Ramblings

I’ve been in one of my rather rare reading slumps lately, still reading (of course) but halfheartedly and without a lot of awesomeness to show for it.  In turn, reviewing also seems unappealing when I’m  basically just saying, “Eh, it was alright” over and over again.  I’m sure that someday I’ll stumble into the next book that really gets me going again.  I am, quite literally, surrounded by piles of books right now, so it seems like there should be something out there for me…

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Possibly I’ve been a bit depressed by the discovery that I’m suddenly a white supremacist.  I didn’t realize it before, because I thought to be one you had to believe that all Caucasians are inherently better than all other skin tones (which I don’t think is true), but apparently the actual definition is anyone who doesn’t completely conform to the beliefs and opinions of Black Lives Matter and Antifa.  So it’s a bit awkward to find out that believing that it’s wrong for any public monuments to be destroyed by a mob is apparently the moral equivalent of wanting to enslave people and slaughter Jews.  Ah well.

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In happier news, I went to a concert on Tuesday night that was so good it was almost a spiritual experience.  Several months ago my brother-in-law told us to check out a single released by a band of teenage guys from a small rural town in Michigan.  The first time I heard my husband play it, I thought he was playing another one of those previously unreleased tracks from Led Zeppelin – not only does the lead singer for Greta Van Fleet sound eerily like Robert Plant, the other band members have captured a lot of the depth, creativity, and joy of that band.

The group, consisting of a set of twin brothers, their younger brother, and a high school buddy, have since released a four-track EP that Tom and I have been listening to on heavy rotation ever since.  When we heard that they were going on tour and that their first stop would be here in Columbus, we bought tickets the first day they went on sale – a mere $10 a pop for general admittance to a small venue called The Basement.  (It’s literally a basement and kind of my least favorite place to ever go to a concert, as it’s small, dark, stuffy, and crowded; has terrible acoustics; and is nearly impossible to actually see the band.  But, you know.)  After we purchased our tickets, the band kind of exploded in popularity, and their original single, ‘Highway Tune‘, has been playing on the radio quite a lot.  At the concert, we overheard some people talking about purchasing scalped tickets for over $100!  (And seriously, no matter how much I wanted to see them, I’m not convinced I would pay that much for a general admin ticket…)

Tom and I went with his brother and the brother’s wife.  It was one of those perfect summer evenings and had been a while since Tom and I had gone out to do something (we’re very contented introverts as a rule), so it was fun to get out and people watch for a bit.  The Basement was, of course, a million degrees and stuffed full of people, so we took our drinks back outside to the patio and pretended to be smokers.  (I mean seriously, there’s something wrong with your venue when it’s easier to breathe in the smoking area than it is inside.)  There was a bench along the stairwell railing, and while we were sitting there, the opening band began to play – and we realized we could actually see them!  So we ended up staying there for the entire evening.  We could hear, breathe, and see better than we could inside, so it actually worked great.

The band itself was a joy to hear.  Like I said, they’ve only release four tracks so far, so I was a bit leery of listening to a concert where I wouldn’t know most of the songs.  However, they are so talented that I could have listened to them all night.  I’m kind of in love with their bassist, who also plays the keyboards – he’s absolutely brilliant.  Lots of bands have a good singer and a good guitarist, but the quality of the bass and percussion in GVF really gives them a boost.  It means that their music is interesting on multiple levels, well worth listening to time and again.

If you like classic rock, I can’t recommend checking out these guys highly enough.  While yes, their music definitely has Zeppelin undertones, they are still their own thing.  Tom says he thinks they sound similar because they’re ‘mining the same musical vein’ – Zeppelin would talk a lot about the importance of the blues and how much that influenced their sound, and GVF has said the same thing.  Their encore was a blues medley that was just so much fun.  These guys have a confidence playing together that only comes from a lifetime of jamming together.  I love seeing siblings working together like this.  Despite how young they all are, their music has such a full, mature sound.

All in all, it was the sheer joy that came through their music that made this concert one of the best I’ve ever attended.  They love to play, and they love their music.  It’s something you just can’t fake, and these guys don’t have to.  Their camaraderie and contentedness sounded in every note.  They’re definitely a band to watch, and one I’m positive I’ll have to pay more than $10 to see next time they’re in town.

