Rearview Mirror // October 2017

This has definitely been my worst month blogging in quite a while.  I did a LOT of reading, but basically no reviewing except for a couple of minireview posts at the end of the month.  And even those didn’t come close to catching up on my reviews AND never actually covered the books I read this month that I loved!

Things have been quite crazy at the orchard, and also really busy in my Etsy shop, so those things have been taking a lot of my time.  Tom and I also went to Virginia for a long weekend over my birthday – our first ‘real’ trip in the Zeppelin, and it was a resounding success!

Favorite October Read:

Well, my favorite October reads haven’t been reviewed yet: The Night Circus, Only Dead on the Inside, and Dawn Study.  But out of the small, pathetic handful of books I actually managed to review, I would actually go with A is for Arsenic.  I was surprised at how thoroughly interesting I found this book that details the various poisons Agatha Christie used in her novels.  It was science-y and informative, but really readable and engaging as well.

Most Disappointing October Read:

I had a lot of really meh reads this month as well.  Out of the ones reviewed, I think I have to go with Thirty Days to Thirtywhich could have been a super fun little chick lit read, except it just got stupid.

Other October Reads:

  • Dot Journaling by Rachel Wilkerson Miller – 4/5 – the first book on the subject that actually felt legitimately practical for someone like me, who isn’t remotely artsy.
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – 3.5/5 – there were a lot of things I liked about this book, and it was definitely worth the read, but it wasn’t one I would consider a classic.
  • Indian Paint by Glenn Balch – 3.5/5 – a fun Famous Horse Story about a young American Indian boy and the horse he loves!
  • Lion of Liberty by Harlow Giles Unger – 3/5 – a decent biography of Patrick Henry, but really more of a review of the American Revolution and constitution.
  • Storm Glass, Sea Glass, and Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder – 3.5/5 for the trilogy – interesting books and nice to have some other stories set in Ixia/Sitia, but I just didn’t really like Opal all that well, and the love triangles got ridiculously out of hand.
  • The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye – 3/5 – a children’s book that would have been a lot better if it had actually been about a turtle.

In Octobers 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.

//published 2013//

In 2015, I read and loved The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness.  While a lot of times it really annoys me if I can’t figure out what a book is ‘about’, Ness managed to write a book that I felt like would be somehow different every time I read it.  It was a strangely magical book.

I was disappointed by Houses of Stone by Barbara Michaels.  I was hoping to get a book that was funny and engaging with a decent mystery, like I did in the Amelia Peabody books, but instead I just got a story about a whiny feminist.

Last year, I thoroughly enjoyed Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – it’s now my favorite book by her.  On the other hand, I was left confused by Magic Below the Stairs by Caroline Stevermer, which added nothing to otherwise beloved Cecelia and Kate books.

TBR Update…

Oh dear.

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:  821 (up ONLY eight!)
  • Nonfiction:  81 (DOWN one!!!)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  616 (up only three!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  228 (up one)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 106 (up one)

Awaiting Review:

Quite the pile, actually.

  • Only Dead on the Inside by James Breakwell – quite entertaining even if you don’t have children or believe the zombie apocalypse is imminent.
  • Shadow Study, Night Study, and Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder – so good!  Dawn Study was even more satisfactory than I anticipated.
  • Miss Billy and Miss Billy’s Decision by Eleanor H. Porter – by the author of Pollyanna; Billy isn’t quite as engaging of a heroine, but pleasant books nonetheless.
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – what.  This book was so magical.  All the feelings.  Oh my gosh.
  • Still Life by Dani Pettrey – reread of book #2 to gear me up for reading book #3 which I received as an ARC.

Current Reads:

As a side note, I have been trying to do better at keeping up on Goodreads, so feel free to follow me there.

  • Miss Billy Married by Eleanor H. Porter – the final book in the Miss Billy trilogy, and my favorite so far.
  • Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey – alright so far.
  • Jackaby by William Ritter – reading yet again, this time so I can get the full build-up to launch in the fourth and final book, that will hopefully bring this series to a very satisfying conclusion.
  • The Pastor Takes a Wife by Anna Schmidt – time to read another lil batch of those crazy Love Inspired books so I can eventually get the pile of 5000 of them out of my house!

 Approaching the Top of the Pile:

The probable next five reads…

  • Four more Love Inspired books, determined by a random sticking-my-hand-in-the-basket.
  • The rest of the Jackaby books.
  • Heavier Than Heaven by Charles R. Cross – part of my goal to read my own books; Tom has had this biography of Kurt Cobain laying around forever.
  • The River Line by Charles Line – not sure what this one is even about.
  • Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars by Daniel Pinkwater – this one keeps getting pushed down the list by other reads, but I am going to get to it this time!

