22, 3:40pm Top

>87 VivienneR: Thanks, Vivienne! We love her. She has been very interested in my reshelving project.

Edited: Jan 22, 4:12pm Top

I like the way I have the physical books sorted but I get frustrated over Kindle books. I tend to ignore them if I don't read them right away. I saw an idea online I MIGHT try. The book owner had their books in alphabetical order by author She typed up the e-books she had to read by author, one letter to a page, attached the pages to a sturdier material and put them in her bookcases at the first book per letter. I'm not sure how often she updated them with a new typed page but until that time came around she penciled in new books and crossed off those read. I like the idea of having the kindle list with the books, but I'm not sure I would do a good job of keeping it updated. It might be something I would do until I got my Kindle "to read" down to a lower number.

I wonder if it would help me keep from buying an e-book and a physical book of the same title. Found one of those just last night,

Jan 22, 4:30pm Top

I only keep a few authors after I've read a book because I just don't have the room. So most of my read books go off to the library for their sales after I've read them. I'm also not a re-reader of very much and figure I could probably get it from the library if I need to get it again.

Jan 22, 5:41pm Top

>82 RidgewayGirl: I'm currently reading Optic Nerve and I too have been Googling the artists as I go!

Jan 22, 9:23pm Top

clue, I do like making lists, but I finally just added all my ebooks to my LT catalog. I have the LT app and have it open whenever I'm at a booksale or book store. But a physical list is fun to make.

Betty, I have room, but I am working to keep the overall number of books steady. I'm still acquiring more books than I get rid of, but I'm getting a lot better. If only they stopped publishing new ones!

Paulina, my favorite new-to-me artist was the one who painted The War of the Triple Alliance.

Jan 23, 5:24pm Top

Chiming in on the book arrangement. I'm trying to create a TBR category so I know what I have left to read in books owned. I started with my Kindle books. I found several books that are not yet in LibraryThing, so I need to do that. I just began with the list from Amazon of books in my Amazon collection. Amazon does include "expired" ARCs in their list, but those are generally already read and are now in my read but not owned collection. I added a Kindle TBR collection. I compared it to what was in my Kindle collection on LT. I wrote the rating down if I'd read it. I moved it to Kindle TBR otherwise.

I'll tackle real books later, but I'm going to include a box or shelf number in my private comments so I can locate those easily. I suspect I'll also do some weeding of books I'm no longer interested in reading. I'll try to take as many of those as I can to the used bookstore. The remainder will probably go to our library's annual book sale.

Jan 24, 2:53pm Top

I was browsing through a list of the best books of 2019, and Her Daughter's Mother by Daniela Petrova was featured as one of the best thrillers of the year. In it, an infertile woman catches sight of her egg donor on the NY subway. She manages to insert herself into Katya's life, only to find herself as a person of interest when Katya's body is found.

It's a wonderful premise, and Petrova adds depth by making Katya a Bulgarian graduate student at Columbia who is reckless and filled with guilt for her role in her brother's death. And Lana is a driven person, whose relentless pursuit of having a child drives away her husband. That drive is what pushes her to intrude first into Katya's life, and then into the lives of those who knew her.

The plot moves quickly, there aren't any unnecessary scenes and things keep happening, all of which make for a solid thriller. What made it less successful for me was that the three main characters, all of them Ivy League graduates and supposedly highly intelligent, did so many stupid things in order to keep the story moving and that the entire plot depended on poor communication between the characters. Her Daughter's Mother was fun and fast paced, but I wasn't able to get past the flaws in this one.

Jan 24, 2:56pm Top

>94 thornton37814: I don't think we'd be going to so much trouble if we didn't enjoy the cataloguing and rearranging of our books! I know that I enjoyed the process, and I like that the books most visible to me are now different ones. I don't know how long I can tolerate having them in reverse alphabetical order, but at least they are just as easy to find.

Jan 25, 10:00pm Top

I’ve been working on rearranging my science fiction and fantasy books for the past week and found that they no longer fit on the same number of shelves. Having collected all the ones squirreled away in spots around the house there is at least an extra shelf of books. However I did find a lot of interesting looking books that I’ve never read. Also my husband is making me some new shelves!

Jan 25, 10:48pm Top

>97 hailelib: Can he come to my house next?! I think that is how my books are 'organised' too - they are definitely not all on the shelves at any one time!

Jan 27, 11:27pm Top

Thinking seriously about Your House Will Pay, have put a hold on Girl, Woman, Other, and am waiting for you to read the Urrea. I had added The House of Broken Angels to the wishlist because it seems to be free of magical realism, but a little bit doesn't hurt.

Jan 28, 9:17am Top

>97 hailelib: Yay for new shelves! My husband built some for the bedroom a few years ago and keeps threatening to build more. They do all fit, mostly!

>98 JayneCM: Well, no, some need to be stacked by the bed, some need to be stacked up to read next, some need to be stacked up to consider for donation...

>99 pamelad: I'm looking forward to finding out what you think of Girl, Woman, Other. The goodreads ToB group chose that one overwhelmingly when someone asked which book should they read if they only had time to read one more. I've started The Hummingbird's Daughter and will let you know how deeply into magic realism it goes.

Jan 28, 5:31pm Top

Ordinary Girls is a memoir by journalist Jaquira Diáz, about her childhood in Puerto Rico, through her school years in Miami and into her adulthood as she negotiates her way as the daughter of estranged parents, bouncing back and forth between her absent father and her mentally ill and drug addicted mother. Despite her bleak situation, this is very much not a misery memoir. Diáz is not interested in garnering sympathy and she leans hard into how members of her family supported her when they could and especially on the friendships she formed as a girl growing up in a tough Miami neighborhood where gunshots were heard regularly and where she is haunted by the body of a young boy who remains nameless for far too long.

Diáz is first and foremost a journalist. Her focus is on understanding other people. She weaves into her own story, that of Lazaro Cardona and his mother Ana. He is found dead under a hedge in Diáz's neighborhood when she is a child. It took time for his identity to be found, and his mother and her girlfriend are convicted of his murder. This murder is also a story Diáz revisits as a journalist, attending his mother's appeals.

What I found most interesting is how Diáz manages to move from being a school drop-out who was regularly arrested at a shockingly young age, to building a stable life for herself, and how she chooses to love her family, even her mother.

