Rearview Mirror: February 2015

Gahhh okay so February ended up being super crazy.  Remember back on the January Rearview post, and I was all like, “Ah, life! So peaceful!”  Well, don’t tempt fate.  February was insane.

My mother-in-law was in and out of the hospital a few times, so I ended up spending a lot of time hanging out there.  While, of course, it’s all sad and she has been unwell (although she is responding quite well to the most recent treatment), I’m pretty good at silver linings.  The hospital itself is lovely, so open and light and clean – it’s brand new and absolutely fantastic and the cafeteria serves superb pizza (yeah, so much for January’s diet/exercise program, too!).  And, of course, being in hospital as a companion means – loads of reading time.

And it’s actually very nice reading time, because you don’t have this nagging feeling that you ought to be somewhere else or doing something else.  Sitting there is the thing you’re supposed to be doing, so the reading is guilt-free.  I’ve always been the hospital-companion of the family, so I’m really rather comfortable there with my bag of books.

All that to say, lots of books in February!!

Other February news…  okay, well, this has nothing to do with reading but I got a new stove and it is so wonderful that I’m telling my book blog about!  I LOVE MY STOVE!  It’s beautiful!  It’s gas!  It has five burners!  It has an oven that heats quickly and evenly!  Gah, it’s gorgeous.  Between that and my new sink, I find myself standing in my kitchen, petting things.  So pretty.  ::happy sigh::

Also, February here has been VERY COLD and we got snow!  Legit snow!  Like eight inches of it!  I was actually pretty excited about that. I love snow, especially when it’s all fluffy and happy and it happens on a Saturday and we can stay home in our pajamas and just enjoy life.

Okay, anyway, other February book news!  Besides reading a ridiculous number of reviews and adding sixteen books to the TBR (not including like three more series), I also made another huge step in my life………………..  I bought a Kindle!  I’m almost ashamed.  Here’s the thing: I really, really, really love books.  Like actual physical, real books.  I love them.  I love the way they smell, the way they feel, the weight of them, the way that perfect book fits into your hand and falls open in just the right way…  seriously, I love books.  I have purchased books just because I like the way they look or feel.

BUT when I was spending all that time at the hospital, I also spent a lot of time on my phone, just messing about, playing games and, yes, reading via the Kindle app.  See, I have this paranoia, this horrible fear, and it haunts me everywhere I go…  what if I get trapped somewhere without a book?!?  And it’s worse when I’m going somewhere where I know I’ll be doing a lot of reading.  The Kindle means I don’t have to take eight books with me everywhere…  just the one I’m reading and the Kindle for backup.

So we’ll see how it goes.  I do like this little thing.  I got the 6″, so it’s small and adorable and quite happy.

Alrighty, so much for my (not really) interesting life.  This month, I did come across two especially fun posts to share.  MyLittleBookBlog talked about her thought process while writing a blog post (oh-so familiar!), while FictionFan shared some things she’s never read in a book review (so why do writers keep doing them??).

For February, I posted twelve book reviews (woohoo!) and only have two books in the Need Reviewed Pile, so that’s staying under control, mainly because I bothered to finally figure out how to schedule posts, which means I can review a whole bunch of books while I’m in the groove, but not have to bombard all of you with all the reviews at once!  I also figured out how to link to Twitter!  Say what!  Now my Twitter actually has twitterings!

Favorite February Read:  Okay, actually a really hard choice, but I think I’m going to go with A Monster Callsbecause I really feel like everyone should read this book.  It slayed me. The writing is amazing, the illustrations are perfect, the story is beautiful.  This book was genuinely close to a perfect read for me.  READ IT.  Oh, and make sure you get the physical copy – the illustrations are truly part of the story (or at least they were for me), but when my sister checked it out of the library on her Kindle, no illustrations?!?  So get the real book and set aside an hour and read it straight through.  Beautiful.

Favorite February Read #2:  Yeah, Pollyanna of the Orange Blossoms was actually a very close second.  It’s just so happy!  I love to read a story about a happily married couple, and Pollyanna and Jimmy are just too adorable for words.  This book has definitely been added to my list of I’m-tired-and-grumpy-and-just-need-a-happy-book-to-read.

Most Disappointing February Read:  I guess I’m going with Dan Brown’s Deception Point.  This book totally gave me book deja vu.  It felt like it was the same the story I had already read in Digital Fortress except with different names and locations.  While not a bad read, per se (actually, it kept me up for hours reading it!), I was hoping for something a little more innovative.

