The Monday Check-In ~ 5/11/2020

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.

Wishing all the moms out there a happy Mother’s Day! My family treated me to a nice breakfast, fun phone calls, and a walk… which is about all we can do during these social distancing days. I enjoyed it all!

What did I read during the last week?

Of Literature & Lattes by Katherine Reay: The follow-up novel to The Printed Letter Bookshop. Enjoyable and warm. My review is here.

Defy or Defend (Delightfully Deadly, #2) by Gail Carriger. So much fun! My review is here.

Past Prologue by Diana Gabaldon and Steve Berry: An Outlander-adjacent story collaboration. And yes, Jamie Fraser makes an appearance, making this short story a must-read for all Outlander fans.

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

Season 5 of Outlander ended Sunday night. And now Droughtlander begins again. Right after watching, I wrote up my reaction to the season finale. It was a really difficult episode, and I found it hard to talk about.

Outlander, episode 512, “Never My Love” — my reaction post is here.

Other TV watching:

Anyone else watch Netflix’s Hollywood ? It’s so… different from what I expected, and really, really interesting. I watched the whole thing over the weekend (only seven episodes). Patti Lupone’s fabulous performance is a highlight, but really, there’s a lot to take in and enjoy.

Fresh Catch:

No new print books this week… although my Kindle library is growing by leaps and bounds, thanks to all the random price drops that have come my way over the past few weeks.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

If It Bleeds by Stephen King: I’ve read three of the four stories in this collection. Loving it so far! I think I’m going to need to buy myself a copy once I return this one to the library.

Now playing via audiobook:

Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski: The audiobook narrator makes these stories so much fun.

Ongoing reads:

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: Woo hoo! I made a big effort this week, and now just need to read one more chapter to catch up to my book group!

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 5/4/2020

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.

Another week. What is there to say? Working hard (at home, of course)… but at least we had a good few days of sunshine, so I was able to get in some long walks and feel the fresh air on my face!

Oh, and I started a new jigsaw puzzle — first one in a while. It’s making me happy.

What did I read during the last week?

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay: Uplifting novel with a bookstore setting — always a plus! My review is here.

Educated by Tara Westover: I listened to the audiobook of this memoir, and was completely fascinated by it. My review is here.

The Last Emperox by John Scalzi: An awesome wrap-up to a terrific sci-fi trilogy! My review is here.

Read but not reviewed:

Long Story Short by Lisa Brown: Lisa Brown’s 3-panel book review comics used to appear in the book section of my local paper (back when the paper still had a book section, which it no longer does…). Anyhoo, I always enjoyed these literary comics, so I thought I’d treat myself to the newly released book version. It’s fun, but I have to be honest and say that I’m a little mad at myself for spending money on this, when I’m trying to budget my book buying. I flipped through it in about 20 minutes, and now I’m done. Some of the comics are very clever, others made little impression. I think this would be a great gift for a booklover, but I’m not convinced I needed to buy it for myself. Moving on.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling: Yes, I’ve read the tales plenty of times already, but this is a new Audible production, featuring HP cast members such as Warwick Davis, Jude Law, Jason, Isaacs, and more. The audiobook is short (1.5 hours), and includes Dumbledore’s commentary on each story. Totally fun way to experience these “classic” tales all over again!

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

Season 5 of Outlander is almost over. As usual, I wrote up my thoughts on this week’s episode:

Outlander, episode 511, “Journeycake” — my reaction post is here.

Next week is the season finale!

Other TV watching:

Never Have I Ever on Netflix is sweet, funny, touching — a must-watch! And it’s only 10 half-hour episodes, so it’s easy to gulp down over a couple of days.

And… I watched Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Mixed feelings on this one. I binged all of GG’s seven seasons during the past year, and loved the characters and the story so much (except for certain parts and occurrences that I’d prefer to ignore). A Year in the Life takes place ten years after the regular series, and while it was great to see these beloved characters again, it also made me sad. Sad to see how much older everyone is, sad to see that life hasn’t turned out perfectly for everyone, and sad because of certain losses that have occurred. (Also, sad to see some body-shaming going on, which just is not in good taste, but that’s a different kind of sad!). I’m really glad I watched, but I’m left with some dissatisfaction too, and wish there could be more!

