Rearview Mirror // 2018

I was telling my husband yesterday that I feel like every year of my life is a little bit weirder than the year before.  But if the average weirdness level goes up by like, say, 5% per year, the 2017-2018 jump was way more. I think 2018 was at least 25% weirder than 2017.  Despite the extra doses of weirdness, though, 2018 was overall not a bad year.  I think it’s important to learn how to somewhat compartmentalize things, so that you can thoroughly enjoy the good bits without letting the bad parts bleed into everything.

When I was looking at my 2017 recap, to try and remember what the heck I write about during one of these posts, I was surprised to remember that last January 1 it was bitterly cold and there was snow on the ground!  Today is a more regular Ohio winter day: cold mud.  Still, it’s easy to get around in!

2018 Numbers:

At any rate, I read a LOT of books this year.  According to Goodreads, I ended up at 268 books read, which is about .7 books per day!  I did a pretty good job keeping track of books on Goodreads this year, but one of my (very few) reading goals for the upcoming year is to personally track books read on a spreadsheet so that I can come up with all kinds of fascinating stats, like how many books I read this year that were published in 1952 and how many of them were read on my Kindle and how many of them were over 200 pages and how many of them came from the library.  It’s possible that I can figure all that out from Goodreads, but who doesn’t love the power of a good spreadsheet??

The shortest book I read this year was Planting with Perennials by Richard Bird, a perfectly nice although rather bland beginner’s guide 64 pages long.  On the flip side, the longest book I read was Embers of War by Fredrik Logevall, a nonfiction tome that’s 864 pages long and took me a month to read.

One thing Goodreads does tell me that my spreadsheet won’t be able to is how popular books are on Goodreads with other readers, but according to GR, Ender’s Game (by Orson Scott Card) was the most popular book I read this year – a whopping 1,052,385 other people read the same book (which is funny to me only because I ended up feeling so ambivalent towards the story that I didn’t even bother reading the sequel), although part of that has to be because Ender’s Game became a movie this year as well.

The least popular book I read was on that wasn’t even ON Goodreads until I added it – Scotty: The Adventures of a Highland Fox by Frances Pitt.  That was a perfectly enjoyable little story about a wild fox raised in captivity, but wasn’t anything mind blowing.

2018 Highs & Lows:

My monthly Rearview Mirrors have continued to be some of my favorite posts to write.  I really like taking a moment each month to assess what’s been going on with the blog and my reading, plus it means that I have a list of my top 12 books at the end of the year!  According to those posts, here were my favorite reads this year:

On the flip side, here were my most disappointing reads this year, which, while not pleasurable to read, did lead to some cathartic rants, so that’s always good.

Other 4.5* or 5* reads:

Honestly, it was a weird year of reading.  There weren’t really any books that I felt over-the-moon excited about.  I had a lot of pleasurable reads, many (MANY) meh reads, and a few that were basically scarring experiences, but nothing that just filled me with ALL THE FEELS.  I’m staring at the list, trying to decide which was my favorite read of 2018, and I just can’t decide.  They were all so wildly different!  I was left with completely different feelings when I finished Kids of Appetite than when I finished Cotillion.  It’s hard to compare them!  I just didn’t have a book I felt like was a book I wanted everyone to read, although I think all of my favorites throughout the year are worthwhile.

The TBR:

Despite the fact that it is probably going to make me sad, I’m going to post the comparison numbers on the TBR from the end of December 2017 to now…

  • Standalones:  887 – despite my best efforts (*shifty eyes*) this slot has gained 67 books.  I blame all my fellow book bloggers for writing reviews I can’t resist.
  • Nonfiction:  83 – down two, so you can see that my adding-to-the-TBR addiction is actually FINE
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  675 – this one is up five, which is actually pretty good as I’ve definitely purchased way more than five books this year!  I’ve really been making an effort to read all of my own books and ditch the ones that don’t do anything for me.  With over a thousand physical books in this house, plus Kindle purchases, it’s an ongoing challenge!!!
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  238 – up 12, and this is honestly where I tend to bog down.  I get caught up in long series of books and it really slows down my efforts to reduce the TBR!!
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 108 – up three, which seems reasonable, right??

2019 Bookish Goals:

This blog is purely for my personal enjoyment, a way for me to keep track of what I’m reading and how I felt about it.  The fact that I have some other people along for the ride now is completely awesome, but also kind of a side effect haha  So per usual my goals have a lot more to do with my reading habits than they do with growing the blog.  I try to not get too carried away with goals, but here are a few:

  • Like I mentioned before, I want to track books both on Goodreads (because it’s fun) but also on a personal spreadsheet that will allow me to play with data, which is one of my nerd-brain’s favorite hobbies.
  • I want to continue working my way through my personal book collection.  Hard number goal?  Have the Personal tab of the TBR down to 600 by the end of the year.
  • Sometimes I keep reading books when I need to just stop.  I’ve gotten somewhat better about giving a book a DNF, but I need to step up my quitting game if I actually want to have time to get to books that I will enjoy.  Instead of feeling bad about giving the rest of a book a miss, I need to remind myself that I’m actually just wasting time I could be spending finding my next favorite book.
  • Unsubscribe from Kindle Unlimited!  Every time I get KU, I end up reading loads of pretty terrible chick lit books instead of something even moderately productive.  I realize that reading is a pleasurable thing and so reading a book I enjoy is never really a waste, but I have a lot of books on my list that are better than the mindless fluff I read whenever I have a KU subscription.  My immediate goal is to finish the book I’m currently reading there and then turn it off!!!

