Audiobook Review: Jane of Lantern Hill by L. M. Montgomery

Title: Jane of Lantern Hill
Author: L. M. Montgomery
Narrator:  Lauren Sanders
Publisher: Sourcebooks (edition shown; many editions available)
Publication date: 1937
Print length: 261 pages
Audio length: 8 hours, 1 minutes
Genre: Classic children’s fiction (YA)
Source: Purchased

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The story of a girl who must leave her home to discover who she is and reunite her family. A beloved classic from the author of Anne of Green Gables.

Jane Stuart always believed her father was dead–until she accidentally learned he was alive and well and living on Prince Edward Island. When Jane spends the summer at his cottage on Lantern Hill, doing all the wonderful things her grandmother deems completely unladylike, she dares to dream that there could be such a house back in Toronto…a house where she and her parents could live together without Grandmother directing their lives–a house that could be called home.

Jane of Lantern Hill has been on my to-read list for years, ever since I finished both the Anne of Green Gables series and the Emily Starr trilogy. Jane of Lantern Hill is a stand-alone, and the last novel written by L. M. Montgomery.

While many themes are familiar, Jane starts off quite differently from the Anne and Emily books. The story opens in Toronto, where 11-year-old Jane lives in the stifling old mansion owned by her strict, judgmental grandmother, along with her very pretty but somewhat weak-willed mother. Jane’s father died while she was very young, or so she’s always understood. She’s miserable and lonely in her gray world, with the orphan girl living at the boarding house next door as her only friend.

Life changes dramatically for Jane when a letter arrives from her very much alive father, insisting that Jane come spend the summer with him on Prince Edward Island. Jane definitely does not want to go, but has no choice once the family realizes that he could cause legal trouble for them. And so, Jane travels by train and ferry all the way from Toronto to PE Island, filled with dread — but at first glance at her father, she feels a strong connection, and her unhappiness is immediately replace by joy.

On the island, her warm-hearted father devotes himself to creating a home for Jane. They buy a charming little house at Lantern Hill, and Jane is overjoyed to be the “woman” of the house, given free rein to organize, clean, and cook to her heart’s delight. (More on this in a moment…) Lantern Hill is surrounded by a community that welcomes Jane with open arms, and she finds her days filled with friends, animals, beautiful landscapes, and the sounds of the sea.

When summer ends, she must return to the dismal house in Toronto, but now at least she has something to look forward to, and ticks of the months until she can return to her true home at Lantern Hill. Meanwhile, she starts to learn more about her parents’ marriage and separation, and begins to realize that neither may truly have the full picture of what happened and why.

I really enjoyed Jane of Lantern Hill, as I do all L. M. Montgomery books, but with a few hesitations. I understand how freeing it must be for Jane to be given the chance to create a cozy, warm home for herself and her father, after a lifetime under her grandmother’s harsh control — but I disliked how so much of the focus was on Jane cooking meals, cleaning (she loves to polish the silver), and general tasks related to keeping house. Yes, she also goes on adventures with the local children, learns to swim, and loves being outdoors, but there’s just a huge emphasis on the joys of domesticity, and after a while, it really rankled.

I also must note that an antisemitic slur is used in this book. It’s not presented as representative of the author’s point of view, and to be fair, I don’t think she means it as a slur — but it still jarred me to see this particular phrase used in a casual conversation.

Other than these two factors, I enjoyed the book as a whole. It’s always lovely to revisit PEI through the eyes of L. M. Montgomery. The emphasis is wholly on Jane’s experiences, but there’s still an element of intrigue around why her parents separated, and readers learn the truth as Jane does.

Jane is a delightful character, not quite as fanciful and imaginative as Anne Shirley, but with an enthusiasm and abundance of love that have been suppressed all her life, until finally given free expression at Lantern Hill. She’s a lot of fun to spend time with, and the portrayals of her various PEI friends and neighbors, as seen through Jane’s eyes, are funny and entertaining.

The audiobook narrator is very good at capturing Jane’s spirit, as well as the awfulness of her grandmother, her mother’s gentle love, and her father’s exuberance. The audiobook itself (as available through Audible and elsewhere) has 10 – 15 places where phrases repeat, which I believe is an editing issue rather than a narration problem.

My introduction to the world of L. M. Montgomery was much later in my life than it should have been — I read Anne of Green Gables for the first time within the last five years! I do love her writing and the sense of Prince Edward Island’s beauty and community as portrayed in her books. I have two more L. M. Montgomery novels on my shelves (Pat of Silver Bush and Mistress Pat), and I’m eager to check them out.

