Mary (bell7) Reads Diversely and Globally in 2021 - thread #1

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Mary (bell7) Reads Diversely and Globally in 2021 - thread #1

1bell7
Dic 31, 2020, 3:52pm

Hi everyone!

I'm looking forward to returning to the group and sharing my reading, knitting, librarian-ing, and new housing with you all again.

For anyone new to my thread, my name is Mary, and I'm a librarian in my late 30s living in western Mass. I just bought my first house, and I'm enjoying fixing it up and making it home. I read, I knit, I watch sports (though not much right now because no Internet or cable is set up atm), and I talk about life here. I have a large family consisting of two brothers, two sisters, one BIL, one SIL, one niece and one nephew, and my parents. They'll appear here from time to time. Oh, and I watch people's pets for them, though 2020 was not a busy year for obvious reasons. I'm hoping the second half of 2021 picks up a bit and gives me some extra spending money for home improvements.

I comfortably read over 100 books a year, but 2020 when everything shut down I managed to read over 150 for the first time in my working life (I'd been able to do it while in school, because I had summers of only working part-time). Not sure if/when that will ever happen again, but it was fun to accomplish. This year, my goals are to have at least 25% of my reads be by authors of color (really I'd be happy to keep it above 33%) and one book a month to be by an author NOT born in the US or UK - preferably in translation, but I won't absolutely require it. I'll be aiming for twelve different countries. Suggestions welcome. I usually gravitate towards fantasy, with science fiction, contemporary fiction, and historical fiction also making up a good portion of my reading. I enjoy some mysteries if they're not too gritty, and will pick up nonfiction of just about any topic that interests me, though books about books and reading are my favorite.

If you post here, I will follow your thread, though be warned I tend to lurk more than comment (especially, again, with the lack of Internet thing). Welcome, and I hope you enjoy following my 2021 reading journey!

2bell7
Editado: Feb 14, 6:58pm

2021 Book Club Reads

January - Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate - COMPLETED
February - Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson - COMPLETED
March - Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker
April - The Burning by Megha Majumdar
May - The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Summer break
September - Beloved: a novel by Toni Morrison
October - The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
November - The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
December - The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

3bell7
Editado: Ene 8, 8:04pm

Top reads 2020 (not including rereads, and in order read):
New Kid by Jerry Craft
Monument: poems by Natasha Trethewey
A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Lu by Jason Reynolds
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
The Writer's Library by Nancy Pearl and Jeff Schwager
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne Brown
Class act by Jerry Craft

Random things I'm keeping track of -

Bookish articles:

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
2020 - 153

4bell7
Editado: Feb 17, 8:55pm

Currently Reading
What I Carry by Jennifer Longo
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Beyond Colorblind: Redeeming Our Ethnic Journey by Sarah Shin

Devotionals/Bible reading
Leviticus, Mark
Daily in His Presence by Ellie Claire
New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp

February
15. The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
14. The Book of Delights: Essays by Ross Gay
13. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
12. The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman
11. Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor
10. Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

January
9. Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
8. An American sunrise by Joy Harjo
7. The Last Stargazers by Emily Levesque
6. This Time Together by Carol Burnett
5. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
4. Umma's Table by Yeon-Sik Hong
3. Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park
2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
1. Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

March

5bell7
Dic 31, 2020, 3:55pm

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.

6bell7
Dic 31, 2020, 3:55pm

Annnnd, you may now begin! Happy New Year!

7richardderus
Dic 31, 2020, 4:11pm

Happy new year, dear Mary, and many happy returns of this day, too.

My idea for your 2021 translation-a-month is Children of War by Ahmet Yorulmaz.


Published March 2020. Got lost in the COVIDity of this lousy year. Deserves attention.

8katiekrug
Dic 31, 2020, 4:19pm

Happy new year, Mary!

9DianaNL
Dic 31, 2020, 4:28pm

Best wishes for a better 2021!

