ShadrachAnki's 2018 Reading
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My focus and goal for 2018 is to read more books I already own (ideally, at least 50% of my reading should be in this category). Also to continue to increase the overall amount of non-fiction I read. Last year, 8% of my total reading was non-fiction; it would be great to bump that up to, say, 10%.
I will also try to do at least some reviews/thoughts on the books I read, though this may be...spotty. Back in 2016 I started keeping a physical book journal, and in doing so I learned that I am far more likely to record my thoughts on books where they aren't going to be available for all and sundry. I love talking books with people, but just putting my random thoughts out there? That tends to be a harder sell, most of the time.
- The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis
- The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll
- Wilderness Days by Jennifer L. Holm
- The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson
2018 Reading by the Numbers
Total Books Read: 160
* indicates a reread
1. Kigurumi Guardians 2 by Lily Hoshino (print, comic, owned)
2. Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung (print, comic, owned)
3. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (audio, fiction, owned)
4. Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde (audio, fiction, borrowed)
5. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (print, fiction, owned)
6. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy (audio, fiction, owned) *
7. Pimpernel by Sheralyn Pratt (ebook, fiction, owned)
8. The Adventures of Tom Stranger by Larry Correia (audio, fiction, owned)
9. Kigurumi Guardians 3 by Lily Hoshino (print, comic, owned)
10. Waiting for Spring 1 by Anashin (print, comic, owned)
11. Waiting for Spring 2 by Anashin (print, comic, owned)
12. Sabriel by Garth Nix (audio, fiction, owned) *
13. The Devil is a Part-Timer 1 by Satoshi Wagahara (print, comic, borrowed)
14. The Devil is a Part-Timer 2 by Satoshi Wagahara (print, comic, borrowed)
15. The Devil is a Part-Timer 3 by Satoshi Wagahara (print, comic, borrowed)
16. The Devil is a Part-Timer 4 by Satoshi Wagahara (print, comic, borrowed)
17. Time Stops for No Mouse by Michael Hoeye (audio, fiction, borrowed)
18. The Devil is a Part-Timer 5 by Satoshi Wagahara (print, comic, borrowed)
19. The Devil is a Part-Timer 6 by Satoshi Wagahara (print, comic, borrowed)
20. The Devil is a Part-Timer 7 by Satoshi Wagahara (print, comic, borrowed)
21. The Devil is a Part-Timer 8 by Satoshi Wagahara (print, comic, borrowed)
22. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight (audio, non-fiction, borrowed)
23. A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz (print, non-fiction, owned)
24. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (audio, fiction, borrowed)
1. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (print, fiction, owned) *
2. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (audio, fiction, owned) *
3. The Introvert's Way by Sophia Dembling (print, non-fiction, owned) *
4. The Death of Dulgath by Michael J. Sullivan (audio/ebook, fiction, owned)
5. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin (print, non-fiction, owned)
6. Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs (ebook, fiction, owned) *
7. Tokyo Raider by Larry Correia (audio, fiction, owned)
8. Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs (print, fiction, owned) *
9. Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs (print, fiction, owned) *
10. Fair Game by Patricia Briggs (print, fiction, owned) *
11. The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman (audio, fiction, owned) *
12. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama (print, fiction, borrowed)
13. Wires and Nerve 2: Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer (print, comic, borrowed)
1. How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry (print, fiction, borrowed)
2. Waiting for Spring 3 by Anashin (print, comic, owned)
3. Waiting for Spring 4 by Anashin (print, comic, owned)
4. Sylvester by Georgette Heyer (audio, fiction, owned) *
5. Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs (print, fiction, borrowed)
6. Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs (print, fiction, owned) *
7. Night Broken by Patricia Briggs (print, fiction, borrowed)
8. Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs (print, fiction, borrowed)
9. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (audio, fiction, owned) *
10. Lake Silence by Anne Bishop (print, fiction, borrowed)
11. El Deafo by Cece Bell (print, comic, borrowed)
12. The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (print, fiction, owned) *
13. The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (print, fiction, owned) *
14. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (print/audio, fiction, owned/borrowed)
15. Naked in Death by J.D. Robb (ebook, fiction, borrowed)
16. A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner (print, fiction, owned) *
17. Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner (print, fiction, owned)
18. Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs (print, fiction, borrowed)
19. Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs (print, fiction, borrowed)
I guess I tend to be a touch reserved when it comes to just dropping my thoughts around willy nilly, but as you point out, it's a way to foster discussion and this is a discussion group. :)
When it comes to the comics/manga, I really was able to relate to a number of the situations in Quiet Girl, and Waiting for Spring is just a sweet story that I definitely want to continue collecting.
* indicates a reread
1. Celebrating a Christ-Centered Easter by Emily Belle Freeman (print, non-fiction, owned)
2. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly (audio, non-fiction, owned)
3. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (ebook, fiction, borrowed)
4. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (print, fiction, owned)
5. The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley (audio, fiction, borrowed)
6. Active Memory by Dan Wells (print, fiction, borrowed)
7. His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (audio, fiction, owned) *
8. Skinwalker by Faith Hunter (print, fiction, owned)
9. Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik (audio, fiction, owned) *
10. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley (audio, fiction, borrowed)
1. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley (audio, fiction, borrowed)
2. Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright (audio, non-fiction, borrowed)
3. The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson (print, fiction, owned)
4. War for the Oaks by Emma Bull (print, fiction, borrowed)
5. Brave by Svetlana Chmakova (print, comic, borrowed)
6. Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen (audio, fiction, owned)
7. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (print, fiction, borrowed)
8. One Punch Man, volume 13 by ONE and Yusuke Murata (print, comic, borrowed)
9. There's No Such Thing As Bad Weather by Linda Akeson McGurk (ebook, non-fiction, borrowed)
10. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (print, fiction, borrowed)
11. The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos (audio, fiction, borrowed)
12. Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin VanDraanen (audio, fiction, borrowed)
13. Tea with the Black Dragon by R.A. MacAvoy (print, fiction, borrowed)
1. The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan (print, fiction, borrowed)
2. Code Girls by Liza Mundy (audio, non-fiction, borrowed)
3. Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man by Wendelin VanDraanen (audio, fiction, borrowed)
4. Masked Ball at Broxley Manor by Rhys Bowen (audio, fiction, owned)
5. Hounded by Kevin Hearne (ebook, fiction, owned) *
6. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (print, fiction, owned) *
7. Hexed by Kevin Hearne (ebook, fiction, owned) *
8. A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen (audio, fiction, owned)
9. Hammered by Kevin Hearne (ebook, fiction, borrowed)
10. Tricked by Kevin Hearne (ebook, fiction, borrowed)
11. Orange: Future by Ichigo Takano (print, comic, owned)
12. The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin (print, non-fiction, owned)
13. Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan (audio, fiction, owned) *
* indicates a reread
1. The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer (print, fiction, owned)
2. The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart (print, fiction, owned)
3. The Complete ElfQuest, Volume 1 by Wendy & Richard Pini (print, comic, owned) *
4. The Complete ElfQuest, Volume 2 by Wendy & Richard Pini (print, comic, owned) *
5. The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington (print, non-fiction, owned)
6. Rise of Empire by Michael J. Sullivan (audio, fiction, owned)
7. The Complete ElfQuest, Volume 3 by Wendy & Richard Pini (print, comic, owned) *
8. Waiting for Spring 5 by Anashin (print, comic, owned)
9. Waiting for Spring 6 by Anashin (print, comic, owned)
10. Waiting for Spring 7 by Anashin (print, comic, owned)
11. Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan (audio, fiction, owned)
12. The Flowers of Vashnoi by Lois McMaster Bujold (ebook, fiction, owned)
13. Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann (print, non-fiction, borrowed)
14. The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter by Michael J. Sullivan (audio, fiction, owned)
1. From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon (print, fiction, borrowed)
2. Sweetness and Lightning 1 by Gido Amagakure (print, comic, borrowed)
3. Sweetness and Lightning 2 by Gido Amagakure (print, comic, borrowed)
4. Sweetness and Lightning 3 by Gido Amagakure (print, comic, borrowed)
5. Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley (audio, fiction, borrowed)
6. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (print, fiction, borrowed)
7. Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold (print/audio, fiction, owned/borrowed) *
8. Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold (print/audio, fiction, owned/borrowed) *
9. A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie (audio, fiction, borrowed)
10. Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen (audio, fiction, owned)
11. Monster Hunter Memoirs: Saints by Larry Correia & John Ringo (print, fiction, borrowed)
12. Your Lie in April 1 by Naoshi Arakawa (print, comic, borrowed)
