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Curioussquared reads on and on in 2020

75 Books Challenge for 2020

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Jan 2, 1:18pm Top

Hello everyone! I'm Natalie. I have participated in the challenge on and off over the years, and consistently over the past few years.

I'm located in Seattle, where I do communications work for a consulting firm. I get a lot of reading done during my bus commute. Otherwise, I do most of my reading curled up on the couch with my retired racing greyhounds, Skeletor and Otter, or listening to audiobooks while doing chores and walking the dogs.

I read mostly fiction, with a heavy emphasis on YA, along with some fantasy, general fiction/literature, and the occasional non-fiction title. I've been keeping track of my books read since 2008, and I have traditionally aimed for 100. In 2019, I hit a high of 140, and I think I'm going to try to reach that elusive 150 this year!

Last year I also read 50 books off of my own shelves, and I'm going to try for that same goal this year. (I'll have a thread in the ROOTs group as well where I cross-post reviews of books off my shelves.

Above are Otter and Skelly showing off their Christmas jammies :)

Edited: Jan 2, 1:19pm Top

Here are my top 10 books of 2019, in the order in which I read them:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
March: Book Three by John Lewis
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Early Riser by Jasper Fforde
Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Howards End by E. M. Forster
Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Jan 2, 1:19pm Top

Books read in 2020:




Jan 2, 1:20pm Top

Books read in 2020:




Jan 2, 1:20pm Top

Books read in 2020:




Jan 2, 1:21pm Top

Thread is open! Welcome, friends :)

Jan 2, 2:43pm Top

Happy new thread! I look forward to hearing about your reading and, of course, the exploits of Skelly and Otter!

Jan 2, 3:05pm Top

Welcome back!

Jan 2, 3:47pm Top

Best wishes for 2020!

Jan 2, 3:48pm Top

Happy reading in 2020, Natalie!

Jan 2, 3:53pm Top

Happy new thread, Natalie. Skelly and Otter look so adorable in their plaid jumpers.

Jan 2, 4:20pm Top

I love the hotel in the Morrigan Crow series so much, especially the scented relaxation room.

Happy 2020 and happy reading!

Jan 2, 6:53pm Top

>8 foggidawn: >9 drneutron: >10 DianaNL: >11 FAMeulstee: Thanks, all!

>12 MickyFine: I will admit to taking a certain amount of pleasure in having dogs who like wearing clothes...

>13 libraryperilous: Yes! It's definitely on the list of fictional places I'd like to visit. I'm excited for the third installment in the series coming out this year!

Jan 2, 8:59pm Top

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

Jan 2, 9:00pm Top

Happy New Year, Natalie!

Jan 3, 12:51pm Top

>15 PaulCranswick: >16 ronincats: Thanks, Paul and Roni!

Jan 3, 1:35pm Top

1 book read: Arcadia by Tom Stoppard

This play follows events at the estate of Sidley Park in two timelines -- one in the early 1800s, where young Thomasina is studying mathematics and physics with her tutor, Septimus Hodge, and one in the present day, where two historians are researching a mysterious hermit who once lived at Sidley Park and the actions of Lord Byron during his visits to the estate.

This play is really interestingly done -- the two timelines run simultaneously and in the last scene, both sets of characters are on stage at the same time. I would love to see it performed someday. 4 stars.

Jan 3, 7:19pm Top

Stoppard is an author whose wit and talent I know I'm supposed to enjoy, but I struggle to read his plays. I like reading plays, but occasionally I'll run up against a dramatist whose words I need to see performed to appreciate. I'd love to see one of his plays on stage someday, especially this one or The Real Inspector Hound.

Jan 5, 9:22pm Top

Enjoy your 2020 reading!

Jan 6, 12:43pm Top

>19 libraryperilous: I tried to read Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead before and struggled, but found this one more accessible, surprisingly. I'm sure they still would be better performed!

>20 thornton37814: Thank you, Lori!

Edited: Jan 14, 12:01am Top

2 books read: Of Ice and Shadows by Audrey Coulthurst

Set directly after the events of Of Fire and Stars. Everyone thinks Princess Denna is dead, but really, she and Princess Mare are en route to Zumorda to try to find training for Denna's magic. Plus, Zumorda might also hold the key to preventing the Sonnenbornes from taking over Mare's kingdom of Mynaria. But once they get to Zumorda, everything starts to go wrong, and soon Mare and Denna are separated in a foreign country -- and unsure of where they stand with each other.

This sequel is just as fun as the first book and also successfully raises the stakes. I hadn't realized before starting the book, either, but while this is a direct sequel to Of Fire and Stars, it's also, in a way, a direct sequel to Coulthurst's other novel set in this world, Inkmistress -- and she does a really good job of weaving the stories together. My only complaint was that it felt like it wrapped up very quickly -- otherwise, a really satisfying sequel. 4 stars.

