Rearview Mirror // August 2020

While June and July were two of my best reading months ever, August was a struggle.  There was a lot going on as I started back up at work, tried to get stuff wrapped up in the garden, and we began making plans for the final giant renovation in our house (bathroom/laundry room/master closet – which is probably going to take us the better part of a year to complete, and this month we really had to actually finalize what we wanted to have where – so overwhelming!).  Plus the world is just super weird and sometimes it gets me down!  I had a lot of so-so reads and a couple of ughs.  All in all, while August wasn’t a bad month, it also wasn’t awesome.

Still, September is a new month and things are settling back into a groove.  We drew our final draft of how the bathroom (etc) is going to look today, I’ve read over 1600 pages already this month, and life is humming along!

Favorite August Read

While I hate to put rereads in this slot, I just didn’t read anything I enjoyed more than Anne of the Island!

Most Disappointing August Read

Definitely Jane Austen in Scarsdale.  This book had a chance to be fun and flirty, and instead was cynical, bitter, and deadly boring.

Other August Reads

August Stats

  • Total Number of Books Read:  21 (all physical)
  • Total Pages Read:  5901 (really low for me)
  • Average Star Rating for June:  3.64
  • Longest Book:  Windfall (416 pages)
  • Shortest Book:  Mr. Popper’s Penguins (139 pages)
  • Oldest Book:  The Story of the Amulet (published 1906)
  • Newest Book:  Rogue Princess, Summer at Lake Haven, Outsider, Collateral Damage, and Acceptable Risk (all published 2020)
  • Number of New-to-Me Authors:  9

August DNFs

  • Mimi Lee Gets a Clue by Jennifer Chow – The first book in a new series, I thought I would check out this book centered on a young woman who has just opened her own pet grooming business.  Besides being incredibly boring, this book just honestly made almost no sense.  We start one what is supposedly Mimi’s first day of business, yet she is continually arriving late, closing early, and taking long lunches, which felt incredibly unrealistic.  There was really no motivation for her to be snooping around in the first place, and for some unknown reason her sister dumps a cat on her, which Mimi then feels apparently obligated to take with her everywhere – back and forth to work, with her when she goes out to lunch, with her when she goes to an appointment with an attorney, with her when she drives out into the country, etc etc.  Why is she carrying a cat around?!?!?  Eventually the cat starts talking to her so it makes a little more sense (if a talking cat makes sense) but at first she’s just lugging this cat around for no reason that I could possibly understand.  Just not the book for me.
  • Mischievous Meg by Astrid Lindgren – I’ve had this children’s book on my shelves forever.  Written by the author of Pippi Longstocking (which I’ve also never read), it’s about a little girl who is always getting into, well, mischief.  Normally I would just go ahead and finish a book that is so short (139 pages) but I honestly couldn’t take any more of Meg’s absolutely bratty behavior.  She was SO spoiled and obnoxious that instead of feeling like fun childhood pranks, reading about her adventures just made me want to give her a good spanking and send her to her room.  Another one for the giveaway box!
  • One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank – I’ve read another series by Swank in the past, so I thought I would give this one a try.  Because the other books of her I read were adult romance, I didn’t realize this one was YA until I started to read it.  Although I frequently enjoy YA, this one was just TOO FAR.  First off, I hate it when a book’s premise is “teen gets awesome opportunity but because teen is feeling bitter towards the parent providing it, teen is determined to hate his/her life,” which is exactly what happens here.  Sophie’s dad bailed on his family a year ago and now he’s living and getting married in Paris.  He wants Sophie and her brother to come spend the summer with him.  Sophie’s still mad about how her dad left, and is basically planning to hate every minute instead of making the best of her situation.  Literally everyone in this book, including the adults, were whiny, spoiled, entitled brats.  Sophie’s new stepsister is a horrific witch who bullies Sophie unmercifully with literally no explanation or even hint as to why.  Sophie spends all of her time pouting and being rude to her dad and new stepmother.  And yeah, her dad was definitely a jerk for bailing on his family, but is your big plan really just to be miserable forever in an attempt to punish him?  Of course, in the background we have the “Sophie’s mom is now super happy because she’s had the opportunity to someone who TRULY LOVES HER so Sophie’s dad leaving was actually the BEST THING that could have happened to her!”  HUGE EYE ROLL SORRY INFIDELITY IS NEVER THE BEST THING THAT CAN HAPPEN TO A MARRIAGE PLEASE STOP ATTEMPTING TO JUSTIFY IT.  All that to say – this one wasn’t for me, which was a disappointment simply because I’ve enjoyed other books by this author in the past.