Happy November!!!

Advertisements

Rearview Mirror // September 2017

September has been a really busy month.  I work at an orchard, so we are in top gear there, plus the husband had a week off for vacation (which I took off, too) – we mostly spent it working around the house, although we did get a chance to camp for a couple of nights in the newest addition to the McCafferty clan – the Zeppelin:

Through it all, I have been doing some reading, but mostly short, snappy reads that don’t require a great deal of concentration.  I’ve finished the month strong with Maria V. Snyder’s books set in Ixia/Sitia – only three books left before I finish those.  It’s been good to dig into a solid fantasy series.

Favorite September Read:

Despite finding the Study series to be really good, I think I’m going with Vertigo for this slot.  It was a classic that I knew very little about, so I was completely sucked into the story with no idea where it was going.  At first I thought it was a little slow, but by about 2/3 through, I realized that I wasn’t actually getting anything done besides reading this book – and the ending was perfect.

Most Disappointing September Read:

I  had a lot of pretty meh reads in September, but none of them were particularly disappointing as I didn’t have particularly high expectations to start!  But I guess I would go with A Season to Wed.  I really enjoyed the first Year of Wedding novellas series, but the second year, which starts with Season, was really quite terrible overall, with low-quality writing, obnoxious main characters, and disjointed storytelling.

Other September Reads:

  • Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder – 4/5 – very enjoyable third book that had me scrambling to get to the end.
  • Fireman Dad by Betsy St. Amant – 2.5/5 – a story that could have been a lot better if the main character had just been a little more chill.  Way too much drama.
  • Homecoming Hero by Renee Ryan – 3/5 – a decent story that handled a few sensitive topics well, but that was just not terribly engaging.
  • Kiss the Bride by Melissa McClone, Robin Lee Hatcher, and Kathryn Springer – 3/5 – a decent trio of novellas that were ultimately forgettable.
  • The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman – 3.5/5 – beautifully told with an amazing setting, but just a little too sad for my personal taste.
  • The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler – 3.5/5 – Snarky and engaging.
  • Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder – 3.5/5 – a good second book, although it definitely felt like the ‘growing pains’ installment where I spent a lot of the story wanting to give the heroine a good shake.
  • Oklahoma Reunion by Tina Radcliffe – 2.5/5 – a really bland but ultimately inoffensive romance featuring one of my least-favorite tropes.
  • The Perfect Gift by Lenora Worth – 3/5 – a fine little fluff piece, even if it was lacking in basic logic at times.
  • Playback by Raymond Chandler – 3/5 – an entertaining mystery that lost at least half a star because of all the random sex.
  • Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder – 4/5 – really great start to a series that has solid world-building and an engaging protagonist.
  • Poodle Springs by Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker – 3/5 – a good conclusion to the Phillip Marlowe stories, but Parker tended to make Marlowe a bit too bumbling for my taste.
  • Toss the Bouquet by Ruth Logan Herne, Amy Matayo, and Janice Thompson – 2.5/5 – a trio of novellas that were alright but honestly were so lacking in logic that it made them rather unenjoyable.
  • An Unlikely Duet by Lelia M. Silver – DNF – super boring P&P sequel.  Like so boring.

In Septembers 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, my favorite read was a haunting fantasy by Patricia McKillup – Solstice Wood.  My most disappointing read was Donna Leon’s Quietly in Their Sleep.  It was especially disappointing because I really wanted to like this mystery series, and actually did really like the main character and the setting a great deal.  But Quietly, and the book just prior to it (Acqua Alta) both just had really, really weak mysteries, which meant I basically just had to sit through a couple hundred pages of Leon ranting about the hypocrisy and stupidity of Christians without a whole lot of story to make up for it.

Last year, I was gearing myself up for the emotional devastation of reading the final Codex Alera book.  In the meantime, my favorite book of the month was Stormy, Misty’s Foal by Marguerite Henry – a surprisingly deep read for a children’s book, one that actually did bring tears to my eyes.  My most disappointing reading was definitely Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott.  I really wanted to love this book, a retelling of Cinderella set in an AU ancient Japan, but it was just too, too terrible – the story made no sense, the main character was dreadful, and Marriott definitely gave a thumbs up to casual extra-marital sex and also self-harming as an A-OK way to deal with problems: I just couldn’t get past those genuinely awful messages in a YA (or any other) book.  (Although I have to say that the cover is gorgeous!)

TBR Update:

I haven’t compared my TBR numbers lately, but I’m willing to bet that they aren’t good….