Jan 6, 1:04pm Top

3 books read: Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis

In a world where women are the politicians and men keep to the abstract art of magic, Cassandra Harwood was famous as the first woman to attend the Great Library and practice as a magician -- until she overextends herself and is no longer able to practice magic. Humiliated, she breaks up with her fiance to save him from attaching himself to someone who is now, effectively, useless. Now, a few months later, she'll have to see him again for the first time at a week-long winter solstice party at a friend's estate, and it's bound to go poorly....

I think it was Foggidawn who read and recommended this, and I'm glad! It was the perfect quick read for a cozy winter evening. I was impressed with how much worldbuilding Burgis stuffed into such a short book, and I'm interested in learning more in the sequel. 4 stars.

Jan 6, 1:48pm Top

>23 curioussquared: Yay! Glad you liked it.

Jan 6, 3:31pm Top

Found and starred, Natalie! And how nice to see Skelly and Otter in their Winter finery!

Jan 6, 9:12pm Top

Stopping by to drop a belated star. Looks like you are off to a great reading year with these four-star reads!

Jan 7, 1:54pm Top

>24 foggidawn: Thanks again for the recommendation!

>25 mstrust: Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer! The pups enjoyed wearing their Christmas outfits, haha. I need to go find your thread!

>26 aktakukac: Thanks, Rachel! It's been a good year of reading so far ;) And I'm really enjoying my current read, too.

Jan 7, 8:06pm Top

>22 curioussquared: That's a gorgeous cover!

>24 foggidawn: I've had this on my TBR for ages. Time to bump it up, I think.

Jan 7, 8:18pm Top

>23 curioussquared: I got that book bullet from foggi as well, and enjoyed the sequel just as much, Natalie.
>22 curioussquared: Oh-oh, maybe a book bullet! Second one of the year--foggi just gave me my first!

Jan 7, 8:26pm Top

Looks like your reading year is off to a great start, Natalie!

Jan 8, 12:14pm Top

>29 ronincats: I'm resisting putting the sequel on hold immediately as I have a bunch of library books to get through, but maybe I'll reconsider that... :) I'd start with Of Fire and Stars with the Coulthurst series, but I don't think you need to read the sister novel Inkmistress before Of Ice and Shadows.

Jan 10, 1:53pm Top

4 books read: Fireborne by Rosaria Munda

When they were children, Annie and Lee's lives changed -- Annie watched as her serf family was killed by a dragonlord, while Lee watched as his dragonlord family were killed when the peasants rose up in the bloody revolution. Both ended up in an orphanage in the slum, growing up in a new regime where everyone takes a test to be placed in a class according to their intelligence and abilities. And against all odds, both Lee and Annie end up being chosen by dragons to ride in the new fleet of guardians and protect the new regime. Both struggle with their pasts as they progress through the ranks to compete for Firstrider, commander of the dragon fleet. And neither is prepared when a new threat emerges -- maybe some of the old dragonlords escaped after all.

This beginning of a new series was exciting, compelling, and well-written -- I had trouble putting it down to take care of all my other responsibilities this week! You struggle with Lee and Annie as they strive toward their goals and try to shove away their pasts, and it was impossible to pick a side when they were inevitably pitted against each other. I can't wait for the next one! 4.5 stars.

Jan 11, 4:49pm Top

>32 curioussquared: Middle grade or YA, Natalie?

Jan 11, 11:06pm Top

Wishing you a wonderful weekend, Natalie.

Jan 12, 2:25am Top

>33 MickyFine: Definitely more YA -- the main characters are about 17-18 for most of the story.

>34 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul!

Jan 13, 2:56am Top

If you've been following me for a while, you'll remember that since we moved into our new house, I've been working on converting a weirdly shaped attic room into my library. It's finally pretty much done! I have space to add a few more shelves when needed, but the current shelf situation fits all of my books and allows space for a nice comfy reading chair. Here are a few photos:

The view as you enter the room:

More shelves to the right!

View from the comfy chair:

A few taller shelves. There's space for one more in the middle there if I ever need to add on :)

And the weird little side nook with a few more shelves. Please excuse the panels that are falling down, haha.

So excited to get lots of reading done here! And to have all my books in one place, of course, after having 80% of my collection living at my parents' house for so long.

Jan 13, 8:53am Top

>36 curioussquared: So cozy! Looks like a great space, and how nice to have all of your books together.

Jan 13, 12:29pm Top

That room looks awesome! I hope you enjoy it for years to come.

Edited: Jan 13, 12:38pm Top

>37 foggidawn: Thanks! Now I just need a blanket and/or one of those little portable heaters and I'll be all set.

