The Monday Check-In ~ 11/4/2019

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.

Life. 

I won’t get into all the reasons why, but this past week has been highly stressful, and so I’ve been quite distracted — and it definitely had an impact on my reading, since my concentration was pretty shot. Here’s hoping there are better days ahead!

 

 

 

 

What did I read during the last week?

  • Winterwood by Shea Earnshaw (review)
  • Marilla of Green Gables (audiobook) by Sarah McCoy (review)

I also read The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I started this book using the Serial Reader app, intending to read it in the nicely doled out daily installments… and then I just couldn’t stop reading! I ended up putting aside my other current reads over the weekend and read this one straight through to the end. What a story! The language is amazing, and it feels great to finally read the classic story that I’ve always heard about.

Pop Culture:

I started watching Modern Love on Amazon. I’ve only seen two of the eight episodes so far, but I really liked them!

Fresh Catch:

Three cheers for the arrival of this beautiful new book from Subterranean Press — a collection of Gail Carriger stories, including one new one about the infamous hedgehog encounter mentioned in Soulless. Can’t wait to read it!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Mermaid by Christina Henry: I haven’t had all that much uninterrupted time to focus on this book — but I really love what I’ve read up to now!

Now playing via audiobook:

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman: It’s probably 15 years or more since I first read this book, and since I want to read the prequel that came out last year, I decided a re-read was in order. I’d forgotten practically everything about the plot, so the audiobook feels like listening to a new story most of the time. Really fun.

Ongoing reads:

  • A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny: Oops. I meant to finish this book by the end of October… and failed. The chapters correspond to the days of the month in October, and I think I stopped somewhere around the 26th or 27th. Need to finish!
  • A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows by Diana Gabaldon: This is a terrific novella set in the Outlander world, and while I’ve read it at least twice already, I’m enjoying reading it more slowly with my book group, discussing two sections per week.

So many books, so little time…

boy1seria

The Monday Check-In ~ 10/28/2019

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.

Life. 

On the down side, I was home sick most of this past week. Nothing major, just a nasty cold that left me feeling wrung out for days and days and days.

Of course, the bright side is that I read. A lot! Being home all day does have its perks.

 

 

 

 

 

What did I read during the last week?

So many books! Here’s what I read:

  • The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones (review)
  • Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman (review)
  • The Beautiful Cassandra by Jane Austen (review)
  • Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren (review)
  • One of Us by Craig DiLouie (review)
  • Broken Strings by Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer (review)
  • Today We Go Home by Kelli Estes (review)
  • Bloodlust and Bonnets by Emily McGovern (fun graphic novel – not reviewed)

Pop Culture:

I watched all 8 episodes of the new Paul Rudd series Living With Yourself on Netflix. (The episodes are only 30 minutes each, so it was a quick and easy binge.) It’s funny and quirky, well-done, silly, and with some interesting messages and concepts underneath the surface comedy. Definitely recommended!

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week. My credit card thanks me.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw: Just getting started — but good and spooky so far!

Now playing via audiobook:

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy: Because I was sick for so many days, with no long walks or driving back and forth to work, I did very little audiobook listening, so not much progress to report on this book. Looking forward to getting back into it!

Ongoing reads:

  • A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny: I keep falling behind! The book has 31 chapters, nicely labeled by the date in October, and my goal was to read one chapter per day for the whole month. Oops. Still, I haven’t quite missed the target entirely — I’m going to try to catch up and finish by Halloween!
  • A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows by Diana Gabaldon: This is a terrific novella set in the Outlander world, and while I’ve read it at least twice already, I’m enjoying reading it more slowly with my book group, discussing two sections per week.
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: On impulse, I started yet another book via Serial Reader! As if I don’t already have enough to read… If I stick to the serial delivery schedule, I’ll finish by late November.

So many books, so little time…

boy1seria

The Monday Check-In ~ 10/21/2019

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.

Life. 

It’s been a quiet week chez moi, which is nice for a change! Just working, hanging out at home, reading… and hey, I did a new jigsaw puzzle! The theme is the Women’s March, and I loved it:

Want a better view? You can find it on Amazon, here.