So I think that wraps it up for 2018.  I’m excited about sharing and discussing books with all of you throughout this upcoming year.  Happy 2019!!!


Rearview Mirror // December 2018

I am literally struggling to believe that it is not only the end of December, but the end of 2018!  I’ve been told that the older you get, the faster the time goes, and I can attest to that fact for sure!

December is traditionally a busy month, with much holiday excitement.  My mom really loves Christmas a lot.  We were home schooled growing up, and usually took the entire month of December off (except for math, which was a year-round subject haha) to focus on making gifts, baking cookies, visiting grandparents for candy-making, and various other Christmasy adventures.  While I’m not quite as into Christmas as Mom, I still did manage to get some decorations up, including a Very Small Tree (hopefully next year our back-porch-becomes-a-sun-room project will actually be finished and a REAL tree can go there!).  This is better than last year (I was sick a lot of November and December) when I put up ZERO Christmas decorations.  I realize Christmas decorations aren’t all there is to Christmas (I’ve watched enough Christmas movies! :-D), but having a little tree and some tinsel around really does make me happy.  There have been some weird things going on in our family, so Christmas wasn’t completely like normal, but for the most part we still had a good time with lots of laughter and food.

As a side note, for Christmas my brother got me a book about the Vietnam War to follow up on Embers of Warso that’s exciting!  I also have some Christmas money that will probably be spent on books (and washi tape if I’m honest).  As always, I gave my two nieces (cousins to each other, three months apart) books, because that is who I am as an aunt, and this year they were introduced to the delights of The Moffats.  Books have always been a big part of our Christmases.

I overall had a pretty low-energy month here on the blog.  Things have still been busy, so I have still been on a track of fluff reading.  I worked in some other books, but then got distracted by a ridiculous chick lit series that I’ve now almost finished.  Hopefully next month I’ll be ready to actually hit some of the thrillers sitting on my shelf from the library.  I just haven’t been feeling it!

Favorite December Read:

This slot definitely has to go to All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater.  This was a hauntingly delightful and thought-provoking book, although reviews of it revealed it to be a bit of a marmite book as well.  I fell firmly into the “love” camp, even though I can see how the language of the story, which honestly reads more like a folk tale, could be annoying to some.  The characters, the story, the sense of place – everything was wonderful, and I enjoyed every page.

Most Disappointing December Read:

Although it wasn’t the book I rated the lowest, I think that Early Candlelightby Maud Hart Lovelace, was my most disappointing read of the month.  While not a bad book, the story was somewhat slow and meandery, and I could never quite grasp what the huge “class difference” was between the two main characters.  After enjoying the Betsy-Tacy books so much, I had somewhat high expectations for this one, so I was rather let down when it just turned out to be a rather meh read.

Other December Reads:

  • Bare Minimum Parenting by James Breakwell – 3.5* – a fun, tongue-in-cheek parenting guide that nonetheless does manage to, almost accidentally, provide some decent parenting advice.
  • The Coming of Bill by P.G. Wodehouse – 3.5* – much more serious than usual Wodehouse fare, but not a bad story.
  • Embers of War by Frederik Logevall – 4.5* – really sweeping nonfiction about Vietnam leading up to the American Vietnam War.
  • Enclave by Thomas Locke – 3* – a book that would have ranked higher if it had contained more world-building and/or a more conclusive ending.
  • Farmer Giles of Ham by J.R.R. Tolkien – 4* – a children’s story that was fun and a bit silly.
  • The Other Wife by Michael Robotham – 4* – in a month that didn’t include All the Crooked Saints, this would have been my favorite read.  A few untidy ends, but overall enthralling read and a great addition to the series.
  • Smoky the Cow Horse by Will James – 4* – a Newbery book that was actually an engaging little read – a sort of western Black Beauty tale.

Last December…

I was still recovering from bronchitis, and then got MORE sick on top of that… but all the lounging about meant I did get some reading in!  While I didn’t have any amazing or horrific reads, I did enjoy Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore quite a bit.  I reread that one this summer and found it just as fun the second time around.  On the other hand, I was really disappointed in Lois Lowry’s Son.  While I still think The Giver is a brilliant book, the rest of the stories in the quartet, especially Son, left me feeling confused.

TBR Update:

For those of you who don’t know, I’m weirdly obsessive with organizing the TBR, and have it on a spreadsheet divided into five different tabs:

  • Standalones:  887 (up 6)
  • Nonfiction:  83 (up 2)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  675 (down two!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  238 (holding steady)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 108 (holding steady)

Awaiting Review:

I’ve been reading an absolutely ridiculous chick lit series called the Weekday Brides by Catherine Bybee.  I’m on the last one now and am planning to review the series as a whole.  They’ve been silly but fun.  Nice for quick reading during holiday craziness!

Current Reads:

Just Treasured by Thursday.  Next month, I may begin my method of reading multiple books at a time again, but for now things have been too busy to keep more than one book straight.