If you’re interested in L. M. Montgomery’s books, I’d definitely recommend checking out Jane of Lantern Hill. It’s a sweet story of a memorable girl — well worth reading!

For those who are L. M. Montgomery fans, which other books of her do you recommend?

Shelf Control #317: House of Dreams: The Life of L. M. Montgomery by Liz Rosenberg

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: House of Dreams: The Life of L. M. Montgomery
Author: Liz Rosenberg
Published: 2018
Length: 339 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

An affecting biography of the author of Anne of Green Gables is the first for young readers to include revelations about her last days and to encompass the complexity of a brilliant and sometimes troubled life.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Maud who adored stories. When she was fourteen years old, Maud wrote in her journal, “I love books. I hope when I grow up to be able to have lots of them.” Not only did Maud grow up to own lots of books, she wrote twenty-four of them herself as L. M. Montgomery, the world-renowned author of Anne of Green Gables. For many years, not a great deal was known about Maud’s personal life. Her childhood was spent with strict, undemonstrative grandparents, and her reflections on writing, her lifelong struggles with anxiety and depression, her “year of mad passion,” and her difficult married life remained locked away, buried deep within her unpublished personal journals. Through this revealing and deeply moving biography, kindred spirits of all ages who, like Maud, never gave up “the substance of things hoped for” will be captivated anew by the words of this remarkable woman.

How and when I got it:

I bought a hardcover edition just over a year ago.

Why I want to read it:

I’ve been a voracious reader from childhood onward, but it’s only been in the last few years, as a (ahem) mature adult, that I’ve filled in a major gap in my childhood reading — the works of L. M. Montgomery!

How I managed to get through my younger days without someone pushing a copy of Anne of Green Gables into my hands, I just can’t quite understand. But that’s how things stood until about three years ago, when I finally read AoGG and then proceeded to read the seven following books in the Anne series. By now, I’ve also read the three Emily Starr books (loved them!) and one of the author’s rare books for adults, The Blue Castle. (Loved that one too!)

But what do I actually know about the author? Not very much, other than that she was a beloved Canadian children’s author who grew up on Prince Edward Island — so I was eager to get my hands on this biography of L. M. Montgomery, which has some truly stellar reviews on Goodreads and elsewhere.

House of Dreams is marketed as a middle grade book, although from some comments on Goodreads, it sounds like it deals more directly with the author’s depression than might be expected in MG.

I know I’ve commented at least a thousand times (grain of salt applied here…) that I tend not to read non-fiction, but this book is one I think I’ll make an exception for. I’ve gotten so much joy from reading L. M. Montgomery’s books over the last few years. I think it’s about time for me to get to know the author herself.

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!


Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Audiobook Review: The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

Title: The Blue Castle
Author: L. M. Montgomery
Narrator: Barbara Barnes
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication date: 1926
Print length: 249 pages
Audio length: 8 hours, 3 minutes
Genre: Classic fiction
Source: Purchased

Rating: 5 out of 5.

All her life, Valancy Stirling lived on a quiet little street in an ugly little house and never dared to contradict her domineering mother and her unforgiving aunt. At 29, she’s never been in love, and her only consolation has been the forbidden books of John Foster and her daydreams of the Blue Castle.

Then, one day, she gets a letter and decides that things need to change. For the first time in her life, she does exactly what she wants to and says exactly what she feels. At first, her family thinks she’s gone around the bend, but soon, she discovers a surprising new world, full of love and adventures far beyond her most secret dreams.

The Blue Castle has been on my to-read/to-listen list for several years now. Ever since reading Anne of Green Gables a few years ago (making up for what was clearly a major deficiency in my childhood reading), I’ve been committed to reading more and more by L. M. Montgomery. And while I’ve now read the full Anne series as well as the Emily trilogy, I still hadn’t quite gotten to The Blue Castle… until now.

I associate L. M. Montgomery with writing charming, heartfelt tales about girls whose sense of wonder and imagination enables then to see the world in such a glorious, optimistic light. The Blue Castle, though, is about a grown woman, and I was curious to see how the author presents a story about an adult.

