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

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

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

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

The Monday Check-In ~ 12/21/2020

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.

It feels weird that Hanukkah is over already, while everyone else is still gearing up for Christmas. Still, I have some days off coming up, which I’m really thankful for. It’ll be good to unwind and not check my work emails for a few days!

What did I read during the last week?

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig: 5 stars! Such a wonderful book. My review is here.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins: I hadn’t had any intention of reading this book until a family member gave me a copy as a gift. I couldn’t put it down, but that doesn’t mean it was actually good. My review is here.

The Queen of Nothing and The Lost Sisters by Holly Black: I finished my audiobook re-read of the Folk of the Air trilogy (plus a related novella). Such wonderful stories and characters!

My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith: This was my book group’s pick for December — very sweet and light. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

I finally finished my obsessed binge-watch of the three Starz series adapted from Philippa Gregory novels. For the most part, I loved them, despite some occasional weird choices and unfortunate facial hair. Overall, these were super watchable and kept me hooked.

I’ve been at a bit of a loss since finished The Spanish Princess. For the sake of looking for light entertainment, I decided to give Sweet Magnolias (Netflix) a try. It’s… okay. Perfectly fine for background watching while doing other things.

Meanwhile, I can’t wait to start season 5 of The Expanse (except I promised my son I wouldn’t watch it without him, and our schedules haven’t been in sync this past week). And hey, it’s almost time for Bridgerton!

Puzzle of the week:

Once again, I didn’t do any puzzles, but I did get one more as a gift from my amazing daughter, and it’s perfect!

Fresh Catch:

A new book ordered from Subterranean Press arrived this week, and I’m looking forward to starting it:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

I finished a book Sunday afternoon, and haven’t quite settled on what to start next. One of these, for sure! Maybe I’ll even get to all three, if the reading gods favor me with lots of quality time with my books this week.

Now playing via audiobook:

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman: Just getting started. I’ve been wanting to listen to this audiobook ever since finishing Beartown last year.

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club is re-reading Outlander! We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. This week: Chapter 28, “Kisses and Drawers”.

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

The Monday Check-In ~ 12/14/2020

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.

We’re halfway through Hanukkah, and despite COVID restrictions, so far it’s been a good one! We’ve had delicious latkes, played dreydel, and have done some creative family Zooming so we could light candles with our loved ones around the country.

Looking forward to being able to celebrate in person together next year!

What did I read during the last week?

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones: Powerful, unique horror. My review is here.

The Wicked King by Holly Black: Finished book #2 in the Folk of the Air trilogy (an audiobook re-read). Just as great the second time around!

West End Girls by Jenny Colgan: Fun, light contemporary fiction. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

I binge-watched all of season 1 and most of season 2 of The Spanish Princess this week, and got completely hooked. For the most part, I’m loving it — despite the ridiculous maternity armor. And also, isn’t maternity armor kind of awesome?

Puzzle of the week:

I didn’t actually work on any puzzles this week, but a terrific family member who apparently really gets me gave me a puzzle and a puzzle mat for Hanukkah!

Fresh Catch:

A couple of weeks ago, I attended an online event featuring Rachel Bloom and Yael Grobglas, and this week, the book that came with the ticket arrived:

I’m so excited! Can’t wait to start reading this!

(And PS – it was an awesome event! Here’s a screenshot, which doesn’t nearly capture how much fun it was to hear these two actors in conversation):

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig: I bought a copy a few weeks ago, and I’m just finally getting started. And what do you know — it’s the 2020 Goodreads Choice Award winner for fiction!

Now playing via audiobook:

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black: Book 3! Such an amazing trilogy.

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club is re-reading Outlander! We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. This week: Chapter 27, “The Last Reason”.

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

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 12/7/2020

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.

What do you know? This happened, and I wasn’t even aware that I was close:

Reading three graphic novels in a row on Saturday pushed me over the top!

Looking ahead, Hanukkah will be here Thursday night… and while we’ll be pretty low-key this year, it’s always a favorite holiday at my house. If you didn’t see the amazing Hanukkah video I shared a few days ago, check it out here — my entire family has been watching it over and over again.

What did I read during the last week?

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata: A strangely charming little book. Worth checking out!

Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour: Beautiful YA novel. My review is here.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: I finished the audiobook! This was a re-read for me, and I loved it all over again.

And here are the graphic novels that got me to my reading goal over the weekend. Lumberjanes is a cute, girl-power series about best friends having wacky adventures at a bizarre summer camp. Charming — I need the next few from the library!

Pop culture & TV:

My royal historical binge-watching continues! I watched all of The White Princess this week, and while I was pretty often annoyed, it also made an impact — there are certain historical elements that I just can’t stop thinking about. Moving on to The Spanish Princess!

On a sadder note, I watched Diana: In Her Own Words on Netflix. It’s a very moving documentary, with recordings of Diana’s interviews providing the narration. She’s such a tragic character, and this made me quite emotional all over again.

Puzzle of the week:

Cute kitty alert!

Ugh, I can never get a decent picture of my puzzles. But you get the idea… so many kitties.

Fresh Catch:

I received a bookish gift – yay!

Meanwhile, I had an accumulation of gift cards and credits burning a hole in my pocket, so I treated myself (and went a little overboard):

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones: My library hold came in! I’m just getting started, but it’s grabbing my attention from page 1.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Wicked King by Holly Black: Continuing onward with my audio re-read of the Folk of the Air trilogy. I love these books!

