The Monday Check-In ~ 11/8/2021

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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 got boosted! I’m happy that I got my booster shot, but lost about two days to mild side effects. Kind of sucky at the time (aches, chills, fever), but it’s for the greater good, so what’s two days?

On the bright side, spending two days in bed and/or cuddled up under cozy blankets drinking tea gave me extra time to read.

What did I read during the last week?

Well Matched by Jen DeLuca: The 3rd book in the Well Met series, a really fun interwoven set of love stories with the local Renaissance Faire as the connecting theme. My review is here.

You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao: This YA novel was a complete miss for me. A story of loss and moving on, it follows a teen-aged girl whose boyfriend dies in a car accident, yet finds a way to continue speaking to him through her cell phone. The premise sounded promising, but the plot itself is messy and illogical, and there are too many elements that just don’t work. I didn’t end up writing a review, but this would be a 2-star read for me at best.

The Sweetest Remedy by Jane Igharo: This, on the other hand, is a 5-star read! I love this story of finding family and connection. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

As a fan of (most of) The Vampire Diaries, I perked up when I saw a movie starring Nina Dobrev pop on on Netflix. So yeah, I watched it, and it was… not good. But hey, maybe I’m just a grinch who doesn’t enjoy Christmas-themed love stories! (No, that’s probably not it, but I’m trying to give this movie the benefit of the doubt.)

I did finish Only Murders in the Building this week, and loved it. I also got out of the house to go see Dune in IMAX (my 2nd viewing, but first in an actual movie theater), and loved being able to see it full-scale and with an amazing sound system.

Fresh Catch:

I wasn’t going to buy any books this week… and then I discovered that the special 25th anniversary edition of Drums of Autumn was just released! Obviously, I couldn’t resist.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman: I haven’t gotten all that far yet, but so far, I’m intrigued by this dark story about magical families sending representatives to fight to the death in a tournament that determines who controls magic. At least, that’s what I think the story is about — I’m only about three chapters in, and it’s not completely clear to me! Basically, Hunger Games with magic… maybe?

Now playing via audiobook:

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean: This is a really sweet, fun twist on the “I’m actually a princess!” trope — Japanese-American high school student Izumi discovers that she’s the secret illegitimate daughter of the Crown Prince of Japan, and is suddenly swept up in a whirlwind of court manners and royal luxury as she meets her father for the first time and must learn what it means to be part of his family. I’ve listened to about 40%, and I’m really enjoying it.

Ongoing reads:
  • Outlander Book Club is doing a speed-re-read of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, #8 in the Outlander series. We’re reading and discussing 5 chapters per week. This week: Chapters 136- 140. Two weeks to go… just in time for the release of Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone.
  • Doctor Zhivago is our group classic read, two chapters per week. I’m keeping up… barely.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 11/1/2021

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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.

Happy November! I didn’t do anything for Halloween (except candy… yum), and now I’m ready to start thinking about Thanksgiving. Although I did get out of my house over the weekend to hear a friend’s band play at an outdoor venue in my neighborhood, and it was a lot of fun! Look at me, actually being social!

Blogging and reading

I’m making a big push to winnow down my pending/unread NetGalley ARCs before the end of the calendar year. I won’t get through them all, but I’m hoping to make a big dent. For 2022, I’m keeping requests to a minimum (trying to keep to books that I’d read with or without ARC access). I want to get back to reading whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like, without worrying about keeping up with commitment books and planning around release dates. Wish me luck!

What did I read during the last week?

All the Feels by Olivia Dade: A really enjoyable follow-up to last year’s Spoiler Alert. My review is here.

The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan: I love this author, but this Christmas-themed book feels more like a re-tread of her usual tropes rather than something new and different. Strictly a 3-star read for me. I didn’t write a blog review, but if you’re interested, I shared some brief thoughts on Goodreads.

A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny: I finshed! This was a month-long read, and I loved it. My review is here.

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward: Definitely the most disturbing book I’ve read all year. I ended up giving it 4.5 stars, but I could just as easily have convinced myself to give it 1 or 2 stars. I’m hoping to be able to put this one out of my mind immediately — it’s that upsetting. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

The season finale of What We Do in the Shadows dropped this week… and for a silly vampire comedy, I have to say this season has been pretty brilliant! Here’s a thoughtful write-up via Vulture (full of spoilers, so don’t read if you’re not caught up).

