The Monday Check-In ~ 4/19/2021

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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 family visiting from the East Coast this week, which was oodles of fun. Beyond that, just the usual working, reading, and going for walks!

What did I read during the last week?

It’s been a romance-heavy reading week for me! Sometimes, a sweet escape is just what I need.

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne: Very sweet! My review is here.

Maggie Finds Her Muse by Dee Ernst: A 48-year-old author seeking love and inspiration in Paris. Lovely! My review is here.

The Roommate by Rosie Danan: Explicit yet surprisingly engaging. My review is here.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: I finished the audiobook, narrated by the awesome Stephen Fry. Just as silly and adorable as I remembered!

The Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian: An unusual subject and time period for this terrific author, but it ended up being a really interesting read. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

My daughter turned me on to Staged on Hulu. I’ve only watched a few episodes, but it’s delightful.

Fresh Catch:

I received two giveaway books this week! Plus, I treated myself to a used copy of yet another Georgette Heyer book.

Puzzle of the week:

I didn’t get to any new puzzles this week… but I did decide to torment myself with a Very Important Puzzling Question. Weigh in here, please.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Just getting started! But I like it so far.

Now playing via audiobook:

I’ve been alternating between two very different audiobooks:

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams: Onward with the 2nd Hitchhiker’s Guide book! This one is narrated by Martin Freeman, and it’s just as fun as you’d expect.

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim: I started this in print, but wasn’t in the right mood and had a hard time concentrating. I’m hoping I’ll have better luck with the audiobook, especially since this is my book group’s pick for April and the discussion is coming up this week!

Ongoing reads:
  • My book group’s classic read is part 2 of Don Quixote. Continuing onward, 3 chapters per week. Current status: 88%.
  • Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart: Gotta be honest, I haven’t touched this book in a few weeks now. But it’s still on my nightstand, so I’m still considering it an ongoing read!
  • On hold: Over at Outlander Book Club, we started our group re-read of Dragonfly in Amber a couple of weeks ago… but we’re putting it on hold now that a release date for the 9th Outlander book has been announced. To prepare for #9, we’ll be starting a re-read of #8 in early May. Stay tuned for details!

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Outlander joy: Book #9 has a release date!

That wave of salty water lapping at your toes? It’s the happy tears of millions of Outlander fans, knowing that their long wait is finally coming to an end!

The 8th book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Written In My Own Heart’s Blood, was released in 2014. And it’s been a long, long, loooooooong seven years since then.

A few weeks ago, Herself shared on Facebook that she’d finished writing #9:

And now… ta da!… it’s official:

Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone will be released November 23, 2021.

Yes, that’s this year! Seven months from now! Two days before Thanksgiving! (Apologies in advance for ignoring my family all the long weekend while I’m reading.)

Here’s the announcement via Entertainment Weekly: https://ew.com/books/outlander-go-tell-the-bees-that-i-am-gone-release-date-cover-reveal/?fbclid=IwAR1aINP6YpyC347cmumRv2WBu4zwD95EMyN0CBpZn4oU-U2a_eI-Y22Aoi8

According to the Amazon preorder page (here), the book will be 832 pages.

And for those who want to know, here’s the official synopsis:

The author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Outlander series returns with the newest novel in the epic tale.
 
The past may seem the safest place to be . . . but it is the most dangerous time to be alive. . . .

Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall were torn apart by the Jacobite Rising in 1743, and it took them twenty years to find each other again. Now the American Revolution threatens to do the same.
 
It is 1779 and Claire and Jamie are at last reunited with their daughter, Brianna, her husband, Roger, and their children on Fraser’s Ridge. Having the family together is a dream the Frasers had thought impossible.
 
Yet even in the North Carolina backcountry, the effects of war are being felt. Tensions in the Colonies are great and local feelings run hot enough to boil Hell’s tea-kettle. Jamie knows loyalties among his tenants are split and it won’t be long until the war is on his doorstep.
 
Brianna and Roger have their own worry: that the dangers that provoked their escape from the twentieth century might catch up to them. Sometimes they question whether risking the perils of the 1700s—among them disease, starvation, and an impending war—was indeed the safer choice for their family.
 
Not so far away, young William Ransom is still coming to terms with the discovery of his true father’s identity—and thus his own—and Lord John Grey has reconciliations to make, and dangers to meet . . . on his son’s behalf, and his own.
 
Meanwhile, the Revolutionary War creeps ever closer to Fraser’s Ridge. And with the family finally together, Jamie and Claire have more at stake than ever before.