Edited: Jan 31, 1:22pm Top

Looker is the kind of slow burn thriller, in which an unsympathetic main character becomes less and less sympathetic as the novel goes on, and by the time the climactic scene is reached, the reader has been cringing for some time, knowing that something terrible will happen and that it will all happen because of this narrator who tells her story in an increasingly interior and claustrophobic way.

So I really liked Looker by Laura Sims. In it, a woman who has recently been unsuccessful in getting pregnant, despite expensive fertility treatments, is left by her husband, who packs up all of his things, leaving only his cat behind. As her life becomes smaller, the casual interest she has in a neighbor, a famous actress, becomes more and more intense.

It's clear that something bad will happen. The narrator in whose head the reader is trapped, becomes increasingly irrational, transforming from someone who had a career and a social life into a woman who creates illusions and imaginary connections, reacting to the story in her mind rather than how things really are. Sims does a wonderful job of both portraying how her character experiences people and events, while giving small glimpses into how things really are. It's a fun, uncomfortable read for anyone who likes Otessa Moshfegh, noir and watching someone making very bad decisions.

Feb 1, 2:05am Top

>102 RidgewayGirl: Looker seems quite interesting! I will consider it for February ScaredyKit.

Feb 1, 3:16am Top

>102 RidgewayGirl: a BB for me!

Feb 2, 11:53am Top

I knew that I could depend on you guys to understand the allure of reading about an unsympathetic character!

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Book Fight, and the two hosts were laughing about how all of literature depends on characters making bad decisions.

Feb 2, 1:24pm Top

>105 RidgewayGirl: Haha I love this idea about bad decisions! BTW this was my main gripe with the Harry Potter series: he kept making the same bad decision book after book IMO: not talking to his teachers about what is going on. It's fine for two, three, four books, but as he aged and kept making this I wanted to shake some sense into him!

Feb 2, 1:27pm Top

>106 chlorine: I would argue that "problems caused by a lack of basic communication" is more lazy plotting than good literature. If a problem can be eliminated with a ten minute conversation at a Starbucks, it's not a problem worth writing about.

Feb 2, 5:14pm Top

>107 RidgewayGirl: Very good point and I'm always wiling to go and get coffee!

Edited: Feb 3, 4:44pm Top

>82 RidgewayGirl: - I adored Optic Nerve and it reminded me why I enjoy reading some of the ToB selections. The art history aspect really hit my sweet spot.

>81 RidgewayGirl: - I’ll prioritize that one for my next ToB pick. Sounds like the sort of thing I might like.

Feb 3, 3:09pm Top

>108 chlorine: I'll meet you there!

>109 LittleTaiko: I've really been enjoying this year's books. I've started We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin and I'm loving it - which is not what I expected - I'm not a huge fan of satires.

Feb 4, 4:49pm Top

Saint X is a Caribbean island somewhere near St. Kitts. On this island is Indigo Bay, a resort frequented by wealthy Americans, among them the Thomas family. Alison has just finished her first semester of college and sharing a room with her much younger sister is less than exciting, so she leaves each evening to spend time with another college student and then two young local men who work at the resort. The night before the family is due to fly back to New York, she disappears.

This both is and isn't a crime novel. Alexis Schaitkin is less interested in the crime itself than on how Alison's death affected the people around her, with a particular focus on her little sister Claire. Claire is too young to have fully understood what was going on and later her parents focused on keeping her childhood as normal as possible. It's years later, when she's living alone, that a taxi ride sends her into a compulsive search to learn more about her sister. As she digs into her sister's life, she begins to both intrude into the lives of others and to lose something of herself.

This novel is not quite sure what it's supposed to be. It begins as a wide look at a group of people, written with a sort of objective detachment, then becomes a close character study of one woman, only to finish as a "what really happened" look at Alison's disappearance. It works as long as the reader is willing to have the book constantly shift and adjust as it figures out what it is trying to say.

Feb 4, 5:33pm Top

I love your art and your new kitty, she's so cute and the name suits her!

I received Girl, Woman, Other for Christmas, and nice to hear you liked it. I've also got The House of the Spirits on my TBR, and happy to hear you enjoyed it. And I'll take a BB for Your House Will Pay.

Edited: Feb 4, 5:39pm Top

Hi, Lisa! She is a sweetheart. She even does the laundry!

Feb 4, 5:46pm Top

>113 RidgewayGirl: Awwwwwww!!!

Feb 4, 7:04pm Top

>113 RidgewayGirl: Seconding Lisa's comment! Awwwwww :D

Feb 5, 12:00pm Top

>113 RidgewayGirl: My three boys helped me put the freshly laundered mattress topper and sheets on the bed. Since I hang the quilt to dry, I had to use another one of those, but they helped with that too.

Feb 5, 2:22pm Top

>116 thornton37814: I have the opposite problem. It's hard to find a moment when the bed is not being occupied in order to change the sheets. After all, it would be rude to wake a sleeping cat, what with their need to get a solid twenty hours.

Feb 6, 6:29pm Top

>117 RidgewayGirl: They get on it the minute I put one corner on. I've learned how to work around them because it's the only way I get them on. I'm fortunate my cats also like to sleep on the couch, on the back of the rocker, and on their cat tree. However, they will follow me around most of the time.

Feb 7, 12:49am Top

>117 RidgewayGirl: My boy has a few sleeping spots throughout the house. So I can normally move him if I need to, as long as it is to one of his pre-approved spots!

Feb 7, 2:22pm Top

>113 RidgewayGirl: - Awwwwww.... so sweet!

Edited: Feb 7, 5:58pm Top

Hi everyone! Freya had her special operation yesterday and it turns out that she's not a fan of The Cone of Shame.

Feb 7, 9:42pm Top

>121 RidgewayGirl: That's a Death Stare if I've ever seen one!

Edited: Feb 8, 2:13am Top

>121 RidgewayGirl: Not happy, Jan!


From an old TV ad in Australia that has entered the vernacular here (well, for those of us who remember the original ad! And can remember when the Yellow Pages was in a paper format!)

Feb 8, 5:40am Top

Oh bless her, I suspect from that stare that you're going to have to do quite a lot to earn her eventual forgiveness!

Feb 8, 1:58pm Top

rp, she is certainly put out!

