The Monday Check-In ~ 2/17/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

Oh boy. This week was my husband’s turn to have surgery. It was a pre-planned orthopedic procedure, but still, I really need my family members (and myself) to stay out of the hospital for a good long while after this! Hubby is doing well, and I’m busy trying to keep him comfortable.

 

 

What did I read during the last week?

Two novellas (not reviewed):

  • Finna by Nino Cipri: A totally entertaining novella about wormholes opening up in an Ikea-like superstore.
  • The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky by Mackenzi Lee: Or, basically, further adventures with Monty and Percy as they attempt to consummate their relationship. Fun for fans of the main books in the series.

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales: A super cute teen love story about two boys who have a summer fling, then have to deal with the fall-out when they end up at the same high school in the fall. My review is here.

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski: Filling the hole left in my life after I finished my Netflix binge of The Witcher! The audiobook was terrific — my review is here.

Outlander, baby!

IT’S BACK! The season 5 premiere aired this past weekend, and I am completely delighted to be back on Fraser’s Ridge! As I’ve done during past seasons, I’ll be writing up my reactions after each episode. And here we go!

Episode 501, “The Fiery Cross” (aired 2/16/2020) – check out my thoughts here.

Fresh Catch:

Ooh. Look what e-novella just got released! I’ll be reading this as soon as I finish the big, huge novel currently in my hands.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust, #2) by Philip Pullman: Almost done!

Now playing via audiobook:

Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs: There’s a new Mercy Thompson book coming out next month, which means now is the perfect time to revisit the last one via audiobook. I love these characters, and the narrator (Lorelei King) is terrific!

Ongoing reads:

The Space Between by Diana Gabaldon: The latest in Outlander Book Club’s group read-alongs. This is yet another terrific novella set in the wider world of the Outlander series. It’s a re-read for me, and I’m enjoying it all over again.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: Hoo boy, wish me luck! My book group’s newest classic read starts this week, and we’ve picked a big one! We’ll be reading and discussing two chapters per week. Book one of DQ should take us about six months!

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 2/10/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

My husband and I celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary this past weekend! What can I say? Not only is he kind, generous, funny, and sweet, but he also loves to read!

 

What did I read during the last week?

The Wicked King and The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black: I finished the Folk of the Air trilogy this week, and loved it! My review of books 2 & 3 is here.

A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers: I loved this book! My review is here.

Pop culture:

I finally got back to Gilmore Girls! After a rather long hiatus, I finished season 3 and started season 4. And while there’s so much else on TV and streaming these days, I’m just enjoying this show so much that I’d rather spend with Lorelei and Rory than catch up on the shows piling up on my DVR.

Fresh Catch:

I’m so excited for Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey! The book arrived this week, and the author is having an event at my favorite bookstore in a few days, so I’m hoping the stars align and I can manage to get there.

I also treated myself to this three-in-one volume by Holly Black (which includes the novels Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside). Now that I’ve finished the Folk of the Air trilogy, I need more of this author’s faerie stories!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Finna by Nino Cipri: Just getting started!

Now playing via audiobook:

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski: I’m almost done! I struggled a bit at the beginning, but once I slowed down my listening speed, I ended up really enjoying this audiobook. And it’s so great to indulge my Witcher obsession!

Ongoing reads:

The Space Between by Diana Gabaldon: The latest in Outlander Book Club’s group read-alongs. This is yet another terrific novella set in the wider world of the Outlander series. It’s a re-read for me, and I’m enjoying it all over again.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 2/3/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

I took advantage of some bright and sunny weather to check out the magnolias at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. So pretty!

What did I read during the last week?

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: Reading this trilogy was a 2020 goal — and book #1 is done! My review is here. Aaaaaaand… late Sunday (yesterday), I finished book #2 too. No review yet, and no time — I must charge ahead and read #3!

Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck: My book group finished up our group read this week. I really liked it! More Steinbeck for me, please.

The Dry by Jane Harper: Another book from my shelves, done. My review is here.

And in audiobooks:

I finished listening to The Book Of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman (which was a re-read for me). The audiobook was wonderful — narrated by Michael Sheen, who did a great job and kept the story exciting and completely enthralling. I can’t wait to finally read the next book in the series.

Pop culture:

Anyone else watching Avenue 5 on HBO? So silly… but really fun so far.

Fresh Catch:

Ooh. The graphic novel version of Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower came out this week. It’s a gorgeous hardcover, and looks amazing.

I won a book group giveaway! This book looks like so much fun.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black: I can’t stop until I finish this trilogy!

