Soulfinders Trilogy // by Maria V. Snyder

  • Shadow Study
  • Night Study
  • Dawn Study

For those of you who haven’t been following along, I’ve been reading Snyder’s ‘Study’ books, except they really should all be included under the Chronicles of Ixia title without multiple trilogies confusing everything.  Reading the three trilogies not in order would be quite confusing, so I’m not sure why they are listed separately at all.  At any rate, the first three books (Study series) focused on Yelena and had her as a narrator throughout.  The next three books (Glass trilogy) focused on Opal and had her as a narrator.  These final three books return to Yelena as a main character, and while she narrates large sections of them, Synder also gives us third person views from multiple other characters.

//published 2015//

I really enjoyed the earlier books (although I found Opal’s story to be much weaker than Yelena’s), but was blown away by , how fantastic these last three books were.  They really came together for some fantastic storytelling.  With the world-building well established, Snyder was able to weave all kinds of threads together, and I was on the edge of my seat throughout.

//published 2016//

At first, I was a little leery of the multiple perspectives.  While I was excited to hear from some of the other characters, I was concerned that it would bog down the pace, and did a bit, especially in Shadow Study.  Snyder really wanted to give the readers a lot of background on Valek, and did so by having Valek sort of travel down memory lane, so it would be something like, “Valek sat in his office, sifting through papers.  But his mind kept drifting back to the day of his first mission…” And then it would launch into the story of his first mission, which was fine, except Snyder did not do a very good job of differentiating between flashback time and real time.  Instead of inserting a paragraph break, it would just sort of muddle back into the real-time story and was always a bit of a jolt.  Plus, we obviously couldn’t have Valek mentally meandering back in time when he’s in the middle of doing something exciting, so the Valek sections were slow on action and long on background.  It worked fine, and it was important to truly understand things that had happened to him in the past in order for the actions in the next two books to have their full impact.

//published 2017//

In the last two books, the action turned up to about level ten and never looked back.   There were some great twists and I enjoyed every page.  I couldn’t  believe that Snyder was able to wrap everything up in Dawn Study, but she did.  And I really, really appreciated the fact that she didn’t feel a need to kill off a bunch of people in the final book just to prove how hardcore her story is.  (I don’t mind characters dying when it forwards the story, but it aggravates me when they are killed just so the story has more ‘grit’.)

I don’t really know if these books are considered ‘adult’ fantasy or YA, but while Yelena (and Opal) start out as teens, time actually does pass in this series, and everyone gets older.  Yelena is in her 30’s by the end, and Valek talks about being ‘too old’ at 41 for this type of thing.  I quite liked adults doing adult things for once.

While my understanding is that Snyder says she isn’t going to write any more about Valek and Yelena, she seems to have left the door open for revisiting the world they live in.  Another trilogy focusing on the next generation would be incredibly fun stuff.

If you’re interested in reading these books, I definitely recommend getting on Snyder’s website and reading the short stories that she has posted for free there.  Honestly, it was kind of annoying because I felt like some of those stories included some pretty crucial information, and really should have been included as prologues or something instead of ‘optional’ reads.

Also, I apparently lucked out, because Dawn Study was just published this year, so no waiting for me!

Final ratings:  4/5 for the Soulfinder trilogy; 5/5 for Dawn Study in particular; 4/5 for the Chronicles of Ixia as a whole.

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Only Dead on the Inside: A Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse // by James Breakwell

 

//published 2017//

Here’s the thing, I really don’t like zombie stuff; I think it’s stupid at best and disgusting at worst.  I’m also not a parent.  But I do follow James Breakwell on Twitter, and he consistently makes me giggle basically every day.  So when he said he was publishing a book, I felt like the least I could do was pay him $12 because even if the book was terrible, well, there are all those times he’s made me laugh without charging me a cent.

However, I needn’t have worried, because Only Dead on the Inside was actually quite funny.  It’s also full of poorly-drawn cartoons and lots of graphs and flowcharts, so there was plenty to keep me reading.  While the advice is generally ridiculous, the book itself is unique and entertaining.  And THEN I got to the chapter on minivans, and even if the entire rest of the book had been terrible, it all would have been worth it for that chapter.  Driving a van is kind of like joining a special club.  People who don’t drive vans just don’t get it.