Jayne, that is hilarious!

Jackie, I am sure there will be some making up to do. But my son is taking such good care of her.

Feb 10, 4:21pm Top

"Consider," Fox said, "the woman with child who reads. Who seeks to occupy her mind with matters of art and science at a time when she is intended to to embrace the role assigned to her by God, that of a wife, and of a mother. Who spends her days in the company of imaginary folk such as Moll Flanders and Roxana the Fortunate Mistress, while her belly swells and her needle goes neglected. Who fails to meditate on her responsibility to the new life that grows inside her. Such a woman's thought is torn in two directions--is it no surprise that if she were to give birth to a child in such an afflicted state of mind, that it would assume the most hideous of manifestations?"

"Behold," Fox said, "the
woman with two heads."

Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen is the story of the extraordinary story of Mary Toft, a woman in Godalming, England who, in the early eighteenth century, gave birth to rabbits. Told from the point of view of the local surgeon and man-midwife's apprentice, the story begins with a traveling "Exhibition of Medical Curiosities" that comes to town and amazes Zachary, even as his father, the local clergyman and John Howard, the local doctor, differ in what they find extraordinary about the spectacle. Soon after, John Howard and Zachary are called to assist a woman in labor. The woman, Mary Toft, gives birth to pieces of rabbit. She will continue to give birth to rabbit parts a few times a week and it isn't long before people from London become involved, and things become ever more confusing and complicated.

Dexter Palmer's novel is a wonderfully written historical novel that subtly explores ideas about perception and truth, while delivering a hugely enjoyable look at England in the eighteenth century. I especially liked how Palmer explored how women were thought of and treated and how that affected them. These themes never get in the way of what is an entertaining story and they remain on my mind days after finishing. Palmer's previous novel was set in the near future and explored concepts arising from time travel. It seems that he is an author who can tackle any genre successfully. I'm now hugely curious as to what his next novel will be.

And I will tell you this about God--that despite his presumed omnipresence he often arrives in the company of men; that men fear to interpret the world on their own authority when they are aware of his presence, because his senses are complete and perfect and his experiences are unlimited; that the standards for proof are much higher when God is involved, especially proof of life, or of what goes on inside a woman's body; that weighed against God's displeasure, or against a man's feeling that God is displeased by his actions, the life of one woman is no great thing.

Feb 10, 4:35pm Top

>121 RidgewayGirl: I doubt any cat is a fan of the cone of shame.

Feb 12, 9:30am Top

>127 thornton37814: I had one! Our beloved Hodge was a large guy (17 lbs) who was fine being manhandled by toddlers, who was calm in all situations, including the vet's, and who simply ignored the cone of shame, bumping into doorways and insisting on going outside, as was his habit. He is still sorely missed.

Feb 12, 10:43am Top

What a book! The Hummingbird's Daughter is historical fiction as a wild adventure story. Beginning in 1880, Luis Alberto Urrea tells the story of Teresita, a young Indian girl who began life with no advantages and all the disadvantages, and ended up as an ignition point for the Mexican Revolution.

This is an adventure story full of colorful characters. It has a sense of humor and a sense of absurdity, while remaining deeply seeped in the traditions of Latinx story-telling. It reminded me in tone and pacing of Lonesome Dove, although the plot is entirely different. There's a wide cast of characters, all of whom Urrea makes live and breathe. I enjoyed my time with this novel and I have yet to find a book by this author that hasn't been excellent.

Feb 13, 1:47am Top

>121 RidgewayGirl: Freya is making a note in her little black book!

My cat took her operation very badly. She refused to play for so long that my husband called the vet. I wonder how many times the vet has heard "My cat won't frolic".

>129 RidgewayGirl: This is definitely going on my wishlist!

Feb 13, 10:48am Top

Vivienne, I think you'll love The Hummingbird's Daughter. I have long thought that I'm not a fan of historical fiction, but a lot of the novels I've especially loved recently have been these big, rich historical adventures. And Luis Alberto Urrea is such a fantastic writer.

Also, Freya is back to being herself and seems to hold no grudges.

Feb 13, 11:36am Top

>131 RidgewayGirl: - I'm with you. I never think that I read historical fiction and tend to bypass reviews/books that indicate they are, but lately I've had some good reads that are historical fiction. I think I'll be taking a BB for this even if it's a while before I get to it.

Edited: Feb 13, 1:23pm Top

I could not picture myself leaving and starting my sentences on a maudlin note, with a heavy-hearted intonation and the phrase, 'during my time in Africa.'

In Saudade, an Indian girl grows up in 1960s Angola, as the Angolans begin their fight for independence from Portugal. As a child, she is unaware of the unrest stirring around her and in the novella her main focus is her fraught relationship with her mother and her experiences with schoolfriends and her first relationship. What sets Saudade apart from an ordinary coming-of-age story is the way Suneeta Peres da Costa weaves the usual experiences of childhood in with the daily life of colonial Angola. It's a small glimpse into a long gone way of life, and successful as that.

Feb 14, 3:04pm Top

>126 RidgewayGirl: and >129 RidgewayGirl:, two BBs in a row...

Freya is so lovely!

Feb 14, 4:47pm Top

>134 Chrischi_HH: Freya acknowledges your admiration.

Feb 14, 6:50pm Top

>129 RidgewayGirl: - When I went to add this to my wishlist, I found that I had taken a BB from you for another of his books in 2018. Guess I need to get going and read one.

Feb 15, 10:45am Top

>136 dudes22: Betty, I have read three books by Luis Alberto Urrea. Each was completely different from the others and each was excellent.

Feb 15, 6:50pm Top

>137 RidgewayGirl: I don't know that I liked the one I listened to, but I suspect it was that it didn't lend itself as well to that format. It certainly informed me about the immigration crisis. I'm pretty sure I have a couple others on my TBR list so hopefully I'll get around to it later.

Feb 17, 1:03am Top

>129 RidgewayGirl: After The House of Broken Angels I started searching for The Hummingbird's Daughter, but there's no ebook in Australia, and there are no available library copies. I hope Urrea's increasing fame leads to wider release of his earlier books.

Feb 17, 6:52am Top

>139 pamelad: Oh no! I remember borrowing The Hummingbird's Daughter on interlibrary loan early last year and never got to to reading it. Just looked and now there are none - it must have been taken out of circulation. Someone got a good buy at a library book sale! I'll have to start keeping an eye out at op shops.