Now playing via audiobook:

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski: I’m just about to start this audiobook. After tearing my way through The Witcher on Netflix, I figured I should go back and give the source material a try.

Ongoing reads:

The Space Between by Diana Gabaldon: The latest in Outlander Book Club’s group read-alongs. This is yet another terrific novella set in the wider world of the Outlander series. It’s a re-read for me, and I’m enjoying it all over again.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 1/27/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

I went back to work this week after a couple weeks off. Even though I only worked half-days, I was exhausted! I should be back to my regular routine this week… although, let’s be honest, I’m going to miss those long quiet days at home, just me and my books.

What did I read during the last week?

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri: A powerful, important read. My book group’s discussion has been fabulous. My review is here.

No Fixed Line by Dana Stabenow: The 22nd book in the amazing Alaska-based Kate Shugak series. My review is here.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds: A must-read. My review is here.

Imaginary Numbers (InCryptid, #9) by Seanan McGuire: Another excellent installment in this terrific urban fantasy series. My review is here.

Pop culture:

Shrill season 2 dropped this week!

I only had time for one episode (out of 8), but I’m so excited for this show. Season 1 was awesome, by the way, so if you haven’t watched it yet, treat yourself!

Fresh Catch:

Book #8 in The Expanse series just came out in paperback, so I had to get a copy! And for those keeping score… that’s 4 in the series that I’ve read, and 4 more to go.

… and, my amazing daughter sent me this book as a gift! She rocks.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: Once of my series-related goals for 2020 is to read this trilogy. Off to a good start!

Now playing via audiobook:

The Book of Dust (La Belle Sauvage) by Philip Pullman: Trying to make progress. It’s a great story — I just haven’t been spending much time in the car for the past few weeks, which is where I do most of my audiobook listening, so it’s slow going right now.

Ongoing reads:

  • Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck: My book group’s classic read. We’re finishing this week!
  • The Space Between by Diana Gabaldon: The latest in Outlander Book Club’s group read-alongs. This is yet another terrific novella set in the wider world of the Outlander series. It’s a re-read for me, and I’m enjoying it all over again.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 1/20/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

I’ve been home recovering from my minor medical procedure, and I can’t say that being stuck home with piles of books is too awful a way to spend a week! I did end up “working from home” about half the time, since work emails and work crises wait for no woman, apparently. Still, I was able to rest, stay cozy, and read, read, read quite a bit, and I’m feeling good!

Back to work this week. Sigh.

What did I read during the last week?

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid: Thought-provoking and engaging. My review is here.

The Toll by Neal Shusterman: The final book in the Arc of a Scythe trilogy. My review is here.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne: I’d love to hear thoughts from anyone who’s read this book. My review is here.

The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez: Surprisingly beautiful science fiction. My review is here.

Pop culture:

What I’m watching:

Grace & Frankie is back! Season 6 dropped this week, and while I haven’t made it through all the episodes quite yet, I’m loving hanging out with these amazing women once again.

Reading a couple of excellent posts from Megabunny Reads recently reminded me that I’d been meaning to give Anne with an E a try. I’ve just watched the first episode, and loved it! I’ll definitely be continuing.

And on HBO, I’ve watched the creepy first episode of The Outsider. I loved the (highly disturbing) book, and have high hopes for this adaptation!

Fresh Catch:

I mean, yes, I still have two books in the series to read before I’ll be ready for Persepolis Rising (The Expanse, #7)… but my Amazon fingers got itchy and I couldn’t help myself.

And, as per usual, three of my library requests came in all at once. Which to read first?

General reading plans:

Despite my best intentions, I find myself suddenly buried in ARCs! I have 22 ARCs for books coming out between February – May, with a whopping 12 in March alone! I try my best to read and review ARCs around their release dates, but this feels really daunting and challenging at the moment.

I’m thinking I’ll try to space these out, starting now, by reading at least one ARC per week. I’ve never scheduled reviews before, but I think I’m going to have to make an attempt to write reviews as I go along and then hold them for posting until the release date is closer.

I know most publishers prefer that reviews not be posted more than two weeks before a book’s publication date. I’m curious how others handle this: Do you stick to the two-week rule, and if so, do you find yourself scheduling reviews and/or writing them in advance and then holding them for a later date to post?

If I don’t find myself a system, I’m going to end up really frustrated, really quickly. And I swore I would focus more on reading what I feel like this year, versus going by a schedule.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri: My book group book for January! Racing to finish before discussion starts this week.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Book of Dust (La Belle Sauvage) by Philip Pullman: I’m picking this back up after a couple of weeks without audiobooks. It’s nice to be back!

