The Monday Check-In ~ 10/2/2017

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 to a baby shower over the weekend. No matter how old I get, I never get tired of teeny-tiny little baby outfits! SO cute.

What did I read last week?

Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies by Michael Ausiello: A beautiful, sad, and even humorous memoir, as the author shares the heartbreaking story of losing the love of his life to cancer. My review is here.

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak: Contemporary fiction about a family forced to spend the holidays together in quarantine from the rest of the world. My review is here.

Thornhill by Pam Smy: A haunting ghost story, told in prose and pictures. My review is here.

In audiobooks:

I finished listening to The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman. I’m not usually a fan of full-cast recordings for audiobooks, but this series is very well done. Great voices for Lyra and Will!

Outlander !!

My reaction post for the 3rd episode is here. Stay tuned for more — my reaction post for episode 4 will be up in a day or two.

Here’s a peek at episode 4:

 

Fresh Catch:

Ooh, two new books came this week, and they made me very happy:

Yes, that’s a brand new illustrated edition of Neverwhere, and it looks amazing!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King: I just started this over the weekend, and since it’s about 700 pages long, I’ll probably be reading it all week.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman: Book three of the His Dark Materials trilogy! I’ve been listening to the audiobooks to get myself back into the world of these stories before The Book of Dust comes out later this month.

Ongoing reads:

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: My book group’s classic read! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.

Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon: Outlander Book Club is doing a Lord John readalong — we’ll be reading all of the Lord John novels and stories in story chronology. Let me know if you’d like to participate! All are welcome.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 9/25/2017

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.

Happy New Year!

Life.

I’ve been away for the past four days, taking advantage of a long weekend to go visit family on the East Coast. Great fun, but arriving home at 11:30 pm on a Sunday leaves me exhausted for a Monday morning at work.

What did I read last week?


The Power by Naomi Alderman: My review is here.

Venetia by Georgette Heyer: My audiobook review is here.

Lord John and the Hellfire Club by Diana Gabaldon: The Outlander Book Club’s Lord John readalong is underway! We finished the first novella this past week.

End of Watch by Stephen King: The 3rd book in the Bill Hodges trilogy — I loved it! I finished it while traveling this past weekend, and may write up some thoughts when I get a few moments to breathe.

Outlander !!

My reaction post for the 2nd episode is here. Stay tuned for more — my reaction post for episode 3 will likely be a bit delayed since I’ve been away for a few days. Hoping to get it done in the next day or two.

Here’s a peek at episode 3:

 

Fresh Catch:

Our library’s Big Book Sale was this past week, and I SCORED. Here’s a little glimpse of what I brought home:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies by Michael Ausiello: I just started this on the plane ride home last night. I can tell already that this will be a great read.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman: I’m revisiting the world of His Dark Materials via audiobook in preparation for the release of The Book of Dust next month.

Ongoing reads:

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: My book group’s classic read! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.

Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon: Outlander Book Club is doing a Lord John readalong — we’ll be reading all of the Lord John novels and stories in story chronology. This week, we’re starting the first full LJ novel. Anyone who’s interested is welcome to participate, so let me know if you’d like more information on how to join in.

So many books, so little time…

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Audiobook Review: Venetia by Georgette Heyer


A young lady of beauty and intelligence facing an unbearable choice…

Venetia Lanyon is one of Georgette Heyer’s most memorable heroines. Beautiful, capable, and independent minded, her life on the family’s estate in the countryside is somewhat circumscribed. Then a chance encounter with her rakish neighbor opens up a whole new world for Venetia. Lord Damerel has built his life on his dangerous reputation, and when he meets Venetia, he has nothing to offer and everything to regret. As Venetia’s well-meaning family steps in to protect her from potential ruin, Venetia must find the wherewithal to take charge of her own destiny, or lose her one chance at happiness…

That’s it. It’s official. I’m a Georgette Heyer fangirl.

