Rearview Mirror // March 2019

Well, it seems as though spring should be well underway, but the weather remains rather cool.  Still, I am hoping to get some things going in the garden in the next week or two, and bits of green are starting to pop up in defiance of the chilly temperatures.

It’s been a pretty regular month of book reading and blogging.  I was still reading some Redwall books at the beginning of the month, but put those on pause to get some other reading done.  The next three in the series are in the queue for the future, though.  I’m still quite behind with reading everyone’s reviews, although I’m slowly but surely catching up.  After FINALLY finishing my main TBR purge (I didn’t quite hit the 400 mark, but I was very close!) I still want to do a big edit on some other sections of my TBR, so that may happen this month as well.

Favorite March Read:

I didn’t have any books that just jumped out and grabbed me this month, although I had a lot of really solid, enjoyable reads.  I think my favorite is probably The Rosemary Tree by Elizabeth Goudge.  This is the fourth Goudge book I’ve read (and the second adult novel), and her writing continues to impress me with its gentle maturity and thoughtfulness.

Most Disappointing March Read:

Although it wasn’t the lowest-rated book I read this month, I think I’m going to go with Pearls of Lutra by Brian Jacques.  I have really enjoyed the Redwall books I’ve read so far, but Pearls (the ninth installment of the series) was really comparatively subpar.  The story was choppy and based almost entirely on visions and coincidences, and the ending seemed weird and sappy.

By the Numbers:

In March…

  • I completed 25 books for a total of 6819 pages.  That is up from February (although down from January still), and I have to admit that 581 of those pages were a large print book so I’m not sure if they should count!  It’s still an average of almost 220 pages per day.
  • My average star rating was 3.62, so I’ve gone steadily up every month this year!
  • While the books were almost evenly decided between ones I personally own and ones from the library or Kindle Unlimited (11-13 + one ARC), I’m still reading way more physical books than Kindle books – only six titles were ebooks this month.
  • For some reason, the 1950’s were oddly popular this month – four books from that decade, including this month’s oldest books, Show Lamb published in 1953.
  • My longest book was technically the large print book at 581 pages – The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer.  In second place was a Redwall book, Salamandastron by Brian Jacques.  My shortest book was a novella by K.M. Robinson, Virtually Sleeping Beauty.

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:  424 (down 245 from last month, and down THREE from my official “end of the purge number” of 427!)
  • Nonfiction:  86 (up 1)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  667 (holding steady, despite the fact that I have, in fact, read several books!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  254 (up 13 – sadly, some of the books that left the main TBR actually just migrated here!)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 115 (up 6, thanks to more migrating titles)

Awaiting Review:

I have the first two books in the Island series to review (Appaloosa Summer and Wednesday Riders).  I picked them up because I do have a soft spot for YA horse stories, but while they were alright, I’ve found that I’ve lost interest in them and probably won’t bother reading the other two books in the quartet.

As part of my effort to read new books by authors I’ve read (and liked), I read Jennifer E. Smith’s Field Notes on Love, which, like The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight was adorable and also completely impractical.

Finally, I’ve started a new mystery/crime series – an older one that starts in the 1950’s and runs for roughly one billion installments – the 87th Precinct.  I’m halfway through the second book.  The first, Cop Hater, wasn’t stunning, but was still good, classic fun with an interesting setting, likable characters, and a wry sense of humor.  I’m going to read the first five in the series and then decide if I want to keep going or not.  Seriously, there are 55 books in this series, so it would be a long-term commitment!

Currently Reading:

Right now I’m in the second 87th Precinct book, The Mugger.  I’m also in travel guide mode as I’m prepping for our trip to Great Smoky National Park, coming up in May.  The current book to that end is Great Smoky Mountain Vistas by Tim Barnwell.  It’s actually a pretty fun book, slightly oversized with loads of photographs.  It’s obvious that Barnwell has spent a lot of time in and around the park, so it’s been an interesting way to get an overview of the different regions of the park.  My only complaint is – no map?!  What is the POINT of a book about a certain region if the book doesn’t have a map?!?!?

The Probable Next Five(ish) Reads…

I always do this and then pretty much never actually read the next five books.  However, I’ve once again readjusted my reading schedule into something that seems to be working, so maybe I actually WILL read these books next??

  • The next three books in the 87th Precinct series – The Pusher, The Con-Man, and Killer’s Choice.
  • Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse.
  • Two more travel guides about the Smokies.
  • The next five books in the Judy Bolton series (books 21-25).
  • Home Sweet Home by Kim Watters, the next Love Inspired book in the pile.

All in all, I’m pretty stoked for April – warm weather, everything greening up, getting out into the garden, and, as always, plenty of good books!!  Happy spring!!

TBR Update! (I may have a problem…)


Several weeks ago I had this sudden inspiration to tackle my outlandishly long TBR and turn it into something a bit more manageable, because, let’s be frank, there is no way that I’m going to read nearly 900 books, especially when the list is continually growing.  My TBR is on a spreadsheet, so it is at least easy to edit.  This whole process started because I was in the mood for a fluffy read, and realized that my list of over 800 books have zero indication as to what genre of book a title is!

So my goal was twofold:  I wanted to reduce the TBR by at least 50%, and I wanted to sort the remaining books by genre, so if I’m in the mood for something specific, I can find it.  The latter goal I accomplished by highlighting the titles in color code.  But both goals involved looking at every single book on Goodreads, reading the synopsis, perusing the reviews, and then deciding whether or not it was worth the cut.  It was definitely one of those projects that ended up being way more involved than I anticipated!