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I’ve also been working quite a lot, which is taking time away from reading/reviewing time.  In the last month I’ve helped pick, sort, and sell several hundred bushels of peaches, and it actually hasn’t been as bad as you may think.  I really love the people I work for at the orchard, and it’s only about two minutes away from my house, so I can come home at lunch and that sort of thing.  The peaches are almost done, but the guys are picking apples already, so we are basically going to be rolling right into the busiest part of the season.  It won’t be long before I start driving my little delivery truck again – I get the joy of running the wholesale route.  I’m kind of like Santa Claus, except with apples and cider and I come every week for an entire season.  ;-)

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This week, I made my first attempt at canning – and it worked!  I canned some pickles, and it was very exciting.  The pickle recipe itself needs a little bit of adjustment as it came out quite dill-y, but the canning process was successful and not as difficult as I feared it would be.  I don’t think I’m quite ready to do jams and jellies or anything that complicated, but the pickles are pretty straightforward.  I also cooked down tomatoes into a sauce that I froze, and have more of those to put up this weekend sometime.  And now that the apples are coming on, I’ll be making applesauce, too – also quite easy to make and freeze and SO delicious!

My mom was never really into growing veggies or putting up food, so a lot of this is self-taught for me.  Of course, I have lots of books to use as reference material!  My favorite for food preservation is one published by, of course, Storey Publishers – Put ‘Em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton.  It has tons of practical advice and recipes, plus step-by-step instructions for different preservation methods, like canning, freezing, and drying.  I love the way that it’s divided by produce type, so whatever you have a pile of on your counter, it’s easy to find a recipe and method for dealing with it!

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My little Etsy shop is keeping me busy as well.  I’ve been making lots of notebooks, and have ideas for some different items to add to my shop. I also ordered some wholesale washi tape that I am going to try to sell, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m expecting it to take another month to get here, since I ordered it from some crazy place in China somewhere.  As long as it comes at some point, I’ll be content!  In the meantime, it’s pretty fun to make notebooks, especially when people tell me they need them for special occasions – one lady just ordered some to take with her on a vacation to Denmark and Sweden!  It’s kind of exciting that my notebooks get to go off and have adventures, even if I’m still just chillaxin’ in Ohio!

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We’re mostly hanging in Ohio because we have sooo many ongoing house projects right now.  We closed in our back porch to make a sun room (or, as we like to call it, the Conservatory), and Pop has been busy finishing up the outside of that, a project that has involved several unnecessarily complicated trips to Menard’s.  We are FINALLY almost done fencing in the vegetable garden, which is also a run for the dogs and an extra run for the chickens (although not at the same time).  One of these days we are also going to finish the pantry project, at which point all of our food, currently in neat stacks and crates in the lower room, will be able to go to its new home, which will definitely help make this house feel less cluttered!

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My brother is coming in town from Seattle next week, so that will probably lead to several more hijinks.  We already have many plans.  His visits are always a crazy whirlwind of excitement and adventure, so hopefully we all survive.

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In a bit of actual bookish news, I did purchase the Hufflepuff edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  The binding itself is fantastic – honestly, it’s a perfect book: wonderful size, pages just the right weight, lovely font, delightfully bound – and the Hufflepuff facts not as lame as I feared they might be.  It’s also very nice to have the British edition – it’s amazing to me how much changes between the two, despite being written in (theoretically) the same language.  I went ahead and ordered the other house editions as well – weirdly, the four oldest siblings in my family each belong to a different house, so I’m excited about distributing them properly.

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In conclusion, one of these days I’ll get back to book blogging, and it will be fantastic.  I used to feel a little stressed when I went through these down phases, but I’ve since realized that I blog for myself and my own enjoyment, so if I’m not enjoying it, why bother?  The urge to express my bookish opinions always returns eventually.  And when it does, you all will be the first to know.  ;-)

Happy reading!

The Tottering TBR // Episode XVIII

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…

So last weekend I was down and out with a terrible stomach bug and no time for blogging nonsense.  But I am back in the game this week, despite the fact that I have also already started working my autumn job at the orchard!  We are picking and sorting peaches like crazy – it’s been several years since we had a good crop around here, so everyone is quite pleased and the peaches are delicious.  I absolutely love working at the orchard, mostly because the owners are the best people I have ever worked for, so even though I’m sad that my summer is over so soon, I am enjoying my time there.

Added to the General TBR:

Eleven additions in the last two weeks!