>38 mstrust: Thanks Jennifer! If we do the renovations I'd like to on this top floor anytime soon I'll probably sacrifice part of it for a real laundry room -- but I'll enjoy it while it lasts :)

Edited: Jan 14, 12:04am Top

5 books read: Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius has never felt like he is enough -- he doesn't fit in at high school in Portland, OR, and he didn't learn Farsi as a kid, so he doesn't fit in with his Persian community, either. When his grandfather back in Iran develops a brain tumor, his parents decide to take him and his younger sister to Iran to visit for the first time. Darius doesn't know what to expect on this trip -- but he definitely knows he's nervous.

This reminded me of a younger, sweeter, and less bitter Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Darius is a compelling, relatable narrator and it was a treat to discover Iran and his family through his eyes as he makes a friend and finds his place. 4 stars.

Edited: Jan 14, 12:14am Top

6 books read: The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

Freelance writer Nik is shocked (in a bad way) when the guy she's been seeing casually for a few months suddenly proposes on the jumbotron at a Dodgers game. When she says no, naturally, suddenly 45,000 people think she's the bad guy! Luckily, Carlos and his sister Angela were sitting a few rows back, and they help smuggle Nik out of the stadium before the camera crews can get to her. Nik likes Carlos, but after her proposal mishap, she's pretty sure she's ready to swear off men forever. But maybe he'd be good for a nice, casual rebound...

Guillory's books are pure fun. I love how consciously inclusive she is (Nik is black, her friends are POC, Carlos is Latino) and how hard she works to disrupt romance norms. Her characters are always eating deliciously described food (if anybody can point me in the direction of the spicy chocolate cupcake Nik's friend Courtney makes, I'd be grateful) and promoting healthy relationships and feminist businesses. And the story's great, too ;) I'll be reading more soon! 4 stars.

Jan 13, 4:44pm Top

>36 curioussquared: Very nice! I'd love a little (or big!) book space in my house. Maybe when we finish the basement. Some day. Happy reading in your new library!

Jan 13, 6:19pm Top

Gorgeous reading nook, and congrats on finishing it after all your hard work!

>41 curioussquared: Public proposals and that awful "reunite the returning soldier with their family" scam that companies run for marketing purposes truly are hideous. Also, if you are ready to get married, that should be a joint decision, not a proposal, and after several conversations about it, I think. Or at least a private celebration, not a public surprise.

Jan 13, 10:04pm Top

>36 curioussquared: Nice conversion!

Jan 13, 10:22pm Top

>32 curioussquared: >40 curioussquared: >41 curioussquared: Adding all of those to the BlackHole. Thanks for the recommendations, Natalie!

>36 curioussquared: Love the room! It looks light, airy, and cozy all at the same time :)

Jan 14, 12:23am Top

>42 aktakukac: Thanks Rachel! It was something I never expected to have when we were looking for a house to buy, and I'm glad the one we got ended up having such a funky space I could take advantage of!

>43 libraryperilous: Thanks, Diana! Oh, I totally agree about proposals, and so did this book -- the people who thought Nik was the bad guy were all the people watching the jumbotron who had no idea that she and this guy had only been seeing each other for a few months, and instead just saw a girl rejecting a proposal for no reason on the guy's birthday.

>44 thornton37814: Thank you! :)

>45 alcottacre: Wow, got you with three! Hope you enjoy them. And thank you! It's pretty cozy, but it could probably use a blanket and/or a space heater as it's not the most well-insulated room.

Jan 14, 1:16pm Top

Your new library space is gorgeous, even if it is currently chilly.

Jan 14, 4:19pm Top

>47 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky :)

Jan 15, 3:59pm Top

7 books read: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Nina has always lead a rather solitary life -- her only family is her absentee mother, who travels the world as a photographer, and her beloved nanny Louise, who moved to be closer to her grandchildren once she had finished raising Nina. She spends most of her time at her bookstore job, which she loves, or enjoying her meticulously scheduled activities, including her competitive trivia team, occasional exercise classes, and multiple book clubs. Her life doesn't feel like it has space for anything else -- but some surprise new family members and a persistent guy might prove her wrong.

I really enjoyed this! I think many of us on LT will identify with Nina and her bookish tendencies (I particularly liked how she scheduled time for "nothing," which really meant time to read). I liked watching her grow and expand her social circle and deal with new situations. Just an overall pleasant, fun read with a satisfying conclusion. As a competitive trivia nerd (yes, I did play quizbowl in college and I do dream of being on Jeopardy), my biggest quibble is that her trivia league was total BS and I would have lodged several complaints. She should definitely find a new league ;) 4 stars.

Jan 15, 4:00pm Top

>49 curioussquared: I did wonder about the shenanigans that went down in her trivia league! I have no experience in that arena, myself, but some of it seemed a little sketchy.

