The Monday Check-In ~ 1/25/2021

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 loved everything about the inauguration — Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, the amazing Amanda Gorman, seeing the Obamas and Clintons, even the guy whose job it was to sanitize the podium in between speakers. (Could have done without Garth Brooks, but oh well.) And of course, the main event — seeing our new President and Vice President taking their oaths of office — brought me to tears. It feels like a bright and shining new day, although I think it’s going to take all of us a while to get used to how it feels not having to hear about the latest awful thing the 2x-impeached person said or did on a daily basis. A return to normalcy and decency!

I’m loving all the Bernie memes, although I think this is my favorite graphic related to the inauguration:

In terms of my own life, I’ve spent most of this past week sick with persistent headaches and chills — but I tested negative for COVID, so that’s at least a relief. I was supposedly taking sick days, but ended up working practically every day anyway, because apparently work stops for no woman. Starting to feel a bit better finally, and hey, at least I was able to read!

What did I read during the last week?

Nemesis Games by James S. A. Corey: The fabulous 5th book in the Expanse series. My review is here.

We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall: My book group’s pick for January — historical fiction set at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. My review is here.

Tithe by Holly Black: The 1st book in the Modern Faerie Tales trilogy. My review is here.

The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgertons, #2) by Julia Quinn: Just couldn’t resist reading more Bridgertons books! My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

I mean, obviously the highlight was watching the inauguration!

Beyond that, I watched bits and pieces of a few different things:

  • Finished The Great on Hulu. Awesome! Can’t wait for season 2.
  • Started two Masterpiece shows: All Things Great & Small and Miss Scarlet and the Duke. Liking both so far.

I’m trying to decide what binge to start next, and I think it’s down to either Killing Eve or Queen Sugar. Any recommendations?

I’m also feeling pretty annoyed that there doesn’t seem to be a free option, despite how many streaming subscriptions I have, to watch the new season of A Discovery of Witches. Argh.

Puzzle of the week:

I didn’t do any. Between my achy head and my lack of focus, just couldn’t get into it this week.

Fresh Catch:

Two new books:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Valiant by Holly Black: The 2nd book in the Modern Faerie Tale trilogy. I decided to keep going, and plan to read #3, Ironside, right after this one. 

Now playing via audiobook:

Nothing at the moment, which is really weird for me. Because of how I was feeling this week, I just wasn’t up to listening to anything, and ended up finishing up my most recent audiobook (The Viscount Who Loved Me) by switching to the print version. Hopefully, I’ll get back to my audiobook routine in the next few days.

Ongoing reads:
  • Outlander Book Club is re-reading Outlander! We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. This week: Chapter 33, “The Watch”. 
  • Our current classic read is part 2 of Don Quixote. My book group is reading and discussing three chapters per week. 
  • I’m slowly reading The Heroine’s Journey by Gail Carriger. I’m reading this in small bites, but didn’t make any progress this week.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Shelf Control #252: The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst

Shelves final

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

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

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

Title: The Stranger’s Child
Author: Alan Hollinghurst
Published: 2012
Length: 564 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

In the late summer of 1913, George Sawle brings his Cambridge friend Cecil Valance, a charismatic young poet, to visit his family home. Filled with intimacies and confusions, the weekend will link the families for ever, but its deepest impact will be on George’s sixteen-year-old sister Daphne.

As the decades pass, Daphne and those around her endure startling changes in fortune and circumstance, reputations rise and fall, secrets are revealed and hidden and the events of that long-ago summer become part of a legendary story, told and interpreted in different ways by successive generations.

Powerful, absorbing and richly comic, ‘The Stranger’s Child’ is a masterly exploration of English culture, taste and attitudes over a century of change. 

How and when I got it:

I bought a copy on a whim, at least 6 or 7 years ago.

Why I want to read it:

This was a total impulse buy! On a weekend trip with my daughter, we happened to find a really great bookstore, and this book was prominently displayed on their front rack. I loved the look of the cover, and while I didn’t feel like the back copy gave me a whole lot of information, I just needed to buy it!

I think the main reason I haven’t actually read the book yet is its length. It’s a big book! I do still want to get to it eventually, which is why it hasn’t ended up in my library donation piles just yet.

Have you read this book? Does it sound like something you’d want to read?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

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

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

Have fun!

The Monday Check-In ~ 1/18/2021

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.

We need these words more than ever this year.

Meanwhile, just sitting here counting the days until January 20th.

In family news, my husband got his vaccine this past weekend! I’m so happy. I know I probably have months to wait to get vaccinated myself, but it’s a relief that at least one family got it.