Ongoing reads:

Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck: My book group’s classic read! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week. Getting close to the end!

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 1/13/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

Well, once again — and for completely different reasons — this was a surgery week for me! Weird, right? I’d been on a waiting list for an elective procedure for almost two years, and right at the end of December got a call that my doctor had a cancellation coming up, and did I want it? I said YES and didn’t allow myself to do any second-guessing… and here I am, almost a week post-procedure, feeling fine and taking some time off work to rest and heal.

And hey, we all know that “time off” to “rest and heal” really just equates to more time to read!

What did I read during the last week?

Welcome to the Pine Away Motel and Cabins by Katarina Bivald: Sad to say, I didn’t end up loving this slice-of-life novel, which was a big disappointment to me, since I loved the author’s first book. Ah well, can’t win ’em all! My review is here.

Cibola Burn by James S. A. Corey: Ooh boy, I went a little Expanse-crazy this week, finishing not only this massive book (#4 in the series), but also 4 shorter works and a graphic novel. My review of Cibola Burn is here. The other stuff I read:

And also this week, after my Expanse binge:

Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire: The newest installment in the excellent Wayward Children series. I loved it! My review is here.

Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse: A fun middle grade adventure grounded in Navajo mythology. My review is here.

Pop culture:

Somewhat against my first instincts, I ended up watching The Witcher. After two episodes, I was convinced it was pure cheese, but then the story started growing on me, as did certain characters (especially Yennefer.) (And I’m kind of fascinated by the bard, too.) I’m on the fence about whether I actually recommend this show, but it did keep my interest. And I may even have to give the books a try. And yeah, I’m sure I’ll be back whenever season 2 comes around.

Oh, and in case you’re as obsessed with the bard’s song “Toss A Coin To Your Witcher” as the rest of the world seems to be, here’s a Twitter thread with versions of the song in twelve different languages: https://twitter.com/_lemonowa_/status/1210171703432765442

Fresh Catch:

One new book this week — Come Tumbling Down (above), already devoured! Yum yum.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Ooh, debating which of these two to start next!

They both sound great!

Now playing via audiobook:

The Book of Dust (La Belle Sauvage) by Philip Pullman: I just didn’t make much progress this week, considering I was out of commission for most of it. I’m hoping to get back into a daily walking routine this week, and if I do, it’ll be with this book plugged into my ears!

Ongoing reads:

Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck: My book group’s classic read! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week. Really a fun book!

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 1/6/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

The holidays are over, and now it’s back to the usual routine. I can’t complain too much — it was nice to have a couple of slower, quieter weeks to regroup, relax, and read!

What did I read during the last week?

Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2’s Deadliest Day by Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan: Fascinating non-fiction. My review is here. (And no, I will never ever ever want to climb a mountain!)

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: My first 5-star read for 2020! I loved this book so much. My review is here.

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman: I finished my audiobook re-read! The audio version is really suspenseful and enjoyable, and now I’d dying to dive into the 3rd book in the trilogy… but I know I should finish up a few ARCs first so I don’t fall behind so early in the year. Must. Control. My. Impulses.

Pop culture:

My son and I binged season 4 of The Expanse this week. Wow – fabulous season. It’s kind of funny watching it now that it’s moved to Amazon Prime, freed from TV restrictions, and hearing all the characters suddenly dropping f-bombs. I’m so grateful to Amazon for picking the show up after it was cancelled on Syfy. It’s an excellent adaptation, and I can’t wait for the next season!

Fresh Catch:

No new physical books this week… although I did take advantage of all sorts of year-end price drops to add yet more books to my Kindle!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Welcome to the Pine Away Motel and Cabins by Katarina Bivald: This small town slice-of-life isn’t quite catching my attention yet, but since I enjoyed the author’s previous book, I’m sticking with it and giving it a shot.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Book of Dust (La Belle Sauvage) by Philip Pullman: Time for another re-read! I’ve forgotten most of the detail already from this book, so I need a refresher before starting The Secret Commonwealth.

Ongoing reads:

Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck: My book group’s classic read! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week. I think I’m enjoying this book more than most of my book group friends are — it’s just so funny!

So many books, so little time…

boy1seria

The Monday Check-In ~ 12/30/2019

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

I got on skis for the first time in about 5 years! And I wasn’t… awful. It was actually pretty fun. My husband, kiddo, and I enjoyed a few days away in the mountains, skiing by day and relaxing by night.