Approaching the Top of the Pile:

The probable next five reads…

This list never seems to end up being accurate!!!

  • I’m hoping to read The Runaway Princess by Kate Coombs, which my mom loaned me months ago and I still haven’t read.
  • For Christmas, my sister got a hard copy of one of her favorite books, Followed by Frost by Charlie Holmberg.  Even though I didn’t like the Paper Magician series by Holmberg when I read it earlier this year, I’m still going to give this one a go.
  • I had a book come in on hold that I won’t be able to renew.  It’s the first book in a series, so if I like it (the book is Simply Irresistible by Rachel Gibson) I’ll read the rest of the series.  It’s like romcom sports or something so there’s a high probability that I won’t like it, but we’ll see!
  • I still have several books that I received in random book boxes, including Ana of California by Andi Teran.  It’s kind of supposed to be a modern Anne of Green Gables so it could be fun or it could be extremely terrible.
  • Finally, I somehow ended up with several thrillers from the library and have NOT been in a thriller mood since I got them!  The first one in the pile is Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear.  And if I like it, there’s a sequel coming out next summer!!

Happy January!!!

November 2018 // Rearview Mirror

November went super quickly this year, and I can’t believe we’re already four days into December!!!  We had a gorgeous day of weather this past Sunday, but today is dark and gloomy and cold, and winter is settling in!  While I don’t like the super short days, I do love the overall cozy vibe of the winter, so I’m not totally depressed about the season change!!!

Things were VERY quiet on the blog this month, mainly because I wasn’t reading very many books!  At the end of October I started reading a huge nonfiction tome about Vietnam before the Vietnam War, and it took me forever to get through it, despite being fascinated by the subject material.  The problem is mostly with the way I read.  I don’t usually just sit down and read.  Instead, I read while I’m walking from one room to another in the house, while I’m folding laundry, while I’m cooking supper, while I’m feeding the dogs, while I’m putting on my shoes, etc etc etc.  So when a book is three inches thick and weights three pounds, it’s just not really meant to be read that way, so I was mostly reading it during meals and those rare occasions that I actually was just sitting down on the couch to read!  November was a really busy month as well, so that didn’t lend itself to long periods of reading either!!

Anyway, I also read a lot of terrible P&P variations (which I’ve been reviewing on my other blog), and that was about it.  But I finally finished Embers of War yesterday (hurrah!) and am hoping to get back into a regular reading/reviewing groove in December!!!

Favorite November Read:

Have to go with Cotillion by Georgette Heyer for his one.  Her books are always delightful, but this one has to be towards the top of her pile.  The characters and the dialogue are just delightful.

Most Disappointing November Read:

I’m actually going to link you over to my other blog for this one.  I’ll do a minireview post soon on the P&P variations I read this month, but in the meantime, Going Home to Pemberley ranks up there as one of my least-favorite variations ever.  It started fine, but went completely off the rails when Colonel Fitzwilliam confessed that he, also was in love with Elizabeth!!  (This after E&D have been married for almost a year!)  Darcy goes from being a perfect husband to going freaking INSANE and accusing Elizabeth of all sorts of verging-on-unforgivable-things… despite which, she forgives him and everyone goes on to live happily ever after?!?!?!  What.  Even.

Other November Reads:

Last November…

I was wrestling with a lingering bout of bronchitis, which meant I had zero energy but lots of reading time!  I read the incredibly magical The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – who has also announced that her second novel is coming out next year!!!  I also read the concluding book to a series that I had really enjoyed – the Jackaby books by William Ritter.  Sadly, I felt like the series got weaker as it went on, and while I didn’t exactly dislike The Dire King, I thought it went an extremely weird direction.

TBR Update:

So yeah, not as bad as it could be, considering I haven’t really read much of anything from any list!

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:  881 (up 9)
  • Nonfiction:  81 (holding steady, but soon to be down one!)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  677 (up two)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  238 (holding steady)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 108 (up one)

Awaiting Review:

Well, mostly just Embers of War at this point!

Current Reads:

Today I started Enclave by Thomas Locke, which I received from the publisher in exchange for a review.  So far, it’s interesting but really needs a map.  I’m also reading another P&P variation, which I started before I finished Embers.  This one is called I Met Mr. Darcy Via Luton by Fredrica Edward, and at first I thought Via Luton was the name of the author (before I saw the actual author’s name), but apparently it’s in reference to the fact that Jane and Elizabeth are involved in a mild carriage accident on their way to the TOWN of Luton, and that’s how they meet Bingley and Darcy.  So.

Approaching the Top of the Pile:

Actually, just look at last month’s list – I didn’t read any of them yet!  I also purchased both All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater and Bare-Minimum Parenting by James Breakwell, so I’m hoping to read both of them very soon as well!

Well, that’s the update for now.  Here’s to more book reviews in December!!

Rearview Mirror // September 2018

So as regular readers of my blog may recall, I only work (outside the home) seasonally.  A while back I realized that one of my life goals was actually to be a migrant farm worker, except without the migrant part, so I started working at a greenhouse in the spring and an orchard in the fall.  Various life events last spring meant that I actually skipped the greenhouse half of the year, so when I started back at the orchard in August, I was amazed yet again by how much TIME working takes up!  It’s so ridiculous!  Hours of my life that could be spent doing awesome stuff like reorganizing closets, weeding the garden, freezing tomatoes, and, of course, reading, instead spent – working!  What even.

