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

Rearview Mirror // February 2018

I can already tell that 2018 is going to be a year that zooms by.  Although honestly it feels like the older I get, the faster time goes in general, so there’s that.

February was overall a pretty quiet month (thankfully).  Apple season has lasted a lot longer than average because of the huge crop, so I have still been delivering apples and cider throughout the month, but we finally sold the last of them, so Monday will be my last day for the year.  Luckily, spring is on the way, so I will soon be very busy with various gardening plans – I already have some seeds planted in the windowsill!!

Book-wise things have been pretty normal.  I’ve read 50 books so far this year.  On the blog, I’m a bit behind with reviews.  February saw three minireview posts just to try and get things caught up!  (However, I was unsuccessful.)

I’ve subscribed to two different book boxes that send random used books, so those have been fun.  I’ve only gotten a couple of boxes so far, but I really like Yureka – you fill out a book-related questionnaire and they send books they think you will like.   If you’re organized, you can go back and fill out a review on the books later so they can continue to send you books that you’ll like even better.

Used Books Monthly is a little more vague – you just check off genres you like – but really inexpensive: three books for $12.49.  I’ve only gotten one box from them so far, and we will see how it goes.  The first month only had one book that I will probably actually read, so this one may end up getting unsubscribed from if I still feel like most of the books are meh.

Finally, I have an on-and-off subscription to LitCube, depending on my budget!  This is more of a traditional book box that sends you book-related goodies as well as an actual book.  I really like how the book is just completely random each month (I don’t like being tied down to a genre), and how most of the goodies tie in with where the book is set.  I’ve enjoyed both books that I’ve received from them as well (The Viking’s Chosen and Last Christmas in Paris).  You also earn points each month, and can use the points to get additional swag or free boxes, which is fun.  However, it’s more expensive than the others, which is why I don’t do it every month.  Luckily, it’s really easy to subscribe and unsubscribe, but still save all of your information (and points).

Favorite February Read

I had a lot of 4* reviews this month, but none of them were just WOW reads.  Still, I think I’m going with Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  This story was an incredibly fun romp with enough intensity to keep me glued to the pages.  I didn’t agree with all the philosophy, but definitely found it entertaining.

Most Disappointing February Read

Weirdly, I didn’t read any terrible books this month!  So I think I’m going to go with Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb, mainly because I enjoyed the first 3/4 of this book SO much, and then the ending just sort of petered out.  It felt like the characters all suddenly changed into different people, which was disappointing, as I had really gotten attached to everyone.

Other February Reads

  • Amazing Gracie by Sherryl Woods – 3/5 – chick lit at it’s most regular.
  • The Basket of Flowers by Christoph von Schmidit – 3/5 – not a bad story, but quite prosy.
  • Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry – 3.5/5 – a nice story (with beautiful illustrations), but not as strong as the Misty books.
  • Dreamtreader Trilogy (Dreamtreaders; Search for the Shadow Key; and War for the Waking World) by Wayne Thompson Batson – 3/5 – interesting and decent for a one-time read, but not really that memorable.
  • Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica 3.5/5 – interesting, but I wasn’t convinced about the motive of the villain.
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith – 4/5 – beautiful writing, but slow in parts.
  • Japanese Fairy Tales by Yei Theodora Ozaki – 3.5/5 – apparently stepmothers are despised all ’round the world.
  • Lost States by Michael J. Trinklein – 4/5 – entertaining nonfiction about places that almost were.
  • Made from Scratch by Jenna Woginrich – 4/5 – a really fun place to start if you are looking to become more self-sufficient in steps that are actually doable.
  • Mountain Pony series (Mountain Pony; Mountain Pony and the Pinto Colt; Mountain Pony and the Rodeo Mystery; and Mountain Pony and the Elkhorn Mystery) by Henry V. Larom – 4/5 – fun, although somewhat dated, western adventures with a likable protagonist.
  • The Mystery of the Empty Room by Augusta Huiell Seaman – 3.5/5 – fun children’s mystery wherein the main characters needed to converse with one another more.
  • Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend – 4/5 – Engaging children’s fantasy – I need the sequel!
  • An Odd Situation by Sophie Lynbrook – 4/5 – a unique P&P retelling that was fun, although not strong on action.
  • Psmith, Journalist by P.G. Wodehouse – 4.5/5 – almost listed as my favorite book this month.  Such a fun romp.
  • Something Fresh by P.G. Wodehouse – 4.5/5 – I really love this book, which introduces Lord Emsworth and Blandings Castle.  All the usual Wodehouse chaos.
  • The Viking’s Chosen by Quinn Loftis – 3.5/5 – not the kind of book I would usually pick up, but it ended up being a fun read.
  • Wedding Date Rescue by Sonya Weiss – 3.5/5 – fun chick lit.  I would totally read the sequel if it was actually published yet.