What did I read during the last week?

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline: Five-star historical fiction – my review is here.

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey: I had mixed feelings about this YA read. My review is here.

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes: I ended up really enjoying this audiobook. My review is here.

I ended up DNFing two ARCs this past week — just couldn’t get into either one. Life’s too short to force myself to read something that isn’t working for me!

Pop culture & TV:

I decided to reactivate my Hulu subscription after taking a pause for most of the past year. First up: The Great! I’ve watched about half, and it’s awesome.

Also, random fun fact: I took a Jane Austen quiz, and apparently this is the man for me:

Interesting…

Puzzle of the week:

Upstairs, downstairs… I really liked this one.

Fresh Catch:

Two new non-fiction books this week:

After finishing The Exiles, I decided an actual history book about Australia would be a good idea — looking forward to starting The Fatal Shore soon. 

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Nemesis Games by James S. A. Corey: The 5th book in the Expanse series. It’s so good! This book is big and chunky, but it’s zooming by. I have about 100 pages to go… but since I have a day off, I’m hoping to wrap it up today.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn: I wasn’t actually planning to continue with the Bridgertons series right away (this is #2), but the library had the audiobook available to borrow with no wait time, so why not? I’ll be starting this today.

Ongoing reads:
  • Outlander Book Club is re-reading Outlander! We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. This week: Chapter 32, “Hard Labor”. Just about 3/4 of the way done, and I’m getting anxious, because I know what’s left, and it’s not happy.
  • Our current classic read is part 2 of Don Quixote. My book group is reading and discussing three chapters per week. We’re at about 60% by now, and I’m struggling to keep up.
  • I’m slowly reading The Heroine’s Journey by Gail Carriger. It’s fascinating, but I’m limiting myself to just a few chapters per week, which I’m finding is what works for me when it comes to non-fiction.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Shelf Control #251: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Shelves final

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

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

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

Title: The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1920
Length: 208 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Who poisoned the wealthy Emily Inglethorp and how did the murderer penetrate and escape from her locked bedroom? Suspects abound in the quaint village of Styles St. Mary—from the heiress’s fawning new husband to her two stepsons, her volatile housekeeper, and a pretty nurse who works in a hospital dispensary.

With impeccable timing, and making his unforgettable debut, the brilliant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is on the case.

How and when I got it:

I picked up a Kindle edition a couple of years ago.

Why I want to read it:

After reading the excellent new novel by Marie Benedict, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, my interest in Agatha Christie is definitely piqued! I’ve only read one of her books so far, but I’ve been intending to read more.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles is Agatha Christie’s first published novel, and it’s also the book where she introduced Hercule Poirot. I feel like this would be a great starting place for me, and if I enjoy it (as I suspect I will), I can pick and choose more of her works to read.

Are you an Agatha Christie fan? Any recommendations on which books to read? Particular favorites?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

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

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

Have fun!

The Monday Check-In ~ 1/11/2021

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 week. What is there really to say?

But…

In family news, it was my daughter’s birthday! I haven’t seen her in over a year, which makes me really sad, but we still managed to connect… and she did really like all the cozy gifts I sent her!

What did I read during the last week?

Dear Miss Kopp by Amy Stewart: The 6th book in the terrific Kopp Sisters series! My review is here.

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict: Powerful historical fiction based on a mysterious episode from Agatha Christie’s life. My review is here.

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire: The 6th book in the fantastic Wayward Children series. Loved it! My review is here.

The Duke & I by Julia Quinn: Well, of course I needed to start reading the books behind Bridgerton! And yes, I’m going to keep going. My review of book 1 is here.

Pop culture & TV:

This was definitely a week that called for mindless, distracting TV, and my favorite viewing was The History of Swear Words on Netflix. It’s six short episodes, and so much fun. Needless to say, if hearing swear words used and discussed bothers you, this isn’t for you — and don’t watch the trailer!

Puzzle of the week:

Another fun one!

Fresh Catch:

A bunch of different books I’d ordered all arrived this week:

 

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Lost Manuscript by Cathy Bonidan: Just getting started!

Now playing via audiobook:

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline: Almost done – review to follow.

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club is re-reading Outlander! We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. This week: Chapter 31, “Quarter Day”.

