Vacation TBR!

Next week, the husband and I are heading south to soak in Great Smoky Mountains National Park!  We’re super excited to get away for a few days, and we are always into hanging out in the mountains.  While we’ve been through sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway, we’ve never visited GSMNP, so that should be a fun experience.  We’ve rented a cabin just outside the park, so hopefully we’ll be covered even if the weather is rainy.  :-D  (And yes, someone will be here with the dogs so still not a good time to try and rob us, internet people! – not even counting how disappointed you would be when you broke in here haha)

And while deciding which hikes to take, which restaurants to visit, which museums to explore, and what route to drive are all important parts of vacation, I’m sure my readers here will understand that deciding which books to take is THE critical decision!  There are loads of vacation book theories, partially depending on what kind of vacation you’re taking, I suppose.  Our vacation will kind of depend on the weather, as we are hoping to do a lot of hiking.  But even if we hike all day, we’ll probably spend most of the evening sitting on the porch of our cabin.

Some people prefer to take books they’ve never read, and some people prefer library books.  Some people just travel with an ereader instead of lugging around physical books.  I’m pretty much the opposite of all of those.  :-D  I love to use vacation as a chance to reread some old favorites that I’ve been meaning to revisit, and I almost always take my own books – in some ways the books become imbued with the flavor of the places I read them, tied to happy memories.  I love looking at my shelves and remembering where I was the last time I read a certain book!

The other reason I like rereads on vacation is because it’s just Tom and me on the trip, and part of the point is for us to hang out and visit with each other – something I find difficult to do with anyone if I’m embroiled in an exciting book with the ending unknown!  Rereads take some of the pressure of I NEED TO FINISH THIS off so that I can more easily set a book aside to enjoy the moment with my husband.  One of the most important pieces of marriage advice I ever received was a reminder to always “listen with my face” – to put down whatever I’m looking at, be it a book or my phone or computer or whatever, and actually LOOK at my husband when he’s saying something.  It can be a challenge for this bookworm, but so important to do!

ANYWAY, time for the important part – what books am I actually taking??  The real problem is my constant, haunting fear of not having enough books!  This has been somewhat alleviated the last few trips by the addition of a Kindle to my life – I load a bunch of books as backups (in case, you know, I really do have time to read the eight physical books I’m lugging along haha).  So while these are the books I’m taking with me, deep down I know that the odds are slim that I’ll actually read all of them.  Still, I’ll give it my best shot!!

Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley

I bought this book while on vacation all the way back in 2003, and for some reason it’s been on several trips with me since then, probably because it’s a small, fat paperback.  I haven’t read it since I reviewed it here back in 2013, so I’m looking forward to enjoying it again.  Magic, humor, engaging characters, and talking animals – do I really need anything else from a book?

Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer

I’m not sure a vacation would be complete without a Heyer book to read.  I enjoyed this book enough back in 2012 to add it to my permanent collection, but haven’t read it since.  I gave it a full five stars then, but I’ve read a lot of Heyer’s other books since then, so I’m curious to see if this one still ends up a fave.

Indiscretion by Jude Morgan

I’ve actually read and reviewed this one twice since I’ve had this blog – the most recent time was when I took it on vacation back in 2015!  (The first time was in 2013.)  This Regency romance is just delightfully funny and full of wonderful characters.  My sister read it recently and listening to her wax eloquent about how perfect it is made me want to pick it up again.

The Books of Bayern by Shannon Hale

Apparently I’m revisited a lot of books from 2013, which is the last time I read this quartet as well.  While I have read this series a couple of times, I’ve only read the final book, Forest Born, once, and it was my favorite of the batch last time.  I remember really liking these books as exciting but thoughtful fantasy stories, so I’m excited to revisit them.

Summer Moonshine by P.G. Wodehouse

Like Heyer, I always take along a Wodehouse, because there is no way to go wrong.  While I’m “officially” reading all of Wodehouse’s books in published order, I’m jumping to 1937 with this one – I’m pretty sure I’ve read it before but remember literally nothing about the story or characters.  The 1930’s are really the height of Wodehouse’s magnificence though, so I think this should be a treat.

