Rearview Mirror // May 2021

I just don’t seem to be getting any forwarder on my blogging!!  Ah well, here’s a recap from May, which was a stupendously busy month at my greenhouse job – definitely reflected in the overall amount of reading I got done, my lowest month of the year so far.

Favorite May Read

Although it was technically Carry On, Jeeves, I like to choose a new read for this slot when possible, which means Project Hail Mary is going to take the win.  This book ended up being funny, engaging, emotional, intense, and all game together in the end – a total win for me.

Most Disappointing May Read

Possibly Love at First by Kate Clayborn, which was honestly an okay read for me, but somewhat boring and just not that engaging.  However, as you can see from my little pile of 3* reads this month, it could just as easily have been any of the other meh reads I had.

Other May Reads

May Stats

  • Total Number of Books Read:  18 (1 Kindle, 17 physical)
  • Total Pages Read:  5361
  • Average Star Rating for September:  3.75
  • Longest Book: Project Hail Mary (476 pages)
  • Shortest Book:  Unicorn Famous (171 pages)
  • Oldest Book:  Happiness Hill (published 1932)
  • Newest Book: Unicorn Famous, Second First Impressions, Project Hail Mary, Anchored Hearts, The Dating Plan, and Love at First were all published this year.
  • Number of New-to-Me Authors:  5

May DNFs

None this month!!

TBR Update

This I keep updated as I go, so it’s current as of today, rather than as of the end of May. I am also making progress on winnowing down the unread blog emails!!! Under 800!!! LOL

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:  509 (up one)
  • Nonfiction:  125 (down one)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  648 (holding steady)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  252 (up one)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 114 (down one)
  • 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.): 143 (up six!)

Current Reads

  • I’m trying to have one nonfiction book on the go all the time right now, just a chapter a day.  It actually is helping me get through the ones both on my official nonfiction section of the TBR and some of the scores of nonfiction I already own!  Right now I’m reading The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson, about a preacher in the 1960s who ended up moving from rural Pennsylvania to New York City to work with a gang ministry.  This one has been on my shelf for literal years but I’m glad that I’ve finally picked it up as it’s thoroughly engaging.
  • The PemberLittens group on Litsy is on our final Austen read – Persuasion.  I quite like this one and am enjoying the gentle chapter-a-day pace.
  • Another Litsy group is reading through the Emily of New Moon trilogy by L.M. Montgomery.  Despite the fact that several of Montgomery’s books rate in my top books of all time, I’ve never read this series.  I think when I was growing up Mom told me that it was sad, so I never bothered.  But I’m probably old enough to handle the sad now haha  So far, the first book, Emily of New Moon, has been okay, but it really does have a down tone compared to many of Montgomery’s other books.  And Emily’s Aunt Elizabeth is just a terrible person.  Like Marilla without any sense of humor or empathy.
  • I’m also trying to check some classics off my list, also via the chapter-a-day method, and am currently read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, another of those classics I’ve just never gotten around to reading.  It’s short and snappy so I’m really enjoying it.
  • My “regular” book that I’m reading right now is The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan.  A while back I read The Joy Luck Club and enjoyed it so much more than I was anticipating – I’m usually not a fan of novels.  So far, this book is also drawing me in despite being a book it doesn’t “sound” like I should enjoy.
  • Finally, last night I wasn’t feeling sleepy and just wanted something happy and fluffy to read before going to sleep, and ended up getting about a third of the way through My Lady Jane, which I have been meaning to read forever.  So far, absolutely fantastic.

Up Next

The probably next five(ish) reads –

  • The next free Kindle book I’m planning to check off the list is a collection of the first three books in the Lexie Star cozy mystery series.  I can’t decide if I’m hoping that I enjoy them and read the whole series, or if I hope the first book is dreadful and I don’t need to read the rest! LOL
  • I still have a handful of books from the Regency book box I bought off of eBay a couple years ago.  They’ve ranged from “what even” to “pretty decent” so we’ll see what The Duke’s Disappearance has to offer.
  • A while back I read Smoky the Cow Horse and found it surprisingly engaging.  So, when we were in South Dakota in 2019 and I saw another of James’s books, Flint Spears, I decided to pick it up.  And two years later, I’m planning to actually read it!!  Actually not a bad timeline from purchase to reading for me.
  • My next Wodehouse book is one I actually somehow haven’t read before – Sam in the Suburbs.  I’m rather excited about it as I only have a tiny handful of unread Wodehouse books left.
  • Still working through my personal collection of unread books – the next will be Holdfast by Patricia Beatty.  Back in high school I purchased a bunch of library discards by Beatty but haven’t read them all (or at least not since the late 90s).  She’s a mixed bag for me – I’ve kept a couple and gotten rid of a couple, so we’ll see how this one plays out.  Many of her books are set on the west coast in the 1800s, so moving to early 1600s Ireland will be a definite change of pace!!

Well, that about brings you up to speed as well as summing up my May reading.  On to June!!!

Rearview Mirror // April 2021

Well, it’s been less than three weeks (barely) since I posted March’s Rearview Mirror, so that means I’m getting caught up, right???