  • I’ve read an enjoyed Todd Johnson’s other two books, Critical Reaction and The Deposit Slipso when I saw he has a third book coming up, I knew I wanted to read it.  Since then, I’ve found out that I’ll be receiving an ARC of Fatal Trust from the publisher, so this read will actually happen sooner rather than later!
  • FictionFan’s review of The Lodger left me intrigued, mainly because she has a habit of setting up the whole mystery and then not telling me the ending (*sigh*), so I suppose I have to read it for myself.
  • I’ve mentioned before that I really enjoy books about catering or hotels and that sort of thing, so the review of Once and for All over at the Penniless Bookworm made me feel like this would be a good place to start with author Sarah Dessen.
  • Even though I’m a bit leery about reading a sci-fi book that has lots of footnotes, That’s What She Read made The Punch Escrow sound like too much fun to miss.
  • Fictionophile gets blamed for two additions this week, both thrillers.  Lynne featured The Day She Died on her Throwback Thursday post as an old favorite revisited – I always enjoy reading books that have stuck with someone months after they read it.  And even though I’m always a bit hesitant to read books where a missing child is the center of the mystery, her review of What She Knew just sounded too intriguing to pass up!
  • Cleopatra Reads Books definitely wins the award for weighing down the TBR with a hefty THREE entries!  I really do keep meaning to read something by Tammy Cohen and also by Lisa Jewell.  In the meantime, I guess I’ll keep adding their titles to the list thanks to Cleo’s recommendations, because she really does love both of these authors!  And proving that I’m not as good at avoiding things as I like to think I am, I added another book with a missing child as a central plot – Little Sister.
  • Finally, I came across two random books on lists that sounded engaging – Dragon’s Green by Scarlett Thomas and Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley.

Off the General TBR:

I haven’t done too shabbily here, with four off – The Girl from Summer Hill (weird), Water Song (needed to be longer), The Methods of Lady Walderhurst (disappointing), and What Lies Within (infuriating).  I had several reviews that weren’t on my TBR – five books, in fact.  It’s amazing that the TBR can be so long, and yet I keep finding myself reading books that aren’t even on it…

Grand Total for the General TBR:  792 (up seven)

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Added to the Personal TBR:

Besides two free Kindle books, I also added two more.  My grandpa somehow ended up with a gigantic box of books when my great-aunt passed away, and he’s decided that I should have them all.  They consist of some sometimes dreadful but sometimes alright Christian fiction called ‘Love Inspired’, and for a while (maybe you still can) you could subscribe and they would send you a book a month or whatever.  Apparently my great aunt was subscribed for YEARS.  Anyway, I took a small pile of them home, but most of them are parts of series, so they don’t count yet.  One, The Last Bridge Home by Linda Goodnight, seems to be a standalone, so I may try it.  Someday.

I also got another book from my Bethany Beach Books Box!  I switched from the YA subscription to the Children’s, and I think this may be a better fit for me.  I am kind of picky about my YA because I really am not into angst-ridden narratives.  Children’s books are so often simpler and cleaner, yet can still be incredibly profound.  This month, I got a copy of Summer of Lost and Found by Rebecca Behrens.  It looks like a lovely little book AND I got a beautiful hardcover copy.  I hope I really love this book because it is SO PRETTY.

Off the Personal TBR:

Only two this time around – Farewell, My Lovely and Martin’s Mice.  And what a contrast those two titles are!

Total for the Personal TBR:  593 (holding steady, because apparently I can’t do math)

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Total for the Series TBR:  Holding steady at 222.

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Added to the Mystery Series TBR:

Stephanie’s review of the latest Kate Burkholder mystery by Linda Castillo inspired me to go ahead and add this series, which currently has nine entries.  Stephanie really enjoys these books, and we frequently have similar taste.  :-D

Off the Mystery Series TBR:  

Nothing…

Total for the Mystery Series TBR:  103 (up one)

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Total for the Nonfiction TBR:  No changes – steady at 79.

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Grand Total for the Week:  Four off and twelve on, so up a total of eight.  I consider anything under a net of ten to be a win, so go me!  :-D

The Tottering TBR // Episode XVII

A weekly 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…

So this was a pretty good week on the blog overall.  I’ve been really focused on getting reviews done in a timely manner.  This week was also incredibly rainy weather, so I had more time for reading than I sometimes do in the summer.  Next week looks fabulous – sunny and dry – so I probably won’t get as much reading in…  fence-painting calls!

Added to the General TBR:

One book that I had on the Nonfiction TBR turned out to actually be a novel, so it got flipped to this list.  Three views also tempted me this week:

  • Rose said that she’s a happier person from reading The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson.  I’m pretty positive that I started to read another of Jonasson’s books with a ridiculously long title (The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden) but didn’t finish it for some reason… but I can’t remember what I didn’t like, so I think this book deserves a chance.
  • While Waste of Space by Gina Damico doesn’t necessarily sound like “my” kind of book, I was still attracted to Stephanie’s review – she said that it’s a humorous story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which sounds like a nice change of pace from a lot of YA.
  • Finally, Lynne’s review of The Birdwatcher by William Shaw hooked me from her quote of the book’s first paragraph:  “There were two reasons why William South did not want to be on the murder team.  The first was that it was October.  The migrating birds had begun arriving on the coast.  The second was that, though nobody knew, he was a murderer himself.”  Carol also reviewed this book last month before I was back on the Tottering TBR schedule, and I honestly thought I had added it then… but apparently I overlooked it!