What did I read during the last week?

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy: My book group’s pick for October. My thoughts are here.

Ivory Apples by Lisa Goldstein: Sisters, magic, and a reclusive author! My review is here.

A Very Distant Shore by Jenny Colgan: At 160 pages, this is a sweet, light read, very enjoyable. It’s a nice little treat for fans of this author.

In audiobooks:

I just finished Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line over the weekend. What fun! And it doesn’t hurt a bit that Kristen Bell narrates the audiobook. My review is here.

Fresh Catch:

I bought myself a present!

SOOOOOO pretty.

And I confess, I got myself a couple of graphic novels while I was at it:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Bones Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones: Just starting, but I really like it so far!

Now playing via audiobook:

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy: Now that I’ve finished the entire Anne of Green Gables series, I thought I’d check out this related release from 2018.

Ongoing reads:

Argh. I’ve fallen behind. My goal was to read one chapter of A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny each day for the month of October, but then I left my book at home while I was traveling and haven’t gotten back into it. I have a week and a half to catch up!

And in book group news:

We’re reading the Outlander-related novella A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows — it’s such a good one! I’ve read it before, but it’s really great to read and discuss it with the group.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Book Characters I’d Love to Be Besties With

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 Book Characters I’d Love to Be Besties With. For me, this translates pretty much to characters I think are talented or cool or fun — just awesome people I’d want to spend time with (even though some of them are WAY out of my league in terms of supernatural abilities, but anyway…

 

1. Claire Fraser, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: Of course. A strong, passionate woman, who’s creative, smart, and scientific.

2. Sophronia Temminnick, The Finishing School series by Gail Carriger: A true friend, who’ll defend you to the death. With a bladed fan, if necessary.

3. Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery: Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to have a friend like Anne during our childhoods?

4. Hermione Granger, Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling: I love Hermione, and I always felt a little bad that she didn’t have more girl friends at Hogwarts. I’d sign up in a second to be her partner for Herbology or Potions, or just to hang in the common room or the library.

5. October Daye, October Daye series by Seanan McGuire: Toby is all sorts of awesome, and I’d love to just live in her world for a while. And maybe hang out with May and the Luidaeg too.

6. Anna Cornick, Alpha & Omega series by Patricia Briggs: I love so much about Anna, especially her devotion to her loved ones, her inner calm, her ability to bring peace, and her fierceness when her mate and her pack are threatened.

7. Verity Price, Incryptid series by Seanan McGuire: A competitive ballroom dancer who’s also a master of weaponry and free running? Yes. Just all sorts of yes.

8. Lara Jean Covey, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han: Lara Jean is so sweet and fun, and would probably be hilarious to hang out with in high school.

9. Elma York, The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal: Elma is amazing! She’s got Ph.D.s in math and physics, loves to fly planes, and is determined to go into space. She’s brave, loving, and smarter than I can even comprehend.

10. June/Offred, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: If I had to live in a horrifying dystopian misogynistic society, it would be a good idea to have a tough rebel like June by my side! (I realize I may be combining the book and TV characters in my head, but so be it.)

What fictional characters would you want as your bestie? Please share your links!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Cover redesigns — love ’em or hate ’em?

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 Cover Redesigns I Loved/Hated — which at first I wasn’t going to do, but then I took another look at my shelves, and found last-minute inspiration! Here are a variety of books that have been redesigned over the years. You be the judge of whether it’s for better or worse!

And because I’m running late, my top 10 list is really a top 5 list this week. Short & sweet!

1. Wuthering Heights: This just makes me laugh. In the heat of Twilight mania, this classic was reissued and blurbed as Bella’s favorite book. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the tweens who picked up a copy expecting vampires!

 

2. Stephen King books: I was always kind of partial to the cheesy early paperback editions of Stephen King’s books. The more streamlined graphic covers don’t have the same scare factor for me:

 

3. John Scalzi books: A few early Scalzi novels have been issued with new covers this past year. The new ones are nice, but you just can’t beat the whimsy of the earlier version.

4. Harry Potter: Okay, yes, the original is an absolute classic… but I do think Brian Selznick did a fantastic version with his set too.

