The Monday Check-In ~ 6/11/2018

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’m heading off on a journey this week, so this may be my last reliable post for a few weeks. Between some vacation-y travels and visits to family, I’ll be on the go for about three weeks. I’ll pop in when I can, but if you don’t see me around the blogosphere much — now you know why!

What did I read during the last week?

Dietland by Sarai Walker: An interesting read, but a little scattered and messy as well. It’s a great story, and I’m actually really enjoying the new AMC TV series adaptation.

Texts From Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg: Clever and funny. My thoughts are here.

A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer: Because I can’t seem to get enough Georgette Heyer. My review is here.

Quidditch Through the Ages by J. K. Rowling: I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Andrew Lincoln (who does an amazing job). My review is here.

And, in book group news — we finished our group read of Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade! While I’ve read the book before, reading and discussing it with the group over the last several months has been a fun and eye-opening experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Fresh Catch:

New books arrived this week:

I treated myself to a non-fiction guide to the world of Georgette Heyer, which looks like it’ll be so handy. I also finally gave in and bought myself copies of Mira Grant’s Parasitology books, so now I have zero excuses left for not reading these.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See: My book group’s June pick. I’ve read 30%, and I’m loving it so far.

Now playing via audiobook:

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire: I love this book so much. I’ve read it before, but thought I’d try the audio version as well, and I’m so glad I did. It’s narrated by the author, and it’s AMAZING.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Classic read: My book group’s current classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week… and we have a long way still to go.
  • Starting another Lord John story! We’re beginning Lord John and the Haunted Soldier this week, a novella found in the Lord John and the Hand of Devils anthology.

So many books, so little time…

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Audiobook Review: Quidditch Through the Ages

 

A perennial best seller in the wizarding world and one of the most popular books in the Hogwarts School Library, Quidditch Through the Ages contains all you will ever need to know about the history, the rules – and the breaking of the rules – of the noble sport of Quidditch. Packed with fascinating facts, this definitive guide by the esteemed Quidditch writer Kennilworthy Whisp charts the game’s history from its early origins in the medieval mists on Queerditch Marsh through to the modern-day sport loved by so many wizard and Muggle families around the world. With comprehensive coverage of famous Quidditch teams, the commonest fouls, the development of racing brooms, and much more, this is a must-have sporting bible for all Harry Potter fans and Quidditch lovers and players, whether the weekend amateur or the seasoned Chudley Cannons season-ticket holder.

Narrated by Andrew Lincoln, this is the first audiobook edition of Whisp’s book ever to be released

My Thoughts:

I read the Hogwarts schoolbooks ages ago, and thought they were good silly fun, if a bit inconsequential. BUT, when I heard that Pottermore was releasing an audio version narrated by Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes, yo), I was all in.

Rick is an avid Quidditch fan.

So was it worth it?

Well, yes. Clearly, this is a fans-only book for Potter-philes. A passion for the Potter-verse is required! An interest in the minutiae of Quidditch play might be helpful too. The book itself covers the history of Quidditch, modern teams, Quidditch equipment, the evolution of the racing broom, and famous (or infamous) examples of unusual World Cup tournaments.

The audiobook includes material not found in the original printed edition, but (I believe) available via the Pottermore website — coverage of the 2014 Quidditch World Cup, as told by the Daily Prophet’s sports reporter Ginny Potter, with occasional social commentary from gossip columnist Rita Skeeter. The Skeeter bits are particularly funny; Ginny’s coverage of EVERY SINGLE GAME in the tournament, which initially amusing, gets old really fast.

This was a good, fairly entertaining companion on my daily commute. Definitely doesn’t require much concentration! It’s a bit long for what it is — the concept wears out its novelty pretty early on. Also, the production includes sound effects (all sorts of whooshes, as if Quidditch players are zooming by… constantly), which I found annoying, but a less grumpy listener might find these amusing.

All in all? A fun listen, not essential, but not a bad choice for escapist fare while your mind is mostly elsewhere.

Worth noting: Proceeds from Quidditch Through the Ages benefit Comic Relief and the Lumos Foundation. It’s always nice to support a good cause while indulging Potter obsessions!

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Quidditch Through the Ages
Author: Kennilworthy Whisp (J. K. Rowling)
Narrated by: Andrew Lincoln
Publisher: Pottermore
Publication date: Audible edition released March 15, 2018; originally published 2001
Length (print): 56 pages (2001 edition)
Length (audio): 3 hours, 10 minutes
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Purchased via Audible

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The Monday Check-In ~ 6/4/2018

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?