Off the General TBR:

Actually, I didn’t do too badly this week!  I reviewed three books – Woman With a Gun by Phillip Margolin (fantastic), Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier (depressing), and The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain (engaging but ultimately underwhelming).  I also wrote two minireviews that will be published sometime this month, but came off the TBR when the reviews were written (Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer and Sunlight and Shadow by Cameron Dokey).  So – a grand total of five off!

Total for the General TBR:  785 – DOWN one!!!

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Added to the Personal TBR:

Two free Kindle books this week.  I have got to get that under control.  Although since I just bought a Kindle Paperwhite on Prime Day, it probably won’t happen any time soon, if I’m honest.

Off the Personal TBR:

Two reviews this week – Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman (alright, but nothing I’m holding onto, so it’s actually off the list and off the shelves!) and a biography – Patrick Henry: Firebrand of the Revolution by Nardi Reeder Campion.  I also wrote one minireview that will be published later this month – a Kindle Pride & Prejudice variation (no, I do not have a problem, thank you) – Unwilling by Elizabeth Adams.  So – three off!

Total for the Personal TBR:  593 – DOWN one!!!

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Total for the Series TBR:  No change this week – nothing added, and I’m not currently reading a series.  So holding steady at 222.

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Total for the Mystery Series TBR:  No change here either – steady at 102.

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Added to the Nonfiction TBR:  

Nothing!

Off the Nonfiction TBR:

Like I said, one book I had on here turned out to be a novel – Gettysburg, 1913 by Alan Simon, so it was moved off this list.  I also removed a book about healthy eating that didn’t actually sound like it would be useful after all.  So – two off.

Total for the Nonfiction TBR:  79 – DOWN two!

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Grand Total for the Week:  Six added but TEN off – I am down a net of four books!  DEFINITE progress!  At this rate, I may only be 107 when I get through all these books.  ;-)

The Tottering TBR // Episode XVI

This has been a really pleasant week.  A lot of projects are getting done around the house (PAINTING FENCE), but I’m still in a happy reading groove as well.  The Fourth of July was a super happy day – we did a few productive things in the morning while it was cool and then spent the hot and muggy day being completely lazy in the air conditioning, and it was great.  I spent the day doing some organizing of my own books, both on the shelves and on the TBR, which resulted in some drastically different numbers this week from last week.

Added to the General TBR:

With a great show of restraint, I only added four books this week.  I realized that I’ve never read Kipling’s Kim, and it really feels like that’s one I should check off.  I also added Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson because I remembered that I enjoyed her earlier book, Edenbrooke, quite some while back.

Prisoner of Night & Fogwhich Bibliobeth reviewed, sounds super intriguing, with a great historical setting and all kinds of potential adventures.  Meanwhile, Fictionophile’s review of The Widow’s House definitely sounded exciting as well.

Off the General TBR:

One off this week – Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson.  This was a solid read that meant that my Dee Henderson binge ended on a good note.

Total for the General TBR:  786 – up three.

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Added to the Personal TBR:

This tab got a bit confusing – a lot of books came on and off so the numbers are all kinds of whack.  However, I did completely indulge myself by purchasing a trio of books from Slightly Foxed – I can’t resist them! – by Adrian Bell.  I’m quite excited to read them, both because the stories sound charming, and because just holding these books is perfect.

Off the Personal TBR:

See notes above!  However, I did review both Reclaiming Christianity by A.W. Tozer and The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart – which were both on my list!

Total for the Personal TBR:  594 (down 35!!!!!)

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Added to the Series TBR:

While going through all my old reviews, I realized that I actually would kind of like to read Colleen Houck’s crazy tiger-prince books again.  Maybe.  Someday.

And, again inspired by Slightly Foxed – while I have a vague memory of dad reading Swallows and Amazons out loud to us when I was quite small, I’ve never really read them, and they again feel like childhood classics.  So they are now on the list!

Off the Series TBR:

Nothing… and I’m not even in the middle of a series right now!  No progress in sight!

Total for the Series TBR:  222 (up two)

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Added to the Mystery Series TBR:

Nothing!!!