Favorite April Read

If I’m honest, my favorite read was actually my reread of Prince Caspian, but since I like to chose new books for this slot, I’m going with Blue Lily, Lily Blue.

Most Disappointing April Read

I had a lot of reads I was ambivalent towards this month, but the one that really was the worst was Shoot the Moonwhich was especially annoying because it was the middle book of a trilogy.

Other April Reads

April Stats

  • Total Number of Books Read:  17 (9 Kindle, 8 physical)
  • Total Pages Read:  6075
  • Average Star Rating for September:  3.7
  • Longest Book: The Raven King (475 pages)
  • Shortest Book:  Mansfield Park Revisited (201 pages)
  • Oldest Book:  Parker Pyne Investigates (published 1934)
  • Newest Book: Off Script and A Lady’s Guide to Mischief & Mayhem (both published 2020)
  • Number of New-to-Me Authors:  4

April DNFs

None this month!!

TBR Update

This I keep updated as I go, so it’s current as of today, rather than as of the end of April. I am also making progress on winnowing down the unread blog emails!!! Under 1000!!!

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:  508 (down three)
  • Nonfiction:  126 (up two)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  648 (down two)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  251 (holding steady)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 115 (holding steady)
  • 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.): 137 (holding steady)

Current Reads

  • I’m trying to read some nonfiction every day while I’m on my summer break.  Yesterday I started a book about unusual words called Horologicon by Mark Forsyth.  It’s pretty entertaining.  So far my favorite new word is zwodder which means “a drowsy and stupid state of body or mind.”  I definitely suffer from zwodderness frequently!!!
  • Jane Austen Made Me Do It by various authors – I got this one on the cheap from Book Outlet, a collection of Jane Austen-inspired short stories by a bunch of different authors.  I’ve been reading one a day this month.  I’m better than halfway through, but so far not a single story has been over a 3* rating for me, and a lot of them have been more like 2*.  They’re just… boring and kind of pointless.  It’s quite disappointing.
  • Jane Fairfax by Joan Aiken – after finishing Emma in June (and disliking it just as much as ever), I was interested to revisit this alternate story that focuses on “Emma’s other heroine – Jane Fairfax.”  It’s actually been pretty good so far, although a little slow in spots.
  • The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis – the final book in the Narnia series, and the one I’ve read the fewest times because it makes me SO sad.
  • Sons of Pemberley by Elizabeth Adams – I’m actually working my way through the next batch of 87th Precinct mysteries and thought I would take a little break from the gritty by reading another P&P variation.  This one isn’t exactly bad but it’s complicated because Adams has decided to add a BUNCH of Darcy family members (including more siblings for Darcy and Georgianna!) and has two timelines going with loads of names that are the same for the two different generations because basically everyone in the younger generation is named after someone in the older generation.  This is definitely a book that needs a family tree and list of characters!

Up Next

The probable next five(ish) reads…

  • The next two 87th Precinct books, The Big Bad City and The Last Dance.  After this, I’ll only have five books left!!!!
  • To Have and To Hoax, which is my choice for the next round of the traveling book club
  • Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman – this is the next book in the Leaphorn & Chee series.  The first book was decent but not amazing, so I’m giving the next two books in the series a try.  If they’re also just meh for me, I’m not going to bother with the rest of the series, since there are around 20 books.
  • Abandoned by Lisa Jackson – a while back someone gave me a box of books, mostly mysteries.  I’ve never tried anything by Jackson before, but several of the books in the box are by her, so I’m interested to see if I like them, or if I’ll be adding several books to my giveaway box!
  • My Lady Jane has been on my TBR forever.  I actually ended up getting a copy from Book Outlet (okay, so I’m a sucker for brand new books that are under $5!) so I think I’m finally going to get to it!!!

So those are the current updates plus the April sum-up.  Doing May minireviews feels like it’s a lot closer to current, so I’m excited to delve into them next!!  Happy reading!!

Rearview Mirror // March 2021

Well, it’s been less than two week since I posted the February Rearview Mirror, so maybe I am catching up a little!!!

Favorite March Read

While I definitely am not picking this one for its depth and thoughtfulness, I have to say that The 26th of November was the book I enjoyed reading the most in March.  A fun and fluffy P&P variation that didn’t try to take itself too seriously.

Most Disappointing March Read

Probably Peter Pan.  While I wasn’t expecting it to be my new favorite, I honestly found parts of this classic to be on the disturbing side.  It’s a lot darker than I anticipated and I just wasn’t a fan.

Other March Reads

March Stats

  • Total Number of Books Read:  25 (10 Kindle, 15 physical)
  • Total Pages Read:  7258
  • Average Star Rating for September:  3.6
  • Longest Book: Mansfield Park (494 pages)
  • Shortest Book:  The Breakthrough (58 pages)
  • Oldest Book:  Mansfield Park (published 1814)
  • Newest Book: Unknown Threat (published 2021)
  • Number of New-to-Me Authors:  6

March DNFs

My only DNF this month was a P&P variation that I actually reviewed the other day – Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon by Maria Grace.

TBR Update

This I keep updated as I go, so it’s current as of today, rather than as of the end of February. Still a million years behind on reading blog posts, though! :-/  I’m sure I’ll get caught up over summer break, right?  RIGHT?!