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:  813 (up eleven!)
  • Nonfiction:  82 (up three)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  613 (up fifteen… curse you, irresistible free Kindle books!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  227 (up one)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 105 (up two)

Awaiting Review:

  • The Glass Trilogy by Maria V. Snyder – Storm Glass, Sea Glass, and Spy Glass.  Solid reads, but I didn’t like Opal as well as Yelena, so I didn’t enjoy them as much as the Study books.
  • A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup – I really enjoyed this nonfiction read, even if it made my husband nervous.

Current Reads:

  • Thirty Days to Thirty by Courtney Psak – I started this yesterday when I was stranded at the doctor’s office; it’s been a free Kindle book that’s languished for a while.  So far, nothing noteworthy – just eye-rolling fluff.
  • Only Dead on the Inside: A Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse by James Breakwell – I follow this guy on Twitter and Instagram, and figured that since he makes me laugh almost every day, I should buy his book.  Luckily for me, it’s actually quite entertaining.
  • The Turtles of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye – a Bethany Beach Box book that’s pretty boring.
  • Lodestar Anthology #8 – New Zealand – not a book at all, but a sort of travel journal/magazine that I first heard about through my subscription to Slightly Foxed.  LA comes out three times a year, and each issue focuses on a single country.  I was very pleased when I received my issue because it is gorgeous!  However, you will have to wait until I finish and review it for more details… mustn’t get too carried away here!

Approaching the Top of the Pile:

The probable next five reads…

  • The Soulfinders Trilogy by Maria V. Snyder – Shadow Study, Night Study, and Dawn Study – super excited to read this, and super sad to realize that’s all I have left!
  • Lion of Liberty by Harlow Giles Unger – a biography of Patrick Henry that I found secondhand.
  • Miss Billy by Eleanor H. Porter – an old book that I’ve had on my shelf for quite some time, written by the author of Pollyanna.
  • Indian Paint by Glenn Balch – still haven’t read this Famous Horse Story yet.
  • The Jackaby Series – JackabyBeastly Bones, Ghostly Echoesand The Dire King by William Ritter – rereads for the first three books so that I can thoroughly enjoy the concluding book that just came out at the end of August.

Happy October!!!

Rearview Mirror // August 2017

August was kind of a weird month in relation to reading.  I hit a really major reading slump, which is kind of unusual for me.  It just felt like every book I picked up was very meh.  So then I started reading just random fluff books, and all of those were also very meh.  It made for boring times reading and boring times  blogging, and also explains why most of my book reviews this month were two-paragraph minireviews that basically said, “This book was quite meh.”

However, I have had two solid reads in a row, and am working through two books that also have started quite well, so I’m hoping that I am back on track.  It hasn’t helped that I’ve also been working quite a bit, have had a very busy month in my Etsy store, and had my brother come to visit from Seattle for a long weekend.  Lots of life happening!

Still, while I didn’t get a lot of awesome books read in August (or July, if I’m honest), I did work through a decent quantity.  So I am actually six books ahead of my Goodreads goal for 160 books in the year, aided by some shorter reads.

Favorite August Read:

I saved the best for last, I guess – Uprooted was my final August read, and it was FANTASTIC.  It’s made me believe in the concept that there are actually some worthwhile books out there.  It’s a really well-written fantasy novel that I would have gladly awarded five stars to if not for this one random and far-too-detailed sex scene out of nowhere.  Still, with that caveat, I highly recommend this book with great world-building, interesting characters, and a perfect ending.

As an aside, I think that that cover is gorgeous, but I can’t find anywhere for cheaper than around $60!  I really, really love simple covers without a lot of writing on them.  In my mind, a cover should have the title and the author’s name (preferably with the title in larger letters) and not a lot of other writing.  I hate it when covers are covered in random quotes and reassurances that I will LOVE THIS BOOK or THIS IS NOW AN AWESOME MOVIE – the cover art and title should speak for themselves.  This cover alone would make me way more likely to pick up the book than its current cover with a girl and a bunch of quotes on it.  Anyway.

Most Disappointing August Read:

I think The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler.  I enjoyed the earlier Phillip Marlowe books so much that this one came as a bit of a shock.  Unlike the earlier books, it was almost completely devoid of humor, and instead felt dark, depressing, and hopeless.  Later, I read that it took Chandler a long time to write this book, and his wife was dying (of cancer?  I can’t remember) basically the whole time, so I guess that all makes sense.  But it definitely made me take a break from the Marlowe series.