13. Your Lie in April 2 by Naoshi Arakawa (print, comic, borrowed)
14. Your Lie in April 3 by Naoshi Arakawa (print, comic, borrowed)
15. All Shall Be Well by Deborah Crombie (audio, fiction, borrowed)
16. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall (print/audio, fiction, owned/borrowed)
1. Restart by Gordon Korman (ebook, fiction, borrowed)
2. Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron (ebook, fiction, owned) *
3. Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham (audio, fiction, borrowed)
4. Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn (print, fiction, borrowed)
5. The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes by Leonard Goldberg (print, fiction, borrowed)
6. Leave the Grave Green by Deborah Crombie (audio, fiction, borrowed)
7. I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel (print, non-fiction, owned)
8. A Crucible of Souls by Mitchell Hogan (audio, fiction, owned)
9. Murder in an English Village by Jessica Ellicott (audio, fiction, owned)
10. A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold (print/audio, fiction, owned) *
11. Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway (ebook, fiction, borrowed)
* indicates a reread
1. Sully by Chesley B. Sullenberger (audio, non-fiction, borrowed)
2. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (print, fiction, borrowed)
3. Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds by Brandon Sanderson (print, fiction, borrowed)
4. Heartwood Hotel: A True Home by Kallie George (print, fiction, owned)
5. The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye (print, fiction, owned) *
6. Emma by Jane Austen (audio, fiction, owned)
7. I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella (print, fiction, borrowed)
8. The Secret Lives of Introverts by Jenn Granneman (print, non-fiction, owned)
9. Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen (audio, fiction, owned)
10. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall (audio, fiction, borrowed)
11. Greywalker by Kat Richardson (ebook, fiction, borrowed) *
12. Urchin of the Riding Stars by M.I. McAllister (print/audio, fiction, owned/borrowed)
13. Sheets by Brenna Thummler (print, comic, borrowed)
14. Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine (print, fiction, borrowed)
15. The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks (print, comic, owned)
16. The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks (print, comic, owned)
1. Boston Jane by Jennifer L. Holm (audio/ebook, fiction, borrowed)
2. The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by Clint McElroy (print, comic, borrowed)
3. Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (print, fiction, borrowed)
4. Crush by Svetlana Chmakova (print, comic, owned)
5. The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall (audio, fiction, borrowed)
1. The Water and the Wild by K.E. Ormsbee (print, fiction, owned)
2. The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall (audio, fiction, borrowed)
3. A Cotswold Christmas by Kate Hewitt (ebook, fiction, owned)
4. Christmas with Anne of Green Gables and Other Stories by L.M. Montgomery (ebook, fiction, owned)
5. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (audio, fiction, owned)
6. American Panda by Gloria Chao (print, fiction, borrowed)
Welcome to the group. I will enjoy seeing what you read.
Shades of Grey was...odd. It's dystopian, but dropped smack dab in the middle of a small English village with all its politics and gossip all the rest. I listened to the audio, which was quite delightful, but I think there was some word and number play that would have been better served by seeing it in print.
My first exposure to this series was via the anime several years ago, but I only watched an episode or two at the time. The anime is based on a series of Japanese light novels by Satoshi Wagahara, but I am not sure whether or not the light novels have been translated into English. I have been reading the manga adaptation, drawn by Akio Hiiragi.
Basic premise: the demon/devil king Satan is forced to flee from his attempt to conquer the land of Ente Isla, and the portal he opens to do so drops him and one of his four generals in the middle of modern-day Tokyo. Without access to his demonic powers, he has to get part-time work...at the local MgRonalds (because we can't use actual names of actual businesses because its anime/manga). Hijinks ensue as other people from Ente Isla keep showing up, including the Hero Emilia who was the reason he fled the battle in the first place.
It is always interesting (if sometimes a touch disconcerting) to see how elements of Christianity are used when filtered through a non-Christian lens. In this instance, all that really seems to carry over are some names and a few associated descriptive elements (horns, goat feet, etc). All the characters from Ente Isla take Japanese names in order to blend in to their surroundings, so even the names are more of a window dressing.
At the point where I am in the story, the MgRonalds is closed for summer renovations, and the apartment building where Sadao (Satan) and his associates are living is also under repair, so the whole gang have relocated to the seaside, where they are (or will be) working at a beachfront souvenir-type stand. There are a couple more volumes available in English, but my public library does not have them yet.
Since I started posting here in basically the last week of January, going backward to review everything I read so far seems a bit overwhelming. Going forward I hope to do a better job at things. Anyway, I have been making excellent progress toward my stated reading goals for 2018--50% of my reading has been books I own, and two-thirds of that has been books I owned prior to the start of the year. I also read twice as many books in January 2018 as I did in January 2017, a fact I am ascribing at least in part to my increased use of audiobooks.
I got an Audible membership in March of 2017, and in December I put the Libby app on my phone so I could borrow audiobooks and ebooks from the library. Net result is that a third of my reading so far in 2018 has been audiobooks. They are wonderful for my daily commute, as well as for when I am doing things like making dinner or cleaning.
So far I have only had one book I gave up on, which was Thirty-Two Going on Spinster (an ebook I'd had for a while). I was not able to sympathize or empathize with the narrator. When it comes to first-person POV fiction I really need the narrator to be likeable--or at the very least interesting--and the narrator in this book was neither (at least not to me; plenty of people have really enjoyed the series).
I ended January with four books actively in progress (and eight others that are carryovers from 2017...or earlier). My non-fiction reading continues to be slower than my fiction/comics reading, but I am making steady progress on several books. So far I think my favorite reads have been Anne of Green Gables, Sabriel, and Shoe Dog. All of which were audiobooks, interestingly enough. So, on the print side of things, I quite enjoyed A Jane Austen Education and the Waiting for Spring manga.
Figuring out what to listen to is still a bit of a challenge at times. One, I have to like the narrator. Two, I don't really want books with a lot of swearing or with any scenes of the "and now we will skip a few paragraphs/turn the page" variety, because with audio it's a lot harder to do that. This means I tend to stick to books/authors I have already read or works I am already familiar with. Particularly when it comes to Audible, since I am buying those books (yeah, credits, but still). That's why Libby is useful--it allows me to experiment a bit more.
Let's see about getting a few review-type things up here. My first three finished books in February are all rereads, and all of them are books I own.
I reread The Eyre Affair because the last time I read it was thirteen years ago, and I wanted a general refresher before I went on to later books in the series. There were a lot of things I had forgotten, but that just made it like reading a new-to-me book in some ways. One thing that I got to wondering about was how fan-fiction would affect the book world. We see what happens when Thursday Next interacts with the Jane Eyre manuscript, but those changes "stuck" because it was the original manuscript, rather than a copy. But how many story continuations and reimaginings and alternate viewpoint works exist? I am guessing/hoping at least some of this might come up in future books in the series.
Howl's Moving Castle was a reread, but a first time listen on Audible. I really like how the narrator handled the story, and I am pleased to see that she narrates the other books as well. My most recent previous experience with this story was actually the Studio Ghibli movie, and that takes quite a few liberties with the source material. The movie isn't bad, but it is a different sort of experience. On the whole, I prefer the novel (stunning Ghibli visuals notwithstanding).
As for The Introvert's Way, I came across my copy of it while I was looking for another book in my collection, and I had the urge to reread it since it had been about six years. It isn't a bad book, but I don't know that it holds up compared to more recent works. My gut feeling is that introversion has become better understood and accepted than it was at the time this book was published. There are certainly a lot more books readily available on the subject. This one seems very focused on the whole "being an introvert is perfectly normal and valid, don't let the mean extroverts get you down" theme, which is still useful, but also comes across as maybe a touch...juvenile? Or perhaps a bit overtly cheerleader-y. I am an introvert, so the topic is understandably of some interest to me, but this book seems a bit more feel-good than informative, especially for 2018.
I agree that there is a better understanding of introversion (and extroversion) these days. I am of the former, rather than the latter, although I don't think I really thought much about it before, say, 2000.
Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favorite authors, and I am reading my way through all of her works.
And that is rather bizarre about the pricing of things. I have noticed that happens from time to time, but am at a loss as to how it makes sense. Right now I am actually debating on whether or not to pre-order The Little Broomstick from the UK Amazon because a new paperback edition is coming out in April (£6.99), and the only copies available in the US are 1) used and 2) at minimum double the price of the upcoming paperback release.