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:  511 (down two)
  • Nonfiction:  124 (down three)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  650 (up one)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  251 (holding steady)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 115 (holding steady)
  • 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.): 137 (holding steady)

Current Reads

  • Tips for the Lazy Gardener by Linda Tilgner – one I picked up at a booksale several years ago but never got around to reading.  So far, it’s more like “tips for getting organized when you garden” lol
  • Jane Austen Made Me Do It by various authors – a collection of short stories all inspired by Austen.  Another book I picked up on the cheap somewhere.  For fun, I’m just reading one story a day from the collection.
  • Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling – about 2/3 through this one.  It’s my least favorite from the series, but reading it only a chapter a day has been making Harry’s angst (and Umbridge) more bearable.
  • The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis – almost done with the chapter-a-day readalong of Narnia.  It’s actually been longer since I read this one than the others because the beginning of this one just makes me feel wretched.
  • A Blissful Marriage by Lory Lilian – I’ve been in the mood for more terrible P&P variations so I’m reupped my Kindle Unlimited subscription this month.  Not going to lie, this one is pretty terrible so far.

Up Next

The probable next five(ish) reads…

If I’m honest, more bad P&P variations.  Officially, per the TBR –

  • The Paris Library by Janet Charles
  • Jane Fairfax by Joan Aiken
  • The Little Mermaid & Other Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Anderson
  • Meet Me in Bombay by Jenny Ashcroft
  • The next five 87th Precinct books

Well, that about wraps up March (HA) so I’ll be back soon with some April reviews!! Thanks for sticking with me!!

Rearview Mirror // February 2021

Well friends, we are better than halfway through June and I’m still super behind!! Part of me thinks I should just skip ahead but… I just can’t quite bring myself to do that!!  The good news is that work has calmed way down and I don’t start at the orchard until the beginning of August.  So I have over a month to get my life completely organized and caught up!! I’m confident that’s going to happen.  :-D

Favorite February Read

Even thought 1984 and Murder on the Orient Express technically rated higher, I think I’m going to go with The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold.  Something about the story and the characters just really drew me in, and it’s one I definitely see myself rereading, looking for more clues about the mind-bendy bits.

Most Disappointing February Read

Definitely The School for Good & Evil.  This one just gave me the weirds super hard, which is a shame because the concept sounds really good.  But it was not for me.

Other February Reads

February Stats

  • Total Number of Books Read:  17 (1 Kindle, 16 physical)
  • Total Pages Read:  6196
  • Average Star Rating for September:  3.5
  • Longest Book: Of Beasts & Beauties (810 pages) although it feels like a bit of a cheat since it’s an anthology haha
  • Shortest Book:  Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them (88 pages) and actually I never reviewed this one because it was just… there lol
  • Oldest Book:  Murder on the Orient Express (published 1934)
  • Newest Book: The Electric Kingdom and You Have a Match (published 2021)
  • Number of New-to-Me Authors:  10

February DNFs

Only had one DNF in February, a book that’s been on my personal shelves for a long time – The Covered Wagon by Emerson Hough.  I’ll admit that I wasn’t completely in the mood for a pioneer story, but this one, published in 1922, was absolutely absurd.  I read over a hundred pages and it was a complete soap opera, with two dramatic young men in the wagon train competing for the hand of a beautiful young woman.  I finally gave up when she wandered away from the camp, then looked and saw a prairie fire.  In order to alert the wagon train… she STARTED A FIRE AND USED SMOKE SIGNALS.  TO ALERT THEM ABOUT A WILDFIRE.  I just couldn’t deal any more!

TBR Update

This I keep updated as I go, so it’s current as of today, rather than as of the end of February. Still a million years behind on reading blog posts, though! :-/  I’m sure I’ll get caught up over summer break, right?  RIGHT?!

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 (holding steady)
  • Nonfiction:  127 (up two)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  649 (up eleven!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  251 (down two)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 115 (holding steady)
  • 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.): 137 (up nine!)

Current Reads

I’m doing multiple buddy reads on Litsy.  I should finish a reread of Emma this week.  I’m about halfway through The Magician’s Nephew (CS Lewis) and maybe a quarter of the way through Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix (and yes, Harry is just as obnoxious as ever in this one).  I’m also reading Russian Magic Tales as part of the Food & Lit Challenge where we “visit” a different country every month.  June is Russia, and since I’ve had this one on my TBR for a while it felt like a good fit!!  I’ve also been reading a Nora Roberts romance series and am almost finished with the last book, Considering Kate.

Up Next

The probable next five(ish) reads…

  • The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell is due back at the library, so I need to get it checked off!!
  • The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer is my June book for the traveling book club, so also due soon haha
  • The Perfect Horse by Elizabeth Letts has been on my shelf (from the library) for literal months now and it’s about time to actually read it!
  • I’ve also had the first five books of the Leaphorn & Chee mystery series checked out for quite some time.  If I enjoy them, there are 24 books in the series sooooo
  • The World of Pooh is the next book on my quest to read every book I own.

We’ll see what happens!!!  Hopefully coming soon – March minireviews!!!

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!!!

