Shelf Control #340: Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn

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: Voices of Dragons
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Published: 2009
Length: 309 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

On one side of the border lies the modern world: the internet, homecoming dances, cell phones. On the other side dwell the ancient monsters who spark humanity’s deepest fears: dragons.

Seventeen-year-old Kay Wyatt knows she’s breaking the law by rock climbing near the border, but she’d rather have an adventure than follow the rules. When the dragon Artegal unexpectedly saves her life, the rules are abruptly shattered, and a secret friendship grows between them.

But suspicion and terror are the legacy of human and dragon interactions, and the fragile truce that has maintained peace between the species is unraveling. As tensions mount and battles begin, Kay and Artegal are caught in the middle. Can their friendship change the course of a war?

In her young-adult debut, New York Times bestselling author Carrie Vaughn presents a distinctly twenty-first-century tale of myths and machines, and an alliance that crosses a seemingly unbridgeable divide. 

How and when I got it:

I bought this book on a whim one day while browsing at my local sci-fi/fantasy bookstore.

Why I want to read it:

I’ve read four books by Carrie Vaughn, and have a few more on my shelves that I do want to get to. I love her writing style, her storytelling ability, and her imagination!

I don’t think I even read the synopsis before buying Voices of Dragons, but I do think it sounds like it could be a great read! The description of the world is fascinating — our modern world, but with dragons across the border. I’m really curious about the plot, and now that I’ve “rediscovered” it on my shelves, I’m eager to give it a try.

I see that this is the first of a two-book series — the second book, Refuge of Dragons, is described as a novella that wraps up the story. Here’s hoping I like book #1 enough to want to read #2 as well!

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!

Shelf Control #339: A Venetian Affair by Andrea di Robilant

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: A Venetian Affair
Author: Andrea di Robilant
Published: 2003
Length: 291 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

In the waning days of Venice’s glory in the mid-1700s, Andrea Memmo was scion to one the city’s oldest patrician families. At the age of twenty-four he fell passionately in love with sixteen-year-old Giustiniana Wynne, the beautiful, illegitimate daughter of a Venetian mother and British father. Because of their dramatically different positions in society, they could not marry. And Giustiniana’s mother, afraid that an affair would ruin her daughter’s chances to form a more suitable union, forbade them to see each other. Her prohibition only fueled their desire and so began their torrid, secret seven-year-affair, enlisting the aid of a few intimates and servants (willing to risk their own positions) to shuttle love letters back and forth and to help facilitate their clandestine meetings. Eventually, Giustiniana found herself pregnant and she turned for help to the infamous Casanova–himself infatuated with her.

Two and half centuries later, the unbelievable story of this star-crossed couple is told in a breathtaking narrative, re-created in part from the passionate, clandestine letters Andrea and Giustiniana wrote to each other.

How and when I got it:

I picked up a copy at one of our big library sales, probably about 10 years ago.

Why I want to read it:

I barely remember, but this seems like a book that I grabbed on a whim while browsing at the huge annual library sale. The cover and title certainly would have caught my eye!

I don’t read a ton of non-fiction, but there are so many elements of this story that sounds like they’d be fascinating — historical Venice, a secret love affair, a discovered cache of passionate letters — just the synopsis makes me want to know more!

This book has pretty mixed reviews on Goodreads, but some of the reviewers seem to have expected a novel and felt disappointed that this is a non-fiction book. Other reviews are absolutely glowing, so it’s a bit difficult to get a good sense of the book’s overall reception.

I’m interested enough that I’ve held on to this book all these years, but I’ve never quite been in the mood to pick it up and read it.

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 ~ 10/17/2022

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My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

A mostly quiet week, with some family gatherings and a catch-up with an old friend who I haven’t seen since pre-pandemic. I didn’t have quite as much reading time as I would have liked, but what I did read, I really enjoyed!

Next weekend, I’ll be heading back east again for another quick trip to see my dad, so my time online and on the blog will be really limited. (Now for the fun part — deciding what books to bring on the plane!)

Blogging.

So, this happened:

I finally got the 500 reviews badge on NetGalley! Good timing, since I’m make much more of an effort to scale back on requests and focus on casual/mood reading from among the (many, many) unread books on my shelves.

What did I read during the last week?

Lute by Jennifer Thorne: Haunting and beautiful. My review is here.

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy: A painfully frank memoir by a former child star. It’s powerful and difficult; worth listening to the audiobook version. My review is here.