It's possible the book will get a US release, but you'd think it would show up for pre-order on the US Amazon if that were the case. Since it does not, I am currently forced to conclude there is no intention by the publishers to release it to the US market.
That said, I have a feeling I will want to reread this at some point, but over a much shorter period of time. It is one of those topics where review and repetition are good things.
February was a month heavy on rereading this year. In addition to the three books I reviewed earlier, I also reread the novella and first three books in Patricia Brigg's Alpha and Omega series and The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax (picked up on Audible, so my first time listening to the book, but I read it in print back in 2014).
All but two of the books I read in February are books I own, so I am doing very well at my goal to read from my own shelves, though with the majority of them being rereads I haven't exactly made much of a dent in my "owned but unread" count.
I ended February with five books actively in progress (two carrying over from January), and seven books that are carryovers from 2017. My overall favorite read for the month is probably The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama, which I finished just yesterday evening.
This is my first time listening to a Georgette Heyer novel. I own and have read quite a few; they're a lot of fun. I've added several more to my wishlist on Audible (making sure I get the unabridged versions).
I wanted to like this book. It's all about a lovely bookshop in a small English town and all the people who frequent it. And it's about books, and the power they have in our lives. It truly seemed like something that would be right up my alley, but for some reason it just didn't work. I think part of that is due to the fact that in a 340 page book there are at least nine major storylines taking place. Granted, they all connect back to the bookshop and they intersect with each other, but it made it challenging to properly keep track of everything going on.
Honestly, it felt more like a setup for a TV mini series, or maybe the first season of a show. And looking at the author's credentials, she started out as a screenwriter. It shows.
So, March. Read a bunch, posted very little. In looking over my physical book journal entries for the month, my longest entries were either full of spoilers (for later books in various series) or were on the books I had the most problems with, and thus were full of griping and nitpicking. :P
A third of my reading for the month was Patricia Briggs novels, catching up on both the Mercy Thompson series and the Alpha and Omega series. I'm getting a feeling that the two series may be drawing closer together, but I don't know how much overt mixing is likely to occur. Regardless, unless I decide to reread things, I am caught up on both until the next book is published (presumably next year).
Another third of my March reading consisted of rereads: one of the Patricia Briggs novels and the the first four books of the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. I had forgotten just how much I enjoy that series, and Thick as Thieves, the latest entry in the series, was a delight to read. The downside to being all caught up there is that the next book (I hope there will be one!) isn't likely to be released for several more years....
Just under half of my reading was borrowed books, so I am still keeping on track for my stated yearly goals.
Celebrating a Christ-Centered Easter by Emily Belle Freeman. This was a gift from my mother-in-law a couple years ago, but I only got around to reading it on Easter Sunday this year. Lots of good ideas for ways to shift the celebrations toward a more religious focus, but also something that is better applied well in advance of the holiday, rather than reading through the entire book on the day of, as I did. But I do have a potential template for the upcoming year, so there's that.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. Normally I try to read the book before I see the movie, but it does not always work out that way. I thought the movie was quite well done, but there is far more information in the book, which begins before the space program was even a glimmer of possibility. Movies are (or should be) dictated by how compelling a story is visually, while a book has the opportunity to explore the larger historical context and all sorts of things that would be relegated to "backstory" in a film. As related/unrelated reading, I want to read/listen to Code Girls in the near future.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. I had to get past the stylistic choice of third-person present tense before I could enjoy this novel, but I did enjoy it. And I can see why Zevin chose that particular structure; it gives the whole thing a sort of timeless quality, with little glimpses into a life and the lives around it. And while I am not drawn to seek out literary fiction (A.J. Fikry would likely say I have trash taste), I do understand and appreciate the love of books, and wanting to share them with other people.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. This was the book my book group read and discussed for April, and it was both a powerful read and a hard read for me. One, it isn't exactly my go-to genre, so I probably would not have picked it up on my own. Read on recommendation, sure, but not picked up in the course of browsing the shelves. Two, knowing that the events that happened in the book happened within living memory of people I know (perhaps not the exact sequence of events outlined in the novel, but things very like them) made it more challenging to read. And made me very grateful I live where and when I do. I am glad I read the book, but I needed lighter fare afterward.
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley. I read the first Flavia de Luce novel back in 2011, but for some reason never continued with the series (I think because by the time the second book was out I was in the middle of half a dozen other things). A friend of mine recommended the series on audio when I asked her for audiobook suggestions. I really enjoyed Jayne Entwistle's narration, and I plan on borrowing more of these. It was just the sort of lighter fare I was looking for after reading The Nightingale.
Active Memory by Dan Wells. This is the third (and possibly final) book in the Mirador series. Near future setting with a bunch of interesting ideas, but I am not sold on the entire premise of the world. That said, we are seeing a small slice of the future world form a limited viewpoint: one neighborhood/set of neighborhoods in a future Los Angeles. Interactions with people outside that area are limited because that isn't the point of the story being told.
His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik. I first read this back in 2007 and fell in love with the alternate history with dragons. When a friend of mine mentioned she was going to be listening to the audiobook, I decided to check it out, as I felt in the mood for Napoleonic Wars with dragons. Simon Vance does a wonderful job voicing the characters, and I look forward to continuing the series in audio format.
You have made The Nightingale sound like a book I might like. I’ll just need to be in the right frame of mind.
I enjoyed the movie Hidden Figures. I haven’t made my way to the book, but do plan on it.
Skinwalker by Faith Hunter. Urban fantasy set in New Orleans, and the start of the Jane Yellowrock series. It took me a little bit of time to get into the story, but I do want to read more of the series. The worldbuilding hints at several differences from the other urban fantasy series I have read, so I want to explore that more.
Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik. The second book in the Temeraire series; Laurence and Temeraire have to go to China. Simon Vance's narration continues to be excellent. This was another reread, again with an eleven year gap. I had forgotten a lot of details, so it was almost like getting the story again for the first time.
A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley. Flavia de Luce continues to delight, as does Jayne Entwistle's narration. It was with this book that I realized all the events are happening in a relatively short amount of time. I also found myself drawing parallels between Flavia and Harriet from Harriet the Spy (a different Harriet than Flavia's mother). Both girls are roughly the same age, and they both make observations of things that they do not necessarily understand the full importance of, given their age and life experience.
And starting May with one more read:
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley. Flavia's plans to trap Father Christmas and set off fireworks from the roof of Buckshaw were wonderful. I listened to this one in just two days; it was shorter than the other two.
Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright. A book on plagues through the ages seems like it should be incredibly depressing (and/or dry), but the author has an incredibly engaging tone and does not take things too seriously. She treats the victims of the various plagues with respect and dignity while still poking at the various very human reactions to plagues that are not helpful. I really enjoyed the author's conversational tone, and I think it worked very well in audio. (audio, non-fiction, borrowed)
The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. This was my book group's pick for May, and another book I probably would not have picked up just in the course of browsing. I really enjoyed the story and the characters, and our book group discussion was a good one. I brought up a question that sparked a good ten or fifteen minute debate and had pretty much everyone in the group saying they now needed to reread the book. That was fun. (print, fiction, owned)
War for the Oaks by Emma Bull. I have had this particular urban fantasy on my list of books I wanted to read since 2012, but I could not say how I heard about it at this point in time. I think this may be one of the earliest examples of the modern urban fantasy novel (Charles de Lint may have been writing earlier; I will have to check), and it is strictly Faerie. The closest other thing I have read to this are the Bedlam's Bard books from Mercedes Lackey, and reading this one has me wanting to reread those. I think I may want to get a copy of this one to keep, rather than just borrowing via ILL. (print, fiction, borrowed)
Brave by Svetlana Chmakova. This is the sequel to Awkward, which I read back in 2016. It's a cute graphic novel following the life of a somewhat awkard middle school boy as he deals with various challenges in his life. There is a theme of bullying as well as friendship, and of trying to find your place in a very confusing (at times) world. Overall I enjoyed Awkward better than Brave, but I am looking forward to Crush, which is the third book in the series. It comes out later this year, and the main character is my favorite side character in Brave. (print, comic, borrowed)
Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen. I picked this one up in an Audible sale because friends had recommended the series to me (back in 2016), but I knew basically nothing about the story beyond that it was a mystery set in England in 1932. I loved the audio, and found the story to be delightfully fun. No clue as to the strict historical accuracy of the story, but I was having enough fun not to care. I am glad to know that there are plenty more books in the series, and I will definitely be getting more of them once I have more Audible credits. (audio, fiction, owned)
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. Another book on the "heard about it years ago, only got to it now" stack. And like other books here, I cannot remember how I first heard about it, but I was reminded about it when I saw previews for the movie that is coming out later this year. As I was reading it I was reminded a lot of a couple manga series I had read, just with the characters as adults rather than teenagers. The lives of jet-setting Singaporeans are very different from my life, and I think I am very much okay with that being the case. I plan on borrowing the other two books in the series at some point. (print, fiction, borrowed)
One Punch Man, volume 13 by ONE and Yusuke Murata. I made a note in my book journal last year when I read volume 12 that I should wait until I had several volumes of this to read at once. I did not check that note before borrowing this volume. It's a bizarre, crazy romp that pokes a lot of fun at superhero tropes from all over the place, and waiting four to six months between volumes means it is difficult to keep track of the story. (print, comic, borrowed)
There's No Such Thing As Bad Weather by Linda Akeson McGurk. This non-fiction work reminds me fairly strongly of things like French Kids Eat Everything and Bringing Up Bebe, which is to say there is a good bit of thought-provoking information that is couched in a mix of nostalgia and "everything is better in [insert country here]" that can be frustrating at times. I did appreciate the acknowledgement that a country-wide approach is simply not feasible for a country as large and diverse as the United States; many of these types of books do not take that into consideration. All told, this book got me thinking about ways I can improve my own connections with nature, as well as ways I can help the children I interact with (as well as any children I may have in the future). (ebook, non-fiction, borrowed)
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. On the whole I enjoyed this novel, but watching Eleanor stumble through life was frequently painful. Also, had I not skipped to the end when I was about 40 pages in (yes, yes, I know, terrible habit and I should be ashamed, yadda yadda) I do not know that I would have continued reading. Having a clearer understanding of what was going on behind the scenes as I was reading, even if it was just in the back of my mind, helped me to enjoy the overall story more, and to have more empathy for Eleanor. (print, fiction, borrowed)
The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos. This one found its way into my reading queue courtesy of browsing the Libby app looking for possible audiobooks to borrow. I enjoyed it, but have to say that middle-grade military science fiction can be...odd. On the one hand, it was a fun (if somewhat predictable for an adult reader) action adventure story. On the other, there no way I can buy Mason Stark and his friends being thirteen years old. Sixteen, maybe; that would put them at the same general age as Wesley Crusher. And it felt like they were written as sixteen year olds, and then the age was just dropped to be within the accepted range for middle-grade fiction. (audio, fiction, borrowed)
Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin VanDraanen. This book (and its sequels) was one of the recommendations in episode 133 of the What Should I Read Next podcast, and I thought it sounded interesting. I was not disappointed; Sammy Keyes is a delightful, spunky young woman. I also liked that it was a mystery, but not a murder mystery, which seems to be rarer these days. Sammy actually reminds me a lot of Flavia de Luce, except in California in the 1990s instead of small-town England in the 1950s. I will definitely be reading more of this series. (audio, fiction, borrowed)
Tea with the Black Dragon by R.A. MacAvoy. A coworker recommended this to me when he saw me reading War for the Oaks. I would classify this as a proto urban fantasy novel; the fantasy elements on the whole are incredibly subtle. If I did not know that one of the characters was literally a centuries-old black dragon stuck in the body of a man, then there is basically no fantasy involved at all, and it becomes more of a thriller/mystery. Structurally, it also strikes me as a more literary work; there is a lot of attention paid to structure and word choice, as well as many references to other works. I know I said it was more thriller/mystery, but somehow the pacing remains languid and the story itself is...small. Just a few characters, over a few days. It isn't a sweeping epic. I would like to read it again, but I want to find an older copy, as the one I borrowed from the library was poorly formatted. (print, fiction, borrowed)
Two weeks into the month and I have read seven books so far. Since May was almost entirely borrowed books, I want to focus more on owned books in June. Which means actively going to the library less often, and avoiding putting holds on things (because of the nature of holds, they always seem to all become available at once). At least for a little while.
I am also trying to figure out the best way to track minutes spent reading. My public library's summer reading programs start in ten days, and they've switched from a "books read" format to a "reading time" format for 2018. It is throwing me for a bit of a loop.
The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan. This is the third book in the Trials of Apollo series, and Riordan dedicated it to the muse of Tragedy. Said dedication is...apt. I accurately predicted the identity of the villain who showed up, based on the villains of the previous books in the series. I definitely want to reread all the Greek/Roman series (Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, and Trials of Apollo) as they are all interconnected. The reread will have to wait until the Trials of Apollo series is complete, though. (print, fiction, borrowed)
Code Girls by Liza Mundy. Non-fiction very much in the vein of Hidden Figures, focused on the women who worked as code breakers during WW2. I enjoyed listening to this book, but I think I would have enjoyed it more had I read a print edition. Things were arranged more topically than chronologically, and that combined with a large cast of characters made some things hard to follow. Also, there were sections of the book where specific codes and techniques were discussed in some detail, and it is just plain hard to follow a long string of numbers and letters being read out with no visuals. (audio, non-fiction, borrowed)
Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man by Wendelin VanDraanen. The second book in the Sammy Keyes series. Tara Sands is an excellent narrator, and I am glad my library has so many of the books in the series. All the things I said about the first book hold true with this second book, and I look forward to seeing where the series goes next. (audio, fiction, borrowed)
Masked Ball at Broxley Manor by Rhys Bowen. A prequel novella to the Royal Spyness series. Light and enjoyable, but I would not recommend starting here if you are starting the series, as it works better if you have at least some knowledge of the characters. I probably could have waited until I had read a few more books in the series before picking this one up; as it is I can only speculate on some things that were hinted at for later books. (audio, fiction, owned)
Hounded by Kevin Hearne. I read this six years ago, but honestly did not remember much beyond the most general of details. I like the characters and find them entertaining, and I plan on reading more of the series. I have heard good things about the audio versions, but will be holding off for the moment. (ebook, fiction, owned) *
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I first read this back in 2011, shortly after it was published. Based on the notes I've been able to dig up, I liked it but did not love it, and it largely dropped off my radar until I saw the movie back in April. That got me wanting to reread the book to see how the two compared. The book was more crass than I remembered, but that is sort of in keeping with internet/gamer culture (unfortunately, in my mind). Comparing the book and the movie, I think I like the movie more (apart from some truly idiotic gun-related stuff at the very end of the film). It is always fascinating to see the differences between books and films, and how something will work in one medium but be utterly unsuited for another medium. (print, fiction, owned) *
Hexed by Kevin Hearne. Second book in the Iron Druid Chronicles, and another reread. I remembered even less of this one than I did of Hounded, so it was basically like reading a new book. Since my last reading of this I have been studying some German and I've been reading more WW2 novels, so a few things that showed up in here had a lot more significance to me this time around. I am looking forward to reading more of this series, but I plan on borrowing future installments, at least for the time being. (ebook, fiction, owned) *
The prizes for this year are as follows:
120 minutes - $5 fine coupon and a raffle ticket
600 minutes - a gently used book and a raffle ticket
1200 minutes - a gently used book and a raffle ticket
1800 minutes - a gently used book and a raffle ticket
2400 minutes - a gently used book and a raffle ticket
3000 minutes - a gently used book and 5 raffle tickets
The whole thing runs for 56 days, so to get all the rewards requires reading about an hour a day, and you can count books, ebooks, magazines, newspapers, graphic novels, and audiobooks. Basically most of the reading that you would do normally. And if you read to, say, your children, that time can count for both the parent's and the child's reading program.
I remember when I aged out of the kids summer reading program, and at the time that was the only one they offered. Then when I graduated from college, I discovered that the library had a program for teens, which, of course, I was too old to participate in. So I was really happy when they offered a summer reading program for adults, and I like that the prizes they give are books.
