The Monday Check-In ~ 6/29/2020

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 busy work week, but what else is new? I did get a little bit more time to relax and get outside this week, so things are improving.

And I did another puzzle!

Maybe you can’t tell from looking at it, but this one was hard! So many pieces of the same color… my poor eyes! And then there was the saga of the missing piece, which took three of us (and some daring lifting of the couch) to find. But I finished! I guess it’s a sign of these crazy times that a little thing like finishing a jigsaw puzzle can be my big accomplishment of the week.

What did I read during the last week?

Hella by David Gerrold: Exciting sci-fi that’s a little longer than it needs to be — but still a good read. My review is here.

The Fated Sky (Lady Astronaut, #2) by Mary Robinette Kowal: I loved this audiobook! It was a re-read for me, and so worth it. My review is here.

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory: Sweet and sexy romance. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

I finished Jane the Virgin! LOVED it. But since I started my binge with season 2 (since I watched season 1 back when it first aired), I decided to wrap things up by rewatching season 1. Such an amazing, clever, touching show. I’ll write up some thoughts once I finish season 1.

Fresh Catch:

No new books! I didn’t even buy any e-books this week, and I’m always on the lookout for good price drops on Kindle books.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Ooh. I’m just about done, and I’m loving it. This is my first time reading a book by this author, but I have a feeling I’m going to want to read more!

Now playing via audiobook:

Well Met by Mary Jen DeLuca: Cute! I’ve been in the mood for light, breezy audiobooks lately, and this fits the bill! And hurray for my friend who told me to check Axis360 — I’d only borrowed from my library via OverDrive up to now, but Axis360 has a good selection too!

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club’s re-read of Outlander is underway. We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. Coming this week: Chapter 3. Loving it.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 6/22/2020

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, it’s been rough. This was one of the worst workweeks I’ve ever gone through. My “day job” is in human resources, and this week, my organization laid off 150 employees. While I feel fortunate to still have a job, it was awful being on the back-end of all these layoffs, especially since it also meant saying good-bye to people I’ve worked with for many, many years.

Anyway, I don’t come to my blog to dwell on real-life bummers… but between the mood and the sheer amount of work that needed to get done, my reading time this week has been pretty limited and sporadic.

But hey, I did a cute puzzle, so there’s that.

(Sorry, my lighting sucks, but the puzzle really is adorable.)

What did I read during the last week?

How the Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior: Just a perfect read for me this week — sweet and uplifting! You know those books that you just want to hug? This is one of those. My review is here.

And that’s it! I didn’t manage to finish anything else this week.

Pop culture & TV:

Even more Jane the Virgin! I’m THIS CLOSE to finishing the final season. I’m loving it, and also getting super sad that I’m almost done.

Fresh Catch:

No new books!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Hella by David Gerrold: Sci-fi set on a planet called Hella, because everything there is HELLA huge. (I have to wonder if the author is from the Bay Area… ) It’s entertaining, but I just haven’t made as much progress as I’d hoped to.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Fated Sky (Lady Astronaut, #2) by Mary Robinette Kowal: Getting close to the end! I’m enjoying the audiobook so much. Can’t wait for the next book in the series!

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club’s re-read of Outlander started this past week. We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. Woo hoo! It’s so much fun. And yes, I’ve read this book multiple times already, but it’s always a pleasure to go back to where it all began. Chapter 2 is coming up this week! If you’d like to join in, let me know and I’ll give you the links and info.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 6/15/2020

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.

Although school already ended and my son got his diploma the previous week, this past week we had the virtual graduation. So now it’s doubly official — my baby is a high school graduate!

What did I read during the last week?

Devolution by Max Brooks: Terrific horror from the author of World War Z. My review is here.

The Ghosts of Sherwood by Carrie Vaughn: A fun, entertaining novella about Robin Hood and Marian’s children. A terrific read! Part 2 of the story will be released in August.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: Just finished this lovely audiobook, right in time for my book group’s discussion this week. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

More Jane the Virgin! I’ve just started season 5 — the final season — and I’m already getting a little weepy at the idea of the story coming to an end.