But today I finally finished my brutal reduction.  While the TBR started at (an admittedly ridiculous) 889, I am now down to a mere 427!  I successfully eliminated 462 books and it’s honestly a great feeling.  I’m left with a list of books that I’m a lot more excited about reading and one that’s organized so I can actually find the kind of book I’m in the mood to read – although I’m sure I’ll still use some type of randomizing system for the most part.  I’m cognizant of the fact that 427 is still kind of ridiculous, but here we are lol

Now my long-time readers will remember that the main TBR is only one section of the overall TBR (I’m not pretending that I don’t have a problem here).  Some of the eliminated books actually just changed places – the numbers for my Series TBR and Mystery Series TBR have both gone up.  However, I fully intend to tackle those lists as well, as I’m positive that several eliminations can be made there also.

In the meantime, I haven’t really been reading anyone else’s reviews, because I didn’t want to add anything to the TBR until I was finished with my housekeeping.  So now there are 300-odd emails in my inbox, the majority of which are book reviews, so guess what my next task is??  So don’t be surprised to find me creeping liking/commenting on some of your older posts!

Of course, my other problem is that I randomly decided to start reading the Redwall series.  All of those books are over 300 pages long, and they weren’t on any TBR anywhere, so they aren’t getting me anywhere fast as far as reading goals go, but I am enjoying them!!  I’m probably going to take a break from them soon, though, as I’m not quite halfway through the series and starting to feel like I am reading to delve into something else for a while.  I’m reading book #10 right now, which seems like it may be a good spot to pause and get into something else.  I’m at almost three solid weeks of Redwall reading and am starting to feel a bit burned out haha

Spring has been peaking around the corner for the last couple of days, so I’ve also been busy browsing seed catalogs and sketching dream gardens.  February and March are my personal favorite months for gardening:  anything is possible!  I’m a fantastic gardener in March.

Hope all is well with everyone out there – I’m looking forward to catching up on blog posts.  And hopefully I’ll have a little Redwall post soon!

Shelfie by Shelfie // Shelf 2A

Shelfie by Shelfie is a book tag started by Bibliobeth.  You can see her original post here (and her most recent Shelfie here) – and I’ve nabbed her image as well.  :-D  The concept is that you take a picture of a bookshelf, and then answer ten questions about the books on it.  I have about a billion bookshelves, so I thought that I would give it a go!

Well, it’s been several months since I did a Shelfie, as things have been a bit crazy around here!!  But today I have a bit of extra time, so I thought I would look at another shelf!

Today is a VERY EXCITING Shelfie, because we are actually moving on to a completely different bookshelf!  All of my earlier Shelfies the list of posts can be found here) have been from Shelf #1, but today we are actually moving on to Shelf #2!!

Here is the actual entire bookshelf – it’s part of the same original set of shelves that my husband built for me multiple houses ago.  At the time, we had a long, wide hallway that just begged to be filled with bookshelves (and books!).  He built them so they would go around and under the windows in the hallway, and would have plenty of room for books and for knickknacks (which I also have a lot of).  Although we’ve moved multiple times since then, we’ve always found a way to make the shelves work.  In our current house, they run along a wall in our lower room, framing the fireplace and then the big on (Shelf #3) on the other side of a picture window.

As an aside, we were just talking yesterday about expanding our bookshelves, so these are probably going to be built up to the ceiling and over the fireplace at some point this winter… somehow I seem to be running out of bookshelf room again!?


Anyway, here is the specific shelf we are looking at today – Shelf 2A!

And the questions!

1 – Is there any reason for this shelf being organized the way it is, or is it purely random?

As usual, these are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the author, as I do with the majority of my fiction books.  It makes it easier to find them!!

2 – Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you; i.e. how you got it, a memory associated with it, etc.

Hidden behind the other books in this picture is a very slim, very battered paperback called The Treasure is the Rose by Julia Cunningham.  This book was originally published in 1973, when my mom was 11, and she fell in love with the story.  I can remember reading this book with her, and was so touched when she gave it to me.  The whole book is kind of falling apart, but I still love it, and have such warm memories of the gentle Ariane who loved her roses and her husband so much.

3 – Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

Honestly, this shelf has a lot of books I feel kind of so-so about.  I think the top one to ditch would be the random play about Robert E. Lee that I’ve never even read – why do I even HAVE that book?!  Where did it come from??  My life is full of mystery.

4 – Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

I would probably keep Time to Go House by Walter Edmonds (which I reread back in 2013).  I have a lot of memories of reading this with my mom when I was growing up and really love it.  So much so that this actually her copy, which I pilfered at some point (I believe I’ve mentioned that book pilfering is almost a sport in our family! :-D)

5 – Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?

Oh wow, if it’s not Time to Go House, it’s probably Mandy, which I have owned for so long that I just scrawled “SARAH W” in huge letters inside of it with no date or other information haha  I was completely fascinated with that book as a child – I loved the concept of having a special, secret hideaway – maybe because I’m the oldest of six!!  (And I actually reread this one in 2013 as well, if you’re interested in more details!)

6 – Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

Actually, I think Senior Year by Anne Emery.  I already owned a couple of the books from this series, so in order to read it properly, I of course needed to purchase more books!!  :-D

7 – Which book on this shelf are you most excited to read (or reread if this is a favorite shelf)?