Feb 17, 10:46am Top

>138 thornton37814: Lori, that was The Devil's Highway, wasn't it? His fiction is very different, and the two novels of his that I've read were entirely different from each other. I think you might really like The Hummingbird's Daughter. He based it on family stories about a great-aunt (I think it was a great-aunt. A relative, in any case).

>138 thornton37814: & >139 pamelad: Now I'm upset on your behalf! Hopefully, it returns to the library shelves soon!

Feb 17, 2:28pm Top

>141 RidgewayGirl: Yes. It was The Devil's Highway. I'll make sure I didn't remove the other Urreas from the wish list after listening to the one, but I'm pretty sure I saw one of his works--either The House of Broken Angels or The Hummingbird's Daughter still on a wish list or TBR list when I was scrolling through recently.

Feb 18, 12:03pm Top

>142 thornton37814: I'm pretty sure you'd really enjoy The Hummingbird's Daughter, Lori.

Feb 18, 12:03pm Top

A black lawyer, living in the city in a near future United States, has worked his entire life to assimilate properly, obeying every rule. Now he's up for a big promotion, one that will give him the financial resources to give his son the one thing that will save his life and allow him to succeed. He wants to buy his son a medical procedure that will make him white.

We Cast a Shadow is a hard book to characterize. It's certainly satire, and dystopian fiction. It's a book about racism that at first feels like hyperbole, but as I read, the world that Maurice Carlos Ruffin built felt less and less exaggerated, being so based in how society works today. And it feels warmer than satire usually does. The narrator may be compromised. He may be rationalizing his own complicity as well as being eager to attribute the actions of the state to flaws in the morals of the people crushed by it, but he is so motivated by a fierce love for his son that it's impossible not to feel for him, even as he consistently hurts those around him, even the ones he cares for the most.

I'll be thinking about this one for some time.

Feb 18, 5:48pm Top

Given that my Thingaversary is in three days and that the weather has been particularly disheartening, I took myself off to Mr. K's, the local used bookstore, and came away with these fine additions to the shelves. The second one down is the Early Reviewers book that was waiting in my mailbox when I got home.

It was very satisfying.

Edited: Feb 18, 6:31pm Top

The second one down is the Early Reviewers book that was waiting in my mailbox when I got home.

I can understand this completely. I had a Kindle book arrive last week. I thought the title was familiar but didn't have time to check it out. When I did I discovered I had gotten a copy from Netgalley in December and failed to cancel the pre-publication order I had placed.

Happy Thingaversary! I have one this month too and have to get my head around what I want to add to the shelves.

Feb 18, 6:38pm Top

>145 RidgewayGirl: They have a Mr. K's in Johnson City. I've stopped in a time or two, but I stop at McKays in Knoxville or Chattanooga most often. I'll be visiting McKays and/or Mr. K's and/or White Pine Books before my Thingaversary.

Feb 18, 7:45pm Top

>146 clue: clue, I have become fanatical about checking my library on the LT app ever since I brought home a book I was sure I'd never even seen before, only to find the same edition on my tbr shelf. I have discovered that even when I'm certain, it's not a bad idea to check anyway.

>147 thornton37814: Mr. K's is a substantially smaller store than McKays! I'm going to pressure Victoria into another road trip out your way this spring so I can visit it again. Given that the 22nd will be my 12th anniversary, I've got one more book-buying spree in front of me.

Feb 18, 8:43pm Top

>148 RidgewayGirl: That will be great! I'm sure we can find some good food as well as books!

Feb 19, 9:54pm Top

>144 RidgewayGirl: I too have been thinking about this book for some time. Of the three ToB play-in books, this is the one I'm rooting for.

Edited: Feb 20, 10:35pm Top

>147 thornton37814: and>148 RidgewayGirl:

I like Mr. K’s but the few times we were able to visit McKay’s we found all kinds of great books.

Jim and I have been thinking about going to Knoxville to visit McKay’s sometime in March if we can travel between doctor appointments. Sort of a present to ourselves.

Feb 21, 8:52am Top

>151 hailelib: If you come to Knoxville, let me know. I'll be out of town the first week of March, but I might be able to meet you if my schedule allows.

Feb 21, 10:41am Top

I see by your Currently Reading that a new McCann book is coming out in a few days. I didn't know it was coming, I'm looking forward to seeing what you think of it.

Feb 21, 11:44am Top

>149 thornton37814: Lori, we had so much fun last time!

>150 mathgirl40: Paulina, I'm definitely rooting for it in the play-in round. The first round, too. It's a stronger book than All This Could Be Yours. I'm reading The Water Dancer, which is a fantastic adventure story that reminds me a little of Washington Black, right now.

>151 hailelib: It would be fun to have a grand LT meet up in Knoxville. Let me know when you're planning on going over and maybe I can swing a trip at the same time. March is fairly busy, but maybe it will all work.

>152 thornton37814: clue, McCann is one of my favorite authors and his writing is just so fine. I'm still watching to see if the pieces will fall into place - this novel is even more heavily based in fact than his others, and the two main characters are still living.

I'm almost finished reading the books that will compete in the Tournament of books. I'm in the middle of two, and have two to go, with one just arrived on the library holds shelf.

Feb 21, 3:46pm Top

Stateway's Garden is a collection of tightly linked short stories about a curious, intelligent boy named Tracy, growing up in a Chicago housing project with his older brother and his mother. Stateway Gardens is both a trap and a community. A place with fantastic views of Lake Michigan and Comiskey Park that segregates its residents from the city around them. In these stories, Tracy follows his brother around, skips school and endures his first bus ride to a new, more academically challenging school. His brother loves his high school girlfriend, but can't quite get up the courage to leave familiar surroundings. His mother works more than one job, always waiting for the promised raise, the letter that will let them move out of there, the man who will stay.

Jasmon Drain's debut is a work that examines life in a place that no longer exists and is peopled with very human characters. It's such a lame cliché to claim that a place is a central character, but Drain fills his stories with such vivid descriptions of the stairways and apartments, the particular scant brown grass, the sounds that filter through Tracy's bedroom window, and which he will later desperately miss, that the comparison becomes unavoidable.