Anyway, as you can see, a little regular work is probably good for the discipline of my soul.  August, September, and October are the busiest months of the year at the orchard, and while I haven’t been working overtime hours or anything, I have still been working a lot, and not spending as much time reading and reviewing!  I also haven’t been spending a lot of time reading other people’s reviews, as the 284 emails in my inbox attest – basically all of them are blog posts from book blogs I follow…!!!!

While I’m not exactly in a reading slump, I haven’t been reading a lot of books that I love.  For a couple of months now I feel like the overwhelming majority of books I’ve read have just been decent.  Not a waste of time, but also not magic.  I have read SO MANY 3.5* reads.  But here’s hoping that I’ll find a new personal favorite this month.

October will be another busy month for sure, but after that things should somewhat calm down.  I’ll still be working, since the main part of my  job is to drive the delivery truck twice a week, but because we will be done harvesting, there won’t be quite as much extra stuff going on – right now, I also spend a lot of time helping to sort and grade apples, and also jug cider, plus about a million random chores like picking up an order of pumpkins from another local farm, watering mums, taking inventory of how many jars of apple butter we have left, helping get ready for the county fair, loading empty apple crates onto the wagon so the pickers can fill them with apples, helping in the sales room, etc.  We’re a very small operation, so everyone does a bit of everything.  Plus, it’s only about a mile from my house, so I’m the first person to get called if there is just a ‘quick’ project – I generally don’t mind popping in for just an hour or two since it’s so close.

Anyway, here is the book update for September – sadly thin! – but still going along.

Favorite September Read:

I really hate choosing a reread for this slot, but I read so many so-so books this month, that I think I am going to go with Uprooted by Naomi Novik anyway.  I loved this book even more the second time around!

Most Disappointing September Read:

I didn’t read any books that were emotionally devastating this month or anything, but I was rather disappointed with Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch.  There was a lot of potential here, but I never really connected with the characters or cared that much about them.  The practicality of the world building also confused me a little bit, and in the end I just didn’t really feel like finishing the series.

Other September Reads:

  • The Accident by Chris Pavone – 3.5* – engaging with a good twist, but unlikable characters and a vague villain.
  • And Both Were Young by Madeline L’Engle – 3.5* – a nice ‘coming of age’ sort of story with a good sense of its era.
  • Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey – 3.5* – very readable with likable characters.
  • The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer – 4* – typical Heyer hijinks.
  • Dead Drift by Dani Pettrey – 3.5* – good conclusion to the series.
  • Gold of Kings by Davis Bunn – 3.5* – not a bad read, but not engaging enough for me to pick up the sequel.
  • Riddle-Master trilogy by Patricia McKillip – 4* – solid storytelling, but a bit rambly
  • The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola – 3.5* – interesting but ultimately a bit meh.

Last September…

I thoroughly enjoyed the classic Vertigo.  Even though it started a little slowly, I was swiftly dragged into the story.  It also had a perfect ending.  I also read Maria Snyder’s Study Series, and really enjoyed them.  I definitely want to reread the entire series sometime.

TBR Update:

For those of you who don’t know, I’m weirdly obsessive with organizing the TBR, and have it on a spreadsheet divided into five different tabs:

  • Standalones:  856 (DOWN two!  However, like I said, I have almost 300 blog posts that I may or may not catch up on someday haha)
  • Nonfiction:  78 (up two)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  678 (down three!  Being behind on emails means I haven’t been reading all the Kindle bargain/freebie lists, either!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  238 (up four!)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 108 (holding steady)

Awaiting Review:

I tried to get caught up with a couple of minireview posts, but I’m still a little behind!  I finally was able to finish the Garden Mysteries (I’ve been waiting for book #3 to come into the library FOREVER), so I will hopefully be posting about those next.  I also read a little batch of Kindle books called “Romancing Wisconsin” which ended up being four novellas that were decent but not amazing.  Finally, I got to reread Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore as my most recent read for the Traveling Book Club.

Current Reads:

Normally, I like to have three or four (or five) books going at a time, but when life is busy like it has been, I usually just read one, plus a bedtime book – I always like to have a relaxing chick lit bedtime book going!  Today I started reading another Judy Bolton mystery.  I read the first ten in the series a while  back, and I’m going to read another five now.  They’re quick reads, so it shouldn’t take too long, and I really do want to finish reading the series.  Some of these later ones are the ones that I haven’t ever read before, so I’m looking forward to that, even if these do tend to be a bit simplistic!

For my bedtime read, I’m working through a little trilogy of books I got for free on a Kindle deal – the Cupid’s Coffeeshop books by Courtney Hunt.  I finished the first one already and it was okay, but unless the rest of the books are also free, I don’t see myself reading past these first three that I already own.