10Crazymamie
Dic 31, 2020, 4:39pm

Happy New Year, Mary! I got caught up with your 2020 thread just in time to transition to this one. Loved the photos of your house - so exciting, and it's really cute.

11jennyifer24
Dic 31, 2020, 5:41pm

Happy 2021! Looking forward to seeing what you're reading, especially your international reads.

12PaulCranswick
Dic 31, 2020, 6:04pm

Welcome back, Mary.

2000 posts and 200 books for 2021?

13drneutron
Dic 31, 2020, 6:36pm

Welcome back! I haven’t been tracking authors of color, but have been trying to up my game in that regard. So I’ll be watching for suggestions!

14FAMeulstee
Dic 31, 2020, 7:05pm

Happy reading in 2021, Mary!

15jayde1599
Dic 31, 2020, 8:52pm

Happy Reading in 2021!
I tend to be more of a lurker than a poster on threads but try to post occasionally!

16MickyFine
Dic 31, 2020, 10:41pm

Happy new thread, Mary! Wishing you a year full of good reads and all the fun of settling into your new to you house.

17charl08
Dic 31, 2020, 11:31pm

Happy new year - looking forward to hearing more about your reading in 2021.

18PaulCranswick
Ene 1, 1:29am



And keep up with my friends here, Mary. Have a great 2021.

19The_Hibernator
Ene 1, 12:41pm

Happy new year Mary!

20AMQS
Ene 1, 1:47pm

Happy New Year, Mary! 2020 was a rough year for me but it turned out to be a good reading year and I was particularly proud of the number of titles by authors of color. But when I did my EOY tally I forgot to count. I may go back and do it. It is definitely a worthy goal and I hope to continue.

21Esquiress
Ene 1, 4:17pm

Hey there! Happy new year :)

22thornton37814
Ene 1, 7:07pm

Hope you have a great year of reading!

23ronincats
Ene 2, 12:48pm

Dropping off my and wishing you the best of new years in 2021!

24BLBera
Ene 2, 1:32pm

Happy New Year, Mary. Good luck with your reading goals in 2021. I also want to read more in translation.

25norabelle414
Ene 2, 1:46pm

Happy New Year, Mary! How is your house?

26cbl_tn
Ene 2, 7:42pm

Happy new year! Congrats on the new house!

27fairywings
Ene 4, 6:11am

I usually lurk more than post also.

Good luck with your reading, looking forward to catching some BB's from you along the way.

28richardderus
Ene 4, 1:20pm

Hiya smoochling, hope all's progressing apace.

29bell7
Ene 4, 2:08pm

>7 richardderus: Happy new year, and thanks a bunch for that recommendation, Richard! I'll at it to the TBR list.

>8 katiekrug: Happy new year, Katie!

>9 DianaNL: Thank you, Diana, and the same to you and your family

>10 Crazymamie: Happy new year, Mamie, and thank you! I'm pretty excited, and enjoy each small project I give myself to get set up

>11 jennyifer24: Thanks, Jennifer! Looking forward to following along with you as well.

>12 PaulCranswick: Ha! One can only hope, Paul. We'll see how busy the garden keeps me this year. Audiobooks?

>13 drneutron: Thanks, Jim! Hope you find some good ones to explore. I finally read a book by Octavia Butler for the first time last year (yeah, I know...) and I'm hoping to read more. I've only tracked for the last two years or so in an effort to deliberately read authors beyond white women.

>14 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita, the same to you!

>15 jayde1599: Welcome, Jess! Happy new year, and looking forward to following your reads too. I will be very much a lurker while I still don't have Internet at home, but maybe on a vacation week a few months from now I can attempt to catch up...

>16 MickyFine: Thank you, Micky! Happy 2021 to you.

>17 charl08: Thanks, Charlotte!

30bell7
Ene 4, 2:13pm

>18 PaulCranswick: I like that, Paul, and can fully get behind each "more" for the year.

