The Monday Check-In ~ 4/19/2021

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 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

Shelf Control #264: The Other Family by Loretta Nyhan

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 Other Family
Author: Loretta Nyhan
Published: 2020
Length: 285 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

From the bestselling author of Digging In comes a witty and moving novel about motherhood, courage, and finding true family.

With a dissolving marriage, strained finances, and her life in flux, Ally Anderson longs for normal. Her greatest concerns, though, are the health problems of her young daughter, Kylie. Symptoms point to a compromised immune system, but every doctor they’ve seen has a different theory. Then comes hope for some clarity.

It’s possible that Kylie’s illness is genetic, but Ally is adopted. A DNA test opens up an entirely new path. And where it leads is a surprise: to an aunt Ally never knew existed. She’s a little wild, very welcoming, and ready to share more of the family history than Ally ever imagined.

Coping with a skeptical soon-to-be-ex husband, weathering the cautions of her own resistant mother, and getting maddeningly close to the healing Kylie needs, Ally is determined to regain control of her life. This is her chance to embrace uncertainty and the beauty of family—both the one she was born into and the one she chose.

How and when I got it:

I seem to have added a lot of e-books to my Kindle collection in 2020. Hmm, why would that be? This is a 2020 title that must have been offered at a price break at some point, so I grabbed a copy.

Why I want to read it:

There’s something about the description that really appeals to me. First off, I have a daughter with a chronic illness that results in a compromised immune system, so this aspect of the plot immediately makes me feel sympathetic toward the characters and makes me want to know more.

On top of that, the discovered-family element is quickly becoming a favorite trope for me. Having recently read one memoir and one novel where the secrets uncovered by DNA testing shake families up, I’m very interested in seeing how this plays out in different scenarios. In this case, having the health history elements seems to add another layer to the discovery, and I’m so curious to see how it all plays out.

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 ~ 4/12/2021

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 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

Shelf Control #263: Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon

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: Where the Lost Wander
Author: Amy Harmon
Published: 2020
Length: 343 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

In this epic and haunting love story set on the Oregon Trail, a family and their unlikely protector find their way through peril, uncertainty, and loss.

The Overland Trail, 1853: Naomi May never expected to be widowed at twenty. Eager to leave her grief behind, she sets off with her family for a life out West. On the trail, she forms an instant connection with John Lowry, a half-Pawnee man straddling two worlds and a stranger in both.

But life in a wagon train is fraught with hardship, fear, and death. Even as John and Naomi are drawn to each other, the trials of the journey and their disparate pasts work to keep them apart. John’s heritage gains them safe passage through hostile territory only to come between them as they seek to build a life together.

When a horrific tragedy strikes, decimating Naomi’s family and separating her from John, the promises they made are all they have left. Ripped apart, they can’t turn back, they can’t go on, and they can’t let go. Both will have to make terrible sacrifices to find each other, save each other, and eventually…make peace with who they are.

How and when I got it:

I received an ARC through NetGalley when the book was released last year.

Why I want to read it:

I do love historical fiction, and I love discovering books that present a piece of history that I haven’t read in fictional form before. Like every other American schoolchild, I learned about the Oregon Trail, but honestly, the first thing that comes to mind for me is the computer game, not actual history.

The synopsis of Where the Lost Wander makes it sound like a personal story of love and family set during an important historical period. I’m just as interested in the story now as I was when I first requested the ARC — the only reason I haven’t read it yet is that I’m (as always) too swamped by my towering to-be-read stack of books.

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 ~ 4/5/2021

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.

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

Shelf Control #262: Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott

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: Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War
Author: Karen Abbott
Published: 2014
Length: 513 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Karen Abbott, the New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City and “pioneer of sizzle history” (USA Today), tells the spellbinding true story of four women who risked everything to become spies during the Civil War.

Karen Abbott illuminates one of the most fascinating yet little known aspects of the Civil War: the stories of four courageous women—a socialite, a farmgirl, an abolitionist, and a widow—who were spies.

After shooting a Union soldier in her front hall with a pocket pistol, Belle Boyd became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds cut off her hair and assumed the identity of a man to enlist as a Union private, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The beautiful widow, Rose O’Neale Greenhow, engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians to gather intelligence for the Confederacy, and used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring, right under the noses of suspicious rebel detectives.

Using a wealth of primary source material and interviews with the spies’ descendants, Abbott seamlessly weaves the adventures of these four heroines throughout the tumultuous years of the war. With a cast of real-life characters including Walt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, General Stonewall Jackson, detective Allan Pinkerton, Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, and Emperor Napoleon III, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy draws you into the war as these daring women lived it.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy contains 39 black & white photos and 3 maps. 