Well, that’s a total of 2740 pages to keep me busy for six days.  Do you think it will be enough??  Good thing I’m bring my Kindle, too…  :-D

TBR Update! (I may have a problem…)

OH.  MY.  GOSH.

Several weeks ago I had this sudden inspiration to tackle my outlandishly long TBR and turn it into something a bit more manageable, because, let’s be frank, there is no way that I’m going to read nearly 900 books, especially when the list is continually growing.  My TBR is on a spreadsheet, so it is at least easy to edit.  This whole process started because I was in the mood for a fluffy read, and realized that my list of over 800 books have zero indication as to what genre of book a title is!

So my goal was twofold:  I wanted to reduce the TBR by at least 50%, and I wanted to sort the remaining books by genre, so if I’m in the mood for something specific, I can find it.  The latter goal I accomplished by highlighting the titles in color code.  But both goals involved looking at every single book on Goodreads, reading the synopsis, perusing the reviews, and then deciding whether or not it was worth the cut.  It was definitely one of those projects that ended up being way more involved than I anticipated!

But today I finally finished my brutal reduction.  While the TBR started at (an admittedly ridiculous) 889, I am now down to a mere 427!  I successfully eliminated 462 books and it’s honestly a great feeling.  I’m left with a list of books that I’m a lot more excited about reading and one that’s organized so I can actually find the kind of book I’m in the mood to read – although I’m sure I’ll still use some type of randomizing system for the most part.  I’m cognizant of the fact that 427 is still kind of ridiculous, but here we are lol

Now my long-time readers will remember that the main TBR is only one section of the overall TBR (I’m not pretending that I don’t have a problem here).  Some of the eliminated books actually just changed places – the numbers for my Series TBR and Mystery Series TBR have both gone up.  However, I fully intend to tackle those lists as well, as I’m positive that several eliminations can be made there also.

In the meantime, I haven’t really been reading anyone else’s reviews, because I didn’t want to add anything to the TBR until I was finished with my housekeeping.  So now there are 300-odd emails in my inbox, the majority of which are book reviews, so guess what my next task is??  So don’t be surprised to find me creeping liking/commenting on some of your older posts!

Of course, my other problem is that I randomly decided to start reading the Redwall series.  All of those books are over 300 pages long, and they weren’t on any TBR anywhere, so they aren’t getting me anywhere fast as far as reading goals go, but I am enjoying them!!  I’m probably going to take a break from them soon, though, as I’m not quite halfway through the series and starting to feel like I am reading to delve into something else for a while.  I’m reading book #10 right now, which seems like it may be a good spot to pause and get into something else.  I’m at almost three solid weeks of Redwall reading and am starting to feel a bit burned out haha

Spring has been peaking around the corner for the last couple of days, so I’ve also been busy browsing seed catalogs and sketching dream gardens.  February and March are my personal favorite months for gardening:  anything is possible!  I’m a fantastic gardener in March.

Hope all is well with everyone out there – I’m looking forward to catching up on blog posts.  And hopefully I’ll have a little Redwall post soon!

Rearview Mirror // July 2016 // Bonus! #20BooksofSummer Update!

July is gone already!!!  I always have very mixed feelings about the summer slipping away.  On one hand, I love going barefoot and having long days.  On the other hand:  So hot. Why. Please no.  In the end, I always just end up enjoying and complaining about whatever season I’m in, so there’s that.

Anyway, the weather continues hot.  I’m still spending a lot of time in the garden.  Tom and I got a canoe, so that’s incredibly spiffing.  I’m trying to teach Waylon (the border collie for those who are new) some better manners, and spending a lot of time hanging out with my family.

And, of course, lots of reading.  There was quite the variety pack this month, and just when I thought I was going to get caught up on reviews…  well, there are six books back on the stack again!