I didn’t do much reading, but that’s okay! It was nice to have time together as a family.

What did I read during the last week?

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. Absolutely a five-star read. This is the one and only book I finished this past week, and it may actually be my last complete book for 2019, which is not at all a bad way to end the year. I’ll try to write a review this week when I get some breathing space… but suffice it to say, this book is beautifully written, often funny, frequently heart-breaking, and simple a must-read.

Pop culture:

Along with the rest of the human population, I saw the new Star Wars movie this past week. I liked it, didn’t love it… but then again, I’m not a die-hard fan, so deep dives into mythology and the greater meaning of events are somewhat lost on me. I went to be entertained, and I was.

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week. Not that I lack for reading material…

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2’s Deadliest Day by Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan: This non-fiction account of a major mountaineering disaster is fascinating so far!

Now playing via audiobook:

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman: Continuing my re-read of the first two books in the trilogy, before starting #3. I barely had any listening time this past week, so my progress is more like baby steps. I hope to finish this week so I can start The Toll finally.

Ongoing reads:

Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck: My book group’s classic read! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week. I really like the writing, and I’m finding the characters really funny.

So many books, so little time…

boy1seria

The Monday Check-In ~ 12/23/2019

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

What did I read during the last week?

Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn: Contemporary romance — my review is here.

Shrill by Lindy West: This collection of essays is a must-read. My review is here.

I read three graphic novels this week:

  • Poe: Stories and Poems by Gareth Hinds: Great illustrations for a selection of Poe’s best-known pieces really bring the stories to life. This might be a good choice for a teen reader who scoffs at reading anything that smacks of “classic literature” (like my own reluctant reader…)
  • Runaways, volume 4: But You Can’t Hide by Rainbow Rowell: The Runaways series is always fun, and it’s nice to revisit these characters, although the plot itself isn’t particularly memorable or earth-shaking in this volume.
  • The Magicians: Alice’s Story by Lev Grossman and Lilah Sturges: For fans of The Magicians, this book tells the same story as volume one of the trilogy, but from Alice’s perspective. It’s nicely done, but the story feels a bit repetitive, since we already know it all. (Also, I can’t help getting the TV series characters stuck in my mind as the definitive characters, so it’s jarring to see them illustrated so differently here.)

In audiobooks, I finished my re-read of Scythe. The audio version was terrific!

Pop culture:

I went to see this movie. It was excellent.

Fresh Catch:

Yay, Goodreads! I won a giveaway, and the book arrived this week!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne: My husband started this book last week, and convinced me to read it too, even though I thought I had all my end-of-year reading already figured out and lined up. Liking it so far!

Now playing via audiobook:

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman: Continuing my re-read of the first two books in the trilogy, before starting #3. The audiobook narrator is great!

Ongoing reads:

Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck: My book group’s classic read! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week. I’m liking it so far, although it seems like the rest of the book group isn’t all that into it. Let’s hope it picks up as we go along.

So many books, so little time…

boy1seria

The Monday Check-In ~ 12/16/2019

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

What did I read during the last week?

Two novellas — a sci-fi space adventure and a heart-warming personal story — reviewed here.

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory: Simply terrific! My review is here.

I had one DNF this week:

 

I was struggling to get into this book, and ended up DNFing at 20% when I got to this passage and decided it just was not worth the effort:

A mother’s description of her daughter: Her hair was a dull shade of cornmeal, and her skin was pale, sallow almost, and sprinkled with freckles. She had Jack’s nose, flat and prominent as an Eskimo’s, and two lumps, tablespoons of flesh, that represented breasts.

Ugh. I just couldn’t any more.

 

 

Pop culture:

The two shows I’ve been watching this week are completely different in tone and content, but I’ve been having lots of fun with both:

V Wars (Netflix): It’s a little campy, and the series as a whole isn’t quite as good as the first episode made me hope for, but I’m still enjoying it.

Shrill (Hulu): I binged the first season (only six half-hour episodes), and can’t wait for season 2! Meanwhile, I really should read the book.

Fresh Catch:

More new books! It’s just so hard to resist all the deals on offer at this time of year.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn: I’m not entirely swept up by this story yet, but lately I’ve been enjoying romantic comedies, and this seems like a good fit for my mood.

Now playing via audiobook:

Scythe by Neal Shusterman: Really enjoying this audio re-read.

Ongoing reads:

Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck: My book group’s classic read! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week. I’m liking it so far, although it seems like the rest of the book group isn’t all that into it. Let’s hope it picks up as we go along.

So many books, so little time…

boy1seria