Other February Reviews:

  • Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund – YA – 4/5 – fantastic retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel.  And oh, by the way.  It’s a sequel to another book.  Don’t bother telling me ahead of time, though.
  • The Far-Off Land by Rebecca Cauldill – YA/Historical Fiction – 4/5 – a thought-provoking frontier tale.
  • The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side by Agatha Christie – mystery – 3/5 – solid but not striking.
  • Pollyanna Grows Up by Eleanor H. Porter – YA/children’s – 4/5 – very solid sequel to Pollyannabut not as good as the third in the series!
  • A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie – mystery – 3/5 – a bit meh.  And no, I didn’t spell “Caribbean” right on the first try.  I never do.
  • A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall – YA/NA/chick lit – 4/5 – a surprisingly adorable and happy little piece of chick lit.  I actually loved it!
  • Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling – children’s – 4/5 – classic Kipling.  His illustrations are hilarious.
  • At Bertram’s Hotel by Agatha Christie – mystery – 3/5 – a bit overly complicated, but I would love to stay at Bertram’s!
  • Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter – chick lit – 3/5 – warm and happy, but nothing unexpected.
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – YA – 4/5 – surprisingly thoughtful teen romance.

Was this girl busy writing reviews in February??  You bet I was!

Added to the TBR:

Since I got so many books read, that means I can add even more, right??  Even though I added a lot, here are the highlights, as inspired by reviews around WordPress…

  • Reading, Writing & Riesling added two books to the list – both Monday’s Lie by Jamie Mason and Crash and Burn by Lisa Gardner sound like brilliant thrillers.
  • Cleopatra Loves Books also did some damage by adding Taunting the Dead (plus, of course, its sequel, Follow the Leader) by Mel Sharratt and The Exit by Helen FitzGerald.  Apparently, I’m really yearning for some good mystery/thrillers….
  • FictionFan tempted me with the first in another mystery series, The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg.  I’m not 100% sure I’ll be able to get these, since they are Swedish (??) and haven’t all been translated, but since I probably won’t actually read them for another three years, maybe we’ll be all set by then??
  • FictionFan also scored with her review of Dune by Frank Herbert.  Sci-fi/fantasy/political??  Does it get more fun than that??  Of course, there are like eight books in the series so……
  • And finally, Sophie inspired me to read a really fluffy-sounding chick lit (all the better because she doesn’t recommend much from that genre!) – Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen.

So thanks for reading with me in February, and here’s to a happy March!!

Rearview Mirror: January 2015

So, inspired by Sophie’s PaperPuffs and Stephanie’s new monthly recap, I thought, what the hey?  I’ll try to post a little monthly review myself.

This month was super busy.  Besides reading a lot more books than I actually reviewed, we also did a huge remodeling project on the kitchen.  I’m also trying to be a good girl by dieting and exercising every day (which is going better than hoped).  I’m also trying to keep up on both book and house blogging.  The book reviews are so much more fun if I write them close to when I actually read the book, and the house blog is way more interesting if the posts are close enough together that I can actually go into some detail about what’s been happening.

This month, I only reviewed five books:

However, I did read four more books, so you can expect reviews for these coming soon:

  • The Far-off Land by Rebecca Caudill
  • Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund
  • The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side by Agatha Christie
  • Old Mother West Wind by Thornton W. Burgess

Tragically, loads more books got added to the TBR. I’ve given up on any kind of restraint, and am just letting the list develop as it will.  It’s not unusual for me to add a book, get it from the library, and then decide that it’s not for me, so I like to keep the field pretty wide.  This month, among others, I added:

  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – thanks to Lady Fancifull’s review (which was in December but I didn’t read the review until January so!)
  • The Golden Gate by Alistair MacLean
  • Curse of the Thirteenth Fey by Jane Yolen – thanks to a review on Tales of the Marvelous (another December review I didn’t read until January!)
  • The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly – thanks to Stephanie’s book review
  • Black Water Rising by Attica Locke
  • Lottie and Lisa by Erich Kastner – pretty sure I’m not going to be able to find a copy of this book, but it was the inspiration behind Disney’s The Parent Trap, and lately I’ve been on a kick of reading the books behind the movies
  • The Fox in the Hound by Daniel Mannix and The Apple Dumpling Gang by Jack Bickham – in the spirit of finding books behind movies
  • And if that wasn’t enough, I added the entire Arthurian series by T.H. White and, thanks to Lady Fancifull’s review, L.C. Tyler’s Elsie & Ethelred cozy mystery series

Of course, those are probably all months away from being read.

So, there is your little review/preview.  I may even get around to reviewing The Far-off Land today.

Until next time, keep the happy reviews coming.  I love reading everyone’s reviews, even of books I would never imagine reading.  It’s so amazing how everyone can read the same book yet read a different story, and I love it.

Happy February!!