Venetia may well be my favorite Georgette Heyer book yet. It’s sweet, funny, clever, light, and adorable — in short, fluff, but super enjoyable fluff that’s perfectly entertaining without being cloying.

Venetia herself is a marvelous main character. She’s a bit unusual for a Regency romance heroine. At age 25 and unmarried, she’s perilously close to being “on the shelf”, but doesn’t seem particularly bothered by this. Venetia has lived all her life on her father’s country estate, more or less isolated from anything approaching society. Her father was a recluse, and her mother died when she was young. Ever since her father’s death some years earlier, Venetia lives at Undershaw with her younger brother Aubrey, running the estate until her other brother Conway returns from his military service and takes up the reins as heir.

Venetia and Aubrey are comfortable and happy. Aubrey is a budding scholar with his nose constantly in a book or ten, and at age 17, is soon to be off to Cambridge. While Venetia has two devoted suitors, she’s not in love with either, and is perfectly content to think of a future in which she sets up a household for herself and Aubrey and keeps things running for him while he’s busy with his studies.

This all changes, however, when the absentee lord of the neighboring estate returns home. Lord Damerel has a horrible reputation as a rake who once seduced and ran off with a married woman — and even though this happened nearly 20 years ago, he’s still not considered fit for decent society. He seems to enjoy his bad-boy status and his wild social life, though, and doesn’t exhibit any indication of wishing to reform

But then he meets Venetia! After a brief and sexually charged chance meeting, Venetia can’t shake thoughts of the devilish man next door, but doesn’t expect to see him again, as he never spends much time at his estate. Fate (or something) intervenes — Aubrey, who has a weak leg from a congenital hip problem, is thrown from his horse and injured, and is brought to Damerel’s estate, the closest shelter, for treatment. It’s clear that Aubrey needs to remain still and undisturbed in order to recuperate, and Damerel is a surprisingly generous and gracious host, insisting on caring for Aubrey for as long as needed.

Despite the disapproval of Venetia’s friends and would-be beaux, she becomes a daily visitor to Damerel’s estate, keeping company with Aubrey — but also becoming fast friends with Damerel. The friendship is a surprise and a delight for both of them. They discover that they can talk honestly and openly with one another in a way that they can’t with anyone else. They sit and talk for hours, and find themselves kindred spirits.

The complication, once they start to realize that what they feel goes beyond friendship, is that Damerel’s past has left him with a truly scandalous reputation. Venetia, on the other hand, is a virtuous girl who’s never been anywhere or done anything. Her aunt and uncle hope to arrange a suitable match for her with a respectable gentleman, but Venetia has other plans. Unfortunately for her, Damerel is so in love with her that he doesn’t want to ruin her, and decides to give her up rather than tarnish her in the eyes of society.

Oh, what fun! This business about reputations and scandal and — good gracious — what will everyone think? is just all so quaint and charming. Making a good match is really all that matters for a girl at that time, but Venetia is just rebel enough to not particularly care. She has money from her father’s bequest, enough to live comfortably without needing a wealthy husband to provide for her. She’s learned about life from books and is confident about her own abilities. She’s a devoted sister and a protector for Aubrey, has a good head for business as demonstrated by her management of Undershaw for many years, and feels that she’d be much happier living as a spinster than being trapped in a marriage that bores her to tears.

It’s refreshing to see a Regency heroine who knows her own mind so clearly. Venetia is never rude, not even when provoked, but she’s also no doormat. She’s honest with herself, understands what she truly desires, and is quite capable of scheming to get things to go her way. I was incredibly amused by her solution to her problems with Damerel, and her charming approach to manipulating those around her so that her plan is sure to be successful is just brilliant.

Once again, I simply loved the audiobook version of a Georgette Heyer novel. Phyllida Nash is a wonderful narrator, perfectly capturing the different tones and voices of the various characters. Not every female audiobook narrator can pull off a man’s voice with conviction, but Phyllida Nash is terrific, making Damerel growly and insinuating and absolutely rakish, while Venetia comes across as both innocent and clever.  Such fun!