Jan 15, 4:01pm Top

Phew! One more library book to go and then I can get back to getting some unread books off my shelves -- although I have a few more holds due to hit in the next few days...

Jan 15, 4:05pm Top

>50 foggidawn: Totally sketchy! I've been to several different pub trivia nights in Seattle run by several different companies/groups. None of them are formatted in the style described in the book and all of them have very strict, enforceable rules -- none of this one power-hungry guys gets to do whatever he wants. I refuse to believe there isn't better trivia available in LA (both in real life and Nina's fictional world).

Edited: Jan 15, 4:45pm Top

>52 curioussquared: I guess it had to function that way for the Grand Romantic Gesture, but I kind of hate that type of plot manipulation -- changing the way real-world things work for the sake of plot.

Jan 15, 5:08pm Top

>49 curioussquared: You got me with this one. Sounds right up my alley, love these types of books.

Jan 15, 5:42pm Top

>53 foggidawn: Agree! I also feel like the set-up could have worked fine but the unfairness of some of the rulings got to me. Also, I questioned her friend's choice of a train whistle for a buzzer sound -- having to take a breath and blow seems like it would take a lot longer than squeezing a rubber chicken :)

>49 curioussquared: Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy it -- it was a fun read. These types of books always get me, too :)

Jan 16, 11:35am Top

>49 curioussquared: Yay! I'm glad you liked it, Natalie! Having been a pub quiz host in former days I also didn't buy some of the trivia stuff going on but I enjoyed the rest of the plot so much, I let it slide.

Jan 16, 12:40pm Top

>56 MickyFine: Yes, it definitely didn't spoil how much I enjoyed the book -- just vaguely annoyed me :)

Jan 17, 11:10am Top

Hi Natalie! Dropping by for a quick visit. Maybe we’ll manage a meet-up the next time I’m in Seattle. I’m guessing it’s on the cards since my husband’s brother & family live there now.

>1 curioussquared: Cute! Twins.

>36 curioussquared: That looks wonderful. I was jealous until I remembered that I’ve just acquired some more bookshelves myself.

Jan 17, 1:47pm Top

>58 humouress: Thanks for stopping by, Nina! Yes, I'm sure we'll make it work next time you're in the area :) And hooray for bookshelf acquisition!

Jan 18, 6:23pm Top

8 books read: Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

It's 1879, and Annabelle Archer is finally able to convince her cousin to let her go to Oxford to study as one of the first female students. While there, she gets involved with a group of suffragists who are working to convince members of parliament to support them in their quest to amend the Married Women's Property Act and allow married women to own property in their own right. While lobbying one day, Annabelle approaches an important-looking man to try to sway him to the cause -- not knowing that he is the imperious Duke of Montgomery, a powerful and intimidating man. Soon, Annabelle finds herself caught up in events and society she never would have dreamed of...

I don't remember where I heard about this book, but it's not my normal kind of reading and I don't think I realized going into it that it's really just a straight-up romance novel. I liked the suffragist/feminist plotline, but it felt more like thin veneer over your standard romance. Some parts were enjoyable, but I got fed up with the will-they-won't-they pretty quickly. 3 stars.

Jan 18, 6:46pm Top

>36 curioussquared: Looks great!! What a wonderful reading space.

Jan 18, 6:54pm Top

>60 curioussquared: I have found that a number of romance novels that get billed as 'feminist' merely are pop culture's definition of feminist, not actually feminist. I also dislike romance novels that drag out the ending with artificial conflicts or suchlike.

Jan 18, 7:33pm Top

>49 curioussquared: That one is already in the BlackHole, so I get to dodge that particular BB. Maybe next time, Natalie!

>60 curioussquared: Sounds like I can safely give that one a miss. I do hope your next read improves for you.

Jan 19, 2:54pm Top

>61 figsfromthistle: Thanks! :) I'm super pleased to finally have it all organized.

>62 libraryperilous: Yes, that is a problem, isn't it? I think it was compounded for me since I had just read the Guillory book beforehand, and she writes ACTUAL feminist romances. Her characters are able to be in love and in relationships that are true partnerships, while also staying truly independent and strong. I guess that ask is a little more difficult in a book set in 1879, but I had higher hopes.

>63 alcottacre: Thanks for stopping by, Stasia! Phew, looks like you missed being hit on this visit.

Jan 19, 3:06pm Top

Speaking of Jasmine Guillory....

