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

The Monday Check-In ~ 10/14/2019

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. 

Another travel week! This time, I had a few days off work for the Jewish holidays, so I took advantage of the time to fly east and visit my father in his nursing home.

Added bonus: It’s autumn in New England! The leaves have just started turning, so I didn’t quite get the full effect — but it’s still glorious!

And, I got to catch up with a bunch of other friends and relatives, so even though it was a short trip, I was able to pack a lot of great experiences into it.

(Plus reading. Always reading.)

What did I read during the last week?

Ghoster by Jason Arnopp: Thriller with a supernatural twist. My review is here.

Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas: I picked up this 90s-era YA novel because its author is Rob Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars. Strictly a 3-star, run-of-the-mill coming of age story; definitely a little dated.

Rilla of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery: The 8th and final book in the Anne of Green Gables series. It was wonderful! Rilla is set during World War I, so is much more serious and sad than the other books. A lovely finish to a beautiful series — once I’m back home and settled, I’ll write up some thoughts on the series as a whole.

In audiobooks:

I finished listening to the Amazon’s Forward series of short stories. All were terrific!

Pop Culture

Still with my Veronica Mars obsession… this week, I started watching the hilarious web series Play It Again, Dick. Didn’t have time to finish before leaving on my trip, but still – so much fun.

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week. Amazing.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

I’m flipping back and forth between two books at the moment:

  • A Very Distant Shore by Jenny Colgan: A short novel by an author I can always count on for sweet, light storytelling.
  • The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy: My book group’s pick for October. I missed the last couple of book group books, so I’m really determined to keep up this month!
Now playing via audiobook:

Yes, indeed… even more Veronica Mars! I’m listening to the first VMars novel – which is especially delightful with Kristen Bell as the narrator.

Ongoing reads:

Whee! I’m reading A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny, one chapter per day for the whole month. I forgot to pack my paperback when I left on my trip, so I’ll have about six days to catch up on once I get home… but in a way, reading a bunch of days in a row sounds like even more of a good time.

And in book group news:

We’ve just started 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

The Monday Check-In ~ 10/7/2019

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. 

In the ongoing saga of my hand, I’m now wearing this little shield/brace on my thumb, probably for just a couple of weeks. And I started physical therapy too, slowly trying to get my opposable thumb movements back. Yay for getting better!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did I read during the last week?

The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss: Such a gorgeous book! My review is here.

The Institute by Stephen King: After a few false starts, I finally dug back into this book and finished it. Good and creepy! My review is here.

In audiobooks:

The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli: Oh, I had problems with this book. My review is here.

Also in audio — I’m listening my way through Amazon’s Forward series of short stories. So far, I’ve listened to these three:

Quick reaction:

  • Summer Frost: Emotional and chilling story set in the world of AI. Very easy to get caught up in this story!
  • You Have Arrived At Your Destination: About a couple considering a tech firm’s services to produce a designer baby. I’m not sure I really got it in the end.
  • Randomize: So much fun! All about a couple using quantum computing to scam a Las Vegas casino. Fast and enjoyable.

Pop Culture

Back to my Veronica Mars obsession! This week, I watched the 2014 movie. Love, love, love. (Or should I say, LoVe. If you watch the show, you get it.)

And, I finished season 2 of Fleabag. I’m ready for some more binge suggestions!

Fresh Catch:

My amazing daughter sent me this awesome present:

Also…

The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman arrived. I’d almost forgotten this was coming! I need to re-read La Belle Sauvage before I start this one…

Debbie Harry made an appearance in SF this past week, and while I missed the event, someone was kind enough to snag a copy of her book for me!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas: When I heard that the Veronica Mars creator had written YA novels in the 90s, I just had to try one.

Now playing via audiobook:

Continuing onward with the Forward stories — the remaining three are:

Ongoing reads:

Whee! I’m reading A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny, one chapter per day for the whole month. Apparently, this is a thing I’ve been missing out on all these years. Check out more info here. Fun so far!

And in book group news:

Our next group read, starting this week, is the novella A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows, reading two sections per week. I’ve read this story before (a couple of times) — but it’s a good one! I’m happy to be sharing the experience with the group this time around.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Shelf Control #169: A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny

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!

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Title: A Night in the Lonesome October
Author: Roger Zelazny
Published: 1993
Length: 288 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Loyally accompanying a mysterious knife-wielding gentleman named Jack on his midnight rounds through the murky streets of London, good dog Snuff is busy helping his master collect the grisly ingredients needed for an unearthly rite that will take place not long after the death of the moon. But Snuff and his master are not alone. All manner of participants, both human and not, are gathering with their ancient tools and their animal familiars in preparation for the dread night. It is brave, devoted Snuff who must calculate the patterns of the Game and keep track of the Players—the witch, the mad monk, the vengeful vicar, the Count who sleeps by day, the Good Doctor and the hulking Experiment Man he fashioned from human body parts, and a wild-card American named Larry Talbot—all the while keeping Things at bay and staying a leap ahead of the Great Detective, who knows quite a bit more than he lets on.

Boldly original and wildly entertaining, A Night in the Lonesome October is a darkly sparkling gem, an amalgam of horror, humor, mystery, and fantasy. First published in 1993, it was Zelazny’s last book prior to his untimely death. Many consider it the best of the fantasy master’s novels. It has inspired many fans to read it every year in October, a chapter a day, and served as inspiration for Neil Gaiman’s brilliant story “Only the End of the World Again.”