Fresh Catch:

My signed copy of Defy or Defend arrived! Thank you Gail Carriger and Borderlands Books! I’m so excited to start this!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Of Literature & Lattes by Katherine Reay: After finishing The Printed Letter Bookshop, I just had to start this book, which is set in the same small town and has many of the same characters. I’m at about 50%, and it’s charming.

Now playing via audiobook:

Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski: I was feeling the need for a little more Witcher in my life right now. These audiobooks are so much fun!

Ongoing reads:

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: My book group is reading two chapters per week. I managed to read a little more, but I’m still six or seven chapters behind.

Past Prologue by Diana Gabaldon and Steve Berry: Also in book group, we’re doing a group read of this short story featuring the King of Men (Jamie Fraser).

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 4/27/2020

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.

We had a pretty goofy family Zoom this week — the first one we’ve managed to pull off. It was fun and silly, and just so nice to see everyone’s faces, even from far away.

What did I read during the last week?

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix: Loved it. My review is here.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison: I’m in love with this book! Why didn’t I read it years ago? My review is here.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor: Really enjoyed this audiobook, and can’t wait to listen to #2! My review is here.

Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally: Wonderful YA. My review is here.

I also had one DNF this week:

Siri, Who Am I? by Sam Tschida: DNF’d at 20%. It was just so dumb. I couldn’t take it a second more.

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

Season 5 of Outlander is getting close to the end!

Outlander, episode 510, “Mercy Shall Follow Me” — my reaction post is here.

Only two episodes left this season!

Other TV watching:

I finished Sex Education. Loved it — bring on season 3!

Fresh Catch:

Ooooh. My copy of The Last Emperox arrived! This is the 3rd book in the Interdependency trilogy (my reviews of books 1 & 2 are here and here). So excited to read the conclusion!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

I started reading Of Literature & Lattes by Katherine Reay, and then realized that it’s the follow-up to her previous book, The Printed Letter Bookshop, which I haven’t read. So… I’m detouring back to the first one, before I return to the second!

Now playing via audiobook:

Educated by Tara Westover: Okay, so I’m only about two years behind everyone else! I’m glad to finally be experiencing this powerful memoir. I’m about halfway through the audiobook — it’s great.

Ongoing reads:

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: My book group is reading two chapters per week. I’m still about six chapters behind… but slowly, slowly making an effort to catch up.

Past Prologue by Diana Gabaldon and Steve Berry: Also in book group, we’re doing a group read of this short story featuring the King of Men (Jamie Fraser).

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 4/20/2020

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.

New week, same as the old week! I worked from home, went for walks on sunny days, and that’s it!

I had a couple of Zoom calls with family and friends — it was nice to use Zoom for fun reasons rather than just for work all day, every day. Looking forward to the day when we can see one another’s faces again in person, not just on screens!

What did I read during the last week?

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth: Awesome! My review is here.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman: Such a terrific audiobook. My review is here.

The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi: Book #2 in the Interdependency trilogy — what a great adventure! My review is here.

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

Season 5 of Outlander is moving right along. Here’s this week’s newest episode:

Outlander, episode 509, “Monsters and Heroes” — here.

Other TV watching:

I’ve been loving Sex Education on Netflix! I’m almost done with season 2… great to know that there will be another season.

Fresh Catch:

I treated myself to this illustrated edition of Neil Gaiman’s The Sleeper and the Spindle. So pretty…

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix: I’m THIS CLOSE to being done. Loving it! I’ll probably have a review up in the next day or two.

And now I’m trying to decide which ARC to read next — I think it’s narrowed down to one of these two:

So much pink!

Now playing via audiobook:

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor: I’ve had this book for a few years, and finally decided to listen to the audiobook. It’s great! So long as it’s sunny enough to go for a walk, I think I’ll finish tomorrow.

Ongoing reads:

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: My book group is reading two chapters per week, and I’ve fallen so far behind! I did manage to squeeze in one chapter during this past week — only 6 or 7 to go until I’m caught up. I think.

Past Prologue by Diana Gabaldon and Steve Berry: Also in book group, we’re doing a group read of this short story featuring the King of Men (Jamie Fraser).

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 4/13/2020

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.

Another week at home! What is there to say? I feel fortunate to still have a job, so I can’t complain.

We had a scare about my father this week, but fortunately, it looks like he just had a day of not feeling well and not something worse. Fingers crossed. Meanwhile, three cheers for the brave and hardworking health care workers in all of our lives!

What did I read during the last week?

The Book of Koli by M. R. Carey: Loved it! My review is here.