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club is re-reading Outlander! We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. This week: Chapter 26, “The Laird’s Return”.

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

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 11/30/2020

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.

Aaaah. There’s something glorious about a four-day weekend, isn’t there? Even without leaving town, it feels so heavenly to get those extra days to just rest, read, and be outdoors. Bliss!

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving! We enjoyed our small little gathering (especially the pecan pie and lemon bars for dessert – yum!)

What did I read during the last week?

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab: Beautiful story, beautifully written. My review is here.

The Boys by Garth EnnisI’ve been loving the series on Amazon Video, but the comic book version is just way too gross and graphic for me. I won’t be reading any further volumes.

Battle Ground (Dresden Files, #17) by Jim Butcher: I love the Dresden Files series, but this volume felt like all action and no story, and was a slog to get through. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

I’m now half-way through season 2 of Virgin River, and it’s… exactly what you’d expect it to be. Beautiful scenery, kind of sappy but still strangely satisfying romantic elements, quirky townspeople… No major surprises, but really fun to watch.

Puzzle of the week:

Can I go here now, please?

Fresh Catch:

Hurray for a new Holly Black book!

And something else new that’s bookish, but not a book:

I ordered this wonderful bookmark pouch on Etsy, and it arrived this week. I love it so much!

You can get one too, in all different patterns and colors. Check out the link and discount code at Traveling Sisters Book Reviews.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata: As I write this post late Sunday, I’m just about to start this book, so I really don’t know anything about it yet, other than that it’s short (yay!) and comes highly recommended by a trusted book friend.

But wait! What about Discworld? After four months of starting a new Discworld book on the 1st of the month, I’m going to take a pass on December 1st. I have so much else to read, and honestly, I’m just not feeling it at the moment.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: This is a re-read, and I’m loving it. Should be finished in the next day or two, and plan to listen to the other two books in the trilogy right afterwards.

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club is re-reading Outlander! We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. This week: Chapter 25, “Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch to Live”.

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

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 11/23/2020

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.

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving! I hope everyone is staying safe and planning low-key holiday celebrations. Enjoy your pie and turkey!

What did I read during the last week?

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware: My book group book for November. Meh. Just a 3-star read for me. My review is here.

The Princes in the Tower by Alison WeirFascinating history. My review is here.

Clanlands by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish: I listened to the audio version of these two actors’ fabulous Scottish adventure. My review (and a fun trailer) are here.

Pop culture & TV:

I finished season 4 of The Crown, and loved it. But I’m sad that we’ve reached the end of this particular cast, as new actors will take over to portray the royals in seasons 5 and 6.

I’m also so happy that His Dark Materials is back! Season 2 is off to a great start.

Puzzle of the week:

Another fun one!

Fresh Catch:

It’s a new Seanan McGuire book! Always a reason to cheer.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab: I’ve read about 100 pages so far — dying to see what happens!

Now playing via audiobook:

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: I read this book earlier in 2020, but I happened to see that the library had the audiobook available to borrow, and I think revisiting this terrific trilogy sounds like a great idea!

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club is re-reading Outlander! We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. This week: Chapter 24, “By the Pricking of My Thumbs”.

Our current classic read is part 2 of Don Quixote. My book group is reading and discussing three chapters per week. I solemnly swear that I’m going to try my best to keep up!

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 11/16/2020

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.

It’s amazing to have a week not dominated by election-related fear. Besides working, I was able to go on a few long walks, enjoy family time, and plan a few minor home improvements with my husband.

What did I read during the last week?

The Children of Red Peak by Craig DiLouie: Really powerful and disturbing read. My review is here.

Mythos by Stephen Fry: A fabulous audiobook! My review is here.

To Have and To Hoax by Martha Waters: Light-hearted Regency romance. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

My new obsession is The White Queen on Starz. As of this writing, I have one episode left, and I have to force myself to go to sleep instead of staying up to an unreasonable hour just to finish. I love it. The cast is phenomenal, and I just can’t look away. I’m sure that I’m going to want to continue straight onward to The White Princess once I finish.

And by the way, this little book I picked up a few years ago has been invaluable! I’m not well-read when it comes to the War of the Roses and lines of descent, so I’ve kept this guide by my side through every episode:

See? TV is educational!

In other royal-related viewing, I’m so excited that the new season of The Crown is here! Can’t wait to dive in.

Puzzle of the week:

This one was hard work! It kept me good and occupied for a few days straight this week.

Fresh Catch:

When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes. (Desiderius Erasmus)

Okay, that’s not entirely true for me (I do buy food!), but it’s pretty darn close. I had some Amazon credits this week, and stumbled across books in their 3-for-2 sale, and well… just couldn’t resist.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware: My book group book for November. I’ve just barely started, but I’m pretty intrigued so far.

Now playing via audiobook:

Clanlands by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish: You haven’t lived until you’ve listened to these two Outlander stars narrate their way along a whisky-infused road trip through Scotland. So much fun.

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club is re-reading Outlander! We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. This week: Chapter 23, “Return to Leoch”.

And dare I say it? It’s time for part 2 of Don Quixote. My book group is reading and discussing three chapters per week. Wish me luck!

So many books, so little time…

boy1