This shelf is a weird collection of books that I’ve owned for a long time, but haven’t necessarily read lately – or ever!  I’ve been really wanting to reread The Robe for a long time now, but it’s such a big block of a book that I keep kind of putting it off, even though I remember really liking it when I read it back in high school.  It’s a fictional account of the soldier who helped crucify Jesus and ended up winning his robe when the men gambled for it while Jesus was dying on the cross.  The story itself was full of excitement and was very intense, as the early days of the Church weren’t exactly known for their relaxation and luxury!

8 – If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

There is a small decorative box on this shelf that I’ve owned for so long that its origins are lost in the mists of time.  The little stuffed cow came from my mom – I loved cows and have collected stuffed cows for years now.  This one is so tiny and adorable AND it’s brown and white: a Guernsey, my favorite!!

9 – What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

That I collect books that I may or may not ever read!  Out of the five Lloyd C. Douglas tomes, I’ve only read one!

– Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.

Everyone should participate in this book tag as it is great fun!!

For a free question:

10 – Which of these books was the most fun to read?

I never got a chance to mention The Wicked Marquis, which is possibly my favorite story on this shelf.  It’s just so lighthearted and fun, with a truly delightful heroine and likable characters all around.

Special thanks to Bibliobeth for coming up with this fun tag!  Next time – Shelf 2B, where we see more of my tendency to collect lots of books by the same authors!  :-D

The Tottering TBR // Episode 19

Happy Independence Day!!!

And what better way to celebrate than by attempting to reinstate my weekly(ish) Tottering TBR posts??!

A weekly(ish) post wherein I pretend to lament the fact that I have so many books on my TBR… but in fact am secretly rubbing my hands together with delight that there are so many amazing books left to be discovered…

I haven’t done one of these posts for almost a year, but now that things are getting under control (haha) on this blog, I thought I would give it another try.  I really do like linking to other people’s reviews to let them know that they’ve inspired me to add yet another book to the never-ending TBR!

For those who are unfamiliar with my weird TBR set-up, I kind of have five separate lists:

  • The General TBR – basically regularly, stand-alone books that I don’t own.  This is the big one.
  • The Personal TBR – all the books that I own… which is a LOT.  You can see more details on my Quest page, but basically I am slowly trying to read/reread every book that I own.  Theoretically, this is to help me cull some books…  ha ha ha
  • The Series TBR – pretty self-explanatory… series, rather than individual books.
  • The Mystery Series TBR – ditto, except mysteries instead of not-mysteries.

And for all of my TBRs, even if a series has tons of books, it only counts for one entry.  So even though I own like 30 Nancy Drew books, it’s only one entry on the Personal TBR.

Okay, enough with the boring stuff!  On to the goodies…

Added to the General TBR:

In the last week, I’ve added four books.

  • Uprooted was one of my favorite reads last year, so I was pretty excited to see that Naomi Novik is coming out with another book in July!  While she says that Spinning Silver isn’t set in the same world, I get the impression that it’s set in a similar world.  One of these days – hopefully soon – I’m going to get around to rereading Uprooted, too.
  • I had mixed feelings about Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood.  It was gripping – like I literally read it in almost one sitting – but I kind of hated everyone and didn’t really like the ending.  I haven’t gotten around to any of her other books, but I’ve added yet another to the TBR.  I’ve been seeing reviews come in for The Death of Mrs. Westaway, and it sounds like Ware may have created another gripping book full of kind of unlikable people.  :-D  We’ll see.  In the meantime, I read reviews by both Cleopatra Loves Books and Fictionophile this week, so be sure to check them out!
  • FictionFan is a regular contributor to my TBR problem.  The extra tricky part is that she has a knack of making me want to read books that I’m not sure I would pick up on my own!  I’m not sure that I would normally pick up a book about someone plotting to kill his aunt, but FF assures me that reading The Murder of My Aunt by Richard Hull is well worth it.
  • Finally, we all have those authors we are always meaning to read something by but haven’t gotten around to yet.  Erin Watt is definitely one of those authors for me.  I already have several of her books on my TBR, but what’s another?  Stephanie’s review of One Small Thing meant another Watt book got added to the list.  The odds of one of her books coming up on my random number generator has to be increasing, right??

Off the General TBR:

My personal rule is that books don’t get to be scratched off the TBR until I’ve actually reviewed them.  In the last week, I’ve mostly been reading/reviewing random books that I own or that just popped up not on the list.  So the only official removal I’ve had is Kasie West’s The Distance Between Us.  It was an alright, but not stellar read.  However, I’ve been reassured that it’s one of her weaker books, and I still definitely plan to read more of her books.

Grand Total for the TBR:  837 (!!!)


Added to the Personal TBR:

Whilst rearranging some shelves this past week, I came across two nonfiction books that weren’t on my original list!  Apparently, they got set aside when I was teaching an Ohio history class.  But fear not!  Now both Ohio: Its People and Its Culture by George Crout AND Ohio: The Buckeye State by William Collins are on the list!  :-D

Off the Personal TBR:

Actually, I’ve been knocking off quite a few of these, as I’ve been on a bit of a Kindle kick.  Ring of Truth by Jaclyn Weist was an utterly ridiculous yet somehow endearing chick lit read.  The Second Chance by Joanna Starnes was a P&P variation that was almost amazing.  While Elizabeth Bennet’s Deception by Regina Jennings was so terrible that it was a DNF, that still means that it is checked off the list!  The Holiday Swap by Zara Stoneley was another random chick lit read, The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle was another so-so P&P variation, and Swamp Cat by Jim Kjelgaard was an enjoyable read by one of my favorite authors from childhood.  I’ve also been working my way through the Judy Bolton mysteries – this week I reviewed the first five books – but they won’t get checked off until I actually finish the series!  So, grand total off – five!