Favorite July Read:

cfI think I’m going with Cursor’s Fury.  I just really think that the entire Codex Alera series has been brilliant so far.  I’ve also read the next book, Captain’s Fury, which I haven’t reviewed yet, and Princep’s Fury is next on the TBR stack.  After that, there’s only one more book!  The writing thus far has been so fantastic that I kind of wish that there were about twenty more.

Most Disappointing July Read:

girl-of-the-limberlostA Girl of the Limberlost receives this dubious place in the Rearview.  After enjoying Freckles so thoroughly, Limberlost was an especial let down.  The writing was so disjointed, and I just couldn’t get past the complete nonsense that was Mrs. Comstock.

HOWEVER I was informed by a kind fellow reader on Twitter, @Trundlebedtales, that Porter’s daughter wrote a third and final installment to the Limberlost books, and I am hoping to get my hands on it soon.

Other July Reads:

  • Crooked House by Agatha Christie – 4/5 – strong writing and a brilliant ending.
  • Life or Death by Michael Robotham – 3/5 – a good story, but I somehow just didn’t connect with the main character, who felt was incredibly passive.
  • On the Fence by Kasie West – 4/5 – fluff, but really nice fluff, and fluff where the heroine actually has a nice family, which was great.
  • The Fold by Peter Cline – 3/5 – but almost a 4.  Thoroughly engaging and a very fast read.  Later I realized that the science bits made no sense, but the story was just so much fun.
  • They Came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie – 4/5 – a very melodramatic spy thriller that Christie still manages to make almost plausible.
  • The Mistake I Made by Paula Daly – 3/5 – while this book didn’t grab a hold of me, I still liked the writing.
  • Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry – 4/5 – revisting this childhood favorite didn’t disappoint, and the illustrations by Wesley Dennis are fantastic.

20 Books of Summer Update!

So I’ve actually made fantastic progress on this challenge, and unless something incredibly dire occurs this month (like I go blind), I should be able to achieve all twenty books, as I am currently almost finished with #19, and should start my final book – Princep’s Fury – tomorrow!!!

Here is the updated list (links to Goodreads if I haven’t reviewed the book yet):

It really helped that I hit a stretch of books that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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 four different tabs:

  • Stand-Alones:  861 (ummm… kind of up 40 books on this one from 821, mostly because I added every book ever written by E. Nesbit)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own, but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  550 (DOWN, people, DOWN 34 from 584! Although it really wasn’t that dramatic…I mostly went through my list and reorganized it :-p)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  130 (up four from 126)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  52 (up one)

And actually I’m way behind reading other people’s reviews, so there will probably be even more added.  There is always something fantastic to read!

Netgalley (?!)

Speaking of which, I’m thinking about giving Netgalley another try.  I have really mixed feelings about it because I kind of enjoy just reading whatever I want whenever I want, and when I have ARCs I feel obligated to work on those.  So for now I only have two that were just on the auto-approved list.  I feel less pressure with those.  Hopefully I will get those read and reviewed this month as well…  *gulp*

Awaiting Review:

Six books in the queue:

  • Money in the Bank by P.G. Wodehouse
  • Captain’s Fury by Jim Butcher
  • My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
  • Destination Unknown by Agatha Christie
  • The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson
  • Sea Star: Orphan of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry

Rearview Mirror // May 2016

Well, as of yesterday I am officially retired from my seasonal job at the nursery!  I’m pretty stoked about not working 40+hrs/week anymore.  No set plans for employment in the future – for the summer, I’m hoping to focus on catching up on about a zillion projects here around the house, including (but not limited to) maintaining the huge vegetable garden we planted last weekend, painting virtually every paintable surface on the property, reorganizing closets and other storage areas, sifting through the million pictures we’ve taken in our six years of marriage, and helping my mom with some big stuff she has going on.

And, of course, blogging!  It’s super addictive.  I’m really behind on our house blog, so maybe as the picture situation gets under control, I can actually update some big projects there (like our front porch, which is now screened in and is amazing).

In the meantime, here’s the wrap-up for May!

Favorite May Read:

200-noneI think I’m going with Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None for this one.  It’s just brilliant writing all the way through – in my opinion, one of her best works.