Here’s a peek at a favorite episode from this season:

Other than that, I’ve been catching up on a few shows I fell behind on, and started Only Murders in the Building, which is cute (and as of episode 3, features one of my favorite cameo/guest spots of the year).

And despite having watched Dune already last week from the comfort of my couch, I’m trying to find a time to go see the IMAX version with a friend, hopefully this coming week.

Fresh Catch:

I treated myself to more books this week — a new paperback release, a couple more paperbacks of books I’ve already read on Kindle, and the newest MinaLima Harry Potter edition:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow: After the last book I finished, I need something on the more upbeat side to cleanse my brain. I’m hoping this fairy tale retelling novella will do the trick.

Now playing via audiobook:

Well Matched by Jen DeLuca: I wish I’d had more time to listen during the past week! This is a really fun series, and I’m enjoying this book (#3) so much, especially now that I’ve gotten to the part where the characters are back at the annual Ren Faire.

Ongoing reads:
  • Outlander Book Club is doing a speed-re-read of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, #8 in the Outlander series. We’re reading and discussing 5 chapters per week. This week: Chapters 131- 135. Three weeks to go!
  • Doctor Zhivago is our group classic read, two chapters per week. Plugging away… this is definitely a challenging book.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 10/25/2021

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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 really busy workweek and lots of rain meant that my reading and audiobook time were both limited in different ways. Sometimes being a grown-up is hard! At least I had downtime over the weekend to curl up with a cozy blanket, my slippers, and a good book!

Blog updates:

I finally did a much needed (and much delayed) clean-up of my Book Blog Meme Directory page. I went through all the memes listed, tested all the links, and deleted all the listings that either had a dead link or linked to a site that had discontinued its memes. So, if you happen to take a look, you’ll see there are a lot fewer listed, but the ones there should be live and ongoing.

If you happen to notice anything outdated or know of a great meme that I’m missing, please let me know!

What did I read during the last week?

Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis: A moving, engaging story about love, coincidences (or is it fate?), and loss and healing. My review is here.

Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest: This book tries to be clever and funny, but mostly, I found it kind of messy and a slog to read. I had to force myself to finish. Barely a 2-star read, and I just didn’t feel like putting in the effort to write a review.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry: I just finished this audiobook, and loved it… and would have finished sooner, but my listening time was practically nonexistent this past week. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

I finally got through Squid Game… so weird and creepy, so hard to look away from! My kiddo and I watched Dune over the weekend, and I thought it was pretty fabulous! We watched it streaming on HBO Max, and while I love the comfort of my couch, I do think this is a movie that needs to be viewed on the big screen. Which means I’ll probably see it again, once I convince myself to venture out…

Seeing the movie also reminds me that I’ve been intending to re-read the book for a year now, and still haven’t gotten to it. It’s been decades (yes, really) since I originally read Dune, and while some elements are unforgettable, a lot of the details became fuzzy for me over the years. Maybe I’ll bookmark this one as a winter vacation read!

Fresh Catch:

Thanks to some Amazon deals this week, I ended up splurging on a handful of new books:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

All the Feels by Olivia Dade: The follow-up to Spoiler Alert, which I really loved. Off to a good start!

Now playing via audiobook:

Well Matched by Jen DeLuca: I’ve been waiting for this one! Even though I’ve had the e-ARC for a while now, I wanted to wait for the audiobook, since that’s how I experienced the first two books in this fun series. I’m so glad it’s here!

Ongoing reads:
  • Outlander Book Club is doing a speed-re-read of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, #8 in the Outlander series. We’re reading and discussing 5 chapters per week. This week: Chapters 126- 130. Only a few weeks left!
  • Doctor Zhivago is our group classic read, two chapters per week. Plugging away… this is definitely a challenging book.
  • It’s October, and that means it’s time for A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny! The book is organized into chapters corresponding to each day of the month, and I’ve been really diligent about reading them on their correct days… which means this is the final week! Last time I tried this book, I stopped at about 70%, mostly because I got busy and it felt overwhelming to keep up. This time, I’m seeing it through, and really enjoying it.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 10/18/2021

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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.