Grand Total for the Personal TBR:  678


Added to the Series TBR:

Nothing this week.

Off the Series TBR:

I finished the Paper Magician series, which was so-so for me.  There were concepts I liked, but overall just found them to be boring.  I didn’t bother with The Plastic Magician, which is supposed to be a spinoff from the first three books.  However, my sister tells me that Holmberg’s stand-alone, Followed by Frost, is totally worth the read, so Holmberg may be getting one more chance…

Grand Total for the Series TBR:  228


Grand Total for the Mystery Series TBR:  This one hasn’t really changed lately – holding steady at 106.


Grand Total for the Nonfiction TBR:  Still plowing my way through How to Cheat at Everything, which is fun and interesting but taking forever to read.  So this list is holding steady also at a mere 77.


Grand Total for the Week:  

Six added and seven off, so I’ve had a net of one book down this week!  Go me!  :-D

Keep those reviews coming, people – I obviously don’t have enough to read!

Shelfie by Shelfie // Shelf 1C

Last fall, Bibliobeth started a new book tag, Shelfie by Shelfie.  You can see her original post here (and her most recent Shelfie here) – and I’ve nabbed her image as well.  :-D  The concept is that you take a picture of a bookshelf, and then answer ten questions about the books on it.  I have about a billion bookshelves, so I thought that I would give it a go!

Well, it’s been quite a while since I have posted a shelfie – I went through a pretty long spell of having the blogging blues and have been struggling just to somewhat stay on top of book reviews!  But I am mostly caught up now and thought I would take a minute to present the latest Shelfie installment!!

Shelf 1 – excuse the piles of random stuff… remodeling never ends in this house! :-D

Currently, I am posting about Shelf #1, and have already looked at the top to shelves – 1A and 1B.  Today we’re on to Shelf 1C!!

1 – Is there any reason for this shelf being organized the way it is, or is it purely random?

My fiction is somewhat organized by author’s last name, but as you can see, these aren’t really linear shelves – my husband custom-built these shelves for me (marry a man who builds shelves, ladies!), purposely creating little cubbies and odd-shaped shelves so that they could hold both books and knickknacks.  So sometimes instead of going in strict author-order, I put in the books that fit… and that’s what’s happening here.  These are taller books, mostly by Marguerite Henry… because the shelf the rest of her books are on is a lot shorter!!!

2 – Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you; i.e. how you got it, a memory associated with it, etc.

As a girl, I loved horses and dogs and cows (although not a lot of cow books out there), and C.W. Anderson was one of my heroes.  (Actually, I named my cat after him – Clarence.)  I checked Twenty Gallant Horses out of the library ALL THE TIME.  I was completely enraptured by the stories of these thoroughbreds, and read them time and again.  Years later, I was at the library book sale… and the EXACT copy I had read as a child was in the discard pile!  I snatched it up for a quarter!  Honestly, it was somewhat bittersweet.  While I was pretty thrilled to get a childhood favorite for my permanent collection, it’s sad to me that this book isn’t in the library for some other young girl to love!

3 – Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

Oh gee, I guess Black Gold.  While I do love that book – especially the illustrations – it’s such a sad story!!

4 – Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

Hmm.  I’m not really sure any of these are necessarily emergency worthy, but I think I would choose Misty of Chincoteague.  I reread it recently and was surprised that I enjoyed it even more as an adult than I did as a child.

5 – Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?

Probably either Misty or Justin Morgan Had a Horse.  Both of those I’ve owned since I was probably around 10 – long enough ago that it was before I started writing my name and the date on the flyleaf!  I collected horse books for a long time, and these were some of my earliest library additions.

6 – Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

These are honestly all kind of oldies.  Wagging Tails is probably the most recent purchase, though – I bought it a few years ago at an antique shop.

7 – Which book on this shelf are you most excited to read (or reread if this is a favorite shelf)?

These are all old favorites, but Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley is actually on my #20BooksofSummer list, so hopefully I’ll be getting to that one before September!!

8 – If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

I probably should have turned around the frisbee-catching cow before taking the picture so you could see her better.  :-D  This is one of my favorite knickknacks – my dad gave it to me a long time ago.  The title of the piece is “Daisy’s Dream” and it makes me grin every time I look at it.

9 – What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

That I had a definitely addiction to horse books as a child!!

10 – Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.

I highly encourage everyone to give this lil Q&A a whirl, as it is great fun!

For a free question,

Tell more about the illustrators of the books on this shelf.

I just really feel like I need to at least mention the amazing artwork of Wesley Dennis, who illustrated the majority of the Marguerite Henry books, and C.W. Anderson, who did his own artwork for his books.  I love both of them so much, and still snap up any book I find that they’ve illustrated, regardless of whether or not I’m actually interested in the book.  Both artists do so much with simple line drawings, although Dennis also did many full-color illustrations as well.

I poured over their artwork as a child and yearned to be able to draw even half as well as either of these artists.  I still can only draw stick figures, but at least I have the joy of being able to study their illustrations whenever I want.

Wesley Dennis

Wesley Dennis

C.W. Anderson

C.W. Anderson – from the Billy & Blaze books, more childhood faves!

