Mary (bell7) reads in 2020 - the unprecedented 8th thread

Charlas75 Books Challenge for 2020

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Mary (bell7) reads in 2020 - the unprecedented 8th thread

Oct 26, 2020, 3:21 pm

Welcome to my first-ever eighth thread of the year! Thanks for keeping my thread hopping with conversation and books. The next few weeks are going to be busy for me as I prepare to purchase a house and move with all my books!

I work at a public library, purchasing fiction, working with local history, and facilitating a book club. Staff is currently back in the building, running curbside appointments and having in-library appointments a couple of days a week, and you'll often see me posting about work (keeping patrons' privacy, of course).

I'm the oldest of five adult kids, have a niece and a nephew, and live with some folks that rent out rooms (for the next month or so before I close on the house) so you'll often see me talking about family and housemates.

Here's a few photos from my brother's wedding for this topper - maybe next will be the new place :)
Sorry to repeat for visitors of last thread, but they were too good to let go quite yet (and I don't really have anything new to show).

Newly wedded and kissing the bride - C. and G. This was one of my favorite photos of the event.

Isn't C.'s dress gorgeous? The alterations, including that insert in the front, came out beautifully (and you can't see it here, but there's a beautiful long train). After two venue changes and one date change, I think they're rightfully happy to finally be married!

Here are my sisters A. and T., the bride C., my mom, and me. No, we didn't coordinate dresses on purpose. Except for my mom being with me when I bought mine, none of us had seen each other's dress until after we'd purchased them, and we just went with blue.

Editado: Dic 15, 2020, 3:33 pm

One of my job responsibilities is facilitating one of our library book clubs. I'll often comment on the discussions we have since they give me a greater appreciation for what we read together and people have seemed to enjoy that the last couple of years.

We've had to be flexible and moved some discussions online due to COVID. This is what we've read so far:

January - The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides READ
February - The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman READ
March - canceled
April - The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson - READ meeting moved to 4/22
May - Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict - READ meeting moved to 5/20
June - All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung - READ meeting moved to 6/17

We're taking the summer off, which was planned, and here's our hope for the fall:
September - Stoner by John Williams - READ
October - The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead - READ
November - The Guest Book by Sarah Blake - READ
December - A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman - READ

Right now our meeting room is our quarantine staging area and we've canceled in-person programs for the rest of the year. I'll be emailing my ladies a link to an online discussion for September, and getting books to them via curbside delivery (or possibly in-person appointments when we get to that stage).

Oct 26, 2020, 3:22 pm

A few things I'm keeping track of for myself.

I find a lot of book-related lists, sometimes at work, sometimes not, that end up having an influence on my TBR list. I'll share them here.

1. The 20 Best Books of a Decade That Unmade Genre Fiction in Wired - the article discusses both Ursula K. Le Guin's and N.K. Jemisin's impact on science fiction and fantasy, and ends with 20 recommendations, 10 fiction (many of which, if not all, are diverse authors) and 10 nonfiction.
2. Book Riot's 2020 Read Harder Challenges - with links to suggested books if I actually decide to go through with it.
3. 55 Books by Women and Nonbinary Writers of Color to Read in 2020.
4. Non-European influenced fantasy books - from Epic Reads.
5. 100 Best Books by Black Women - ZORA's Canon presents 100 books spanning 160 years and 10 additional "up and coming" authors
6. Jo Walton's Monthly Reading List - A blog where author Jo Walton talks about what she's reading. She reads a lot and she reads widely, and I love the way she both describes books and her reactions to them
7. 6 Books with Happy Endings
8. 17 Summer Must-Reads for Fantasy Lovers from BuzzFeed
9. Anti-racism Book Lists (and more) compiled by Library Journal - June 1, June 2, June 3, June 4 and a few more on June 5
10. Funny Memoirs from BookRiot
11. Productivity books also from BookRiot
12. 2020 World Fantasy Award Finalists - all of the shortlisted novels are ones I want to read
13. Booker Longlist

Roni's list of happy endings books:
The Goblin Emperor
Bellwether and To Say Nothing of the Dog
A Civil Campaign and Captain Vorpatril's Alliance and The Curse of Chalion
Od Magic (and others by Patricia McKillip)
The Wee Free Men (and others by Terry Pratchett)
Island of the Aunts
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (and others by Patricia Wrede)
The Blue Sword (and others by Robin McKinley)
The Thread that Binds the Bones (and others by Nina Kiriki Hoffman)
The Android's Dream
Bryony and Roses
So You Want to Be a Wizard
Dragonsong and Dragonsinger
The Rescue of Ranor
Once On a Time by A. A. Milne
A City of Bells
Howl's Moving Castle and sequels
Pride of Chanur
Way Station
Tea With the Black Dragon
The Bridge of Birds
Snake Agent
Dandelion Wine
The Perilous Gard
Witches of Karres

How to make pretty block quotes (directions from Richard):
{blockquote}TYPE OR PASTE QUOTED TEXT HERE{/blockquote} and replace the curly braces with pointy brackets.

Number of books read since keeping count on LT:
July - Dec 2008 - 65
2009 - 156 (plus over 70 graphic novels and manga volumes)
2010 - 135 (Note: in June, I started working a second part-time job for full-time hours)
2011 - 150
2012 - 108 (Note: accepted a full-time job in February)
2013 - 107
2014 - 126 (plus 8 Graphic Novels)
2015 - 120 (plus 6 Graphic Novels)
2016 - 141
2017 - 114
2018 - 105 (Note: my first full year as Assistant Director)
2019 - 116

This year so far, I'm on pace for 150, which I haven't done in nearly a decade. Not sure if that will happen with the move or not, but I predict I will be listening to more audiobooks than usual over the next few months.

Editado: Ene 4, 2021, 12:38 pm

Currently Reading
Beyond Colorblind: Redeeming Our Ethnic Journey by Sarah Shin

Devotionals/Bible reading
Short devotional I'll finish before the new year

153. Packing My Library by Alberto Manguel
152. Or What You Will by Jo Walton
151. The Answer Is... by Alex Trebek
150. Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray
149. The Book of Boy by Catherine Murdock
148. The Fat Man: A Tale of North Pole Noir by Ken Harmon
147. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
146. Humans by Brandon Stanton
145. The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
144. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
143. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
142. The Bible
141. Frankly in Love by David Yoon
140. How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge by K. Eason

139. Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine
138. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
137. Class Act by Jerry Craft
136. The Guest Book by Sarah Blake
135. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
134. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
133. Solutions and other problems by Allie Brosh

Editado: Oct 31, 2020, 8:04 pm

132. Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
131. A Visit to William Blake's Inn by Nancy Willard
130. Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt
129. I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf by Grant Snider
128. The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin
127. Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
126. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
125. Happily Ever After & Everything in Between by Debbie Tung
124. Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor
123. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph. D.
122. Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris
121. Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs by Wallace Stegner
120. P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia
119. The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
118. A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

117. Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler
116. Inspired by The Bible Experience The New Testament
115. Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner
114. Stoner by John Williams
113. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
112. My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
111. Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
110. Book Love by Debbie Tung

Editado: Oct 26, 2020, 3:26 pm

109. Rascal by Sterling North
108. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
107. Good Blood: A Doctor, a Donor, and the Incredible Breakthrough that Saved Millions of Babies by Julian Guthrie
106. Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
105. Our Cats Are More Famous Than Us by Ananth Hirsh & Yuko Ota
104. Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
103. The Writer's Library by Nancy Pearl and Jeff Schwager
102. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
101. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
100. Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout
99. Good Talk by Mira Jacob
98. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

97. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
96. 20381542::The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
95. Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake
94. Whale Day by Billy Collins
93. Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
92. Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
91. How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang
90. Lu by Jason Reynolds
89. How To Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
88. Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
87. Packing for Mars by Mary Roach
86. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
85. I Was Told it Would Get Easier by Abbi Waxman
84. Witch Hat Atelier vol. 1 by Kamome Shirahama

83. The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
82. The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu
81. The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
80. Hill Women by Cassie Chambers
79. The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
78. Sunny by Jason Reynolds
77. Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
76. Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon
75. All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
74. Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
73. Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth
72. Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
71. Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland
70. Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey
69. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
68. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Editado: Oct 26, 2020, 3:25 pm

67. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
66. Provenance by Ann Leckie
65. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
64. The People, the Land and the Future of Israel: Israel and the Jewish People in the Plan of God edited by Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser
63. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
62. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
61. Network Effect by Martha Wells
60. Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry
59. Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict
58. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
57. The Overstory by Richard Powers
56. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
55. Alice and Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis by Alexis Coe
54. 21463556::Weather by Jenny Offill
53. A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner
52. A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

51. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
50. Exit Strategy by Martha Wells
49. Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
48. Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
47. All Systems Red by Martha Wells
46. Tim Gunn: The Natty Professor by Tim Gunn and Ada Calhoun
45. The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
44. Letters to the Church by Francis Chan
43. Don't Believe a Word: The Surprising Truth About Language by David Shariatmadari
42. The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel
41. Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law by Haben Girma
40. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
39. Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor
38. Patina by Jason Reynolds
37. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
36. Funny, You Don't Look Autistic by Michael McCreary
35. Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev
34. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
33. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Editado: Oct 26, 2020, 3:27 pm

32. Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir by Natasha Trethewey
31. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
30. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
29. Monument: Poems New and Selected by Natasha Trethewey
28. Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
27. The Story of My Tits by Jennifer Hayden
26. The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
25. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
24. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
23. House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas
22. White Teeth by Zadie Smith

21. Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel Jose Older
20. Dad's Maybe Book by Tim O'Brien
19. God on the Rocks by Jane Gardam
18. The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
17. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
16. Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
15. Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez
14. New Kid by Jerry Craft
13. The Toll by Neal Shusterman

12. Ghost by Jason Reynolds
11. Anathema! : Medieval scribes and the history of book curses by Marc Drogin
10. 21890740::The Poems of T.S. Eliot, read by Jeremy Irons
9. Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
8. She Came to Slay by Erica Armstrong Dunbar
7. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
6. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
5. How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse by K. Eason
4. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
2. Bringing Down the Colonel by Patricia Miller
1. The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith

Oct 26, 2020, 3:27 pm

Rough guide to my rating system:

I'm fairly generous with my star ratings - generally a four is a "like" or "would recommend" for me, while a 4.5 stars is a book I would reread. I break it down roughly like this:

1 star - Forced myself to finish it
2 stars - Dislike
2.5 stars - I really don't know if I liked it or not
3 stars - Sort of liked it; or didn't, but admired something about it despite not liking it
3.5 stars - The splitting hairs rating of less than my last 4 star book or better than my last 3
4 stars - I liked it and recommend it, but probably won't reread it except under special circumstances (ie., a book club or series reread)
4.5 stars - Excellent, ultimately a satisfying read, a title I would consider rereading
5 stars - A book that I absolutely loved, would absolutely reread, and just all-around floored me

I see it more in terms of my like or dislike of a book, rather than how good a book is. My hope is that as a reader I convey what I like or what I don't in such a way that you can still tell if you'll like a book, even if I don't. And I hope for my patrons that I can give them good recommendations for books they will like, even if it's not one I would personally choose.

Oct 26, 2020, 3:29 pm

I'll get those touchstones to work later.

Here's a question to get us started:
As we get close to the holiday season from October-January, what are your favorite family/holiday traditions? (Pick whichever fall/winter holiday you celebrate or like best)

Editado: Oct 26, 2020, 4:08 pm

Happy new one, Mary! So exciting about the house!

As far as holiday traditions go, for Christmas I mostly fall in with TW's family because we spend it with them and Christmas is hard for me, as my mom passed away on December 27. So I just go with the flow with them....

I do love Thanksgiving but ours will be weird this year, as we'll be on our own. So I'm trying not to think about traditions I'll miss out on :)

Oct 26, 2020, 4:45 pm

Happy new one!

Oct 26, 2020, 5:15 pm

>11 katiekrug: Understandable, Katie, on all fronts. Are you much into Halloween? For some of my friends it is a favorite holiday, though I never really got into it.

>12 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita!

Oct 26, 2020, 5:20 pm

127. Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Why now? Fit this in as soon as I could, as I love the series and pre-ordered the book back in 2019!

In the sixth and final book of the Queen's Thief series, young Pheris Erondites narrates and explains how his Baron grandfather named him heir to thumb his nose at the King of Attolia once again - because Pheris has a disability and trouble walking and doesn't speak. But he's smart, and as he observes what happens at the palace he recounts the preparations made against the imminent invasion of the Mede Empire.

All the events of the previous books come to a head in this one, and I loved little details that were brought back from each of them and given new significance. The timeline overlaps a little with Kamet's tale in Thick as Thieves, but we learn what was happening in Attolia at that time. I don't want to say to much, because it's so fun to just discover on your own, but it was a truly fitting ending to the series and I can't wait to turn around and read them all again. 4.5 stars.

Oct 26, 2020, 5:22 pm

>10 bell7: Yule is always special, as the holiday is a chance to crap stuff up with shiny gaudy stuff!

Also, my mother died on the 24th, after we'd had a long chat about getting a pine-shaped rosemary bush for her hospital room. A nice memory to go out on.

Oct 26, 2020, 5:25 pm

128. The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin
Why now? It must be the time to be finishing series - I'd read the first two in the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms trilogy years ago and am finally (after a reread of those earlier this year) reading the third

This is Sieh's story. He was the god with the orrery, the child - but also Trickster and a bit of a bully - that Yeine befriended. Now free but still outside of the Three, he's feeling left out and lonely. When two Arameri children ask him for friendship, he accepts not realizing that this bond will make him mortal. As he tries to figure out how to become immortal once again, he also discovers a plot against the Arameri that's connected to something that has been hidden in his memories.