While this debut sometimes felt like a first novel, the writing was solid and there is something to it. I'm eager to see what this author writes next.

Edited: Feb 21, 4:41pm Top

So this guy does not like the crate. My parents, who had him before I inherited him, had stopped getting him immunized because of this. I found a solution on-line where he goes to the vet swaddled in a blanket like an infant and that has worked fine. So fine, in fact, that upon being released on the examining table, our Homer almost fell asleep (he woke up when he was jabbed).

Doesn't he look healthy? He's up to date on all his shots!

Feb 21, 6:43pm Top

>156 RidgewayGirl: A handsome boy!!

Feb 22, 2:36am Top

>156 RidgewayGirl: - I love the swaddling solution! Both of my cats - back in the day as I haven't had any feline companions for a number of years now - were not fans of the crate. One was more vocal about it than the other one. Given that the only time they ever went into the crate was to transport them to the vet, I can't really blame them.

... and yes, he does look healthy!

Feb 22, 11:49am Top

>156 RidgewayGirl: Definitely looking nice, healthy, and content!

Feb 22, 2:56pm Top

>157 rabbitprincess: He really is a good-looking guy.

>158 lkernagh: Lori, I wish I'd known about this miraculous cat sedating tip earlier! It does make taking him to the vet easy, although I have to have a second person with me as I'm not sure that I would want to drive while holding a swaddled cat!

>159 thornton37814: Moderately content. We're in the process of transitioning him to living entirely indoors, so he currently is allowed out mid-morning and then when he comes back in (usually an hour or so later), he does not get to go back out after his lunch and a nap. He is not entirely on board with this arrangement.

Feb 24, 3:08pm Top

Stateway's Garden seems great, thanks for the review!

Feb 25, 3:05pm Top

>161 chlorine: It gave me a lot to think about.

Feb 25, 4:46pm Top

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates is both history as adventure tale and a nuanced look at how slavery affects both the oppressor and the enslaved. Hiram Walker grows up on a Virginia plantation, his mother and family sold away, his father the plantation owner. He is given the task of watching over his white half brother, educated and left with the idea that he might run the plantation, especially given how generally unsatisfactory his half brother is. But his circumstances change when his brother dies and the place he has always called home sinks deeper into disrepair.

Hiram will experience both freedom and the terror of being caught seeking freedom. He'll interact with abolitionist circles, the underground railroad and Harriet Tubman, herself. He'll also put himself back into danger as part of his involvement with the underground and his own family ties.

Coates has some interesting things to say about family and I was most fascinated by his portrayal of a Southern lady involved with the underground. She's an odd and complex character, with Coates refusing to allow anyone to be entirely a saint or a villain.

Mar 1, 6:35am Top

> Thanks for another very good review of what seems to be a great book!

Mar 2, 9:33am Top

>164 chlorine: It is a good book, chlorine! I very much liked Coates exploration of how slavery affected both the slavers and the enslaved.

Mar 2, 9:50am Top

I just loved A Girl Returned by Donatella Di Pietrantonio. This short novel centers on a thirteen-year-old girl who is abruptly sent away from the couple she had grown up believing were her parents and returned to the family of her birth parents. She's disoriented and this new family is not entirely welcoming. Her change in circumstances also means that her comfortable middle-class world is exchanged for that of a low income family with a lot of instability. She has three older brothers, only one of whom is kind to her, and a new younger sister, with whom she now shares a bed.

The translation for this novel is by Ann Goldstein, who also translated Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan quartet and so the similarities are more than just the shared setting of a poor Italian neighborhood, but this novel is less sweeping soap opera than it is a coming-of-age story where a girl finds herself unmoored and then discovers her own resilience.

This is the first of Di Pietrantonio's novels to be translated into English and I am eagerly awaiting more.

Mar 2, 12:14pm Top

>166 RidgewayGirl: A BB for me! I saw that somebody else also liked it, but I can't remember who!

Mar 3, 8:44pm Top

>167 Tess_W: Tess, it's just a wonderful novel. I enjoyed every page.

Mar 3, 8:45pm Top

In an alternate/near future Berlin, Anja lives in a malfunctioning eco house on a steep hill with her American boyfriend, Lewis. It's a world where corporations control everything and artists are contracted to companies, their work and even their bodies part of the corporate machine. The weather has gone haywire, with vast fluctuations taking place within single days. Anja works as a scientist until she's promoted into a consultant role, while her boyfriend grows distant as he works on a new idea.

Oval by Elvia Wilk is more concerned with discussing the philosophical implications of the world of this novel than it is in world-building or character development. It wasn't a bad book, but it also wasn't a terribly interesting one. There are a lot of novels out there exploring possible futures and I would suggest choosing one of them instead of this one.

Mar 3, 9:09pm Top

>163 RidgewayGirl: I'm reading this one right now and enjoying it.

>169 RidgewayGirl: This seems like the weakest of the ToB books I've read so far, but I will still be interested in hearing what the judges and other commentators say. They often point out interesting things that I'd missed altogether.

Mar 3, 9:14pm Top

>170 mathgirl40: I agree! The best judgements and comments are the ones that make me rethink a book. I'm looking forward to this year's tournament, although I still have two books to go.

Mar 10, 10:22am Top

Love your cat pics! Our adopted kittens did not enjoy the cones of shame either when we had them spayed.

And taking a BB for We Cast a Shadow.

Mar 10, 11:28am Top

>172 LisaMorr: I'm still thinking about We Cast a Shadow.

Mar 11, 11:10am Top

When Douglas Preston heard about a ruin secretly being hunted for somewhere in Central America, he was excited and ended up getting himself invited to serve as the official writer for an expedition to find a mythical lost city in Honduras. A new kind of military-grade radar allowed archeologists to look at the ground structure of even heavily forested areas and the question of whether it would be able to penetrate the densest rain forest in the Americas was one that a wealthy adventurer was willing to answer, putting together a team of scientists, archaeologists, film crew, Preston and a very sketchy fixer. The answer, of course, was yes and then the challenge became that of reaching a remote area, doing the fieldwork and keeping its location a secret from looters, all in an unstable country.