I will say that the language in Georgette Heyer books can be a challenge at times, as she uses a lot of expressions and terms that are no longer used or not used in the same way, and it can be a bit of a puzzle trying to figure out the context. I do love how Venetia uses the term “idiotish” quite often (Damerel finds this amusing as well), and she and Aubry call each other “stoopid” with a certain degree of affection. I was thrown, though, early on in the book when Venetia is thinking about what she knows of Damerel’s reputation, and recalls how he was last in the country when he hosted an orgy at his estate a year or so prior to the current time in the book. An orgy??? I’m assuming the author is using the word in its older meaning, a drunken party with sexual excesses, rather than as what today’s pop culture would consider an orgy. Still, it’s rather startling toward the end of the book (spoiler ahead!) when Venetia tells Damerel that she doesn’t expect him to give up his orgies, and he asks her if she’d like to preside over them. Oh my.

I only “met” Georgette Heyer this year, but Venetia is now the 4th of her books that I’ve read, and it’s splendid. Like Arabella (review), Venetia would be a good starting point for anyone who hasn’t read Georgette Heyer before. It’s full of the style and wit and sheer silliness that makes her books so delightful.

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Venetia
Author: Georgette Heyer
Narrator: Phyllida Nash
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication date: Originally published 1949
Length (print): 375 pages
Length (audiobook): 12 hours, 36 minutes
Genre: Regency romance
Source: Purchased

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The Monday Check-In ~ 9/18/2017

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 last week?

The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray: I finished the 3rd book in the Gemma Doyle trilogy. My wrap-up post is here.

I also read and reviewed two amazing novellas by Sarah Gailey, which are impossible to describe except as “Westerns with hippos”. Check out my post, here.

Outlander returns!

Was episode 1 great or what? My reaction post for the season premiere is here. Stay tuned for more — my reaction posts for each episode will most likely go up on Monday or Tuesday each week.

Here’s a peek at episode 2:

 

Fresh Catch:

One new book this week — can’t wait to get started!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

The Power by Naomi Alderman: I’ve read about half, and it’s pretty amazing.

End of Watch by Stephen King: I have a flight coming up later in the week, and for some reason I always enjoy reading Stephen King while I’m traveling. I’m saving the 3rd book of the Bill Hodges trilogy to keep me company on the plane.

Now playing via audiobook:

Venetia by Georgette Heyer: Almost done! Perfection — Georgette Heyer is always a treat, and Phyllida Nash does a superb job with the narration.

Ongoing reads:

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: My book group’s classic read! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.

Lord John and the Hell-Fire Club by Diana Gabaldon: Outlander Book Club is doing a Lord John readalong — we’ll be reading all of the Lord John novels and stories in story chronology. This week, we’ll be finishing up the first Lord John novella, Lord John and the Hellfire Club. Next up: Lord John and the Private Matter. Anyone who’s interested is welcome to participate, so let me know if you’d like more information on how to join in.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 9/11/2017

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 last week?

South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby: I started this one a couple of months ago as an ARC, but the formatting was so bad that I couldn’t enjoy it. I’m so glad I found it at the library and decided to give it another shot! A terrific read — my review is here.

In audiobooks, I finished listening to Rebel Angels by Libba Bray. I have very conflicted feelings about this series, but now that there’s just 1 book left, I think I need to finish.

Outlander returns!

Outlander is back! Season 3 premiered last night, and the first episode was wonderful, of course. I’ll be doing reaction posts for each episode, as I did last season. Stay turned for my episode 1 post, coming today or tomorrow.

Fresh Catch:

Two new books this week, both via Book Depository.

I’m so excited for both of these!

Elsewhere on the blog:

Make sure you check out this terrific guest post by Sarah Zama of The Old Shelter blog, all about fantasy writers and the worlds they create.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray: Book #3 of the Gemma Doyle trilogy, and it’s HUGE. I have to admit that the size (800+ pages) is a turn-off — I’m not that committed to the story to want to spend quite so much time on this book. But, I did decide to read this trilogy this year, so I might as well finish.