5. Outlander: Some of the early covers in the series are so old-time cheesy, they just make me laugh!

How do you feel about cover redesigns? Are there any that you particularly love or hate?

If you wrote a TTT post this week, please share your link!

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Top Ten Tuesday: My super-special special editions

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 a FREEBIE, meaning we all choose our own themes. My topic this week is Special Editions… which means, fancy/extravagant/nice-to-have books that I gave myself as gifts. Because if I don’t treat myself to the nice things in life (BOOKS!), who will?

Here are ten books that I’ve treated myself to over the years — they make me happy whenever I see them!

1. Anne of Green Gables: I made it through decades of life deprived of the joys of Anne, but I suffer no more! I’m working my way through the series (on book #6 right now), and couldn’t resist this adorable hardcover edition.

2. Firefly: A Celebration: Browncoats, unite! Firefly’s TV life was cut short, but it lives on in the hearts of its fans. This big picture book includes complete scripts, amazing photos, and more. I needed it in my life!

3. Soulless: As a devoted fan of the Parasol Protectorate series, I really needed these pretty editions.

4. The World of Ice and Fire: Not only is this book SO gorgeous to look at, it’s really an amazing reference guide. So helpful when trying to keep your Targaryens, Starks, and Baratheons straight.

5. Y: The Last Man: I loved these graphic novels, and when I found a hardcover set of the full series on EBay, I had to have them.

6. Wonderstruck and The Marvels: I really love Brian Selznick’s approach in these books, using words and images to tell a complete story.

7. Harry Potter illustrated editions: I mean, obviously. I’ve been buying them as they’ve been released. Can’t wait for #4 this fall!

8. The Outlander Kitchen: If you knew me, you’d think it’s hilarious that I own this book. I do not cook. Really, at all. Yet I had to have this Outlander-themed cookbook, because Outlander. (And it’s really fun to look through, even if I will never, ever try any recipes.)

9. The Tales of Beedle the Bard: This one is a pretty recent edition to my shelves. I have a version of this book from when it first came out — but then I heard that there was an edition available with illustrations by Chris Riddell, and I was sold.

10: Hamilton: The Revolution: I bought a copy of this book as a gift for my daughter, back before I’d ever seen the show. But then I became a Hamil-fan, and needed one for myself. And yes, I’ve read it cover to cover, and loved it.

 

 

Do you ever treat yourself to special editions? What’s the best book present you ever gave yourself?

If you wrote a TTT post this week, please share your link!

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Book Review: Finding Fraser by KC Dyer

 

“Jamie Fraser would be Deeply Gratified at having inspired such a charmingly funny, poignant story—and so am I.”—Diana Gabaldon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Outlander series

Escape to Scotland with the delightful new novel that readers have fallen in love with—inspired by Diana Gabaldon’s #1 New York Times bestselling Outlander series.
  
     I met Jamie Fraser when I was nineteen years old. He was tall, red-headed, and at our first meeting at least, a virgin. He was, in fact, the perfect man.

     That he was fictional hardly entered into it…

On the cusp of thirty, Emma Sheridan is desperately in need of a change. After a string of failed relationships, she can admit that no man has ever lived up to her idea of perfection: the Scottish fictional star of romantic fantasies the world over—James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser.

Her ideal man might be ripped from the pages of a book, but Emma hopes that by making one life-altering decision she might be able to turn fiction into fact. After selling all her worldly possessions, Emma takes off for Scotland with nothing but her burgeoning travel blog to confide in.

But as she scours the country’s rolling green hills and crumbling castles, Emma discovers that in searching for her own Jamie Fraser, she just might find herself.

For any devoted Outlander fan, Finding Fraser is sure to ring true — if only escapist fictional escapades ever really happened in real life.

Emma, at 29, is frustrated by her career (or lack thereof), her love life (or lack thereof), and her prospects in general. Why can’t she ever find a man who even comes close to the perfection of Jamie Fraser? Fed up and in need of a change, Emma sells everything and — against the sensible scolding of her younger but more practical sister — heads off across American towards the plane that will take her to Scotland.

