The Monday Check-In ~ 7/24/2017

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’m back! I just spent 8 glorious days in Montana, with visits to Glacier National Park and Yellowstone. So beautiful. I’ll share some travel photos later this week, once I’ve had a chance to unpack, do laundry, and settle into the nice cool fog of summer in San Francisco.

Old Faithful

What did I read last week?

A pretty varied crop of books for my vacation reading:

Finders Keepers by Stephen King: I’m loving this series, and can’t wait for book #3!

Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen: An interesting, thought-provoking Israeli novel. My review is here.

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner: This month’s book group read. My review is here.

In audiobooks, I finished Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris. Thoughts to follow…

And in graphic novels, I finally finished all existing volumes of The Walking Dead… and now have to wait until October for the next volume to be released.

Pop culture goodness:

Every year I swear that NEXT YEAR I’ll finally make it to Comic-con. Well, it still hasn’t happened, so I have to content myself with following the news from afar. I was thrilled to see these two new trailers:

Outlander returns in September! And…

The Walking Dead returns in October. Oh yes, it’s going to be a good fall!

Fresh Catch:

A couple new books arrived while I was away:

Two very different sorts of books, but I’m really looking forward to both!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

Abaddon’s Gate by James S. A. Corey: Returning to The Expanse series with book #3.

Now playing via audiobook:

Oh, I’m really not sure. I need to start something new, and I can’t quite figure out what I’m in the mood for. Probably one of these two, but we’ll just have to see what catches my attention when I get in the car Monday morning.

(I’m leaning toward The Golden Compass, because I do need to re-read all of His Dark Materials before the new book comes out!)

Ongoing reads:

My book group’s next classic read, Ivanhoe, starts in August. Meanwhile, I have no long-term reading commitments at the moment, and it’s kind of nice.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 7/10/2017

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.

Well, the kiddo is off to camp for almost three weeks. Dropping him at the bus for camp has become a yearly ritual… and now I get to look forward to some grown-up vacation time too.

Meanwhile, my big adventure this past weekend was putting together some new shelves — because there’s no such thing as too many bookshelves, am I right? I bought a pair of spine tower shelves for my book nook, and I think they’re adorable.

And now I get to fill them up!

What did I read last week?

It’s been a SLOW reading week. Work, family, and TV conspired to take up all of my time!

South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby: DNFd at 15%. The premise sounded cute, but the story felt like it was going nowhere and the main character had no substance. And not that this should matter, but the ARC formatting was bad enough that it made me not want to put anymore effort into what was feeling like a mediocre read. So I moved on.

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw: An entertaining, quick-moving story of a doctor who specializes in treating the supernatural set of contemporary London, healing vampires, mummies, ghouls, and more. A few pacing problems and lack of character development get in the way of what should have been a much more enjoyable read. If I have time, I’ll write up a proper review in the next few days.

I also kept on my with latest obsession:

Pop culture goodness:

I FINISHED WATCHING THE WALKING DEAD! I’ve now watched all seven seasons… which means I now have to sit around and wait for season 8 (coming in October), just like everyone else. Binges are fun, but it kind of sucks when you’re done!

I suppose I can start Fear the Walking Dead while I’m waiting, but it just won’t be the same without my favorite characters.

Fresh Catch:

I went to a book event for Al Franken, and he was awesome! The event ticket price included the book, so now I have a shiny new hardcover to put on my pretty shelves.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

Finders Keepers by Stephen King: The 2nd book in the Bill Hodges trilogy. Loving it so far.

Now playing via audiobook:

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris: I’m still really enjoying this one. Perfect for word geeks everywhere!

Ongoing reads:

My book group’s next classic read, Ivanhoe, starts in August. Meanwhile, I have no long-term reading commitments at the moment, and it’s kind of nice.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 7/3/2017

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) 4th of July! It’s time to break out the 1776 DVD, blast the Hamilton soundtrack, and revel in some fireworks!

 

What did I read last week?

Coming Up For Air by Miranda Kenneally: I always love this author’s books about strong, down-to-earth, athletic young women and their choices and challenges. This one is another winner. My review is here.

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli: Sweet, funny, light, and fluffy. A totally enjoyable summer read for fans of YA — kind of predictable, but with cute, well-intentioned characters you can’t help rooting for.

In audiobooks, I finished the delightful Arabella by Georgette Heyer. My review is here.

Also…

I read the new Diana Gabaldon stories, and wrote abut them here.

And continued the graphic novel binge that matches my TV obsession:

See below. Obsessed…

Elsewhere on the blog:

I’m easing off my my normal blogging schedule for the time being. See my post about summertime slacking.

Pop culture goodness:

After contemplating walking away after an unusually upbeat moment and simply pretending that they all lived happily ever after (see my thoughts about this here), I finished season 6 of The Walking Dead — where I meant to stop for the time being until season 7 became available on Netflix.