#20BooksofSummer – The 2018 List

Cathy746 hosts #20BooksofSummer annually, and I have participated for the last two years. This is the most chill challenge ever, which is one of the reasons that I love it.  You choose how many books you want to read (10 or 15 or 20 or whatever), you choose your books, you decide if you hate half your books and want to switch them other books…  it’s honestly kind of a free-for-all in which participants try to read whatever books they’ve put on their summer reading list!  The challenge already started (beginning of June), and the goal is to have all the books on the list completed  by September 3.  Be sure to check out Cathy’s blog for more details!!

I’ve been watching other blogs I follow choose their books, and have been trying to decide if/how I want to join this year.  Here’s the thing – and I’m not trying to brag here because it’s just the way it is – but unless something catastrophic happens in my life, I know I’ll read more than 20 books this summer.  I’ve read over 130 books just this year alone already.  The truth is, I have a serious reading problem.  It’s basically a compulsion with me, and I read at pretty much every moment that can be spent reading (and a great many that shouldn’t be).  And since my mom taught me to read at almost the same time I learned how to talk, I’m weirdly fast at it.  Actually, part of the reason I started this blog back in the day was to help me work on reading retention/analysis, because otherwise I sometimes tend to just go into overdrive and let the words blur past.  And, of course, there’s the fact that I don’t work full-time.  While I keep plenty busy with house, garden, Etsy shop, chauffeuring family, etc., it’s obviously a lot easier to sneak in a chapter here or there when I’m at home all day than it is when I’m at work!!

ANYWAY.  Point being, I think the way that I’m going to challenge myself is by listing 20 books that I own that I would like to read by the end of summer – but I’m going to continue reading all the other books like I usually do as well.  Basically, I’m always working on books on the TBR that I don’t own (aka library books), a series of books, a mystery series of books, a nonfiction book, and a book that I own.  So I’m going to keep reading all the others like usual… and also try to achieve the 20 that I own!  To help make it slightly more doable, I’m sticking with fiction only.  So, without further ado, the list (chosen via random number generator!):

1. The Vanishing Shadow by Margaret Sutton – this is actually the first book in the Judy Bolton series.  I own a bunch of these books, but haven’t read them in years.  Actually, there are several I’ve never read, because I’ve purchased them since I originally read what I owned at the time.  I’m looking forward to revisiting these and seeing if I enjoy them as much as I remember from 15 or so years ago.

2. Ring of Truth by Jaclyn Weist – this is a free Kindle book I’ve had for a while.  Looks like a happy lil chick lit, but it’s also the first in a series, so if I like it, I’ve actually set myself up for six more books!

3.  Frederica by Georgette Heyer – I read this one back in 2012 (when I was blogging on Tumblr) and enjoyed it so much that I purchased my own hard copy.  I’m excited to revisit it.

4. Scotty by Frances Pitt – I picked up this book, subtitled “The Adventures of a Highland Fox” all the way back in 2001 – and have never read it!  You now basically know everything I know about this book!  Aside:  This is the ONLY picture of this book I can find, and it isn’t listed on Goodreads.  This may actually be a picture of the copy I own…

5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle – I know I read this book back in the mists of my childhood, but I remember basically nothing about it except the bit with a thread and the ant.  I don’t even remember whether or not I liked it!  But it’s sort of a classic, and I feel like I need to reread it, even if it’s to discover that I actually think it’s lame.  I’ve had my paperback copy since 1999, when I did a 4-H presentation at the library with my rabbit and was rewarded with a book!

6. The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit – I love Nesbit so much and can’t believe that I haven’t read every single one of her books!

7. Everblue by Brenda Pandos – another free Kindle book from goodness-knows-how-long-ago.  Also another first in a series… I never know whether or not I should hope to like those… anyway, this one is about mermaids or something, so we’ll see what happens.

8. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – I realize I just read this one in 2016, but I enjoyed it SO much that I’ve been wanting to reread it.

9. Mystery Over the Brick Wall by Helen Fuller Orton – this is a children’s mystery published by Scholastic.  I’ve collected a lot of these over the years and have been trying to actually read all of them and make a hard decision as to whether or not they are worth the shelf space.

10. When Patty Went to College by Jean Webster – this is by the author of two my favorite books:  Daddy-Long-Legs and, even more beloved, Dear Enemy.  Somehow, although I’ve owned this book since 2004, I’ve never actually read it!

11. Kilmeny of the Orchard by L.M. Montgomery – I love so many of Montgomery’s books, and yet it’s been years since I’ve read any of them!  This one probably hasn’t been visited since high school, so although I remember the basic premise, I’m a bit foggy on the details.

12. Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins – although I enjoy some chick lit now and then, I’ve somehow never gotten around to reading something by the prolific Higgins.  This book showed up in a box with all those crazy Love Inspired books via Aunt Darby, so I’ll give it a shot.

13. Elizabeth Bennet’s Deception by Regina Jeffers – since I obviously haven’t read enough P&P variations lately, let’s add one to the summer list, too!  Thanks, free Kindle books!

14. Young Pioneers by Rose Wilder Lane – another one I haven’t read in YEARS.  All I really remember from this one is the story where it was so cold that when she threw the water out, it froze before it hit the ground!

15. Utah Lion by James Ralph Johnson – another crazy animal story from my crazy animal obsession childhood!  I think this one was inherited from my great-grandma, but if I have ever read it, it was back in middle school.

16. Saving Mars by Cidney Swanson – another free Kindle book that is also a start of a series.  (This is how they trick you into actually BUYING Kindle books, by getting you hooked on a series opener!)  Sometimes I literally have no idea what I was thinking when I got a book, even if it was free…

17. Collie to the Rescue by Albert Payson Terhune – it’s been a while since I picked up a Terhune!  I’m always up for some outrageously heroic collies.

