The Monday Check-In ~ 3/30/2020

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.

Hey, hey, check out my groovy home office! I’m not really as techie as this makes me look — The laptop and one monitor are for work, and the other monitor is connected to my home computer. (Yup, that’s the one with Goodreads up on the screen!)

It’s been an insane week, and an even more insane weekend. I don’t talk about my day job too often here on my blog, but I work in HR, and this week a lot of stuff came to a boiling point. ‘Nuff said.

I’m hoping that by next weekend, I can actually have a weekend!

What did I read during the last week?

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune: 100% loved this book! My review is here.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert: Parts of this audiobook were super cute, and parts were absolutely cringe-worthy. My review is here.

The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren: Light, fluffy fun. My review is here.

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

My brain was ready to explode by Sunday night, so I did not even watch the new Outlander episode yet! If that doesn’t tell you what kind of week I had, nothing will.

Other TV watching:

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is just the cutest thing ever! Okay, sure, the plot doesn’t totally make sense (young professional suddenly starts hearing everyone’s innermost thoughts as songs that they sing and dance to her), but it’s really, really fun and upbeat. And the music is amazing!

Also, my son decided that he finally wanted to watch The Witcher, and I was happy to agree to keep him company while he watched. Now I have an excuse to bask in the glory of Geralt and Yennefer again… and to sing “Toss A Coin To Your Witcher” at every waking moment.

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Book of Koli by M. R. Carey: Just getting started. I love the strange world-building so far, but I’m afraid that this book might take more concentration than I’m capable of right now. Deep breaths…

Now playing via audiobook:

Beartown by Fredrik Backman: Also just starting — I haven’t had time to listen for the past couple of days, so I may have to start again from the beginning. But I’m excited to finally read/listen to this book!

Ongoing reads:

The Space Between by Diana Gabaldon: The latest in Outlander Book Club’s group read-alongs. Almost done.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: My book group’s newest classic read is now underway. We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 3/23/2020

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, that’s one week of sheltering in place! Who knows how many more to go… I hope everyone is staying safe and cozy and healthy at home, with lots and lots of books to keep you company.

What did I read during the last week?

Hearts of Oak by Eddie Robson: Loved it! So weird and amazing. My review is here.

Becoming by Michelle Obama: Incredibly powerful and inspiring. My review is here.

Smoke Bitten (Mercy Thompson, #12) by Patricia Briggs: I love this series, and this new book was exactly what I needed this week! My review is here.

Read but not reviewed:

Nevertheless, She Persisted: This e-book freebie is a collection of flash fiction by some amazing writers, all starting with those famously awful words: She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted. Definitely worth checking out!

Alone With the Stars by David R. Gillham: This Audible original was free last month, and I’m glad I gave it a try! This brief story (under 3 hours) cuts back and forth between Amelia Earhart on her final flight and a teen-aged girl in Florida who picks up her distress signals. It’s moving and nicely narrated — and made me want to find more to read about Amelia Earhart.

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

Here’s my latest Outlander reaction post:

Episode 506, “Better To Marry Than Burn” (3/2/2020) – here

Other TV watching:

My son and I watched Jumanji: The Next Level, and you know what? It’s a perfect diversion for these crazy days. We laughed. A lot.

A Quiet Place was so creepy! I’m glad we watched during the day while the sun was shining.

And…. I watched To All The Boys – PS I Still Love You. It was cute, but considering how much I loved the first movie, this one was just okay.

Fresh Catch:

Thanks, Orbit, for sending me this:

Can’t wait to get started!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune: Really fun so far. And another book with a terrific cover!

Now playing via audiobook:

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert: Sometimes, light and sweet is exactly what’s needed. Even though it’s a little more explicit than I tend to prefer in my romance stories.

Ongoing reads:

The Space Between by Diana Gabaldon: The latest in Outlander Book Club’s group read-alongs. A very fun re-read.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: My book group’s newest classic read is now underway. We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten books on my TBR list for spring 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is about our spring reading plans. So many great books to look forward to! Here are ten I’m especially excited for:

1) The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

2) Defy or Defend (Delightfully Deadly, #2) by Gail Carriger

3) The Book of Koli by M. R. Carey

4) Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay

5) Devolution by Max Brooks

6) Beach Read by Emily Henry

7) 500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan

8) The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

9) Red Sky Over Hawaii by Sara Ackerman

10) The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward

What books will you be reading this spring? Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

The Monday Check-In ~ 3/16/2020

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.