Off the Mystery Series TBR:

I finished the Joseph O’Laughlin series, so it is now checked off the list!  I’m sorry to see Joe go – but I’m excited to get something off!!

Total for the Mystery Series TBR:  102 (DOWN one!)

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Added to the Nonfiction TBR:

Tragedy struck in the form of a post  by The Literary Sisters wherein they looked at several books that revolve around maps.  Basically, I want to read them all, and then find more books about maps.  I LOVE MAPS.  I actually own piles of maps, and have a giant one of the US hanging on our wall.  I pull out my map of the UK when I’m reading books set there; I plot trips on Google Maps that I have no intention of taking; I pull out my Ohio Atlas just to flip through it and look at parks and roads and towns that I’ve never noticed before.  Point being, their post caused me to add four titles to this list!

I’ve also been reading a children’s biography of Patrick Henry, and really enjoying it.  It inspired me to try and find a more “serious” biography of his life – I added Lion of Liberty: The Life and Times of Patrick Henry by Harlow Giles Unger, but am open to other suggestions if any of you know of a better option??

Off the Nonfiction TBR:

Nothing, of course!  Currently I am reading several nonfiction volumes, they just all happen to be ones that I own, so they aren’t actually on this section of the list…

Total for the Nonfiction TBR:  81 (up five)

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Grand Total for the Week:  11 up and 37 down (thanks to crazy math on the Personal TBR :-D) so I am going to seize that victory and revel in it, even though it will never happen again!!

Rearview Mirror // June 2017

June settled into a nice routine that is rolling into July (we’ll see how long that lasts!).  I’ve been getting a lot of chores done around the house and painting a LOT of fence.  Paisley the puppy is continuing the grow like a weed, and she and Waylon careen through the house in a way that makes me a little nervous about what will happen when they’re both adults!

Reading-wise, I mostly checked a BUNCH of Dee Henderson off the list, as well as finishing off the Michael Robotham’s Joseph O’Laughlin series.  It’s been good to get back into a good reading groove again, as I’ve also been working on my nonfiction assignments.

Favorite June Read:

Watching You by Michael Robotham – this book was SO intense I could barely put it down.  The pacing was perfect and I was completely engrossed.  I loved the way that I had no idea who to trust.

Most Disappointing June Read:

Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson.  An entire book about Perfect Ann.  SO BORING.  And she wasn’t actually perfect, even though everyone goes on (and on and ON) about how perfect she is…  I kind of thought she was selfish and boring.  It was basically an entire book of everyone talking about how awesome Ann is… and then it turns out that Ann wrote all of Henderson’s books, so a whole new level of awkward made it feel like Henderson wrote an entire book talking about how awesome she herself is….  too weird.  And BORING.

Other June Reads:

  • Close Your Eyes by Michael Robotham – 4/5 – a solid addition to the series, but the ending left me feeling completely dazed.
  • Reclaiming Christianity: A Call to Authentic Faith by A.W. Tozer; edited by James L. Snyder – 4/5 – a good collection of essays and sermons that are poignant and challenging.
  • Taken by Dee Henderson – 2/5 – Pretty boring, and too much kidnapping.
  • Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson – 3.5/5 – probably my favorite out of this batch of Henderson’s novels – solid story with interesting characters.
  • Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson – 3/5 – a good story, but the ending just sort of fizzled out.
  • Undetected by Dee Henderson – 2/5 – Mark.  Ugh.
  • Unspoken by Dee Henderson – 3/5 – alright read, but dragged in the middle.

In Junes Past…

Now that I’ve been doing my Rearview Mirrors for two years, I thought it would be fun to see what my favorite and least-favorite reads were from those years.

Back in 2015, I didn’t have a lot of strong feelings about any of the books I’d read,  but I chose Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey as my favorite read – I was really getting into the Pern books at that point – and Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marriner as my least favorite – it just felt too disjointed to really be enjoyable.

Last year, I was getting into the groove of Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera (which I LOVED), and Academ’s Fury was definitely my favorite book of the month.  Meanwhile, I really wanted to love The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley, mainly because the cover is GORGEOUS, but ended up kinda hating it, mostly because it made no sense.

June 2016 was also my first time participating in #20BooksofSummer – as of last year’s June Rearview, I had read six of my twenty… I’m actually ahead of that this year as I’m halfway through book #9!