9 books read: The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory

Maddie has always disliked her best friend Alexa's coworker Theo, ever since their first meeting when he insulted her career as a stylist. But when Maddie reluctantly attends Theo's birthday party as a favor to Alexa, she somehow finds herself driving him home afterwards, and then she's in his apartment, and then... Somehow, the two find themselves sneaking around to see each other. They strike a deal that they'll only let this thing keep happening until Alexa's upcoming wedding, which they both happen to be in -- and Alexa must not know, since she has enough going on with planning the wedding. But as they start to grow closer to each other, the upcoming deadline seems more and more undesirable...

I'm starting to fall in love with Guillory's little world! I love that her books feature favorite characters from previous installments -- and everyone just seems like so much fun! And it's nice to read another romance with a bunch of strong female characters after the disappointment of Bringing Down the Duke. 4 stars.

Jan 19, 4:54pm Top

The Wedding Party sounds like one I would like. Added to the ever expanding wish list.

Jan 21, 12:58pm Top

>66 fairywings: I hope you enjoy it!

Jan 21, 1:22pm Top

10 books read: Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner

Sam doesn't fit in at school. She spends most of her time trying to live with and accommodate her mom's OCD, and the rest of the time pretending she's a robot to avoid thinking about her dad, who left five years ago to move to London. Her only real outlet is occasional video games with her friend Will. Popular, pretty Zoe has lots of friends and a great boyfriend, and gets good grades and starring roles in the school plays. But her life is falling apart at home as she and her family struggle to deal with her mom's cancer and her disabled brother Jonah -- and as she struggles to find her identity as someone who was adopted. When the two girls forge an unlikely friendship over texts, they create an escape called Starworld, and they start to realize that they understand each other in a way they've never experience before.

I started out liking this book and ended up unable to put it down in the last half -- I even sacrificed some sleep! Sam and Zoe felt very real and I felt for them as they navigated some really tough situations. I wasn't expecting to get so attached, but I was crying on and off throughout the second half. Recommended! 4 stars.

Jan 24, 12:53pm Top

11 books read: The House of the Spirits by Isabelle Allende

This is a sweeping epic that follows three generations of a Chilean family touched by magic. First there's Clara, the matriarch, who can play the piano from across the room with her mind and often knows what the future will hold, then her daughter Blanca, who infuriates her father with her devotion to a peasant boy from their country property, and finally her granddaughter Alba, who grows up as the darling of both of her grandparents amidst a revolution. There for all of it is Esteban Trueba, Clara's husband, who always wants to be in control and never quite seems to be.

This book is hard to categorize, but it's a gorgeous story. This was a re-read for me -- I read it in print several years ago, and now that it was our book club pick for February, I decided to listen to it on audio. It was a good choice -- the story was a joy to listen to, and both narrators -- they had a male one for Esteban and a female one for everyone else -- were excellent. Recommended!

Jan 24, 3:57pm Top

This weekend is one of my favorite events of the year -- the Great Midwest Trivia Contest, hosted by my alma mater Lawrence University. It's 50 straight hours of googling for glory.

My friends and I play as an off-campus team, often with many of us in different locations across the country, but this year we have a bunch of people coming to stay with us so a lot of us are in one place! I'm excited to see them and also to sleep very little all weekend, which is one of the only times you'll hear me say that.


Jan 28, 11:43am Top

>36 curioussquared: Room looks great, Natalie.

>70 curioussquared: I would love that! I am of course far more adept at British and Commonwealth trivia than the American version - believe me there is a huge difference!

Jan 28, 11:53am Top

Good luck, and have a great time!

Jan 28, 2:02pm Top

>71 PaulCranswick: I believe it, Paul!

>72 mstrust: Thanks, Jennifer!

Well, for the second year in a row, our team won the whole thing! I only slept about 9 hours total between 7am on Friday and 11pm on Sunday; luckily, I had scheduled Monday off in advance because I'm getting way too old to be able to function after not sleeping all weekend. So I spent yesterday on the couch with the dogs reading :) To cap off a trivia-filled weekend, we took our visiting friends to our regular pub trivia spot last night and placed third, which is our best yet!

Jan 28, 4:24pm Top

12 books read: The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

Desperate to move our of her ex's apartment fast, Tiffy answers an ad for a flatshare. She works days, her new roommate Leon works nights, and Tiffy gets the apartment on weekends. They literally never have to meet or see each other. It's a little weird, but Tiffy doesn't have a lot of options, so she takes it. The two start leaving each other notes around the flat -- first about things like leftovers and garbage day, then about their lives and jobs and everyday thoughts. As they get to know each other better, and they still haven't met, things get more and more weird...

I think it was Foggidawn who read this last year and got me interested, and I'm so grateful! I loved this book and its whole cast of characters. Also, pretty sure it needs to be a movie, stat -- but only if they do a good job at it, of course. If you like a quirky rom-com, definitely pick this up. 4.5 stars.

Jan 28, 4:28pm Top

>74 curioussquared: Oh, hooray! Yes, that was one of my favorite reads of last year. Just thinking about it gives me the warm fuzzies.