It’s hard to focus on reading and blogging when real-life feels like something out of a sci-fi novel. So while reading is always my favorite distraction, I was actually too distracted to do more than a bit of reading this week.

What did I read during the last week?

The Deep by Alma Katsu: I’d been so looking forward to this book… but unfortunately, just didn’t enjoy it very much. My review is here.

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis: My book group’s pick for March — which I actually managed to finish before our discussion date! My review is here.

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

Hey, hey — go me! I actually watched Outlander early enough on Sunday that I was able to write up my reaction post the same day! So, here’s the latest:

Episode 505, “Perpetual Adoration” (3/15/2020) – here

And here are my posts for the earlier episodes:
Episode 504, “The Company We Keep” (aired 3/8/2020) – here.
Episode 503, “Free Will” (aired 3/1/2020) – here.
Episode 502, “Between Two Fires” (aired 2/23/2020) – here.
Episode 501, “The Fiery Cross” (aired 2/16/2020) – here.

Other TV watching:

I finished my Gilmore Girls binge! Whew. What a ride! And I have feelings about it all, which I’ll attempt to write up sometime this week. I’m going to take a little pause before watching A Year in the Life… I think I need to allow a little time to pass.

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week… unless you count the few new Kindle books I scooped up!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Hearts of Oak by Eddie Robson: Just started late Sunday — it sounds weird and wonderful, and I love the cover!

Now playing via audiobook:

Becoming by Michelle Obama: Excellent! I have just a few hours of listening left.

Ongoing reads:

The Space Between by Diana Gabaldon: The latest in Outlander Book Club’s group read-alongs. A very fun re-read.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: My book group’s newest classic read is now underway. We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Book Review: The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis

Title: The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt
Author: Andrea Bobotis
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication date: July 9, 2019
Length: 311 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Source: Purchased
Rating:

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Some bury their secrets close to home. Others scatter them to the wind and hope they land somewhere far away.

Judith Kratt inherited all the Kratt family had to offer—the pie safe, the copper clock, the murder no one talks about. She knows it’s high time to make an inventory of her household and its valuables, but she finds that cataloging the family belongings—as well as their misfortunes—won’t contain her family’s secrets, not when her wayward sister suddenly returns, determined to expose skeletons the Kratts had hoped to take to their graves.

Interweaving the present with chilling flashbacks from one fateful evening in 1929, Judith pieces together the influence of her family on their small South Carolina cotton town, learning that the devastating effects of dark family secrets can last a lifetime and beyond. 

Miss Judith Kratt has lived in the imposing family home in Bound, South Carolina all her life. Now in her mid-70s, she lives contentedly with Olva — an African American woman who seems to be both servant and companion, the two women having spent their entire lives together. Judith has the idea to start an inventory of the house’s objects, all of which seem to hold a piece of the family history.

The Kratt family rose from nothing with Judith’s father, a bully of a man who strong-armed and cheated his way into a fortune in the cotton and mercantile business. He ruled his family and his town with an iron fist, inspiring fear and obedience whever he went.

In alternating chapters, we visit Judith’s memories of her teen years, going back to the fateful year of 1929 when her family’s fortunes changed dramatically.

Meanwhile, in the present of 1989, a local man and his six-year-old daughter take shelter in the Kratt home after being pursued by the grandson of Daddy Kratt’s former business partner. We see the cycles of hate and violence being carried through the generations, as the descendants of the grown-ups from Judith’s childhood still carry their forefathers’ handed-down grudges.

Judith seems odd and standoffish at first, but the more we learn about her childhood, the more her strange life starts to make sense. There are powerful family secrets buried in her and Olva’s pasts, and these secrets are still weighty enough to change lives all these years later.

As Judith makes her inventory, we come to understand the meaning of all the difference objects in her house, and how they relate to the family tragedy. It’s a clever and strangely moving approach to showing the weight of memories, and how those can add up to an entire life defined by the past.