#20BooksofSummer Update

Speaking of the 20 Books of Summer (hosted by Cathy), I’m actually not doing too badly.  Here’s the current list:

  1. Unspoken by Dee Henderson
  2. Undetected by Dee Henderson
  3. Taken by Dee Henderson
  4. Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson
  5. Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson
  6. Watching You by Michael Robotham
  7. Close Your Eyes by Michael Robotham
  8. The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart
  9. Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman
  10. Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer
  11. Woman With a Gun by Phillip Margolin
  12. Sunlight and Shadow by Cameron Dokey
  13. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
  14. The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain
  15. The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  16. The Methods of Lady Walderhurst by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  17. The Girl from Summer Hill by Jude Deveraux
  18. Water Song by Suzanne Weyn
  19. What Lies Within by James Morris
  20. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

 

TBR Update:

So I spent my holiday doing what everyone does on a holiday… reorganizing my TBR.  ;-)  I went through the Personal tab on the TBR (books I own) and updated a bunch of stuff.  I’ve actually read a lot of the books on the list already, but it was before I had the list written down.  And, back when I made the list, I didn’t bother putting a bunch of books on it since I had read them really recently.  But now I’ve decided that I want to keep a master list of every book I own with its “last read” date.  All that to say, I added books and checked books off, since the TBR number only reflects the books I haven’t read since I started book blogging back in 2011 (tumblr days!).

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:  785 (up five)
  • Nonfiction:  80 (up five)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  589 (down 34!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  221 (up one)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  102 (holding steady)

Awaiting Review:

I’m really working on keeping a post a day going, so right now only The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart is in the pile!

Current Reads:

  • Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman – I’m actually kinda enjoying this book that is so not my kind of book.
  • Breaking Free by Beth Moore – her writing is so accessible and challenging, like reading a letter from a close friend.
  • Patrick Henry: Firebrand of the Revolution by Nardi Reeder Campion – a middle-school biography of this famous patriot – I’m totally enjoying learning about his life and definitely intend to find a more involved biography of Henry soon.
  • High-Yield Vegetable Gardening by Colin McCrate and Brad Halm – because when I’m not working at a garden center or actually gardening, I love to read about gardening. (I don’t have a problem lol)

Approaching the Top of the Pile:

The probable next five reads…

  • Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer – actually looking forward to some relaxing Heyer action
  • Woman With a Gun by Phillip Margolin – so enjoyed his Amanda Jaffe series – we’ll see how a standalone goes
  • Sunlight and Shadow by Cameron Dokey – I’ve enjoyed a lot of her fairy tale retellings before, so I’m anticipating this one
  • Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier – I almost read this one earlier this year, except then life happened – I’ve loved both Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel, so I’m hoping this one follows suit!
  • The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain – one of those random books I read a review for a long time ago – no idea what it’s all about!

Rearview Mirror // May 2017

Only one month behind, so I’m catch up, right??  :-D

May was kind of a crazy month, and I worked a LOT of overtime – not a lot of time left for reading (or cleaning, or resting, or thinking…), so I mostly read a couple of children’s series that I already owned, and then started working my way through some of Dee Henderson’s books.

Favorite May Read:

The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith – it’s kind of rare for a nonfiction book to be my favorite read, but Smith’s  book was just such a delight and encouragement from beginning to end that I feel like it definitely earns this spot.  I actually read this book throughout April and May as I had time, and ended up buying my own copy so I could highlight parts that were important to me, and pull it out again whenever I want.  This was just a wonderful book about contentment, making your house your home, and having the courage to let your house reflect yourself and your family.

Most Disappointing May Read:

The Wings of a Falcon by Cynthia Voigt – this book was just really weird.  I couldn’t stand the protagonist, who was a total jerk and continued to be a total jerk throughout the entire story.  I wasn’t sure what the point of this book was, as it was very long, disjointed, and rambly.

Other May Reads:

  • Before I Wake by Dee Henderson – 3/5 – alright, but kind of a weird love triangle.  The mystery was good until the ending, which was weak.
  • The Extraordinary Education of Nicolas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart – 5/5 – a really delightful prequel to the other books.
  • Jackaroo by Cynthia Voigt – 3/5 – an alright story with some interesting thinking points, but nothing amazing.
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart – 5/5 – this was a (multiple times) reread for me, and I love it more every time.  The story is clever and engaging, thought-provoking but not polemic.  A genuinely fantastic children’s book.
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart – 4/5 – fun and engaging, but not quite as exciting as the first.
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma by Trenton Lee Stewart – 4/5 – lively and interesting, and a solid conclusion to the series.
  • On Fortune’s Wheel by Cynthia Voigt – 3/5 – an alright story with some interesting thinking points, but nothing amazing… kind of exactly like Jackaroo.
  • The Witness by Dee Henderson – 3/5 – Kind of a meh read that started alright but was definitely more romance than thriller, so it got rather boring in the middle.