I didn't love this one as much as I thought I would. There's nothing specific I can put my finger on about the story itself - which has excellent world-building, more insight into the gods and how they work, and begins about 100 years after The Broken Kingdoms. It took me two weeks to read and I'd just finished a book I'd loved, which may be enough to knock it down a bit. Start with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and if that's your cup of tea the following two books are solid additions to the trilogy. 4 stars.

Oct 26, 2020, 5:29 pm

>15 richardderus: Ah that is nice, Richard. Sorry to see so many having losses at this time of year, too. My grandmother was very sick her last holiday season, but held out until January 22 so mid-January ends up being a bit of a doldrums for me.

I always like decorating my tree. My mom started a tradition on their honeymoon where she would buy an ornament for every trip, so decorating was a walk down memory lane as we remembered past vacations. I started to do the same as a teenager and now have quite the collection.

Oct 26, 2020, 6:45 pm

Happy new thread, Mary!

Editado: Oct 26, 2020, 7:56 pm

Happy New Thread, Mary. Hooray for #8! Love the wedding toppers. You have a good looking family.

Oct 26, 2020, 8:31 pm

>18 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita!

>19 msf59: It's been a crazy year, Mark, but I'll take a chatty thread :D And thank you!

Oct 26, 2020, 8:40 pm

Well done, Mary. Could even make double figures in threads this year. Already comfortably past 1,500 posts for the first time and 2,000 would not surprise me.

Oct 26, 2020, 10:20 pm

Happy new thread!

Oct 26, 2020, 11:35 pm

Hi Mary! The wedding photos are lovely. You mentioned the purchase of a house, and getting ready to move with your books.

I'm spending time going through every book in the house (over 1,000) and if I own it more than five years, I am making difficult decisions to give away, or keep. Thus far, I've down sized about 250 books. Some of the books I thought I had to buy, are no longer of interest to me.

Because of the pandemic, my local library is not accepting donations. I'm giving the books to the local American Services establishment right up the street. Some days I make two trips. My granddaughter is a big help. She never asks why I accumulated all these books.

While going through the boxes, there are some books that I added to the top of the list to keep and read. Will you use a moving service, or will you have friends who help you?

Either way, all good wishes to you as I am sure you also will be making some difficult choices.

Oct 27, 2020, 7:42 am

Happy new thread!

I'm skipping right over that MWT review for now as I'm not ready yet! I'm still working on my reread.

Holiday traditions: This year will be hard. Thanksgiving is Charlie's favorite (and mine, too), because we always go to my parents' on Wednesday, stay through Friday, come home Saturday, then have another Thanksgiving with Tomm on Sunday while putting up the Christmas decorations. But there won't be any traveling to my family this year, and we haven't seen them since February. We're both missing them so much.

Oct 27, 2020, 8:32 am

>21 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! Lately I've been starting a new thread a month, so 10 is definitely a possibility.

>22 drneutron: Thanks, Jim!

>23 Whisper1: Linda, my total books are somewhere in the 600 range, and some I will not part with because they were part of my grandmother's genealogy collection. I also have a collection of dictionaries I'm not planning on giving up. I went through a little last night and came up with 9 titles I thought I could part with haha. But I do have a couple of boxes in the car of books I'd culled back in March and have been waiting there because the library isn't taking donations here either. I have some friends who might take some and there is a donations bin for Discover Books that I'll probably finally utilize because I really can't just keep them in my trunk anymore.

>24 scaifea: Thanks, Amber! I'll look forward to reading your thoughts on your reread. SUCH a good series! Sorry it's been so long since you've seen your folks. I know you're close with them, and that makes it especially tough. My parents live close, but even so we've had limited contact, and it's really hard to know what to do with the holidays even with no travel involved. Thanksgiving is my mom's favorite, too, and it'll be rough for her if we can't get together with numbers increasing in MA.

Oct 27, 2020, 8:44 am

129. I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf by Grant Snider
Why now? Richard first put this on my radar, and I was in the mood for something light last night, so spent a pleasant hour or so paging through it

This collection of comics on books, reading and writing is one that fans of Book Love by Debbie Tung may enjoy. Snider has a punny sense of humor, and I enjoyed his sense of playfulness he imbues the comic form with - sometimes making panels a little different than expected, or using punctuation as part of the visual story. Just an all around fun collection.

Thanks for the recommendation, Richard!

Oct 27, 2020, 9:53 am

Happy new thread, Mary. The house news is exciting.

Oct 27, 2020, 10:49 am

Happy new thread, and good luck with the packing and book culling. My bookshelves in my study are currently a bit of a mess because I rearranged and then lost the motivation to continue reorganizing. I really should get back to that...

Oct 27, 2020, 10:56 am

>26 bell7: So glad it was johnny-on-the-spot when it could do the most good. Books like that are evergreen, too, since there are always details you didn't notice on first look and some topics that just *stay* funny.

Oct 27, 2020, 3:23 pm

Happy new thread, Mary. Every time I've moved in the last few years, I've culled some books. The part of me that loves weeding at the library can't help but do it at home too. Sometimes it's nice to finally admit to myself that I'm never going to read that book I bought because it was on sale and set it free for some other reader.

As for your holiday question, I'm a big fan of Christmas and love watching fluffy holiday romance movies (Hallmark or otherwise) in December. My mom and I are constantly recommending them back and forth to each other or warning about ones that are pretty terrible.

And while not technically a major fall/winter holiday, Mr. Fine and I both have our birthdays the first week of November and I love the traditions we've established for celebrating those - especially taking the days off. :)

Oct 27, 2020, 5:33 pm

Happy new thread.

I don't think I'm going to (voluntarily) cull in the near future. But I dare say I will change my mind if moving comes up.

No big traditions beyond lots of food. It looks like we're going to have to do Xmas by zoom this year though.

Oct 28, 2020, 8:14 am

Oh, I forgot to answer your bonus question about favorite holiday traditions! Decorating the tree is mine. I must have a real tree, and typically get it the day after Thanksgiving (or, if I'm away for Thanksgiving, as soon as I get back). I have an eclectic assortment of decorations, and I enjoy thinking about the places I got them or the people who gave them to me.

Oct 28, 2020, 7:11 pm

>27 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! I'm starting to get pretty excited, collecting decorating ideas and phone numbers to call about work to be done :)

>28 foggidawn: Thanks, Misti! Good luck on the reorganizing part. I actually really enjoy that bit, so putting them back once I have enough bookshelves will be lovely. The three biggest ones are staying in my old apartment though (all the bookshelves I'm currently using do not belong to me, but they're letting me take some), so while I won't cull that much, I will probably have some boxed up for awhile until I have new homes for them.

>29 richardderus: I could see myself returning to page through it, Richard, I think you're right that it's evergreen.

>30 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! You're doing better than me if you've culled with every move. I *add* with every move, and this move we're talking somewhere around 700 books including my dictionary collection and my grandmother's genealogy books.

>31 charl08: Hi, Charlotte. Yeah, I actually culled a bit more in the spring and am a little more hard-pressed to find books I'm willing to give up now. But, we'll see. If I manage to read more of my own books (ha! I've been saying that for years and the TBR list only grows) in the coming years, I may yet be able to whittle down my library a bit.

>32 foggidawn: Oh, you and I share our favorite tradition then! I don't have a real tree (I'm too cheap) but I usually put it up the day after Thanksgiving too. I didn't at all last year, but I want to this year even if it ends up being a little later because of the move.

Oct 29, 2020, 1:19 pm

Happy New Thread, Mary!

I could've sworn I'd already posted on this new one, but I must have lost it. Fun wedding photos, and all sorts of good reading. I keep pulling for word to spread for Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, one of my favorites of the year.

Oct 29, 2020, 9:59 pm

>10 bell7: I don't think a particular tradition stands out but just having all the family close by at Christmas is special for me. Roast turkey, roast potatoes and parsnips, mashed carrots and potatoes, stuffing and Brussel sprouts topped off with mouthwatering homemade gravy.

Oct 30, 2020, 3:45 pm

>34 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe. Glad The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek was such a good one for you - I've heard that The Giver of Stars is also about the Kentucky Pack Horse project and want to read that one too.

>35 PaulCranswick: Mmm, sounds good, Paul! That sounds a little more like what we have for Thanksgiving in our family (minus the parsnips and Brussel sprouts, add squash instead though I won't eat it). My mom's parents always came over for Christmas breakfast instead.

Oct 30, 2020, 3:59 pm

Was just recalling a recipe I wish I'd tried before the InstantPot proved to be too much for the circuits here: crispy gnocchi with sprouts and lemon.

Oct 30, 2020, 4:00 pm

130. Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt
Why now? Read specifically for Morphy's October challenge to read a book that won an award the year I was born - it won the Newbery in 1983, though I'd read it years ago I own a copy and decided it would be a good time to revisit it

After the events of the summer recounted in Homecoming, Dicey and her siblings are adjusting to life with their Gram in Maryland. Now no longer the sole one in charge of making decisions, Dicey deals with school and making new friends, while her Gram works on officially adopting the children knowing that their mother will probably never be well again.

I loved the Tillerman stories when I was younger - I don't know why, but stories about kids with hard home lives finding a place to call home appealed to me. This is very much in that vein, as Dicey learns to reach out a hand to others and allow them to become friends. It's much more focused on her character than any plot, running from the start of school to about Christmastime. I might be a slightly more harsher critic as an adult then I was when I first read it, but it's still a good story. Though it could technically be read as a standalone, I think it makes a little more sense to read Homecoming first because they quickly reference events of the summer a couple of times that don't have the same resonance with readers if you're not aware.

Borderline if I'd reread it or not, I'm almost in a mood to reread the whole series and see what I think now, as I remember being totally nonplussed by the last book. It's probably been about 20 years since I've read them.

Oct 30, 2020, 4:01 pm

>37 richardderus: Oooh, that does look delicious, thank you! I do like Brussel sprouts myself, it just doesn't happen to be part of our Thanksgiving or Christmas eatin'.

Oct 30, 2020, 4:08 pm

>39 bell7: One to roll out when you cook your first new-home's always good to have a catalog of tasty goodness for celebrating the personal milestones.

Happy weekend's reads!

Oct 30, 2020, 5:28 pm

>38 bell7: I still love the Tillerman books, Mary. I have read them twice since 2008 and probably two (or three?) times befor that time. I was well in my thirties when I read the first time.

Oct 30, 2020, 7:27 pm

>40 richardderus: an instant pot *is* on my list of items to buy first for the house. Sorry to hear it's too much for your place's circuits ☹️

>41 FAMeulstee: I should start with Homecoming and work my way through, Anita. I might appreciate them more now in some ways.

Editado: Oct 30, 2020, 7:55 pm

So of all things, I've been offered a free couch and love seat. I'll be picking them up tomorrow and bringing them to my parents' house to store for me until the closing.

Edited to add:
And it looks like I might have a bureau, dishes and some kitchen implements in the works. This is literally amazing me, y'all.

Oct 31, 2020, 12:15 pm

Huzzah! That's wonderful news that your house won't be quite so bare.

Oct 31, 2020, 6:59 pm

I love this recipe, as an alternative to the one that Richard suggested:

Oct 31, 2020, 8:03 pm

>44 MickyFine: Yeah, it's pretty amazing seeing everything come together. Really couldn't believe the timing with the couch. One of my co-workers was in the process of replacing hers and wanted them gone - they hadn't even gone for free on the equivalent of Facebook Marketplace and she was as thrilled I could use them as I was, I think.

>45 kidzdoc: Oooh, thanks for that, Darryl! I will definitely enjoy cooking in my own kitchen :D I'll probably be checking out Budget Bytes quite a bit as well. I have yet to see exactly what my budget is going to look like with the mortgage, and while I know I can afford it, I'm thinking I may need to cut down on budget lines that have been large such as food and gifts and miscellaneous spending money with a new set of necessities.

Oct 31, 2020, 8:07 pm

131. A Visit to William Blake's Inn by Nancy Willard
Why now? I decided to grab a couple of books from the Newbery shelf at the library recently, and this is one of them.

Either I am too old to find the poems, all rhyming couplets, charming or I don't know enough about William Blake's poetry to get the reference. Either way it was... okay, I guess. Whimsical and might make a fun readaloud to kids, but didn't quite work for me.

Leaving it without a rating more because poetry books are hard to rate rather than a statement about its quality.

Oct 31, 2020, 8:12 pm

132. Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
Why now The second of two books from the Newbery shelf grabbed from the library. I was in the mood to read and finish a couple quickly, so here we are.

Leigh Botts - that's a boy and it's pronounced the same as Lee - starts writing his favorite author, Mr. Henshaw. But what started as a school assignment then morphs into really asking for advice and finally writing in his own diary when sixth grade brings a lot of changes. Leigh's parents are divorced, and he's dealing with a new place, no friends, and a lunch thief.

I enjoyed so many of Beverly Cleary's books as a child - Ramona, Ralph the mouse, and Henry Huggins - but I never did get around to her standalone books. I like how she can get into the minds of her protagonist and really explain how things feel as a kid, the confusion and anger and sadness and yes, joy and happiness too that's a part of life and growing up. She does it again with Leigh, and it was a pleasure to see how everything turned out for him as he learns to write and turns to his journal to sort it all out. 4 stars.

The last few books I finished were the Newbery Awards for 1983, 1982 and 1984 respectively and unintentionally in that order.

Oct 31, 2020, 8:42 pm

>43 bell7: That's outstanding! I'm very happy for you. Those sorts of purchases can be very cash-draining when they all need to be made at once.

>45 kidzdoc: Looks delicious! I hope you'll make them both, Mary, and let us know how they compare.

>47 bell7: ...poetry...serves ya right....

>48 bell7: Now THAT's a proper read.