A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen. Georgiana is tasked by the Queen with hosting a Bavarian princess, which is no easy feat given Georgie's general lack of funds. Hijinks ensue, and it is delightful. Somehow I did not pick up on this in the first book, but I realised the name Wallis Simpson ("that American woman" as the Queen puts it) was familiar to me, and a quick online search revealed why; she is the woman who really did marry the Prince of Wales in 1937. This book takes place in 1932, so it will be interesting to see what all happens in the intervening years. There was a preview for the third book at the end of this one, and all I could do was shake my head at Georgie's naivete (she really should have waited for Belinda to look over that advertisement....). Again, I must wait for more Audible credits before continuing this delightful series. (audio, fiction, owned)
Hammered by Kevin Hearne. Third book in the Iron Druid series, and new territory for me. Atticus finds himself sworn to help Leif and Gunner get into Asgard to kill Thor, even though everyone he talks to tells him helping with the revenge thing is an extraordinarily bad idea (Atticus agrees, but does not want to go back on his word). He also finds himself in need of a new place to live, as he has attracted all manner of unwanted attention, both mundane and supernatural. I liked the book, but it felt rougher than the first two. That may have been due to some issues I was having with the Libby app, however. (ebook, fiction, borrowed)
Tricked by Kevin Hearne. Coyote...it seems that making deals with him is bound to get a person into trouble. I enjoyed this fourth book of the Iron Druid series more than the third. I can't really pinpoint exactly why, however. From reading summaries, I know there is going to be a twelve year (or nearly) gap between this book and the next one, and it comes to a good pausing point. I want to keep enjoying the series, so I am going to pick up some other things first before coming back to it. (ebook, fiction, borrowed)
Orange: Future by Ichigo Takano. I read the series back when it came out in 2016, but did not know there was any more until I came across this volume at the bookstore one day. It took me a few pages to fall back into the story world, but when I did it was very sweet. This volume has stories in both timelines (the series has an alternate timeline science fiction aspect to it), and they are written from the POV of one of the secondary main characters from the series. Reading this got me wanting to reread the whole series. (print, comic, owned)
The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. This book expands on the personality framework Gretchen Rubin developed as she was working on Better Than Before, which posits that everyone can be sorted into one of four tendencies: Upholder, Obliger, Rebel, or Questioner. I appreciated the deeper focus and enjoyed the book, but again I felt a lot of the information was already familiar to me due to listening to her podcast. I would say the strength of the book (for me) is having the content in print where I can reference it easily. (print, non-fiction, owned)
The adult summer reading program at my public library has been running for just over two weeks now (17 days), and thanks to the fact that this year they have us tracking minutes read instead of books read I have learned/confirmed that reading, for me, could basically be a part-time job. To wit, I have read 2714 minutes since the start of the program (45 hours, 14 minutes), and there are still nearly six weeks left. I have not made any effort to increase my daily reading time since the program started, so it will be interesting to see what my totals wind up being at the end.
Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan. This reread was my last read for June. I first read this back in 2011 and fell in love with both Hadrian and Royce. I have been listening to the prequel series with great enjoyment, so going back to the main series only made sense. Also, my father has been reading the books, and I wanted to be able to talk with him about them. There were lots of things I had forgotten, so that combined with the audio format made this almost like a new book to me. (audio, fiction, owned) *
The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer. Gervase Frant has come home at last to assume his position as Earl of St. Erth, but his reception is somewhat...chilly. His step-mother and half-brother are not, strictly speaking, entirely pleased he made it through the wars unscathed, but they are trying to adjust. There was more of a mystery element to this than many of the other Heyer novels I've read, and the blurb on the back of my copy does not paint an accurate picture of the plot. I had fun reading this one, and look forward to reading more Heyer (and Heyer-inspired) novels this summer. (print, fiction, owned)
The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart. I saw previews for the animated film based on this book, and since they looked wonderful I looked into getting a copy of the book to read. Out of print and ridiculously expensive, and not available at my public library either. Remembering what happened with When Marnie Was There, I checked on amazon.uk and saw there was an upcoming rerelease of the book coinciding with the UK film release. I ordered a copy as soon as it was available, and I am so glad I did. This is a delightful British fantasy adventure that reminds me a lot (tone-wise) of the works of Diana Wynne Jones, Susan Cooper, and Lloyd Alexander. It has also bumped the other Mary Stewart books I have higher on my TBR pile. (print, fiction, owned)
The Complete ElfQuest, Volume 1 by Wendy & Richard Pini. This comic series has been one of my favorite fantasy stories for over 25 years, and I love the Dark Horse reprints, even if this one does have a misprinted page. I will reread these every few years, and this is the 40th anniversary year for the series. This first volume contains the first, original quest, from the forest Holt to the Palace of the High Ones. (print, comic, owned) *
The Complete ElfQuest, Volume 2 by Wendy & Richard Pini. This second volume in the Dark Horse reprints collects Siege at Blue Mountain and Kings of the Broken Wheel. These two storylines mark the conclusion of what I consider to be the original series. There is still a lot more story out there, but these first two volumes contain the story I fell in love with as a child. (print, comic, owned) *
The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington. Continuing my trend of "non-fiction that takes me long periods of time to finish reading" we have this book on sleep that I started reading a year ago. There is a lot of information packed into this book, and I made liberal use of my tin of book darts as I was reading (possibly up to a third of said tin). Reading this was thought provoking, as I have always been something of a night owl. I am still trying to figure out how to implement better sleep strategies in my life, though according to the quiz in one of the appendices I am doing just fine on the sleep front. Sleep quality has never really been a problem for me, just quantity. (print, non-fiction, owned)
Day: 25 of 56
Minutes Read: 4058 (67 hours, 38 minutes)
Books Read: 9
Rise of Empire by Michael J. Sullivan. This is the second omnibus volume of the Riyria Revelations series, and it contains the books Nyphron Rising and The Emerald Storm. The adventures (or perhaps, misadventures) of Royce and Hadrian continue across Avryn, into Calis, and on to Delgos. Commentary on individual books in this series is difficult for me, since each one builds on the ones before it, and the whole six book cycle was fully written before any of it was published. Let's just say I would find reasons to keep listening beyond my commuting time, and I pulled out my print copies of the series as well and spent some time reading along in the book while listening to the audio. Tim Gerard Reynolds does an excellent job as the narrator. (audio, fiction, owned)
The Complete ElfQuest, Volume 3 by Wendy & Richard Pini. Continuing my (re)read of ElfQuest. Most of the content in this volume is still quite familiar, but I haven't read it as often as the first two volumes. Still, enough for it to count as a reread. Lots of shorter, standalone vignettes, not really arranged chronologically. About the first third of the book is in color, unlike the previous two volumes. This volume also contains the introduction of other artists besides Wendy Pini. (print, comic, owned) *
Day: 32 of 56
Minutes Read: 5733 (95 hours, 33 minutes)
Books Read: 13
Waiting for Spring, volumes 5-7 by Anashin. When I can, I like to read manga in multi-volume chunks (or in omnibus editions). I really enjoy how this series is progressing. The characters feel reasonably realistic, and I like all the different relationships being portrayed. This continues to be a sweet, gentle school-life story that provides a wonderful respite from heavier material. I look forward to seeing what will happen next. (print, comic, owned)
Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan. This is the third and final omnibus volume of the Riyria Revelations series, and it contains the books Wintertide and Percepliquis. Wonderful conclusion to the series. Hard to put my feelings down in a spoiler-free fashion. I didn't want it to end, didn't want to say goodbye to all the wonderful characters I have been spending so much time with over the past five and a half weeks. I do have the fourth prequel waiting in the wings, so I do not have to step away from them all just yet, but I want to savor the story as well. Decisions, decisions.... (audio & print, fiction, owned)
Day: 40 of 56
Minutes Read: 6920 (115 hours, 20 minutes)
Books Read: 16
Wrapping up July with three more books, bringing my total for the month up to 14, which is quite respectable.
The Flowers of Vashnoi by Lois McMaster Bujold. I was so happy to have new reading material in the Vorkosigan universe, even just a novella, and it was a lot of fun to see things from Ekatarin's perspective again. I would have loved for this to have been longer, but at the same time I have a feeling it probably would not have worked as well. (ebook, fiction, owned)
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. For over a decade my hometown has been doing a "one city, one book" program, where they pick a book and have a whole bunch of programming surrounding said title. This is the book for 2018, and it covers the Osage Murders that happened in Oklahoma in the 20s and 30s. It was an eye-opening read, as it highlighted how little I know about large swaths of our country and its history. This is something I am working to rectify, even though I think doing so is probably a Herculean task. (print, non-fiction, borrowed)
The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter by Michael J. Sullivan. The fourth, and currently last, of the Riyria Chronicles books. It was interesting to read this after finishing the Riyria Revelations since I already knew what happened to many of the characters later in their lives. I suppose in some ways it changes the tension of the story from "what is going to happen/will they be okay" to "how is this going to get from here to where I know it ends up?", but I am fine with that. I loved catching the little Easter eggs that Sullivan put in for his readers, and I do hope there will be more Riyria Chronicles books in the future. (audio, fiction, owned)
Day: 47 of 56
Minutes Read: 7737 (128 hours, 57 minutes)
Books Read: 22
Crunching the numbers a bit more, of those 22 completed books, five are audiobooks, and they account for 4938 of my tracked minutes (around 64%).