The Outsider by Stephen King: Awesome. Stephen King absolutely delivers in his ultra-disturbing new book. My review is here.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson: I finished the audiobook this past week. A fascinating look at the phenomenon of public shaming — why people do it, how the internet has made it so easy, and how people who have been shamed either move on, or don’t. Jon Ronson narrates the audiobook, and he’s terrific — he really brings his own curiosity to life, and lets us feel connected to the various people he highlights. Definitely worth either reading the print book or listening to the audio version.

Fresh Catch:

Ooh, such fun book mail this week:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Dietland by Sarai Walker: After seeing commercials for the upcoming TV series, I just had to give the book a try. I’ve read about 75% — really enjoying it, and now I can’t wait to see how they translate it to TV.

Now playing via audiobook:

Quidditch Through the Ages: Narrated by Andrew Lincoln! His narration is really fun — but the book does seem to go on way longer than necessary.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

Finally, the final week for one of these two!

  • Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon: Heading into the home stretch! We’ll be finished this week.
  • Classic read: My book group’s current classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week… and we have a long way still to go.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 5/28/2018

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?

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova: Moving contemporary fiction about lives changed by ALS. My review is here.

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth: Domestic drama set in an Australian suburban neighborhood. My review is here.

Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire: A ghost story from one of my favorite writers! The sequel comes out later this year, and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next in the after-life of Rose Marshall, the ghostly prom girl who hitchhikes her way across highways, ghostroads, and between roadside diners everywhere.

In graphic novels, I read:

Runaways: Find Your Way Home by Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka: Such fun! It’s great to return to the world of Runaways. The story is in great hands with Rainbow Rowell, picking back up with the characters after a few years and setting up new adventures.

Fresh Catch:

Two non-fiction books arrived this week:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Outsider by Stephen King: Just started! My library hold came in much sooner than expected, so it feels like a treat to be able to dive in this week.

Now playing via audiobook:

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson: I’m really enjoying this non-fiction book which examines the phenomenon of public shaming. Ronson is terrific as a narrator.

Book group reads:

It feels repetitive to list these week after week… except I really am reading them week after week!

  • Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon: Outlander Book Club is doing a group read of LJ&BotB, two chapters per week. The end is in sight!
  • Classic read: My book group’s current classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week… and we have a long way still to go.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 5/21/2018

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 may be a little absent this week. I’m flying to the East Coast for a few days to celebrate a family graduation. Exciting times!

 

 

What did I read during the last week?

How To Walk Away by Katherine Center: Contemporary fiction with romance, tragedy, and even a little humor. My review is here.

Surface Tension by Mike Mullin: Action-packed YA fiction. My review is here.

How to Marry a Werewolf by Gail Carriger: A super-cute novella! My review is here.

In audiobooks, I finished:

Only Human (The Themis Files, #3) by Sylvain Neuvel: The fantastic wrap-up of an amazingly great trilogy. Check out my review, here.

Fresh Catch:

I didn’t buy any new books this week, although I did get this from the library. Looks like so much fun!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

I’m catching up on ARCs this week. My two priorities are:

  • The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth
  • Every Note Played by Lisa Genove
Now playing via audiobook:

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson: Ronson is a fascinating writer, and does an excellent job of narrating his own works. I’m only a few chapters into this look at public shaming, but so far, it’s oddly compelling. I really enjoyed listening to The Butterfly Effect (about the unintended consequences of the availability of free porn) by Ronson last year.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

It feels repetitive to list these week after week… except I really am reading them week after week!

  • Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon: Outlander Book Club is doing a group read of LJ&BotB, two chapters per week. If you’d like to join in, ask me how!
  • Classic read: My book group’s current classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week… and we have a long way still to go.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 5/14/2018

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?

Head On by John Scalzi: The follow up to his brilliant Lock In. My review is here.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whiltehead: A powerful book, to be discussed with my book group this coming week. Can’t wait to share thoughts with the group!

I also read two terrific novellas:

All Systems Red and Artificial Condition, books 1 & 2 of The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. Great fun! My review is here.

Elsewhere on the blog:

I wrote about my weekend away at a surprise destination here. If you’re open to the idea of travel without tons of advance planning or information, this is a great way to see the country on a whim!

Fresh Catch:

The World of All Souls! This book is so pretty. It’s an illustrated reference guide to Deborah Harkness’s All Souls trilogy. I’m so looking forward to looking through it and savoring it!