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci: This is a mixed bag of geek-themed YA stories — some great, some so-so, some that fell completely flat. Overall, a fun book to pick up and read a bit of from time to time, but I personally would not want to read it straight through, start to finish. I ended up reading all but three of the stories, which for me — someone who does not generally enjoy short stories — feels like an accomplishment.

Pop culture & TV:

Last week, I watched the delightful Fire Island on Hulu, and loved its approach to retelling Pride and Prejudice! My thoughts are here.

Other than that, I’m just busy keeping up with all the various series I have on the go — The Handmaid’s Tale, Interview with the Vampire, House of the Dragon, Ghosts, Abbott Elementary, Survivor… all of a sudden, there’s too much to choose from!

Fresh Catch:

New books this week!

Can you tell that I had an Amazon giftcard burning a hole in my pocket?

Also, I ordered a signed copy of Mary Robinette Kowal’s new novel, The Spare Man, from her local bookstore, and it arrived over the weekend, along with fun swag:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Sentence by Louis Erdrich: My book group’s pick for October! I’ve hit a lull at about 35%, but need to push past it so I can finish on time for our discussion. I love the author’s writing, but haven’t focused enough to get completely absorbed just yet.

Now playing via audiobook:

Rules at the School by the Sea (School by the Sea, #2) by Jenny Colgan: After my last audiobook (I’m Glad My Mom Died — see comments up at the top), I needed something light and cheery, and Jenny Colgan books always fit the bill. It’s fun to continue on with the story from Welcome to the School by the Sea — just the sort of joyful, sweet listen I was in the mood for.

Ongoing reads:

My longer-term reading commitments:

My on-going reads are feeling like a LOT right now. As of this week, I have all of these in the works… plus whatever my current book and audiobook happen to be.

  • Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon: Over at Outlander Book Club, we’re doing a group read of BEES, reading and discussing two chapters per week. We’ve made it about halfway so far!
  • A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny: I read this last year for the first time, and I’m joining the many fans who make reading this book an annual tradition each October. So much fun!
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen: My book group’s current classic read. I’ve read this several times already, but I’m always up for another go! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week, so this will be on my ongoing reading pile for the next few months.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Shelf Control #338: We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry

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: We Ride Upon Sticks
Author: Quan Barry
Published: 2020
Length: 360 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

In the town of Danvers, Massachusetts, home of the original 1692 witch trials, the 1989 Danvers Falcons will do anything to make it to the state finals–even if it means tapping into some devilishly dark powers. Against a background of irresistible 1980s iconography, Quan Barry expertly weaves together the individual and collective progress of this enchanted team as they storm their way through an unforgettable season.

Helmed by good-girl captain Abby Putnam (a descendant of the infamous Salem accuser Ann Putnam) and her co-captain Jen Fiorenza (whose bleached blond “Claw” sees and knows all), the Falcons prove to be wily, original, and bold, flaunting society’s stale notions of femininity. Through the crucible of team sport and, more importantly, friendship, this comic tour de female force chronicles Barry’s glorious cast of characters as they charge past every obstacle on the path to finding their glorious true selves.

How and when I got it:

I picked up a used paperback at a thrift shop about a year ago.

Why I want to read it:

I had almost forgotten that I own this book, until I was rearranging some books and found this one tucked behind a couple of others on the shelf. What great timing! This just seems perfect for the witchy month of October.

I’m always up for a good witch story, and I like the sound of the Salem descendants invoking ancient powers to win their championship. Between the 1980s timeframe and the emphasis on friendship, this sounds like it could be a really engaging read… and I’m glad I unearthed it this week, right in time for Halloween.

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 ~ 10/10/2022

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My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

This past week I was pretty busy trying to catch up at work after a week off, which mostly went okay. But it’s always the case that the peace and serenity of a vacation are quickly erased by the stress of catching up afterward… there’s got to be a better way!

I got my newest booster and flu shots on Thursday, and as usual, spent a day feeling woozy and beat up afterward — but, the symptoms did pass after about 48 hours, and in the end it’s worth it!

What did I read during the last week?

Welcome to the School by the Sea by Jenny Colgan: All the joy and sweetness I’ve come to expect from Jenny Colgan books! My review is here.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain: I finished my Classics Club Spin book ahead of schedule (and really enjoyed it). My review is here.

I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf by Grant Snider: I borrowed this graphic novel from the library, and liked it… but I’m also glad I didn’t decide to buy it. 3 stars. Some of the pages about readers and their books were really clever and fun, but there was a lot of content that I didn’t connect with.