Approaching the Top of the Pile…

The probable next five reads:

  • Four more Judy Bolton books
  • Terms of Use by Scott Allan Morrison – this was one of the first Kindle books I ever bought, yet I’ve never read it!
  • A set of Love Inspired books
  • Young Pioneers by Rose Wilder Lane – should have been one of my #20BooksofSummer reads!
  • Utah Lion by James Ralph Johnson – a book from my childhood that I inherited from my great-grandma, who was a school teacher.  This was another #20BooksofSummer book that I didn’t get to this summer!

That’s the update for now.  Happy October!!

Rearview Mirror // August 2018 + #20BooksofSummer

Summer is over?!  How did that happen??

Well, it doesn’t feel like summer is over, as it is still hot and muggy here.  We had a glorious week of autumn weather – cool, dry, clear – and then rushed back into 90* and a billion percent humidity.  It’s been good garden weather, though, and the tomatoes and other veggies are finally rolling in.  I froze 12 quarts of tomato sauce yesterday, and will hopefully be able to can some more pickles this weekend.  I’ve also been freezing peppers and onions – such fun!!

August’s big adventure was a trip to Wyoming, which was amazing.  My aunt and uncle bought a cabin just outside a very, VERY small town called Centennial, about 30 miles west of Laramie.  They were kind enough to loan the cabin to us for the week, and it was sooo relaxing and happy there.  We spent the week hiking, exploring, and sitting around reading.  It was the most restful vacation I think I have ever taken, and I read so many books while sitting on the front porch in perfect weather soaking up that thin mountain air (Centennial is at a little over 8000′) and watching the neighbors’ horses.  We saw antelope, moose, fox, and jackrabbits.  We almost didn’t come back…

But we did, and are back in the swing of things now.  I’m working at the orchard again, and have spent the last few weeks sorting and selling peaches three days a week.  It sounds silly, but the peach crowd is totally different from the apple crowd.  I thoroughly enjoy it, even when it’s stupidly hot.  The early apples are also coming in, so we’ve been grading apples in the afternoons and getting things geared up for fall.  Hopefully I will start driving my delivery truck soon – we are pressing cider now!!

In the reading world, I have read a LOT of fluff books this month.  I spent vacation luxuriating in reading books that were comprised completely of cotton-candy-like substance, and regret nothing!  I’ve done a lot of minireviews this month – way more time for reading than reviewing!!  I’m also going to fail my #20BooksofSummer challenge – more on that below – but I’m totally cool with it, so it’s all good.  On the other hand, I’m crushing my Goodreads goal for the year – I’ve read an almost-embarrassing 218 books this year so far…

Favorite August Read:

Oh wow, hard to say yet again.  I mean, it’s obviously Joy in the Morning by P.G. Wodehousebut I hate to choose a reread!  Honestly, my second-favorite was probably The Eighty-Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts.  It’s unusual for a nonfiction book to grab the top spot, but this one was really well done, and I just thoroughly enjoyed learning about Snowman and his triumphs, and also about his owner and his whole background.

Most Disappointing August Read:

I didn’t read anything horrific this month, but I did find Holiday Wishes by Nora Roberts to be a bit more of a letdown than my other 3* reads, just because I have really enjoyed some of her other books in the past.

Other August Reads:

  • Alpha Girl series by Aileen Erin – 4* – I enjoyed these way more than I should have – and as an aside, the entire series is on sale for September with the first two books free.  So if you think you might like them, it’s a great time to try them out!!
  • The Arm of the Starfish by Madeline L’Engle – 4* – a children’s spy book?  Totally my cup of tea.
  • Chasing Ravens by Jessica Paige – 3.5* – enjoyable and interesting, but somehow not magical.
  • Chosen Child by Linda Huber – 3.5* – basically the reading equivalent of watching a train wreck (the story, not the writing).
  • The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer – 4* – not my favorite Heyer tale, but still had plenty of funny moments.
  • The Five-Minute Marriage by Joan Aiken – 4.5* – a rollicking good tale with a great heroine.
  • Kilmeny of the Orchard by L.M. Montgomery – 3.5* – a nice little story, but not one of Montgomery’s best.
  • Modern Conveniences series by Leah Atwood – 4* – plausible marriage-of-convenience tropes with likable characters.
  • Mystery Over the Brick Wall by Helen Fuller Orton – 3* – a nice but rather boring children’s book.
  • Rocky Mountain Heirs series by various authors – 3.5* – a collection of fun if slightly predictable stories.
  • The Royal Treatment and The Royal Wedding by Melanie Summers – 3* – alright, but just not interesting enough for me to pursue the third book.
  • The Temporary Wife by Jeannie Moon – 3* – a nice but basically unmemorable story.
  • Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins – 4* – really enjoyable with a surprising amount of depth.
  • Unwilling Bride by Marnie Ellingson – 4* – genuinely delightful little Regency romance.
  • The Wedding Pact trilogy by Denise Grover Swank – 3.5* – funny and entertaining, but just a bit too much sex and swearing.
  • When It’s Real by Erin Watt – 4* – fake relationship trope done very well.
  • When Patty Went to College by Jean Webster – 4* – not exactly what I was expecting, but still enjoyable.

Last August…

I was going through a major reading slump this time last year with a lot of very meh reads.  However, I ended August strong with what became one of my favorite books of the year – Uprooted by Naomi Novik.  I LOVED THIS BOOK.  I actually really want to reread it soon.  I’m also excited because Novik just published another book, Spinning Silver.  I haven’t gotten around to that one yet, but hopefully soon!!