HOWEVER…

The season 6 finale cliffhanger was too much for me to bear, so I ended up watching the first episode of season 7 on cable last night close to midnight. What a mistake! I spent the entire episode peeking out from between my fingers and ended up a teary, sobbing mess. Which is crazy, considering that spoilers for this episode in particular were unavoidable and I knew before I even started my binge what was going to happen. Still, this episode destroyed me and ruined any chance of a good night’s sleep… and needless to say, I must see what comes next, so my binge continues for another week.

PS – That’s the season 6 promotional photo above. I couldn’t bring myself to use a season 7 image. Oh my god, I’m such a baby.

Fresh Catch:

A NEW DIANA GABALDON BOOK!

I read the new stories in this collection the day it arrived — see above for the link to my post of initial thoughts.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby: I’m just starting, and it seems like it could be a charming story, but I may end up abandoning it if the ARC formatting doesn’t improve.

Now playing via audiobook:

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris: Read by the author, this audiobook is a word-geek treat — a guide to grammar, spelling, word usage and more by a life-long editor at the New Yorker, and it’s just so much fun.

Ongoing reads:

My book group’s next classic read, Ivanhoe, starts in August. Meanwhile, I have no long-term reading commitments at the moment, and it’s kind of nice.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 6/26/2017

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.

Between marathon TV binges and a crazy week at work, I just haven’t had the focus to sit down and write reviews. I’ve barely been reading!

What did I read last week?

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire: Absolutely loved it. Such beautiful writing. I may still get my act together enough to write a mini-review, but meanwhile, do yourself a favor and read this book (and Every Heart a Doorway) ASAP.

The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion: One of those books that leaves me saying “it was fine”, with nothing much else to add. It was an okay read about marriage, relationships, and regrets, but left pretty much zero impression on me.

And oh yeah, I read a few graphic novels:

See below. Obsessed…

Pop culture goodness:

My Walking Dead binge continues — I just finished season 5. Can’t stop. Won’t stop.

Fresh Catch:

I was so excited to receive an ARC in the mail:

It looks like a great read!

No other new books… unless you count library books, in which case I went a teensy bit overboard, coming home with about 10 books from my hold list. Needless to say, I suspect at least a few will go back unread.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

Trying to get a jump on some upcoming July releases, starting with these two ARCs:

  • Coming Up For Air by Miranda Kenneally: I haven’t been reading as much YA lately, but I do always love this author’s books.
  • South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby: I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while now. I hope it lives up to my expectations!
Now playing via audiobook:

Arabella by Georgette Heyer: Light-hearted, silly fun — so enjoyable.

Ongoing reads:

None at the moments. It’s so nice to be able to read commitment-free.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 6/19/2017

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’ve been away, and now I’m back! It’s been a hectic couple of weeks — but on the plus side, I did do a lot of reading.

What did I read last week?

Spaceman by Mike Massimino: I loved this audiobook. My review is here.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King: It seems like I always need to read some King while I travel. I FINALLY gave Mr. Mercedes a try, and couldn’t put it down. My review is here — bring on Finders Keepers!

What else did I read while I was away? Check out my mini-reviews for all of the books below in my wrap-up post, here.

Pop culture goodness:

I saw a few movies while I was away, one in an amazingly comfortable theater with reclining seats and two at home on my sister’s equally comfy couch:

And in other pop culture indulgences… my son and I are totally obsessed with The Walking Dead. Our binge continues — we’re now about midway through season 4.

Fresh Catch:

I bought myself a present!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire: SO excited to be reading the follow-up to Every Heart A Doorway, one of my faves.

After that, it’s time for a book group book: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Now playing via audiobook:

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann: This should be fascinating, but I’ve listened to about 30% so far, and the audiobook just isn’t holding my attention. I may need to switch to print and find something else to listen to. I’m taking a little break for a few days to listen to…

Arabella by Georgette Heyer, which is a total delight so far. So, yay me for making the switch from an audiobook that wasn’t working to one that’s just so much fun!

Ongoing reads:

MOBY

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon: DONE!!! After 145 chapters and 18 months of group reads and discussions, Outlander Book Club has finished this massive book. Next up will be a group read of Diana Gabaldon’s Lord John books and stories, starting in the fall. (Ask me if you want more info.)

Meanwhile, I have actually ZERO ongoing reads happening at the moment, and it’s pretty nice to be completely free from a reading schedule.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 5/29/2017

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.

What did I read last week?

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow: I did it! I finally finished this huge book! Fascinating read. My reaction post is here.

The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North: A great premise with a disappointing execution. My review is here.

Pop culture goodness:

HAMILTON!

I saw Hamilton with my 14-year-old son on Sunday, and it was just as amazing as everyone says it is! I lucked into sitting in the 3rd row — incredible.