Needless to say, all sorts of mishaps ensue, even before she leaves the country. Emma has a variety of run-ins with Outlander fans of the sane and not-so-sane variety, actually meets Herself (that would be the beloved author of the Outlander series, Diana Gabaldon) but bursts into tears when it’s finally her turn to greet her, has the unpleasant experience of seeing a stripper in a kilt and fake red wig, and meets some die-hard Braveheart fans who are willing to defend their story with knitting needles and other pointy objects.

… the very thought of meeting Herself in the flesh made my hands start to shake. She was the woman who created Jamie Fraser, who built him up from clay — or from ink and paper, at least. She has gone on to beat him, wound him, torture him in every possible way, and still nurture his unending love for Claire over the course of the entire series.

Emma doesn’t have all that much of a plan when she arrives in Scotland, other than using her Outlander paperback as a guide to follow in Claire’s footsteps and, hopefully, meet the kilted Scottish warrior of her dreams. Real life rarely follows careful plans, much less dreams, so Emma’s path is not smooth, and she encounters all sorts of challenges that could easily have sent her running back to the safety of her overbearing sister and a steady (boring) job.

Instead, she decides to stick it out, and finds a way to stay in Scotland, earn enough to pay for room and board, make friends and start to build what feels like home, and yes, fall in love. But is he the man of her dreams, or just a stand-in for what she really wants?

Finding Fraser is engaging and endearing. Of course, Emma’s plans are impractical and unlikely, but she throws herself into them, even when down to her last bit of cash and after having all her belongings stolen. She starts a blog, thinking to chronicle her journey, and develops a cheering squad of followers who encourage her not to give up hope. Readers will identify early on who the true love interest should be, but it takes Emma the entire book to catch up. Meanwhile, she ends up  in a relationship with a guy who is clearly just so, so very wrong — except for the looks and the fact of being Scottish. I wanted to give Emma a good shake every time she starts to realize that maybe Hamish isn’t such a great catch after all… and then talks herself into giving him another (and another and another) chance.

It was super sweet to see her find a home for herself, make friends, and start to feel a part of the town where she rather haphazardly ends up. Her stay is ended abruptly by immigration woes that seem a bit shoe-horned in for the sake of drama, but that’s okay. The real point is Emma’s search for her own perfect Jamie… and her ultimate realization that what she really needed all along was to find her own inner Claire.

What I hadn’t really thought about — beyond tracing the journey in the front of the novel — was Claire’s part in the love story. Claire’s heart was true, but there was never any doubt that the woman had standards. Jamie literally lived through hell and more to meet those standards. Even living with uncertainty and chaos all around her, she knew what she wanted.

Finding Fraser is a delightful summer read, perfect for a chair on the beach or a cozy hammock. It’s light and fluffy, but full of heart and more than a little humor. It’ll definitely hit the sweet spot for Outlander lovers. Wouldn’t we all love to hop a plane and go find our own Jamie?

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The details:

Title: Finding Fraser
Author: KC Dyer
Publisher: Berkley
Publication date: January 1, 2015
Length: 368 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Purchased

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Top Ten Tuesday: My top ten auto-buy authors

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 Auto-Buy Authors, a topic I did for TTT posts in 2013 and 2015. So what is an auto-buy author? For me, it’s a favorite author whose books I’ll buy pretty much on faith — no matter what the plot is about, if it’s by one of these favorites, I know I’ll want to read it!

Some of the authors on my 2013 list are included here as well (proving that fandom is eternal!), and there are several others whom I’ve only had the pleasure of discovering since then. Without further ado, my old and new auto-buy authors as of summer 2019:

1. Diana Gabaldon: Because of course Diana Gabaldon is — and always will be — at the top of my list! I’m an Outlander fan, through and through, and will never stop reading these wonderful books.

2. Patricia Briggs: I love the Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series so, so much. Give me more and more and more, and please don’t ever stop.

3. Seanan McGuire: Surely, if you’ve ever visited my blog before, you’ve seen me rave about the October Daye books, the InCryptid series, the Wayward Children series, and more… not to mention everything she writes as her alter ego Mira Grant. I will absolutely read whatever she writes!

