Rearview Mirror: October 2015

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Mountwood Park east of Parkersburg, WV – absolutely delightful place to hike!

October is always a busy month.  There’s the county fair (which was especially important during my 4-H years!) and my birthday, plus the usual fall activities of tucking in the garden and battening down the hatches in preparation for the long (long long long) winter months that plague Ohio.  We also spent a few days in West Virginia, hiking and exploring.  Always plenty of adventures to be had!

But there is always time for reading!  I am still plowing my way through Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books, which I’m actually enjoying more as the series progresses.  Dragonsdawn was especially engaging.  I also love the way that McCaffrey will write more than one book that covers the same time period.  I actually love hearing the same story from multiple perspectives.

For some reason, I’ve been first in line on the library hold list for the next of Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti series for almost a month, but still haven’t received it??  So I will actually be starting a new mystery series in November, and if the next Brunetti books ever makes an appearance, I’ll jump back into those.  I’m just not enamored with them enough to buy the next book, which I sometimes do on those rare occasions that the library lets me down.

I only have one Jim Kjlegaard book left to read from my personal collection, although I have added some of his other books, not currently owned by me, to the TBR, so they may crop up later.  I’m still working my way through all the books that I own (this will take a few years); we have a few Konigsburg books coming up, and then will hit some Dick King-Smith.  His books are short, humorous, and intelligent, so I’m really looking forward to blazing through those.

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Bayern books – so much love!

My birthday was this month, too!  My sister purchased all four of Shannon Hale’s Bayern books (used) in my favorite edition – SO HAPPY!  Now I’m trying to decide what to do with my birthday money – buy a few nice sweaters for work or…  books!?  (Guess which one it’s going to be…)

Favorite October Read

//published 2013//

Really, really loved this read!

I think I’m going to go with The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness.  Even though I didn’t completely understand that book, it has really stuck with me, and has left me wanting to read it again.

Most Disappointing October Read

Probably Houses of Stone by Barbara Michaels.  I was really looking forward to reading this book because I have enjoyed some of her other mysteries so much (especially the Amelia Peabody mysteries, which she wrote as Elizabeth Peters), but this book felt just a little too ranty for me to really enjoy it.

Other October Reads:

  • A Noble Radiance by Donna Leon (Commissario Guido Brunetti #7) – solid outing, and enough to make me want to give the next book a try, if the library ever decides I can have it.
  • How NOT to Spend Your Senior Year by Cameron Dokey – a bit silly, but still a lot of fun.  This book also made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions, so that is always a bonus.
  • A Nose for Trouble by Jim Kjelgaard – a decent read, but not my favorite Kjelgaard.
  • Nerilka’s Story by Anne McCaffrey – much shorter than her other novels so far, and super fun to get a different perspective on the major events from Moreta.  
  • Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey – I love reading background for stories (am I weird?!), and was completely enamored with this trip back to the beginning of Pern’s history.  This book was actually probably my second-favorite read for the month.
  • The Luck of the Bodkins by P.G. Wodehouse – while not my favorite Wodehouse, this one still had some classic moments and plenty of humor.

Other October Posts:

So for some reason I was inspired to tool through my original book blog, which I started over on tumblr at the end of 2011.  Most of my early reviews were kind of pathetic, like maybe a paragraph or two (have I gotten better at reviewing, or just more rambly??), but it’s always fun to take a trip down memory lane.  Looking through my older posts inspired me to add some books to the TBR as rereads, and also to post some reviews from the archive.  I have a few more archive posts queued up, but because so many of my older reviews weren’t that great, there are only a few left to go!  At some point, I may start reposting a few reviews from this blog now and then as well.

This month, I posted five archival posts:

  • George, Nicolas, and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I by Miranda Carter – this was my first-ever online book review, and still one of my all-time favorite nonfiction reads. If you are looking for a big picture look at how things came together to lead up to World War I, this book is highly recommended.  Completely engaging, organized, intelligent but easy to understand, it is an all-around brilliant book.  I absolutely loved discovering how all the important political players were connected to one another, and there was definitely a period of time where I was so immersed in this book that I felt almost like this was the current news!
  • Something Fresh by P.G. Wodehouse – My first Wodehouse review ever, back on February 7, 2012, is just as incoherently in love with Wodehouse as any of my current ones.  This particular review was actually more of an excuse to post an entire passage of Wodehouse’s foreword on the importance of early 20th century authors possessing three long names!
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell – A lot of so-called “classics” aren’t at all my style, but Orwell’s writing in this book is absolutely brilliant, and eerily applicable.
  • A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson – It was a little awkward, because after I queued this post, someone else recommend Ibbotson’s works to me.  I actually hated A Company of Swans, and this was one of my first really ranty reviews.  But maybe I should give her another try??
  • Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh – When I was really studying the early 1900’s, I read Charles Lindbergh’s The Spirit of Saint Louis, which was strangely engaging reading (but apparently I never reviewed it??  I’m positive I did!  I just can’t find it!).  This book, written by his wife, is much (MUCH) shorter, and I loved every page.  This is gentle, calming, inspiring writing that, for  me, captures beautifully the importance of femininity, strength, solitude, and balance.
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My first edition copy of this book gives me an unreasonable amount of joy.