Fresh Catch:

My preordered Kindle edition of River of Teeth arrived! It’ll be my very next read.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

The Mothers by Brit Bennett: I’m reading this at the recommendation of my daughter, and really enjoying it so far.

Now playing via audiobook:

Lady Copy Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart: So close to the end! I have about 30 minutes left on the audiobook, and can’t wait to hear how it ends. Not quite sure what to listen to next…

Ongoing reads:

MOBY

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon: My book club started a group read of this book back in January 2016 — and we now have just 2 1/2 weeks before the end! What an amazing journey it’s been.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 5/22/2017

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.

What did I read last week?

Read and reviewed:

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein: Definitely worth a read, especially for fans of Code Name Verity. My review is here.

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar: Awesome, un-put-down-able novella. A must-read for King fans. My review is here. (And if you’re wondering about why and how Stephen King wrote this novella with a co-author, check out this article from Entertainment Weekly.)

Read but not reviewed:

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman: This collection of myths is fun to read, but didn’t strike me as anything all that special. I suppose it would be good for people who’ve perhaps never read Norse mythology before, but for anyone with previous familiarity, it doesn’t exactly tread new ground.

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison: A quick read, this novel looks back on the life of a 78-year-old widow as she embarks on an Alaska cruise, putting together the pieces of her life’s secrets and her troubled relationships with her husband, best friend, and children. I’d describe this one as a solid 3-star read — enjoyable in the moment, but not particularly memorable.

In audiobooks:

I finished my revisit to the world of Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire. The audiobook is excellent! I’m glad I took the time for this one, and can’t wait for the sequel in June.

Pop culture goodness:

I took myself to see Everything, Everything — and it was really good! I thought the movie lived up to the book, and the casting was terrific. Of course, I disliked the ending of the book, and that doesn’t change in the movie, but at least I knew it was coming this time.

And talk about late to the party — I just started watching season 1 of The Walking Dead! Only a few years behind…

Fresh Catch:

No new physical books this week, although I did take advantage of A LOT of Kindle price drops to add bunches more books to my collection.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North: Just getting started. I seem to keep stumbling across recommendations for this author, and thought it was about time to give her books a try. At 25% at the moment — the book is odd, but I like it.

Now playing via audiobook:

Lady Copy Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart: I loved Girl Waits With Gun (review) when I listened to it last year. The story itself and the narrator make these books such fun to experience via audio.

Ongoing reads:

MOBY

The end (of the book) is nigh! After over a year of reading and discussing Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon — 2 chapters per week — we’re within sight of the final chapters.

I’m slowly working my way through Ron Chernow’s massive biography of Alexander Hamilton — mainly trying to read 15 – 30 minutes a day, although I did sit with it for a few hours over the weekend. I’m currently at 66%. Maybe I’ll actually finish this week!

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 5/15/2017

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.

What did I read last week?

Less Than a Treason by Dana Stabenow: Book #21 in the amazing Kate Shugak series absolutely lives up to expectations! My review is here.

Two books finished via Serial Reader:

  • The Time Machine by H. G. Wells: Given how many time travel books I’ve read, I figured it was about time (ha, sorry) to check out this classic.
  • My Man Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse: Oh my gods, this is adorable! I was in a bit of a funk (and a reading rut) this past week thanks to all sorts of non-reading-related stress, but these tales of Bertie and Jeeves lifted my spirits in all the right ways.

In graphic novels:

I finished the March trilogy by John Lewis. These powerful books about Congressman Lewis’s formative years in the civil rights movement should be required reading, period.

And in audiobooks:

Loved, loved, loved Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel! What a terrific listening treat. Check out my audiobook review, here.

Pop culture goodness:

I saw the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie this week! And just like everyone else, I’m madly in love with this little guy:

Fresh Catch:

Awwww… my adorable daughter sent me two geeky treats for Mothers Day!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein: A prequel of sorts to Code Name Verity — this is a story about Julie as a free-spirited teen spending the summer at her grandparents’ estate in Scotland and the unexpected adventure she finds there. I have about a third to go, and can’t wait to see how it wraps up.

Now playing via audiobook:

I loved Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire so, so much when I first read it! (Check out my review, here.) And now that we’re a month away from the release of the follow-up book, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, it seems like a perfect time to revisit this world by listening to the audiobook. It’s great so far.

Ongoing reads:

MOBY

The end (of the book) is nigh! After over a year of reading and discussing Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon — 2 chapters per week — we’re within sight of the final chapters.

In other ongoing reading… rather than pick a new book via the Serial Reader app, I thought I’d take a serial approach to the massive tome that is Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. I listened to about 25% of the audiobook, then took a break for a bit. My new approach will be to read 10 – 15 minutes a day of the e-book. I’m really determined to read the entire thing, but I’ve had a hard time sticking with it when there’s so much else that I want to be reading!