Most Disappointing May Read:

51dnQWQDr5LFor this slot, Dragon Harper wins the prize.  I really felt bad not finishing this series, but Dragon Harper was sooo boring and choppy, with nonsensical plot lines and ridiculously young people running everything, plus not all that many dragons, which are kind of the point of the series…  point being, even though I didn’t want to give up, I just couldn’t wade through another 2000 pages of boringness.  Dragon Harper was a great example of how to take a really great series and just kind of ruin it by being boring and repetitive.  Super disappointing.

It also means that Todd McCaffrey’s Pern books win the Most Disappointing slot for two months running – a rather dubious accomplishment!

Other May Reads:  

  • Dragon’s Fire by Todd McCaffrey and Anne McCaffrey – 1/5 and a close second place for Most Disappointing Read.
  • The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly – 1/5 – a book I wanted to like but just didn’t.  It was depressing, violent, weird, gross, and acted like everything bad that happened to twelve-year-old David was his own fault, instead of the fault of his incredibly selfish dad.
  •  The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly – 3/5 – a tale of absolutely absurd adventure that was still rather entertaining.  And, you know, DRAGONS.
  • Towards Zero by Agatha Christie – 4/5 – putting the murder closer to the end of the book added a whole new level of intensity!
  • The Eternal World by Christopher Farnsworth – 3/5 – a really intriguing premise, but the ending fell off a bit, leaving me conflicted as to whether or not I should seek out another of Farnsworth’s books…???
  • Belle by Cameron Dokey – 3/5 – a pretty unexciting but pleasant retelling of Beauty & the Beast.
  • Goose Chase by Patrice Kindl – 3/5 – close to a 2/5 – not unenjoyable but a story with a pretty muddled plot.
  • Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie – 3/5 – an interesting mystery with an unusual setting, but nothing crazy.

Other May Posts:

  • A-Z of Books – basically, me nattering on about books in my life.

20 Books of Summer:

So this year I’ve officially signed up for Cathy746’s 20 Books of Summer Challenge – I’m pretty excited, actually.  Here’s the link to my (hopeful) list.  And I’ve already finished my first book!

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 four different tabs:

  • Stand-Alones:  787 (DOWN TEN from 797!)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own, but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  533 (DOWN FIFTEEN from 548!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  123 (up three from 120)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  51 (up one from 50)

The drop in numbers, if I’m honest, is probably due to a couple of DNFs and also the fact that I have several emails marked with books that need to be added (I get everyone’s book blog entries as emails, and then star the ones I want to add to the TBR  haha) but that I haven’t actually added yet…

Awaiting Review:

I knocked out a bunch with minireviews there right at the end of the month.  One of my summer goals is to review closer to completion so the book is fresher in my mind!!  Only three in the queue right now –

  • Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher (first book in the new series I started)
  • Remembered Death by Agatha Christie
  • House of Thieves by Charles Belfoure

The TBR Book Tag

So I don’t usually do book tags, but Erika in Bookventureland completed this one, and I really thought it was interesting.  I would love to see what other people’s methods are for compiling/tracking/dealing with their TBR are??  I was just thinking about this because I know that some people try to keep their list at a manageable (haha) level, while I tend to be someone who just extravagantly adds books with absolutely no self-restraint.  So no specific tags, but I would really, really enjoy reading other people’s thoughts on this one??

So!