In The Blue Castle, the main character is Valancy Stirling, whose 29th birthday represents a dramatic turning point for her. Valancy lives with her mother and elderly cousin in a stifling, rule-bound, drab house, completely under her mother’s thumb. The family considers Valancy a somewhat pitiable old maid at this point. She’s never been known as a beauty, has paled in comparison with her lovely younger cousin Olivia, and has never been expected to do anything with her life but be obedient, laugh at her uncle’s awful jokes, and be meek all her life.

One her birthday, Valancy decides to secretly see the local doctor about a strange feeling she occasionally gets in her chest. The doctor is forced to rush off due to a family emergency, but days later, she gets a letter from him, regretfully informing her that she has a fatal heart condition and may have months, but certainly no more than a year left to live.

It’s bitter news for Valancy, who mourns not her impending death, but the fact that she has never lived. And so, with nothing left to lose, she decides to throw caution to the wind and finally, better late than never, live a real life.

Her actions and demeanor shock her family, who are convinced that she’s gone “dippy” — and when Valancy crosses what they see as an unforgiveable line, they decide to pretend that she’s dead.

Meanwhile, Valancy finds unexpected joy by embracing a new, adventurous life, seeking out people and places that make her happy, throwing aside society’s rules and soaking in the beauty of the natural world and the pleasure of companionship based on respect and friendship and being open to experience.

I won’t give away too much of the plot. I’d imagine that in 1926, when the book was published, the surprises that come toward the end of the story might truly have been new and unexpected. As a 21st century reader, I absolutely saw most of the twists coming… but that’s okay. The joy is in the journey to get there, not in unraveling the plot points and figuring out just how Valancy’s story might end.

Valancy is a delightful main character, smart and open and loving, and I found her sass and bravery absolutely fabulous, once she makes the decision to remove herself from the rules and drudgery of her former life.

As in other L. M. Montgomery books, the setting is terrific. The Anne and Emily books are all set on Prince Edward Island, but the setting of The Blue Castle is the fictional area of Lake Mistawis, which apparently corresponds to the real Lake Muskoka in Ontario. In particular, Valancy’s home on an island on the lake is my ideal of a perfect little hideaway, simple and warm, surrounding by lakes and forests, and just such a lovely dream location.

The audiobook narration is quite good, capturing the officiousness of Valancy’s various relatives, as well as her own good nature and open attitude. Yes, some of the dialogue and phrases and terms of endearment sound hokey and outdated… but they’re from the 1920s, so of course they seem a little out of place now. Still, it’s a sweet and fast and enjoyable listen, and I’m so glad I finally experienced this lovely story.

And an added positive — I have at least three more of L. M. Montgomery’s books on my shelves! I’m looking forward to reading them all.

The cover of the 1980s edition, which cracks me up. I mean, the sweater tied over the shoulders! Absolutely wrong for the character… but so dorkily delightful all the same.

A look back: Series reading in 2021

In some ways, 2021 crawled by… yet at the same time, WHOOOOSH! Where did it all go?

Back in January (as has become my yearly tradition), I wrote a post identifying the series I wanted to get to in 2021. Now it’s time to check back in and see if I actually accomplished any of these reading goals.

So how did I do?

In 2022, my priority series to read were:

The Modern Faerie Tales trilogy by Holly Black:

Status: DONE! I read the trilogy straight through, but didn’t actually love it. Holly Black is amazing, but this earlier trilogy does not reach the heights of awesomeness seen in the Folk of the Air books. Still, I’m glad to have read these stories.

The Plantagenet and Tudor novels by Philippa Gregory:

Status: Nope. I didn’t read a single one of these, even though I got as far as holding the first book in my hands a few times. I do still intend to get to these… eventually.

The Expanse by James S. A. Corey:

Status: A little bit of progress… I read book #5 (Nemesis Games)… but there are still 4 more books in the series. Now that the 6th season of the TV show is airing, I expect to start book #6 shortly, and then we’ll see. I do intend to read all of these… it just may take some time.

Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery:

Status: DONE! I loved these books so much! I listened to the audiobooks during a particularly stressful month, and they were like ice cream for my soul. I hope to read more L. M. Montgomery in the year ahead. (My wrap-up of the trilogy is here)

Inspector Gamache books by Louise Penny:

Status: Nope. Despite fairly good intentions, I didn’t even read one book from the series. Like the Tudor books, these are still “someday, maybe” books for me… but I can’t see myself picking them up any time soon.

I did end up reading a few other series that weren’t part of my original goals:

I read the entire Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn (so much fun)!

Also, the Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo (although not the two duologies that follow). Notice a theme here? I guess I can thank Netflix for the inspiration!