When I was looking for all those archives, I also found a bunch of quotes.  My favorite is probably from Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster:

It isn’t the big troubles in life that require character. Anybody can rise to a crisis and face a crushing tragedy with courage, but to meet the petty hazards of the day with a laugh–I think that requires spirit.

Random Fun:

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    This book isn’t by Agatha Christie! Why is Agatha Christie’s name prominently displayed at the top!? So that Sophie Hannah can trick people into buying her book! BOO HISS!

    Rant first:  I stumbled again across a copy of The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah, and felt myself again being filled with rage that she would dare – DARE – to put Agatha Christie’s name in huge letters across the top of the cover.  Just because you’ve stolen someone’s main character doesn’t give you the right to act as though one of the greatest mystery writers of all time wrote YOUR book!  Honestly.  The nerve!  I was also pretty confident that I remembered FictionFan ranting about this book when she reviewed it – and I was right!

  • Speaking of FictionFan – she published the first chapter of her new domestic noir novel on her blog – I believe it is going to be absolutely brilliant – that type of gritty book that exposes the daily drudgery of the modern woman for what it really is.
  • I loved Gemma’s thoughts on buying books, and what the books we own say about us.  Her statement that her “to-buy” list is “almost an attempt to solidify the experience of reading that book, of enjoying that book. It’s a symbol that I love this book”  – is spot on for me as well.  I also do almost all of my reading from library books. But the ones I love go on the wishlist and get purchased when the funds appear!
  • Nicole had a similar conversation as well, and about how the temptation to purchase ebooks instead of physical ones is high, because ebooks are such a bargain – and take up less space! – despite the fact that they just aren’t the same as actual physical book.
  • I completely agreed with FictionFan (again…  really, I do disagree with her sometimes!) about the ridiculousness of editing chunks out of modern reprints of classic books – especially without any indication that you are reading an edited version and not what the author actually wrote!
  • Sophie compared book titles to baby names, and admitted that she judges books by their titles!

Added to the TBR:

Well, I added nothing to the TBR this month!

HA HA JUST KIDDING

Seriously, per usual, I added way more than I possibly have room to mention, but here are a few that I added thanks to fabulous book reviews around WordPress!

  • Bibliobeth said that Night Film was thoroughly engrossing despite its length – I love really involved mysteries, actually, so I’m pretty stoked.
  • Reading, Writing and Riesling usually adds about 79 books to my TBR every month.  This month, I was especially drawn to her description of Night Owls – how am I supposed to resist a book that is “Beautifully written; engaging prose, loveable characters that speak to the principals of acceptance, diversity and individuality and a narrative that is engaging, that flows effortlessly” !??!?!  Answer:  I can’t!
  • Both Sophie and The Literary Sisters recommended the lengthily titled The Girl Who Circumnavigated the World in a Ship of Her Own Making, a book I’ve had my eye on anyway.  I love children’s fantasy, and also love the name September!
  • Another double recommendation was The Girl With No Past, which both CleopatraLovesBooks and ChrissiReads felt was a strong psychological thriller.  I haven’t had any good thrillers pop up lately, so hopefully adding more to the TBR will increase the odds!
  • Cleo also recommended 24 Hours as a page-turner that kept her completely engaged.
  • Cheryl at Tales of the Marvelous recommended Tom’s Midnight Garden as a “very British, very charming classic fantasy.” Her description put me in mind of E. Nesbit, a beloved favorite, so I think I will have to give this one a try.
  • Sometimes I like to mix it up with what kids are (or at least should be) reading these days, and Lynette’s description of North of Nowhere sounds like a great middle school read.
  • Since Anna over at Books for the Trees started her review of The Night Clock with a lot of capital letters and feels, it sounded like the fantasy read should go on the list!

Hope everyone else had a lovely October and are ready for November.  We’re getting back into the cozy reading months, so I’m pretty stoked about that.  Happy reading!!