Saga, volume 10 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples: After a 3-year hiatus, Saga is back! Volume 9 ended on a heart-breaking note, but beyond that ending, I was nervous that I wouldn’t remember enough of the story so far. Fortunately, I found this great resource to recap it all, and was able to dive right in! Volume 10 is fast, surprising, and still made me sad, and now that I’ve read it, I’m dying for more!

Lavender House by Lev AC Rosen: Loved it! A fast-paced 5-star read. My review is here.

Unfortunately, I ended up with a DNF this week:

Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty: I’m so disappointed! I’ve read and really enjoyed three other books by this author, but I finally quit Station Eternity at 42%, after forcing myself to stick with it that far. The plotlines are muddled, combining the story of a young woman who’s a murder-magnet (think Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote) with a First Contact story. It just did not work for me, despite all the elements that should have been right in my wheelhouse.

Pop culture & TV:

This has been a big catch-up week for my ongoing TV viewing, plus I tried a couple of new shows too. Reboot on Hulu is fun so far, and basically, I’m always up for watching Rachel Bloom.

I also watched the first episode of Interview with the Vampire (or as it’s officially called, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire). Wow. I’m not sure whether I think it’s gorgeous or over-the-top cheesy or some combination of the two, but in any case, I’m interested enough to keep watching. The book was an absolute fave back in the day, so I have to at least give the show a fair try! (And maybe think about rereading the book to see if it holds up after all this time.)

Fresh Catch:

New books this week!

I received two ARCs from Orbit — so excited for both!! — plus I picked up a copy of a used book that I’ve been meaning to read for some time now. And of course, this one arrive too, two days after release date, and I’ve already devoured it:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Lute by Jennifer Thorne: Isn’t that a great cover? I’m just getting started, and I’m excited to see what it’s all about.

Now playing via audiobook:

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy: We spent a LOT of time watching iCarly in my household when my kids were younger, and Jennette McCurdy’s character Sam was a favorite… so I just knew I had to check out her newly published memoir. What a title! I’m only about 30% in so far, and it’s a very good (but disturbing) listen — and I love that the author narrates the audiobook.

Ongoing reads:

My longer-term reading commitments:

My on-going reads are feeling like a LOT right now. As of this week, I have all of these in the works… plus whatever my current book and audiobook happen to be.

  • Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon: Over at Outlander Book Club, we’re doing a group read of BEES, reading and discussing two chapters per week. We’ve made it about halfway so far!
  • Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci: I got back to this book during the past week and made it through a couple more stories, including a new favorite called “The Wrath of Dawn”. (Hint: A must-read for Buffy fans!) There are a few stories I can’t particularly relate to, but overall, it’s a fun collection.
  • A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny: I read this last year for the first time, and I’m joining the many fans who make reading this book an annual tradition each October. I bought my daughter a copy for this October, and I need to check in to see if she’s sticking with it.
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen: My book group’s current classic read. I’ve read this several times already, but I’m always up for another go! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week, so this will be on my ongoing reading pile for the next few months.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Shelf Control #337: Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman

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: Domestic Violets
Author: Matthew Norman
Published: 2011
Length: 329 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Tom Violet always thought that by the time he turned thirty-five, he’d have everything going for him. Fame. Fortune. A beautiful wife. A satisfying career as a successful novelist. A happy dog to greet him at the end of the day.

The reality, though, is far different. He’s got a wife, but their problems are bigger than he can even imagine. And he’s written a novel, but the manuscript he’s slaved over for years is currently hidden in his desk drawer while his father, an actual famous writer, just won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His career, such that it is, involves mind-numbing corporate buzzwords, his pretentious archnemesis Gregory, and a hopeless, completely inappropriate crush on his favorite coworker. Oh . . . and his dog, according to the vet, is suffering from acute anxiety.

Tom’s life is crushing his soul, but he’s decided to do something about it. (Really.) Domestic Violets is the brilliant and beguiling story of a man finally taking control of his own happiness—even if it means making a complete idiot of himself along the way.

How and when I got it:

I received this book as a gift, as part of a book group book swap several years ago.

Why I want to read it:

My book group used to do book exchanges once or twice a year, where we’d draw random names and then send that person a few gently used books that we hoped they’d enjoy. I received a copy of Domestic Violets as part of package that included a few other paperbacks — honestly, I don’t remember which other books came with this one, but I do know that I’ve yet to crack this one open!

I don’t know that I would have chosen Domestic Violets on my own — I’m not as drawn to stories about adults taking a shot at adulting as I am to other genres and story tropes.