Other February Posts

I participated in my second Shelfie by Shelfie post – hopefully more to come!

Last February…

I really enjoyed reading Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Clubeven though it isn’t exactly my usual type of book, being rather serious and novel-y.  I still haven’t gotten around to reading any of Tan’s other books, but I do have several on the list!

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:  827 (holding steady!)
  • Nonfiction:  82 (down one!)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  701 (up ten… Mom is still giving me books!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  229 (up two)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 104 (holding steady!)

Awaiting Review

  • Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black (White Cat, Red Gloves, and Black Heart) – um.  I wanted this series to be like ten books longer.
  • The next set of five Love Inspired books – an overall better batch this time
  • George Washington’s Secret Six by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger – a really engaging nonfiction book about the spy ring in New York City during the Revolution.
  • No One To Trust by Lynette Eason – the first in a trilogy, this one will get reviewed when I’ve finished the other two.  Good so far.
  • Tulipomania by Mike Dash – I really do love nonfiction about random things, and the tulip mania in Holland during the late 1600’s is about as random as it gets!
  • Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu – a nice children’s fantasy book, but lacking the magic.

Current Reads

  • This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills – just started this one this morning, and I’m already in love with Sloane.
  • Nowhere To Turn by Lynette Eason – so intense.
  • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell – really looking forward to revisiting this childhood favorite.
  • I See You by Clare Mackintosh – super creepy.

Approaching the Top of the Pile

The probable next five reads…

  • The Night Ferry by Michael Robotham – whenever I finish at least one of the thrillers I’m already reading.  I can handle two at a time, but three??
  • Uneasy Money by P.G. Wodehouse
  • Black Beauty’s Clan by Diana and Josephine Pullein-Thompson – long story, but I was lead to remember these Black Beauty sequels recently and immediately found and purchased them on eBay.  Totally ready for a trip down memory lane!
  • Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana – a Yureka book box book – wild card!
  • Beauty and the Beast by K.M. Shea – my sister has been on my case to read these fairy tale retellings FOREVER so I am finally going to do it!

Happy March!!!

Rearview Mirror // January 2018

I can’t believe an entire month of 2018 is gone already!  Time is zooming by.

This month has been much better health-wise, so I’ve actually been getting some things done.  January is always a good time for new resolutions, and I have a housekeeping method that is keeping me on track so far, which is simplifying so many other things in my life!  I’ve also had a very good month selling notebooks on Etsy, which is quite exciting!!

I’ve read a lot of perfectly nice books this month, but nothing that I really fell in love with.  Unfortunately, Mom has been cleaning out a bunch of her bookcases (I come by my book-hoarding tendencies fairly!) and somehow her way of getting rid of books is to give them all to me…

Favorite January Read:

I think I’m going with Kids of Appetite by David Arnold.  While it had its weaknesses, I overall really enjoyed this story, mainly because the characters felt like real people (even though it seemed like they should just feel like stereotypes).  Plus, there was snarky humor throughout, which I always enjoy.  In the end, though, it was the depth and thoughtfulness of this book that really pushed it to the next level.  While not preachy, there were a lot of issues that came up and were dealt with in what felt like a healthy way.

Most Disappointing January Read:

While Thornhill by Pam Smy had a really engaging (and fast) format, I just couldn’t get past the way the story ended.  It felt completely inappropriate for its target age group.  I think the creepiness could have stayed without the suicide.