What follows in The Lost City of the Monkey God is a mishmash of Indiana Jones-style adventures (lots of snakes) with a veneer of respectable archeology, some controversy, a few photo opportunities by politicians, and Preston, always at the center of the narrative. There's a fair amount of history, politics, science and nature, but never so much on any one topic to bore the restless reader. This is a beach read for those who don't want to read a novel or delve too deeply into any single subject. Despite the cursory nature of the many subjects this book touched on, it wasn't a bad introduction to any of those topics. It's quickly paced, with a big emphasis on how actively terrifying and beautiful the rain forest is. And the final chapters, about disease, felt entirely too of the moment.

Mar 11, 5:29pm Top

Well, folks, the first Occupy novel is here and it's mostly fine, I guess. Overthrow by Caleb Crain begins when Matthew, a thirty-year-old graduate student working on his dissertation, meets Leif, a younger skater dude. Instead of hooking up, Leif takes him to meet a small group of people convinced that they can read people's minds, or at least Leif and Elspeth might be able to. They spend a lot of time over at Zucotti Park trying to recruit other Occupiers to their working group, but so far it's just a small group of six.

An encounter with police leads Leif to think he's read the mind of one of the authorities. Testing that leads the group into illegal corners and divides the group.

Each chapter, of widely varying lengths, focuses on one member of the working group. With one exception, they are not people I was interested in knowing, although the characters did not lack depth. Crain is a solid, if verbose writer, although his love of using obscure words when simpler ones would have served the novel better was annoying and pulled me out of the story again and again. Crain's portrayal of Elspeth, the quiet girlfriend, the provider of space and support, who only comes into her own once everyone else is gone and she discovers herself, was the most compelling character in Overthrow and I would have liked more of her and less of the others. This was a lot longer than it should have been, and I say that as someone who enjoys a long, discursive novel, but rambling is not a trait that suits what is, at heart, a thriller.

After all that, though, I wouldn't be entirely against reading another novel by this author.

Mar 11, 9:32pm Top

>174 RidgewayGirl: I enjoyed that one when I read it.

Mar 12, 9:14am Top

>176 thornton37814: Lori, I'm holding on to my copy to bring to the annual beach vacation. Both my husband and my father bring no reading material of their own and want to know what I brought them to read. I start collecting a stack of books they'd like around now each year, and this one certainly fits their reading tastes.

Mar 12, 2:35pm Top

>177 RidgewayGirl: Great choice. I think most men would find it interesting.

Mar 12, 6:00pm Top

>178 thornton37814: Absolutely! If I were creating a display called 'Manly Beach Reads' this book would be right there in the middle. Now to find four or five more, preferably off of my own shelves and not books they've seen on previous summers.

Mar 12, 6:09pm Top

A bit late, but I am still trying to catch up on threads so Happy Belated Thingaversary!

Your little Homer is beautiful. He looks happy and healthy.

I actually dropped by to thank you for the BB for The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary. I loved it.

Mar 12, 8:35pm Top

>179 RidgewayGirl: Thriller? Most guys like those too. You have a lot of noir things too. Do they like those?

Mar 14, 2:13pm Top

>180 VivienneR: I noticed that! It really is a very well-executed chick-lit. There are too few of those. And Homer says, thanks and of course.

>181 thornton37814: My Dad finds my taste in noir and crime novels too bleak, but every so often there's one he likes. My husband reads more slowly and is easier to please, so I don't worry about him so much.

In Coronavirus news, my son's state robotics championship is taking place right now. We were going to go down and cheer his team on, but they decided a few days ago to not allow spectators. My son's team (he is team captain) is currently in first place going into the quarterfinals. I'm watching via a link, but I wish I were there to share his joy. I know he's feeling it - their last match, he was wearing sunglasses. I'm glad they didn't cancel, although the world championship has been canceled. And we'll have to keep him away from his Grandfather for a few weeks after he gets back.

Edited: Mar 14, 3:21pm Top

>179 RidgewayGirl: I was puzzled by the Manly Beach comment because it's much too far away for you to be reading on. Perhaps you have fond memories of a trip across Sydney Harbour on the Manly ferry? Or the Australian Crawl song, Reckless? The connection with men didn't cross my mind until I read the subsequent posts.

Edited: Mar 14, 3:52pm Top

When we were younger my affection for him came so easily and I could listen to his endless opinions for hours and I suppose that meant I loved him in a way that only nineteen-year-olds can love, and though I don't exactly feel that way anymore I do feel some baffling and unexplainable grace, some exhausted affection, though he didn't deserve it any more than a jar of expired mustard deserves its spot in a refrigerator just by being there for so long without someone having the nerve to throw it away.

Catherine Lacey's collection of short stories, Certain American States, concerns itself largely with women who are at the end of relationships or are having trouble negotiating life in general. Lacey's writing reminds me of Halle Butler, Kevin Wilson and even Ottessa Moshfegh, and I do like that kind of protagonist, who is constantly getting in her own way and behaving badly. The best story in the collection was Family Physics, about a woman determined to escape her own family.

Edited: Mar 14, 5:20pm Top

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson is an odd and wonderful book about Lillian, a woman drifting through life, still living at home in her mother's attic, when her best friend, Madison asks her to visit. She married a Senator, one with an eye on the presidency, but they have a problem. His ex-wife has died and someone is needed to care for Madison's stepchildren. There's a twist; when they become agitated, the twins will burst into flame. Caring for them requires quite a bit more than love and patience. And Lillian is woefully unqualified, except for the most important thing, as Madison's best friend, and one who has kept her secrets for over a decade, Lillian is someone they can trust to keep the incendiary nature of her stepchildren quiet.

Lillian's a wonderful narrator. She's jaded and lazy, but determined to do a good job. And Wilson writes with such compassion and wit about all of his off-beat characters, from the pompous and essentially empty Senator, to the enigmatic Carl, to Madison, who may be Lillian's friend, or just someone who is willing to use affection as a way of getting what she wants. There's so much to love in this novel, from the way it establishes that Dolly Parton is the greatest Tennessean of all time to the way Wilson understands a child's rage at their own powerlessness.

Mar 14, 5:29pm Top

>182 RidgewayGirl: Congratulations to your son. My husband reads but leaves the book buying up to me and I often have trouble finding things for him as he, too, finds many of the mysteries that I like too bleak or too violent. I started him on the Joe Pickett series by C. J. Box about a Game Warden in Wyoming and he devoured them. Maybe they would work for your Dad?