Now playing via audiobook:

Venetia by Georgette Heyer: Is there ever a bad time for Georgette Heyer? Her works are candy delights. I’ve just started this audiobook, and it’s already lifting my spirits.

Ongoing reads:

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: My book group’s classic read! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.

Lord John and the Hell-Fire Club by Diana Gabaldon: Outlander Book Club is doing a Lord John readalong — we’ll be reading all of the Lord John novels and stories in story chronology. Our current read is the first Lord John novella, Lord John and the Hellfire Club. Anyone who’s interested is welcome to participate, so let me know if you’d like more information on how to join in.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 9/4/2017

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 last week?

Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford: Gorgeous book. My review is here.

The Dark Net by Benjamin Percy: Techno-horror — my review is here.

Fresh Catch:

Have I mentioned yet this week that I love my book club? Well, I do. We do several secret exchanges during this year, and this week I received my summer book swap package in the mail from a lovely member of the group. So many goodies for me to enjoy!

And here’s a close-up of that awesome bookmark:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

I’m trying to decide which of two library books I feel like starting right now:

  • South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby: I started this one a couple of months ago as an ARC, but the formatting was so bad that I couldn’t enjoy it. Figure I’d give it another shot in hard copy form.
  • The Waking Land by Callie Bates: Isn’t that a gorgeous cover?
Now playing via audiobook:

Rebel Angels by Libba Bray: Book #2 in the Gemma Doyle trilogy — getting close to the end. This book seemed to drag a lot more than the previous one. I may skip the audio for #3 and just zip through it in paper format instead — not sure that I want to devote another 20 hours of listening time to this series.

Ongoing reads:

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: My book group’s classic read! We’re doing two chapters per week. Really enjoying it so far.

Lord John and the Hell-Fire Club by Diana Gabaldon: The wonderful and lovely Outlander Book Club is starting its Lord John readalong, in which we’ll be reading all of the Lord John novels and stories in story chronology. We’re kicking things off this week with Hellfire! Anyone who’s interested is welcome to participate, so let me know if you’d like more information on how to join in.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 8/28/2017

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 last week?

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles: My book group’s pick for August. My review is here.

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann: Fascinating and disturbing non-fiction. My review is here.

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin: The highlight of my week! My review is here.

And in audiobooks:

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray: I finished the audiobook over the weekend, and really enjoyed it. I’ll wait until I finish the trilogy before I write up some thoughts.

Elsewhere on the blog:

Want to save money on e-books? I put together a blog post about how to find e-book price drops. Check it out, here.

Pop culture goodness:

I’ve been absolutely drooling over the newest issue of Entertainment Weekly. Why? Well, here’s a wee clue:

From Entertainment Weekly: Outlander
Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan photographed on the Outlander set in Cape Town, South Africa on March 8, 2017 by Ruven Afanador

Click here to see the full gallery of photos on the EW website, or here to see what I posted yesterday.

The end of Droughtlander is nigh! Outlander season 3 starts in LESS THAN 2 WEEKS.

Apologies in advance… my Outlander obsession seems to be kicking back into high gear, so expect plenty of Outlander-related posts for the next several weeks.

Fresh Catch:

Two new graphic novels this week:

Plus an ARC and one more little book that I think looks amazing:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente: Just getting started.

Now playing via audiobook:

Rebel Angels by Libba Bray: Book #2 in the Gemma Doyle trilogy — continuing on with the series after finishing A Great and Terrible Beauty.

Ongoing reads:

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: My book group’s classic read! We’re doing two chapters per week. Really enjoying it so far.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 8/21/2017

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.

Aaaaaaand… another school year gets underway. Today is the first day of 10th grade for my kiddo. Where did the summer go? I’m not sure who’s dreading the homework routine more, me or him.