18. Early Candlelight by Maud Hart Lovelace – I loved the Betsy-Tacy books soooo much when I read them a few years ago.  I found this book by the same author but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.

19. Smoky by Will James – because who doesn’t love a good story about a cowboy horse?

20. Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley by Marguerite Henry – I loved a lot of Henry’s books as a child (and have revisited several of them in recent years), but don’t remember this one clearly, other than that it was one of her later books, written after Wesley Dennis died and so illustrated by someone else.

So there you have it!  I’m determined that there will be no substitutions unless I decide to DNF a book, in which case the book will only count if I”ve read at least half of it.  (Don’t you like the way I make up my own rules??)  Who knows how far I’ll get on this list, and you’ll definitely see plenty of reviews for non-20 Books of Summer books, but I’m curious to see if my challenge works for me.  Stay tuned!

Rearview Mirror // April 2018

Well another month has come and gone.  April both seemed to last forever and to also flash past (did anything even happen in April?!).  Here in Ohio the weather was very ICK for basically the entire month.  Usually we get a month of warm days and cold days mixed together, but this year it was just the cold, dreary (and even snowy!) days dragging by.  It’s finally warmed up this week, which helped me realize how much the lousy weather had been getting me down!  I’ve felt so much more energized with the warm sunshine coming through the open windows!

It hasn’t been that great of a month for blogging, either, as I’m still just not particularly feeling it.  So I’ve had another month comprised mostly of minireviews, and still have quite the backlog of books that need mentioned.  The lousy weather meant April was a pretty good month for reading, even if I haven’t felt much like reviewing!

Favorite April Read

I think I’m going to have to put The Runaways (by Elizabeth Goudge) in this slot.  This children’s book was just so precious and magical.  I loved every page and wanted it to go on forever.

Most Disappointing April Read

Probably Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright.  There was a lot of potential for this concept, but all the characters were just so flat and uninteresting.  The ending was weird, too.

Other April Reads

  • Adam Dalgliesh mysteries by P.D. James – I read the first 4 1/2 books… they just weren’t for me.
  • The Black Stallion by Walter Farley – 4/5 – a childhood favorite revisited.
  • The Changeling Sea by Patricia McKillup – 3/5 – a decent story, but somehow not magical.
  • Come On, Seabiscuit by Ralph Moody – 4/5 – surprisingly engaging biography of an underdog racehorse.
  • Don’t Believe a Word by Patricia MacDonald – 3.5/5 – not bad but not amazing.
  • The Foundling by Georgette Heyer – 4/5 – how are all of her books so delightful??
  • The Good Girls by Sara Shephard – 4/5 – a crashing conclusion to a duology… still have no idea why there is an ice cream cone on the cover.
  • The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge – 5/5 – not sure it’s possibly to write a book that is more magical.
  • The Man Who Made Lists by Joshua Kendall – 4/5 – a decent biography of Peter Roget, but I wasn’t a total fan of Kendall’s writing.
  • The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard – 4/5 – a book that made me like it more than I wanted to.
  • The Princess by Lori Wick – 4.5/5 – an old favorite revisited.
  • Ride Like an Indian by Henry Larom – 3.5/5 – a cute children’s book, but nothing amazing.
  • Timeless Fairy Tales by K.M. Shea – a series of 10 books so far – decent retellings with some stories a lot stronger than others.

Last April…

I actually wrote the April 2017 Rearview in June!  The last two springs have been very busy with me working full time at the greenhouse.  This year, I’m not working there, so I’m at least a little more prompt getting this post done!  :-D  Interestingly enough, last April’s favorite read was also by Elizabeth Goudge – The Scent of Water went on to also become my favorite read of 2017.  I still can’t recommend it highly enough.

I also read my first (and last!) John Green book.  Paper Towns was just as overrated and pretentious as I anticipated it being, just as the author himself seems to be.  No surprises there, and with literally thousands of amazing books out there to read, I’m glad I don’t have to wade through any more of his twaddle.

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:  822 (up three)
  • Nonfiction:  79 (down two!)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  690 (down five!)
  • 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 (down one)

While there haven’t been any dramatic changes, I do feel like I am very, very, very slowly whittling away…

Awaiting Review

I really thought I was going to get some more of these cleared out before the end of the month, but here we are!

  • I’ve  been rereading Gerald Morris’s Squire Tale books.  I’d forgotten just how funny and engaging these books are!  I have two left in the ten book series.  While I’ve read the earlier books several times, I’ve only read these last two once before, so I am looking forward to revisiting them again.  I can’t believe how long it’s been since I read these!
  • The next batch of five “Love Inspired” books have been read.  Spoiler alert: I have no idea why I keep reading these.  In memory of Aunt Darby, I guess.
  • My current mystery series is the Under Suspicion series by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke.  These have been SO good.  Only two books left, but I’m hoping maybe more are still in the future, as the most recent one was just published in 2016 or 2017, can’t remember which.
  • The World of Captain John Smith by Genevieve Foster – absolutely delightful children’s history book.
  • Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield – another long-ago favorite that has taken me a couple of decades to revisit, and I don’t know why – this book is PERFECT.
  • I’ve been reading the Royal Weddings series by Rachel Hauck, which has been overall solid.  One and a half books to go on that set.
  • The Girl With a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson – total throwback-noir vibe to this one that I weirdly enjoyed.