Rearview Mirror // 2020

Wow, 2020. This year has been something, right?? But throughout all the weirdness, at least I still have books. I really love books. From time to time my husband and I kick around the idea of selling everything we own and loading up a camper and becoming wandering gypsies, but honestly I look around at all my books and they hold me back. Could I really give them all up…???? (Spoiler alert: I don’t think so.)

Anyway, 2020 was a weird reading year, just like it was a weird everything year. As I frequently do when I need comfort, I did a lot of rereading of old favorites this year, and also read a lot of mindless fluff. I really want to delve into more nonfiction in 2021, but some part of me is also willing to acknowledge that reading is my escape. At any rate, here’s a summary of my year in books!!

2020 Numbers

Throughout the year, I finished 292 books (three fewer than 2019) for a total of 85,112 pages (3342 more than 2019). My best reading month was June, and my slowest month was March. I DNF’d 20 books, many of which were books that I owned and have now hit the giveaway box, leaving me some more shelf space for better books!!

My longest book of the year was Moby-Dick, clocking in at 663 arduous pages, while my shortest book was A Mouse Called Wolf by Dick King-Smith at a mere 98 (with pictures).

According to GoodReads, the most popular book I read this year was Pride and Prejudice, with a genuinely amazing 3,097,996 ratings, while the least popular was Foxes in Love, which has only 20.

2020 Highs & Lows

I read some great – and not-so-great – books this year. Here they are by month (I’m not going to link to these, but you can find my reviews of them by searching for the title or by checking my indexes) –

January –

Highs: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman won my slot for Favorite Read – dark humor, but so well written – but there were several close runners-up: The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery (which only didn’t win the favorite spot because it was a reread), The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (absolute perfection), and Living With Color by Rebecca Atwood (one of my all-time favorite nonfiction reads, and I can’t even exactly explain why).

Lows: Not anything terrible, but several mehs, plus Stoner (by John Williams) was definitely a downer despite the beautiful language. Other so-sos for the month included How to Stop Time by Matt Haig and A Mouse Called Wolf by Dick King-Smith (and I usually really enjoy King-Smith’s books).

February –

Highs: Free to Fall by Lauren Miller was my favorite for the month (although I also heartily enjoyed my reread of Agatha Christie’s The Secret of Chimneys) – I still think about it from time to time.

Lows: I struggled through The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead, but never did connect with it. I also felt pretty meh about Denise Hunter’s Summer by the Tides, which I really wanted to like, and my reread of Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck – it was WAY cheesier than I remembered!

March –

Highs: Coot Club, another Swallows & Amazons book by Arthur Ransome, was my hands-down favorite, although I also enjoyed rereads of Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie.

Lows: Nothing terrible in March, although I did give the boot to a book that had been on my shelf for years – a little Scholastic Book Club story called Mystery in the Pirate Oak by Helen Fuller Orton. It was just pretty choppy and not that engaging.

April –

Highs: My favorites in April were ALL rereads – April was a big rereading month. I was so happy to delve back into Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery, Leave It to Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and Fire Study by Maria Snyder.

Lows: Nothing terrible. I put The Red Address Book (by Sofia Lundberg) in my most disappointing slot even though it was still a decent read. It just felt like it could have been more and it wasn’t.

May –

Highs: May was another month full of rereads. I was working a LOT and it just felt like the way to go. It mean that I revisited lots of favorites. Plus, I also got to read the next Swallows & Amazons book, Pigeon Post, which was another easy 5* read. Other 4 & 5* reads included Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry, Daddy-Long-Legs and Dear Enemy by Jean Webster, Borgel by Daniel Pinkwater, and the rest of the Chronicles of Ixia by Maria Snyder.

Lows: I actually had three books I rated at 2.5* in May. Two of them were for traveling book clubs, so I felt obligated to complete them – The Grace Year by Kim Liggett, which may have been the most cliched book I read all year, and Little Gods by Meng Jin, which just wasn’t my type of book. I was also quite disappointed by The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan – these books have such a fun concept but she manages to write them in the most boring way possible. I still have the next book on my New Arrivals shelf, waiting to be read…

June –

Highs: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord ended up being one of my favorites of the year. The rest of June was mostly more rereads of favorites (are you starting to see why my TBR numbers never seem to go down??) – Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes by Frank Gilbreth Jr. & Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen, and The Snarkout Boys & the Avocado of Death by Daniel Pinkwater, which was honestly even funnier than I remembered.

Lows: My One Square Inch of Alaska by by Sharon Short was my traveling book club book for the month and it was just wayyyyy too much whiny teenage angst for me. I also reread Bambi’s Children by Felix Salten and it was worst than I remembered – unlike Bambi, which I’ve read many times and find engaging and educational, the sequel felt like it was trying too hard.

July –

Highs: We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea by Arthur Ransome – one of my favorites from the Swallows & Amazons series so far – was a delightful read. I also absolutely loved my reread of Frank Peretti’s classic duology, This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness.

Lows: Nothing too terrible, although I wasn’t a big fan of Calypso by Ed McBain. I’ve read over half of the 55 books in this series and this one has been my least favorite to date.