  • How do you keep track of your TBR pile?  So I never used to have a list at all.  Then, when I started blogging over on tumblr, I got a notebook and would just sort of write down books I thought looked interesting, mostly books by authors I had already read.  When I got serious and started blogging here on WordPress, though, I suddenly started following a BUNCH of other book bloggers, and I had to deal the fact that there are SO MANY BOOKS.  Point is, now I have an Excel spreadsheet.  The main tab is the basic TBR – all books that are either stand-alones or only have one sequel.  Then there are tabs for mystery series, random series, nonfiction, books the library doesn’t have but I still want to read, and authors I look for.  I’ve gotten a lot better – now when I add a book to the list, I also put down whose review inspired me and when I added it, which means that if, someday, I get around to reading the book, I’ll know who to thank!!  :-D
  • Is your TBR mostly print or eBook?  I get almost all of the books I read from the library, so the vast majority are print.  While I like my Kindle for random chick lit or something light that I can just grab whenever and then not go back to for a few days, I prefer my daily readers to be in print.  There is just something about having the actual book.  I especially feel that way about books I own.  The books on my shelf tell a whole other story just by virtue of when and where I purchased them, where and when I’ve read them, etc.  The way they smell, the way they feel, the way the book falls open, notes in the margins, underlines with dates – some of my favorite books bring back an entire flood of memories just by taking them off the shelf.
  • How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?  I just started using a random number generator, actually.  Fate now determines which books are next …  I use the number generator and then read that number book from the list!  It’s actually working brilliantly, and much better than periodically putting the list in alphabetical order and then reading from the top down, haha.  The other thing that I do that is probably weird but I can’t help it, is I read the books in a sort of round-robin method.  So I’m always working my way through a mystery series and a non-mystery series, and I’m also trying to read every book that I own (since there are a lot I either haven’t read in years or have never gotten around to reading).  So basically I read a mystery, then a book from my personal library, then a book from a series, and in between each of those I read a random TBR book.  That’s also why my reviews are kind of random – recently I’ve been reading Donna Leon’s Brunnetti mysteries and Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books, plus I’ve been in the “K” section of my personal library (Kjelgaard, specifically).  :-D  …sound familiar??
  • A book that’s been on your TBR longest?  This is hard to say because I didn’t start putting dates next to when they were added until very recently.  I definitely have books that I actually own that I haven’t read yet.  Someone gave me Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible like ten years ago and told me I would enjoy it, and I’ve never read it, lol.
  • A book you recently added to your TBR?  haha, if you read yesterday’s post for the August Rearview, you’ll know that I recently added way, way too many. :-D
  • A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?  15750874The Glass Arrow.  What.  So pretty.  I’m actually super attracted to cover art, and 100% judge books by their covers with no regrets or embarrassment.  No excuse for an ugly cover. I’m way more attracted to artsy viney covers than I am ones with people on them.
  • A book on your TBR you never plan on reading?  This seems like a weird question to me, because I’m not sure why I would add a book I don’t want to read…  part of my method, though, is to add books that sound even just a little bit interesting.  Because I read them from the library, I frequently will get them, look them over, and sometimes decide to not even start them…  even though I very rarely DNF a book, it’s not at all unusual for me to just not ever start them to begin with.  Incidentally, that’s part of the reason that I don’t really try to get galleys or ARCs, even though it sounds like something I would like.  I really enjoy having the freedom to just read random books whenever I feel like it, and to not bother if I don’t.  The library has basically every book I want to read, so getting free ebooks isn’t really enough of an inspiration for me to go through the hassle of ARCs, lol.  Sooo lazy.
  • An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?  I guess this ties into the last question…  not a lot of unpublished books, unless they’re ones that are coming out really soon that someone else just reviewed.  Although it would be really, really, REALLY nice if Robin McKinley would someday get around to writing a sequel for Pegasus.  I freaking loved that book AND IT HAS NO CONCLUSION she’s just like, “Oh yeah I’ll get around to finishing this story someday; in the meantime, why don’t you enjoy the first half of the book?  Oh by the way, I’m not actually sure how this book should end so I’ll write a couple of other books in between.  Oh and I think this may actually be the first book of a trilogy so even if I ever publish the second book, you’ll still have to wait for the third one to find out how the story ends.”  NOT COOL, ROBIN MCKINLEY.  I TRUST YOU.  PUBLISH THE SEQUEL.  I NEED IT TO LIVE.
  • A book on your TBR everyone has read but you?  ha.  Like everything.  I’m always behind on new, cool books.  Probably because I add them and then their random number doesn’t crop up for two years, lol. Ah well, it just means I can get it faster from the library.  ;-)
  • A book on your TBR everyone recommends to you?  Alllllll of themmmmmmmmmmm
  • A book on your TBR you’re dying to read?  Wow, so many.  Just posting the books I added in August made me excited about them all over again. It’s pretty rare that I reserve a book at the library that I’m not excited to see.  I’m a book addict.  It’s a problem.
  • How many books are on your GoodReads TBR shelf?  I actually basically don’t use GoodReads, even though everyone else does.  I just have too much going on.  I feel like I should post my amazing reviews on GoodReads and Amazon and other places, but I’m just tooooo lazy.  My spreadsheet, however, is sitting at 517 at this exact moment, which is only the stand-alone books and does not include 71 series, 31 mystery series, 48 books that weren’t at my library so I may try to find them some other way, and a list of authors who are actually still alive so I periodically check to see if they’ve published anything new.  Did I mention I have a problem??  :-D