Current Reads

  • The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – a retelling of The Arabian Nights that I think I’m going to like but am not sure. Only about 80 pages in.
  • The Widow by Fiona Barton – just picked this one up today, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about it around the blogosphere so I’m looking forward to it.
  • How to Catch a Prince by Rachel Hauck – the third book in the Royal Weddings series.
  • The Sleeping Beauty Killer by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke – the current Under Suspicion read – I’m only about 30 pages in and am already so hooked.

Approaching the Top of the Pile

The probably next five reads…

  • The Rose & the Dagger by Renne Ahdieh
  • Every Breath You Take by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke – last in the series
  • A Royal Christmas Wedding by Rachel Hauck – last in the series
  • Missing, Presumed by Susie Stiener
  • The Rosemary Tree by Elizabeth Goudge

Happy May!!!

Shelfie by Shelfie // Shelf 1B

Last fall, Bibliobeth started a new book tag, Shelfie by Shelfie.  You can see her original post here – and I’ve nabbed her image as well.  :-D  The concept is that you take a picture of a bookshelf, and then answer ten questions about the books on it.  I have about a billion bookshelves, so I thought that I would give it a go!

Welcome to another edition of Shelfie by Shelfie! As I mentioned in my first post, I have roughly a million shelves.  I’ve started with what I consider to by Shelf #1, because it’s where my shelved-alphabetically fiction begins.  Last time I did the top shelf, and today we are onto the second!

This is Shelf 1 (we’re remodeling, so there is kind of stuff everywhere)

In case you missed the last Shelfie post, basically I’ll post the picture of the shelf, and then answer some questions about it.

Shelf 1B

1 – Is there any reason for this shelf being organized the way it is, or is it purely random?

For the most part, I keep my fiction shelved alphabetically by the last name of the author, in traditional library fashion.  There are, of course, exceptions, but this particular shelf is pretty true to method.

2 – Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you; i.e. how you got it, a memory associated with it, etc.

Oh wow, this is a tough one on this shelf, as there are some definite favorites here.  I love the Chronicles of Prydain so much, and C.W. Anderson was a childhood hero – I found those books at a library discard sale and was SO excited.  But I think I’m going to have to focus on Mr. Popper’s Penguins, which is honestly just a ridiculous story that I loved so much as a kid.  I very clearly remember Dad reading this one out loud to us kids and just how overwhelmingly silly the story was, but in a really fun way.  The illustrations by Robert Lawson also tell so much of the story.

3 – Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

Probably Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander, mainly because I’ve owned it for years and never gotten around to reading it.

4 – Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

I’m not hardcore attached to any specific edition of a book on this shelf, but probably one of the hardcover C.W. Anderson books, as they are the actual ones I used to check out of the library as a little girl!

5 – Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?

I think the book I’ve owned the longest is The Mysterious Schoolmaster by Karen Anckarsvard.  You can’t see very well in the picture, but there are several books by her.  Set (and written) in Sweden, four of the books take place in the same town and involve some of the same characters, starting with Schoolmaster, which focuses on an unlikely duo of two children who end up helping to catch a spy.  This book is just so fun and happy and full of warm family moments.

6 – Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

The bright book towards the far right is actually a soft, leather-bound edition of Persuasion that I purchased with my birthday money last year (but of course haven’t gotten around to reading yet…)

7 – Which book on this shelf are you most excited to read (or reread if this is a favorite shelf)?

It’s been a pretty long time since I’ve read any of these books, so I would be happy to pick up any of them.  Talking about The Mysterious Schoolmaster makes me want to read those books again, though!

8 – If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

Since these tend to be knickknack shelves as well as bookshelves, there always seem to be other objects!

The dragon picture is fancy-pants artwork created by my very own sister, who drew the dragon, and our cousin, who created the background.  I love that lil two-headed dragon!  The collie is a childhood companion who has traveled with me through the years – I’ve always had a soft spot for collies and border collies!  The rock in front of the collie is actually from England – a friend brought it back for me (I’ll get there myself someday!).  The teacup is my very own from girlhood – Mom used to have fancy tea parties with us (brothers included) and everyone had their own cup and saucer and we sipped hot chocolate and ate Little Debbies that had been cut into small pieces and felt very grown up.  The other photos are from our honeymoon in the Keys.

9 – What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

Um I guess that I like to keep things organized, and also that I hang onto to random little things that have happy memories associated with them.

10 – Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.

Of course hopefully everyone will join in, as this is a super fun way to see everyone’s book collections!!  For a free question –

What is a quote that you love from one of these books?

I really love Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles, and Taran Wanderer may be my favorite of the five.  As Taran wanders through the country, meeting people and trying to understand life, he comes across many different philosophies.  One of the reminders that I love best is –

If I fret over tomorrow, I’ll have little joy today.

On Swearing in YA …

Yesterday I grumbled a bit about swearing in a YA book I recently read (and greatly enjoyed), Kids of Appetite.  While I still don’t like swearing in general, and especially in YA, it was random because that same exact day I saw Maggie Stiefvater address the topic on her Twitter.  Someone had tweeted her saying that they had enjoyed the lack of profanity in Stiefvater’s most recent book, All the Crooked Saints.  Stiefvater replied:

Intentional! Scorpio Races is also mostly without swears. Pip Bartlett is 100% profanity free. I use it as shorthand — if I think a book has difficult content a younger reader ought to talk through with an adult, I throw in swears to make sure it gets labeled for older readers.

Difficult content, in my opinion: suicide, self-harm, abuse, drug or alcohol use, an excessive number of Latin verbs.