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey: Awesome novella. My review is here.

Fantastic Hope edited by Laurell K. Hamilton and William McCaskey: The whole reason I requested this anthology from NetGalley was to get my hands on the new Patricia Briggs story — and I was not disappointed in the slightest! Asil and the Not Date is a fun, exciting adventure for the dangerous old werewolf, and I always love getting to see him in action. A must for fans of the Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series! I’ll pick my way through the rest of the stories in this collection, but the Briggs story was what motivated me, and I loved it.

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

After a week off, Outlander is back! Here’s my reaction to the newest episode:

Outlander, episode 508, “Famous Last Words” — here.

Other TV watching:

Hey, I posted a thing about why I love Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist so much — check it out!

And…

I watched Little Women! I have… thoughts about it. I loved it, but also kind of didn’t — not that that makes any sense. The sequencing of the story really changes some of the impact of the plot elements, and I just couldn’t get over the portrayal of Amy or the ending of the movie. But I’m glad I saw it!

Also, I finished Derry Girls! Which, if you haven’t watched it yet, is a two-season series about girls growing up in Northern Ireland in the 90s, and it’s hilarious. Now streaming on Netflix…

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week… but I decided to order a few books through my favorite local bookstore, now that they’ve reopened for mail order business, because I love them and want them to thrive. See, I get to buy books and feel good about it! Can’t wait for my orders to arrive.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth: I put in a request for this e-book at the library earlier this week, and the confirmation message said it would take about 20 weeks for my hold to come in. And then two days later, it was available! I have no idea how that worked out, but I’m glad it did. Really enjoying the book so far!

Now playing via audiobook:

Beartown by Fredrik Backman: I’m so close to being done! I have to resist the urge to finish up via my paper copy to see how it all turns out. I’m really enjoying the audiobook.

Ongoing reads:

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: I don’t know why I’m still including this book as if I’m actually reading it. It’s my book group’s ongoing read, and I’m at least three weeks behind. Will I ever catch up? It remains to be seen… but I’m not feeling especially motivated at the moment.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 4/6/2020

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.

Well, that was a week. Insane. I won’t bore you with the details, but despite getting to work in my sweats all day, every day, it’s still been the most intense workweek of my life.

Fortunately, I got to more or less take the weekend off, except for answering emails and trying to catch up on a few odds and ends.

In terms of reading and blogging, I barely did either one! I don’t think I touched a book at all from Sunday until Thursday, which gives you a sense of just how crazy things have been. And I apologize for how absent I’ve been from the blogging community! I usually love to visit everyone’s blogs and keep up to date, and this week, I just couldn’t. But I promise — I’ll be back! Can’t wait to catch up on what everyone else has been reading and blogging about.

The good news is, I think I’m past the worst of it, work-wise… We shall see. And meanwhile, I hope to at least be able to read every day once again!

What did I read during the last week?

Honestly, almost nothing.

The Space Between by Diana Gabaldon: My book group finished our group re-read of this Outlander-verse novella this past week. It’s an interesting story, but doesn’t feel essential to the greater world of Outlander… unless somehow these events end up connecting to the plot of book #9, whenever that comes along.

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

No new episodes this week, but here’s my reaction post from last Sunday’s episode:

Outlander, episode 507, “The Ballad of Roger Mac” — here.

Other TV watching:

I finished re-watching The Witcher. And yup, it’s just as good the 2nd time around! Plus, there are timeline and story hints that are much more obvious with repeat viewing. I think I’ll head back to the books pretty soon, because I need me some more Witcher in my life, and it sounds like it’ll be a while before we’re gifted with season 2.

My daughter convinced me to watch Derry Girls. It’s a hoot! And I love that (a) episodes are 30 minutes, and (b) there are only six episodes per season.

And, I watched Emma — the new movie version! Somehow, the 1996 version with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam is the one that is firmly stuck in my brain as THE Emma adaptation, but I did enjoy this one a lot. Interesting visuals and direction, talented cast — all-around entertaining.

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: I had a very slow start because of my super intense week… but once the smoke cleared a bit, I dove back in, and I’m loving it!

Now playing via audiobook:

Beartown by Fredrik Backman: I’ve only made the slightest dent in this audiobook, but I’m hoping to get back into a regular walking and listening pattern this week!

Ongoing reads:

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: My book group’s current classic read. I’m a few weeks behind already, but I swear I’ll catch up. Eventually.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

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