>19 The_Hibernator: Happy new year, Rachel!

>20 AMQS: Happy new year, Anne! I keep mine on a spreadsheet I found through BookRiot that runs the percentages for me, thankfully. I'd never be able to keep it up on my own.

>21 Esquiress: Hey, Es, welcome back and happy new year to you too!

>22 thornton37814: Thanks, Lori, same to you!

>23 ronincats: Happy new year, Roni!

>24 BLBera: Happy new year, Beth! I'll look forward to seeing what you find in translation too.

>25 norabelle414: Happy new year, Nora! The house is good - I got the major, immediate projects done and now I'm having fun getting curtains and making small decorating changes. I've started a list and I'll be saving up for various home improvements over the next couple of years, but it will be fun to make each improvement.

>26 cbl_tn: Happy new year, and thanks, Carrie!

>27 fairywings: I try to keep up, kind of, but since I still don't have Internet set up at home, that will definitely be true for the next month or so! Nice to see you, Adrienne.

>28 richardderus: Thank you, Richard! Things are going well, I'm settling in, and I'll have a larger update to follow.

31bell7
Editado: Ene 7, 11:07am

1. Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine
Why now? Continuing series read

Jess and his friends find themselves in Philadelphia, the heart of the Burner community that's in the midst of war with the Great Library of Alexandria. With Jess's family ready to betray them, the Great Library after them, and the Burners threatening, they're not sure where to turn. But Jess and Thomas determine that the printing press needs to be made and books to become freely available to all, even if they need to temporarily work with the Burners while planning their escape.

The third in the series is very much the middle of the story, having no real beginning or resolution which I can sometimes find frustrating as a reader. But I'm invested in these characters and their story now, so I look forward to continuing and reading more of their adventures. Any book about the importance of libraries (as far as this one has fallen becoming a despotic and power-hungry place) and books is one that I will enjoy. 4 stars.

32bell7
Ene 4, 2:21pm

Life update:

Well, I'm settling in to the house. It's not photogenic, but I got some pitted pipes and a lead pipe replaced in the basement, and what do you know... the water tastes better. I also had him put in an automatic filler on the boiler so I don't have to worry about going down regularly to make sure it's filled, and can leave for dogsitting jobs without having to stop just to check the boiler (though of course I will stop at home occasionally to pick up clothes or what have you, but it gives me more freedom). I'm working with my brother on getting a security system set up, and once that's done those are all the major work projects I wanted to do immediately. There's a list, of course, but I can save up an work my way through. An automatic garage door is next on the major project list.

I had a nice long weekend of reading and knitting, and I broke my phone. It dropped hard and flat from my bathroom vanity to the floor, cracked open inside the case (the screen is not cracked) and the screen went black. I could get Google Assistant to work, so I played podcasts all day Friday and ran down the battery. Saturday morning I plugged it in and...nothing. It's three years old, I knew I was due an update soon anyways, so I put in an order for a Pixel 4a and it should arrive Tuesday. In the meantime, I've been nearly unreachable by friends and family because I don't have a landline or Internet at home. Sunday, I brought my laptop to church and after service sat down for a few minutes to write an email to my mom to let her know I was fine but unreachable, and I just...showed up at my brother's house to watch the Giants game (we'd talked about it last week, so he was semi-expecting me). They won, but so did Washington so no playoffs this year. It was a nice win to the end the season, though, and it'll be interesting to see if Saquon Barkley comes back healthy.

So anyway, that's my weekend. I've updated last year's thread to close out the year and will try to come up with a best of the year 2020 at some point, but haven't quite the energy now. I've stayed at work to borrow the Internet to post and work on lists, but I'll go home now to get a little cooking and puttering done.

Oh, and I have been knitting. I borrowed a library book that I may end up purchasing for myself, it's got really cute figures to knit and I made an adorable ladybug. I'm thinking I'll make four different critters, for my niece and nephew, and for my friend's twins. Once I have a phone again, I'll post pictures.

