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!!

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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!!!

Rearview Mirror // May 2018

Oh look, it’s June!  I had a few brief moments in May where I posted semi-regularly… and then I suddenly lost all interest in reading anything useful, and instead have read literally nine Pride & Prejudice variations in the last two weeks.  Sometimes you just need a bit of time for your brain to turn into mush, you know?  But I did pick up a “real”  book this morning (Ender’s Game) so we’ll see how that goes.  I’m not sure I’m ready to get back into real reading or not…

Anyway, this all means that things have been a little erratic on the blog, but since this is all for fun, that’s okay!  :-D  And, if you’re interested, I’ve been starting to review the terrible P&P variations over on a blog I created for just that purpose, although I’ll probably eventually post a summary link when I get done reviewing them all.

In regular life, part of the reason I haven’t felt much like reading is because it’s the time of year where I start living in the garden.  Our vegetable garden has about doubled in size this year from last year, so I’ve been working out there a lot.  There are always plenty of projects this time of year, and even a lot of my reading takes places outside!

Favorite May Read

Have to go with Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield for this slot.  I hadn’t read this book since childhood, and I couldn’t believe how much MORE I loved it now!  A gentle, adorable story that I wanted to last forever.

Most Disappointing May Read

Wow, this is unusual, but all of my books this month were at least 4* reads!  While I didn’t really have anything besides Understood Betsy that felt magical to me, the rest of the books were still solid, not-disappointing stories.

Other May Reads

Last May…

I was working at the greenhouse, so May’s Rearview didn’t get written until the end of June!  Better late than never, right??  I read The Nesting Placewhich I still highly recommend and have given as a gift for weddings/housewarmings/random several times since I read it last year.  A fabulously encouraging book about making your home the home that fits you, your family, and your needs.  While in some ways basic, the message is still freeing, and has actually inspired me to make several changes in my own house (including turning a dining nook into a pantry…)  I still pull this book out from time to time and flip through it.

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:  826 (up four)
  • Nonfiction:  79 (holding steady)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  686 (down four!)
  • 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 (down two)

I’ve really been working on reading some of my own books, and that number should drop some more when I finish reviewing the backlog of P&P variations, all of which were my own Kindle books, purchased back when I first had a Kindle.

Awaiting Review

  • I finished Gerald Morris’s “Squire Tales” books – kinda forgot how emotionally devastating the final book in that series is.  It’s kind of what sent me off on the P&P binge… it took me a while to recover from the ending!
  • Missing, Presumed and Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner – I had mixed feelings on these books, a lot both to like and not like for me.  Still, if a third book is added to the series, I can see myself reading it.
  • The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – I actually have the review for this one written, but it was going to be part of May’s minireviews… but there weren’t any others, so now it will be a part of June’s minireviews.  :-D
  • Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff – when I get around to writing this review, I’ll explain about the crazy Traveling Book Clue I’ve gotten myself into.  For now, suffice to say that it’s going to get me to read some books I normally wouldn’t give a second thought to.  While this one wasn’t terrible, it definitely had a lot of eye-rolling moments for me (which sounds kind of insensitive because it’s a book about suicide, but what can I do).
  • Green Card by Elizabeth Adams – not actually a P&P variation, but a Kindle book I bought in that same time frame and also very chick lit-y.  I actually enjoyed this one more than I remembered the first time around.
  • Of course multiple P&P variations:  Unequal Affections, An Unpleasant Walk, Rain & Retribution, Bluebells in the Mourning, Remembrance of the Past, Mr. Darcy & Mr. Collins’s Widow, Alone With Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy’s Letter, and An Unwavering Trust.  It’s been a mixed bag.  Unequal Affections is definitely the best out of the bunch, but I also quite enjoyed Bluebells in the Mourning.  Remembrance of the Past was definitely the worst – if you’re going to add a new main character, at least make her not obnoxious!