Mar 14, 8:41pm Top

>186 DeltaQueen50: Thanks for the recommendation, Judy! He did like Longmire a lot.

As for my son, after being in first place heading into the quarterfinals, his team lost their first round. He was disappointed, but excited about next year, when he'll be a senior.

Mar 14, 10:33pm Top

Dropped by to catch up and found one for the wishlist (The Water Dancer).

Mar 15, 6:44am Top

>183 pamelad: Ha! Fellow Aussie so I thought the same thing. Why would you need to have books that were specially to read on Manly Beach? Does that mean you need other books for Bondi Beach? I had to read back as well then I understood!

Mar 15, 7:47am Top

Too bad about your son's team. But I'm sure they had a great time meeting other teams. A series which my husband enjoys is the Robert Crais PI series Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. Not too violent and some humor thrown in.

Mar 16, 2:05pm Top

>188 hailelib: I look forward to finding out what you think of it!

>189 JayneCM: & >183 pamelad:, I am tickled by this utterly understandable misunderstanding. None of the beaches here are specifically Manly.

>190 dudes22: Betty, at this point, they've met all the other teams at various matches. SC is a pretty small state after all. He was disappointed that several teams didn't even attend, as their school districts were quicker to ban field trips. Hopefully, there will be no pandemics this time next year. I'll take a look at the Robert Crais series.

Mar 20, 3:08pm Top

Ana Canción is just fifteen when she is married to a man over twice her age and leaves her family and the Dominican Republic for a life in an apartment in New York City. It's an abrupt change from living with her large family on a farm to a small apartment in Washington Heights with only her husband and her husband's brother, both of whom are usually working. Ana is expected to stay in, cleaning house and cooking for her husband, but she longs to get a chance to learn English and start earning money to send home to her family. She's at the whim of her husband's moods and as an undocumented immigrant who speaks no English, she's especially dependent on him. When unrest envelopes the Dominican Republic in 1965, Ana's husband returns to protect his business interests, leaving Ana space to begin to see what life in the US might hold for her.

Angie Cruz based Dominicana on her mother's recollections and this novel is full of what life was like in Washington Heights in the mid-sixties as well as what was expected of her by both her husband and her family. Cruz is writing about a fifteen-year-old girl and the narration reflects the emotions and excitements of that age, even as Ana inhabits the life of a married, pregnant woman. This is a wonderful book, both as a vivid account of a specific time and place, and as the coming of age story of a young woman thrust into unfamiliar circumstances who fights to make a life for herself.

Edited: Mar 20, 9:03pm Top

Sorry to hear about your son's team's loss, but he (and you) should be proud that they got so far!

Glad to hear you liked Nothing to See Here. I'm very happy that it's still a potential Zombie in the Tournament of Books.

Mar 21, 3:35am Top

Still following your reviews with much interest and appreciating the variety of books you read.

Mar 21, 4:31am Top

>192 RidgewayGirl: I am very pleased that you liked Dominicana so much. It's been on my wish list since that Guardian article.

Mar 21, 12:39pm Top

>193 mathgirl40: Paulina, he is very proud of what they did and he's already thinking of next year. And yay for Nothing to See Here! It was the last of the tournament books that I read and it was such a wonderful surprise.

>194 chlorine: Thanks, chlorine!

>195 pamelad: I really enjoyed it and I'm eager to see what Angie Cruz writes next.

Mar 21, 2:30pm Top

Things being what they are, I find myself wanting to read comforting books, which means, of course, crime novels, preferably noir, the darker the better.

She's working in a run-down mall movie theater when a man appears and hires her to work as The Body Double for a celebrity who has disappeared from the public eye due to a breakdown. It's a lot of money and the unnamed narrator accepts the job, shedding her own identity to become adept at impersonating the celebrity. As she slowly takes on more public appearances, the risk of discovery become higher and her own sense of who she is begins to shift. But both she and the man who hired her are keeping secrets that might just be bigger than the deception they're pulling on the public and those who knew the celebrity.

Emily Beyda's novel begins strong, spins its wheels in the middle and then finishes with a lot less than is foreshadowed throughout the story. There was a lot of promise in the first chapters and the potential for so many exciting things to happen, which were all bypassed in favor of sitting around in an empty apartment and the gentlest of ending.

Mar 21, 4:51pm Top

>192 RidgewayGirl: I'm taking a BB for Dominicana. Stay safe!

Edited: Mar 22, 4:00pm Top

A small town preacher in Arkansas is being blackmailed. He's at the forefront of the fight to prevent a referendum on whether the county should remain dry and so he makes an offer to the man with the most to lose if the vote doesn't happen, a man hoping to open a liquor store in town. He, in turn, decides to get the money by stealing it from a shady businessman.

If you like your crime novels noir, your characters compromised and plenty of things going wrong, you'll love Dry County by Jake Hinkson. Hinkson's spare writing style suits the subject matter, and he manages to make each of his many characters surprisingly complex and nuanced. Taking place during the 2016 presidential primaries, Hinkson makes even the tertiary characters feel like actual people, no small task when writing about desperate people willing to do just about anything to protect what's theirs, or to escape to a better life. In Dry County the most sympathetic characters are the pair of blackmailers who set a whole series of crimes and disasters in motion. It's a well-told story that has a ton of tension and a very satisfying ending. I'm excited to read more from this author.

Mar 23, 8:33pm Top

A kitten has been hanging around our house for the past week and tonight my son noticed that it was taking shelter in our barbecue grill. He caught the kitten and now there's an at least partly feral kitten sheltering in our bathroom. I'm left wondering why a kitten would choose the yard with the German Shepherd and many cats.

Mar 23, 10:00pm Top

>200 RidgewayGirl: The kitten knows a good home when it sees one.

Mar 24, 7:43am Top

Lori's right!

Mar 24, 8:48am Top

We are full up. FK is hiding out in the covered litter box, but is also eating a lot. I've left a message with the Humane Society, so hopefully they'll call back and give us advice. The other cats are remarkably uninterested given that it's a strange cat and that bathroom is their favorite room, containing the most popular box and favorite water bowl (my husband's sink). I'll try to get pictures of them, but they are hiding whenever anyone goes into the room.