Starting off August with a whole pile of library books:
From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon. I read Menon's When Dimple Met Rishi last year and quite enjoyed it, so this wound up on my bookish radar. While I ultimately did like the book well enough, I found Twinkle to be more...grating as a character than Dimple, and more than once I wanted to shake some sense into her. The ending is very fairytale-esque, but that seems to tie in with Bollywood in general, and also with YA fiction, so I am willing to give it a pass. All in all, three stars for this one. (print, fiction, borrowed)
Sweetness and Lightning, volumes 1-3 by Gido Amagakure. My public library will have first volumes of various manga series set up as eye catchers on the shelves, and this was one of the series so featured. A fairly young math teacher is doing his best to raise his young daughter after his wife's death. He ends up learning how to cook alongside one of his students (her mother owns a restaurant). Each chapter features different foods, and a lot of recipes are included. I quickly fell in love with the delightful story and characters in these first three volumes, and the series is on my wishlist. It has a good balance between sweet, gentle story and serious topics like single parenthood and grief and loss. (print, comic, borrowed)
Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley. Back to Flavia de Luce after a four month hiatus. Easter time in Bishop's Lacey, and there are plans to exhume the remains of Saint Tancrid (buried under the village church). Of course, Flavia comes across a dead body and various plots. While Flavia is still a delight, I had a bit of trouble getting invested in (and following) the mystery in this volume. I think I may have had a bit of a mood mismatch. There was a big reveal at the end of the book, and I am quite interested to see where things will go next. (audio, fiction, borrowed)
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata. This novel is very Japanese, and the translation is not in American English (my guess is British/Australian English, based on the slang being used). At 36 years of age, Keiko Furukura is still working in the same convenience store job she got when she was 18, much to the dismay of her family and other acquaintances. I am not entirely sure how I feel about the story, but I think it will be one I continue to come back to in my mind for some time to come. (print, fiction, borrowed)
Day: 56 of 56
Minutes Read: 9515 (158 hours, 35 minutes)
Books Read: 25
Well, the library's 2018 summer reading program concluded over the weekend, and I had a great time with it. I was initially a bit skeptical about the whole "tracking minutes read" system they put in place, but I came to love it. Enough that I decided to continue tracking my reading this way, albeit on a paper calendar.
The books I selected for my prizes are as follows:
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Of these, the only one I had previously read was The Wednesday Wars. New goal...try to get these read before summer reading rolls around again?
Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold. After finishing the fifth Flavia de Luce audiobook, I found myself wanting to listen to something I was already very familiar with. And after reading The Flowers of Vashnoi earlier this year I was already in the mood to reread at least part of the Vorkosigan saga. Memory is one of my favorite books in the series (picking one favorite is impossible), so it was wonderful to revisit. I actually did a combination read/listen on this one, and the mark of a good novel is finding new things every time you read it. This definitely fits the bill. (print/audio, fiction, owned/borrowed) *
Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold. The library also had Komarr in audio, so I picked it up after finishing Memory and kept right on going. Another combo read/listen, where I was sneaking in extra reading time wherever I could. This time around I was struck by just how much happens in such a short period of time. Memory ends with the Winterfair celebrations, Komarr picks up three months later, and A Civil Campaign picks up two months after that, finishing up at Midsummer. (print/audio, fiction, owned/borrowed) *
A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie. The library did not have A Civil Campaign available in audio, so I branched out a bit. My mother has been reading this series, and when we would be in the car together the audiobook would often start up and play for a bit before she could pause things. I was catching snatches of a story that sounded interesting, so I borrowed this first book in the series. And oh, I had fun listening to it. Definitely a mystery series to continue reading, and quite possibly one to add to my permanent collection. Right now, I am waiting for my hold on the second audiobook to come available. (audio, fiction, borrowed)
My August reading finished up with a pile of borrowed books, bringing my total number of reads for the month to 16.
Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen. Still waiting for the second Kincaid & James novel to come available from the library, I jumped back over to see what Georgie was getting herself up to in this third installment of the Royal Spyness series. Lots of the expected hijinks ensued as she gets herself bundled off to Scotland to keep an eye out on the royal family. Plenty of action and adventure, along with sightings of the Loch Ness monster. This was the first of the books in the series to include an historical note at the end. I'm still really enjoying these characters, and look forward to reading more of the series. (audio, fiction, owned)
Monster Hunter Memoirs: Saints by Larry Correia & John Ringo. This is the third and final installment of the Monster Hunter Memoirs books, and it brings the whole thing to a good/expected ending. Still some unanswered questions, but my assumption there is the possibility for more content later, or for the inclusion of some elements brought up within the main series. (print, fiction, borrowed)
Your Lie in April, volumes 1-3 by Naoshi Arakawa. This was another "first volume set up as eye catcher" series on the shelves at my public library. Arima Kosei is a young man who has given up on playing the piano--he says he cannot her the music when he plays--who gets drawn back into the world of music by the talented (and unorthodox) violinist Kaori Miyazono. I liked the classical music angle, and the series got me wondering about how accurate its portrayal of the concert performance scene is. While I enjoyed the story and am interested in reading more, I will only read more if I can get them through the library. (print, comic, borrowed)
All Shall Be Well by Deborah Crombie. Like the first Kincaid & James novel, this is a multi-layered mystery. I was able to piece together some things, but not others. It has also been interesting bouncing between this series and the Royal Spyness books, as they both take place in England (albeit decades apart). In this one, Wallis Simpson was briefly mentioned, and she is "that American woman" in the Royal Spyness books. I am wondering how many, if any, of the secondary characters in this book will show up in later installments, like Duncan's downstairs neighbor, the Major. I have put a hold on the audio for the third book at the library. (audio, fiction, borrowed)
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. Reading this at the end of August was absolutely perfect timing in terms of tone and mood. I love all four of the Penderwick sisters. The book reminded me strongly of things like Sydney Taylor's All of a Kind Family, and I definitely want to read the rest of the books in the series. And I want them in hardcover and in audio, because the audiobook was excellent. One of my favorite reads for the year. (print/audio, fiction, owned/borrowed)
Hello September, when did you get here?
I acquired a lot of new books in August, and I read mostly borrowed books. While there is nothing wrong with either of these things, for September I have decided to really focus on reading what I own and to keep my book acquisitions to a minimum (a couple of pre-orders at the beginning of the month, and some freebie ebooks). I'll finish up the books I have borrowed from the library, but I should avoid checking out more (or putting more on hold).
Restart by Gordon Korman. I cannot remember how I heard about this book, but I put a hold on it back in June. Long hold list, obviously popular, and with good reason--the story is excellent. Chase Ambrose fell of the roof of his house and woke up several days later with no memory of his life up to that point. The only memory he does manage to dredge up is an image of a blond girl in a blue dress, maybe in a garden. He goes back to school (eighth grade), having to start over and figure out who he is, and why some people love him and lots of others seem to hate/fear him. He also needs to figure out who he wants to be. First person present tense done well, with several viewpoint characters (one per chapter). Read this in a single day. (ebook, fiction, borrowed)
Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron. Near-future urban fantasy with dragons that I first read back in 2014. All I really remembered were the absolute basics of the storyline, so rereading it was almost like reading a new book. Well, I also remembered that I wanted to read more of the series. Fun characters, entertaining storyline, and a good setup for future books. My Nook copy has some formatting issues that I hope are not present in the Kindle versions of later books in the series. (ebook, fiction, owned) *
Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham. Legal thriller for middle-grade/young YA audiences? Entertaining enough, though I don't know how plausible it all is. It also ends with a lot of things still unresolved. Presumably, said plot elements are going to be continuing threads through the series. I do want to see where things end up, and the audiobook was enjoyable. Here's hoping the library has the rest of the series. (audio, fiction, borrowed)
I guess I have been busy, but it honestly doesn't feel that way. Reading is one of my main hobbies, and audiobooks have definitely increased the amount of reading I do, thanks to my daily commute. So far a third of my reading this year has been audiobooks.
Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn. This is the second new Thrawn novel since he was reintroduced into the Star Wars canon. In this novel, Grand Admiral Thrawn and Darth Vader are forced to work together by the Emperor to investigate a strange disturbance in the force out on the Outer Rim...in an area where years before a younger Thrawn first met Anakin Skywalker. The book bounces between the "present" timeline and the Clone Wars era encounter. I liked the interwoven past/present structure of the novel, but I do wonder how well it would read for someone not as immersed in the various Star Wars storylines. I was reading this at the same time as I was finishing watching the Star Wars: Rebels animated television series, and that made for an interesting experience as there is some storyline overlap. I do hope there will be more Thrawn novels, but I haven't seen any news of a third one yet. (print, fiction, borrowed)
The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes by Leonard Goldberg. This read like a Sherlock Holmes novel, which is as it should be. I enjoyed the story, and I plan on tracking down the next book in the series. I also want to see if my public library has any of Goldberg's medical thrillers available, since he decided to reuse at least the name of his heroine (Joanna Blalock) as the character who is Sherlock Holmes' daughter. It will be interesting to see if there are any other similarities between the two characters. (print, fiction, borrowed)
Leave the Grave Green by Deborah Crombie. More Kincaid and James. This one starts with a flashback prologue with two siblings coming home from school, only to have one of them fall in the river and drown, then skips forward a number of years to a body being found in one of the locks on the Thames. As with the other two books in this series that I have read so far, I found the mysteries to be multi-layered, with lots of potential character motivations. Also quite character-driven; the story is as much about the lives of the characters as it is about solving the whodunit. Some developments at the end of this book have me wondering how things are going to play out in the next one. I've been enjoying the audio versions of this series, but it looks like the fourth book will be a print read. (audio, fiction, borrowed)
I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel. This is a delightful essay collection about the reading life that can be read in a couple of hours. I love the cover, which is a watercolor of Anne Bogel's home library (one day I hope to have a dedicated library room). The book is dedicated to everyone who has ever finished a book under the covers with a flashlight when they were supposed to be sleeping, which describes me on multiple occasions. The essay 'Bookworm Problems' had me looking around for the camera (mostly in jest, but still) because it was almost too on point in many ways, and even though I didn't fully relate to every single thing in the book, all the feelings described were familiar on some level. This is definitely a collection I am glad to one, and one I will be coming back to. (print, non-fiction, owned)
Now I need to figure out what I want to listen to next. Maybe I will start Murder in an English Village.
In the month of September I finished eleven books, and six of them were borrowed, so I didn't exactly meet my goal of reading primarily what I owned. Book acquisitions were down compared to previous months, but were still a non-zero change to the total size of my library. I plan on carrying all my September bookish goals forward into October, since I am happy with the trend my reading has been taking.
Murder in an English Village by Jessica Ellicott. This falls very much in the same sort of mystery vein as the Maisie Dobbs books or Rhys Bowen's Royal Spyness series, at least for me. Same general time period (between the two World Wars), England, female sleuths, etc. Some of the timing was a touch hard to follow since I've also been listening to the Royal Spyness novels, which are set a decade or so later. A fun mystery and start to a new series. I found it interesting that the American accent given to Beryl in this book is very similar to the one given to Wallis Simpson in the Royal Spyness novels, even though the two have different narrators. (audio, fiction, owned)
A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold. This was a slow, savoring reread for me. I was actually surprised when I looked at my reading log and found that I last read this in 2007; I was sure it had been more recently than that. Probably I reread favorite bits, but not the book as a whole. There are so many wonderful parts to this novel, and since my last full reading I have become more acquainted with the works of "Jane, Charlotte, Georgette, and Dorothy", which I think helped deepen my appreciation of the novel all the more. Love it when I can find something wonderful in every rereading of a story. (print/audio, fiction, owned) *
Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway. This was a fun middle grade fantasy novel, set in a world where everyone has magic, and magic is just a part of everyday normal life, so when it is discovered that Abby is completely without magic--an Ord--it takes everyone by surprise. What follows is her going to a special school for ords, and learning how to navigate the world without magic. I really liked that Abby's family is very involved in her life and in the story; it felt a lot more realistic than the more standard "poor orphan" trope that shows up in a lot of middle grade/YA fantasy. Family creates different complications, and I don't think those get shown as much in fantasy novels, at least not for the primary protagonist (yes, Ron Weasley has a multitude of family members, but he's also not the main character of the novels). I really hope the author writes another book about these characters, but given that it has been six years since this one came out it is looking less likely. (ebook, fiction, borrowed)
Sully by Chesley B. Sullenberger. Originally published as Highest Duty. Fascinating memoir from the captain of US Airways flight 1549, detailing the things in his life that led up to his amazingly successful emergency landing in the Hudson River in early 2009. I listened to the audiobook, and I thought the chosen narrator was a good match to Sullenberger, who reads the last few chapters of the book himself. I also want to see the movie that came out a couple of years ago, based on the 2009 accident. (audio, non-fiction, borrowed)
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I first tried reading this in 2016, but did not get very far into it at the time. I have no specific notes as to why, though I would guess a "stylistic bounce" was involved, along with it being a novel in translation. The "series of interconnected vignettes" style of story can take some adjusting to, and this novel also has timeline jumps, with parts of Ove's history being doled out a chapter at a time, in between the current events of the story. I found this to be a thought-provoking read, and likely one I would not have stumbled upon in the normal course of my reading life. While I find I do enjoy books like this when I read them, I also do not actively seek them out without external prompting. In this case, it being a book group selection. That said, I am seriously considering purchasing a copy of this to own. (print, fiction, borrowed)
Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds by Brandon Sanderson. A series of three novellas collected into a single volume, and unconnected to any of Sanderson's other works. I had had the individual volumes on my TBR list for a while, but never got around to reading them until this omnibus volume was released. Stephen Leeds is a fascinating individual with a host of essentially imaginary friends who help him compartmentalize himself and his knowledge. They are...useful but troublesome. The flap copy for the book really only covers events from the first novella, but that is not entirely surprising. Definitely a book I want to add to my collection. (print, fiction, borrowed)
Heartwood Hotel: A True Home by Kallie George. I saw this series mentioned on a blog I follow, and the blogger compared it favorably with the Redwall series, which I love. I did not need much convincing beyond that point! This first book is a gentle delight, and quite a quick read; I read the entire book in under an hour without rushing. I loved the little illustrations throughout the book, and I am glad I have the rest of the series waiting on my shelves. (print, fiction, owned)
The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye. This is a delightful fairy tale and one of my favorite books. I cannot remember when I first read this, beyond that it was years ago. This is another quick read with charming illustrations, and hard to do justice to in a review; I'd just end up awkwardly recapping things for a bit before shoving the book at you and telling you to read it. The copy I own is a paperback, and I ordered a hardcover copy after this most recent reread. I am hoping said hardcover will include the color plates that are in the copy my public library has. (print, fiction, owned) *
Emma by Jane Austen. Much of my familiarity with the works of Jane Austen actually comes from the various movie and television adaptations I have watched. Not a bad thing, but by their very nature adaptations are going to leave things out. The audio production I listened to here was excellent, but still an adaptation, albeit a more complete one than the movie I am most familiar with. So on some level I feel I still need to read the book! This was definitely a production rather than an unabridged narration, with multiple people doing the parts, added music, and also background sound effects. All tastefully done, in my opinion, but I do want to pick up another audio version for future enjoyment. And pull out my "complete works of Jane Austen" collection too. (audio, fiction, owned)
I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella. I would classify this as a pure fluff read with a rather surprising amount of depth and insight into humanity. Poppy Wyatt has lost her engagement ring (family heirloom) less than two weeks before her wedding, and her phone got stolen when she went outside to check her messages regarding the search for the ring. She is absolutely frantic and at a loss as to what to do about it when she finds a discarded cell phone in a trash bin. This phone is in perfect working order, so Poppy claims it as her own. There's just one problem...the phone belongs to a businessman's personal assistant, and said businessman really wants it back! Which is, of course, totally understandable. Hijinks ensue as Poppy works out a deal where she will keep the phone--just until her ring is found--and forward all the businessman's correspondence to him. What could possibly go wrong? (print, fiction, borrowed)