August –

Highs: August was kind of a bum reading month. I did really enjoy Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game and also my rereads of the next two Anne books, Anne of the Island and Anne of Windy Poplars.

Lows: Definitely Jane Austen in Scarsdale, which was one of my least-favorite books of the year. Wow, this one was just so bitter and depressing.

September –

Highs: Absolutely loved Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat – what a fantastic cooking/science/educational book. I still pull it out and reference it! I also thoroughly enjoyed the next Swallows & Amazons book, Secret Water, as well as the next Anne book (a reread of course), Anne’s House of Dreams.

Lows: Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff – I was expecting a funny little paranormal caper, but ended up with a bizarre love triangle that included a guy that the girl keeps saying is too young for her, and a ghost. It was also sooo boring.

October –

Highs: I really enjoyed another nonfiction book in October, and another book I’ve referenced a lot since I read it – Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese. I also really enjoyed Naomi Novik’s new book, A Deadly Education, and my rereads of Anne of Ingleside and Pride and Prejudice.

Lows: Another Ed McBain book, vying with Calypso for the lowest spot – Lightning. I will say that I’ve been reading these in 5-book batches. They started in the 50s and now I’m into the ones written in the 80s and you can TELL they were written in the 80s!

November –

Highs: I unexpectedly loved Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley, despite it not being “my kind of book.” I also loved reread Rilla of Ingleside and Northanger Abbey.

Lows: I was quite sad that Lloyd Alexander’s The Illyrian Adventure was so lame, since I love the Prydain Chronicles so much. I also read a bizarre-o graphic novel, The Cats of the Louvre, that still weirds me out if I think about it. Maggie Stiefvater’s graphic novel, Swamp Thing: Twin Branches was a let-down mostly because I usually really enjoy her writing, but felt like it was very flat and choppy here. Finally, while I ended up giving it 3*, Moby-Dick was definitely a chore that dragged down my reading for the whole month.

December –

Highs: Lots of happy reads in December since I was determined to embrace Christmas fluff as much as humanly possible. I loved reread The Hundred and One Dalamatians and Sorcery and Cecelia. I also thoroughly enjoyed The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan, Mutts & Mistletoe by Natalie Cox, The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss, and Snowflakes at the Little Christmas Tree Farm by Jaimie Admans.

Lows: Pride & Prejudice & Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz was a complete bust, and I don’t even know why I finished Husband Under Construction by Karen Templeton!

TBR Update – Year to Date

Well, here’s the real moment of truth – did I actually go down in any real way on my TBR?? Did those 292 books actually make a dent anywhere?? I actually don’t know the answers yet – I’m getting ready to find out as I write this section!

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:  515 (up 67 – oh dear, this isn’t a good start haha)
  • Nonfiction:  124 (up a mere 18…)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  647 (actually down 7!  Progress!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  255 (up 18! What is happening!)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 118 (up 6!)
  • New Arrivals (I just started tracking this in December, so this doesn’t have a comparison for last year – it’s so I can compare it when I wrap up 2021…): 115

Okay, so TOTAL FAIL! I’m up a net of 102! And some of those are actually series so they’re more than one book! Somehow, I’m reading wrong! LOL

New Addiction Alert – StoryGraph

Recently, I joined yet another bookish social media (?? Not exactly) site, StoryGraph (http://ww.thestorygraph.com). It’s kind of like Goodreads except it gives you WAY more stats – I’m having so much fun with them! When people review books, they can categorize them (was it inspiring? Challenging? Mysterious? Funny?) as well as check off how you thought the pacing was, whether there was good character development, etc. Then it uses those stats to let you know what kind of books you’ve been reading – and what books you may want to read next –

Here are a couple of my graphs from my 2020 reads. On the website, if I hover over any of those pie pieces it gives me more details, or I can click on it and it will bring up the list of books that fit that category! It’s SO FUN.

Here’s one that shows my reading pace throughout the year. (You can download your reading info from Goodreads and then import it to StoryGraph, which I did in November… then didn’t use StoryGraph hardly at all in December, so my stats are a little off since there’s a gap in my reading information haha) Since I uploaded my info from my current GR account, I have stats going back a few years, so you can look at them by year, month, or all-time. If you’re remotely nerdy about this stuff, I totally recommend giving it a try. It isn’t as “social” as GR – for instance, one thing that I love on GR is that if I go to a book’s page it shows me if any of my GR friends have read/reviewed it by having their reviews at the top of reviews section. Even though you can follow people on SG, there isn’t a way to find out if anyone is following you, or a way to interact with anything that anyone else posts. However, the website is still in a beta phase, so some of those aspects may be forthcoming. Since I honestly don’t socialize on GR much (can’t remember the last time I actually scrolled through my feed), SG works for me just as well. And even though I don’t exactly think Amazon is going to kill us all, it is nice to support websites and organizations that independent from some of the mega-corporations.