Current Reads:

Actually, I’m only reading one book right now.  Who am I?!  I just started Ender’s Game this morning.  Random, but I had had Ready Player One on my TBR for years, and randomly picked it up a few months ago.  Then, when I was telling my brother about it he said, “You realize that’s going to be a movie next month, right?”  What were the odds?!  Apparently good, because I’ve done it again with this one – I added Ender’s Game to the TBR back in 2013 or so, and it just came up on my random book draw – and I guess it’s becoming a movie very soon??  I’m like a backwards hipster.  I like stuff before I realize that it’s cool to other people.  ;-)

Approaching the Top of the Pile

The probably next five reads…

This is a tricky one this month as I have NOT been doing a good job sticking to my plan!  But as long as I decide that reading real books is the way to go, this is probably what will come up next…

  • The next book in the Ender’s series, provided the first one is any good
  • Ella Enchanted as the next book that I own to read – this is an old favorite
  • Planting With Perennials as an attempt to also read through all of my nonfiction
  • Ring of Truth as an attempt to read through all the many, many Kindle books I own (actually, another contributing factor to the P&P binge was that I have started organizing all of my Kindle books and thus came across all of those old P&P variations!)
  • The first Judy Bolton book – I’ve collected these books for years, but haven’t read them since I first started collecting them back circa 2000.  Time to actually give these books another go before I mindlessly purchase another!

There you have it!  Here’s to more books in June!

Rearview Mirror // April 2018

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

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

Favorite April Read

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

Most Disappointing April Read

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

Other April Reads

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

Last April…

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

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

TBR Update

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

  • Standalones:  822 (up three)
  • Nonfiction:  79 (down two!)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  690 (down five!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  230 (holding steady)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 108 (down one)

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

Awaiting Review

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

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

Current Reads

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

Approaching the Top of the Pile

The probably next five reads…

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

Happy May!!!

Rearview Mirror // March 2018

Well, this hasn’t been my best month on the blog if I’m honest.  While I’ve still been reading a lot, I’ve been feeling really ambivalent towards blogging.  I think it’s partially because I’ve been doing a lot of updates for my Etsy shop, so I haven’t felt like spending extra time on the computer beyond that.  Maybe it’s also been the weather?  March has been cold and cloudy, with below-average temperatures and even snow!  I enjoy winter when it’s wintertime, but I am very ready for spring!

Anyway, almost all of my March reviews ended up being minireviews, so nothing super exciting.

Favorite March Read

Basically any time I have a month with a Wodehouse book, the favorite book is the Wodehouse book – in this case, Uneasy Money.  But it hardly seems fair to all the other books, since Wodehouse exists in a class of his own, so I also have to give a co-award to This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills.  I just loved all the characters so much that I wanted to book to go on forever!

Most Disappointing March Read

While I didn’t have very high expectations for A Daughter’s Legacy, I also didn’t expect to completely despise it – which I did.  There was a decent premise, but I kept waiting for the explanation as to why Kelli’s mom sucked and treated Kelli like trash… and it never came.  Apparently Kelli’s mom was just a jerk who really did think that her career was so much more important than being a mother that she shipped the recently-bereaved-of-her-father Kelli, as a little child, off to her grandmother.  I mean seriously.