While I can’t imagine that every author uses (or doesn’t use) swearing as thoughtfully, I thought that it was an intriguing methodology, and a reminder that just because I like or don’t like something that an author has done, doesn’t mean that that thing was done thoughtlessly.


Shelfie by Shelfie // Shelf 1A

Last fall, Bibliobeth started a new book tag, Shelfie by Shelfie.  You can see her original post here – and I’ve nabbed her image as well.  :-D  The concept is that you take a picture of a bookshelf, and then answer ten questions about the books on it.  I have about a billion bookshelves, so I thought that I would give it a go!

Luckily, my husband is pretty awesome at building shelves, and about three houses ago we had a really long, wide hallway that seemed perfect for bookshelves – and it was.  Except we were renters, which meant we were moving pretty much annually at the time.  The shelves have come with me for every move since then (and since we own this house, here’s to hoping they stay where they are for many years to come!), but haven’t always fit together in the same order as they did in that original hallway.  Still, they are pretty awesome, designed for both books and knickknacks.  So I’ll post a picture of the overall bookshelf, and then focus on just one of those shelves – hence the 1A.  ;-)

You’ll have to excuse the clutter – we’re still doing renovating (neverending) and this room is the current catch-all.  I’m sure taking these pictures will also inspire me to organize the clutter a bit, right??  (ha!)

Okay, here is today’s shelf – on to the questions!

 1 – Is there any reason for this shelf being organized the way it is, or is it purely random?

The majority of my fiction books are shelves in alphabetical order by author’s last name, with some exceptions here and there.  I look at amazing pictures of people shelving books by size or color or other aesthetically-pleasing methods and I’m jealous, both of their creativity and the fact that if I did that I would never be able to find a book again because there are just TOO MANY.  :-D  So yes, alphabetical – and this shelf takes us from Adjordan to Alexander.

However, there are some exceptions to my alphabetical rule, and the three books under the moose are an example – those are three of the four Bayern books by Shannon Hale (the first one seems to have wandered off to introduce someone else to the magic of this series).  Sometimes books just fit in certain spots in the shelves!

2 – Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you; i.e. how you got it, a memory associated with it, etc.

I think I’m going with The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (by Joan Aiken) for this one.  I have so many memories of reading this with my Mom!  We used to read it together every winter, and even when I was too young to really ‘get’ the story, I still loved the feelings it invoked.  This is the first book I can remember reading that really had an ‘atmosphere’ – just reading it made me feel cold and made the room seem a little darker!

It’s a tough question, though, because I also have a deep attachment to all of the Louisa May Alcott books, especially Eight Cousins and its sequel, Rose in Bloom.

3 – Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

Well, it seems like the logical answer would be “one of my many copies of Little Women,” especially since the two copies on that shelf are not actually the only copies of that book that I own.  But that’s not the answer at all, because every copy of Little Women that I own has its own story and its own special place in my heart!  :-D  I suppose I would ditch one of the two Ginny Aiken books, mainly because I haven’t actually read them yet – picked them up at booksales somewhere along the line – so I don’t have an emotional attachment to them (yet).

4 – Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

Probably Rose in Bloom, which teaches me something new every time I read it.  That particular copy, as you can see from its rather battered condition, has been with me many a year.

5 – Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?

I’m going to interpret that as “Which book have I owned the longest?” since they’ve all been there since I moved here.  I’ve had most of these books a long time, but the red copy of Little Women (illustrated by Jesse Wilcox Smith – gorgeous) – I received from my mom for my 13th birthday, so it’s been with me for over 20 years!

6 – Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

It’s actually the skinny blue book to the left of Jane Fairfax.  The blue book is a sequel to The Cat-Sitter Mystery (which I’ve owned forever, maybe even longer than Little Women), The Copy-Cat Mystery, which I just recently purchased when I was rereading The Cat-Sitter Mystery – I didn’t even know there was a sequel until this year!

7 – Which book on this shelf are you most excited to read (or reread if this is a favorite shelf)?

Wow, this shelf actually has a lot of favorites, as I really love Louisa May Alcott’s works, and the Bayern books are fantastic – Dominion was also a gripping read, of course Wolves of Willoughby Chase is always perfect, and the last book on the shelf is actually the third book in Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain, which I also dearly love!  But if I really, really had to choose, probably Little Women as it has actually been quite a while since I’ve read it, and it’s a book that means a great deal to me.

8 – If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

These actually do tend to be knickknacky shelves as well, so there are indeed non-book objects…  the jar contains rose petals from various momentous events in my life; the stuffed bunny was a childhood favorite; the white dish has a cow on it because I collect cows; I also collect giraffes; the glass jars seem to have just appeared from nowhere as I honestly have no recollection as to where they came from or why I have them (apparently I just like dusting things); the framed motto was a gift from my mom; and the moose (which is incredibly soft!) was purchased on our trip to Colorado in 2015, when Tom and I saw our first wild moose!

9 – What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

Umm…  well, probably that I like things to be somewhat orderly, I have a love for Louisa May Alcott, and I don’t mind owning more than one copy of the same book.  :-D

10 – Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.

Hopefully many of you will choose to participate in this fun book tag – and make sure you tag Bibliobeth (and me!) when you do!

For a free question – Which of these books do you think everyone should read?

I think I am going to go with An Old-Fashioned Girl for this one.  Polly’s adventures have gotten me through a lot of my life, and especially gave me encouragement and challenged me when I was single.  I love how she is independent and industrious, but still so kind and womanly.  And of course Polly ends up with a Tom as well.  :-D