Jan 28, 4:47pm Top

>75 foggidawn: Warm and fuzzy is right :)

Jan 29, 5:46am Top

>74 curioussquared: aawww that sounds like so much fun Natalie. Great idea for a movie for sure.

Jan 29, 4:49pm Top

13 books read: Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Somehow I made it this far (including a college Shakespeare course) without reading this one! I thoroughly enjoyed Beatrice and Benedick's bickering and the rest of the story. The highlight for me was definitely Beatrice's O that I were a man! monologue. 4.5 stars.

Jan 29, 4:51pm Top

>78 curioussquared: Oh, Beatrice and Benedick are the best! Definitely a time when a side-plot was more interesting/fun than the main event.

Jan 29, 5:31pm Top

>78 curioussquared: Tbh, I think his talents as a comedic dramatist are underrated, if Shakespeare being underrated at all is possible.

Also, lol, I once attended an interactive performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream in Washington Square Park, and Puck stopped reciting his lines to tell me, "Great hair!" while giving my punk rock layers a quick comb with his fingers. Only in New York, amirite?

Jan 29, 5:35pm Top

>79 foggidawn: Definitely agree!

>80 libraryperilous: LOL, seems on-brand for Puck, honestly. So good.

Feb 1, 12:53am Top

>78 curioussquared: Definitely my favourite of the comedies. I highly recommend the film version with Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson. They're great as B&B.

Feb 1, 9:49pm Top

>78 curioussquared: I have a Shakespeare play from a gift collection on my desk at work that I'm reading at lunch. It's A Midsummer Night's Dream though. The library already owns it so it will go into the book sale when I finish it.

Feb 2, 7:45pm Top

>82 MickyFine: That film version has been on my to-watch list FOREVER, but I always wanted to read the play first. I'm excited to finally actually watch it! I checked and it's available on Amazon Video.

>83 thornton37814: I like Midsummer Night's Dream, too. A little Shakespeare now and then is always a good idea :)

Feb 2, 7:54pm Top

14 books read: Storm Thief by Chris Wooding

The island of Orokos is terrorized by chaos storms that can change your life in an instant -- suddenly you're in a different place, or you're left-handed, or your lungs don't work anymore. In this crazy world, Rail and Moa live as thieves serving thief mistress Anya Jacana. When their latest haul includes a mysterious artifact from the ancient civilization that built the island and its technology and trapped the residents there, Rail decides that they'll try to keep the artifact secret from their mistress and sell it to get themselves a better life. When it becomes clear that Anya Jacana did know about the artifact and expected to see it in the haul they presented, the two find themselves on the run -- first from their thief mistress, and then from other players, all who seem to want their artifact.

This book seemed interesting from the outside but it just didn't do it for me. There were a lot of cool concepts -- the chaos engine and storms, Vago the golem, the artifact that allowed them to go through walls -- but none of it seemed very fleshed out. It felt kind of like Wooding threw as many weird, interesting ideas as he could think of at the wall to see how many stuck, and only a few really stuck. It was a short book, but still felt like a slog. On the plus side, this has been on my shelf literally since 2006 so that's a very deep ROOT off the shelf. 2 stars.

Feb 2, 8:02pm Top

15 books read: A Dress for the Wicked by Autumn Krause

In Britannia Secunda, fashion is everything -- except in the country town of Shy, where Emmaline grew up and her mother runs a pub. While most people in her town are farmers, Emmaline has always had her eye on of the Fashion House in the city, where she could follow her dreams and become a designer. But the only way to do that is to qualify for the Fashion House interview, the prestigious yearly competition where a select few girls compete in various fashion design challenges to win employment at the fashion house. So when it's announced that for the first time, the Fashion House will allow a country girl to participate in the interview, Emmy is ecstatic. It's clear the Fashion House director, Madame Jolene, isn't keen on her being there, but Emmy won't take no for an answer. But when she actually arrives at the Fashion House and the competition begins, Emmaline realizes that there's a lot more at stake than the competition, and a lot more against her than she first thought.

This book is basically alternate universe Victorian England Project Runway and I am HERE FOR IT. It's a slightly ridiculous concept, but it was so much fun. I loved every minute of it. I read Spin the Dawn, which was touted as Mulan meets Project Runway, last year and was disappointed. But this book made up for everything Spin the Dawn did wrong. 4.5 stars.

Feb 3, 1:39pm Top

Seattle has recently set some kind of record for darkest winter ever. Or at least, it feels like it. December and January had zero sunny days -- I'm pretty sure I'm very vitamin D deficient.