Are people excited? Well… the release was announced two days ago, and here are the sales stats from Amazon:

As for me, I’ve placed my preorder, I’m smiling insanely at random moments, and I’m gearing up for a MOBY (Written In My Own Heart’s Blood) re-read.

Yet another reason to feel like 2021 is really looking up!

Yes, Jamie, our next book is coming soon!

The Monday Check-In ~ 4/12/2021

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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 got my 2nd vaccine! My immediate household is now completely vaccinated. Woo hoo! I had a rough 24 hours after the vaccine — lots of aches and chills — but it passed, and all is well. I’m just grateful to be able to have gotten vaccinated. Can’t wait to be able to connect with more far-flung family and friends!

What did I read during the last week?

The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner: Some beautiful moments, but overall, this book didn’t wow me the way this author’s previous novel did. My review is here.

Near the Bone by Christina Henry. Unputdownable horror. My review is here.

The Time of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowski: My 4th Witcher audiobook. Very confusing, but I enjoy the narrator so much! My review is here.

And… I managed to finish two quick, fun, contemporary romances over the weekend. Reviews to follow! Both were very sweet:

Pop culture & TV:

I finished season 1 of Last Tango in Halifax. Definitely recommended!

And in terms of things I loved this week: I’m enjoying the current season of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, and this scene in particular made me so happy:

Confession: I think I’ve watched it 10 times at least!

Fresh Catch:

A lovely stack of new books!

Puzzle of the week:

Another fun puzzle this week! I do seem to have a lot that feature bookstores and libraries. Hmmm… maybe I like books or something?

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Roommate by Rosie Danan: I seem to be on a roll with the contemporary romance genre — maybe because I have a few longer, heavier books waiting for me, and I’m trying to extend the light reading just a bit more before I need to get serious again. In any case, I’ve just started this one, and it looks like it’ll be fun.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: I’ve been wanting to re-read these books for ages, and I thought the audiobook would be fun — especially since Stephen Fry is the narrator!

Ongoing reads:
  • My book group’s classic read is part 2 of Don Quixote. Continuing onward, 3 chapters per week. Current status: 85%.
  • Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart: This is a fun little guide to all sorts of deadly and dangerous plants. I’m reading in very small bites, and making just teeny bits of progress each week.
  • Over at Outlander Book Club, we’ve just started our group re-read of Dragonfly in Amber, book #2 in the Outlander series. Anyone who is interested is welcome to join the fun — just ask me how! Coming up this week: Chapter 2, “The Plot Thickens”.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 4/5/2021

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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 been a busy workweek, but I’ve managed to read some good books and go for a couple of long walks, so all is well!

What did I read during the last week?

Whisper Down the Lane by Clay McLeod Chapman: A creepy, compelling thriller. My review is here.

To Love and To Loathe by Martha Waters: Light and fun. My review is here.

The Christmas Surprise by Jenny Colgan: The 3rd book in the Rosie Hopkins trilogy is sweet and satisfying. My review is here.

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth: OMG. Could not put this book down. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

I watched the new movie Concrete Cowboy on Netflix. Guys, it’s so good! Definitely check it out.

I also watched the first three episodes (all that’s available right now) of Made For Love, and it’s trippy fun. Don’t watch the trailer though — too spoilery.

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week.

Puzzle of the week:

It’s been a while, but I did a puzzle! And it was so pretty!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner: The upcoming new release by the author of the fantastic The Sisters of the Winter Wood.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Time of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowski: Back to the world of The Witcher! I enjoy these audiobooks so much — the narrator is great!

Ongoing reads:
  • My book group’s classic read is part 2 of Don Quixote. Continuing onward, 3 chapters per week. Current status: 84%.
  • Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart: This is a fun little guide to all sorts of deadly and dangerous plants. I’m reading in very small bites, very, very slowly.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 3/29/2021

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.

Happy Passover to all who celebrate! We had a lovely (small) seder at my house over the weekend. Looking forward to next year, when hopefully our more far-flung friends and family can be with us as well.

What did I read during the last week?

Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs: The 6th book in the fabulous Alpha & Omega series. I loved it! My review is here.

The Fall of Koli by M. R. Carey: The 3rd and final book in the Ramparts trilogy. Simply outstanding. My review is here.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: My book group finished our group read of Outlander this week — my 5th or 6th time through this book! 

To Love and To Loathe by Martha Waters: Sweet, sexy Regency romance — so much fun! Finished late Sunday — review to follow.

Pop culture & TV:

I finished up What We Do in the Shadows, and now I need something new to binge!