This book has an average rating of 3.86 on Goodreads, and I see some very positive reviews from people whose tastes are usually in line with mine, so that’s a good sign. Plus, my book group friends all are avid readers with wide-ranging interests, and I know that if one of them thought this book was good enough to recommend, then it’s probably worth the time to read.

I’m feeling pretty on the fence, though — I’ve had this books for years now, and haven’t yet felt the urge to pick it up and get started. I’d love to hear other readers’ opinions!

What do you think? Would you read this book? And if you’ve read it, do you recommend it?

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 ~ 10/3/2022

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My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

I’m back from a wonderful week visiting my daughter in Colorado! We spent a few days in and around Rocky Mountain National Park, then hung out back at her place in Boulder for the rest of the week. Fun hiking, a night-time tour of the Stanley Hotel (the inspiration for The Shining), delicious local restaurants and a cider brewery, lots of bookstores, and great mother-daughter time — what more could I ask for?

Now I’m back, catching up on work and household stuff, and hoping to hang onto my vacation cheer for just a bit longer.

What did I read during the last week?

Here’s everything I’ve read and reviewed since my last Monday Check-in post two weeks ago:

Fairy Tale by Stephen King: Captivating, magical, and altogether worth the time and effort! My review is here.

Travel by Bullet (The Dispatcher, #3) by John Scalzi: Another terrific audiobook in a sci-fi/noir series full of very cool twists. My review is here.

And check out my wrap-up of what I read on vacation:

  • Drunk on Love by Jasmine Guillory
  • Heading Over the Hill by Judy Leigh
  • Where We End & Begin by Jane Igharo
  • Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Pop culture & TV:

I’m behind on everything, but can’t wait to start the new season of Abbott Elementary and to check out Interview With the Vampire!

Fresh Catch:

Right before I left town, I got some unexpected book mail — an ARC that I didn’t realize was coming. Hurray!

Then, while away, my daughter and I visited A LOT of awesome bookstores, and I indulged a bit. This one I bought new, and will be saving to savor in the new year:

And these are from a used bookstore… where I showed greater-than-usual restraint (keeping in mind that anything I bought would have to get packed in my already stuffed carry-on):

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty: Just started on Sunday, but I’m liking it so far! Not really surprising, as I’ve really enjoyed everything else I’ve read by this author.

Now playing via audiobook:

Welcome to the School by the Sea by Jenny Colgan: This author is always a favorite, and I’m really enjoying this sweet story set at a boarding school in Cornwall. This book is a reissue of a novel published under a pseudonym over 10 years ago — I actually have a paperback edition that I picked up a few years back but hadn’t read yet, and now that the books are being reintroduced, it seemed like a good time to finally jump in.

Ongoing reads:

My longer-term reading commitments:

My on-going reads may be getting a little out of control!! As of this week, I have all of these in the works… plus whatever my current book and audiobook happen to be.

  • Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon: Over at Outlander Book Club, we’re doing a group read of BEES, reading and discussing two chapters per week. If anyone wants to join us, just ask me how! All are welcome.
  • Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci: I may end up putting this one aside for now — it’s a collection of stories that I’m dipping into a bit at a time, but given all my other reading commitments, this one will probably be lowest priority.
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain: My Classics Club Spin book. I’m reading via Serial Reader, currently at 66%. So much fun!
  • A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny: I read this last year for the first time, and I’m joining the many fans who make reading this book an annual tradition each October. There’s a chapter for each day of the month, and it’s just delightful.
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen: My book group’s current classic read. I’ve read this several times already, but I’m always up for another go! We’ll be reading and discussing two chapters per week, starting today.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Shelf Control #336: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

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!

A programming note: I’ll be taking a mini-hiatus next week while traveling, and as of now, I’m not planning to do a Shelf Control post for 9/28. I’ll be back the following week!

Title: Little Brother
Author: Cory Doctorow
Published: 2008
Length: 382 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Marcus aka “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.

But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.

When the DHS finally releases them, his injured best friend Darryl does not come out. The city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: “M1k3y” will take down the DHS himself.

How and when I got it:

I bought a paperback copy about 3 years ago.

Why I want to read it:

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure that I do want to read this! I’ve heard about Little Brother for years, but in general, tech-focused sci-fi isn’t usually my jam. Still, check out those blurbs by Neil Gaiman and Scott Westerfeld!

