Rearview Mirror // November 2017

November has been kind of a weird month.  I’ve had a lingering cold/cough/general meh feeling that has lasted basically the entire month.  It’s really the longest I can remember ever being sick (besides mono back in the day), and it’s been rather frustrating as there are a lot of things to get done around here and I don’t seem to have the energy for really any of them.  However, that does mean that I’ve spent a bit more time just sitting around with a cup of tea, so it has been a pretty solid reading month.

I have officially achieved this year’s Goodreads goal of 160 books!  As of this moment, the count for the year stands at 173.  I’ve been a lot more committed to making sure I actually mark off read books on GR, and have also been doing my best to update what I’m reading/where I am in reading regularly.  It is rather fun to see the little progress bars fill!

I keep forgetting to mention that back in mid-October my sister and I went to see Maggie Stiefvater at a library program.  She was an absolute delight and it was so fun and interesting to hear her talk about her newest book, All the Crooked Saints.  I haven’t read it yet, but am sure I will eventually.  In the meantime, I had her sign my copy of Shiver.  My sister has never read a single Stiefvater book, but she follows Maggie on Twitter and finds her consistently hilarious (so do I), so she actually had her sign a print-out of a picture of Stiefvater’s old Camaro, which my sister loves.  Maggie had been on tour quite a while by the time she got to our town, and actually seemed quite touched to see a picture of her car (she drew hearts around it after she signed her name haha).  This was actually somehow my first author event.  I don’t have a lot of them that I particularly want to see (and most of my favorites are dead lol).  But if Maggie Stiefvater ever comes back through town, I would definitely go see her again.  She even played the bagpipes!

Favorite November Read:

Oh definitely The Night Circus.  It may even end up being my book of the year.  I loved every page of this book, even though it used so many writing styles and concepts that I usually don’t like.  Every letter was perfection.  ::sigh::  So.  Magical.

Most Disappointing November Read:  

Actually, even though I read several books that received a lower rating this month, I think I’m going to go with  The Dire King by William Ritter.  I was really anticipating this conclusion to the Jackaby books, and in the end felt incredibly meh about this book.  There was a lot of confusion and a lot of answered questions.  There was also a big twist at the end which I personally didn’t like, as I felt like it changed everything about the characters so far.  It was worth the read, but really brought my overall enjoyment of the series down.

Other November Reads:

  • Alan Mendelsohn, Boy from Mars by Daniel Pinkwater – 3/5 – a fun story, but not my favorite Pinkwater.
  • The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner by Ann Larkin Hansen – 3/5 – informative, but not amazing.
  • Beastly Bones by William Ritter – 4/5 – a fun sequel to Jackaby.
  • The Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve – 4/5 – beautiful edition and quite intriguing to read the original fairy tale.
  • Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey – 3.5/5 – a good story, but somewhat lacking in focus.  Still looking forward to the final book, though.
  • Cinchfoot by Thomas C. Hinkle – 3/5 – a pretty meh horse tale.
  • Close to Home by Carolyn Aarsen – 3/5 – enjoyable, but the main characters really just needed to use their words.
  • Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder – 5/5 – perfect ending.  Like so perfect.  I couldn’t  believe how perfect.
  • Dreaming of a Family by Arlene James – 2/5 – alright story, but Dixie was SO obnoxious.
  • Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter – 3.5/5 – an engaging story in the Jackaby series, but a little too focused on the Grand Scheme.
  • The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg – 2/5 – Shelby.  Ugh.
  • Heavier Than Heaven by Charles Cross – 4/5 – really well-written and fascinating biography of Kurt Cobain, of Nirvana fame.
  • Jackaby by William Ritter – 4/5 – such a fun and funny mash-up of Doctor Who and Sherlock.
  • The Journey to Dragon Island by Claire Fayers – 4/5 – the second in a series about a girl named Brine and the crew of ridiculous pirates with whom she finds herself traveling.  Fun and lighthearted – a great children’s read.
  • The Little Nugget by P.G. Wodehouse – 3/5 – fun, but not the best Wodehouse ever.
  • Miss Billy, Miss Billy’s Decision, and Miss Billy Married by Eleanor H. Porter – 3/5 – nice stories, but lacking something – not books I anticipate rereading.
  • The Mommy Wish by Kathryn Springer – 3/5 – Nice story, but the Big Reveal wasn’t nearly as tragic as the lead-up anticipated.
  • Night Study by Maria V. Snyder – 4/5 – I couldn’t put this book down.  What even.  So crazy.
  • Only Dead On the Inside by James Breakwell – 4/5 – such a funny book.  Don’t read in public, unless you like having people look at you strange when you snort with laughter.
  • The Pastor Takes a Wife by Anna Schmidt – 3/5 – pleasant, but I wasn’t feeling the chemistry between the lead characters.
  • The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer – 4/5 – classic Heyer froth.
  • Rumours and Recklessness by Nicole Clarkson – 4/5 – a really enjoyable and pleasant P&P retelling.
  • Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder – 4/5 – a little slow in spots, but still fantastic storytelling.
  • Triplets Find a Mom by Annie Jones – DNF – I wanted to like this one, but the writing was just plain terrible.
  • The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers – 4/5 – a really adorable and fun children’s fantasy book that actually had me on the edge of my seat at the end!

