Rearview Mirror // January 2021

Okay so yes it’s April, but sometimes life just gets behind, so hear I am with a throwback to January!!

Favorite January Read

Although I had a couple of rereads that I enjoyed more, I think that Time and Time Again was my favorite new read of the month.  It was such a fun concept and so well done.

Most Disappointing January Read

I’m going with Circles in the Snow for this one.  It was the final book in Patrick McManus’s Bo Tully series and it just… was weird?? It also lacked some continuity with the earlier books, which felt awkward.

Other January Reads 

January Stats

  • Total Number of Books Read:  29 (4 Kindle, 25 physical)
  • Total Pages Read:  8694
  • Average Star Rating for September:  3.7
  • Longest Book: The Grand Tour (469 pages)
  • Shortest Book:  An Officer & a Rebel (106 pages)
  • Oldest Book:  Alice in Wonderland (published 1865)
  • Newest Book: Active Defense (published 2021)
  • Number of New-to-Me Authors:  5

January DNFs

The only one I bailed on this month was a random Kindle book I got for free at some point, The Boden Birthright by Mary Conneally.  It wasn’t exactly a bad book, but, as my notes say – “Why did I even download this book?? It’s a Christian western?? What was I thinking??”  …just not my style!!

TBR Update

This I keep updated as I go, so it’s current as of today, rather than as of the end of January. Still a million years behind on reading blog posts, though! :-/

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

  • Standalones:  513 (down two)
  • Nonfiction:  125 (up one)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  638 (down nine!!!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  253 (down two)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 115 (down three)
  • New Arrivals – (I have a lot of books that I have been gifted or that I pick up somewhere and they get put on my “oh I’m so excited about this shiny new book” shelf… and then of course don’t actually get read.): 128 (up thirteen!!)

Current Read

I’m reading Shoot the Moon by Kate Watson, the sequel to Seeking Mansfield.  While I really enjoyed the first book, I’m finding this one to be a bit of a drag.

Up Next

The probable next five(ish) reads…

  • Off Script, the third book in the series by Kate Watson that I’m reading
  • A Lady’s Guide to Mischief & Mayhem by Manda Collins – this month’s book for my traveling book club!
  • Parker Pyne Investigates by Agatha Christie – still working my way through all Christie’s books (again)
  • The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Rauf – a little outside my usual zone, but this one was recommended to me by a friend.
  • Mansfield Park Revisited by Joan Aiken – I reread Mansfield Park last month, so I’m hitting a few variations/retellings this month.  I really enjoyed Aiken’s variation on Emma (she tells the story from the perspective of Jane Fairfax) so I’m interested to read this one.

Final notes – I think I finally have my WordPress editor back to “normal”, which means I can still access the Classic editor!!! Life is good again!!! I really appreciate everyone’s patience with all my whining lately.  I’ll try to focus on reviews going forward!!!

Happy spring – I’ll be back soon with some February book reviews!!!

January Minireviews – Part 3

Oh my gosh.  Okay.  I’m still here.  I had a mild breakdown today because freaking WordPress changing literally E V E R Y T H I N G on top of my already crappy week was just more than I could take.  I even started to set up a new blog on Blogspot.  But for now I am going TRY to continue working with this stupid website because I feel like I have so much invested here!

A bit of whining first, then book reviews.  Feel free to skip this paragraph.  I’m in a Mood haha  So besides the fact that the entire dashboard is just stupid now, my biggest issue is that the Pages are just in some kind of random order.  (Maybe what’s been edited recently?  But it doesn’t really seem to be that.  Definitely not alphabetical.  Definitely not in the order they are on my site, or anything else that I can figure that actually makes sense.)  I use these pages every time I make a post because it’s how I index everything.  Each book I review then has a link filed on at least three index pages – the ones you can see at the top of the website.  However, even though I can’t sort those pages and the whole thing looks stupid I can apparently “search” them so I think I can use the search function to find the pages I want when I want them… maybe.  Mostly.  Honestly I’m just flat pissed at how horrible the new set up is.  It’s so, so horrible.  