#20BooksofSummer Update!

So we all know that I read an absurd amount of books because of who I am as a person, so just simply reading twenty books this summer wasn’t actually a challenge.  (I also always feel vaguely embarrassed by this, but I’m going to refrain from apologizing because it really is just the way my life works!)  So instead I chose twenty of my own, personally-owned books, and wanted to try and read them while still keeping up with my regular reading schedule of books from tons of other sources.  What with one thing and another I have NOT accomplished my goal, having only completed twelve of the twenty (full list here), but in some ways it’s still a win because I did read over twenty of my own, personally-owned books… just not the ones I originally picked!

The rest of the twenty are still in my queue for reading, so I should get to them this fall.  The challenge was a mixed success for me this year, but it’s always tons of fun, and I quite enjoy finding other book blogs by checking out other people’s lists and reviews!

TBR Update:

For those of you who don’t know, I’m weirdly obsessive with organizing the TBR, and have it on a spreadsheet divided into five different tabs:

  • Standalones:  858 (up five, but I am way behind on reading other people’s posts, so this number will probably jump yet again!)
  • Nonfiction:  76 (down one!)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  681 (down eight, and I can’t believe it isn’t more!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  234 (up four!)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 108 (holding steady)

Awaiting Review:

Right now, just Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey, which is also a reread, and And Both Were Young by Madeline L’Engle, which I liked a lot more than I anticipated.

Current Reads:

  • Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch – a decent read so far, but  not one that has wowed me.
  • Dead Drift by Dani Pettrey – the final  book in this series, and I am anxious to see all the storylines wrapped up!!
  • Riddle-Master: The Complete Trilogy by Patricia McKillup – so as the title says, this is actually three books in one, and I just started the second book.  McKillup is a master of not explaining anything, which makes her writing both magical and aggravating all at the same time.

Approaching the Top of the Pile…

The probable next five reads:

  • Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch (and then probably Frost Like Night as long as the series is worth it!)
  • Gold of Kings by Davis Bunn – a library discard find
  • The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola – I’ve heard mixed reviews, so we’ll see what it’s all about
  • The Accident by Chris Pavone – I really liked The Travelerseven though I had some issues with it, so I thought I would give another of Pavone’s works a whirl
  • Curse of the Thirteenth Fey by Jane Yolen – I can’t even remember why I added this one to the TBR, so a surprise read here!

That’s the update for now – Happy September!!

Rearview Mirror // July 2018

I feel like every time I do a post like this I start by talking about how swiftly time is moving.  Is this because I’m getting old??  I think it’s because I’m getting old.  It IS weird to think that I’m very possibly past the halfway point of my life.  What even.

The garden is growing like crazy!  I love spending time down there, just soaking it in and wandering around killing bad bugs (I have what the husband calls my “killing bucket” of soapy water… I think he finds my single-minded ruthlessness towards evil beetles rather entertaining) and pulling weeds.  I’ve been freezing green beans and peppers, tomatoes are starting to come on, and there are sunflowers blooming everywhere.  I’m a big believer of mixing flowers in with vegetables.  My garden is a bit messy but completely happy.

Peaches are ripe, which means that my summer of unemployment has come to an end.  I started working at the orchard this morning, although my happy little delivery route won’t start until the orchard is pressing cider around the first of September.

We’ve decided to take a trip to Wyoming in mid-August.  My aunt and uncle bought a small cabin in a very small town in the southeast part of the state, so we are going to stay there and spend a week hiking and hanging out at high altitudes.  It takes us almost as many days to drive there and back as we will have to SPEND there, but it’s still worth it.  Tom and I actually love road-tripping together and I’m already creating playlists to while away our time.  Soooo excited.

In the book world, I’m somehow only eight books away from completing my 2018 Goodreads reading goal (possibly due to that whole “unemployed” thing) and am on track to read around 300 books this year.  Whoops.

The trend for reading books-I-like-but-don’t-really-love continues.  I’ve read a lot of books this month that I’ve described with words like “solid”, “interesting”, “decent”, and “enjoyable”, but not really with anything more enthusiastic than that.  I’m also reading a LOT of series for some reason, which really throws my reviewing schedule into whack, as I like to review series as a whole rather than individual books.

Favorite July Read

I had some solid contenders for this slot, including a couple of rereads that I quite enjoyed, but I think I’m going with The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit.  It was just so sweet and funny, and I loved the way that the children kept getting into all kinds of scrapes.

Most Disappointing July Read

There were a couple of lame ones, too – especially the Paper Magician series, which I wanted to love – but I think I’m going with Fairest by Gail Carson Levine.  This one was extra disappointing because Ella Enchanted is such an old favorite.  This book, by the same author and set in the same world, had so much potential but instead was so boring and lame.