How and when I got it:

I bought a Kindle edition at least 5 years ago.

Why I want to read it:

I seem to have a backlog of non-fiction books! I can’t help it — I hear about a book that sounds interesting, and despite knowing my less-than-stellar track record when it comes to reading non-fiction, I just can’t resist adding yet another to my overflowing bookshelves.

I remember reading about Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy when it came out. I’ve read several novels set during the Civil War period, and have loved the ones centering on women taking on unusual roles, whether by dressing as men in order to serve in the army or finding other ways to serve the country, often through avenues that defy the gender norms of the time. So what better than to read about real-life women who risked themselves in order to serve a greater cause?

I did actually start this book via audiobook several years back and ended up not getting past the first few chapters. I found the audiobook really hard to follow, because it was too easy to miss the key names or places and then become completely lost. I have a feeling this will work much better for me in print.

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 ~ 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

Shelf Control #261: Other Kingdoms by Richard Matheson

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: Other Kingdoms
Author: Richard Matheson
Published: 2011
Length: 316 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

For over half a century, Richard Matheson has enthralled and terrified readers with such timeless classics as I Am LegendThe Incredible Shrinking ManDuelSomewhere in Time, and What Dreams May Come. Now the Grand Master returns with a bewitching tale of erotic suspense and enchantment.…

1918. A young American soldier, recently wounded in the Great War, Alex White comes to Gatford to escape his troubled past. The pastoral English village seems the perfect spot to heal his wounded body and soul. True, the neighboring woods are said to be haunted by capricious, even malevolent spirits, but surely those are just old wives’ tales.

Aren’t they?

A frightening encounter in the forest leads Alex into the arms of Magda Variel, an alluring red-haired widow rumored to be a witch. She warns him to steer clear of the wood and the perilous faerie kingdom it borders, but Alex cannot help himself. Drawn to its verdant mysteries, he finds love, danger…and wonders that will forever change his view of the world.

Other Kingdoms casts a magical spell, as conjured by a truly legendary storyteller.

How and when I got it:

I bought a copy when the book was first released.

Why I want to read it:

Richard Matheson is the author of some incredibly well-known horror stories (I Am Legend, among others), as well as being a prolific screenwriter and writer of a vast number of novels and short stories. While I haven’t read a ton of his work, he is the author of one of my all-time favorite books-turned-movies, Somewhere in Time (for which he wrote the screenplay based on his novel). Other Kingdoms is one of his later works published before his death in 2013.

When I heard about Other Kingdoms, I was drawn to it not only because of the author, but also because of the description. I’m a total sucker for faerie worlds and haunted woods, and the mortals who go where perhaps they shouldn’t. I think it sounds terrific!

What do you think? Would you read this book? Have you read any other books by Richard Matheson, and if so, do you have any to recommend?

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 ~ 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

Shelf Control #260: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely

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: All American Boys
Author: Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely
Published: 2015
Length: 316 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Rashad is absent again today.

That’s the sidewalk graffiti that started it all…

Well, no, actually, a lady tripping over Rashad at the store, making him drop a bag of chips, was what started it all. Because it didn’t matter what Rashad said next—that it was an accident, that he wasn’t stealing—the cop just kept pounding him. Over and over, pummeling him into the pavement. So then Rashad, an ROTC kid with mad art skills, was absent again…and again…stuck in a hospital room. Why? Because it looked like he was stealing. And he was a black kid in baggy clothes. So he must have been stealing.

And that’s how it started.

And that’s what Quinn, a white kid, saw. He saw his best friend’s older brother beating the daylights out of a classmate. At first Quinn doesn’t tell a soul…He’s not even sure he understands it. And does it matter? The whole thing was caught on camera, anyway. But when the school—and nation—start to divide on what happens, blame spreads like wildfire fed by ugly words like “racism” and “police brutality.” Quinn realizes he’s got to understand it, because, bystander or not, he’s a part of history. He just has to figure out what side of history that will be.

Rashad and Quinn—one black, one white, both American—face the unspeakable truth that racism and prejudice didn’t die after the civil rights movement. There’s a future at stake, a future where no one else will have to be absent because of police brutality. They just have to risk everything to change the world.

Cuz that’s how it can end. 

How and when I got it:

I bought a copy for my son about two years ago.

Why I want to read it:

I read Jason Reynolds’ excellent, powerful book Long Way Down last year, and have been wanting to read more of his work ever since, especially since he was named the 2020–2021 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. His impact is profound, and I’ve been so impressed with every article and interview I’ve seen about him so far.

As far as the story itself, All American Boys sounds relevant and disturbing, and like an important read both for its intended YA audience and for adults.

What do you think? Would you read this book? Do you have recommendations for other books by Jason Reynolds?

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!