33Whisper1
Ene 4, 10:40pm

Hello Dear Mary. I'm stopping by to star your thread. It is great fun to take a space and make it yours! In 2021, I purchased some new furniture, gave away what I had, and made a lot of friends happy.

All good wishes for a year of wonderful happenings!

34scaifea
Ene 5, 8:25am

Yay for getting house projects done! But I'm sorry about your phone. Yoicks.

Also, yay for knitting! Santa brought Charlie a book and kit to crochet little Harry Potter figures and he's pretty excited about it.

35Crazymamie
Ene 5, 8:51am

You are making good progress on your house, Mary. Sorry about your phone - yikes! Hoping the new one shows up today on schedule. I can't wait to see your knitted ladybug!

36msf59
Ene 5, 8:56am

Happy New Thread, Mary. Happy New Year. I thought I had stopped by but I see I had not. Good luck with the new house and moving forward in 2021.

37streamsong
Ene 5, 10:25am

Happy New Year, Mary!

I like your challenges to read a translated book each month and also books by POC. I'll be interested to see what you read!

Your house sounds like it is coming along wonderfully. Yay for getting rid of the lead pipe (hopefully that was the only one - nasty stuff!) . And also yay for updating your boiler so you have more freedom.

Double darn snagglefratz on the phone. Since today is Tuesday, I hope it arrives today and that you LOVE it!

38ffortsa
Ene 5, 10:51am

Hi, Mary! Congratulations on your new house (I may go back and look at your old thread to find pictures). I wasn't aware that your family was so nicely close to you - I'm envious.

Have a fun and health 2021!

39bell7
Ene 5, 12:43pm

>33 Whisper1: Hello, Linda, and happy 2021! One thing that's wonderful about getting hand-me-downs (besides the free-ness of them) is that if I ever decide to swap things out, there's no sentimental attachment and I can swap them out for fun if I ever decide to.

>34 scaifea: Yeah, it's been an interesting long weekend without it, Amber. Amazing what you CAN'T do with a fun - like, I set up my Amazon account to have two-step verification and I... can't get a text to make a purchase. At least working today and yesterday have kept me busy and not fretting over something I can't change.

>35 Crazymamie: Thanks, Mamie! I am planning on stopping by the store on my way home from work tonight... it *should* have been delivered according to tracking so here's hoping.

>36 msf59: Happy new year, Mark, and thanks for stopping by! I owe you a visit before you get on your third thread of the year :D

>37 streamsong: A happy new year to you as well, and thanks, Janet! There are more plumbing updates that could happen, though I think I've taken care of all the lead. Less importantly, there's no venting (but also no real issues) with the downstairs toilet and kitchen sink. And right now the plumbing to the shower and vanity is split from the same pipe and not up to code, but as I'm not washing my hands and showering at the same time, I'll worry about that if I ever renovate the bathroom. Thank you for the good phone wishes, I'll be able to use a little data and check in tonight if I'm able to get it.

>38 ffortsa: Thank you, Judy! I'll post the link to my house photos for everyone below - and hopefully will be able to update it with the new phone tonight! My parents live about 20 minutes away, and my brothers about 30 each, while my sisters live in the DC metro area (one in Maryland and one in Virginia). It is nice to have them be close (and even those far away are a short plane ride only), and I'm looking forward to when my brothers have kids and I can spoil the nearby niblings. Happy 2021!

Here's my house photos album for anyone interested - https://photos.app.goo.gl/FzNwtEAdrwJ74E3J7

40richardderus
Ene 5, 1:41pm

Okay, I gotta know why your maiden voyage on Good Ship Gas Stove resulted in a visit from the fire department.