Nov 1, 2020, 8:41 am

>47 bell7: Oh, I loved this one, but then again, I'm a huge fan of Blake.

>48 bell7: I loved this one, too - I'm glad you enjoyed it!

And yay for conveniently timed furnishings!!

Nov 1, 2020, 6:57 pm

>49 richardderus: Hey, Richard! I'm sure there will still be purchases to make, but I'm relieved that a lot of the big ones are taken care of and later if and when I decide to change things up, I can. I'll definitely let you know on the recipes. And yeah, I know re: poetry. But I am going to read all the Newbery Awards and Honors, and it was short. I should really go back and read all the Beverly Cleary that I haven't yet, though.

>50 scaifea: I suspect I may have "got it" more if I'd read it closer to the college classes in which I'd read Blake, and as a very picky poetry reader (not *quite* a non-reader), it was more of a case of my own preferences than the book, which as far as this bumbling reader can tell did a good job of what it set out to do. Dear Mr. Henshaw hit the spot perfectly on the other hand.

Nov 1, 2020, 7:22 pm

October in review
132. Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
131. A Visit to William Blake's Inn by Nancy Willard
130. Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt
129. I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf by Grant Snider
128. The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin
127. Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
126. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
125. Happily Ever After & Everything in Between by Debbie Tung
124. Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor
123. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph. D.
122. Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris
121. Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs by Wallace Stegner
120. P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia
119. The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
118. A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Books read: 15
Rereads: 2
Children's/Teen/Adult: 4/2/9
Fiction/Nonfiction/Plays/Poetry: 9/5/0/1

Because I want to awards:
A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet for being just sheer fun
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? for teaching me a lot and giving me some hope as well
Return of the Thief for being a highly-anticipated and wonderful ending to a series I've loved for years

YTD stats -
Pages read:
Avg pages a day: 130
POC authors: 50
Own voices: 48*

*This discrepancy due in part to reading nonfiction by POC authors; also one "own voices" was a white male with autism - so it's an imperfect measure, and the stats on my spreadsheet also includes books I'm currently reading

Thoughts: High numbers again this month, helped along in part by reading two graphic novels and more children's books than usual as I continue to read through Newbery books. It's a toss up if I'll read 150 this year or not, and while I'd sort of like to make it, moving this month (and packing, and unpacking) will most likely put a cramp in my reading over the next two months, and I'm okay with that. I liked my mix of genres and fun/serious reads this month.

Nov 1, 2020, 7:45 pm

133. Solutions and other problems by Allie Brosh
Why now? I really enjoyed Hyperbole and a half, so I grabbed this when it became available at the library

Using the same photoshop illustrations and blocks of texts to tell stories from her life, Allie Brosh reflects on a variety of topics from her weird childhood obsession with a neighbor to more serious topics with a health scare and her sister's death. For some reason this one didn't work quite as well for me as the first one - I had some belly laughs at the beginning, gut punches in the middle, and then it just sort of... petered out for me. I'm not sure if it was my mood or the book, but I just didn't connect to the stories and had moments of feeling uncomfortably awkward at moments I thought she wanted me to laugh. 3.5 stars.

It took me a minute to find when I'd read Hyperbole and a Half because I never added it to my LT library, but according to my old 75 Books thread, it was in 2015.

Nov 2, 2020, 11:54 am

>38 bell7: I did a Tillerman Cycle reread recently (last year, maybe?) and they stodd up to rereading, though I'll never love the later books as much as I love the early ones (Homecoming, Dicey's Song, Come a Stranger, A Solitary Blue), which were all childhood favorites that I wore out with rereading then.

Nov 3, 2020, 11:13 am

>54 foggidawn: I read them in the "wrong order" first when I was a kid - A Solitary Blue, then Dicey's Song, then Homecoming. So I'd go back and reread them in order if I were to do it. Maybe as I unpack boxes over the next few months...

Nov 5, 2020, 11:00 am

Happy new-ish thread! Thanks for sharing more wedding photos. They're beautiful and happy - a nice start to do the day.

Sounds like you are getting to the fun part with the house! Will you be resealing the pine floors before moving in?

I haven't read that series by Jemisin. Do you recommend it for casual fantasy readers?

Nov 5, 2020, 11:51 am

Hope the packing is going smoothly so far!

Glad to see The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet made your favourites of the month list. Such a lovely feel-good novel.

Nov 6, 2020, 8:04 pm

>56 streamsong: Thanks, Janet! The pine floors are still under carpet so no, my plan is to paint, then pull up carpet. I may be able to reseal then.

I would recommend them, starting with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. My personal favorite is the trilogy that begins with The Fifth Season but they take a little more patience to get started.

>57 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! Two bookshelves are mostly packed, and Christmas-y stuff. The books are honestly going to take the longest, as most of my clothes and food will need to be pretty accessible over the next few weeks. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet was so much fun, and I'll enjoy continuing. The new Rory Thorne book is on its way to me from the library too.

Nov 6, 2020, 9:52 pm

Wishing you a lovely weekend, Mary

Nov 7, 2020, 6:31 pm

>58 bell7: Ooooh. I'm waiting to see if I get the new Rory Thorne as a birthday gift, otherwise I'll be buying a copy for myself.

Nov 7, 2020, 11:12 pm

>59 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul, and the same to you!

>60 MickyFine: Oh good, Micky, looking forward to seeing what you think of it!

Nov 7, 2020, 11:22 pm

134. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Here's what I said about the book when I last read it ten years ago:

The fourth book in the Harry Potter series starts out as most of them do: Harry is at the Dursleys waiting for summer to end so he can go back to Hogwarts' School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This time, the Weasleys take him to the Quidditch World Cup before his return to school, and the behavior of some old Death Eaters and the reappearance of the Dark mark, not to mention weird dreams and pain in Harry's scar, point to yet another year of fighting against Voldemort's return.

Whenever I try to reread this series, I always started from the beginning and ran out of steam around books 2 or 3. So with the movie coming out yesterday (and yes, I went to the midnight showing), I decided to start my reread with the books I hadn't read as often. In fact, I was shocked to find out that I had not read The Goblet of Fire in over four years. These books are practically iconic for my generation and those a little younger than me that it's quite impossible to come up with anything new to add. Suffice it to say that I was always in the group that wholeheartedly enjoyed this books. I'm always surprised in revisiting each one with the details that I hadn't remembered, and the wonderful way in which seemingly passing references to characters or events would show up again in future stories. If you enjoy audiobooks, be sure to check out Jim Dale's performance - which I was listening to on my commute to work even while reading the book at home - which is truly superb.

On this reread, though I do appreciate how details come back and become important, I do wish the books had been more tightly written/edited. Starting with this one, they get long, and there's almost too much detail and far too long actually getting back to Hogwarts. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it, just that it doesn't hold up to rereading quite as well as, say, the Queen's Thief series.

Nov 9, 2020, 9:18 pm

Happy Monday! I turned my short work day into a busy day by running a bunch of errands after work, but I accomplished a lot and though I'm tired, I'm happy. Tomorrow I'm probably going to try to get some food prep done in the morning, and then Wednesday is a holiday for more packing. Work (both boxes that have come in of shipments and from co-workers) has kept me well-supplied with boxes so far, which has been a big help. I've boxed up most of the books in the big book cases, have a couple smaller book cases to go, plus all my dictionaries and genealogy books which I haven't quite figured out how to pack yet. I also have some larger boxes that I'm planning on using for lighter things, like clothes and yarn.

No updates from the bank yet. They emailed me today to confirm my middle initial (they had it wrong on some of the paperwork).

As far as reading goes, I'm making excellent progress in Lilac Girls now and will have to start The Guest Book (probably Wednesday) for next week's book club.

Nov 11, 2020, 4:46 pm

Happy Veterans' Day!

I got the initial letter from the bank yesterday approving my mortgage, contingent on the appraisal (that happened last week)! Just waiting to hear on that and get a finalized closing date, and I'm still in shock that it's been a relatively smooth ride since I first made the offer a month ago.

Today was rainy and blah, so I can't really say I got a lot done. I puttered around a bit in the morning, at lunchtime decided it was time to cook and made myself a rotisserie chicken salad, chicken soup out of the bones and the rest of the chicken, and guacamole. I have enough made ahead now for lunch and dinner the next two days, as I signed up for a virtual program featuring Nathaniel Philbrick tomorrow and will be going straight from work to the church to volunteer on Friday and don't really want to cook either day. Saturday is a prayer breakfast (virtual) followed by hanging out with my Little (in person), and it's also my youngest brother's birthday though the family doesn't have any celebration plans. Sunday should be fairly laid back, thank goodness.

I've only packed a few more things today, though most notably (and somewhat invisibly) most of my yarn is now boxed up. I also managed a small box of electronics and kitchen things I shouldn't need over the next 2 and a half weeks. My place is an absolute mess of half-packedness, and while I won't get a ton of packing done this weekend, I'll have next available as well before the big moving day.

I haven't started The Guest Book yet though I really should. I'm more than halfway through Lilac Girls and find it compelling reading (also in looking something up, I learned that at least two of the narrators are historical people). And that's really it. Work, reading, knitting, packing is pretty much my life right now.

Nov 11, 2020, 5:04 pm

>64 bell7: Lovely to be productively busy, isn't it? Have a great time.

Nov 12, 2020, 11:49 am

Good news about the bank paperwork moving along smoothly, Mary. I am very excited for you. I don't envy you the packing and then unpacking, but a home of one's own is so full of fabulous.

Nov 12, 2020, 1:13 pm

>65 richardderus: Yes! And the event on Friday is canceled (all church events are while someone who attends gets tested for Covid) so that makes my weekend slightly more relaxed.

>66 Crazymamie: Thanks, Mamie! I took a week off in December to help with the unpacking and painting and capet-up-pulling that needs to happen. The packing/unpacking part is definitely no fun, but I am looking forward to having a place of my own. I'll be living alone for the first time in my life.

Editado: Nov 13, 2020, 6:50 pm

135. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
Why now? My now-retired pastor's wife recommended this to me a couple of years ago and I'm finally getting to it right when she moves to another state :(

Three women and three experiences of World War 2: Caroline, a well-to-do single woman who volunteers in New York and sends packages to orphanages in France; Kasia, a teen working in the Polish resistance; and Herta, a doctor who accepts a position at Ravensbruck. Each narrates her story starting in 1939 through the 1950s, and their stories elegantly intersect in this excellent historical fiction.

This was such a compelling read that by the end I was reading it in by audio, e-book and paper just to have the ability to continue the story. Caroline Ferriday and Dr. Herta Oberheuser were real people, which made the reading all the more fascinating for me as it explored a part of World War 2 and its aftermath that I never knew. 4.5 stars.

If you read by audio, there are three readers for each narrator and it's a great experience that way as well.

Nov 12, 2020, 2:03 pm

>67 bell7: I really enjoyed living alone although I found having a pet was helpful for my own mental health. I hope it's a great experience for you!

Nov 13, 2020, 6:18 pm

>69 MickyFine: I may get a pet at some point too, Micky, though I do have the petsitting business and currently enjoy watching other people's animals for short (and sometimes long) spurts. I think I will enjoy having my own space and garden and making improvements and decorating choices :)

Nov 13, 2020, 6:55 pm

Hiccups in the house that might delay a bit. The appraisal came in a little less than the offer, but the seller is fine with the new price. We're meeting with a roofer tomorrow, and if the flashing is a small project I might just pay for it before closing to have it done and the bank satisfied. Should know more tomorrow, but even if closing gets pushed back, I'm doing just fine and the sellers want to work with me, so I'm confident it will all work out.

Nov 13, 2020, 7:06 pm

>71 bell7: That's the kind of news that makes me smile all over. (It's actually quite a disturbing sight, so be glad I'm just typing it not showing photos.)

I received your lovely letter with enclosures, thank you, and am so happy to know that you're basically fully furnished from relieving others of their excess furniture. They get it out, you need it, and none of it uses more than a bit of car exhaust that would be spent anyway. Win-win-planetary win.

Lovely weekend orisons.

Nov 14, 2020, 8:49 am

Good luck with the packing and moving and unpacking chores coming your way - it can be exhausting, but there's the excitement of your own place on the other side!

Will you revamp your sitting business to offer pet sitting in your home, then, as an option?

Nov 14, 2020, 9:07 am

Happy Saturday, Mary. I hope everything is going smoothly with the moving arrangements. Good luck with the appraisal situation.

Nov 14, 2020, 9:40 pm

>72 richardderus: you're very welcome and may it add to your TBR list, Richard! 😁 As frustrating as it is to have to get the flashing project done to satisfy the lender, it'll be good to have it done and I know it's a speed bump rather than a deal breaker.

>73 scaifea: a good question, Amber, and one I hadn't even considered until today when it came up in conversation with the seller's realtor. So I may have a new client too? She has a lovely rescue named Olivia whom she promised to bring with her on Monday.

>74 msf59: thanks, Mark, we're still working it out because the roofer didn't show today, but we rescheduled to Monday and were able to ascertain that the leak doesn't appear any worse than it did when we first saw the house. At least it was the smaller project they picked up on and not the major plumbing work...

Nov 15, 2020, 10:25 am

In-home pet-sitting, too? What a great idea, Amber! And yes, you awful being you, my TBR has obesified quite considerably. *grump*

Nov 16, 2020, 7:52 am

>76 richardderus: *takes a bow* I have my rare moments of non-dumminess.

Morning, Mary!