Our current classic read is part 2 of Don Quixote. My book group is reading and discussing three chapters per week. Plodding along…

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Shelf Control #250: The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt

Shelves final

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

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

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

Title: The Search for Delicious
Author: Natalie Babbitt
Published: 1969
Length: 167 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

The Prime Minister is compiling a dictionary, and when no one at court can agree on the meaning of “delicious,” the King sends his twelve-year-old messenger, Gaylen, to poll the citizenry. Gaylen soon discovers that the entire kingdom is on the brink of civil war, and must enlist help to define “delicious” and save the country. 

Synopsis from Scholastic.com:

Which food should stand for “delicious” in the new dictionary? No one at the royal castle can agree, and so Gaylen, a skinny boy of twelve and the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant, is sent off to poll the kingdom. Traveling from town to farmstead to town on his horse, Marrow — Gaylen finds more than he expected. It seems that the search for “delicious” had better succeed if civil war is to be avoided.

Gaylen’s quest leads him through a wonderland full of fascinating people, ancient dwarfs, odd woodland creatures, and more. He meets the woldweller, a wise, 900-year-old creature who lives alone at the precise center of the forest, and Canto, a minstrel who sings him an old song about a mermaid child and gives him a peculiar good-luck charm. Can he find the meaning of “delicious” and save the kingdom at the same time?

In The Search for Delicious, the award-winning author of Tuck Everlasting and other beloved books has created a magical world full of surprises and a tale brimming with excitement. Delighted readers will be reluctant to turn the last page of this imaginative, fast-paced fantasy.

How and when I got it:

My sister sent me a hardcover copy of this book (with the cover shown above) a few years ago.

Why I want to read it:

The only Natalie Babbitt book I’ve read is Tuck Everlasting, which I really liked. My sister insists that we read The Search for Delicious as children, but I’m sure I’ve never even heard of it! Sisters… never too old to disagree! In any case, she says that this was one of her favorite childhood books, and has been pushing me to read it.

The plot does sound charming, and while I don’t read a lot of children’s lit these days, for the sake of family peace, I probably should make time for this one.

There are many different editions that have been released over the years — this one with a mermaid makes me so much more interested in reading the book!

Have you read The Search for Delicious? Does it sound like something you’d want to read?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

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

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

Have fun!

The Monday Check-In ~ 1/4/2021

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 New Year! It’s the first Monday of January — back to work, back to routine. I had a week off last week, and loved every moment of sleeping in, doing puzzles, hanging with the family, going for walks, and not checking my work email even once!

I know we’re all happy to be done with 2020… but I do want to be grateful for the good things that happened during that dumpster-fire of a year. My son graduated from high school and started college. I had breast reduction surgery last January and have felt so much better ever since. My 89-year-old father is doing fairly well, all things considered, and got his first dose of the COVID vaccine last week. After considering it for years, having salons closed for most of the year led me to let my hair grow out, so now my hair is a combination of white, salt-and-pepper, and auburn/light brown/dark blonde (from where the coloring is still growing out and fading) — kind of like a calico cat, but much less cute and fluffy. And we elected a new President! Now, just counting the days until January 20th…

And yes, it sometimes sucked to basically never leave my house, and I miss seeing my daughter SO MUCH… but I also got to spend a lot of quality time with my husband and son, and that’s been really lovely. And hey, lots of books and TV binges!

Me, thinking about my return to work this week.

What did I read during the last week?

I decided to do a three-in-one post for some late 2020 reading — see it here.

The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal: Loved it! My review is here.

Two YA novels — my first books finished in 2021! My reviews are here.

Pop culture & TV:

I obsessively binge-watched Bridgerton, and now I want more! Has anyone read the book series? I’m wondering if I should give the first book a try.

After that, I was still in the mood for period drama, and watched Belgravia too. I liked it!

Puzzle of the week:

Another Hanukkah gift! This one was really fun, not so much because of the puzzle quality (meh), but because the images were totally nostalgia-inducing and made me want to go watch Friends episodes all over again.

Fresh Catch:

What does one do with Amazon gift cards? Buy books, of course! I decided to treat myself to paperback copies of books I’d read and loved as e-ARCs.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Dear Miss Kopp by Amy Stewart: The 6th book in the terrific Kopp Sisters series!

Now playing via audiobook:

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline: I’ve only listened to the first hour so far, but I’m already hooked!

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club is re-reading Outlander! We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. This week: Chapter 30, “Conversations by the Hearth”.

Our current classic read is part 2 of Don Quixote. My book group is reading and discussing three chapters per week. We took the past two weeks off, but now we’re diving back in!

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Shelf Control #249: Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris

Shelves final

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

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

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

Title: Blackberry Wine
Author: Joanne Harris
Published: 1999
Length: 336 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

From the author of Chocolat, an intoxicating fairy tale of alchemy and love where wine is the magic elixir.