Other January Reads:

  • The Bees by Laline Paull – 2/5 – what the heck!?
  • The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley – 3.5/5 – a good story, but slow in spots.
  • The Cat and Mrs. Cary by Doris Gates – 4/5 – a long-time favorite that is just good fun.
  • The Cinderella List by Judy Baer – 3.5/5 – with a little more fleshing out, this could have been a really good book – the bones were there.
  • Copper-Toed Boots by Marguerite de Angeli – 4/5 – a really sweet children’s book – the main charm is the amazing illustrations by the author!
  • The Cornish Mysteries (Manna from Hades, A Colourful Death, and The Valley of the Shadow) by Carola Dunn – 3/5 – just kind of meh cozies.
  • Deadly Safari by Lisa Harris – 3.5/5 – it’s just really hard to take a book seriously when that’s the title.
  • The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley – 3/5 – interesting, but disjointed.
  • The Irish Legacy Trilogy (Irish Thoroughbred, Irish Rose, and Irish Rebel) by Nora Roberts – 3/5 – pleasant for a one-time read.
  • The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes – 4/5 – a gripping read, although a bit rushed at the end.
  • The Mapmakers by John Noble Wilford – 4/5 – a really interesting nonfiction book about the history of maps and the people who create them.
  • Montana Hearts by Charlotte Carter – 3.5/5 – pleasant but predictable.
  • Safe in His Arms by Dana Corbit – 3/5 – alright but boring.
  • A Time to Heal by Linda Goodnight – 3.5/5 – do you think her name really is Goodnight, or did she just make that up?
  • Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor – 3.5/5 – a good book, but not exactly a good children’s book, despite children being the audience…
  • Wrestling Prayer by Eric and Leslie Ludy – 4.5/5 – far too challenging.

Other January Posts:

I posted what will hopefully be the first in a series of Shelfies – a really entertaining book tag created by Bibliobeth.

My sister posted a guest review of Beauty and the Beast by one of her favorite authors, K.M. Shea.

Last January…

I couldn’t put down Michael Robotham’s Shatter.  I really, really enjoyed the Joseph O’Laughlin books, and hope another one comes out this year!  I was also completed weirded out but fascinated by The Shapeshifters by Stefan Spjut.  That book was weird but amazing.

TBR Update:

I’m not even sure we want to do this.  I’m blaming it all on my mom for giving me so many books!

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:  827 (up 7, probably because I finally caught up on reading everyone’s reviews!)
  • Nonfiction:  83 (down two!)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  691 (sigh)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  227 (up one)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 104 (down one!  Two months in a row!  Progress!)

Awaiting Review:

  • Last Christmas in Paris by Elizabeth Gayner and Heather Webb – I really enjoyed this book until the last 20-25% when it just fell flat.
  • Something Fresh by P.G. Wodehouse – I’m in love with Lord Emsworth.
  • I’m in the middle of the Mountain Pony series by Henry Larom and have so far read Mountain Pony and Mountain Pony and the Pinto Colt.  Two more books in this series!
  • I am also in the middle of the Dreamtreader trilogy.  So far, I’ve finished the first book, Dreamtreaders.
  • Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry – enjoyable, but hasn’t aged as well as the Misty series that I reread last year.

Current Reads:

  • Mountain Pony and the Rodeo Mystery by Henry Larom – book #3 in the Mountain Pony series – these are actually quite entertaining.
  • Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life by Jenna Woginrich – overall interesting so far.
  • Search for the Shadow Key by Wayne Thomas Batson – book #2 in the Dreamtreaders trilogy.
  • Amazing Gracie by Sherryl Woods – one of those romance books I picked up for a dime somewhere and never got around to reading.

Approaching the Top of the Pile:

The probable next five reads…

  • The Basket of Flowers by Christoph von Schmid – published by Lamplighter, who really does an amazing job – their books are beautiful!  However, their books can sometimes be a bit to saccharine for me, so I’ve let this one languish on the shelf for years.
  • Lost States by Michael Trinklein – my next nonfiction read… just as geography-based as the last one!
  • Hidden by Karen Olson – the first in the Black Hat Thriller series.
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith – somehow, I’ve never read this classic, despite the fact that one of Smith’s other books, The Hundred and One Dalmatiansis one of my all-time favorites.
  • Radiance by Catherynne Valente – I’ve heard mixed reviews on this one so I’m not sure if I’ll like it.  But GR describes it as “a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood—and solar system—very different from our own” so it should at least be different.