Nov 16, 2020, 9:38 pm

>76 richardderus: *Grins* Always happy to return the favor *smooch*

>77 scaifea: Hello, Amber! I would wager that moments of non-dumminess are not rare for you at all :)

Nov 16, 2020, 9:51 pm

Well, happy Monday, and a busy one it has been too. I spoke with the roofer at my lunch break and he couldn't make it today, but promised to tomorrow at 7:30 and it sounds like he'll just... do the work. So, one hurdle taken care of. I'm getting up early with coffee ready and will head out with my checkbook. My realtor went back and forth with the bank, and what we think the underwriter saw were some old stains - not wet, just cosmetic - so we're confident it'll get worked out, in the end. It's just a question of whether or not it will push back my closing date, which would be mildly frustrating and not more than a little challenging being so close to the holiday. But we'll take it a day at a time and see what happens.

In the meantime, I boxed up a bunch of dishes, cups, wine glasses, a few kitchen implements, a nice hanger that should work for coats in the vestibule (there's no closet), a vacuum cleaner, a trash can, and a Christmas garland for the stairs today - someone I know bought a house with all the stuff in it and told me take what I need. I also marked two bureaus to save, but couldn't lift them or fit them in my car anyway. The list of things I need keeps growing smaller in the best way.

I have been muddling through The Guest Book for next week's book club, and should really go and try to make more progress before I go to bed. I'm just over halfway through, have no real idea what the story is about, and have decided I couldn't really care less about these old-money people and their island, plus the writing is... occasionally really awful, so I'm kinda skimming the narrative parts anyways just so I don't keep stopping myself to roll my eyes. But... I have to facilitate, and I don't do that well if I haven't read the book. I may read a bunch of publisher reviews after to see if they agree with my assessment or not as preparation for the discussion (sometimes it's helpful to have a different point of view, especially if the other ladies agree with me - I can bring up "this review said...What do you think?"). And I'm sure part of it was that Lilac Girls started with a similar time period but was a much better read for me, in both characters and writing style. Ah well, can't love 'em all.

Nov 17, 2020, 8:29 am

>79 bell7: Glad you're finding the things that you need! Most of my furniture consists of hand-me-downs or secondhand finds, and I love the eclectic feel and the stories attached to the items -- my great-grandmother's bedroom set, my grandfather's roll-top desk, the trunk given to me by a former grad school professor, the cabinet that my mother found in an old barn and refinished... I think my couch, recliner, and the mattress for my bed are the only things I bought new, apart from my cheap particle-board bookcases that I think we've discussed before.

Nov 20, 2020, 9:20 pm

Hope that the roofer has roofed already and that the repairs are in order.

Also willing your completion date to be in line with your wishes. xx

Nov 20, 2020, 9:38 pm

So, the 24th? Or do I need to apply the spiritual leeches to some misguided souls?

Happy weekend, no matter what!

Nov 21, 2020, 9:34 am

>80 foggidawn: Oh I love that, too, Misti. I don't have any furniture with the same history as you do, and I kind of love the fact that it means I can change things out someday when/if I want to without guilt haha. I will need bookcases at some point though...

>81 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul, the roofer needs to repoint the chimneys and cover them, a job that should be accomplished this weekend. Not quite sure when the closing date is, but should know more Monday.

>82 richardderus: Probably not the 24th, but you know what, a week's delay (which is looking likely now) is fine, and I took a week off in December that will either be massive packing or unpacking depending on when the closing date ends up being.

Nov 21, 2020, 9:50 am

This week has been... a ride, y'all.

The roofer finally made it out Tuesday morning - apologizing for missing the original time, he was way backed up after a bunch of rain, and me explaining I'd never be so, "Get here, now!" if it weren't for trying to get this all worked out. Well, he looked at the leak and looked and the roof, and said, "Yeah, we need to repoint and cover the chimney." No big deal, right? We sent the info to the bank, and the underwriter came back with "What about the ceiling?" Now, keep in mind, we're talking about a new leak that is maybe eight inches across and not even two inches deep, but it does look worse in a photo (included in the appraisal) because we peeled back the old wallpaper to look at it. The walls are plaster and they are firm, so what we're talking about is painting over the stains with Kilz. So I'm like... sure, I'll give up my weekend to paint, whatever.

In the meantime, we get the appraisal. It mentions the leak in two places, one sentence saying "if the roof leak hasn't been fixed recently, it may need immediate repair" but to talk to a professional. We have had two professionals - the inspector and the roofer - say, yeah, the roof's fine you just need to repoint and cover the chimney. The appraisal is for the house "as is," not after the repair is complete.

Then we hear back from the underwriter no, I can't just paint it myself, the ceiling needs to be "repaired" by a licensed professional and if there's any mold it needs to be remediated. There's... no evidence of mold. The ceiling has old stains from before the roof was replaced eight years ago. This. Is. Ridiculous. But whatever. At this point, it's Wednesday and I wake up with a sore throat which means I can't self-certify to go into work with non-Covid symptoms. So I'm talking with my realtor off and on through my wait - ultimately of three hours - to get the test. She knows someone who will do the ceiling "repair" so I'll probably pay someone a couple of hundred dollars to do what I could have done for the cost of the oil-based primer. He's coming out Tuesday morning and will do what needs to be done. My realtor - who's also a friend - says she'll just pay him and I can pay her back if I can't get out there. Then an appraiser needs to come back out and approve the work. Which is again ridiculous, because as my realtor reads through the appraisal again, she says he appraised it what he did for the house as it is, not after the repairs are made.

I work from home Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I get the negative test results (Woohoo!) Friday afternoon. And when I check my email to get the results and send them to my doctor and work, I also get an email from the bank with the closing document for Tuesday. What? And on closer inspection, it has quite a few errors including the selling price and what the down payment would be. My realtor, my lawyer (my dad) and I are completely flummoxed. So while Tuesday is unlikely as a closing date, apparently we're getting closer to having something finalized, but since I was reading this at 6 p.m. on a Friday we don't really expect to know anything until Monday.

And I'm really, really glad I don't do this for a living.

I still have a mild cold, but I'm mostly sneezy and slightly congested today. The day is going to be an amalgam of getting stuff like laundry done and binge-watching The Crown. I should pack more, too, but other than the few shelves left of books I have it's hard to know what to pack because I don't know how long I am staying here. So I suspect the actual packing won't take long, but if I have the energy I may move several packed boxes from the hallway outside my room to the garage where I've been told I can stack up my boxes 'til moving day, whenever that ends up being.

Nov 21, 2020, 10:10 am

136. The Guest Book by Sarah Blake
Why now? Book club choice for this month, and finished later than any since this group started, early Wednesday afternoon (I was almost grateful for having to take a covid test and wait for three hours, as I wouldn't have finished it without that)

Ogden and Kitty Nash are a well-to-do couple with three children on the cusp of World War 2. When tragedy strikes their family and the beautiful daughter of one of Ogden's German business partners asks the impossible, they buy an island as a summer getaway, and their choices reverberate down the generations.

The narrative moves back and forth between Ogden and Kitty in 1936, their children in 1959, and their granddaughter Evie, a history professor in the present. The family has secrets galore, with the result that the reader understands much more than the characters, as the omniscient narrator switches among the perspectives of several family members and two outsiders, Len (a Jewish man) and Reg (a black man). The island is at once retreat and albatross to the families, who can't quite let go of their privilege. I found it a really frustrating read, as I couldn't really find it in me to care about this rich family's problems, but there is a lot of meat to the story for a book club ready to talk about class and privilege, race, secrets and silences, and the choices we make. 2 stars.

I had a really hard time getting through this book between being annoyed with the characters - Len and Reg are the most sympathetic, I might have liked the story from their point of view - and what I considered bad writing (though one of my book club ladies commented on how well-written it is, so I'm sure that's a matter of taste). Turns out I really prefer spare description over a plethora of similes. Here's an example of one of the most egregious (it's early in the book, so no spoilers): "With the easy grace of a man whose winning stroke was a sweeping crosscut from the back court, Milton made his way through the park, his lineage hanging lightly on his well-formed limbs, the habit of knowing just what to do in any given moment having been passed down from generation to generation." It was just so awkward, and I had to either stop and parse out what on earth she was saying or start to skim because a sentence would bring me up short (do you really have to say the mouse turds looked like jimmies? I know what mouse turds look like, just tell me they're on the window sill and I get it) with its lack of flow.

Nov 21, 2020, 10:17 am

137. Class Act by Jerry Craft
Why now? I really enjoyed the Newbery Award-winning New Kid and was excited to read the companion book that came out this year. I've had it out from the library for a couple of weeks, but what finally put it to the top of the stack was watching a conversation with Jerry Craft while working from home this week.

Jordan Banks and his friend Drew Ellis navigate eighth grade in this companion to New Kid, which explores Drew's experiences having to work hard and not feeling comfortable admitting he likes basketball to his mostly white and privileged schoolmates. Then when their friend Liam invites them over, Drew has to decide if he can be friends with someone whose life is so different from his own.

Like New Kid, this graphic novel explores race and class in a way that makes you think but is also totally accessible to kids. It illustrates the experiences of a wide range of students and helps you see and sympathize with them, but at the same time is an upbeat and hopeful story about friendship. Recommended to anyone - not just kids - who like a good story. 5 stars.

Nov 21, 2020, 10:25 am

138. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
Why now? I honestly don't remember what put this on my radar originally, but I've been trying to read the e-book for a really long time. I was finally able to focus on reading it after finishing The Guest Book and marathoned the second half to finish it last night.

Malik and his sisters, Eshran refugees, come to Ziran in hopes of a better life. Kirana, a princess who wants to escape the city and is still mourning the death of her father and sister, finds that she's truly imprisoned by a magical barrier keeping her world safe. Their lives collide during Solstasia, a once-in-a-lifetime celebration, when Malik's sister is taken by a being called Idir, and the price for her return is Kirana's life.

If you love fantasy, magic, a dash of romance and fantastic world-building, look no further than this book, which is first in a planned series. The narrative switches back and forth between Malik and Kirana in every chapter, letting you see each of their motivations and development in the course of the story. The revelations of the world, its past history and current political situation, are beautifully done in a way that kept me guessing 'til the end. I am so excited to read the next book! 5 stars.

Nov 21, 2020, 10:27 am

I think I'm all caught up on reviews now. I still have to add some books to my library to sort out the reading I've done in the last week or so and add those reviews to the work pages, but I think it's time I did something a little more visibly productive and got my laundry started.

Nov 21, 2020, 11:57 am

>84 bell7: - Ha! The joys of (almost) homeownership... I wish I had your level of patience :)

Also, glad your test was negative!

Nov 21, 2020, 12:29 pm

Oy what a week Mary. Hopefully things with the house go smoothly from here on out and glad to hear you have just a normal cold (hope that hits the bricks soon too). Wishing you some chill down time this weekend!

Nov 21, 2020, 2:38 pm

>84 bell7: The sheer bloody-minded "nopenopenope" of these banksters makes me want to scream at them.

Still, you're one step closer. And what a relief to get the process over with so you can start doing the enjoyable bits!

Feel better soon.

Nov 22, 2020, 9:12 am

Wooof, yeah, that was a WEEK for you. House buying is such a pain, but it looks like you're in the home stretch, so yay! And also yay for negative test results! I hope the cold moves along quickly for you.

Nov 22, 2020, 10:19 am

>89 katiekrug: Oh believe me, I've had my moments of railing against the insanity of it all, Katie. I'm just in a place of greater acceptance now that we seem to be that much closer to the end!

>90 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! I did get a little packing and all the laundry done yesterday, but I binge-watched quite a bit of The Crown all afternoon. Should have a mix of to-dos and more relaxing today, too.

>91 richardderus: Yeah, it's been pretty ridiculous, Richard. When I asked my dad if he knew anything about the closing document, he responded that he hadn't received any notice and "How would you like dealing with these banks all day all the time?" I wouldn't, thanks. He's retiring at the end of this year, so my closing will be among his last.

>92 scaifea: Indeed it was, Amber! Next week should be a little smoother, at least, as we get the work done and (hopefully) finalize the closing date, which I do NOT expect to be Tuesday. The only utilities I should have to call is the electric company.

Nov 22, 2020, 10:24 am

Happy Sunday! Today is the day the roofer should be going out to make repairs. I'm planning on attending virtual church, especially since a few of my family members are planning on getting together for Thanksgiving and I'd like to avoid large crowds and potential exposure as much as possible before then.

Now that my book club book is done, I can read some fun books! I currently have How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge by K. Eason and Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine going. The Giants have a bye this week, but I might put some football on in the background while I clean the bathroom, do a little packing, knit and read between episodes of The Crown.

Nov 22, 2020, 10:35 am

>94 bell7: I hope it's a beautiful, slow-paced day of accomplishments, Mary. *smooch*

I'm re(!)-reading Shuggie Bain. It's really, really powerful stuff, but good gravy is it beautiful.

Nov 23, 2020, 4:27 pm

Hope it goes more smoothly this week, Mary.

What a shame the book group book wasn't better, too. That quote you picked, just yikes. I'll not be picking that up in a hurry.

Nov 25, 2020, 9:32 am

Ha! What Charlotte said about the book group book.

Hi, Mary. Good review of Class Act. Like you, I enjoyed New Kid, and I wondered about this second one. I'll add it to the WL.

Have you already read Piranesi? If not, it's one I think you'd enjoy. I just finished it, and loved it.

Nov 25, 2020, 8:03 pm

Hello Mary, I am catching up. The wedding photos you posted are lovely - I'm so glad it was such a happy day. Congratulations on your new house! I think you'll breathe a sigh of relief when it's all said and done. I remember being properly freaked out about every little thing with a purchase and a sale pending. Moving and buying/selling is stressful! Good luck.

Nov 25, 2020, 11:01 pm

Mary, I just rather unexpectedly bought a house as well, and the inspection is on Friday. Wish me luck!

Nov 26, 2020, 2:58 pm

Mary dear, hoping you're having a lovely holiday and are even closer to move-in date.