In Mays Past…

Now that I’ve been doing my Rearview Mirrors for two years, I thought it would be fun to see what my favorite and least-favorite reads were from those years.

Back in May 2015, my favorite book was one I almost didn’t confess to reading – Forever by Maggie Stiefvater.  Because sometimes the teenage werewolf thing is actually done right.

I had a lot of meh reads that month but nothing I really hated.  I ended up choosing Girl Missing by Tess Gerritsen, which was completely unmemorable for me – I can’t even remember what I didn’t like.

Last year, I was still blazing through every Agatha Christie book ever printed, and it’s still amazing to me how many of them made it as my favorite book of the month.  In May 2016 I read the genuinely brilliant And Then There Were Noneone of Christie’s most clever, twisty stories that, despite the fact I had read it multiple times, I read it in one go, staying up until midnight to get to the grand conclusion.

My least favorite book ended up being Todd McCaffrey’s Dragon Harperwhich I ranted about at length.  After spending a year+ reading through Pern, it was really disappointing to end with his genuinely terrible, boring books.

TBR Update:

So I went through and cleaned this spreadsheet up a bit, mostly sorting books to the tabs where they actually belong (a lot of books on the general TBR were actually series) and getting rid of doubles and whatnot.  I also FINALLY caught up on my emails/blog entries.  This means that the general TBR took a stunning plummet…  but the other tabs took a huge jump…

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:  780 (down 118!  Go me!)
  • Nonfiction:  75 (up five)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  623 (up two)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  220 (up 61 because most of the books that I edited out of the standalones actually moved to either this column or mystery series)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  102 (up 26)

Still, my editing did give me an overall net loss of 24, which is pretty good for me.

Awaiting Review:

Basically, Dee Henderson:

  • Full Disclosure
  • Unspoken
  • Undetected
  • Taken
  • Traces of Guilt
  • Threads of Suspicion

Plus Reclaiming Christianity by A.W. Tozer, and the Spring (#53) issue of Slightly Foxed.

20 Books of Summer Update:

I’ve read five of my books, and eliminated Sins of the Past (which was actually a collection of novellas instead of an entire Henderson novel), so I’ll be adding a title someday (if I get that far haha).

Approaching the Top of the Pile:

The probable next five reads…

  • Watching You by Michael Robotham, which I just started today.
  • Close Your Eyes by Michael Robotham, which should wrap up the Joseph O’Laughlin series that I started so long ago Robotham may have actually written another book by now…
  • The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart
  • Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman
  • Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer

Rearview Mirror // April 2017

Yes, folks, you read that right – I’m rounding up April!  I really do like to write these Rearviews for my own benefit (to be honest, this whole blog is for my own benefit, I just let you all tag along for the ride :-D), so even though we are well into June, I’m going to go ahead and see if I can get this written…

Favorite April Read:

By far and away, The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge.  I still find myself thinking about this deceptively simple book.  It is one of those rare books where every word is perfectly placed.

Most Disappointing April Read:

Paper Towns by John Green, although that may not be entirely true, since my expectations were super low to start.  So in a way, this book actually was the least disappointing, because it was just as pretentious, boring, pointless, and overrated as I expected it to be.

  • A Gentleman of Leisure (AKA The Intrusion of Jimmy) by P.G. Wodehouse – 3/5 – fun and frolicksome, but not particularly memorable.
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen – 5/5 – in a month that didn’t include The Scent of Water, this book would have been an easy first place.  Fun and frothy, I enjoyed every page and can’t believe I had never read it before!
  • The Prince and Betty by P.G. Wodehouse – 3/5 – I would have liked this book a lot better if he hadn’t inserted the entire plot of Psmith, Journalist in the middle of it…!?
  • Say You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham – 4/5 – completely gripping, even if I wasn’t entirely convinced that the villain could be so villainous without anyone noticing…
  • Wild Palomino: Stallion of the Prairies by Stephen Holt – 2/5 – This was a pretty meh Famous Horse Story that just sort of muddled about and had a lot of big jumps in logic.  It may be entertaining to its target age group of around 10-12, but not particularly interesting to a more critical reader.

In Aprils Past…

Now that I’ve been doing my Rearview Mirrors for two years, I thought it would be fun to see what my favorite and least-favorite reads were from those years.