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt isn’t exactly what I expected, especially based on the book cover (which was what originally caught my eye). The image made me expect a work of historical fiction, maybe 1950s era or thereabouts, about Southern belles and their families. That’s not this book at all, though.

Instead, The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt is about a 15-year-old girl and the older woman she becomes, and the family secrets that shadow her entire life. This book is my book group’s pick for March, and I can wait to hear what everyone else thought and to pick apart the tangled web of secrets with them. Definitely a recommended read!

The Monday Check-In ~ 3/9/2020

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’m been very distracted this week, which means not so much reading. At work, we’re in 24/7 contingency planning mode as the coronavirus spreads, and I ended up spending all weekend working on planning as well. Scary times. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy!

What did I read during the last week?

I only managed to finish one book this week! It’s just been hard to concentrate, let alone find quiet time to curl up with a book.

A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourn: This Victorian romp was exactly the kind of escape from reality that I needed! My review is here.

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

You want to know how crazy this week has been? I didn’t even watch the newest episode of Outlander yet! Here are my reaction posts for the three that I’ve watched so far — hoping to get to episode 504 tomorrow night.

Episode 503, “Free Will” (aired 3/1/2020) – here.
Episode 502, “Between Two Fires” (aired 2/23/2020) – here.
Episode 501, “The Fiery Cross” (aired 2/16/2020) – here.

Other TV watching:

My Gilmore Girls obsession continues! I’m on season 7 now, and let me just say, I am NOT HAPPY with recent turn of events. Just a big NOPE. But I don’t want spoilers (although I kind of do), so I’m just silently fuming as I watch.

Fresh Catch:

Ooh, new books!

Now I just need the time to read them all.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Deep by Alma Katsu: Hmm. I’m at about 33%, and I’m not actually loving it so far, which is weird — hauntings and the Titanic should be a winning combo for me.

Now playing via audiobook:

Becoming by Michelle Obama: I’m loving this audiobook!

Ongoing reads:

The Space Between by Diana Gabaldon: The latest in Outlander Book Club’s group read-alongs. A very fun re-read.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: My book group’s newest classic read is now underway. We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 3/2/2020

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.

 

Things only booklovers understand:

Waking up in the middle of the night absolutely consumed with worry about what happens next to the character in the audiobook I’m listening to… and tossing and turning for the rest of the night until I could finally keep listening. (It turned out fine, but boy, was I fretting!)

Being able to give her a hug would have helped a lot.

 

What did I read during the last week?

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi: The first book in a sci-fi trilogy that had been patiently waiting on my shelf for far too long. My review is here.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle: Just gorgeous. My review is here.

In audiobooks:

The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan: I know this author sometimes get pigeon-holed as “chick lit” (ugh, I hate that term)… but honestly, she just writes good, uplifting, heartfelt stories about interesting and unusual people. This one was a treat! My review is here.

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

I’m keeping up with my tradition of writing a reaction post after each new Outlander episode — and attempting to get them up the same night the episodes air, which isn’t always possible. So, here are my two most recent:

This week: Episode 503, “Free Will” (aired 3/1/2020) – here.
Last week: Episode 502, “Between Two Fire” (aired 2/23/2020) – here.

Other TV watching:

I’m so obsessed with Gilmore Girls that it’s kind of funny. I mean, I lost sleep over a few episodes in season 5 this past week because I was so upset by a break-up and was desperate to know if they got back together… but absolutely refused to Google it and look for spoilers. Anyway, I’m now on season 6, and loving it, of course.

 

 

 

 

Fresh Catch:

One new book this week:

Resistance is Futile by Jenny T. Colgan: Yes, the same author as the audiobook I finished above, but with a variation on her name that she uses for her sci-fi works. And I really need to start writing down who recommended books to me, because I first saw this book on on someone else’s blog within the past couple of weeks and knew I had to get it… and now I don’t remember who recommended it! Whoever you are, thank you!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourn: The 5th book in the enchanting Veronica Speedwell series! These books are a hoot — I’m so excited to be starting the new one.