Mar 25, 10:46am Top

In the RidgewayGirl-Is-Not-That-Smart Chronicles, I have finally found a solution. A solution that has the kitten, tentatively named Corona, living in our bathroom until March 31st, when I will drive her an hour to the spay/neuter clinic willing to do the job. A closer vet was willing to do the job immediately, but estimated that it would cost $1,000 if all was routine. Yikes! So a week showering while being serenaded by a feral cat in heat is the best plan I could come up with.

Mar 25, 12:57pm Top

Mar 25, 1:04pm Top

>204 RidgewayGirl: She's a cutie - and perhaps, a keeper?

>205 RidgewayGirl: Good one! :)

Mar 25, 1:08pm Top

>204 RidgewayGirl: Wow, I'm shocked at the vet price. My friend just got her's done at a private vet for $169. The Human Society is closed for now or she could have gotten it done for $29 there. She also had to pay for a rabies vaccine which was an additional cost.

Mar 25, 1:34pm Top

>206 DeltaQueen50: We are already one cat over our maximum. But if she can be domesticated, she'll move in, obviously. Otherwise, she can continue to be our yard cat, only without adding to the feral cat population or dying of some easily preventable disease. We would, of course, put food out for her to share with our resident opossum.

>207 Tess_W: Tess, that's the posh vet office, where there are natural stone floors and bottled water available with the vet's logo on each bottle. Our usual vet is the one where everyone brings their dogs to work and there are a number of resident cats hanging out. They were booked up until April 6th.

Mar 25, 4:52pm Top

Apeirogan is told in a series of segments, ranging from a chapter's length, to a single sentence and numbered first from one to 500, then 1001, then backwards from 500 down to one. And in between snippets about Middle Eastern birds and vignettes about various historical events, science tidbits and folk tales lies the story of two men, Rami Elahanan and Bassam Aramin.

Colum McCann isn't creating a story here, but recounting real events about living people, but using his immense skills as a novelist to approach the heart of the matter, not with a recounting of events, although that is part of this book, but a portrait of a friendship and a partnership between a Palestinian and a Jewish Israeli, both of whom had daughters who were killed, Smadar and Abir, one by a Palestinian suicide bomber as she shopped on a busy market street with friends, one by a rubber bullet aimed by an Israeli soldier as she walked back to school after buying candy. Both men work tirelessly towards a peace that often seems impossible. And their own histories are fascinating. Rami is the son-in-law of a founding member of the Knesset and a man who tried to live outside of the conflicts of the Israeli state, before having to put his life into working towards a peace although simply opposing the Occupation makes him a traitor in the eyes of many of his fellow citizens. And Bassam was imprisoned as a teenager as a terrorist, learned Hebrew while incarcerated and became a scholar of the Holocaust. The death of his daughter happened years into his involvement with the peace movement and he didn't hesitate to continue with that work despite that and the constant danger he faces simply moving regularly between Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Surprisingly, this isn't a preachy book, although there is a clear point of view. It's gorgeously told and so well-constructed, with the central sections being led up to and then the hinge on which the remainder of the book rests. Towards the beginning of this book, I worried that the sheer skill and beauty of the writing were preventing an emotional connection. By the middle, I no longer thought that. McCann has written a book that serves his subject matter well.

Mar 25, 4:57pm Top

>204 RidgewayGirl: Adorable!!!

Mar 25, 7:47pm Top

Good luck with FK, who is a beauty!

And I'll take BBs for Dry County and Apeirogon.

Mar 25, 8:23pm Top

>211 LisaMorr: Despite my growing fondness for the feral cat in my bathroom, who propositions my husband while he's in the shower (her yowls woke me up this morning), I'm pleased that a Humane Society in the next county is willing to spay her tomorrow morning.

Mar 25, 8:32pm Top

>204 RidgewayGirl: Really adorable! My mother took a feral kitten in when she (the kitten) was abandoned by her mother. Several years later, she is still extremely shy. I usually see the tip of her tail disappearing around the corner, if I'm lucky.

Mar 26, 3:50am Top

Gorgeous kitten, hope the trip to the vet does the trick.

I've also taken note of Dry County, crime seems to be hitting the spot for me just now.

I was on the waiting list for Dominicana at the library, but since it closed might crack and get the digital version instead.

Stay well!

Mar 26, 9:59am Top

>213 NinieB: I don't think she's willing to be domesticated! She's in getting spayed and vaccinated today. My son wore his welding gloves while putting her in the crate.

>214 charl08: Dry County was such a solid noir. And I'm in the mood for crime fiction right now.

Stay home, everyone!

Edited: Mar 28, 1:09pm Top

Update on our feral kitten:

She turned out to be a he, now named Ollie. Vet commented on how wild he is. But we decided to keep going with seeing if we could domesticate him for awhile. So far, it's my husband he responds to and now that my husband has more time at home, he's been working with Ollie. He can pet Ollie while holding him and Ollie will purr. He'll accept food on a spoon held by my husband. He played a little with me from inside his cat bed. We're seeing progress. Here are two pictures of Ollie taken a day apart. You can see the change in his body language.

When I'm busy in the bathroom or the adjoining closet, Ollie now peeks his head out of the bed to keep an eye on me.

Mar 28, 1:12pm Top

those pictures and especially the eyes sure do tell the progress

Mar 28, 1:47pm Top

Ollie is gorgeous and looks like he has decided to settle. He sure picked the right yard, German Shepherd or not.

Mar 28, 4:16pm Top

Thanks for sharing the pics of Ollie - I'm hoping he continues to make progress!

Mar 28, 4:41pm Top

Ollie is slowly getting used to you all.

Mar 28, 5:32pm Top

Thanks, all. Pondering and researching the domestication of feral kittens has been a welcome distraction from the news. And that we're making progress makes it even better.

Mar 28, 6:25pm Top

I have a friend who managed to take in a couple of feral cats some years ago. He certainly looks charming in that second photo.

Mar 29, 6:13am Top

He looks very handsome. Good luck with the domestication project!

Mar 30, 10:34pm Top

Aww, adorable. He likes both of you—that's a very good sign!

Mar 31, 10:56am Top

Ollie Update:

He's now playing like a kitten should. Here he's chasing a paper ball around the bathroom. He let me toss it to him without running away. And today I was able to pet him without hearing a single hiss. He's doing well!

Mar 31, 11:51am Top

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