Nov 26, 2020, 9:39 pm

This Brit wishes to express his thanks for the warmth and friendship that has helped sustain him in this group, Mary.

Nov 27, 2020, 11:32 am

>95 richardderus: Thanks, Richard! I hadn't heard of Shuggie Bain before it won the award, but I'm glad to hear it's a good one for you.

>96 charl08: To be fair, Charlotte, I picked the most cringe-inducing sentence in the whole thing, but it definitely didn't fit my definition of a "well-written" book for all it touched on a lot of things for us to talk about. I looked up reviews afterwards, and by and large they were positive, but the Ron Charles one probably best fit my own reaction.

>97 jnwelch: Oh good, I hope you enjoy Class Act as much as I did, Joe. I read an ARC of Piranesi back in April, I think, and really enjoyed it. Glad it was a hit with you, too - SO different from Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell but just as immersive in its own way.

>98 AMQS: Anne! It's so good to see you. And thank you, both the wedding and the house have been highlights of an altogether tough year. I have calmed down enough to realize that the price coming down after appraisal and the repairs that I made pre-closing pretty much cancel each other out money-wise, and since I'm not quite ready to move today, it's just as well that closing got pushed back. Still waiting on tenterhooks for the actual day, but it's also great to know that all I have to do is show up to sign and pay, and call the electric company to switch everything over to my name.

>99 ronincats: Oh good luck, Roni! Hope you're able to make your new place a lovely retreat for yourself - I do hope we get photos of bookshelves when you're all moved in?

>100 richardderus: Thank you, Richard, and a late Happy Thanksgiving to you too! I hope it was a good day for you.

>101 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul! I'm glad you're a part of our group as well and look forward to when travel can happen again to maybe one day meet in person. Have a wonderful weekend!

Nov 27, 2020, 11:39 am

A very late Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Yesterday was a lovely day. I got up to watch a virtual service for my church, then got the green bean casserole ready to transport. I went to my brother and sister-in-law's for 2, and helped set the table in preparation for my other brother and parents' arrival. We'd all got our negative Covid tests prior to the day, and ended up FaceTiming my sisters for a little bit and calling my grandfather later in the afternoon. We had a cocktail hour with drinks, stuffed mushrooms, chips and dip and a cheese plate. Dinner was at 4, and delicious - my sister-in-law is an amazing cook. We were so stuffed we had a little dessert later, but not much. One of her co-workers who was not able to go home for Thanksgiving came over after dinner for a plate and a short hello to everyone. And after my parents left around nine, the siblings stayed and watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I got home close to midnight.

I took today off as a floating holiday (we get either the day after Thanksgiving OR the day after Christmas, which this year is a Monday and I will be working). So I slept in and finally got up to coffee, read a bit, and finally shower and dress. I'm going to eat Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch and work on packing a bit this afternoon.

The work that needed to get done on the house was completed on Tuesday and the bank appraiser back out on Wednesday, so I'm hoping to find out the new closing date next week. Moving day is still up in the air, but this may very well be the last weekend I have to pack so I'm hoping to make the most of it and still have some time for reading, knitting and watching the new Little Women movie.

Nov 27, 2020, 11:58 am

Glad to hear you had a wonderful holiday, Mary. Enjoy your rest day today and sending all the best wishes for the rest of the home buying/moving process to go smoothly in the coming weeks.

Nov 27, 2020, 2:55 pm

>103 bell7: *whew*

That was a packed holiday. I'm extra pleased that the new closing date can be set soon. All that packing...well, it won't need doing again for a long time (if ever) when this one's over.


Nov 28, 2020, 5:54 pm

>104 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! Hope you're having a good weekend.

>105 richardderus: I am not planning on packing again for a good long time, Richard! *smooch*

Nov 28, 2020, 6:00 pm

139. Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine
Why now? Second in a series I started reading last year, probably prompted at least in part by the author's recent death. Audiobook and e-book from the library were available when I was looking for something in that format.

Jess and Glain continue training with the High Garda of the Library, while Khalila and Dario remain scholars. Morgan is in the Iron Tower with the other Obscurists, but she's talented enough that she's still contacting Jess when she can. Jess is determined to find out more of the Library's secrets - in particular, about the Black Archives and if his friend Thomas is still alive.

The continuing adventures of Jess and his friends continue where the last one left off, and take our heroes from Alexandria to Rome on their adventures. The world-building of this alternate universe where the Library controls all knowledge and prevents certain technological advances that would dilute its power - in particular, the printing press - is phenomenal. My one quibble is that instead of truly ending we're left with a blatant cliffhanger just stopping everything in the middle of action. 4.5 stars.

Nov 30, 2020, 10:51 am

>107 bell7: Taking note of the cliffhanger in this one so that I have books two and three handy at the same time. :)

Nov 30, 2020, 4:38 pm

>108 MickyFine: Definitely recommended. I was not prepared haha.

Nov 30, 2020, 4:42 pm

After a four-day weekend (I took Friday as a holiday), I'm back to work for a full week and then planning on taking much of next week off if I indeed have a closing date of December 8. Today was 9-2, it was pouring when I left, but I did my grocery shopping and am now curled up comfy at home and planning on making supper soon.

The last I knew from the bank, the appraiser was coming back on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, but as this is the last day of the month AND right after a holiday weekend, I'm not surprised to not have an update yet. We're hoping that tomorrow I will get my mortgage approval letter, and if so we're looking at a closing date of December 8. If that's the case, I'm thinking I probably won't move *all* of my stuff until December 12, but I may take those days off to paint at the house and start bringing some things over that I can carry on my own. One of my brothers is more available to help on weeknights, so I may pull him in to do some projects too. I've got to inventory my paint supplies (do I have a roller? clean paintbrushes?) and do some shopping this weekend, I think.

Nov 30, 2020, 5:24 pm

>110 bell7: Crossing all crossables everything goes through smoothly!

Nov 30, 2020, 5:32 pm

Nov 30, 2020, 7:34 pm


Nov 30, 2020, 7:46 pm

Thanks Micky, Richard and Roni for your good wishes! I have done everything I can and now I just wait... after which, there will be a whirlwind of last-minute packing, painting all over the house, and moving in, whenever that ends up being.

Nov 30, 2020, 7:52 pm

I tried a new dish for dinner tonight, and figured I'd share here. I think I got it from a magazine sent out by one of the local grocery stores here.

Farro and Apple Salad

1 c. farro (hulled wheat)
1 medium apple, cored and diced
4 c. baby kale or spinach leaves
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. maple syrup
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
4 oz. soft goat cheese

In medium pot, boil farro in 3 cups of water for 30 minutes. Drain excess water, and rinse farro with cold water in sieve to cool (Note: if you let it cool too thoroughly, the spinach won't wilt, so keep your preference in mind when you do this step). In large serving bowl, combine farro, apple and kale/spinach. In small mixing bowl, whisk together Dijon, maple syrup, vinegar, oil, and salt. Pour dressing over farro salad and mix. Sprinkle with goat cheese and serve.

Makes 6 servings

Very tasty - getting the farro, maple syrup, goat cheese and spinach all in one week was a little expensive, but I could either spread out the purchases in the future or double the recipe to make it worthwhile.

Dic 1, 2020, 9:19 am

Yay for a closing date in sight! Do you have colors picked out for your room painting?

Dic 4, 2020, 8:12 am

>116 scaifea: Yes, hurrah! I do have some colors picked out. For the master bedroom, I want a very pale green similar to Behr Cucumber Crush. The living room will be white because the couch/loveseat I have is patterned, and I'm thinking I'll get navy drapes for the windows so there will be enough color in the decorating. And in the dining room, a medium warm brown that I haven't quite decided on, but I'm hoping to look at paint swatches this weekend and finalize it. Those will be the most immediate paint jobs.

Down the road, I want to repaint the red-and-white kitchen with white on the walls, and paint the cabinets a deep blue (if they were natural, I would leave them, but they're painted red with white doors). The entryway has wallpaper that I would take down and make a medium sage green. The bedrooms upstairs, I definitely want one to be light lilac, that would match the subtle wallpaper that's already up. I haven't quite decided on the other one, but maybe an icy blue. All colors that would go together and feel homey to me, and I'm sure I'll mix-and-match a little in the decorating of each room - there will be a lot of blues and greens, as those tend to be the colors I choose to have around, wear, etc.

Dic 4, 2020, 8:25 am

Happy Friday, Mary. I hope you have a good weekend. Did you get my PM? I sent the book on Wednesday.

Editado: Dic 6, 2020, 10:24 pm

November in review
139. Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine
138. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
137. Class Act by Jerry Craft
136. The Guest Book by Sarah Blake
135. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
134. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
133. Solutions and other problems by Allie Brosh

Books read: 7
Rereads: 1
Children's/Teen/Adult: 2/2/3
Fiction/Nonfiction/Plays/Poetry: 6/1/0/0

Because I want to awards:
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown - just all-around good fantasy
Lilac Girls - my favorite kind of historical fiction, illuminating an aspect I didn't know about and having great (some real-life) characters

YTD stats - (as of Dec. 6)
Pages read: 44,368
Avg pages a day: 130
POC authors: 53
Own voices: 51*
*This discrepancy due in part to reading nonfiction by POC authors; also one "own voices" was a white male with autism - so it's an imperfect measure, and the stats on my spreadsheet also includes books I'm currently reading

This was my lowest reading month by the numbers, but it totally makes sense in that it was busy with house-buying and the holiday, as well as some pretty long books (and two graphic novels). Nice mix of genres, and more for younger age groups than I usually read.

The slow reading month means reaching 150 will be a challenge after all, but since it's primarily because a house purchase is eating up all my free time, I think I'm willing to take the exchange. I'm currently reading two books that seem to be moving along quickly so far, and my next books after that will probably be A Christmas Carol which I may try to make primarily audio read by Simon Vance, and my book club book A Man Called Ove (a reread for me). After that is still to be determined, and since all this will be happening in the midst of moving, who knows what other reading will actually be accomplished?

Dic 4, 2020, 8:31 am

>118 msf59: Thanks, Mark, I just got it this morning and hadn't had a chance to respond with a huge THANK YOU yet :). So thank you, and I will look for it in the mail.

Dic 4, 2020, 9:04 am

>117 bell7: Oh, that all sounds great! So exciting.

Dic 4, 2020, 10:22 pm

>119 bell7: I do hope that amid the excitement and busyness of moving you can reach 150 books this year.

Have a great weekend.

Editado: Dic 6, 2020, 11:48 am

>121 scaifea: I picked color swatches yesterday! AND bought some of them.

Not pictured: cucumber melon for my master bedroom (it's a lighter green than the sage, but will match everything).

The white will be for the living room and the walls in the kitchen. Brown (it didn't picture well, it's less orange than the photo looks) is the dining room - I purchased those and the cucumber melon last night. The darkest of blues will eventually be the kitchen cabinets. If the painting goes well this week I *might* purchase a gallon on Friday. The sage green will eventually be the entryway, but I have to take down wallpaper first so I'm tackling that later. And the blue and light lavender are for the upstairs bedrooms, probably a later project. But I wanted to have all the swatches picked out to make sure they go, as this is going to be the working palette of my whole-house color scheme.

Dic 6, 2020, 11:49 am

>122 PaulCranswick: I know it's "not about the numbers", but I hope so too, Paul :D I hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

Dic 6, 2020, 11:53 am

>123 bell7: From the Doomscape of Experience: PAINT OVER THE WALLPAPER

Removing it will reveal the most appalling scrape/sand/scrape/prime/sand/paint horrorshow ever. Those adhesives are No Joke.

If there are surface flaws in the wallpaper, double-Kilz them and use an entire gallon of paint to get two or even three coats over the damned evil heinous vile misbegotten wallpaper.

Dic 6, 2020, 11:54 am

140. How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge by K. Eason
Why now? Newest book in a series I started reading earlier this year, bookhorned in after I finished my book club book last month for something light after some harder reads.

The green fairy turns up and gives a cryptic message that gets Messer Rupert and Grytt on a spaceship with previously unknown xenos to try to help Rory Thorne once again save the multiverse. Rory and her friends, salvaging now that she has renounced her title as Princess, come across a gutted ship with a mysterious passenger: a sentient plant that's meant for huge destruction, a liability in a world where not just humans are ready to go to war.

These books are so much fun, blending humor in the form of a snarky narrator who already knows how everything turned out and is giving us a much-needed clear-eyed history and serious reflections on what it means to work together and make alliances and just do the best you can with the incomplete information you have. It was so much fun to return to this mutliverse and characters. 4.5 stars.

Dic 6, 2020, 11:57 am

>125 richardderus: If you think a double-Kilz and a paint job will do it, I'm not opposed to the idea (I did just buy a 5-gallon jug that I can't lift at all, and am planning to basically Kilz the whole house already). Adhesives on plaster are no fun, I know.

Dic 6, 2020, 1:00 pm

>127 bell7: It should do it; but remember that a double coat of paint will likely be necessary, too. Just wait for the first coat of paint to settle in, about a week, and use a raking light...from the side across the see if any irregularities show up.

Dic 6, 2020, 2:55 pm

>123 bell7: >123 bell7: Oh, excellent! I do love a good sage color, too.

Dic 6, 2020, 9:56 pm

>128 richardderus: Thank you for the tips! I expect 2021 will be as much a home improvement thread as this one has been knitting haha.

>129 scaifea: I am really excited to see it all come together :D

Dic 6, 2020, 10:06 pm

141. Frankly in Love by David Yoon
Why now? I've read Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, his wife, so when David came out with a book recently it was on my radar as one to try. Finally did it recently when I was looking for an audiobook/e-book combo and both formats of this book were available from the library.