Other July Reads

  • After Dark by Phillip Margolin – 4* – a twisty and enjoyable thriller.
  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – 4.5* – a reread that was even more enjoyable this time around.
  • The Chance of a Lifetime by Grave Livingston Hill – 3.5* – solid story that wasn’t too preachy.
  • Frederica by Georgette Heyer – 4.5* – delightful, frothy Heyer at her best.
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – 4* – a book whose sly humor kept me reading.
  • How to Cheat at Everything by Simon Lovell – 4* – nonfiction that gives the ins and outs of all kinds of scams, games, and cons.
  • The Infinity Trilogy by S. Harrison – 3.5* – interesting premise that got a little too violent for me at times.
  • Judy Bolton, Books 6-10 by Margaret Sutton – 3* – fun but not amazing.
  • The Midnight Kittens by Dodie Smith – 2* – choppy and confusing children’s (?) story.
  • The Moon by Night by Madeline L’Engle – 3.5* – a little too YA angsty for me.
  • Meet the Austins by Madeline L’Engle – 4* – a surprisingly enjoyable book even though not a lot happens.
  • The Paper Magician trilogy by Charlie Holmberg – 2* – the setting was amazing, but the characters and plot really annoyed me.
  • Scotty by Frances Pitt – 3.5* – an interesting book about a Scottish fox.
  • The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham – 3.5* – gripping, but questionable moral decisions.
  • Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley – 3* – not a bad story, except the ending sucked so much that I almost rated this 2*
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle – 3.5* – an enjoyable book, but I’m not sure why everyone goes on and on about it.

Other July Posts

I have reinstated the Tottering TBR Episodes, mainly because I enjoy letting people know when their reviews have inspired me enough to add something to the TBR!  This month I did a pretty good job of getting them out weekly:

I’ve also been continuing my Shelfie by Shelfie series!

Last July…

I had a great round of stomach flu and then started working at the orchard in mid-July – the peaches came on much earlier last year.  My favorite book of the month was Woman With a Gun by Phillip Margolin – which is kind of funny, because After Dark was a top contender for this month’s favorite book.  My most disappointing read was Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier.  I have enjoyed Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel so much that this one – so so so so so depressing – was a real disappointment.

#20BooksofSummer Update!

My challenge of reading 20 books that I own while still keeping up on all my other “scheduled” reads is definitely adding some zest to this challenge for me.  So far I have read nine and reviewed eight of my chosen books.  I’m currently reading two more.  It really may come down to the wire!  I also changed out another book – I read the first few chapters of Everblue and found it just incredibly boring, so it’s been dropped and Along Came a Spider by K.M. Robinson has been added.  The updated list can be found here.

TBR Update:

For those of you who don’t know, I’m weirdly obsessive with organizing the TBR, and have it on a spreadsheet divided into five different tabs:

  • Standalones:  853 (up by the embarrassing number of 17!  Mostly due to adding a bunch of Phillip Margolin books…)
  • Nonfiction:  77 (holding steady)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  689 (up eleven… free Kindle books…!!!!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  230 (holding steady)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 108 (up two)

Awaiting Review:

Most of the books waiting for review are parts of series (although a few aren’t).  Hopefully I’ll be getting to these reviews soon…

  • The entire Alpha Girl series by Aileen Erin – I just finished the last one today.  Why did I enjoy these books about a teenage werewolf so much?!  I’m worried about myself.
  • Devil’s Trumpet and Deadly Nightshade by Mary Freeman – the first two books in a mystery quartet centered around a woman who runs a landscaping business.  I’ve actually really enjoyed these, but it’s been slow work getting a hold of them, as my library only has books 1 & 3, so I had to get 2 & 4 secondhand, and by the time I got 2, the library wanted 3 back, so now I’m waiting for it to show up again!
  • The first three books in a “Love Inspired” series written by various authors – they actually haven’t been too terrible, so I’m finishing the series.
  • The Arm of the Starfish by Madeline L’Engle – I think I am going to read all of these.  This one was this crazy spy-thriller kind of thing, so completely different from the others!
  • Mystery Over the Brick Wall by Helen Fuller Orton – a children’s mystery that I’ve had forever that was pretty meh.

Current Reads:

  • Kilmeny of the Orchard by L.M. Montgomery – I haven’t read this one since high school!
  • When Patty Went to College by Jean Webster – the author of two of my favorite books, so I have high hopes for this one.
  • The Cowboy’s Lady by Carolyne Aarsen – the next book in that crazy Love Inspired series.
  • Chosen Child by Linda Huber – I haven’t actually started this one yet, so we’ll see if it’s any good.

Approaching the Top of the Pile:

The probable next five reads…

  • Until There Was You by Kristin Higgins – another #20BooksofSummer read!
  • Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch – the first in the next series I am hoping to read
  • The Loner’s Thanksgiving Wish by Roxanne Rustand – the next book in the Love Inspired series.
  • Chasing Ravens by Jessica Paige – not even sure how this got on the TBR, so no idea what to expect!
  • Dead Drift by Dani Pettrey – the final book in the Chesapeake Valor series… it came in at the library today!!  Super excited to see how this series wraps up!


Rearview Mirrow // June 2018 – #20BooksofSummer Update!

cannot believe that June is over already!  The summer is slipping through my fingers!

Things are super busy as always here at the homestead.  Summer months are the time for outdoor happenings.  The garden is thriving – we’ve had tons of rain this month – things are blooming, painting is getting accomplished (seriously, we’ve been painting things for the four years we’ve lived here – is it EVER going to end?!), and we’ve had a few Zeppelin adventures.