I finally broke down last week and booked a few trips to see the sun! I'm headed to Disneyland with my best friend in late February and to Hawaii with my boyfriend in early March. I feel like I finally have something to look forward to! It's been a long time since I started the year without travel plans -- this time last year we were just about to leave for New Zealand.

Feb 3, 1:49pm Top

>87 curioussquared: It's been so gloomy here lately, too! Yesterday and today we've been getting some sun for the first time in what feels like forever. But I've also booked travel to hopefully make up for the lack -- I'll be in L.A. in mid-February! Too bad our visits don't coincide.

Feb 3, 3:45pm Top

>88 foggidawn: I know, I feel like now that I booked my trips we FINALLY got a little sun over the past few days. It's still not enough, though, so I'm excited about my trips :)

Yes, too bad we won't be there at the same time! I'm only going for a weekend -- down Friday night, back Monday afternoon -- and we've decided to be "hardcore" about our Disney trip since my friend has never been. We're going to be those people showing up before the gates open and leaving after all the rides shut down both Saturday and Sunday. All that to say I'm not sure how much visiting time I would have, so probably for the best that we don't overlap :)

Feb 3, 3:52pm Top

>89 curioussquared: Probably true, especially since Disney isn't on my itinerary at all. Enjoy your trips!

Edited: Feb 10, 1:13pm Top

I think I've hit a bit of a slump. This past week was a little crazy -- work travel to San Francisco, plus a lot of stuff I had to organize and lead in the office. I'm also exploring leaving my current job and I had a bunch of phone interviews this week -- none of which were the right fit, but all of which made for something of an emotional roller coaster of a week with not a lot of mental energy for reading.

We did go see Knives Out on Saturday -- I feel like I'm a little late to the party, but I LOVED it. I was smiling the whole time because I was just enjoying watching it so much.

It's Monday and I'm already tired!

Feb 10, 1:33pm Top

Sounds like you've got a lot on your plate. You do what you feel like you can handle. The books will always be waiting when you're ready for them again. *hugs*

Feb 10, 1:53pm Top

>92 MickyFine: Thanks! I'm thinking it might be time for some nice, comforting rereads. It doesn't help that my current audiobook is The Kite Runner; I didn't know anything about the plot going in and I had NO idea how hard it would be to listen to. I think I'm through the really difficult parts now, but it just wasn't making me want to listen!

Feb 10, 2:04pm Top

Interviewing is the worst, but I'm sure you'll find the right job. Good luck with your search!

Feb 10, 2:59pm Top

>93 curioussquared: Oof. The Kite Runner is a tough one. I read it only because I had season tickets to a local theatre and they were doing a production of the adaptation and I wanted to read it before I saw the play. I'm not sure I would have picked it up otherwise. Good luck finding a comfort read!

Feb 11, 1:59pm Top

Good luck with the job search. I hope you find the right fit soon. Interviews are good practice, at any rate.

I haven't seen Knives Out, but I read a spoilery review, so I'm not in a rush. A friend who is a huge Chris Evans fan loved his performance. It sounds like the movie is a throwback to campy fun, which is a good thing to see make a comeback.

Feb 11, 3:17pm Top

>94 mstrust: >96 libraryperilous: Thanks! Yes, I'm confident I'll find something eventually, and I'm hoping whatever comes next will offer more work/life balance -- I'm really sick of the three months of 80 hour weeks I get in the Fall in my current role.

>95 MickyFine: Yeah, I wish I'd done a little more research before starting it... Oh well, I have ~3 hours left so too late to back out now.

>96 libraryperilous: Knives Out was a little campy, but I thought it was extremely well done and well written. The campiness was more Wes Anderson-style campiness.

Feb 11, 10:36pm Top

We saw Knives Out ad really enjoyed it.

Feb 11, 10:50pm Top

Adding my good luck with the job searching, Natalie.

Feb 12, 1:26pm Top

>98 ronincats: Yay, another fan :)

>99 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! Hopefully I start making more progress soon!

Feb 12, 4:33pm Top

Apparently, there will be a sequel, or at least a follow-up featuring Daniel Craig's detective. The director posted a request for title possibilities on Twitter yesterday.

Feb 13, 1:59pm Top

>101 libraryperilous: I saw that! As long as it has the same vibe I'm all for it.

Feb 13, 2:52pm Top

Hi Natalie. I hadn't realised I hadn't found your thread yet this year! You've been reading some great books this year and I've added Jasmine Guillory and The Flatshare.

Sorry to hear you're in a bit of a slump - hope you find some comforting reads soon. And keeping my fingers crossed that your job search works out. Job interviews are exhausting and all the thinking and planning you have to do beforehand too.