When Frank Li, the son of Korean immigrants working and living in California, starts going out with a white girl at school, he and his friends cook up a plan to pretend that he's actually dating Joy Song. Joy is the daughter of his parents' Korean friends, and he knows that his parents would rather see them together. It's a win-win, because Joy is also going out with a boy that her parents would never approve of. What could go wrong?

This is just the beginning of a story that had me sometimes scratching my head at the characters' choices, cringing at all the f-bombs, and wondering where on earth the story is going. But as a coming-of-age story, it won me over in the end. After all, teenagers really do act like that and talk like that, and real life isn't a neat story that you can wrap up in a neat bow. In the end, it was about not just "Frank Li in love," but navigating all sorts of relationships, including friendship, accepting himself, and growing to understand his parents during his senior year. 4 stars.

Dic 6, 2020, 11:08 pm

>126 bell7: Skipping your summary but happy to see you enjoyed it. I have this in my nightstand stack but want to re-read book one first (after several other books I've got lined up).

Dic 7, 2020, 3:28 pm

>132 MickyFine: I will look forward to your thoughts on it whenever you get a chance to read it, Micky!

Editado: Dic 7, 2020, 3:58 pm

House update:

THE CLOSING IS TOMORROW, REPEAT, THE CLOSING IS *REALLY* TOMORROW. I have an appointment with my lawyer (my dad) at 12:30 and it will be OFFICIAL. I am soooo over the moon, and I'm even looking forward to painting!

Here are photos, as promised:

A view of the entryway, which isn't hugely spacious, but at some point I will put up hooks and shelves hear the door to keep things organized

A view of the living room coming in from the entryway. To the right out of the frame are two windows looking out into the porch, and I'll put the couch there. The opposite wall that's showing in the photo will have a loveseat to the left of the window

I cannot WAIT to paint and pull up this carpet! This is the dining room, and holds the one closet in the whole place.

This is one of four? old wood doors with the brass plate on them, I detail I really love

Here's the kitchen. I want to add a small island to give myself a little working space. I'm also thinking I'll eventually make a little coffee bar in the dining room, which will help free up some space too. After the major room painting (dining room, living room, bedroom), these cabinets are next on the list to make the deep blue.

Upstairs bath - the flooring is curling and needs something underneath it to really stay down, but I won't use it right away anyway

Bedroom #1, this is the one I want to paint blue...and yes, that carpet's going. The boards underneath have been painted grey-blue, and I'll paint them white to brighten it up a little.

The listing put this as a dressing room or third bedroom. I'll leave it for storage and off-season clothing for now, and decide what I can do for clothes storage in the upstairs bedrooms before totally converting it.

Bedroom #2 - I'll try just cleaning the wallpaper and paint over the stains with the misty lavender color.

Not pictured (my phone kept turning off and didn't save them): master bedroom and sunroom.

Dic 7, 2020, 4:08 pm

Cute place! What fun, to make it your own.

Dic 7, 2020, 4:12 pm

Yay! for closing! What a cute house! I adore the banister on the staircase, the windows with the colored glass, and those door plates.

Dic 7, 2020, 4:13 pm

Very exciting, Mary!

Dic 7, 2020, 4:21 pm

Yay! I'm so excited for you. Looks like there's some great features in the house - love the door plates and your coloured glass window. Can't wait to see progress pictures as you do your renos.

Dic 7, 2020, 4:32 pm

>135 foggidawn: Thanks, Misit! Yeah, I was kinda excited that it needed some (cosmetic) work. I will have fun painting.

>136 lycomayflower: Those are my very favorite features, too, Laura! I'm certainly hoping to keep some colors that fit the place, rather than making huge, sweeping changes because I love the charm. And, oh, am I going to have fun with that banister come Christmas 2021!

>137 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie! I'm soooo excited the date/time is finalized :D

>138 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! I'm also loving the door plates and stained glass windows. The herons on the brass plates stood out to me immediately, as my mom's photographed some in the past and I knew she'd love it. I also love how much natural light the house gets - all those photos are with lights off. I will definitely be sharing photos along the way.

Dic 7, 2020, 5:07 pm

Oooo! What a find! You'll be busy doing, doing, doing for a long while.

The little colored-glass windows are to die for; the wallpaper needs only a long strip of double-sided tape to be totally TSP-able.

Thank goodness those carpets are going. *delicate shudder*

The woodwork and the old doors all look in *much* better shape than I was expecting! That is a huge plus.

So very very happy for you, Mary, and may it be a place of happiness and contentment all your life.

Dic 7, 2020, 5:30 pm

It is exciting making a house your own! Congratulations.

Dic 7, 2020, 5:33 pm

Wow, always amazed by how much space there is in the other side of the pond. It's a lovely place, congrats.

Dic 7, 2020, 6:04 pm

>134 bell7: Thanks for sharing the pictures, Mary, it looks like a nice place to live. And it will be even better when all the work is done!

Dic 7, 2020, 9:10 pm

>140 richardderus: The downstairs one is stained and the green is... something, isn't it? But the *bones* are good, and I really think a fresh coat of paint and carpet removal will go a LONG way. Have you pulled up carpet? The folks I was living with thought maybe I should get someone to do it, but I pulled up a corner without much trouble, and it looks like it's just stapled along the edges? I looked it up online and Home Depot had an article talking about using a utility knife to cut it into strips. It sounded...tedious, but not un-doable.

>141 Whisper1: Thank you, Linda! I'm pretty excited.

>142 charl08: It's a...small-medium? house for this area, about 1,000 square feet altogether. Thanks, Charlotte!

>143 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita! I'm looking forward to moving in and sprucing it up :D

Dic 8, 2020, 9:20 am

YAY!!! Oh, that's so exciting! And I LOVE the photos!! I'm so happy for you, Mary.

Dic 8, 2020, 9:22 am

>145 scaifea: Thanks, Amber! I'm just about ready to head out and get the bank check *squee*

Dic 8, 2020, 9:26 am

Dic 8, 2020, 10:22 am

>144 bell7: I pulled up some horrible shag in the little house I once owned. It was no problem; I just rolled up the carpet (it came right up off the tack strips), rolled up the carpet padding, and then used pliers and the claw end of a hammer to remove the tack strips and staples. Since your hardwood is painted and you plan to re-paint, you don't even have to worry about scratches!

Dic 8, 2020, 3:19 pm

>144 bell7: The carpet-tack strips in the corner are the one really yuck-ptui part of pulling up carpet, and NOT doing it is a non-starter. Just ask my pierced heel. >148 foggidawn: had a less irksome time than I did, since I was clawing the strips out of concrete slab.

Also? The day before you hack carpet into chunks, buy several N95 masks, a mile or so of cheap 2" wide tape, and rent a shop-vac. I will not tell you why. But trust me!!

Dic 8, 2020, 3:39 pm

>149 richardderus: Ooowwwwww. Yeah, I can see how concrete would complicate the issue.

Dic 8, 2020, 3:44 pm

>150 foggidawn: Damned good and miserable! Will never do for myself again.

Dic 8, 2020, 8:23 pm

>134 bell7: I love it!!! Congratulations, Mary. I hope you'll keep the photos coming of your improvements in progress and final results!

Editado: Dic 9, 2020, 5:40 pm

>148 foggidawn: Oh goody! That's what I like to hear. The second floor is painted, the first floor actually isn't, but if it rolls up nicely then we can take our time with the tack strips.

>149 richardderus: and 151 Oh yikes, that does not sound like a good time. I will plan on cutting the carpet right at the threshold of the living room and only pulling up the two small rooms for now, because to do otherwise would be pulling carpet essentially out of the whole house and up the stairs... and I think I can just live in the first floor for awhile and pay someone to do that (and paint the entryway, yup).

>152 AMQS: Thanks, Anne, I love it too! I woke up smiling this morning realizing I'm a home owner, and painting *my own house* today was surreal.

Dic 9, 2020, 5:30 pm

>153 bell7: I still occasionally get that happy buzz when I look around and realize I own my house. Hope it continues to bring you joy and that painting goes smoothly. :)

Dic 9, 2020, 5:32 pm

>134 bell7: Congrats! Quite exciting. Looks like a cute home,

Dic 9, 2020, 5:40 pm

House update:

Well, the closing went without a hitch (!) and I'm officially on record, I have paid my home insurance and changed my car insurance to the new address. My first mortgage payment will be February. In addition to the down payment, I bought the propane and oil that are already in their tanks. I should make phone calls to Noonan and... hm, not sure about the propane. It's rented, so I think I should get some info on that. Anyway. I want to see about getting them autofilled every so often.

Today I had a housemate help me (he's just out of nursing school, starts a job next week, but I offered to pay him), and we Kilzed just about the entire first floor. We painting *everything* in the living room, dining room, and master bedroom, including the ceilings, and even did a little bit in the kitchen where the white was discolored. It's a mess in the kitchen, but I figured... we had the smelly stuff out, might as well just finish the job and have less smoke-smell hanging around. We worked from about 9:30-4:15, with a short break for lunch. The leftover primer is downstairs in the basement, and we'll throw out the brushes and roller covers tomorrow. Thank GOD for the N-95 masks that were left behind in the basement.

Tomorrow's plan is to paint the living room and dining room and take that carpet out when we've finished. No ceilings and trim - just walls, though it will probably need two coats. Then on Friday, my SIL is coming over and she and I will paint the master bedroom walls. I will take some photos and have before-and-after.

Someday I will pay someone else to do the paint I want in the kitchen and the entryway and the stained ceiling above the stairs. I *might* paint the upstairs bedrooms, but will need more Kilz when it's time to do all that for the stains on the ceiling/walls. We probably used more than 4 gallons for what we did do. The painted walls look miles better just with the primer, though, going over all the stains and brightening everything up.

Dic 9, 2020, 5:42 pm

>154 MickyFine: Yeah, I can completely relate, Micky. I think in the spring working in the garden I'll get that happy buzz all over again. Even in the midst of the work, it's something special to have my own place.

>155 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita! I really love it already, and I'm looking forward to moving in this weekend.

Dic 10, 2020, 8:23 am

>156 bell7: Wow, you got a *lot* done in just one day! That's amazing!

Dic 10, 2020, 11:32 am

Congrats Mary! What a sweet house!

Dic 10, 2020, 5:41 pm

>158 scaifea: Thanks, Amber! A lot more today too. I had an ambitious list, and I think we're gonna get everything ready before moving that I wanted to. I am pooped, though, and will be happy if I don't paint again for awhile lol.

>159 norabelle414: Thanks, Nora!

Dic 10, 2020, 5:44 pm

I took some before-and-after pictures but don't have the energy to put them all up. Should you like to see, here's some before and after and I'll just keep adding to the album:

I've also been working on a Target registry to keep track of what I still need. Some friends and family may be contributing, but I've only just made it public an I expect it will mostly help me whittle away at making kitchen purchases that I just haven't needed yet, living in someone else's home as I have been.

Dic 10, 2020, 5:50 pm

142. The Bible

It usually takes me close to two years to finish my "read through the Bible in a year" plan - a combination of missing some days, and switching out my reading for Bible studies that I'm doing in small groups. Well, I finished a read through a few days ago, and for the next couple of weeks I'll just continue with Advent readings until after I've moved and I have a new plan to read through. This last one was once through the Old Testament and twice through the New.

Dic 10, 2020, 5:51 pm

143. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Why now? Annual reread

I probably got close to half as the audio read by Simon Vance, which was a fun way for me to revisit this beloved tale. I've read it every year since before I started keeping track, so at least 2006.

Dic 10, 2020, 6:04 pm

>163 bell7: I also read that every year, with my family. We've read the first two staves so far.

Dic 10, 2020, 6:16 pm

>164 foggidawn: Oooh, that's neat! It was never really one my family ready together, but I love it.

Dic 10, 2020, 6:32 pm

>161 bell7: Very cool! You're going to enjoy this, I'll bet.

Um...that errmm "light fixture" *cough* got me to thinkin' about a Twitter friend's super-cheap and handsome solution to a similar problem:

from this:

A plain ol' lampshade with the harp end cuphooked to the ceiling!

Dic 10, 2020, 6:37 pm

>166 richardderus: Huh, I've never seen that before and while I agree it's better than the original, I'll have to see if it grows on me. The light fixtures are... okay but they are the, um, unfortunate shape that they are. That picture was more to see how nice the ceiling looks now that we repainted it haha. The original paint was more of a warm white leaning towards yellowish after absorbing some smoke, I think. The living room is now a very bright white - even whiter than the primer, and I'm super pleased with how that turned out. Both rooms need a second coat, but that shouldn't take too too long.

Dic 10, 2020, 7:46 pm

I am all about the new, clean walls! But go lampshade'll see what a huge variety there is for you to choose from, and how little it costs. And how incredibly easy...half a dozen cuphooks and it's *over*.

Dic 10, 2020, 10:30 pm

Wayfair and Joss and Main have great light fixture options. I love the ones we got. Both sites are rabbit holes of fun house things, though...

Dic 10, 2020, 10:38 pm

Congratulations on your lovely new house, Mary! That's a great Christmas present, and an excellent way to end a not so great year.

Dic 11, 2020, 9:42 am

>162 bell7: I've got my year-long Bible plan, Streams in the Desert (year-long devotional book), and two Advent devotional books going, so I'll be reporting 4 in that type category between now and the end of the year. I guess the two Advent ones will finish up Christmas eve or Christmas day. The others will be December 31.

Dic 11, 2020, 12:50 pm

>162 bell7: I've been doing a chapter a day plan in the Bible app this year and while it'll take 3 years, it's nice to do it at a more relaxed pace. I'm in the depths of Numbers right now but they do kindly mix in New Testament chapters or Psalms every few days so it's not just endless lists of men and things every day. :P

Editado: Dic 11, 2020, 1:59 pm

So exciting about the new house, Mary! Thanks for posting all the photos. What is that saying contractors use? "It looks like it has great 'bones'". Lots of work to get it looking the way you want, but that's part of the fun. Congratulations!