2021 Challenges

So I really enjoyed doing some reading challenges last year. I usually do them “backwards” – that is, I read books and then see if they fit any of the challenge prompts instead of trying to find books that fit them. I’m signed up for just as many challenges (maybe more!) as last year, but probably won’t bore you all by nattering on about them here lol However, I will say that SG also has a great challenges area – you can join random ones that are already there, or create your own. When you finish reading a book, you can easily add it to the challenges that it accomplished, and SG tracks your progress. You can also see what books someone else has added to a certain prompt, so if you’re stuck, you can see what other people have read to check off that prompt. For instance, I’m still working on my #SeparatedbyaPondTour challenge – reading a book at least partially set in each state/county/province in the countries traditionally “separated by the pond.” I added it to SG and now each of those states/counties/provinces is a prompt. A few other people have joined the challenge and are adding books to those prompts, which means if I’m stuck on a certain Irish county, someone else may have read a book set there. It’s super fun. And now I feel like I should apologize for turning this post into a SG commercial!!

Conclusion

2020 was a weird year, and I think 2021 is going to be even weirder. But at least there are books, other people who enjoy them, crazy websites to track them, and a TBR that literally never ends. Here’s to a great year with lots of happily ever afters.

Rearview Mirror // November 2020

Well, I didn’t quite make my goal of being caught up with reviews by the end of the year, but I’m only a month behind so that’s something, right? :-D

December has been a lovely month for the most part – lots of just chilling, reading complete fluff, and riding the range on Red Dead Redemption 2 with my husband. January is also hopefully going to be a quiet one before the greenhouse work starts in February.

Favorite November Read

For first-time reads, definitely Bellewether, which actually ended up being one of my favorite reads of the year. Rilla of Ingleside is close behind, but since it’s a reread I’m letting Kearsley’s book take the slot.

Most Disappointing November Read

Even though it isn’t my lowest star-rating for the month, I think The Illyrian Adventure takes this spot, mostly because I love the Prydain Chronicles so much, so it was pretty disappointing that this one was a bust.

Other November Reads

November Stats

  • Total Number of Books Read:  18 (all physical)
  • Total Pages Read:  5799
  • Average Star Rating for September:  3.7
  • Longest Book: Moby-Dick (663 pages)
  • Shortest Book:  The Illyrian Adventure (132 pages)
  • Oldest Book:  Northanger Abbey (published 1817)
  • Newest Book:  Point of Danger, The Tea Dragon Tapestry, The Wild Path, Swamp Thing: Twin Branches, and Room-Maid (all published 2020)
  • Number of New-to-Me Authors:  5

November DNFs

  • The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu was my original choice for my traveling book club book, but I just literally couldn’t get through it. I think my notes say it all: First off, dead boring. Secondly, just all problems are because of the “THE PATRIARCHY!!!!” Thirdly, Nannerl is a self-absorbed b****. Fourthly, their dad is a JERK. Finally, B O R I N G!
  • Forced Alliance by Lenora Worth was a Love Inspired Suspense book that I just couldn’t get into.
  • Lord Fairchild’s Daughter by Maggie MacKeever was from that box of Regency romances I got on eBay back in the day. Most of them have been mildly entertaining, but I couldn’t deal with this one. The names were just ludicrous, the plot unbelievable, and by the time I got to a character named Mrs. Snugglebutt (yes, seriously) I just couldn’t go on any more.

TBR Update

This I keep updated as I go, so it’s current as of today, rather than as of the end of November. 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 five different tabs:

  • Standalones:  513 (up 20!!!)
  • Nonfiction:  124 (holding steady)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  646 (down six)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  256 (holding steady)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 118 (holding steady)

Reading Challenges Updates

  • #ReadingEurope2020 – visited Greece – this challenge is NOT going to get completed this year but I’m still tracking it for fun (total 9/46 complete)
  • #ReadtheUSA2020 – visited nowhere new (total 33/50 complete – this one isn’t getting done this year, but I’m going to try again in 2021!!)
  • #SeparatedbyaPondTour – visited Somerset, England. (Total 58/159 complete – this is still on the 3-year track. If anyone has books they love set in Canada, Ireland, Scotland, or Wales, let me know!!)
  • #LitsyAtoZ – 0 books (22/26 complete – only weird letters left. Specifically Q, X, Y, and Z, so let me know if you have suggestions for titles or author last names that start with those letters!)
  • #BackwardsAtoZ – 17 books (No N through No U on my fifth list – I’m trying to do this one in order and to see how many times I can get through the alphabet!)

Current Reads

My last day of December fluff-binging and I’m almost finished with White Christmas Wedding by Celeste Winters.

Up Next

The probable next five(ish) reads –

More challenges set up for 2021, which I’ll get into in a separate post, but I’m focusing on monthly challenge books at the beginning of the month and then everything else once those are done.

  • Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer – okay, actually I lied because this one isn’t for a challenge, but Heyer rarely did sequels, so when I read These Old Shades recently I was surprised to see this one listed as a sequel to it! Apparently this one is about the son of the couple who got married in Shades, so I think it will be fun.
  • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin – on Litsy there is an #AuthoraMonth challenge where participants voted on authors they wanted to read this year and the top 12 each got assigned a month. I’m focusing on trying to read books that are already on my TBR by each author and was surprised to find that I have the Broken Earth Trilogy by Jemisin (January’s author) on my list. The Fifth Season is the first book in that trilogy, but if I like I’ll read all three.
  • Active Defense by Lynette Eason – I don’t read a lot of ARCs, but since I’ve already read and reviewed the other two books in this series this past year, it only seemed natural to request the third installment as well.
  • The Flip Side by James Bailey – I signed up for the #NewYearWhoDis match on Litsy as well – one of the members matches the people who sign up with each other and each pair trades their lists of favorite books from the past year. The host does a great job of pairing you with someone whose tastes match your own. Last year I tried to read a bunch of the books all in January, but this year I’m just going to try reading one a month. This one looks pretty cute.
  • Brazil by Eyewitness – Yet another Litsy challenge this year is #FoodandLit. We’ve chosen a different country for each month and are trying to read books and try recipes from that country. There’s a great world-wide community on Litsy so we also have members who live in each of the countries who are posting various aspects of their culture to share throughout the month. My goal is to read one nonfiction and one fiction book from each country each month and see how that goes.

So that’s a wrap for November – up next, loads of Christmas fluff reviews!!!

Rearview Mirror // October 2020

Haha maybe someday my posts will match the time of year!! At any rate, it’s time to wrap up October… halfway through December!!

First off, I’d like to take a moment to say how absolutely horrendous the new block editor is on WordPress! Just absolutely genuinely horrible. I hate it with a strength that’s hard to give words to. It’s clunky, not remotely intuitive, and honestly pointless. I have no idea what’s supposed to somehow be better about this version than the old editor. I HATE the new editor with an amazingly strong loathing. One more tragedy of 2020, I guess. RIP easy-to-use WordPress.

Anyway, such is life and I guess I’ll just have to get used to being filled with rage every time I try to create a post. I had a super busy fall (SUPER BUSY) but am now on “winter break” between my two seasonal jobs and trying my best to get caught up on all kinds of things, including book reviews!! So let’s see how October went reading-wise.

Favorite October Read

Two months in a row that my favorite book of the month is about cooking?? What’s happening to me?! But I really did enjoy Make the Bread, Buy the Butter AND I’ve used several recipes from it that have turned out really well. My favorite fiction read was a reread – Anne of Ingleside – so it seemed kind of like cheating to choose that one!!

Most Disappointing October Read

While East was a close second, I think I have to go with Lightning, the 87th Precinct book from this batch that was not only my least favorite from these five, but one of my least favorites from the series so far.

Other October Reads

October Stats

  • Total Number of Books Read:  21 (all physical)
  • Total Pages Read:  6531
  • Average Star Rating for September:  3.9
  • Longest Book: East (494 pages)
  • Shortest Book:  The Murder at the Vicarage (231 pages)
  • Oldest Book:  Pride & Prejudice (published 1813)
  • Newest Book:  Marriage on Madison Avenue, Island Affair, A Deadly Education, and Well Played (all published 2020)
  • Number of New-to-Me Authors:  5

October DNFs

None!!!

TBR Update

This I keep updated as I go, so it’s current as of today, rather than as of the end of October. 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 five different tabs:

  • Standalones:  493 (down four!)
  • Nonfiction:  124 (holding steady)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  652 (up five)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  256 (up two)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 118 (holding steady)

Reading Challenges Updates

  • #ReadingEurope2020 – visited Norway – this challenge is NOT going to get completed this year but I’m still tracking it for fun (total 8/46 complete)
  • #ReadtheUSA2020 – visited nowhere new (total 33/50 complete – unless I get myself really organized, I probably won’t get this one done this year)
  • #SeparatedbyaPondTour – visited no where for this challenge, either! (Total 57/159 complete – this is still on the 3-year track. If anyone has books they love set in Canada, Ireland, Scotland, or Wales, let me know!!)
  • #LitsyAtoZ – 0 books (22/26 complete – only weird letters left. Specifically Q, X, Y, and Z, so let me know if you have suggestions for titles or author last names that start with those letters!)
  • #BackwardsAtoZ – 17 books (No W through no Z on my fourth list and No A through no M on my fifth list – I’m trying to do this one in order and to see how many times I can get through the alphabet!)

Current Reads

For December, I’m indulging in 100% fluff and it’s been fantastic!! Basically, think Christmas Hallmark movies except in book form. Right now I’m reading a Nora Roberts book called First Impressions.

Up Next

The probable next five(ish) reads – (guess what, more fluff)

  • Christmas With You – two Nora Roberts Christmas books in one volume
  • The Hundred and One Dalmatians and Starlight Barking by Dodie Smith – for some reason, these are Christmasy books for me!!
  • Santa’s On His Way by Lisa Jackson – not gonna lie, I got a pile of holiday paperbacks on eBay for less than $2 a book, so some of these are just super random.
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – everyone needs to read a classic, right??
  • These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer – I’ll admit that this isn’t a Christmasy one, but it’s for my traveling book club so I’m making an exception. Besides, how can I go wrong with Heyer??

Well, that’s all for October (!!!) – we’ll see how fast I can get through my November reviews. Will I be caught up by the end of the year?? *cue dramatic music*

Happy December everyone!!

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!!