Plus, I read the available books in a few new-to-me romance series that are ongoing, as well as new installments in some favorite continuing series as well.

That’s it for my 2021 series reading. How about you?

Did you read any series in 2021? Any particular favorites?

Check back in January, when I’ll set a new batch of series reading goals for the new year.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten books on my TBR list for winter 2021/2022


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 winter reading plans. I love putting together these quarterly TBR posts!

This time around, my list is split between upcoming new releases and book on my shelves that I’m dying to finally get to. My top 10 priorities to read this winter will be:

New releases:

1) Where the Drowned Girls Go (Wayward Children, #7) by Seanan McGuire: Starting the year off with a new novella in this series is becoming an annual tradition! This one releases January 4, 2022.

2) Spelunking Through Hell (InCryptids, #11) by Seanan McGuire: Also an annual tradition from the same author, the next new installment in the ongoing InCryptids series, releasing in March 2022.

3) The Unfamiliar Garden (The Comet Cycle, #2) by Benjamin Percy: The first book in this series (The Ninth Metal) was so weird and so good — can’t wait for more! Releases in January.

4) When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord: Another January release — looks like a lot of fun.

And books I already own:

5) Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto: I hear it’s great!

6) Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger: My book group’s pick for January (and we’ll be Zooming with the author!)

7) Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo: An LGBTQ love story set in San Francisco in the 1950s. Sounds amazing!

8) The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood: I see to be gravitating toward light romances a lot lately, and I love that this one features a woman in science.

9) Babylon’s Ashes (The Expanse, #6) by James S. A. Corey: The last season of the TV series is airing now, but there are still plenty of books left to read!

10) The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery: This specific book is a maybe, but I do want to read more L. M. Montgomery, and this is one of four options for me.

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

Series wrap-up: The Emily Starr trilogy by L. M. Montgomery

One of my reading goals for 2021 was to read the Emily trilogy by L. M. Montgomery. Check! I just finished up the 3rd book, and I’m still under Emily’s spell. Here’s my reading wrap-up for this lovely trilogy:

Title: Emily of New Moon
Published: 1923
Length: 339 pages

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Emily Starr never knew what it was to be lonely–until her beloved father died. Now Emily’s an orphan, and her mother’s snobbish relatives are taking her to live with them at New Moon Farm. She’s sure she won’t be happy. Emily deals with stiff, stern Aunt Elizabeth and her malicious classmates by holding her head high and using her quick wit. Things begin to change when she makes friends, with Teddy, who does marvelous drawings; with Perry, who’s sailed all over the world with his father yet has never been to school; and above all, with Ilse, a tomboy with a blazing temper. Amazingly, Emily finds New Moon beautiful and fascinating. With new friends and adventures, Emily might someday think of herself as Emily of New Moon.

Emily of New Moon introduces us to the unforgettable Emily Byrd Starr. Orphaned at age 10, Emily is taken in by her late mother’s side of the family, who disowned her mother years earlier when she eloped with Emily’s father. Suddenly uprooted, Emily settles into life at the beautiful New Moon with her spinster aunts, Elizabeth and Laura, and her impish cousin Jimmy. Despite her heartbreak over losing her father, Emily is soon enchanted by the loveliness of the farm and its surroundings, and settles in — with challenges — to her new home.

Emily is feisty and sensitive, speaks her mind, and doesn’t back down. She’s also highly imaginative and inquisitive, and — like Anne in Anne of Green Gables — delights in imbuing the natural world around her with fanciful names and personalities. For the first time in her life, Emily also has friends and classmates, and gets into wonderful adventures with Ilse, Teddy, and Perry. Most of all, Emily lets her secret ambition to become a “poetess” flourish, and uses every scrap of paper she can find to record her poems and stories.

This is a truly lovely book, very similar to Anne of Green Gables in spirit and tone. The author once again gives us a young girl with a sharp, expressive mind and a will of her own as a main character. The book is full of sweetness and whimsy, but we also feel Emily’s sorrow and pain as she navigates a world that isn’t always kind to her. There are memorable characters and escapades, and as in the author’s other works. Prince Edward Island is brought to life through Emily’s eyes.