Jay Mackintosh is a 37-year-old has-been writer from London. Fourteen years have passed since his first novel, Jackapple Joe, won the Prix Goncourt. His only happiness comes from dreaming about the golden summers of his boyhood that he spent in the company of an eccentric vintner who was the inspiration of Jay’s debut novel, but who one day mysteriously vanished. Under the strange effects of a bottle of Joe’s ’75 Special, Jay decides to purchase a derelict yet promising château in Lansquenet-sous-Tannes. There, a ghost from his past waits to confront him, and his new neighbour, the reclusive Marise – haunted, lovely and dangerous – hides a terrible secret behind her closed shutters. Between them, there seems to be a mysterious chemistry. Or could it be magic?

How and when I got it:

I actually have no idea, but I assume I picked it up at a library sale at some point in the last 5 years or so.

Why I want to read it:

I’ve read Chocolat and one other book by this author, and I know I really enjoyed her writing. I’m assuming the cover was one of the things that attracted me to this book — so pretty!

The synopsis makes the plot sound intriguing — hints of magical realism? It’s hard to get a true sense of what it might be about, but I’d like to give it a try.

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

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

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

Have fun!

The Monday Check-In ~ 12/28/2020

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.

No work this week! It’s absolutely glorious to have a week with nothing planned… especially since my entire workplace is closed, so I won’t have a ton of catching up to do when I go back next week.

What did I read during the last week?

Outlawed by Anna North: An intriguing feminist western. My review is here.

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black: Gorgeous illustrated edition that fits into the world of the Folk of the Air trilogy. My review is here.

Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir: Such fun! My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

My son and I watched Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas Day. Plot quibbles aside, we enjoyed it!

On Netflix, I started watching Bridgerton! I’ve seen about half so far, and I’m loving it.

Puzzle of the week:

This Outlander puzzle (a gift from my daughter) was WAY hard than I expected, but I did it!

Fresh Catch:

Have you seen the Seasons Editions line from Thomas Nelson Publishing? Absolutely gorgeous hardcover classics with laser-cut covers. I couldn’t resist — I had to get a copy of Persuasion (the only Jane Austen released so far, although more are coming in 2021).

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal: The 3rd book in the Lady Astronaut series — it’s over 500 pages, but it’s going by fast. I love this series!

Now playing via audiobook:

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman: Close to the end. Man, this story is dark.

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club is re-reading Outlander! We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. This week: Chapter 29, “More Honesty”.

Our current classic read is part 2 of Don Quixote. My book group is reading and discussing three chapters per week. I’m sticking with it, but barely.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Shelf Control #248: Dreams Underfoot by Charles De Lint

Shelves final

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

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

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

Title: Dreams Underfoot
Author: Charles de Lint
Published: 1993
Length: 416 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Welcome to Newford…

Welcome to the music clubs, the waterfront, the alleyways where ancient myths and magic spill into the modern world. Come meet Jilly, painting wonders in the rough city streets; and Geordie, playing fiddle while he dreams of a ghost; and the Angel of Grasso Street gathering the fey and the wild and the poor and the lost. Gemmins live in abandoned cars and skells traverse the tunnels below, while mermaids swim in the grey harbor waters and fill the cold night with their song.

About the Newford series:

Welcome to Newford, the fictional North American city setting for award-winning author Charles de Lint’s popular and beloved urban fantasy series.

Human beings share the city with European and Native American mythological legends, finding common ground as they live out their daily lives or find themselves swept up in adventures beyond imagination.

“As familiarly as though he were chronicling the lives of old friends, de Lint spins yet another magical story of the intersections between reality and the faerie and spirit world in this latest addition to the Newford opus, his twin loves of storytelling and music-making shining through every page…[H]ighly recommended.” —Library Journal (starred review) on Widdershins

How and when I got it:

I bought a copy at one of our library’s big sales, probably 3 or 4 years ago.

Why I want to read it:

I’ve been hearing about the Newford books for years! In fact, I think I actually own copies of a few books from the series (all books that I’ve grabbed at various used book sales). Charles de Lint is considered a master fantasy writer, yet I’ve only read one of his books so far (The Mystery of Grace, a stand-alone novel that was excellent).

Dreams Underfoot is a collection of stories set in Newford, and while I don’t usually gravitate toward short stories, I’d want to read this book to get an introduction to the world of the series and then see if I want to continue.

Have you read any of the Newford books?

And if not — what do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

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

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

Have fun!