Like you, we loved Lilac Girls (Debbi recommended it to me), and I loved the Nicola Yoon books, too. I think they both were made into movies?

Dic 11, 2020, 2:07 pm

>161 bell7: Absolutely stunning!

Dic 12, 2020, 9:16 am

>168 richardderus: I will add that to my list, Richard! I need to sit down and write it all out and prioritize, because right now everything I want to do to the house is just a tad overwhelming haha.

>169 katiekrug: Ooooh, good to know! Thanks, Katie.

>170 kidzdoc: Thank you, Darryl! It has been a really hard year, but my brother's wedding and my house have been highlights for sure.

>171 thornton37814: I have a devotional book I'm hoping to use next year, too, if I can open the box in which it's packed before January 1.

>172 MickyFine: I always look for a mix of New and Old Testament every year for exactly that reason, Micky. Reading just Numbers is tough.

>173 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe! My realtor said the same, that it has good bones, and I'm really looking forward to sprucing it up. I think you're right about the Nicola Yoon books being made into movies, though I haven't seen etiehr.

>174 Whisper1: Thanks, Linda!

Dic 12, 2020, 9:17 am

Moving day today! I may not be posting much over the next week or so as I get settled (and get Internet), but I'll be adding photos to that Google photo album as progress is made. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Dic 12, 2020, 9:19 am

>176 bell7: Woot! I hope you have a great, smoothly-running day!

Dic 12, 2020, 11:28 am

>176 bell7: Easy-move *whammy*

See you soon!

Dic 12, 2020, 6:11 pm

>171 thornton37814: I think unpacking books must become a priority for you! LOL

Dic 12, 2020, 6:34 pm

What a lot of work, but the joy you will feel when you are settled will be awesome.

Good luck!

Dic 12, 2020, 10:39 pm

Oooh, look at all that great wood under those ugly carpets! It looks like yours will need a lot more work than mine, but I am jealous that you are actually getting to be in it while I will have to wait for several months.

Dic 14, 2020, 1:07 pm

Wow- You've done amazing work in a very short time! You're rockin it! Do you have a move in date?

The library book club will be voting for the 2021 selections on Thursday. I think there were twenty nominations. I need to start reading reviews. I nominated Hamnet and Caste: The Origins of our Discontent.

Dic 15, 2020, 3:23 pm

>177 scaifea: Thanks, Amber! Everything went amazingly well, with most of my stuff in before the rain, settled at the house by 1 p.m., and a friend brought over the rest of the furniture that people had given me on Sunday. Now... unpacking.

>178 richardderus: Thanks, Richard! Went about as easy as could be, really. Now it's just unpacking and settling in.

>179 thornton37814: Haha, well yes and no. I put most of the boxes in the upstairs bedroom because I don't actually have enough bookshelves for them (the ones I was using were owned by the people who owned the house I was living in, and though they let me take most of them, I have enough fewer shelves I have to do some real rearranging and sorting and possibly downsizing). The big things I have left are clothes (which I forced myself to do today by dumping the box out on top of the bed so I have to take care of it in order to sleep tonight) and books. But I have a reading nook set up in the sunroom that will include all my devotionals and things, so it shouldn't really take as long as all that once I focus on it.

>180 Whisper1: Thank you, Linda! I'm starting to settle in and am thinking about cooking tonight.

>181 ronincats: Isn't it great, Roni? It does need some fixing up, but now that I've done the living room and dining room, I really think I can take my time working my way through (and saving up for what I can't do myself) and making the house what I want.

>182 streamsong: Thanks, Janet! I was impressed we did everything on my ambitious list, and couldn't have done it without the help I had. I moved in Saturday and have been slowly but surely unpacking ever since. Can't wait to see what you're reading in 2021! I should post our groups picks...

Dic 15, 2020, 3:31 pm

144. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Why now? Library book club

This was a reread for me of a book I first read in 2015. Here's how I reviewed it then:

Ove, age fifty-nine recently widowed and let go from his job, just wants to die in peace but life keeps getting in the way: namely, the new family that just moved in and others in the neighborhood keep needing his help and interrupting his suicide attempts. Can't a man die in peace? But as Ove's late wife, Sonja, would have said we have things we're destined to do and just maybe Ove has something to live for yet.

Starting off the book - especially with the suicide attempt - I wasn't quite sure what I was going to make of the story. It's a quirky little book, almost episodic with chapters that bring you along for one story and sometimes delving into the past so you eventually learn quite a bit about this man called Ove, who is curmudgeonly but good-hearted. His neighbors include Parvaneh, Patrick and family; Anita and her husband Rune, Ove's one-time friend now enemy; Jimmy the computer geek; and others. I kept thinking it was set in England because of the use of "bloody" as a swear, but they all live in a housing development in Sweden where one must assuredly - as Ove would say - follow the rules. It's a truly delightful tale that wound its way around my heart, and before I knew it I was crying over the characters. Recommended for readers of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.

I will say that it most definitely should have a trigger warning for suicide attempts - that aspect read much more disturbingly to me this time around.

Dic 15, 2020, 3:42 pm

Taking a quick break at work and hopping on to update a little. I took a break from unpacking this morning to put up my Christmas tree, which makes me happy. I still don't have Internet set up at home, and as we're supposed to get a storm tomorrow night I postponed book club to January 6 rather than drive somewhere with Internet. I'm debating when to get it because my long dogsitting job is now looking like January - early March, and I just... don't want to pay for Internet I won't be using for 2 months. I'm squeaking by with work computers and using my data (I get like 3 GB that I hardly ever use), so I'm fine for now.

Still reading a bit and hoping to finish The Once and Future Witches soon. I also have library holds coming in again, so I should have plenty of choices in the coming days (not to mention all those books I should be unpacking!).

Dic 16, 2020, 10:23 am

Glad to hear that the move went smoothly. Enjoy getting everything put in its place.

Dic 18, 2020, 12:04 pm

>186 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! I still have books and yarn to go but in a sense I saved the most fun for last haha.

Dic 18, 2020, 12:07 pm

The Once and Future Witches done yet? I'm pantingly eager to learn whether I should procure one or not.


Dic 18, 2020, 12:07 pm

Yesterday was a snowstorm and I knew before I left work on Wednesday that I would be off. I was able to get a lot done, figuring out Christmas gifts and who I have left to buy for and packaging some that need to be mailed, writing Christmas cards, replacing a lock (I am buying a Phillips head screwdriver before I replace the other one), and organizing some stuff. There's still some unpacking and plenty of home improvement that needs to be done, but I've figured out the big things and the first floor is livable and boxes have been moved upstairs if full or to the foyer for breaking down. Phew! Oh, and I managed to read a book (mostly photographs). Back to work today, it's been steady but not unbearably so, and then I have a busy day planned tomorrow with a plumber coming about the major work to be done, a hair appointment, and hanging out with my Little. Sunday should be relatively quiet, and then good grief, it's Christmas week already. How did that happen?

Dic 18, 2020, 12:07 pm

>188 richardderus: It is, I finished it Wednesday night and will attempt to review it now.

Dic 18, 2020, 12:21 pm

145. The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
Why now? I enjoyed The Ten Thousand Doors of January and have been looking forward to reading her latest

Once there were three sisters. They were inseparable, until they weren't. Now Juniper is on the run and comes to New Salem where her sisters Beatrice and Agnes both live but don't talk to each other. Beatrice finds a spell and begins a working that brings a tower, temporarily, to their town and scares the living daylights out of the populace and particularly Gideon Hill, a man who's running for mayor. Can the three of them bring witchcraft - and power to females in general - back?

I mostly enjoyed this book that was at once a fantasy about rediscovering magic and a rumination of power and who holds it. Beatrice, Agnes and Juniper each have their own personalities and ways of dealing with the patriarchy. Juniper is the angriest and loudest and most impetuous. Agnes wants to protect her own but doesn't want trouble. Beatrice had always assumed the stories were stories and delights in researching spells. Most women will find at least one they can relate to in one way or another. The story went on just a tad long for me - and this was in part my own fault taking two weeks to read it - but in the end I was satisfied with the story and would look forward to what more this author has to say. 4 stars.

>188 richardderus: Soo... in a sense it's a very "women's power" book as you can tell from my review, Richard. There's one nice guy and two not-so-nice ones, and the story is mostly about the sisters. I liked it, but I'm not sure if it will suit you or not. Try a library book first, maybe, and see if the first few chapters intrigue you enough to keep going.

Dic 18, 2020, 1:04 pm

>191 bell7: I think I'll borrow it, per your sage counsel.


Dic 18, 2020, 1:17 pm

>192 richardderus: Yeah, it's just rage-y enough that I couldn't give you a wholehearted recommendation to read it anyway. *smooch* back

Dic 18, 2020, 1:26 pm

146. Humans by Brandon Stanton
Why now? I really enjoyed his Humans of New York collections and have been following him on Instagram for a couple of years now. Grabbed it from the library new book shelf on my way out the door prior to a snow day - in part because I knew I wanted to read it, but also because I'm *this close* to 150 and I knew it would only take me a few hours to read.

While Stanton's earlier work featured portrait photographs specifically in New York, his latest takes him around the globe with people's photographs and stories from Iran, Ghana, Italy, France, and more (and yes, in New York too). Each photograph has its subject clear with the background blurred, sometimes of a person or two seated in a park, or standing on the sidewalk, and other times it focuses on just part of the figure with the face cut off, hands clasped or holding a cigarette, or a phone held out showing an older photograph. Beside each are the person's story, whether that be struggles or heartache, a love story, or in some cases just one line of text.

Those familiar with Stanton's work on social media will find the form familiar and still appreciate this collection, some of which has been posted and others that I don't remember seeing at all. It's heartbreaking and joyful and all the emotions in between. In his introduction, Stanton reflects that a collection like this can't really capture the whole of human existence, but wow, what he does include is really striking, and left me thankful for the life I have. Some photos were so striking, I just had to look at the person for a bit before reading their story. In between sections, Stanton writes a few thoughts on "struggle" or "connection" and how his process of finding a photo subject and talking with them works. Highly recommended. 4.5 stars.

Dic 19, 2020, 2:17 pm

>183 bell7: Whoops! I'm sorry I missed your move in date. Sometimes I can be a twit and I was so dazzled by all your before and after photos ....

Anyway, Yay! Home for Christmas!

How much snow did you get?

I enjoyed The Ten Thousand Doors of January so I'll read The Once and Future Witches (eventually). Right now I have a TON of books from the library as well as several LTER books, so I need to get caught up a bit.

Dic 21, 2020, 10:16 am

>195 streamsong: Oh no worries, there's a lot going on and I have been known to skip down to the bottom of threads that have gotten away from me, so I'm not going to mind when someone misses a post or two on mine! We got about a foot of snow on the Thursday storm and I was able to get a lot done at home, which was nice. I won't say I'm mostly unpacked because there are still a lot of books to go through and I don't know where a book of checks went (!) but at least my living space is mostly settled. I hope you like The Once and Future Witches when you get to it. I have a stack on my nightstand and several ARCs on my Kindle as well, so I can relate to the "too many books" problem.

Dic 21, 2020, 10:22 am

147. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Why now? I had started the series a couple of years ago, liked it, but never pursued it. I follow the author on Twitter, though, and saw that her final book in the series had come out and decided it was time for a reread and completion of the series.

Here's my review from a few years ago:

When her brother Darin gets captured by a Mask for his sketches of Martial weapons and her grandparents are murdered in front of her eyes, Laia's life changes forever. She knows she isn't strong and courageous like her parents, Scholar Resistance leaders, were but she's determined to free her brother. Training to be a Mask, one of the feared warriors of his class who subjugated the Scholars generations ago, Elias chafes against what he knows to be an evil system and dreams of escape.

It's the teen librarian's fault. She keeps buying really good fantasy books, and I see them in the purchase order and immediately have to put them on hold. This one was so worth getting my hands on immediately. I started out thinking I knew what I was getting into, standard teenage dystopian fare, and then one by one my expectations were turned on their heads. It's a fantasy, in a well-realized world that had a great balance of familiar and different. Laia and Elias trading narration ratcheted up tension and kept me reading speedily. I really liked both characters and liked seeing how they develop: Laia in her quiet courage and Elias as he tries to do the right thing in a place where that could be punishable by death. One of the dangers of first-person narration is that other characters seem flat in comparison, but others like Izzi and Cook and Helene and Marcus were fleshed out well and believably. The ending was satisfying and leaves room for more without a Major Cliffhanger spoiling the rest of my afternoon, too. Highly recommended for fans of teen fantasy like Graceling or Red Queen.

I will only add that I'd forgotten how very violent the book is, maybe more noticeable this time around because I listened to the audiobook for much of this reread. Anyway, looking forward to rereading book #2 and diving in to the rest of the series.

Annnnnd it's looking quite likely that I'll finish the year with 150+ books read in 2020. All three of the books I'm currently reading could conceivably be wrapped up this week, and I'd forgotten with the shortened holiday hours at the end of the week and a lot of cancellations that I'd have a LOT of time at home (though I am going over my parents' for Christmas breakfast, it will be quite a small group and I wouldn't be surprised if my brother and I left by noon).

Dic 21, 2020, 1:52 pm

>197 bell7: I will have to borrow that one from the library soon.

Happy Yule! I wish we could see the Great Conjunction tonight since neither of us will be alive in 7531 to see the next one this spectacular. (Or so I hope, anyway, can you even imagine being *that* old?!?)