Now playing via audiobook:

Becoming by Michelle Obama: I treated myself to a copy of this book over a year ago. It’s about time for me to finally read it! I’ve just barely started, but I’m loving listening to Michelle Obama narrate her own book.

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: My book group’s newest classic read is now underway. We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 2/24/2020

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.

Where did my weekend go? I want a do-over!

What did I read during the last week?

Meat Cute by Gail Carriger: An absolutely adorable novella that finally tells the story of Alexia and Connal’s first meeting and that unfortunate hedgehog incident that started it all! And if you have no idea what I’m talking about… well, this is a prequel story set in the world of the Parasol Protectorate, which is one of my very favorite series of all times!

The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust, #2) by Philip Pullman: I had such mixed feelings about this book. My thoughts are here.

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver: Sad but life-affirming contemporary romance. My review is here.

When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk: Moving YA novel. My review is here.

In audiobooks:

Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs: This was a re-read for me, and I loved it all over again! And now I’m 100% ready for the new Mercy book coming next month!

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

We’re now two episodes into season 5 of Outlander! For past seasons, I’ve posted my reaction posts right after each new episode, but somehow Sunday nights have become extra hectic lately. So… while I’ve already watched the 2nd episode, my write-up will have to wait a day or two.

Meanwhile, from last week:

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

Fresh Catch:

One of these things is not like the others…

Oh, that sinking feeling when your book order arrives and you discover that one book in the series has different dimensions than the others. Why, book gods, why? Ah well, I’m still excited to have a bunch of Witcher books ready to enjoy.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi: Considering I bought this book about two years ago, it’s about time I finally read it.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan: I can always count on this author to lift my spirits!

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: My book group’s newest classic read is now underway. We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

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

Book Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

Title: The Dry
Author: Jane Harper
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: May 31, 2016
Length: 328 pages
Genre: Crime fiction
Source: Purchased
Rating:

⭐⭐⭐⭐

A small town hides big secrets in this atmospheric, page-turning debut mystery by award-winning author Jane Harper.

In the grip of the worst drought in a century, the farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily when three members of a local family are found brutally slain.

Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, loath to face the townsfolk who turned their backs on him twenty years earlier.

But as questions mount, Falk is forced to probe deeper into the deaths of the Hadler family. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret. A secret Falk thought was long buried. A secret Luke’s death now threatens to bring to the surface in this small Australian town, as old wounds bleed into new ones.

The Dry is a twisty tale of murder and secrets set in a rural Australian community, where drought has dried up farms and rivers and brought the entire town to the brink of natural and economic ruin.

Federal Investigator Aaron Falk is drawn back into the web of gossip and lies in the town of Kiewarra when he returns home for a funeral — the funeral of his former best friend, who appears to have slaughtered his wife and son before turning the shotgun on himself. It’s horrifying and ugly, and the town is roiling with unhappiness.

At the same time, Aaron’s reception by the town is hostile. Twenty years earlier, he was suspected of murdering a classmate and was forced to flee with his father in the face of threats and aggression. The people of Kiewarra have a long memory, and no one — especially the dead girl’s family — wants to see him back among them.

But Aaron and the local police officer both believe something is off about the deaths of Luke’s family. Something about the crime scene just doesn’t add up, so Aaron stays to help pick through the witness statements and other bits and pieces of clues. Meanwhile, his memories of the events of 20 years earlier are coming back strongly, and he’s finding himself plagued by that unsolved mystery as well.

I was very caught up in the story of The Dry and just could not stop reading! The murder itself is gruesome and terrible, and it’s shocking to see how the different pieces fit together. Aaron is an impressive main character, smart and determined, but also flawed and haunted by his past and his regrets.

It was fascinating to get a view of the small-town politics and power plays, and I found the description of the drought-ridden environment and its dangers really powerful. Who knew that a scene with a lighter in it could be quite so scary?

I’m rating this book 3 1/2 stars, because I did enjoy it quite a bit, but also felt certain pieces of the mystery were a little on the obvious side. Given that I don’t normally gravitate toward crime stories, I was surprised that I liked The Dry as much as I did!

In fact, I think at some point I’ll want to read more of this author’s work — my book group friends recommend her books highly! **Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save