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week. But I did treat myself to a few new jigsaw puzzles! And hey, here’s a tip for my fellow puzzlers out there: While prices are very jacked up on Amazon right now, Barnes & Noble has a good selection at normal, pre-pandemic prices. Score!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

How the Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior: I adored this author’s debut novel, Ellie and the Harpmaker, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her new book, which releases this week! I’ve read about half. It’s adorable!

Now playing via audiobook:

The Fated Sky (Lady Astronaut, #2) by Mary Robinette Kowal: This is a re-read for me, although my first time on audio. The author narrates these books, and is wonderful. (She narrates many of Seanan McGuire’s audiobooks too — very talented!). Book #3 in the Lady Astronaut series (The Relentless Moon) comes out next month, and I needed a refresher.

Ongoing reads:

Who’s ready for a re-read? Starting this week, Outlander Book Club is doing a group read of Outlander, reading and discussing one chapter per week. Interested in joining in? Let me know, and I’ll share the details.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 6/8/2020

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.

In these disturbing times, it’s nice to find a ray of sunshine at home. Without ceremony of any sort, my son finished high school! There’s supposed to be a virtual graduation taking place later this week, although we don’t know any specifics yet. Meanwhile, the school year ended and he was able to pick up his diploma, so it’s official!

What did I read during the last week?

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins: I ended up loving this new prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy. My review is here.

Laughter at the Academy by Seanan McGuire: An excellent short story collection from an author who always makes me happy. My review is here.

500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan: A sweet romance with a Scottish setting from one of my go-to authors! My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

Continuing my Jane the Virgin binge! I’m on season 4 now — still loving it.

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Devolution by Max Brooks: The newest from the author of World War Z. I’m just getting started, but I’m already hooked.

Now playing via audiobook:

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: Amazing! I’m at 80% — hope to finish in the next couple of days.

Ongoing reads:

None at the moment. But next week, Outlander Book Club is starting a group re-read of the book that started it all! We’ll be reading and discussing one chapter of Outlander per week. Interested in joining in? Let me know, and I’ll share the details.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 6/1/2020

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.

Like the Talking Heads put it — this week was…

Another week of working from home, attending Zoom meetings… sleep, wake, repeat!

What did I read during the last week?

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson: Romance and family ties at a Harlem knitting store. My review is here.

Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev: A Jane Austen retelling involving a celebrity cooking show (and lots of family baggage). My review is here.

In audiobooks:

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor: I finally finished this book! My review is here.

And lastly — I think it’s time for me to admit that I need to hit pause on my book group’s classic read.

I’m now 7 or 8 chapters behind, and I don’t see myself having the time or attention span needed to even attempt to catch up any time soon. I’m not giving up entirely, because I do really want to read Don Quixote… eventually. It’s just not happening for me right now, unfortunately.

Pop culture & TV:

I’m still loving Jane the Virgin! I was going to take a break after season 2 — but then it ended on a cliffhanger, so I just couldn’t! I’m now halfway through season 3, and let’s face it, there’s no way I’m going to stop until I’ve binged the entire show.

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week! Unless you count all the Kindle deals I took advantage of? Sure, why not? Here are the new Kindle titles I’ve added to my library this week:

 

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins: I’m almost halfway through, and despite some uneasiness at the beginning, I’m now very absorbed by the story. Can’t wait to see how it all works out.

Now playing via audiobook:

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: My book group book for June — trying to get a head-start.

Ongoing reads:

Laughter at the Academy by Seanan McGuire: I’m sticking with my plan to read a few stories per week until I get through this whole collection. I only read two more this past week, but one was a really creepy story about AI dolls taking over the world. I don’t think I’ll ever sleep easily in a house with dolls in it again. Eeeeeeek.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 5/25/2020

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.

This is a first for me — I attended a Zoom wedding!

Sunday was the original wedding date, then the couple decided to cancel about a month ago in light of the health crisis, and then decided to go forward and include friends and family via Zoom! The bride and groom and their parents were present, the rabbi officiated via Zoom, and they had a few other close family members present, plus about 120 Zoom logins. It was actually so sweet!

What did I read during the last week?

Beach Read by Emily Henry: Really enjoyable love story with a light touch. My review is here.