My adorable daughter sent me a copy of John Oliver’s Marlon Bundo book, which is just so perfect.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

How To Walk Away by Katherine Center: After all the sci-fi lately, I thought it might be good to switch things up with some contemporary fiction.

Now playing via audiobook:

Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel: Book #3 of the Themis Files trilogy! I have an e-ARC of this book, but I decided to listen to the audiobook instead. The first two audiobooks in the trilogy were amazing, and this one is every bit as good so far.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon: Outlander Book Club is doing a group read of LJ&BotB, two chapters per week. If you’d like to join in, ask me how!
  • Classic read: My book group’s current classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week… and we have a long way still to go.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 5/7/2018

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 just got back last night from an amazing weekend in Denver, Colorado. Once I get a bit of rest and do my laundry, I’ll definitely share more about the trip.

What did I read during the last week?

I read two more books from Seanan McGuire’s super-fun InCryptid series:

  • Half-Off Ragnarok (#3): My review is here.
  • Pocket Apocalypse (#4): A little darker in tone, and quite a good story. Review to follow.

I also finished my audiobook re-read of Lock In by John Scalzi. Fantastic fun.

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week. How unusual! Especially considering that I spent about a half-hour in a used book store and walked out empty-handed. (Can I help it if their sci-fi/fantasy shelves were pretty underwhelming?)

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Head On by John Scalzi: I’m so excited to be starting the sequel to Lock In!

[Updated to add: I read almost the entire book by the time my plane landed! Thoughts to follow once I catch up on some sleep…]

Now playing via audiobook:

All Systems Red by Martha Wells: Okay, I just read this book about a month ago, but then there was a deal on the audiobook, and I thought it could be fun. I’m about halfway through (didn’t have time to listen while traveling this weekend), but I need to wrap this up so I can start…

Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel: Book #3 of the Themis Files trilogy! I have an e-ARC of this book, but I loved the first two so much on audio that I decided to listen to this one as well. I’m so excited to finally be starting it.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon: Outlander Book Club is doing a group read of LJ&BotB, two chapters per week. If you’d like to join in, ask me how!
  • Classic read: My book group’s current classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week… and we have a long way still to go.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 4/30/2018

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?

 

Midnight Blue-Light Special (InCryptid, #2) by Seanan McGuire: Continuing with my compulsive reading of anything I can get my hands on by Seanan McGuire. My review is here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time Was by Ian McDonald: A haunting story of time travel, war, love, and missed connections. My review is here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris: A choose-your-own adventure romance novel! Incredibly fun and funny. My reaction is here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld: I’m not much of a short story reader, but I did really enjoy this collection. I really have no idea how to write a review of a book of short stories, so I’ll skip the actual review and just say that the stories held my attention, were often sadly funny (if that makes any sense), and felt like reading about average people who say and think the things most of us keep hidden in our brains. I’m glad I read it, and would like to give some of the author’s novels a try. (I’ve only read one of her books before now, Eligible, and I really had fun with it.)

 

 

Fresh Catch:

Two new books — so excited for both!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Yes, continuing onward with my new series obsession:

Half-Off Ragnarok (InCryptid, #3) by Seanan McGuire: This series is silly and so hard to put down!

Now playing via audiobook:

Lock In by John Scalzi: Totally enjoying revisiting this story via audio… and as soon as I’m done, I’ll be starting the sequel, Head On.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon: Outlander Book Club is doing a group read of LJ&BotB, two chapters per week. If you’d like to join in, ask me how!
  • Classic read: My book group’s current classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week. I’m so glad I have the group to keep me motivated! This book is huuuuuuuge.

So many books, so little time…

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Bookish bits & bobs

 

Just a random collection of some bookish thoughts bouncing around my brain this week.

 

 

 

  • Audiobooks. Love ’em. But here’s my issue: Why don’t audiobooks include the acknowledgements or author’s notes at the end? If I’m listening to a book, I want the full experience and full content. I only discovered the lack recently after listening to a couple of historical fiction audiobooks. I ended up browsing through the hardcovers at the library, and saw that the print books includes notes about the historical setting and context. Well, why wasn’t that on the audiobook? It adds to the reading experience, and clearly the author felt it was part of what she wanted readers to know. I don’t understand… and it makes me mad. Not that I’ll stop listening to audiobooks, but it leaves me wondering what I’m missing.