Other March Reads

  • Adorkable by Cookie O’Gorman – 3.5/5 – cute chick lit that I would have enjoyed more if Sally’s mom and best friend hadn’t been so obnoxious
  • Beauty by Robin McKinley – 4/5 – an old favorite that I really enjoyed revisiting
  • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell – 4/5 – classic
  • Black Beauty’s Clan by Josephine, Diana, and Christine Pullein-Thompson – 3.5/5 – an interesting collection of short stories about horses
  • Black Beauty’s Family by Josephine, Diana, and Christine Pullein-Thompson – 4/5 – historical fiction through horse stories
  • Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu – 3.5/5 – I wanted to like this book but just… didn’t really
  • The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand – 3.5/5 – a bit too horror-y for me
  • Child of Grace by Irene Hannon – 4/5 – a surprisingly gritty little story
  • Curse Workers Trilogy by Holly Black – 4/5 – a really good story that gave me all the feels and left me wishing there were lots more books about these characters.
  • George Washington’s Secret Six by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger – 4/5 – really intriguing nonfiction
  • The Heart’s Song by Winnie Griggs – 4/5 – cheesy and predictable yet somehow enjoyable
  • Hidden Identity Trilogy by Lynette Eason – 3.5/5 – engaging and exciting although sometimes a bit too simplistic
  • I See You by Clare Mackintosh – 4/5 – I was totally clued to the pages of this one
  • The Night Ferry by Michael Robotham – 3.5/5 – a decent thriller, but one I just couldn’t get into all the way
  • The Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn – 3/5 – needed a bit more thriller and a bit less love triangle
  • The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald – 3/5 – cute, but kind of abrupt
  • The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald – 3.5/5 – pretty adorable little fairy tale
  • Rescue Dog of the High Pass by Jim Kjelgaard – 3.5/5 – not his best book, but still interesting and entertaining
  • The Road to Forgiveness by Leigh Bale – 3.5/5 – not a bad story except the ending made no sense
  • The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde – 3.5/5 – a fun collection of short stories attempting to make the traditional fairy tale a bit more plausible
  • Sing by Vivi Greene – 3/5 – just a smidge too fluffy to really be good reading
  • Tulipomania by Mike Dash – 4/5 – quite interesting but in desperate need of pictures

Last March…

I read what was one of the worst books I read in 2017 – Dead End Close by Dominic Utton.  Especially disappointing because I quite enjoyed his debut, Martin Harbottle’s Appreciation of Time.  But Dead End Close was so incredibly depressing and pointless that I could hardly bear it – I’ve rarely read a book so completely devoid of any sense of hope.

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:  819 (down EIGHT thanks to some culling!)
  • Nonfiction:  81 (down one!)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  695 (down six!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  230 (up one)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 109 (up four)

Awaiting Review

I cleared out a bunch with three batches of minireveiws at the end of the month, but still do have some in the wings…

  • The Perfectionists and The Good Girls by Sara Shepard – a lot of mixed feelings on this duology
  • The Runaways by Elizabeth Goudge – so adorable I could hardly stand it
  • I’m reading my way through K.M. Shea’s Timeless Fairy Tale collection.  I’m on book #7 right  now.  They’ve had their ups and downs but overall enjoyable, if slightly fluffy, fairy tale retellings.
  • My current mystery series is the Adam Dalgliesh series by P.D. James.  I’ve never read any of James’s books before, and enjoying this foray into her work.  I’m on book #3.
  • The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge – reading The Runaways made me want to pick this one up immediately afterwards.
  • The Princess by Lori Wick – an old fluffy favorite
  • The Squire’s Tale by Gerald Morris – I can’t believe how long it’s been since I read these books!  Spontaneously reading this (the first in the series) made me want to reread them all.  They are books I’ve been meaning to purchase anyway, so the next three in the series are on their way to me now!

Current Reads

  • The Man Who Made Lists by Joshua Kendall – a biography of Peter Roget, who wrote Roget’s Thesaurus
  • Sleeping Beauty by K.M. Shea – the next Timeless Fairy Tale
  • Unnatural Causes by P.D. James – the next Adam Dalgleish mystery
  • The Darkest Hour by Tony Schumacher – a free Kindle book set in AU 1940’s England where the Nazis won the war

Approaching the Top of the Pile

The probable next five reads…

  • The Frog Prince by K.M. Shea
  • Shroud for a Nightingale by P.D. James
  • Come On, Seabiscuit by Ralph Moody
  • The World of Captain John Smith by Genevieve Foster
  • Piccadilly Jim by P.G. Wodehouse