After a week and a half away, I got home last Monday and picked back up with regular life right away. This weekend, I finally got a chance to breathe a little, spend time outdoors, go for walks, and just relax. I needed that downtime for sure.

What did I read during the last week?

Cackle by Rachel Harrison: Witchy goodness! My review is here.

Horseman by Christina Henry: An eerie riff on the legend of Sleepy Hollow. (Loved it!) My review is here.

Any Sign of Life by Rae Carson: A YA tale of a post-pandemic apocalypse. My review is here.

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley: This audiobook was a re-read for me, and I loved it all over again. My original review is here.

An Embarrassment of Witches by Sophie Goldstein and Jenn Jordan: A fun graphic novel that focuses on friendship, post-college soul-searching, and finding your way… in a world where magic and witchcraft are everyday parts of life.

Pop culture & TV:

I’ve mostly just been catching up on shows where I’d fallen a few episodes behind — Queen Sugar, Survivor, What We Do in the Shadows. Also, somehow I’ve managed to get sucked into the current season of Dancing With the Stars, which I do not usually watch. But hey, Sporty Spice!

Fresh Catch:

Two lovely new books were waiting for me when I got home:

The Vanished Days is even signed by the author!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis: I’ve only just started, but this book is sweet so far!

Now playing via audiobook:

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry: After listening to a couple of longer, heavier historical novels, a lighter listen seemed like a great choice. I’m about halfway through, and enjoying it.

Ongoing reads:
  • Outlander Book Club is doing a speed-re-read of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, #8 in the Outlander series. We’re reading and discussing 5 chapters per week. This week: Chapters 121 – 125.
  • Doctor Zhivago is our group classic read, two chapters per week. It’s complicated! Nerdy me started a spreadsheet to help me keep track of the characters. Don’t scoff — it works!
  • It’s October, and that means it’s time for A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny! The book is organized into chapters corresponding to each day of the month. So far, the chapters per day are short, so it hasn’t been a problem keeping up — but I know they get longer later in the month, so I hope I can keep up my motivation (and find the time) to see it through.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 10/11/2021

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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.

What an amazing week! As of today, I’m flying back home after a 10-day visit to the East Coast. I was able to visit with my dad every day, and yesterday we had a family gathering to celebrate his 90th birthday.

Beyond that, I met up with various friends and family members for walks, dinners, and lunches, and even managed to get into the city and go to Broadway!

So much fun. It’ll be hard to get back to real life this week for sure.

What did I read during the last week?

So Many Beginnings by Bethany C. Morrow: A powerful “remix” of Little Women. My review is here.

Cackle by Rachel Harrison: A lighter read — witchcraft in a small town! Review to follow.

Pop culture & TV:

TV-wise, my son convinced me to watch Squid Game (Netflix). I’ve only watched two episodes so far… but I can see why everyone seems to be talking about it!

This past Friday, I went to see Hadestown on Broadway. It was amazing! Loved the music, the staging, the choreography…

Here’s a look at the show:

… and the cast’s performance at the 2019 Tonys:

I need to get the soundtrack!

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week — but there should be some waiting for me when I get home.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

I have a huge (virtual) pile of ARCs to read… but this book is due back at the library at the end of the week, so I think I’m going to read it first!

Now playing via audiobook:

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley: I am *this close* to finishing… it’s so good, even as a re-read!

Ongoing reads:
  • Outlander Book Club is doing a speed-re-read of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, #8 in the Outlander series. We’re reading and discussing 5 chapters per week. This week: Chapters 116 – 120.
  • Doctor Zhivago is our group classic read. We’re discussing twice per week, and expect to have the group read go through early 2022. Slow and steady!
  • It’s October, and that means it’s time for A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny! The book is organized into chapters corresponding to each day of the month. So far, I’m keeping up!

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 10/4/2021

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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.

For the first time since my high school graduation, I made it to a reunion! I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful it was to reunite with old friends and reconnect with people I haven’t seen in way too many years. Since I live on the other side of the country from where I grew up, it’s never worked for me to attend a reunion until now… I’m so glad I did!