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 5/8/2017

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.

What did I read last week?

The Boy on the Bridge by M. R. Carey: Done! My review is here.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvian Neuvel: A re-read via audiobook — and man, is the audio version fun! Check out my original review of this book, here.

Pop culture goodness:

I finally watched season 3 of AMC’s Turn, and posted a few thoughts here.

Fresh Catch:

Two new books this week:

I’m so excited for both of these!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

First and foremost, I can’t rest until I finish the new Kate Shugak book — #21 in the series! It just arrived on Saturday, and as of mid-afternoon Sunday, I’m at 65%. I’m sooooo happy to be back in Kate’s world!

Up next will be Brimstone by Cherie Priest, which I need to read before the library due date… and which sounds so good to me.

Now playing via audiobook:

I’m listening to Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel, the sequel to Sleeping Giants. And so far, it’s just as much fun as the first!

Ongoing reads:

MOBY

The end (of the book) is nigh! After over a year of reading and discussing Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon — 2 chapters per week — we’re within sight of the final chapters.

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells: I’m reading The Time Machine using the Serial Reader app, and having about 40% left to go. I’ll wrap it up this week!

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 5/1/2017

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.

Absolutely gorgeous weather this weekend, finally, so I was able to get back into my regular walking routine — and it feels great! I loved seeing this spot of color along the way.

And since I had an audiobook playing in my ears each time I walked, I was motivated to keep going much further than my usual route, and spent some extra time just sitting and gazing out at the ocean.

Bliss!

What did I read last week?

It’s weird to realize that despite being VERY INTO my reading this week, I didn’t write a single book review. So it goes.

Here’s what I read:

The Book Collector by Alice Thompson: I expected to love this short novel… but didn’t. There’s some interesting writing in The Book Collector, but overall I’d say it reads like someone put Rebecca and Silence of the Lambs in a blender… but maybe left out some key ingredients in order to make a truly delicious milkshake story.

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy: Okay, here’s a funny story. I decided to start another classic via Serial Reader, and picked this Thomas Hardy novel, which I’d always meant to read. With Serial Reader, you read classics in daily installment of 10 – 15 minutes… so I started, and then I couldn’t stop! Instead of reading it in bite-size chunks over 51 days, I read all 51 pieces* in about 3 days. I really didn’t expect to find FFTMC an “un-put-down-able” read, but it absolutely was. I loved it, plain and simple.

*Weird little follow-up: I went back to my Kindle edition of this book to check on a small detail, and realized that somehow I skipped chapters 47 and 48 in my mad adventure with Serial Reader. It was probably me clicking ahead too fast, rather than a problem with the app**, but suddenly a certain story development makes a whole lot more sense. D’oh.

**Nope, it was definitely the app. I checked and double-checked. Those chapters aren’t there. The story mostly made sense without them, or I might have noticed sooner that they were missing, but still. Aaaargh.

And my DNF of the year award goes to…

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: I tried. I really tried. I read about half of this book 20 years ago and never finished. When my book group picked it for our classic read, I thought it sounded like a great way for me to finally force myself to go back to a book I DNF’d so long ago. And the end result is a big NOPE for me. I got past the halfway mark this time around, but I was having zero fun. Call me crazy or lacking an appreciation of finer literature. I have read at least two other books by this author and loved them — but One Hundred Years of Solitude felt like chewing off my own limb. I think we can safely say that this is a book I will never finish.

Pop culture goodness:

My viewing obsession this week was Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. I watched the three episodes so far available, and can’t wait for more!

Fresh Catch:

Quite a library haul this week: I came home with one DVD set, six graphic novels (from two different series), and two novels. Do I have time to read all of these? Maybe. But I’m excited to at least have the possibility.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

Despite all those library books, I’m first dedicating myself to finishing up two books already started:

  • The Boy on the Bridge by M. R. Carey
  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Now playing via audiobook:

I’m at about 30% of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, and it’s fascinating… but I’m going to take a teensy Hamil-break so I can listen to…

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel: I read the book when it came out (review), but needed a refresher before starting the sequel, so I borrowed the audiobook from the library. So far, I’m loving it! The audiobook format fits really well with the transcript-style presentation of the story, and the multiple narrators (something I usually find annoying in audiobooks) is actually quite good in this case.

And once I finish, it’ll be back to more Hamiltonian history!

Ongoing reads:

MOBY

The end (of the book) is nigh! After over a year of reading and discussing Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon — 2 chapters per week — we’re within sight of the final chapters.

And in serial reading… I just started a new book via Serial Reader: The Time Machine by H. G. Wells. This one is a lot shorter than some of the others I’ve read via the app (just 14 installments), so it won’t take me too long. Meanwhile, I’m going to try to stick to reading just one installment per day, rather than reading ahead as I did with FFTMC.

So many books, so little time…

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