Reading-wise things have been a little weird.  I’ve just seemed to read a lot of books that I feel so-so about.  Not terrible, not awesome, just books – which meant I wrote a lot of minireviews.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve read something that was super magical.  Maybe in July…

Favorite June Read:

I blew through a LOT of P&P variations in late May and early June, but the pick of the bunch was also my favorite read this month – Unequal Affections by Lara Ormiston is not just a good P&P variation, but a very good story in its own right.

Most Disappointing June Read:

This is a tough one – I read soooo many meh reads!  I think I’m going with Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff.  It really annoys me when a book has a great concept, but then decides to try and jam a bunch of buzzword-issues into it just to make it “relevant.”  Falkoff had a great opportunity to write a thoughtful book about suicide and the people that action leaves behind, but instead went off the rails by letting gay-rights issues take over.  It wasn’t that I disagreed with what she had to say, but just that it didn’t fit with the story she had started to tell, which was quite aggravating – especially when her initial story was solid.

Other June Reads:

Last June…

Weirdly, I was painting a bunch of stuff then, too!  I was also reading Michael Robotham’s Joseph O’Laughlin series and a LOT of Dee Henderson.  While both had their ups and downs, my favorite for the month was Robotham’s Watching You – delightfully creepy.  Meanwhile, Henderson’s Full Disclosure was one of my least favorite books of the YEAR.

And, as a side note, I’m SUPER excited because Robotham is publishing another O’Laughlin book in July!!!!

Other June Posts:

I managed to post my next Shelfie! At this rate, I should have gotten through all my shelves sometime in 2025.

#20BooksofSummer Update!!!

I was a little late picking out my list of 20 books, but I finally got around to it here!  My challenge is to read twenty of my own, personally-owned books – while still sticking to my (very loose) reading method which involves reading books from all of my TBR tabs.  So far, I’ve only read two books on the list, but I have several coming up soon!  Originally, Elizabeth Bennet’s Deception was also one of the twenty, but I DNF’d that one and have substituted Infinity Lost instead.  Here’s the updated list:

  1. The Vanishing Shadow by Margaret Sutton
  2. Ring of Truth by Jaclyn Weist
  3. Frederica by Georgette Heyer
  4. Scotty by Frances Pitt
  5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
  6. The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit
  7. Everblue by Brenda Pandos
  8. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  9. Mystery Over the Brick Wall by Helen Fuller Orton
  10. When Patty Went to College by Jean Webster
  11. Kilmeny of the Orchard by L.M. Montgomery
  12. Until There Was You by Kristin Higgins
  13. Young Pioneers by Rose Wilder Lane
  14. Utah Lion by James Ralph Johnson
  15. Saving Mars by Cidney Swanson
  16. Collie to the Rescue by Albert Payson Terhune
  17. Early Candlelight by Maud Hart Lovelace
  18. Smoky by Will James
  19. Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley by Marguerite Henry
  20. Infinity Lost by S. Harrison

TBR Update:

For those of you who don’t know, I’m weirdly obsessive with organizing the TBR, and have it on a spreadsheet divided into five different tabs:

  • Standalones:  836 (up ten!?  Legit don’t know how that happened…)
  • Nonfiction:  77 (down two)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  678 (down eight!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  230 (holding steady)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 106 (holding steady)

Awaiting Review:

I’ve actually gotten pretty caught up on reviews – it’s somewhat easy when I don’t have a lot to say about the books!  I finished the Paper Magician trilogy today, mostly be skimming the last book because it was boring me out of my mind.  I also have the first book from Mary Freeman’s gardening series (I had to actually buy the second book from ebay and am still waiting for it to arrive – the library had books 1 and 3 but not book 2?!), and will review it whenever I get to finish the series.  I also somehow started reading this werewolf book that I got for free, Becoming Alpha by Aileen Erin.  It actually was pretty good, so now I’m on book four… what is my life.

Current Reads:

  • The Yellow Phantom by Margaret Sutton – Judy Bolton mystery #6
  • How to Cheat at Everything by Simon Lovell – this book is super interesting, but a lot of information to take in.
  • Bruja by Aileen Erin – I can’t explain why I’m totally enjoying these books right now.
  • Fairest by Gail Carson Levine – even though this isn’t a direct sequel to Ella Enchanted, it’s apparently set in the same world, and I don’t remember reading it before!

Approaching the Top of the Pile:

The probably next five reads…

  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – this is the next book I’ve received from The Traveling Book Club (Playlist for the Dead was the first).  I’ve always meant to read a Gaiman book, and even have a few on the TBR.  I’m not sure this is the one that I would have chosen, but I’m still intrigued to read it.
  • Alpha Unleashed by Aileen Erin – let’s be real, I’m going to finish this series.
  • The Mystic Ball by Margaret Sutton – I still have plenty of Judy Bolton mysteries to roll through!
  • Frederica by Georgette Heyer – a reread I’m really looking forward to, plus it’s #3 for #20BooksofSummer!
  • Scotty by Frances Pitt – I’ve owned this book for Y E A R S and have never read it.  Time to knock this one out PLUS check another book off the #20BooksofSummer list!

Happy July!!!