Fresh Catch:

One new book this week:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Whisper Down the Lane by Clay McLeod Chapman: After finishing a romance, it’s time for some horror! I’m looking forward to getting into this upcoming new release by the author of the terrific The Remaking.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Christmas Surprise by Jenny Colgan: I didn’t get as far I would have liked, because we had weirdly windy weather (okay, say that five times fast) this week and I couldn’t get out for walks most days. But now I’m back on track!

Ongoing reads:
  • My book group’s classic read is part 2 of Don Quixote. Continuing onward, 3 chapters per week. Current status: 81%.
  • Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart: This is a fun little guide to all sorts of deadly and dangerous plants. I’m keeping this on my nightstand and reading it in small bites.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 3/22/2021

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.

Today is my husband’s birthday! We went out for dinner over the weekend. You read that right — we went OUT for dinner! It was our first restaurant dinner in over a year — we went to a pretty French restaurant with a lovely patio garden, had outdoor seating with a heater nearby, and enjoyed some terrific food and drinks. It felt like such a treat!

Other than that, it’s been a mostly quiet week, with too many rainy days that interfered with my daily walks. And now, we’re gearing up to get ready for Passover!

 

 

What did I read during the last week?

The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers: A dual-timeline narrative about a magical circus and family secrets. My review is here.

There There by Tommy Orange: My book group’s pick for March. Very powerful and sad — I think I need a little more time to digest it and get my thoughts together.

Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan: A terrific 2nd book in a terrific trilogy. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

It’s been a Disney+ week! After signing up last week, my son and I have been enjoying the Marvel universe, including WandaVision, the first episode of The Falcon & the Winter Soldier, and Iron Man 1 and 2. It looks like we’re going to do some sort of MCU watchathon over the coming weeks. Up next: Thor!

Also, I finally started watching What We Do In The Shadows, and I’m loving it. Almost done with season 1!

Fresh Catch:

One new book this week, and it looks amazing:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs: The release of a new Patricia Briggs is reason to celebrate! I just started her newest, the 6th book in the fantastic Alpha & Omega series.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Christmas Surprise by Jenny Colgan: Well, of course I’m listening to the 3rd book in the Rosie series! How could I not?

Ongoing reads:
  • Outlander Book Club is re-reading Outlander! We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. This week — the final chapter!! Chapter 41, “From the Womb of the Earth”. 
  • Our group classic read is part 2 of Don Quixote. Continuing onward, 3 chapters per week. Current status: 79%.
  • Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart: This is a fun little guide to all sorts of deadly and dangerous plants. I’m keeping this on my nightstand and reading it in small bites.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 3/15/2021

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 home! I flew back from the East Coast on Tuesday, took a couple of days to unpack, do laundry, and settle back into my normal life, and went right back to work (from home). I also got my first vaccine dose! I’m so grateful and relieved that everyone in my household has now had at least one shot. Brighter times ahead!

What did I read during the last week?

Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales: A terrific YA novel. My review is here.

Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn: The Bridgerton books are perfect for airplane reading! My review of #4 is here.

Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan: Such a sweet, fun audiobook! My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

I watched all of Ginny & Georgia on Netflix — my reaction is here.

Also, I finally gave in and signed up for Disney+… and I’m now halfway through WandaVision (totally fun). My son is advocating for a Marvel movie watch-a-thon, starting with Iron Man and going through the MCU in release order. Gotta say, I’m not hating the idea!

Fresh Catch:

While I was away, all sorts of exciting new bookish delights arrived at my house. So much fun opening all the boxes! Here’s what I got:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers: The upcoming new release by the author of A Witch in Time, which I loved.

Now playing via audiobook:

Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan: I don’t usually go for Christmas books, but this is the follow-up to Sweetshop of Dreams — and I just wasn’t ready to leave the characters from Sweetshop behind when I finished the book.

Ongoing reads:
  • Outlander Book Club is re-reading Outlander! We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. This week: Chapter 40, “Absolution”. 
  • Our group classic read is part 2 of Don Quixote. Continuing onward, 3 chapters per week. Current status: 77%.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 3/8/2021

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.

What a whirlwind couple of weeks it’s been! I’m still on the East Coast, flying home tomorrow. After a brief quarantine and a negative COVID test, post-flight, I’ve been able to visit my dad every day while here, which feels like an absolute blessing.

Thanks to my sister, I’ve also been transformed! Well, in terms of appearance, anyway. After a year of no salon visits and no hair coloring, my sister convinced me that I am just too young (LOL) for that much white hair. Et voila! Here are my before and after shots:

What did I read during the last week?

Not much, actually. Between family time and trying to work all the rest of the time, I’ve barely been reading. But here’s what I managed to get through:

Emily’s Quest by L. M. Montgomery: I finished the Emily Starr trilogy, and just can’t recommend these books highly enough! Beautiful reading experience. My wrap-up post is here.