If you’re a non-minivan driver, right now you’re shaking your head in confusion.  “But I test-drove a minivan once,” you say to yourself.  “It wasn’t that great.”  Wrong.  YOU weren’t that great.  The wand chooses the wizard, Harry.  If you drove a minivan and you didn’t enjoy it, you were not worthy.  You didn’t reject the minivan.  The minivan rejected you.  Have fun being a muggle.

Guys, I basically want to to quote the entire chapter to you.  I just reread it while looking for the perfect quote.  This chapter spoke to me.  Deeply.

Like I said, there are lots of charts and graphs, which I love.  Flow charts consistently make my life better (not sure what that says about me as a person), so I really enjoyed those a great deal.  I also appreciated Breakwell’s many pros/cons lists that can help you decide the best ways to transport your family, keep your kids together, or scavenge for supplies.

My advice?  Check out Breakwell’s Twitter account.  If it makes you tilt your head in confusion, don’t bother with this book.  But if you find yourself quietly snorting in laughter multiple times, you should definitely give this book a go, even if, like me, you don’t have kids or any interest in zombies.

 

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!!!

October Minireviews // Part 2

In an attempt to get you all caught up on all the reading I’ve done this month, I’m cramming all of my reviews into minireviews…

Thirty Days to Thirty by Courtney Psak

//published 2015//

This was a freebie Kindle book that sounded fun.  Jill, aged 29, is confident that her life is going the right direction.  On the verge of becoming a partner in the law firm where she’s been working, and confident that her live-in boyfriend is going to propose any minute, Jill considers her life ‘together.’  Unfortunately, instead of getting promoted, she gets fired.  And when she comes home early, she finds out that her boyfriend is actually having an affair.  So Jill moves back home to the small town where she grew up, back into her old bedroom at her parents’ house.  There, she comes across a list she wrote in high school of 30 items she wanted to have done by the time she was 30 years old – and she has only done a couple of them.  With the help of her long-time best friend and high school boyfriend, Jill starts getting things done on her list, and of course discovers who she truly is and true happiness along the way.

I was hoping for just a kind of happy little chick lit sort of vibe, but this book was just too ridiculous and poorly written to deliver even that.  The whole thing is first person present tense, so that was already quite aggravating, and the further into the book I got, the worse the story was.  Jill doesn’t read as 29-year-old at all, as she was just so immature and ridiculous at times.  There were really stupid scenes, like her walking in on her parents “doing it” and then I had to go through like an entire chapter of her being “so grossed out” – like yes, that’s extremely uncomfortable, but you’re an adult now, so I really feel like you should be able to move on – like how exactly do you think you arrived in the world….???

But the worst part was that one of things on Jill’s list was something along the lines of “learn to live without a boyfriend” or something like that – and it’s the one thing she never does!  She realizes how she was depending on her old boyfriend so much that she never really was herself, but she launches straight into a relationship with her old high school boyfriend.  So even though I liked that guy just fine, I was never able to really get behind their romance because at the end of the day Jill still just felt like she “needed” a man to live her life.  So 2/5 for being boring, pointless, and having an overall rather negative life message.

Lion of Liberty: Patrick Henry and the Call to a New Nation by Harlow Giles Unger

//published 2010//

When I read a children’s biography of Patrick Henry a while back, I was really inspired to learn more about this particular founding father.  And while Lion of Liberty was interesting and had some more information about Henry, I overall felt more like I was reading a condensed history of the American Revolution/founding of Constitution, with a side focus on Henry rather than the other way around.  There is only one brief chapter on the first 24 years of Henry’s life, and throughout the rest of the book we are only given pieces of Henry’s personal life in very brief (and sometimes weirdly snide) asides.  Rather than making Henry more personable and accessible, Unger gives us a picture of a man’s accomplishments rather than the man himself.

In a weird way, I realized about halfway through the book that it just didn’t feel like Unger really liked Henry.  I felt rather like he was rolling his eyes at many of Henry’s dramatic speeches, and some of his comments about Henry’s personal life came across as downright uncomfortable.  E.g. – “…from then on, whenever Henry returned home he made certain that if his wife was not already pregnant from his last visit, she most certainly would be by the time he left.”   ???