But onward, right?  I’m going to try to see if I can make this stupid website do what it’s always done for me, even if it now takes about 15 extra steps and makes no sense.  At least I can now “seamlessly create a podcast” from my website.  Because that’s definitely what I want to do.  Oh my GOSH.

As a side note I can “kind of” use the Classic editor by choosing it as a block in the Block editor.  Because that makes sense, right? *HUGE EYE ROLL*

EDIT EDIT EDIT EDIT

I FIGURED IT OUT!!!!!  Okay, sorry, this almost feels like it should be its own post instead of one with reviews but whatever haha  OKAY so if your dashboard has also gone completely wonky – I went to My Profile and then on the left sidebar clicked Account Settings.  Now here’s the stupid part.  Just the other day I had to UNCLICK the button that says “Show advanced dashboard pages” so that the update would NOT show up.  Today I turned it ON and now everything is back to normal.  WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?!

I’m SO SORRY that I’ve been whining about WordPress so much lately!!!  I’m going to try to go back to being the upbeat person that I usually am haha  Thanks so much for listening to me rant lately and for giving me helpful possible solutions!!!  Maybe this whole thing is back under control!?!?  Time will tell…  For now – on to a few reviews!!

Sometimes I don’t feel like writing a full review for whatever reason, either because life is busy and I don’t have time, or because a book didn’t stir me enough.  Sometimes, it’s because a book was so good that I just don’t have anything to say beyond that I loved it!  Frequently, I’m just wayyy behind on reviews and am trying to catch up.  For whatever reason, these are books that only have a few paragraphs of thoughts from me.

Time & Time Again by Ben Elton – 4*

The sad part about being way behind on reviews is that books that I really found interesting and thought-provoking at the time have now faded into the distance.  When I read this book back in January, it completely sucked me in.  A fantastic concept well-executed with a great twist – it honestly doesn’t fit my usual style of reading as it wasn’t a particularly happy book, but it was done so well that I didn’t mind.  If you’re someone with a rosier view of the human race than I have (i.e., if you think people are on a generally upward trajectory and are constantly improving rather than devolving), you may not like this book as well.  But since I actually think people are on a cyclical but steady downward trend, this book rather fit with my life philosophy in many ways.  

There were a few too many unanswered questions for me to rank this more than 4*, but all in all it was a solid and engaging read a bit outside of my normal parameters.  

Sheriff Bo Tully mysteries by Patrick McManus

  • The Blight Way – 4*
  • Avalanche – 3.5*
  • The Double-Jack Murders – 3.5*
  • The Huckleberry Murders – 3.5*
  • The Tamarack Murders – 3*
  •  Circles in the Snow – 2.5*
I usually give a series its own post, but I’m so far behind on reviews that I’m not even going to do that haha  
 
I grew up on McManus’s collections of essays/articles and many of my life philosophies are based on his theories.  This series was written late in his life and was one of his few forays into fiction.  Set in a small town in Idaho, the books focus on the county sheriff, Bo Tully, and various murders/adventures/shenanigans that occur in Blight County.  While the series started well with a likable group of characters, the last couple of books fell off sharply, with the stories getting weirder and the final book not even including most of the characters who had been regulars in the earlier books.  I can see myself reading the first two or three books again, but not the whole series.
 
Susannah the Pioneer Cow by Miriam Mason – 3.5*
 
Susannah the Pioneer Cow

//published 1941//

This is a simple children’s story about a pioneer family who moves west (all the way to Indiana haha) in a covered wagon but told from the (third person) perspective of the family cow, Susannah.  It was a happy little story but since it was focused on the cow it was lacking in a lot of details about pioneer life.  I think I would have loved this book when I was an early reader, though, because Susannah does have some exciting adventures.


Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie – 3.5*

A fun little collection of short stories based around Miss Marple.  I actually rather enjoyed these because I quite like Miss Marple’s random-yet-somehow-make-sense connections between different people/situations, and those really shine in these shorts.  Not the best Christie has to offer, but still rather fun.

Oh my gosh not only did WordPress change it’s editing layout AGAIN now the entire dashboard is completely wonk and I HATE IT.  Seriously, please let me know if you are working on a blog layout that actually makes sense instead of this god-forsaken hellscape that WordPress’s dashboard has become.