 

  • Book review ratings: I don’t do them. At least, not here on my blog. I play along on Goodreads, but I made the decision way back when to do narrative reviews without any sort of quantitative scale. Lately, though, I’ve started rethinking this. I know when I read reviews on other people’s blogs, I’ll often check the star (or unicorn or banana or teacup) rating first, and then decide if I want to read the whole review. So shouldn’t I expect others to expect the same from me? This is a bigger question than just a few lines and a bullet point, so I’ll be expanding on the topic sometime in the coming week, and would love some input.

 

  • Amazon customer service rocks! I have never had a bad experience once I connect with a service rep, and this week was no different. I bought a Kindle edition of a new release in early April, and started reading it this week. And hated it. By 15%, I just knew I couldn’t continue. And I was mad, because it was past the one-week deadline for returning Kindle content. I thought I’d give it a shot anyway. It’s not the amount spent was going to break me or anything, but if I’m spending money on a book, I don’t want it to end up being something I actively dislike. Anyway… I reached out and ended up in a chat with a lovely and helpful Amazon rep, who arranged to return the book for a refund within the blink of an eye. No quoting policy, no trying to convince me of anything, no telling me I was wrong. Just a very nice “I’m sorry the book didn’t work out for you” and a resolution that made me happy.

 

  • When is a novella a novella? When is it really, instead, a short novel? Is 200 pages the dividing line? 125? I haven’t found a hard and fast rule to go by — I’ve found a lot of notes on word count in novels and novellas, but I’m a reader, not a writer. Do you have any firm ideas on what distinguishes a novella from a novel?

 

  • Oh, the things a book lover will do for the sake of bookish satisfaction. I’m a big fan of Susanna Kearsley’s writing, and beside the glory of the stories themselves, I adore the covers of her books.

Well, now she has a new book coming out, Bellewether, and I knew I needed a copy. I preordered it ages ago (the book releases in August), then discovered that the US cover is… well… unappealing. But hey, the Canadian cover is gorgeous and goes with the rest of my books! So I cancelled my US preorder, and got a copy from Amazon Canada instead, which gave me the added bonus of getting the book early, since it released in Canada this month already. And really, which of these would YOU want?

Anyhoo… that’s what’s on my mind today. How about you? What deep bookish thought are bouncing about in your brain?

 

And seriously. What is up with audiobooks and the lack of afterwords and notes? Can someone please make them fix this? Annoyed now.

The Monday Check-In ~ 4/23/2018

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?

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire: As I said to a friend recently, you can never have too much Seanan McGuire. This is book #1 in her InCryptid series — light, bubbly fun. My review is here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Atrocities by Jeremy Shipp: A ghost story novella that starts off strong but petered out with a weird ending after a final third in which the story stopped making sense to me. Still, kudos to the author for the super creepy atmosphere of the bizarre, scary mansion and its odd, unreliable inhabitants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan: A moving, wonderful book, especially enjoyable in audio format. Just loved it. My review is here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also read this past week:

I re-read the first two Binti books, then continued on with the newest (and final) book in the trilogy, The Night Masquerade. It’s an amazing, unusual, mind-expanding trilogy, beautifully written and unlike anything else I’ve ever read. Not to be missed!

Fresh Catch:

It’s the new Christopher Moore novel! I’m really excited to start it. Also new this week is the latest volume of the Angel ongoing comic series, now on season 11. (I’m accumulating the various Buffy and Angel volumes for season 11, but won’t be reading them until the entire season is done, so I can read them all in one big binge.)

I was also delighted to receive a copy of My Lady’s Choosing, courtesy of Quirk Books, and can’t wait to give it a try this coming week! (Also, yay for the mug!)

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

I’m bouncing back and forth between two books:

Midnight Blue-Light Special (InCryptid, #2) by Seanan McGuire: See, I meant what I said about there being no such thing as too much Seanan McGuire!

My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris: A choose-your-own adventure romance novel! So much fun.

Now playing via audiobook:

Lock In by John Scalzi: This is a re-read for me, although it’s my first time listening to the audiobook. With Wil Wheaton narrating, it should be loads of fun… and once I finish, I’ll be read to read the new sequel, Head On.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon: Outlander Book Club is doing a group read of LJ&BotB, two chapters per week. If you’d like to join in, ask me how!
  • Classic read: My book group’s current classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week… and this week, it’s my turn to write chapter summaries. Wouldn’t you know it — my chapters are huge! I need to buckle down and get to work if I’m going to get my summary for today posted in time.

So many books, so little time…

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