Still, there was enough of Henry in this book to remind me why he was one of my childhood favorites.  His passion not just for freedom from Britain, but from big government in general, his love for everyday people and preserving their independence, his emphasis on the critical importance of strengthening small, localized governments – these are all themes that still resonate with me today.  I especially loved Henry’s passion for the Bill of Rights, and his strong stance against the Constitution without them.  Even more interesting is to see how so much of what Henry predicted has happened – in events that lead to the Civil War, and again today, with an ever-closing noose of interference and heavy taxation from a centralized government ever-distanced from the people it claims to serve.

For Lion, 3/5.  A decent read for the political overview of Henry, but I would still like to get a hold of a biography that focuses more on him as a person and less on him as a founding father, and preferably without the snide remarks about how much Henry liked his wife.

Indian Paint by Glenn Blach 

//published 1942//

In my effort to read/reread all the books I physically  own (and there are a lot), Indian Paint was next on the draw.  One of the Famous Horse Story series, this was a simple yet engaging tale of a young American Indian boy and the colt he has chosen for his own.  This wasn’t really a book that bowled me over with its intricate plotting, but I was surprised at how interested I became in the fate of Little Falcon and Shadow, especially since the fates seemed quite determined to keep them apart.  While there were points that were a bit overly dramatic, the story held together well and came to a satisfactory conclusion.  I have several of Balch’s books still on the shelf and am looking forward to tackling them at some point as well.

The Girl on the Train by Paul Hawkins

//published 2015//

So this is one of those books that I had heard SO much about that I actually braced myself for disappointment.  In the end, I was close to a 4/5, as it was a compulsively readable book that drew me in almost immediately.  I appreciated the fact that while Rachel wasn’t a reliable narrator, she was still likable.  I felt like the book was paced quite well.  Frequently, books that rely on date/time headings to let the reader know where we are quite annoy me, but it worked well in this instance, and I liked the way that we got the backstory from one narrator and the present story with another.  The ending came together well, leaving me overall satisfied.  While I didn’t find this to be an instantaneous classic that I would want to read again and again, I can still see why it has been a popular thriller since it was published.

I have read reviews of this book on multiple blogs that I follow (with a variety of views from “THIS WAS AMAZING!” to “eh”), including Reading, Writing & Riesling; The Literary Sisters; Rose Reads Novels; Chrissi Reads; Cleopatra Loves BooksBibliobeth; and probably others I’ve missed!

October Minireviews // Part 1

Well, here we are in the last week of October and not a single book review posted!  I’m going to try to catch up with some minireviews, but we will see what happens.  I’ve actually been reading some good books lately, but life has just been too busy to be conducive to review-writing!

A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup

//published 2015//

This book was first brought to my attention by Cleopatra, and I was immediately attracted the combination of a nonfiction book on a rather random topic, and learning more about the science behind Agatha Christie’s murders.  This book did not disappoint.  It was informative and engaging, full of fascinating information without becoming too lecture-y.

The format of each chapter made each poison accessible.  Each starts with an incident of Christie using the poison in a story, followed by the history of the poison, a scientific explanation of how the poison actually kills someone, the antidote (if any!), famous real-life cases of the poison being used, and then tying back in to Christie’s use of the poison in her stories.  Throughout, I was consistently impressed with the overall accuracy of Christie’s use of poisons and descriptions of their symptoms.

Although reading this book made my husband nervous, Harkup is quite clear that (in most cases), science has advanced enough to make it difficult to get away with poisoning, although I was genuinely quite astonished at the fact that ricin, found in castor bean plants, is so very poisonous.  I’ve always heard the old saying that if you don’t like someone you can make them some castor-bean tea, but after reading this book it does seem that these plants should come with a more thorough warning, especially for families with small children who like to play in the garden!

Overall, this book was a surprisingly engaging read.  My only real complaint is that while Harkup did provide a interesting introduction, the book ended rather abruptly – a few closing comments would have been nice to sort of tie everything back together.  Still, with so much information presented in such an interesting manner, I really can’t complain too much.  Definitely recommended for people interested in bumping someone off or just learning more about the science behind Christie’s works.