In 2015 I was going through a bit of a reading slump, so I hadn’t read very many books.  However, my favorite was definitely The Lewis Man by Peter May.  After being blown away by the Lewis trilogy, I’m still determined to get around to reading some more of May’s books… someday…

My most disappointing read that month was Pollyanna in Hollywood by Elizabeth Borton.  The Pollyanna books were written by different authors, and when Borton took over I just couldn’t continue on, as she turned the books into these weird travelogues and turned Pollyanna herself to a strange caricature of her character – in the earlier books Pollyanna was so genuine and kind, and Borton just never captured that in her writing.

Last year, I was enamored with Nancy Bond’s classic, A String in the Harp.  While it isn’t a tale of high action, it’s a beautifully crafted story with memorable and warm characters.  This is a children’s book that deals with grief so, so perfectly.

On the flip side, my most disappointing read was yet another part of a series that I really enjoyed on the whole – Dragonsblood by Todd McCaffrey.  While Todd’s mother’s Pern books had their ups and downs, they were on the whole quite engaging.  But when Todd took over, it was like he just kept writing the same story over and over again.  His writing is much lazier, with lots of logic gaps and parts where characters just conveniently guess the thing they really need to know in order to save the world (again).

TBR Update:

I’ve actually been slowly working my way through the TBR, trying to weed out doubles and books that should belong on one of the series tabs.  I mostly did this because the TBR had topped 900 and I really needed to bring it back below that mark to make me feel like I wasn’t completely crazy.  ;-)  I still have a ways to go on that project, so I’m hoping to see some more deductions.  Even though I’ve added a few in the meantime, I have managed to eliminate 21 titles in the process…

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:

  • Stand-Alones:  898 (which is weirdly exactly where it was when I posted the March Rearview?!  What are the odds of that happening???)
  • Nonfiction:  70 (up five, and I am once again determined to spend some more time reading nonfiction this summer, despite the fact that I didn’t put a single nonfiction title on my 20 Books of Summer list!)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own, but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  621 (up four – even though I’ve been reading several of my own books lately, it’s been a couple of series, so they only count as one book down on the TBR)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  159 (up ten… several of the books that got dropped from the Regular TBR actually just got shifted to this area because they are part of a series rather than a stand-alone)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  76 (up four)

Awaiting Review:

I’ve been on a bit of  Dee Henderson kick lately, reading most of her “stand-alone” novels before reading an ARC of her latest book, Threads of Suspicion.  In her independent books she still has a lot of interconnecting characters, so I decided to read a bunch of her other books to get some background on characters, mainly  because I get weirdly OCD about reading series in their entirety and in order…

Point is, the books awaiting review are Dee Henderson novels, and will probably come out in a series of minireviews.

  • The Witness by Dee Henderson  – bit heavy on the romance; everyone was a couple??  So the thriller part felt just kind of wedged into the background, a pattern that seems to be establishing itself in her books.
  • Before I Wake by Dee Henderson – bit more of an actual story, but had a really weird love triangle sort of thing.
  • Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson – definitely my least-favorite of any of her books I’ve read – super boring, and Ann is the worst character ever because she is so freaking perfect and basically the entire book is just talking about how perfect she is.  Be prepared for a rant on this one.
  • Unspoken by Dee Henderson – I couldn’t tell if this book was actually a decent story, if it just seemed that way in comparison to Full Disclosure.

20 Books of Summer Update:

So far, Unspoken is the only book I’ve read from my list, although I am almost finished with Undetected.  I’m not completely confident in my ability to make up my 20 this summer, although I did accomplish it last year.  There is a lot going on these days, and I just don’t seem to be reading as much right now as I usually am!  I’m also ten books behind on my Goodreads goal of 160 books this year… whoops!

Approaching the Top of the Pile:

The probably next five reads…

Hopefully books 2-6 on the 20 Books of Summer list:

  • Undetected; Taken; Traces of Guilt; Sins of the Past; and Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson
  • Watching You by Michael Robotham – this book and Close Your Eyes are the only two books I have left in the Joseph O’Laughlin series.  I’ve really enjoyed these books, and am moderately frustrated that I haven’t gotten around to reading these last two yet!

I have two more reviews to write and then I’ll be caught up on May’s books and hopefully get a May Rearview out as well.  I’ve only read two books in June, which is really low for me.  I think part of the problem is that I’ve been reading Henderson’s book as ebooks from the library, and I just don’t tend to grab my Kindle as readily as a hard copy of a book.  I also really struggled to get through Full Disclosure, which really slowed me down on my overall reading.

The husband is off this week, so we are both trying to get caught up on stuff around the house after a crazy spring!  We are also busy housetraining our puppy.  And as an aside, if you’re interested in adorable border collie puppies, please feel free to check on my Instagram account @popcornandbooks15.  She is pretty dang cute!

Happy reading, everyone!