Title: Emily Climbs
Published: 1925
Length: 325 pages

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Emily Starr was born with the desire to write. As an orphan living on New Moon Farm, writing helped her face the difficult, lonely times. But now all her friends are going away to high school in nearby Shrewsbury, and her old-fashioned, tyrannical aunt Elizabeth will only let her go if she promises to stop writing! All the same, this is the first step in Emily’s climb to success. Once in town, Emily’s activities set the Shrewsbury gossips buzzing. But Emily and her friends are confident — Ilse’s a born actress, Teddy’s set to be a great artist, and roguish Perry has the makings of a brilliant lawyer. When Emily has her poems published and writes for the town newspaper, success seems to be on its way — and with it the first whispers of romance. Then Emily is offered a fabulous opportunity, and she must decide if she wants to change her life forever.

The second book in the Emily trilogy covers Emily’s teen years as she attends high school in the nearby town of Shrewsbury. While Emily is desperate to further her education and hone her writing craft, she dreads being forced to board with her judgmental, restrictive Aunt Ruth. Plus, as part of being allowed to attend high school, Emily has had to promise not to write fiction during the three years of her schooling, which is a really tough pill for her to swallow. Still, she has her diaries and her poetry, and starts writing newspaper articles as well.

As the years go by, Emily and her friends grow and have more adventures, and Emily has some initial success as a writer when magazines begin publishing her submissions, sometimes even for money. Meanwhile, she has her first suitors, but her heart really belongs to the boy she’s grown up with.

I really enjoyed book #2, although one of the romantic situations involves a much older cousin-by-marriage and is kind of icky (although Emily, bless her heart, doesn’t understand at all that there’s a romantic interest there.) While he is never inappropriate, his interest is obvious, and seen through today’s lens, it feels way too much like grooming. So icky. (Granted, the book was written 100 years ago, so perspectives on this sort of thing would certainly have been different).

Even as she gets older, Emily is still a dreamer, and it’s lovely to see her view of the world around her. Like Anne (of Green Gables), she sees magic and beauty in the world, and is driven by the need to describe what she experiences through her writing.

By the end of Emily Climbs, Emily has finished school and set her course for the future. It’s charming to see the choices she makes and the life she envisions for herself.

Title: Emily’s Quest
Published: 1927
Length: 258 pages

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Emily Starr and Teddy Kent have been friends since childhood, and as Teddy is about to leave to further his education as an artist, Emily believes that their friendship is blossoming into something more. On his last night at home, they vow to think of each other when they see the star Vega of the Lyre.

As Emily grows as a writer and learns to deal with the loneliness of having her closest friends gone, life at New Moon changes. Mr. Carpenter, Emily’s most truthful critic and favorite teacher dies (warning Emily, even as he dies to “Beware — of — italics.”). She becomes closer to Dean Priest, even as she fears he wants love when she only has friendship to give. Worst of all, Emily and Teddy become distant as he focuses on building his career and she hides her feelings behind pride.

Oh, this book grabbed me and put my heart through the wringer! So many emotions! Emily grows into her young womanhood in Emily’s Quest, and it’s both sad and inspiring in so many ways.

Although she’s been offered an opportunity to pursue a career in New York, Emily knows in her heart that she belongs at New Moon, and that this is where her joy and creative inspiration live. She continues to live with her aunts and cousin in the family home and enjoys the natural beauty of her world. Her writing gets accepted by more and more magazines, and she actually earns enough to pay back the stuffy aunts and uncles who paid for her earlier education.

But Emily is lonely without her closest friends. She has many suitors, none of whom really stir her feelings enough to accept their proposals. Her older cousin Dean provides companionship, and it’s clear that he loves her. Emily is very fond of him and loves his friendship, but I started to hate him. He’s so disparaging of Emily’s work, to the point that he pretty much eviscerates her:

“Her pretty cobwebs—” ah, there it was. That was all Emily heard. She did not even realize that he was telling her he thought her a beautiful woman.

“Do you think what I write is nothing but cobwebs, Dean?” she asked chokingly.

Dean looked surprised, doing it very well. “Star, what else is it? What do you think it is yourself? I’m glad you can amuse yourself by writing. It’s a splendid thing to have a little hobby of the kind. And if you can pick up a few shekels by it—well, that’s all very well too in this kind of a world. But I’d hate to have you dream of being a Brontë or an Austen—and wake to find you’d wasted your youth on a dream.”

“I don’t fancy myself a Brontë or an Austen,” said Emily. “But you didn’t talk like that long ago, Dean. You used to think then I could do something some day.”