Other August Reads:

  • The Cat-Sitter Mystery by Carol Adorjan – 4/5 – a old childhood favorite that was still pretty fun as a reread.
  • A Dark Lure by Loreth Anne White – 3/5 – I paid $0 for this book, and that’s about how much I got out of it.
  • Fatal Trust by Todd M. Johnson – 4/5 – if I hadn’t read Uprooted right after this book, Fatal Trust would have been my best read of the month – engaging, perfectly paced, and just twisty enough to keep me guessing.
  • The High Window by Raymond Chandler – 3.5/5 – fun and engaging, but not brilliant.
  • The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler – 3.5/5 – a little more graphic than the earlier books, but still quite solid.
  • Mail-Order Bride by Debbie Macomber – 3/5 – a good concept that set up well, but then got really sloppy.
  • Mind Your Manors by Lucy Lethbridge – 3.5/5 – an interesting nonfiction book about old-fashioned cleaning methods, but not as practical as I had hoped.
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – 4/5 – a really delightful graphic novel that completely engaged me – the artwork is amazing and the setting fantastic.
  • Once Upon a Kiss by various authors – 2/5 – an overall rather weak collection of YA fantasy short stories, several of which I didn’t even bother finishing.
  • The Story of Amelia Earhart by Adele de Leeuw – 3/5 – a nice children’s biography but a bit scattered.
  • Summer of Lost and Found by Rebecca Behrens – 3/5 – just a little too disjointed for me to really enjoy.
  • This Love of Mine by Miranda Liasson – 3.5/5 – a fun little fake-relationship trope story.
  • This Loving Feeling by Miranda Liasson – 3/5 – a pleasant story but nothing exciting.
  • This Thing Called Love by Miranda Liasson – 3/5 – a decent start to an average contemporary romance trilogy.
  • The Whisky Wedding by Elizabeth Ann West – DNF – just why.
  • A Year of Weddings Novellas:  Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn – overall 3/5 for the collection.  Some were better than others, but only one or two were complete lemons.

In Augusts 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.

Interestingly enough, August 2015 was a bit of a reading slump as well, which I was also slowly working my way out of by the time I wrote the Rearview.  My favorite read that month was a Wodehouse gem – Ice in the Bedroom.  My least favorite that month was a book that I think turned out to be my least favorite read of the entire year – the incredibly creepy Zel by Donna Jo Napoli, a book that still makes me a nauseous  if I think about it.

In August 2016, my favorite read was another Wodehouse!  This time Money in the Bank took the place of honor.  And in a weird turn of events, my most disappointing read that month was actually from one of my favorite authors – Agatha Christie’s Destination Unknownwhich had much less plot and much more lecturing than her stories usually do.

TBR Update:

Well, due to the reading slump, an ambivalent attitude towards blogging, and a lot of life craziness, I haven’t done many of my Tottering TBR episodes recently.  But items do keep going on and off the lists, so I’m actually intrigued to see where things stand…

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:  802 (up twelve!!!  Oh dear)
  • Nonfiction:  79 (holding steady)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  598 (up two)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  226 (up four)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 103 (holding steady)

Well, could be worse… I think…  ;-)

Awaiting Review:

I’m actually caught up on reviews right now!  Madness!

Current Reads:

  • The Light Between the Oceans by M.L Stedman – so far a really good story, but kind of stressing me out because I hate it when people are living a lie and the consequences are just slowly looming over them like a giant wave and I have to keep waiting for the crash!
  •  The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler – I decided to try the next Marlowe story and see if it was better than The Little Sister.  So far, so good.
  • An Unlikely Duet by Leila Silver – my current P&P variation read.  Alright, but honestly just kind of boring.
  • The Iliad by Homer – technically I’m still ‘reading’ this, but I haven’t actually read much of it at all this month.  I’m hoping to pick this one back up soon.

Approaching the Top of the Pile…

The probable next five reads:

  • Playback by Raymond Chandler – the last Marlowe book he wrote, although someone else has finished his partial manuscript, so I may read that as well.
  • The Noble Path by Peter May – I’ve had this one from the library for a while and read about one chapter of it a few weeks ago and just wasn’t feeling it.  I’m going to give it another go now that I feel more like reading in general.
  • A is for Arsenic by Kathryn Harkup – I read a review for this nonfiction book about the poisons in Agatha Christie’s books a while ago and it really sounds intriguing.
  • Indian Paint by Glenn Balch – my next book in my personal collection is another Famous Horse Story!
  • Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars by Daniel Pinkwater – Pinkwater has long been a favorite of mine, but he’s a very prolific author so I’m still finding and reading random books of his.  For me, his books are either so funny I can’t stop snickering the whole time, or they make no sense at all, so we’ll see where this one falls.

Happy September!!!

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…

*****

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.

*****

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.

*****

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.  ;-)

*****

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!

*****

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!

*****

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!

*****

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.

*****

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.

*****

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)

***********************

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)

********************

Total for the Series TBR:  Holding steady at 222.

********************

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)

**********************

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

*********************

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!!!

***********************

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!!!

*********************

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

*********************

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

********************

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!

******************

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.  ;-)