TBR Update

This I keep updated as I go, so it’s current as of today, rather than as of the end of July.  I’m sure it’s off-kilter, though, because I get most of my TBR additions from reading book reviews on all of your lovely blogs, and despite my efforts to try and get caught up on reading them, I still have over 900 unread emails that are all blog entries!!!!

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:  466 (down two)
  • Nonfiction:  116 (down one)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  646 (down one)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  245 (up one)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 112 (down one)

Reading Challenge Updates

  • #ReadingEurope2020 – visited no where!! – this challenge is NOT going to get completed this year but I’m still tracking it for fun (total 7/46 complete)
  • #ReadtheUSA2020 – visited three states: Idaho, Illinois, and Minnesota (total 31/50 complete – I’m hoping to get this one completed by the end of the year)
  • #SeparatedbyaPondTour – visited the states above, plus Nova Scotia. (Total 52/159 complete – this is still on the 3-year track)
  • #LitsyAtoZ – 0 books (22/26 complete – only weird letters left)
  • #BackwardsAtoZ – 11 books (No B through no L on my fourth list – I’m trying to do this one in order and to see how many times I can get through the alphabet!)

Current Reads

When I reread Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes earlier this year I found out that Frank Gilbreth, Jr. had written a third book about his parents, Time Out for Happiness, more of a straight biography of their work.  I’m in the middle of that one right now and really enjoying getting some more details about their work, as this book focuses more on the research his parents completed than it does on their family life (although the two intermingle quite a bit!).

A while back, someone on Litsy bought a book called S.  It’s hard to explain, but basically the book comes in a slipcover, and the slipcover has all the publication/author information.  Within the slipcover is a hardback book that is printed exactly as thought it was a library discard book from 1949 called Ship of Theseus.  When you open the book, the title page has some “handwritten” notes between two different people, whom you later find out are Eric and Jen.  The book belongs to Eric, who is an ex-grad student (long story) somewhat obsessed with the author of SOT, V.M. Straka.  Straka was a mysterious figure whose actual identity was never known – but Eric is determined to discover it, believing that the clues lie within this, Straka’s final book.  Jen also reads the books, making notes of her own in the margins, and the entire book is filled with their marginal conversation.  It also comes with multiple inserts of different kinds, additional pieces of paper and information that Eric and Jen are sharing – newspaper articles, copies of letters, postcards, etc.  The entire book is incredibly elaborate and absolutely amazing.  I’m not very far into it, so I don’t know if the story itself will be worthwhile, but just reading it is a rather wild journey, with multiple stories within stories within stories creating a swirling and fascinating tale of many layers.

Up Next

The probably next five (ish) reads

  • Thorn by Intisar Kharnani – a retelling of The Goose Girls, one of my favorites.
  • The Crimson Thread by Suzanne Weyn – a retelling of Rumplestiltskin, because apparently I’m on a fairy tale kick haha
  • Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff – my next traveling book club book
  • Virtual Unicorn Experience by Dana Simpson – the newest Phoebe & Her Unicorn book!!
  • The Two Princesses of Bamarre and The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine – I’ve had mixed results with Levine’s work, but it’s been sooo long since I read Two Princesses that I thought I would give it a try, especially since there’s now a prequel (?) that I’ve never read.

Well, that’s the August update – hopefully everyone’s September is going well!!