Rearview Mirror // 2017

Happy New Year!  We actually have some real snow around here, which is super exciting.  A white Christmas is always lovely, but there is something about a white New Year that makes me feel like we really are getting a fresh start.

Of course, it’s also unbelievably cold out there – only 3* this morning!  My husband just told me that the average temperature in the US right now is only 11*!

2017 was a solid year on the blog for me.  I basically never look at my stats, but I’m sure lots of people have looked at things, which is awesome.  I really enjoy writing reviews for my own benefit, so I can look back on books that I’ve read and remember what was going on, but it is so amazing to me that there are a few hundred other people who also enjoy reading those reviews, at least from time to time.  Thanks for being there!!

This year was the first year that I really, really focused on marking books on Goodreads.  I’ve been kind of haphazard about it before, but this year I was determined to mark ALL the books, and for the last couple of months, I’ve been trying to update where I am with current reads as part of my morning routine – and actually am enjoying it!  Especially since it means that I get really accurate stats at the end of the year…

Believe it or not, I totally blew through my goal of 160 books, completing 197 titles.  Although I do feel that sheer number of books is a poor way to manage this challenge, since my longest book – Imperative (a P&P variation that I don’t think I even ended up reviewing here!), at 796 pages is worth just as much as my shortest book, Bronco Charlieat 48!  But I suppose it does all level out, as I read an average of 295 pages per book, for a grand total of 58,206 pages!  (What am I even doing with my life?!)

The most popular book I read this year was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, also read by an astounding 2,123,251 people.  In contrast, only two other people have bothered to rate Container Gardeningwhich is a shame, because it is actually a very nice little reference guide.

I am still really enjoying my monthly Rearview Mirrors as a way to sort of summarize what’s been happening.  According to those post, these were my favorite books of the year:

I think 2017’s Book of the Year is going to be The Scent of Water.  There is something about that book – I can’t explain how it is not only perfect, but it actually changed my life.  While I loved Uprooted and The Night Circus, which are both magical and amazing reads, The Scent of Water is the one I feel like EVERYONE should read.

Other 5-Star Reads for 2017:

I feel like I finally have a grasp on my reading goals and am in a good pattern of reading four books at the same time, which is helping me work on multiple points of the TBR at once.  I also realize that it’s basically physically impossible to read all the books that I want to read, but I’m okay with that.  I’m just going to enjoy each book as it comes, and I’m not going to stop adding to the TBR, either.  It’s more of a dream list than a tangible goal.

The huge number of books on the TBR is the main reason I don’t really read ARCs and am not interested in Netgalley or other such opportunities.  I review usually 1-5 ARCs each year, and that’s about right.  I don’t necessarily need free books, because I use the library like a crazy person.  I don’t like the time pressure and (self-imposed) deadlines that arise from reviewing books from publishers.  I like being able to just not finish a book because I don’t like the first page, and not have to feel guilty about that.

I wanted to compare my TBR numbers from December 2016 to now, but realized that I’ve done a LOT of editing on that list throughout the year, so comparing the numbers doesn’t really make sense.  I cleaned up the Standalones tab, eliminating doubles and moving books to the Series/Mystery Series tabs as needed.  I’ve also been working on making sure all the books that I own really are on my Personal list, so that list has gotten a LOT bigger.  I’ve also been way more into getting free Kindle books this year, too, which hasn’t helped.  :-D  But I think that the numbers are straight now, so this time next year I should, theoretically, be able to legitimately tell if I’ve made any progress.

In the meantime, I fully intend to just keep reading, reviewing, and enjoying books.  Books have been such an important part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I’ve always lived surrounded by them.  I don’t really see that changing, especially since my mom sent me home with nine gardening books she was getting rid of today – so nine more books on the TBR and we’re not even 24 hours into 2018 yet.  :-D

Thanks for riding along with me for 2017, and here’s to lots of great books and happy reviews for 2018!