I’ll be here (Connecticut) for another week, working remotely, but also connecting with family and friends, and then celebrating my dad’s birthday next weekend. It’ll be busy — but it’s so great to be here!

What did I read during the last week?

Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune: Loved it! My review is here.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley: An audiobook re-read, so lovely to listen to.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: The first in a duology following up the Grisha trilogy, Six of Crows has excitement, danger, and great new characters. I really liked it!

Pop culture & TV:

I finished season 3 of Sex Education — terrific season! I started On the Verge on Netflix, which I’m still a bit half-hearted about. And I’m loving the new season of Survivor so far!

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Ack! I finished the book I was reading (Six of Crows) late last night, and I can’t quite decide which of these to start next!

Now playing via audiobook:

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley: Another re-read — after finishing The Winter Sea, I just had to continue the story!

Ongoing reads:
  • Outlander Book Club is doing a speed-re-read of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, #8 in the Outlander series. We’re reading and discussing 5 chapters per week. This week: Chapters 111 – 115.
  • Doctor Zhivago is our group classic read. We’re discussing twice per week, and expect to have the group read go through early 2022. Slow and steady!
  • It’s October, and that means it’s time for A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny! The book is organized into chapters corresponding to each day of the month. I know there are folks who re-read this book every October. I kept up with it through about half the month the last time I tried, but this time I want to see it through!

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 9/27/2021

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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.

Another busy week ahead! I’m heading back east — again!! — later in the week, and I’ll be there for about 10 days. We have a couple of family events coming up, and in between, I’ll be seeing how the working-remotely-from-another-timezone thing works out.

This past week flew by! I had a day off for a Jewish holiday (Sukkot), and we ended up getting together with friends we haven’t seen in a while. Nice and mellow, but really fun.

What did I read during the last week?

Miss Kopp Investigates (Kopp Sisters, #7) by Amy Stewart: Yet another terrific addition to a great series! My review is here.

An Observant Wife by Naomi Ragen: A follow-up to the author’s earlier novel, An Unorthodox Match. My review is here.

Puzzle of the Week:

Woo hoo! I did my first puzzle in about a month! It was nice to finally take some time, and this was a fun one:

Available via Ravensburger

Pop culture & TV:

Sex Education is back! Season 3 dropped on Netflix last week, and I’m about halfway done.

Fresh Catch:

Even though I already had an e-ARC, I ended up buying myself a physical copy of Miss Kopp Investigates from the author’s husband’s bookstore. It came signed by the author, plus “signed” by Fleurette Kopp too!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune: I haven’t had as much time as I’d wish for just sitting and reading, so I haven’t made a ton of progress… but I’m really liking this so far!

Now playing via audiobook:

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley: This is a re-read for me (first time on audio) — a book related to this one is coming out in two weeks, and I need a refresher!

Ongoing reads:
  • Outlander Book Club is doing a speed-re-read of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, #8 in the Outlander series. We’re reading and discussing 5 chapters per week. This week: Chapters 106 – 110.
  • Doctor Zhivago is our new group classic read! We’re just getting started this week.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 9/20/2021

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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.

Photo by Genaro Servu00edn on Pexels.com

Hey, hey, it’s my birthday!

I don’t make much of a fuss about it, and my plans are pretty low-key. I’m working today, after all! But my husband and I did enjoy a nice pre-birthday dinner out this past Friday, at a favorite restaurant that has a really pretty outdoor seating set-up.

Other than that… 3 of the 4 of us on my work team have September birthdays, so we had a group lunch to celebrate last week.

And I’ve been told that we’ll do a family dinner out sometime this week, depending on everyone’s schedules.

Meanwhile, I feel blessed to have a wonderful family, all in good health!

Blogging update:

When it comes to blogging, I haven’t been feeling it, really, over the last couple of weeks — probably because I’ve been traveling and super busy. I just wrote my first review in about two weeks!

I’m still reading, but trying to balance reading the spur-of-the-moment books that I pick up with my ARC pile, so I don’t end up loaded down by obligation reading. It’s always a challenge!

All this to say — I’m still here, just pulled into too many directions right now to be very good about regular blogging or spending time keeping up with other people’s blogs the way I want to.

I’m sure things will settle down… eventually… and I’ll get back to (more or less) normal routines.