4. Gail Carriger: I’m such a fan! True, I haven’t read her San Andreas Shifters books yet, but I’ve read everything else she’s written, and find her books just delightful.

5. Neil Gaiman: I mean, who isn’t a fan? Okay, I didn’t love American Gods, but I do love almost everything else, so chances are whenever a new book comes out, I’ll buy it.

6. Dana Stabenow: I fell crazy in love with her awesome Kate Shugak series (#22 comes out next year!), and I do plan to read her non-Kate novels too one of these days.

7. Sarah Gailey: Well, I’m three for three for Sarah Gailey — loved the two American Hippo stories, and loved Magic For Liars too. So yes, I’ve already preordered her next book!

8. Lisa See: Wow, what can’t she do to my heart? I love her characters and her exploration of cultures and societies that I’d otherwise know little to nothing about. Such beautiful writing.

9. Cat Winters: So creative! So expressive! I always enjoy her books, and even the ones that aren’t my favorites are still really great reads.

10: Taylor Jenkins Reid: I still need to read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo *hangs head in shame* — but I’ve read all her other books, and have loved every single one!

Do you have auto-buy authors? Do we have any in common? (And if so — which are your favorite of their books?)

If you wrote a TTT post this week, please share your link!

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The Monday Check-In ~ 7/15/2019

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?

Wilder Girls by Rory Power: I had very mixed feelings about this YA horror story. (But oh, what an amazing cover!) My review is here.

Circe by Madeline Miller: Absolutely gorgeous. I adored the audiobook. My thoughts are here.

Please Send Help by Gaby Dunn & Allison Raskin: A fun, quick read. My review is here.

In children’s books:

I read Down Cut Shin Creek: The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky by Kathi Appelt and Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer. Once again, thanks to Hopewell’s Public Library of Life for the recommendation. It’s a perfect companion while reading The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, reviewed here.

Fresh Catch:

I treated myself to the hardcover version of Mira Grant’s newest novella. I love the look of it!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Finding Fraser by KC Dyer: Hey, it’s summer, and I need a break from serious reads! The story of an Outlander fan who heads to Scotland to find her very own Jamie Fraser just checks all sorts of boxes for me.

Now playing via audiobook:

Anne’s House of Dreams by L. M. Montgomery: Back to Anne! This is the 5th book in the Anne of Green Gables series, which I am utterly adoring.

Ongoing reads:

Two ongoing book group reads at the moment:

  • A Fugitive Green by Diana Gabaldon, from the Seven Stones To Stand or Fall collection. Finishing this week!
  • The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens — our current classic selection.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 1/28/2019

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?

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro: My (audiobook) review is here.

The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman: My review is here.

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal: My review is here. (Loved it!)

Outlander, baby!

Season 4, where did you go???? I can’t believe it’s over!

Here’s my reaction post for the season finale, Episode 413, “Man of Worth” (aired 1/27/2019).

Pop culture goodness:

My husband and I had a night out! We went to the theater to see Come From Away, and loved it. It’s based on a true story (which is also told in an amazing book I reviewed last year, The Day the World Came To Town). If you have a chance to see the show, do it!

Meanwhile, my son and I have just about wrapped up our Game of Thrones binge! We’re down to the last couple of episodes from season 7. Now the waiting begins!

Fresh Catch:

Once again, no new books purchased this week… unless you count Kindle books, in which case — I may have over done things a bit. Plus, I got this book from the library — and despite not have small children in the house, we all loved it:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse: Our local library picked this book as a citywide read for January/February. I’ve only just started, but I’m really liking it so far.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson: I’ve become a fan of Jon Ronson’s audiobooks, both because of his always interesting subject matter and his skillful narration. This investigation into a porn star’s death is fascinating so far.

Ongoing reads:

Two ongoing reads with my book group:

  • A Plague of Zombies by Diana Gabaldon: Continuing our journey through all of the Lord John books and stories.
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: Our new group classic read starts today! We’re discussing two chapters per week. I’m giving it a shot via audiobook — so far (chapter one), I’m loving the narration!

So many books, so little time…

boy1