This book pops up on a lot of “best of” geeky reading lists, but I didn’t have a copy of my own until a few years ago, when I picked one up thinking it might entice my son to read a book other than those assigned for school. Nope, he didn’t show any interest, but I’ve held onto it, thinking I’d want to read it eventually.

So far, I haven’t been motivated to pick it up and give it a try, so at this point, I’m inclined to think that Little Brother will go in the donate pile next time I need to clear more room on my shelves. But… I’m open to being persuaded that I should keep it and read it!

What do you think? Would you read this book? And if you’ve read it, do you recommend it?

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 ~ 9/19/2022

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My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

This has been a super-slow reading week for me… or maybe it just feels that way because I’m reading a 600+ page book. Nope, it really has been slow — too many distractions!

One fun distraction — through a work giveaway, I got a table-top s’mores maker! So naturally, my son and I had to test it out and make sure all was in order. Yup… yummy!!

And in more fun news… don’t you love it when your favorite authors have special mailings for their subscribers/followers? My birthday is coming up this week, and this arrived in the mail a few days ago (from the amazing Mary Robinette Kowal):

A programming note:

I’m going to be away for a few days next week, and I’m planning to keep online commitments to a minimum… so I probably won’t be doing much blogging. I’ll be back in full swing the week of October 3rd!

What did I read during the last week?

I managed to finish two audiobooks this week, although I’m still slooooowly working my way through the same hardcover book that I started last Sunday.

I finished:

Birds of California by Katie Cotugno: A Hollywood romance with heart (and a very enjoyable audiobook experience). My review is here.

Mr. Perfect on Paper by Jean Meltzer: A Jewish rom-com, fun and light. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

The Handmaid’s Tale is back for a new season… and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’m still watching, but this show is so bleak (and does such strange things with its character development) that I’m always on the fence about whether I want to continue.

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Fairy Tale by Stephen King: This book is long, and it feels like it’s taking forever! I’m really liking it so far — I just wish I’d had more substantial reading time this past week.

Now playing via audiobook:

Travel by Bullet by John Scalzi: Book #3 in the Dispatcher series — I really liked the first two books, so weird and twisted! I’ll be starting this one on my Monday morning commute.

Ongoing reads:

My longer-term reading commitments:

  • Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon: Over at Outlander Book Club, we’re doing a group read of BEES, reading and discussing two chapters per week. If anyone wants to join us, just ask me how! All are welcome.
  • Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci: I’m reading this story collection in little bits and pieces, but made absolutely no progress this week. (Blame Stephen King and his huge new novel!!)
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain: This is my new Classics Club Spin book! (If you want to know more about this fun challenge, check out my post here). I’m going to read this one via the Serial Reader app — there are 54 installments, but since the challenge due date is October 30th, I’ll need to double-up at least part of the time. I’m pretty happy about ending up with this book — wish me luck!

So many books, so little time…

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Shelf Control #335: The Book of Speculation by Erica Swyler

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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 Book of Speculation
Author: Erika Swyler
Published: 2015
Length: 339 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone in a house that is slowly crumbling toward the Long Island Sound. His parents are long dead. His mother, a circus mermaid who made her living by holding her breath, drowned in the very water his house overlooks. His younger sister, Enola, ran off six years ago and now reads tarot cards for a traveling carnival.

One June day, an old book arrives on Simon’s doorstep, sent by an antiquarian bookseller who purchased it on speculation. Fragile and water damaged, the book is a log from the owner of a traveling carnival in the 1700s, who reports strange and magical things, including the drowning death of a circus mermaid. Since then, generations of “mermaids” in Simon’s family have drowned–always on July 24, which is only weeks away.

As his friend Alice looks on with alarm, Simon becomes increasingly worried about his sister. Could there be a curse on Simon’s family? What does it have to do with the book, and can he get to the heart of the mystery in time to save Enola?

In the tradition of Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian, The Book of Speculation–with two-color illustrations by the author–is Erika Swyler’s moving debut novel about the power of books, family, and magic.

How and when I got it:

I picked up a paperback in 2016, and it’s been on my shelf ever since.

Why I want to read it:

As I’m writing this post, it occurs to me that perhaps I never even read the synopsis before today! The plot sounds kind of bonkers, in a really good way, but doesn’t seem in the slightest bit familiar. So, I’m thinking I may have grabbed this book at a library sale based solely on the cover. I mean, can’t go wrong with a book with books on the cover, right?

Now that I’ve read what it’s about, I’m much more interested in finally giving the book a try. Generations of circus mermaids? A mystery curse? Count me in!

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 or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!