Rearview Mirror // July 2020

Just to recap:

  • January Rearview posted February 7 (respectable)
  • February Rearview posted April 1 (seriously??)
  • March Rearview posted April 15 (okay)
  • April Rearview posted May 20 (hmm)
  • May Rearview posted June 28 (oh dear)
  • June Rearview posted July 15 (so-so)

All that to say, posting my July Rearview on August 11 is actually my second-best time for the year so… there’s that!

This summer has been busy, but mostly in a good way.  I’ve done a lot of reading, but have also gotten a lot of little projects done around the house.  The garden is bustling, I canned homemade salsa for the first time ever yesterday, I’ve been experimenting with bread-making, and I’m almost done painting the chairs that go with the table Tom built.  Things are getting ready to kick off at the orchard, so my dreams of getting caught up on book blogging are probably unattainable, but it’s still fun to try!!

Favorite July Read

I read a lot of really good books this month (a whole pile of 4* reads), but my favorite was my reread of of Frank Peretti’s Piercing the Darkness, which slightly edges out its predecessor, This Present Darkness.  But both are solid 5* reads for me – I was delighted at how well they’ve held up, since I haven’t read them in probably 20 years.

 Most Disappointing July Read

I’m going with Ed McBain’s Calypso for this one.  It was just so… unnecessarily weird and gruesome.  I’ve read over 30 of the books in this series so far, and this was by far my least favorite.

Other July Reads

July Stats

While not as awesome as June, July was still a solid reading month.

  • Total Number of Books Read:  33 (30 physical; 3 Kindle)
  • Total Pages Read:  9392
  • Average Star Rating for June:  3.80 (My 2* read really brought it down!)
  • Longest Book:  Making Faces (488 pages)
  • Shortest Book:  Phoebe & Her Unicorn in Unicorn Theater (150 pages) (I haven’t reviewed these comic books yet because I have one more to read before I finish the series, but they are ADORABLE)
  • Oldest Book:  The Seven Dials Mystery (published 1929)
  • Newest Book:  Love Lettering, The Switch, and Camping With Unicorns (all published 2020)
  • Number of New-to-Me Authors:  9

July DNFs

After several months with no DNFs, I had two in July –

  • Falling for the Movie Star by Jean Oram – This is a free Kindle book I got a while back, and I’ve actually tried to read it twice.  It just… doesn’t make sense??  This chick is in a small town trying to take paparazzi photos of a movie star (even though she’s actually an artist who takes beautiful nature photographs) who secretly WANTS to have paparazzi photos taken of himself except he falls in insta-lust with this girl (despite how “not his type” she is) and meanwhile there is this other jerk guy who actually IS paparazzi and the reason the girl needs money is because the government is going to foreclose on her family’s special vacation cottage because they owe all these back taxes and it’s somehow her fault even though the property is jointly-owned with her and her sisters and their mom who’s in a nursing home and she finally confesses to her mom about the taxes and her mom just shrugs and is like “just sell it, who cares” ?!?!?!?!?!?  I just couldn’t deal with it.
  • Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay – I actually really enjoyed another book by Jay a long while ago, Of Beast & Beautyso when I saw this one on the cheap on Book Outlet (the world’s most dangerous website) I spontaneously purchased it.  But despite reading 100 pages of this book, I just never connected with anyone or anything that was happening.  The plot felt disjointed and pointless and I just didn’t care what happened next.  I actually had to go check the synopsis of this one on Goodreads just now to even remember what was supposed to be going on in this story.

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:  468 (down two)
  • Nonfiction:  117 (holding steady)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  647 (down three!!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  244 (up two)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 113 (down one)

Reading Challenge Updates

  • #ReadingEurope2020 – visited The Netherlands – this challenge is NOT going to get completed this year but I’m still tracking it for fun (total 7/46 complete)
  • #ReadtheUSA2020 – visited two states: Arizona and Virginia (total 28/50 complete – I’m hoping to get this one completed by the end of the year)
  • #SeparatedbyaPondTour – visited the states above, plus British Columbia, Essex, North Yorkshire, and South Yorkshire. (Total 48/159 complete – this is still on the 3-year track)
  • #LitsyAtoZ – 0 books (22/26 complete – only weird letters left)
  • #BackwardsAtoZ – 14 books (No N through no A on my third/fourth lists – I’m trying to do this one in order and to see how many times I can get through the alphabet!)

Current Reads

Just one book at a time right now, although I do have some nonfiction that I’ve been skimming here and there.

  • Ukridge by P.G. Wodehouse – I’ve been really enjoying this one, but for some reason it’s taking me forever to get through it!

Up Next

The probable next five(ish) reads:

  • Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers – another Book Outlet buy for around $2 – the cover is so gorgeous that I couldn’t resist
  • Mischievous Meg  by Astrid Lindgren – one of those books I bought at a booksale decades ago but have never actually read
  • A Dance Through Time by Lynn Kurland – not my usual cup of tea, but my latest traveling book club book (I joined the romance and fantasy groups this time in hopes of some lighter reading!)
  • Sweet Revenge by Nora Roberts – my quest to read Roberts’s backlog continues
  • The Windfall by Jennifer Smith – it’s been on my TBR for a while, and when I saw it for $2 on Book Outlet (are you sensing a theme here??) I went ahead and picked it up.

So that’s the July wrap-up.  On to August!!