And further info from Wikipedia:

A Night in the Lonesome October is a novel by American writer Roger Zelazny published in 1993, near the end of his life. It was his last book, and one of his five personal favorites.

The book is divided in 32 chapters, each representing one “night” in the month of October (plus one “introductory” chapter). The story is told in the first-person, akin to journal entries. Throughout, 33 full-page illustrations by Gahan Wilson (one per chapter, plus one on the inside back cover) punctuate a tale heavily influenced by H. P. Lovecraft. The title is a line from Edgar Allan Poe’s “Ulalume” and Zelazny thanks him as well as others – Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Bloch and Albert Payson Terhune – whose most famous characters appear in the book.

The story reveals that once every few decades when the moon is full on the night of Halloween, the fabric of reality thins and doors may be opened between this world and the realm of the Great Old Ones. When these conditions are right, men and women with occult knowledge may gather at a specific ritual site to hold the doors closed, or to help fling them open. Should the Closers win, then the world will remain as it is until the next turning… but should the Openers succeed, then the Great Old Ones will come to Earth, to remake the world in their own image (enslaving or slaughtering the human race in the process). The Openers have never yet won. These meetings are often referred to as “The Game” or “The Great Game” by the participants, who try to keep the goings-on secret from the mundane population.

How and when I got it:

I bought a used copy online a couple of years ago, after spending some time tracking down a copy.

Why I want to read it:

I’ve seen this book mentioned on all sorts of blogs and book lists over the years. I’ve read books 1 – 5 of Zelazny’s Amber books (loved them… one of these days, I need to read the rest!). I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while, but now is not the time: I hear that the ideal reading approach is to read one chapter per night during the month of October, and I’m totally up for that! I’m so glad I just re-discovered this lurking on my bookshelf. Now I’m all set for a spooky Halloween read!

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!

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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!
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Have fun!

Flashback Friday REWIND: Nine Princes in Amber

ffbutton2Flashback Friday is a weekly tradition started here at Bookshelf Fantasies, focusing on showing some love for the older books in our lives and on our shelves. If you’d like to join in, just pick a book published at least five years ago, post your Flashback Friday pick on your blog, and let us all know about that special book from your reading past and why it matters to you. Don’t forget to link up!

I’ll be traveling for a few weeks during the month of June, so rather than skipping Flashback Friday,  I thought I’d dig back into my FF archives and revisit some of my very first flashback books.

Going way back for this week’s Flashback Friday:

Nine Princes In Amber by Roger Zelazny

(published 1970)

Roger Zelazny’s Amber Chronicles simply astounded me when I first encountered them quite a while back (no, I will not disclose just how many decades ago that was or how old I was — suffice it to say that I was vibrant and youthful and wore clothes that my children would mock). These books were among my early forays into the world of science fiction and fantasy, an area of my reading history that was sorely lacking during my childhood and youth. I admit it now: I’d never read Narnia, had read The Hobbit but no other Tolkien (horrors! I’m ashamed of my younger self!), and had only recently been introduced to Dune. And then I met Amber, and it rocked my world.

From Goodreads:

Amber, the one real world, wherein all others, including our own Earth, are but Shadows. Amber burns in Corwin’s blood. Exiled on Shadow Earth for centuries, the prince is about to return to Amber to make a mad and desperate rush upon the throne. From Arden to the blood-slippery Stairway into the Sea, the air is electrified with the powers of Eric, Random, Bleys, Caine, and all the princes of Amber whom Corwin must overcome. Yet, his savage path is blocked and guarded by eerie structures beyond imaging impossible realities forged by demonic assassins and staggering horrors to challenge the might of Corwin’s superhuman fury.

I barely remember the details, but I do know that I loved this book and the ones that followed. The Amber Chronicles consist of ten books in all, although I believe I only made it through 6 or 7 of them. (Hey, it was the 80s — I was busy!). Still, I know I fell in love with the concept of the shadow worlds, the battle for the throne, and the labyrinth-like Pattern that the royal family members must walk in order to gain access to other worlds. It was epic and dramatic high fantasy, and I’d never encountered anything quite like it before.

Last year at a book sale, I picked up an all-in-one volume of the entire Amber Chronicles, and it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since. Maybe it’s time to dust it off and give it a whirl. It’s entirely possible that it will feel incredibly dated at this point — but somehow, I have a feeling that I’ll be drawn into Corwin’s story once again and won’t be able to let go until I reach the end.

If you’re a fan of today’s bestselling fantasy series, such as George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire or Patrick Rothfuss’s The Kingkiller Chronicle, why not go back in time and give Amber a try?

 

Thanks for sticking with me for three weeks of FLASHBACK FRIDAY REWIND! As of next week, I’ll be back with fresh picks for Flashback Friday.

What flashback book is on your mind this week?

Note from your friendly Bookshelf Fantasies host: To join in the Flashback Friday fun:

  • Grab the Flashback Friday button
  • Post your own Flashback Friday entry on your blog (and mention Bookshelf Fantasies as the host of the meme, if you please!)
  • Leave your link in the comments below
  • Check out other FF posts… and discover some terrific hidden gems to add to your TBR piles!

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