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner: Austen-inspired historical fiction set in post-war England. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

Netflix kept me busy every night! First, my son finally convinced me to jump on the Tiger King bandwagon…

So weird, So disturbing. But so hard to look away from!

On a lighter note, I decided that now would be the perfect time to go back and watch a show I see through to the end:

I watched season 1 of Jane the Virgin back when it aired, and really liked it… so why didn’t I keep up with it and continue watching? Probably just too much TV, too little time. Anyway, I’ve picked back up with season 2, and I’m loving it. It’s so over the top, and that what makes it so much fun.

Fresh Catch:

I had some Amazon credits, and naturally had to spend them all immediately:

Hurray for book mail! I’ve already read Chosen Ones, but really wanted my own copy, and can’t wait to read the rest!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson: This is fun! I probably wouldn’t have stumbled across this book on my own, but then I read Reading Tonic’s review, and just had to give it a try.

Now playing via audiobook:

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor: The sequel to Akata Witch, which I really loved. Sadly, I was so slammed with work this week that I only managed to get outside for walks a couple of days, and that means I barely had chances to listen to my audiobook. I’m making progress, but sloooooooowly.

Ongoing reads:

Laughter at the Academy by Seanan McGuire: If I had a dollar for every time I’ve mentioned that I’m not a short story reader… well, I’d have a lot more dollars than I do now! Laughter at the Academy is a story collection from one of my favorite authors, so I can’t NOT read it. But knowing how I tune out if I read too many short stories in a row, I’ve decided to take a slow but steady approach, and I’m trying to read just one or two stories each day. And so far, these are excellent! Content warning, though — Seanan McGuire loves to write about world-ending diseases, so now is kind of a freaky time to be reading some of these. Still, I’m delighted to be reading this book finally (I bought it last fall), and I’m just a wee bit proud of myself for sticking with it!

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: Why is this still on my ongoing reads list? I’m now five chapters behind, and I don’t see myself getting any closer to catching up with my book group’s reading schedule any time soon. But… I’m just not ready to walk away completely!

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 5/18/2020

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.

Work, work, work. Who said remote work was relaxing? Apart from getting to wear sweatpants all day, every day, I swear I’m more stressed working remotely than I ever was in my actual office.

But yeah, the sweatpants will be hard to give up when and if we finally return to on-site work.

And hey, here’s my puzzle for the week! Cute, right?

Sorry for the glare — it’s  super-detailed bookstore, with really adorable and funny book titles and all sorts of adorable little details. (I’d try to get a better picture, but I already took it apart.)

What did I read during the last week?

If It Bleeds by Stephen King: Fabulous collection of four novellas. My review is here.

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane: My book group’s book for May (and yes, I finished on time!). My review is here.

Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski: Terrific audiobook! A must for Witcher fans — my review is here.

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

Ha ha, made you look! Season 5 of Outlander ended last week, so this was my first week since February without a new episode to watch. I guess it’s time to say good-bye for now and settle in for the next long Droughtlander.

Other TV watching:

I had fun doing a binge-watch of Dead to Me, season 2. Maybe not quite as funny and surprising as the first season, but still really enjoyable, and it left me wanting more.

I wrote up my thoughts on the season finale of Survivor: Winners at War, here.

Fresh Catch:

Two exciting new books this week:

My awesome daughter sent me this book for Mother’s Day! It’s gorgeous.

And… after finishing If It Bleeds (as a library e-book loan), I really felt like I needed my own copy, and luckily, I had an unused Amazon giftcard sitting on my desk just begging for some attention! The book arrived on Friday. The cover image (above) looks kind of flat-orangey, but in person, it’s got a bit of a gold glittery-ness to it. Very cool. (Also, I hadn’t noticed until I had the book in my hand that the cat face actually has a rat instead of a nose, and now I wish I’d never seen it! Eek.)

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Beach Read by Emily Henry: I’m LOVING this book. I tore through about half today, and stopped only because (big surprise) I needed to get some work done.

Now playing via audiobook:

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor: The sequel to Akata Witch, which I really loved. I’m just getting started, but it’s great so far!

Ongoing reads:

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: I was within one chapter of being all caught up with my book group… and now I’m three chapters behind again. Boo.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

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