An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn: So much fun! I love this series. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

I watched the 3rd Lara Jean movie on Netflix!

So cute! The first one is still my favorite, but I liked this a lot.

Fresh Catch:

No new books while I’m away… but I know a few are waiting for me back at home.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales: A little YA to start the week.

Now playing via audiobook:

Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan: I needed something sweet and light to keep me company on the treadmill this week, and Jenny Colgan books are perfect!

Ongoing reads:
  • Outlander Book Club is re-reading Outlander! We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. This week: Chapter 39, “To Ransom A Man’s Soul”. This is a tough chapter. I’m not actually looking forward to re-reading it…
  • Our group classic read is part 2 of Don Quixote. Continuing onward, 3 chapters per week. Current status: 75%.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters Whose Jobs I Wish I Had

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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 Characters Whose Jobs I Wish I Had.

My top 10 are:

  1. Alanna (Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce): She’s a knight! How cool is that?
  2. Alice Van Cleve (The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes): Pack horse librarian — I think it would be amazing to ride a horse through the mountains to deliver books.
  3. April Whittier (Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade): Secret fanfic writer by night, geologist by day… it’s actually the geologist part that really appeals to me, not because that’s what I’d want to be, but because I love seeing fab women in science take center stage.
  4. Emily Parker (Well Met by Jen DeLuca): Bookstore manager AND Ren Faire tavern wench!
  5. Veronica Speedwell (Veronica Speedwell mysteries by Deanna Raybourn): Intrepid lepidopterist and Victorian era sleuth. A girl can dream, right?
  6. Naomi Nagata (The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey): Because space adventuring would be awesome.
  7. Norma Kopp (Kopp Sisters series by Amy Stewart): She trains messenger pigeons! Again, not that I specifically want to do that, but I think it’s awesome that Norma does it.
  8. Meg Mackworth (Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn): A professional calligrapher, who actually makes money doing it. I wish I had the talent!
  9. Claire Fraser (Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon): OK, this is a stretch, but I had to find a way to sneak Claire in. No, I wouldn’t actually want to be stuck practicing medicine in the 18th century, but I do think it’s awesome that she finds a way to introduce modern medical practices like instrument sterilization and antibiotics to the time she’s in. She even grows her own penicillin!
  10. Mercy Thompson (Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs): I wouldn’t necessarily want to be a mechanic, but I love that Mercy is one! Again, it’s awesome to see a woman thriving in a traditionally male-dominated field. Go, Mercy!

What book characters’ jobs do you envy? Please share your link so I can check out your top 10!

The Monday Check-In ~ 3/1/2021

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.

Did anyone else grow up saying this on the 1st of the month? It’s something we all did at summer camp way back when, and the habit has stayed with me all these years…

Anyway… I’m on the East Coast! Greetings, folks in the Eastern time zone! I’ve been here for a week now. After arriving safely (with a flight that felt much better than I expected it to), I took another COVID test (negative), and was finally able to start my visits with my dad at his nursing home over the weekend. The rules are really strict and I have to put on full PPE each time, but it’s worth it.

What did I read during the last week?

An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn: Oh, the Bridgertons books are such fun! This is #3 — my review is here.

Emily Climbs by L. M. Montgomery: The 2nd book in the Emily Starr trilogy, just as sweet as the first. I plan to write up my thoughts on the trilogy after I finish the 3rd book.

The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan: Heartwarming historical fiction. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

I’m all caught up with Queen Sugar! Season 5 is now airing on OWN, and it’s amazing so far. From the trailer, it looks like season 5 will be very much rooted in the real-world events of 2020. Looks like it’ll be incredibly powerful. (And if you haven’t watched Queen Sugar yet, please do yourself a favor and start! The first four seasons are available on Hulu.)

I’ve also been watching Miss Scarlet and the Duke this week, and it’s been a fun diversion.

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week! Which is 100% fine, since I’ll never catch up with all the books I already have on my shelves.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn: A new Veronica Speedwell book is always reason to cheer! Judging by the opening lines, it’s going to be a lot of fun:

“Stoker, I cannot say that I care much for your goat. He is leering at me.”

Now playing via audiobook:

Emily’s Quest by L. M. Montgomery: The 3rd book in the Emily Starr trilogy. I’m a little obsessed at this point.

Ongoing reads:
  • Outlander Book Club is re-reading Outlander! We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. This week: Chapter 38, “The Abbey”. 
  • Our group classic read is part 2 of Don Quixote. Continuing onward, 3 chapters per week. Current status: 73%.

So many books, so little time…

boy1