Rearview Mirror // July 2018

I feel like every time I do a post like this I start by talking about how swiftly time is moving.  Is this because I’m getting old??  I think it’s because I’m getting old.  It IS weird to think that I’m very possibly past the halfway point of my life.  What even.

The garden is growing like crazy!  I love spending time down there, just soaking it in and wandering around killing bad bugs (I have what the husband calls my “killing bucket” of soapy water… I think he finds my single-minded ruthlessness towards evil beetles rather entertaining) and pulling weeds.  I’ve been freezing green beans and peppers, tomatoes are starting to come on, and there are sunflowers blooming everywhere.  I’m a big believer of mixing flowers in with vegetables.  My garden is a bit messy but completely happy.

Peaches are ripe, which means that my summer of unemployment has come to an end.  I started working at the orchard this morning, although my happy little delivery route won’t start until the orchard is pressing cider around the first of September.

We’ve decided to take a trip to Wyoming in mid-August.  My aunt and uncle bought a small cabin in a very small town in the southeast part of the state, so we are going to stay there and spend a week hiking and hanging out at high altitudes.  It takes us almost as many days to drive there and back as we will have to SPEND there, but it’s still worth it.  Tom and I actually love road-tripping together and I’m already creating playlists to while away our time.  Soooo excited.

In the book world, I’m somehow only eight books away from completing my 2018 Goodreads reading goal (possibly due to that whole “unemployed” thing) and am on track to read around 300 books this year.  Whoops.

The trend for reading books-I-like-but-don’t-really-love continues.  I’ve read a lot of books this month that I’ve described with words like “solid”, “interesting”, “decent”, and “enjoyable”, but not really with anything more enthusiastic than that.  I’m also reading a LOT of series for some reason, which really throws my reviewing schedule into whack, as I like to review series as a whole rather than individual books.

Favorite July Read

I had some solid contenders for this slot, including a couple of rereads that I quite enjoyed, but I think I’m going with The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit.  It was just so sweet and funny, and I loved the way that the children kept getting into all kinds of scrapes.

Most Disappointing July Read

There were a couple of lame ones, too – especially the Paper Magician series, which I wanted to love – but I think I’m going with Fairest by Gail Carson Levine.  This one was extra disappointing because Ella Enchanted is such an old favorite.  This book, by the same author and set in the same world, had so much potential but instead was so boring and lame.

Other July Reads

  • After Dark by Phillip Margolin – 4* – a twisty and enjoyable thriller.
  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – 4.5* – a reread that was even more enjoyable this time around.
  • The Chance of a Lifetime by Grave Livingston Hill – 3.5* – solid story that wasn’t too preachy.
  • Frederica by Georgette Heyer – 4.5* – delightful, frothy Heyer at her best.
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – 4* – a book whose sly humor kept me reading.
  • How to Cheat at Everything by Simon Lovell – 4* – nonfiction that gives the ins and outs of all kinds of scams, games, and cons.
  • The Infinity Trilogy by S. Harrison – 3.5* – interesting premise that got a little too violent for me at times.
  • Judy Bolton, Books 6-10 by Margaret Sutton – 3* – fun but not amazing.
  • The Midnight Kittens by Dodie Smith – 2* – choppy and confusing children’s (?) story.
  • The Moon by Night by Madeline L’Engle – 3.5* – a little too YA angsty for me.
  • Meet the Austins by Madeline L’Engle – 4* – a surprisingly enjoyable book even though not a lot happens.
  • The Paper Magician trilogy by Charlie Holmberg – 2* – the setting was amazing, but the characters and plot really annoyed me.
  • Scotty by Frances Pitt – 3.5* – an interesting book about a Scottish fox.
  • The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham – 3.5* – gripping, but questionable moral decisions.
  • Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley – 3* – not a bad story, except the ending sucked so much that I almost rated this 2*
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle – 3.5* – an enjoyable book, but I’m not sure why everyone goes on and on about it.

Other July Posts

I have reinstated the Tottering TBR Episodes, mainly because I enjoy letting people know when their reviews have inspired me enough to add something to the TBR!  This month I did a pretty good job of getting them out weekly:

I’ve also been continuing my Shelfie by Shelfie series!

Last July…

I had a great round of stomach flu and then started working at the orchard in mid-July – the peaches came on much earlier last year.  My favorite book of the month was Woman With a Gun by Phillip Margolin – which is kind of funny, because After Dark was a top contender for this month’s favorite book.  My most disappointing read was Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier.  I have enjoyed Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel so much that this one – so so so so so depressing – was a real disappointment.

#20BooksofSummer Update!

My challenge of reading 20 books that I own while still keeping up on all my other “scheduled” reads is definitely adding some zest to this challenge for me.  So far I have read nine and reviewed eight of my chosen books.  I’m currently reading two more.  It really may come down to the wire!  I also changed out another book – I read the first few chapters of Everblue and found it just incredibly boring, so it’s been dropped and Along Came a Spider by K.M. Robinson has been added.  The updated list can be found here.

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:  853 (up by the embarrassing number of 17!  Mostly due to adding a bunch of Phillip Margolin books…)
  • Nonfiction:  77 (holding steady)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  689 (up eleven… free Kindle books…!!!!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  230 (holding steady)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 108 (up two)

Awaiting Review:

Most of the books waiting for review are parts of series (although a few aren’t).  Hopefully I’ll be getting to these reviews soon…

  • The entire Alpha Girl series by Aileen Erin – I just finished the last one today.  Why did I enjoy these books about a teenage werewolf so much?!  I’m worried about myself.
  • Devil’s Trumpet and Deadly Nightshade by Mary Freeman – the first two books in a mystery quartet centered around a woman who runs a landscaping business.  I’ve actually really enjoyed these, but it’s been slow work getting a hold of them, as my library only has books 1 & 3, so I had to get 2 & 4 secondhand, and by the time I got 2, the library wanted 3 back, so now I’m waiting for it to show up again!
  • The first three books in a “Love Inspired” series written by various authors – they actually haven’t been too terrible, so I’m finishing the series.
  • The Arm of the Starfish by Madeline L’Engle – I think I am going to read all of these.  This one was this crazy spy-thriller kind of thing, so completely different from the others!
  • Mystery Over the Brick Wall by Helen Fuller Orton – a children’s mystery that I’ve had forever that was pretty meh.

Current Reads:

  • Kilmeny of the Orchard by L.M. Montgomery – I haven’t read this one since high school!
  • When Patty Went to College by Jean Webster – the author of two of my favorite books, so I have high hopes for this one.
  • The Cowboy’s Lady by Carolyne Aarsen – the next book in that crazy Love Inspired series.
  • Chosen Child by Linda Huber – I haven’t actually started this one yet, so we’ll see if it’s any good.

Approaching the Top of the Pile:

The probable next five reads…

  • Until There Was You by Kristin Higgins – another #20BooksofSummer read!
  • Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch – the first in the next series I am hoping to read
  • The Loner’s Thanksgiving Wish by Roxanne Rustand – the next book in the Love Inspired series.
  • Chasing Ravens by Jessica Paige – not even sure how this got on the TBR, so no idea what to expect!
  • Dead Drift by Dani Pettrey – the final book in the Chesapeake Valor series… it came in at the library today!!  Super excited to see how this series wraps up!