“We don’t bruise the pretty visions of a child,” said Dean. “But it’s foolish to carry childish dreams over into maturity. Better face facts. You write charming things of their kind, Emily. Be content with that and don’t waste your best years yearning for the unattainable or striving to reach some height far beyond your grasp.”

Ugh. If Dean Priest was standing in front of me, I think I’d have to punch him in the face. Because of a series of events that start with Dean telling Emily that her work is basically trash, Emily goes through one of the worst periods of her life, and eventually accepts Dean’s proposal of marriage, thinking she can have a happy life with him. Fortunately, she realizes what we readers have known all along — her heart has always belonged to Teddy Kent, the boy she’s loved since childhood.

Sadly, the course of true love never did run smooth, and there’s more heartbreak ahead. I can’t tell you how completely wrung out my feelings were, reading Emily’s ups and downs, and at times, hurting so much for her that I wanted to go hide with my head under a pillow.

But fear not, there’s a happy ending! I wish the ending had been given a little more time to breathe, but it was joyful nonetheless, and that’s really all I wanted — for Emily to find the happiness she deserves.

Wrapping it all up…

The fact that I was so caught up in Emily’s life shows what a magnificently written set of books this is! There’s something incredibly beautiful about following Emily’s story from girlhood through her teens and into womanhood, seeing all the different stages of her life, and experiencing how her childhood hopes and dreams evolve over time, making her the woman she finally becomes.

It’s a lovely journey, and Emily is a fabulous character. She has the starry-eyed joy that we see in Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables), but her story takes its own path. While initially feeling like a similar book about an orphaned girl finding a new family, Emily becomes someone unique and worth knowing in her own right. I love her imagination and joy as a child, and how her love of the world around her infuses her writing and her ability to love others.

The books are filled with memorable quirky characters, and the setting on Prince Edward Island is so lovingly drawn that I could visualize everything Emily sees. (PEI is going to be a travel goal for me!)

I’m so thrilled that I read the Emily trilogy, and I know in my heart that these are books I’ll come back to again and again.

Reading goals: Series to read in 2021

Welcome, 2021! I’m so glad you’re here at last!

I’m not a big fan of new year’s resolutions, and I generally don’t set a lot of reading goals. My reading north star is to read whatever, whenever, according to my whims and moods (although I do try to keep up with my ARCs, more or less according to publication dates).

I do like to plan ahead at the start of a year when it comes to my series reading. A new year is a fresh start when is comes to starting a series that I’ve been wanting to get to. For me, series are most enjoyable when I can read all (or at least, a bunch) of the books in a row, or at least within a few months of each other.

Of course, all of this is subject to change as the year progresses. Still…

In 2021, my priority series to read will be:

The Modern Faerie Tales trilogy by Holly Black – I read (and adored) Holly Black’s Folk of the Air series in 2020, and now I want to read everything else she’s written! I’ll start with these:

The Plantagenet and Tudor novels by Philippa Gregory – of the 15 books in this historical fiction series, I’ve read 5 at random times over the last several years. Nine more to go! (I’m inspired, having watched the Starz TV series inspired by several of these books.)

The Expanse by James S. A. Corey: This was on my list last year too! I seem to manage to read only one book per year. I’ve read books 1 – 4 already, and want to keep going! Hopefully, I’ll read more than one in 2021. Next up for me is:

Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery – I’ve been wanting to read this trilogy since reading the Anne of the Green Gables books a couple of years ago.

Inspector Gamache books by Louise Penny – I want to at least start this series this year. There are 16 books published so far! Seems daunting, but I want to give them a try.

Also for 2021, I want to either start, get back to, or revisit some of these others:

  • The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowksi – I’ve read 3 books, 5 more to go
  • The Diviners by Libba Bray – I’ve read the first book, but at this point I’d need to re-read it before continuing (four books in all)
  • Wolfsong series by TJ Klune – I really want to read more by TJ Klune in 2021, and I’ve heard this series is great
  • Shardlake series by C. J. Sansom – I’ve been meaning to start this series for a long time, so maybe this will be the year
  • The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny – this is a BIG maybe for me. I read books 1 – 5 of this series ages and ages ago, but I’ve always meant to go back and read books 6 – 10… which means I’d need to start over from the beginning. I remember loving it at the time — so yeah, maybe.

Are you planning to start any new series this year? If you’ve read any of the series on my “priority” list, let me know what you thought!

The Monday Check-In ~ 8/5/2019

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

What did I read during the last week?

Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar: Intricate science fiction involving alternate realities. My review is here.

Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh: Fascinating story of space exploration and interplanetary travel. My review is here.

Anne of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery: I finished this audiobook over the weekend. I didn’t love it quite so much as the earlier books in the series. I wasn’t quite prepared to spend so much time focusing on Anne’s children rather than on Anne herself. I do intend to continue with the last two books in the series, but I have a few other things to listen to first.

Fresh Catch:

Oh boy. I really over-indulged this week! I bought myself copies of…

Two “coffee-table” books:

And a couple of others to read:

Aaaaand, I also received a couple of ARCs from Orbit (thank you!):

Now if only I had time to actually read all of these…

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han: After some heavier reads, it’s nice to take a break with fluffy YA.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal: I loved this book so much when I read it last summer! I need to read the sequel, so I decided to do an audiobook re-read first.

Ongoing reads:

Two ongoing book group read right now:

  • The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens — our current classic selection, reading and discussing two chapters per week.
  • Virgins by Diana Gabaldon: Our newest group read — a novella set during Jamie Fraser’s teen years.

So many books, so little time…


The Monday Check-In ~ 7/29/2019

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


My little vacation last week was lovely (but too short). Sun, sand, good books! Some strawberry tiramisu too. What more could I ask for?

What did I read during the last week?

My vacation reading (all reviewed here):

  • Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev
  • We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory
  • I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin

And since returning home, I’ve also read:

Ellie and the Harpmaker by Hazel Prior: A sweet, engaging debut novel. My review is here.

Fresh Catch:

Oof. I bought myself a copy of Wanderers by Chuck Wendig. This book is BIG. I need to steel myself a bit before diving in.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar: Israeli science fiction revolving around alternate realities. Really mind-bending! I’ve read about 75% — can’t wait to see how it all works out.

Now playing via audiobook:

Anne of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery: The 6th Anne book! Loving the series, although I’m not sure that I love the shift of focus from Anne herself to her big brood of children. Still, carrying on…

Ongoing reads:

Two ongoing book group read right now:

  • The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens — our current classic selection, reading and discussing two chapters per week.
  • Virgins by Diana Gabaldon: Our newest group read — a novella telling the story of teen-aged Jamie and Ian during their time as mercenaries in France. I’ve read it before, but I”m excited to be sharing it with the group this time around.

So many books, so little time…


The Monday Check-In ~ 7/22/2019

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


I’m away on a mini-road trip for most of this week, so my online presence will probably be pretty minimal. I’m off in search of sunnier scenery — I’ve had enough fog for one summer, thank you very much!






A programming note:

Since I’ll be away, there won’t be a Shelf Control post this week. Yes, I could set it up in advance. But hey, it’s a vacation week! So no, I’m not going to stress about it. Shelf Control will be back next week!






What did I read during the last week?

Finding Fraser by KC Dyer: A fun Outlander-flavored contemporary romance. My review is here.

Anne’s House of Dreams by L. M. Montgomery: I finished the audiobook of the 5th book in the Anne of Green Gables series. It’s quite a shift, seeing Anne as a contented wife, rather than as a young girl or a college student or a teacher. These books are consistently delightful, and the audiobook editions I’ve been listening to are so well done!

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth: A really good, twisty mystery/family drama. My review is here.

Read but not reviewed:

In the Shadow of Spindrift House by Mira Grant: I always love her writing, but in this case, I just didn’t get it. Maybe because it riffs off of Lovecraftian themes, and I’ve never read Lovecraft — in any case, I feel like the point of this story went over my head. Still creepy, but not her best.

Book group update:

We finished our group read of A Fugitive Green, an Outlander-world novella available in the Seven Stones to Stand or Fall collection. A great story, finally giving Hal and Minnie’s backstory. A must-not-miss for Outlander fans!

Fresh Catch:

Once again, I had some credits to use on Amazon, so here’s what I got:

I’ve read Thunderhead already, but needed my own copy so I can do a re-read before book #3 comes out later this year. And even though I haven’t started Illuminae yet, I know I’ll want to read the whole trilogy in one big binge, so now I’m ready!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev: Just starting!

Now playing via audiobook:

Anne of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery: Onward with book #6! I started this one as soon as I finished the previous, but I doubt I’ll make much progress while traveling this week. Loving this series!

Ongoing reads:

One ongoing book group read right now:

  • The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens — our current classic selection. We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week, and we’re just about at the halfway mark!

So many books, so little time…