The Secret Lives of Introverts by Jenn Granneman. This is another book in my collection of works about introverts and introversion. There is a lot of good information in it, but not much that I found to be super revolutionary per se. I did realize as I was reading it that a lot of the challenges that introverts seem to face do not feature all that prominently in my own life, and I can only attribute this to the fact that I am the introverted daughter of two introverts. I never really ever felt like I was strange or defective or that I needed to be a completely different person. That I needed to develop skills that did not come naturally to me, sure, but that is hardly the same thing. (print, non-fiction, owned)
Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen. I continue to be delighted and entertained by this series. Georgie finds herself tasked with representing the British royal family at a wedding in Transylvania. Yes, vampires get brought up, but not in any truly serious way. Mostly the subject throws an extra wrinkle or two in the mystery. I was pleased that I managed to work pretty much everything out before it was properly revealed within the course of the story; I do not always manage to do so. I continue to be greatly impressed with Katherine Kellgren's narration. (audio, fiction, owned)
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall. I think this second book in the series may be even better than the first, which was already absolutely wonderful. The series certainly is popular; I put a hold on this audiobook at my public library when I finished the first one in August, and it took nearly two months to work my way to the top of the queue (so I put holds on the third and fourth books at the same time). I'm loving the audio version, but I also want to get the series in hardcover. Additionally, I want to get more of my friends/family to read the books so I have more people to talk about them with. (audio, fiction, borrowed)
Greywalker by Kat Richardson. I first read this back in 2011, and I gave it a three star rating. I also wrote a short review, which is fairly unusual for me. Looking over that review, my feelings are not materially changed. Overall, this is an enjoyable urban fantasy novel, but it is rough in a number of areas. It is not as polished as other urban fantasy novels I have read, and is very much a "setting the stage" type of book. I have read at least the next two books, and based on my ratings I did enjoy them, but I do not really remember them at all. I enjoyed this enough that I will look into borrowing more of the series. (ebook, fiction, borrowed) *
Urchin of the Riding Stars by M.I. McAllister. After finishing the second Penderwicks novel, I had a rather unfortunate experience with the audiobook of Colin Meloy's Wildwood, which I abandoned after two hours in favor of something--anything--else. The library had the audio version of this novel, which I have had in print for years. I am pretty sure I picked it up originally because it seemed likely to have similarities with the Redwall series, which I have loved for years. The similarities are definitely there, but the Mistmantle series is definitely its own beast. I really enjoyed reading about Urchin the squirrel and Padra the otter and all the rest, and I want to track down the rest of the series. It does not appear that the sequels got audiobook versions, and the whole thing looks to be out of print, so this may take some time.... (print/audio, fiction, owned/borrowed)
Sheets by Brenna Thummler. This was a reasonably cute graphic novel about a girl who runs a laundromat and a ghost who starts essentially haunting it. The art style took a little bit of getting used to, and I had a bit of trouble believing Marjorie is all of 13 years old. Still, a fun, quick read with some entertaining characters. (print, comic, borrowed)
Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine. What if the Library of Alexandria was not destroyed, but instead continued on as the greatest repository of knowledge ever known? This is the basic idea seed that grew into this alternate reality series. Near the beginning of the book there is an almost throwaway reference to it being set in 2025 (or some time around there), but because of the Library's absolute hold over things, the world looks rather different from ours. The technology level is more...alchemical steampunk than anything else, and the printing press was never invented. Per the book, Gutenberg was stopped by the Library, and all subsequent attempts have also been quashed. I did find myself asking "But what about the Chinese?" as they had movable type (and thus something at least resembling press printing) a good 400 years before Gutenberg, plus there are things like woodblock printing and cuneiform tablets, but there was nothing so glaring that I was completely thrown out of the story. I am looking forward to reading more, and I am very glad I don't live in their world. (print, fiction, borrowed)
The Nameless City and The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks. Normally I wouldn't squish together two separately titled works like this, but they are the first two volumes in a trilogy and I read them back to back. This is a historical fantasy (more historical than fantasy) story set in a not-actually-China-but-similar country. I loved the art and the characters, and I want to see how the story concludes in the third volume, which was one of my October purchases. (print, comic, owned)
Toadstool has a sale all this week, 20% off everything in the store, just FYI.
Boston Jane by Jennifer L. Holm. When this book was released I was not paying a whole lot of attention to historical fiction, so it does not surprise me overly much that I had not heard of it until this year. Jane Peck is a young woman from Philadelphia who travels to what will become the state of Washington in the 1850s, with the intention of marrying William, her father's old apprentice who had moved out there years before. But when she arrives at the settlement (such as it is), her fiance is not there, and she discovers that an education from Miss Hepplewhite's school for young ladies was hardly preparation for life on the frontier. She soon rallies and makes the best of things, however. I really enjoyed listening to this book, and I have the second volume of the series out from the library in ebook format, as they only had audio for the first one. (audio/ebook, fiction, borrowed)
The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by Clint McElroy. A comic book adaptation of a D&D live play podcast. I thought this was a lot of fun, with good art and an entertaining story (which I was at least marginally familiar with, having listened to the first two episodes of the podcast). I am not sure when the second volume is due to come out, but I definitely want to continue reading this. (print, comic, borrowed)
Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey. I cannot remember how I first heard of this science fiction series, but it kept getting brought to my attention in little ways, most recently via mentions of the television show based on the book series. I wanted to read at least the first book before I watched any of the episodes, as I try to experience the source material first. This is one of my previously mentioned "taking a long time to read" books. I enjoyed the story, and I definitely want to read more of the series, but I need a bit of a break before I tackle the next book. I have a feeling if I don't intersperse other reading then I am liable to burn out on the series. (print, fiction, borrowed)
Crush by Svetlana Chmakova. This is the third volume of the series that started with Awkward and continued in Brave. More navigating middle school life, this time following Jorge, who was my favorite side character in Brave. He's got a good head on his shoulders. (print, comic, owned)
The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall. I didn't want two extensive waits, so when I finished The Penderwicks on Gardam Street I put a hold on both the third and fourth audiobooks at the same time. So of course, the fourth one hit my account a day before this one (luckily it was only a day). Susan Denaker's narration continues to be wonderful, and I am quite impressed by how she makes Batty sound older, but still definitely like Batty. This volume of the series has less of Rosalind because she is going to New Jersey with friends while the other three sisters go with Aunt Claire to Point Mouette and their parents and Ben are in the UK. This arrangement leaves Skye as the OAP (oldest available Penderwick) and all sorts of adventures ensue. I'm glad I am able to dive right into the next book in the series, which appears to take place several years after this one, so a much more substantial time jump than those found between the first three books. (audio, fiction, borrowed)
The Water and the Wild by K.E. Ormsbee. The title is a fun reference to the Yeats poem "The Stolen Child", and the cover of the book is just beautiful. Storywise, some things felt a little rough, mostly when it came to providing foundational world-building elements to the reader. I suppose structurally this is not much different from the classic faerie stories and folklore that the book is drawing from, but in terms of modern storytelling it takes some getting used to. The other rough bit was how the book just sort of seemed to...stop. It was less of an ending and more of a pausing point. Presumably things will pick up right where they left off in the second book, which I got via LTER...back in 2016. Now I can actually read it. (print, fiction, owned)
The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall. A definite time jump from the last book, with Batty and Ben as the primary viewpoint characters, and both well into elementary school (fifth and second grade, respectively). Rosalind is off at her first year of college, and Skye and Jane are both in high school. We are also introduced to the new youngest Penderwick, two-year-old Lydia. A lot happens in this book, and a mere summary is never going to do it justice. This series as a whole is probably one of my favorite reads of 2018. (audio, fiction, borrowed)
A Cotswold Christmas by Kate Hewitt. A sweet, rather fluffy holiday romance, set in the Cotswolds. This was a fast read, and not really challenging, which is useful during the holidays. It also serves as the set up/start of the Willoughby Close series, which looks like it could be interesting. (ebook, fiction, owned)
Christmas with Anne of Green Gables and Other Stories by L.M. Montgomery. I wanted more seasonal reading, and I've had this in my collection since last year. Two of the stories are excerpts from the Anne novels, but the rest are unconnected save for being set in Canada. They were just the sort of stories I needed right now. Gentle, sweet holiday stories about people doing good for others and mending fences and all the rest. Because this is a collection of short stories, it was easy to pick up and read in small chunks of time, whenever I needed a little pick-me-up. (ebook, fiction, owned)