Dic 23, 2020, 10:46 am

>198 richardderus: Well I hope you like it when you get to it! A belated Happy Yule, I haven't been staying up late enough for anything astronomically notable lately, but yeah it would've been need to see the conjunction. No, I would not want to be around in 7531. As it was, when I was on a town anniversary celebration committee in 2013, the majority of the group was of my grandparents' generation and kept making comments that only I would be around for "the next one" (50 years later). I was like... it's possible, but certainly not guaranteed that I'll last 'til my 80s.

Dic 23, 2020, 10:55 am

148. The Fat Man: A Tale of North Pole Noir by Ken Harmon
Why now? I decided it was time to read an additional seasonal tale besides A Christmas Carol

Gumdrop Coal, the elf that delivers coal to bad boys and girls, finds himself out of a job and on the run after he's accused of killing off one of the former bad kids, now a parent himself. To clear his name, he'll travel all around Kringle Town to figure out whodunit in this Christmas-y noir tale.

Filled with Christmas cultural references and puns galore, this was a fun holiday read though the mystery for me was secondary. Most of the chapter titles are lines from Christmas songs, the bad side of the tracks is Pottersville, and basically if there's a holiday pun to made, it is. There's a late, surprising turn to the religious, in my mind, and though it didn't bother me, it may be jarring or unwelcome to some readers. 4 stars.

This has been on my TBR list for 10 years, so I'm glad I finally got to it though I don't see it become a regular holiday reading event.

Dic 23, 2020, 11:35 am

Have a wonderful holiday, Mary. Hooray for the new house. A perfect start for 2021!

Dic 23, 2020, 12:35 pm

>200 bell7: That late turn sounds like it's really poorly judged...not what the author set up the reader's expectations to be at all, and even when one isn't offended by the subject matter, it's still a reader's grump-inducing bad ending.

Joyeux Noël! Pretty card.

Dic 23, 2020, 1:12 pm

>201 msf59: Thanks, Mark! Merry Christmas to you and yours as well.

>202 richardderus: Well exactly, which is why I mention it when I usually try not to put anything in the review that happens later in the story - it was jarring, and even though I didn't disagree with him it was kinda a headscratcher.

Dic 23, 2020, 1:16 pm

Tomorrow is a half-day at work and running straight from there to a blood donation appointment. Christmas will have a very small breakfast at my parents with a few of us who have been in close contact lately, but mostly I will have a very quiet weekend at home with no Internet, so I expect a lot of reading and knitting will happen.

Tuesday the plumber is coming to do the major work that needed to be done per the inspector, and after that I should be able to start a punch list of updates and improvements to slowly but surely work my way through. I've run through a potential budget for January with some tentative numbers plugged in from the Internet telling me what the average water bill or propane bill is that I can expect, and I'm sure I'll be tweaking in the coming months as I figure out what everything actually is. The good news is, though, that I did include an Internet bill in my figures so I should be able to afford it with no problem whenever I decide to bite the bullet (still waiting to hear on a Jan-March dogsitting job - if it doesn't happen, I'll get Internet sooner).

That's it from me - if I don't see you earlier, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and I'll check in next week on a work break!

Dic 23, 2020, 4:42 pm

Have a wonderful Christmas break, Mary!

Dic 24, 2020, 9:39 am

>205 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! Same to you :)

Dic 24, 2020, 9:45 am

149. The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Why now? Working my way down the Newbery Award and Honor list, I'd put a hold on the e-book/audio versions and started reading and listening when it became available (I've really stormed through e-book reading this year, it's been a higher percentage than ever)

The year is 1350, and Boy lives in a village in France. He has a big bump on his back, and lives under the strictures of the now-dead priest to never reveal himself. But then a pilgrim comes to town and asks for his help getting a relic from a nearby church, starting a quest that will change Boy's life.

Hmmmmm. I don't entirely know how to describe this without giving everything away, but I will say that it seems to be one of those books that always seems to tick the boxes of folks on awards committees and leaves me feeling like something's wanting. Would a child pick this up without prompting from an adult? Probably not... it's a slow start and more about internal development. Also it hovers on the line between historical fiction and fantasy, and I'm not sure it quite lives up to either. The ending didn't really surprise me - there were enough clues along the way - and left me with more questions than answers about Boy and what would happen to him now. I enjoyed it fine as I was reading it, but upon further reflection I don't think it will have much by way of a lasting impression on me. 3.5 stars.

Dic 24, 2020, 9:46 am

150. Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray
Why now? The Bible study I had on Philippians referred to his works a lot and I decided to read the addresses in this book as part of my quiet times this week

In eight short addresses, Murray describes what it means to live a life completely surrendered to Christ. I found it challenging and useful. 4.5 stars.

Dic 24, 2020, 6:10 pm

Dic 24, 2020, 7:08 pm

Mary--Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May 2021 bring you less need for masks, loads of peace and joy, good health and, of course, books!

Dic 25, 2020, 1:06 am

Congratulations on 2x75, Mary. What a great reading and posting year.

Dic 25, 2020, 1:06 am

I hope you get some of those at least, Mary, as we all look forward to a better 2021.

Dic 25, 2020, 3:03 pm

>208 bell7: Congratulations on reaching 2 x 75, Mary!

Dic 26, 2020, 10:17 am

Wanna help me kick 202 to the curb? 2021 group is here

Dic 26, 2020, 1:53 pm

Merry Christmas, Mary.

Dic 28, 2020, 1:23 pm

>209 AMQS: Thank you, Anne! Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season.

>210 Berly: Thank you, Kim, and the same wishes back at ya!

>211 PaulCranswick: and >212 PaulCranswick: Thanks much, Paul! Best wishes for a great 2021 for us all.

>213 FAMeulstee: Thank you, Anita!

>214 drneutron: Thanks, Jim, when I get a few moments and some borrowed Internet I'll set up a thread :D

>215 BLBera: Thank you, Beth! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas as well.

Dic 28, 2020, 1:26 pm

*smooch* for a happy 2021 run-up

Dic 28, 2020, 7:19 pm

Congratulations on your new house, Mary. I love the before and after photos. It looks like you will have something to keep you busy for some time to come. Congrats too for reading 150.

Dic 29, 2020, 3:13 pm

>217 richardderus: Thanks, Richard! *smooch* back

>218 Familyhistorian: Thanks, Meg! Yeah, it'll keep me busy alright... the plumber came out today, so that was the final 2020 major expense (he's replacing some big pipes in the basement that are a mess and putting an automatic filler on the boiler). The next one I save up for is going to be a new, automatic garage door followed by some replacement windows. I'm making a list. :)

Dic 29, 2020, 3:19 pm

151. The Answer Is... by Alex Trebek
Why now? Honestly... because he was such a staple of my life (I'm just a little older than Jeopardy!) and after he passed away I saw the memoir on the new shelf and decided I wanted to read it.

In short vignettes, Jeopardy! game show host Alex Trebek reflects on his life, from growing up in a small town in Canada to coming to the U.S., getting married, and working.

It actually took me a little while to warm up to the short snippets, which sometimes seemed a little like a guy just answering questions with short stories, and not really delving deeply into any one thing. However, for me once he got to the Jeopardy! era things really took off, as Trebek talked about some of the more memorable moments and guests on the show, and that frankly interested me more than some of what he'd done before on shows I'd never heard of. However, as a whole, it does give you a well-rounded picture of who Trebek is as a person and what's important to him. Reading in multiple formats is a plus with this one - the audio is read primarily by previous Jeopardy! contestant Ken Jennings, with some read by Alex himself, and the way they play off each other from one to the other is fun. The book, though, is beautifully made with thick pages and many photographs included, so I recommend having both available. 4 stars.

Dic 30, 2020, 10:26 am

152. Or What You Will by Jo Walton
Why now? I liked her Among Others and was intrigued by her new title, which includes references to Shakespeare and is very much a book about books and reading - Mark was kind enough to pass on his ARC and I moved it near the top of the TBR pile soon after

Our narrator, an idea inside a writer's head, tells us about his writer, Sylvia, who is visiting Florence and working on a new book. He has an idea to give them both immortality, and it's going to take all of their ingenuity to make it happen.

This very meta work reminded me of If On a Winter's Night a Traveler at first, but it's wholly original and a little more in the fantasy genre, which I say more because of Sylvia's writing (her story is part of this story too) than anything that happens in the main narrative. I was kept guessing for much of the story, was compelled to read the last 100 pages or so all in one sitting, and had a smile on my face in the end. 4.5 stars.

I'm passing this one on to a friend of mine who reads a lot like I do and my brother, who likes his metanarratives and more experimental fiction.

Completely unintentionally, I read three connected books overlapping. Both The Answer Is... and Or What You Will were written by Canadians. Walton and Alberto Manguel (I'm reading Packing My Library now and should finish it next) both talk a lot about writing and books, and refer to Plato's Allegory of the Cave. And actually a fourth - Ash and Quill is in the Great Library series which imagines a world in which the Library of Alexandria still exists, and I got a kick out of reading Manguel's description of what the library might have been and what a Serapeum (also referred to in Ash and Quill) is.

Dic 30, 2020, 12:25 pm

I'm thinking Paper and Fire and Ash and Quill might be my first couple reads of 2021. Glad to see you're having an excellent end to your reading year.

Editado: Dic 30, 2020, 12:35 pm

I am so glad you enjoyed Or What You Will, Mary, probably even more than I did. Glad to hear you are passing it on to another reader.

Editado: Ene 4, 2021, 12:37 pm

>222 MickyFine: I'll look forward to your thoughts on them, Micky! I don't think I'll finish Ash and Quill before the New Year, but I expect I'll spend some time in it this weekend.

>223 msf59: Thanks again for sending it along, Mark! It was a tricky one to rate, but I think ultimately I would reread it even knowing the ending (and ultimately probably getting more out of it then too), which is what ultimately pushed it up to a 4.5 for me.

I've started a new thread in the 2021 group and hope you all will join me there! I expect to finish one more book today, and will review it and my December/end-of-year wrap up here, but starting tomorrow (well, really Monday, I still don't have Internet at home) the new digs will be the thread I keep up with best.

Dic 31, 2020, 9:38 pm


As the year turns, friendship continues

Ene 4, 2021, 12:38 pm

>225 PaulCranswick: Love the graphic and sentiment, Paul. Looking forward to following everyone on to 2021.

Ene 4, 2021, 12:45 pm

153. Packing My Library by Alberto Manguel
Why now? I pulled it out of my bookshelves when I, too, was packing my library and it seemed apropos to start reading while in the process of moving and unpacking

In a series interconnected essays and ten digressions, reader and writer Alberto Manguel ruminates on books and reading when he packed up a 16,000 volume library in France and moved, putting them in storage.

Manguel and I have almost nothing in common on the service - he is of a different generation, a gay man, Argentinian but the son of a diplomat and extremely well-traveled and well-read. But I absolutely love reading his essays. I connect to his love for reading and books, even when we haven't read the same stories, because it's a source of pleasure and comfort to us both. My library is about 4% the size of his, but his thoughts on the feelings that boxing up - and then unboxing as you move to another stage in life - his library entails is one I could strongly relate to. Reading this was an absolute pleasure. 4.5 stars.

Editado: Ene 4, 2021, 1:20 pm

December in review

153. Packing My Library by Alberto Manguel
152. Or What You Will by Jo Walton
151. The Answer Is... by Alex Trebek
150. Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray
149. The Book of Boy by Catherine Murdock
148. The Fat Man: A Tale of North Pole Noir by Ken Harmon
147. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
146. Humans by Brandon Stanton
145. The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
144. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
143. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
142. The Bible
141. Frankly in Love by David Yoon
140. How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge by K. Eason

Books read: 14
Rereads: 4
Children's/Teen/Adult: 1/2/11
Fiction/Nonfiction/Plays/Poetry: 9/5/0/0

Because I want to awards:
Packing My Library for being an enjoyable book about books
Humans by Brandon Stanton for being very poignant and good

2020 stats -
Pages read: 46,821
Avg pages a day: 128
POC authors: 54 (35%)
Own voices: 52* (34%)
*This discrepancy due in part to reading nonfiction by POC authors; also one "own voices" was a white male with autism - so it's an imperfect measure, and the stats on my spreadsheet also includes books I'm currently reading

Despite 2020 being a dumpster fire in many ways - well, and also because of it, if I'm honest - I read more books than I ever have since working full-time and the most since joining the 75ers (though I did count different some years and keep graphic novels separate, which I don't do anymore). I read 153 books (14 again in December, which I did not expect). The breakdown was about 75% fiction to 25% nonfiction, pretty average for me, and just a hair under 70% were books for adults rather than teen (12.6%) and children's (17.9%). I am a little surprised that children's was so high, but one factor was that I started reading/listening to Newbery Awards and Honors pretty systematically in the spring and summer, which helped raise my total reading and that percentage. General fiction and fantasy tied for my most-read genres, 21.8% each, followed by science fiction 14.3%. (Historical fiction, memoir/bio, general nonfiction, mystery, and current events were the rest, starting with 10% and going down from there). I read essays, short stories, novellas and poetry collections - the only form I didn't manage was a play. Not quite a fourth of my reading was published in 2020. I'm really pleased with the mix of genres, though I find it a little surprising that historical fiction was such a small percentage, and with the fact that I kept my authors of color above a third of my reading. I was disappointed in keeping track to realize how heavily I read books from US/UK authors, thus next year's reading goal is not just to read diversely but also globally. I gave myself a book a month to start with and see how it goes.

Looking forward to putting 2020 behind us and moving on into the new year! I already finished one book, and will hopefully be able to update the new thread soon. See you there!

Ene 5, 2021, 11:49 am

>227 bell7: I haven't read that one but I've really enjoyed both of the books I've read by Manguel (A History of Reading and The Library at Night) so I'm not surprised your read was good.

Nice stats wrap up!