Glass Trilogy by Maria V. Snyder

First off, I would have been quite annoyed if I had read these books in the order listed on Goodreads.  If you are interested in reading all of Snyder’s books set in Ixia/Sitia, read the three Poison Study books, then the Glass books, and then the Soulfinders books.  I’m in the middle of the second Soulfinder book, and think that I would have been rather confused if I hadn’t received all the background from both the Glass trilogy and also a short story available on Snyder’s website, that really should be included as a prologue to the first Soulfinder book, as it has a lot of critical information.

ANYWAY the Glass trilogy itself was really good, but the main character/narrator, Opal, was just not as likable to me as the main character/narrator of the Poison Study books (Yelena).  Opal always felt like she was three steps behind and more worried about herself than anything else.  But by far the worst part about the trilogy were the love triangles, yes, plural, because the players switched about between different books, and none of the options were good.

Overall, I would give these three books 3/5, maybe 3.5.  The stories weren’t bad, it was just that I found Opal so annoying and felt like she consistently made the wrong/selfish choice.  I also felt like the conclusion to the love triangles was kind of weird and made me uncomfortable – more in the next paragraph, so skip it if you are worried about spoilers!

SPOILER PARAGRAPH FOR REAL: Opal is kidnapped/tortured by a guy in the beginning, and in the end, that’s the one she ends up with!  He goes through this huge change of heart, etc., but Opal’s attraction to him began before the change and before she knew he had changed.  The way that it was presented made me very uncomfortable.  The whole thing was really weird.

Dot Journaling: How to Start and Keep the Planner, To-Do List, and Diary That’ll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together by Rachel Wilkerson Miller

//published 2017//

If you’re like me and like to have things explained to you (thoroughly), instead of that artsy ‘just follow your heart and do what looks right to you’ nonsense, this book may be for you.

I’ve been intrigued by the concept of Dot/Bullet Journaling, because I am way into lists and also into journaling and I also actually have started making notebook inserts and selling them on Etsy, and most people are using them for this type of thing. Miller does a really nice job of explaining the concept of dot journaling, and then laying out some basic guidelines and ideas. She does emphasize that the entire point of this method is its flexibility and convenience of being able to make it your own, but also gives actual real examples and ideas.

My only personal issue with this book is that a lot of times the pictures were the explanation, which was totally fine, except sometimes the pictures also crossed the middle of the book, which meant that important parts of the pictures were tucked down inside the binding and were not readable. This seemed like a really obvious flaw that could have been fixed before printing, as it occurred on multiple occasions. It does make the book look nice, having the pictures cross both sides of the book, but then maybe a different binding should have been chosen, as this really aggravated me.

Overall, though, this was a friendly and accessible book that made me feel like it is possible to use a dot journal without having to be a really creative and artsy person.

The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye

//published 2014//

This was my latest book from my Bethany Beach Box, which despite mostly 3/5 reads, I have been enjoying.  I actually really like children’s fiction, and it’s been interesting to see what books are considered worth promoting this way.  Turtle was another 3/5 read, honestly mostly because it was quite boring.  As an adult, it was rather obvious that Nye’s entire goal was to write a book that showed a Muslim family in a Muslim country in a positive light.  There is nothing wrong with that, but considering how people complain about books written in the 1950’s and how they’re “too sweet” and not at all “realistic”, it seems a little strange to turn around and praise a book that is basically sugar.

Aref and his parents are moving from Oman, a country in the Middle East, to Michigan, so that his parents can complete their doctorate degrees.  Aref isn’t happy about leaving, and most of the book are little adventures that he has with his grandpa as they visit all of their favorite places together.  I honestly ended the book feeling quite aggravated with Aref’s parents, who seemed to feel that their education and life was more important than Aref being close to his grandpa.

But what really  bogged this book down were the lists.  We’re told at the beginning that Aref and his family love learning new things, and then writing down what they have learned that day.  So throughout the book, whenever Nye wants her readers to learn something, we have to suffer through a list, in Aref’s handwriting, telling us about the habits of turtles or how awesome it is to live in Oman under the rule of a sultan, which really added to the boring factor in this tale.

I realize that I am not the target audience for this book, but even at the age of ten I don’t think that I would have enjoyed reading a bunch of lists.  All in all, this book came across as a book that practically screamed USE ME FOR A UNIT STUDY IN YOUR SECOND GRADE CLASSROOM, but in my mind didn’t have a lot to offer just simply as a story.

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!!!