What did I read during the last week?

Rosemary and Rue (October Daye, #1) by Seanan McGuire: Super fun to go back to the beginning of this fabulous series via audiobook!

When Sorrows Come (October Daye, #15) by Seanan McGuire: In addition to listening to the first in the series, I read the brand-new release in the ongoing October Daye series. My review is here.

The Pick-Up by Miranda Kenneally: A fun, quick read by a terrific YA author. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

I watched the first 3 episodes of Y: The Last Man. Really liking it so far!

Fresh Catch:

I didn’t buy any new books this week, but I did treat myself to two new bookish shirts:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

An Observant Wife by Naomi Ragen: This is a sequel to An Unorthodox Match, which I found so interesting. I’ve only just started this book — looking forward to getting further into it.

Now playing via audiobook:

Miss Kopp Investigates (Kopp Sisters, #7) by Amy Stewart: A new Kopp Sisters book is always a treat, and I just love the narration for these audiobooks!

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club is doing a speed-re-read of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, #8 in the Outlander series. We’re reading and discussing 5 chapters per week. This week: Chapters 101 – 105.

Haven’t started this one yet, but our next group classic read will be Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. We’re starting next week!

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 9/13/2021

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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!

I just spent a wonderful week in North Carolina with my daughter, splitting our time between Raleigh/Durham and the Asheville area. We hiked, shopped, enjoyed amazing views, beautiful outdoor spaces, read tons, and enjoyed each others’ company.

Now I’m home again, catching up on emails, blogging, bills, and laundry. Sigh. Back to the real world!

What did I read during the last week?

Between long hours on airplanes and quiet times where we both indulged our love of reading, I did manage to get through a few books this week. I wrote up a wrap-up post (here) with reviews of all my new reads from the past two weeks. These are the books I finished during my travels:

Pop culture & TV:

The only TV viewing I did this past week was watching the first couple of episodes of the new season of What We Do In the Shadows. Love it so much.

Fresh Catch:

Even though I read an ARC of this book, when I saw a paperback in a used book store, I had to have it:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Sunrise by the Sea by Jenny Colgan: I started this book on the flight home, and the hours zipped by!

Now playing via audiobook:

Rosemary & Rue (October Daye, #1) by Seanan McGuire: My daughter is as big a fan of the October Daye series as I am, so we decided to indulge in the first audiobook of the series while on our road trip.

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club is doing a speed-re-read of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, #8 in the Outlander series. We’re reading and discussing 5 chapters per week. This week: Chapters 96 – 100.

Haven’t started this one yet, but our next group classic read will be Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. We’ll be starting at the end of September. If you’re interested in participating, just let me know!

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 9/6/2021

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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.

(via Pinterest)

I’M ON VACATION!

Thanks to the good timing of Labor Day and Rosh HaShanah falling during the same week, I’m turning a five-day weekend into an entire week off.

I’m probably not going to be posting much this week — I’m spending the week visiting my daughter in North Carolina, and my focus is definitely not on blogging.

But yes, of course I’m reading a ton too. Just not worrying too much about writing reviews for now…

What did I read during the last week?

I’ll probably do a review round-up post once I’m back home, but keeping things simple at the moment… here’s what I’ve read since my last Monday Check-In:

Pop culture & TV:

I’m way behind the rest of the TV-watching world… but I finally started watching Killing Eve! Six episodes in, and I’m hooked. Taking a little break while I’m away this week, but I will definitely be continuing.

Fresh Catch:

One new book — just had to buy a copy!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle: A YA retelling of Romeo and Juliet. I’ve just barely started, but it’s good so far!

Now playing via audiobook:

A Killing Frost (October Daye, #14) by Seanan McGuire: A new Toby book comes out NEXT WEEK (yay!!), which means it’s time for an audio re-read of the previous one. I always love the Toby audiobooks — author Mary Robinette Kowal is the narrator, and she’s excellent.

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club is doing a speed-re-read of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, #8 in the Outlander series. We’re reading and discussing 5 chapters per week. This week: Chapters 91 – 94 plus the coda interlude.

Haven’t started this one yet, but our next group classic read will be Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. We’ll be starting at the end of September. If you’re interested in participating, just let me know!

So many books, so little time…

boy1