What did I read last week?

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor: Very unusual science fiction. My review is here.

The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn: Contemporary fiction that’s not quite as funny as it tries to be. My review is here.

In audiobooks:

I finished listening to The Butterfly Effect by Jon Ronson. It’s an interesting look at today’s porn industry — specifically, the easy availability of free porn and its “butterfly effect” — all the various (and sometimes surprising) ways in which lives and industries have been changed in the years since porn became so readily available on the internet. There are some sad and disturbing bits, but also some moments that are unexpectedly funny or touching. Jon Ronson makes for an engaging narrator. Worth a listen (and currently available as a free download via Audible).

Fresh Catch:

I already had a free Kindle edition of Ivanhoe… but then someone in my book group mentioned seeing an edition with an introduction by Diana Gabaldon… and, well, you can guess what happened next.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

I’m flipping back and forth between two books right now:

  • Rules of Civility by Amor Towles — my book group’s pick for August, and I’m loving it. About 50 pages still to go.
  • Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann — still working my way through this non-fiction book, slowly. I have one more week until it’s due back at the library. Better get cracking… or throw in the towel.
Now playing via audiobook:

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray: I read this book years ago — and to be honest, didn’t love it. But, I’ve heard good things about the trilogy as a whole, and thought I should give it another try. So far, I’m enjoying the narrator, and the story is pretty good. I can’t remember yet why I didn’t like it too much the first time around!

Ongoing reads:

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: My book group’s new classic read! We’re doing two chapters per week, and we’re off to a great start.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 8/14/2017

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 baby boy is 15 today! We’re heading out to do some family ziplining to celebrate – wheeeeeeee!

What did I read last week?

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig: Brilliant. My review is here.

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land: Thank you, Goodreads — I won this in a giveaway! My review is here.

Fresh Catch:

Two new books this week:

I love witty grammar books (such a nerd), and the other book is an ARC with a time travel theme. Fun!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

I’m flipping back and forth between two books right now — one sci-fi, one non-fiction:

  • Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
Now playing via audiobook:

The Butterfly Effect by Jon Ronson: A free download from Audible focusing on the unintended consequences of the spread of free porn. It’s pretty interesting — if I can just find time to listen, I’ll be done in about an hour.

Ongoing reads:

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: My book group’s new classic read! We’re doing two chapters per week, starting today. I’m excited!

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 8/7/2017

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.

August already? How did that happen?

What did I read last week?

Abaddon’s Gate by James S. A. Corey: Loved it! My review is here.

Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn: Fascinating. My review is here.

In audiobooks:

I finished listening to The Golden Compass, and loved it. I’d decided to re-read the trilogy prior to the release of The Book of Dust in October, and thought I’d give the audio version a try. Philip Pullman narrates, along with a full cast for the various characters, and it was quite a good production. I’m looking forward to listening to the rest of the series as soon as the next volume becomes available at the library.

Pop culture goodness:

I randomly started watching The Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix and ended up watching all ten episodes over the weekend. It’s hilarious. Is something wrong with me?

I also thought I’d check out a couple of episodes of Will on TNT. Meh. I can’t decide if I like it, but I don’t hate it either. Maybe I’ll give it a bit more time.

Fresh Catch:

I bought one new book this week:

Ever since reading Binti, I seem to be collecting books by Nnedi Okorafor. This one caught my eye after I heard the news that it will be adapted for HBO, with George R. R. Martin as executive producer!

And hey, I won a giveaway! Thank you, Goodreads! I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig: Absolutely loving it. I have about 50 pages left — can’t wait to get home from work today so I can finish!

Now playing via audiobook:

The Butterfly Effect by Jon Ronson: Probably a weird choice, right? It was a free download from Audible, and I’ve read some pieces by Jon Ronson before, so I thought it would be entertaining, at the very least. I’ve only just started — we shall see.

Ongoing reads:

My book group’s next classic read, Ivanhoe, starts next week!

So many books, so little time…

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