Edited: Feb 13, 6:58pm Top

>103 souloftherose: Thanks, Heather! I know, the pre-work is what exhausts me. For a recent application, I wrote a detailed cover letter, revised my resume to suit the position, then took a skills test, then scheduled a phone interview -- which I prepared for with a few hours of company research and practice questions -- only to learn ten minutes in that the salary was majorly below what I'm looking for. Talk about jumping through hoops!

Feb 13, 7:14pm Top

>65 curioussquared: You got me with that BB. My local library actually has a copy of that one.

>68 curioussquared: And that one!

>70 curioussquared: That sounds fun!

>73 curioussquared: Congratulations! I hope you got caught up on your sleep.

>74 curioussquared: I already have that one in the BlackHole thanks to Foggi :)

>86 curioussquared: Too bad my local library does not have that one. It sounds like one I would enjoy!

Feb 14, 12:34pm Top

Oh my gosh I finally finished a book.

16 books read: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Growing up in Afghanistan, Amir witnesses his best friend Hassan suffer a horrible act at the hands of bullies -- but does nothing to stop it due to his own fear, and ends up driving away Hassan as a result. As Afghanistan descends into turmoil, Amir and his father build a new life in America -- until decades later, Amir is called back to Afghanistan to make things right with Hassan's son.

I talked a little about this up-thread, but I went into this book knowing nothing about the plot (except that my mom's book club and like every other book club in the country read it in the early 2000s). This book is brutal to read at times, and I had trouble listening to the audio version -- it wasn't a particularly long book, I just didn't find myself wanting to listen because it was such a tough read. In the end I found it rewarding, but just a rough journey to get there. 4 stars.

Feb 14, 12:34pm Top

>105 alcottacre: Thanks for stopping by, Stasia. I'm always happy to add to the black hole!

Feb 14, 5:40pm Top

>106 curioussquared: Congrats on finishing it. Time for something fluffy, methinks!

Feb 14, 5:42pm Top

>106 curioussquared: In the end I found it rewarding, but just a rough journey to get there. Well said. I found it a tough read as well, but worth the effort.

Yesterday, 7:05pm Top

>108 MickyFine: Thanks! Yes, definitely time for a break.

>109 alcottacre: Agreed!

Yesterday, 8:06pm Top

17 books read: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

After the events of A Court of Thorns and Roses, Feyre returns to the Spring court. She should feel safe -- she's back with Tamlin, and he won't let anything happen to her. But instead, she starts feeling trapped, both in her own nightmares and within the confines of the court. When Rhysand, high lord of the Night court, comes to claim the week of time she owes him as part of their bargain from the previous book, she should feel scared, but instead, the Night court comes as almost a relief. As Feyre starts to question the truths she took for granted, she starts learning more about herself -- and begins to heal.

Maas's books always feel fairly epic, and this one was no exception. This is a pretty long book, and I was still astonished at the amount of ground we covered -- so much that was presented as truth at the beginning of the book was totally upended by the end. I really enjoyed watching Feyre grow into herself and the badass she truly is -- for a long book, this was fun every step of the way. There are a few things that come across as trite, but for the most part, this was a satisfying story -- Maas knows how to give her readers what they want. 4 stars.

Edited: Yesterday, 8:20pm Top

18 books read: Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Jam lives in Lucille, a city where the angels have banished all monsters. Everyone is safe, and children are loved and cherished for who they are. But one night, Jam accidentally cuts herself in her mother's studio, where she sneaked in to get a look at her mother's new painting. When she bleeds on the painting, something happens, and the terrifying creature within it emerges. The creature tells her she can call it Pet, and that it has come to hunt a monster that is loose in Lucille -- despite the fact that everyone knows there aren't any monsters in Lucille.

What a strange, captivating little book! This is a short book that does a LOT in its few pages. I loved how inclusive it was and how original -- it took me a bit to get into it because the world you enter is so different yet so fully formed -- almost a sink or swim situation for the first chapter or two. Once I got into the rhythm of it, I couldn't put it down. Totally captivating -- it does contain some heavy themes, though. There are real monsters in this book. 4.5 stars.

Yesterday, 8:33pm Top

19 books read: Thornbound by Stephanie Burgis

In this follow-up to Snowspelled, Cassandra Harwood is on the brink of finally achieving her dream of opening a school of magic specifically for women -- until she gets word the day before opening that inspectors from the Boudiccate, the governing body of women in the nation, will be coming to decide whether or not her school should be allowed to open. From that moment forward, nothing seems to go right for Cassandra, as it's clear that someone is trying to sabotage her school. Plus, she still hasn't been able to see her husband since he was whisked away on Boudiccate business right after their wedding, and she has been suffering nightmares where she is encased and suffocating from thorny vines...

I enjoyed this sequel to Snowspelled -- perhaps not quite as much as the first volume, but still very much. Looking forward to reading more of Burgis's work! 3.5 stars.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2020

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