In Novembers Past…

Now that I’ve been doing my Rearview Mirrors for two years, I thought it would be fun to see what my favorite and least-favorite reads were from those years.

In November 2015, I didn’t review a single book!  Life was quite busy, and I was working a lot of extra hours.  At the time, that was at a law office, so all those extra hours were staring at computers… which meant I really didn’t feel like doing that when I got home!

Last year, however, I had another bumper month of reading, with three 5* reads.  While I chose Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome as my favorite, both Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan and First Lord’s Fury by Jim Butcher – the conclusion of Codex Alera – were very, very strong contenders.

My  most disappointing book was another example of what expectations can do to make a book work or not.  I had really enjoyed Sandy Hall’s first book, which made Signs Point to Yes even more disappointing when I didn’t like it.  Honestly, I had kind of forgotten about this book, but at the time it aggravated me so much that I actually made a list of the things I didn’t like.

TBR Update:

For those of you who don’t know, I’m weirdly obsessive with organizing the TBR, and have it on a spreadsheet divided into five different tabs:

  • Standalones:  823 (up ONLY two!)
  • Nonfiction:  85 (up four!)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  616 (holding steady!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  227 (down one!)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 106 (holding steady!)

Also, I’ve recently created a page to keep track of my attempt to read all of my own books.  You can check it out here.  What I really need is for other people to stop writing good reviews.  I mean, I’ve read TWENTY-NINE books in November – that’s almost a book a day! – and yet my net on the TBR is a gain of five?!  How is that even possible????

Awaiting Review:

My little blast of minireviews yesterday really helped clear out the pile.  It’s mostly books that belong together – lately I’ve been reviewing series all at once instead of individually, unless they really jumped out at me as separate books.

  • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben – a book I really wanted to like more than I actually did.
  • Senior Year, Going Steady, and Sorority Girl by Anne Emery – the first three books in the Burnaby series, published in 1950’s.  They have been very pleasant and relaxing reads that still have some good life lessons.
  • The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger by Lois Lowry – mixed bag.  We’ll see how Son wraps everything up.
  • A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch – the first book in the Charles Lenox series.  Kind of boring.  I already have the second book from the library, so I am going to give it a chance, but if it’s just as unexciting as the first installment, I’ll probably give the rest of the books a miss.

Current Reads:

  • High Note, Low Note by Anne Emery
  • Son by Lois Lowry
  • The Divine Conquest by A.W. Tozer
  • The September Society by Charles Finch

Approaching the Top of the Pile:

The probable next five reads…

  • Campus Melody by Anne Emery – the final Burnaby book
  • The Wolf’s Hour by Robert R. McCammon – werewolves and World War II??  Or something??
  • Album of Horses by Marguerite Henry – childhood classic
  • Last First Kiss by Lia Riley – one of those free Kindle books I’m trying to actually read instead of just accumulating them…
  • Bronco Charlie by Henry Larom – random children’s book that has been on my shelf forever

Happy December!!!