Seriously, I would love to see other people’s answers to these questions, so be sure to let me know if you decide to answer this one!!

Rearview Mirror: August 2015

What!?  It’s September!?!?!?  How did this happen!??!

Conveniently, I love all the seasons, and am super happy that I live someplace where each one shows up for a couple of months, because I’m totally ready for the new one when it arrives!  All that to say, another week of muggy, humid, sticky weather has left me yearning for crisp autumnal days!  I’m ready!

Not much to report.  A LOT of working (at work!) these days for both members of Team Awesome, so not a lot of adventuring, although we did manage to hit up the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh last weekend, so that was pretty cool!!

Book wise?  SO MANY BOOKS ON THE TBR!  For reals, people.  I have ZERO self control!

Favorite August Read:  Honestly, I didn’t read anything this month that just really wowed me.  Everything felt kind of meh.  I’ve been enjoying the Pern books, but not passionately.  I think I’m going with Ice in the Bedroom.  You just can’t go wrong with P.G. Wodehouse, and especially not when he’s writing about Freddie Widgeon!

Most Disappointing August Read:  Oh, Zeldefinitely.  That book was whoa creepy and 100% unsuitable for its intended audience of CHILDREN.  Ugh.

Other August Reads:

  • Death and Judgment by Donna Leon – 4/5 – this is book #4 in the Commisario Brunetti series, and I also read (but didn’t review) #5, Aqua Alta.  Decent mysteries – I’ve been enjoying the series thus far.
  • Dragonsinger and The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey – 4/5 and 3/5 – solid outings in the Pern chronicles, but The White Dragon was just trying to do a little too much.
  • The Black Fawn by Jim Kjelgaard – 4/5 – just a happy outdoorsy tail. I really liked the main character of this one.
  • Maris by Grace Livingston Hill – 3/5 – just a little too much of everything!

Random Fun:

Like I’ve said before, while I pretty much just write reviews here, I do enjoy reading other people’s bookish posts.  Here are some highlights I especially enjoyed this month!

  • Even though the BBC’s new Tommy & Tuppence adaptation isn’t a bad show, Books for the Trees says she doesn’t feel like it really catches the spirit of that indomitable duo.  Since Tommy and Tuppence are some of my all-time favorite characters in literature, I don’t think I’m brave enough to give the new show a try!  I was especially scared of the phrase “a time in their life where their marriage isn’t exactly prospering.”  What!?  I just can’t envision any point in Beresford life where the marriage didn’t prosper!  Balderdash!
  • FictionFan managed to create a poem that perfectly captures the true Pride & Prejudice spirit – bravo!
  • Even though Book Rock Betty and I read totally different books, and I consequently never really add one of her reads to my TBR, I thoroughly enjoy her reviews, especially the synopses written by her husband…  who hasn’t actually read the books!

 

Added to the TBR:

Guys, you don’t even want to know.  I am not even going to list all of them.  I am in FULL READING MODE and absolutely everything sounds so intriguing and fun!  I add them all!  No sense of self-restraint at all.  Here are just a couple of highlights…

  • Even though I’m a little scared about adding another 600 page (!!!) tome to the list, The Captive Reader’s review of Under Heaven just sounded absolutely fascinating to me.  She says:

Across a sprawling empire, Kay tracks the fates of his characters: an aging emperor obsessed with escaping death; his brilliant, beautiful consort, the most influential woman in the empire; an arrogant general; an honorary princess sent to wed a barbarian; a female warrior with a tongue as sharp as her swords; and, at the heart of it all, a young man emerging from the mourning period following the death of his father into a world of ambition, corruption, and near constant danger.

Can. Not. Resist.

  • While 746Books didn’t have time to devote a full review to it, even her minireview of Hawthorn & Child sounded really, really intriguing.  “Ridgeway has fashioned a crime novel with no real crime, a detective story that doesn’t really focus on the detectives and a novel that may be a short story collection or a short story collection that may be a novel.”  Doesn’t that sound unique??
  • Okay, so despite the fact that I’m a little scared of even “non-icky” sex scenes, Waiting for Sunriseas recommended by FictionFan, simply sounds like too much fun to pass up.
  • I was also pleased to add Secret Diary of PorterGirlanother FictionFan recommendation, to the list – especially since she says, “Something to read when the world feels grey and a little laughter is required to brighten the day!”  Well, who doesn’t need that??
  • Sometimes I am struck afresh by the fact that almost every movie I’ve ever watched is based on a book that is probably even more brilliant. This month, two books cropped up on the radar that are movies I have thoroughly enjoyed – so why not give the books a whirl??
    • Lady Fancifull recommended Strangers on a Trainalthough I am a bit worried that “Hitch[cock], unusually, made a much more saccharine film than Highsmith’s uncomfortably disturbing walk in the shadows.”  Gulp!
    • That’s What She Read reviewed Jurassic Park – one of those books that I didn’t even really realize was a thing.  Some movies are just so embedded in the culture that it seems almost shocking to remember that they are actually based on a book!  Creighton is one of those authors I always feel like I  should get around to reading, so what better place to start than with a classic?
  • Both Stephanie and Cleopatra recommended Black-Eyed Susans – who can resist a mystery coming from two excellent bloggers??
  • Speaking of taking recommendations, it’s always funny to come across an opposing review.  Last month, I added Little Black Lies to the TBR after reading Reading, Writing & Riesling’s review.  This month, FictionFan said that she felt that “ultimately … the flaws in this one outweighed its strengths.”  I am endlessly fascinated by the way everyone has different perspectives about every story they read.  Of course, Little Black Lies will stay on the list for now – because who knows where I will fall on the spectrum??
  • Peter Robinson is another one of those authors I’ve never gotten around to, and Reading, Writing & Riesling made me think that maybe I should start with one of his earlier novels??  She said that No Cure for Love was her first Robinson experience, and she enjoyed it so much that she added the entire rest of his works to her TBR!
  • Everyone once in a while, especially now that I’m married and don’t have to sleep alone, I enjoy reading a really good, solidly creepy kind of book, and In a Dark, Dark Wood sounds like it might fit the bill, since Cleo said it made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up!
  • For some reason, Bibliobeth’s description of She is Not Invisible definitely made me want to find this book – a story that she said she found engrossing from the first line to the final one.
  • The Literary Sisters pulled Little Boy Lost from the archive – a story about a young man returning to post-WWII France just really sounds engaging to me. I’ve really been trying to read more fiction set in the first half of the 1900’s, and this sounds like it will fit the bill!
  • I actually rather enjoyed Colleen Houck’s crazy tiger series (here’s my review for the first in the series), despite its many eye-rolling moments, and since Books for the Trees read her latest novel, ReawakenedI decided to add it to the list – who doesn’t want an ancient sun prince from Egypt for your hero??

Legit, that is maybe half the books I added this month.  I don’t know what was going on!  Every review sounded amazing!  I LOVE READING SO MUCH!

Thanks to everyone for blogging – I really, really, really love reading other people’s reviews and thoughts and discussions about books.  Even though I haven’t had as much time to be active about “liking” and commenting posts, I’m reading them – and they’re making my TBR spiral out of control!  Keep up the great work!!!  :-)

 

 

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!!