41bell7
Ene 5, 2:06pm

>40 richardderus: Hahahaha okay here goes:

I had a snow day the week before Christmas, and I thought, great, I will catch up on a bunch of cooking and baking, and get the gas stove fired up. I put in banana bread and five minutes later, the fire alarm in the bedroom starts blaring, and yeah, there's a little bit of smoke but there's no carbon monoxide alarm going off in the same room. So I press the button to disarm the alarm, turn off the stove, open some windows... called the non-emergency line and explain what happened.

Well, the fire truck shows up, lights going, two guys get down, and they come in and split up checking everything for potential fire/carbon monoxide. Can't find a thing. I explain what happened, we're looking at the (now turned off) stove, and I'm saying, "It's the first time I used it, it looks really clean, I don't know what happened." They surmise - and tell me they're not stove guys - that maybe the lack of use caused a propane build up and it just kinda *poofed* and smoked when I first used the stove? The house has been vacant since whenever the previous owner went into assisted living, possibly the spring though I'm not sure. The brand-new fire alarm in the front of the house never went off, nor was there any evidence of carbon monoxide (phew!). Then they ask if they can move the stove some to check behind it. "Sure." They pull it out about six inches and... there's a cigar underneath, a gift from the previous owner. It wasn't hot or anything, but the ash looked fresh and apparently was in just the right spot to ignite when I turned the stove on. They pick up the cigar, I sweep up the ash, we turn the stove back on and wait a few minutes - voila. We're good to go, and the banana bread bakes.

Since then I've taken the battery out of the old fire alarm, and the stove and oven have both worked smashingly. The thing is older than me (1978 if the copyright of the booklet matches) and still looks like it could run forever.

42richardderus
Ene 5, 4:47pm


Oh
o\Oh
my belly hurts

43bell7
Ene 5, 5:31pm

>42 richardderus: I mean, it's pretty hysterical. You can't make this stuff up.

44FAMeulstee
Ene 5, 5:35pm

>41 bell7: Oh, poor you, Mary, I am glad the baking could continue.

>43 bell7: If I found a story like this in fiction, I would not believe it could happen ;-)

45bell7
Ene 5, 5:39pm

>44 FAMeulstee: It was a bit stressful in the moment, Anita, but fortunately I'm able to laugh at it now. Isn't it funny when truth is stranger than fiction like that? :)

Oh also, my gas stove doesn't need me to light the pilot, thank goodness. I'd be getting electric right quick if that were the case.

46cbl_tn
Ene 5, 6:56pm

>39 bell7: I peeked at the photos. Love the stained glass, wood floors, and stairwell! And I am jealous that you have a gas stove. I would love to have a gas stove but I don't have a gas line.

47Crazymamie
Ene 5, 7:52pm

>42 richardderus: What he said.

48AMQS
Ene 5, 8:11pm

Oh, what an adventure! Glad you were able to find the source, but oh, my...

49drneutron
Ene 6, 8:06am

>41 bell7: 😂😂 Did you give the firemen some banana bread?

50scaifea
Ene 6, 9:24am

>49 drneutron: Ha! I was going to ask: Did you ask if they'd like something to read? #ObscureDylanThomasReference

51MickyFine
Ene 6, 10:11am

That's an excellent fire department visit story, Mary. One of my favourites that I've ever heard was from a friend who lived in residence during her undergrad. She made toast, burned it slightly, and set off the smoke detector, which in that building resulted in an automatic call to the fire department. A couple firemen show up and she tells them it's a false alarm and then asks if while they're there they wouldn't mind opening a jar she'd been having problems with. They very politely opened the jar and then left.

Enjoyed looking at your house album. Love the ends on your curtain rods!

52Crazymamie
Ene 6, 11:17am

>51 MickyFine: I love this story, Micky!

Morning, Mary!

53bell7
Ene 6, 12:54pm

>46 cbl_tn: Thanks, Carrie! Would you believe that floor had been covered by a carpet? By the time I bought the house, pretty grungy and stained too. I'm looking forward to pulling up the rest! My mother always insisted on electric (she had one as a child where they had to light the pilot and the process and open flame scared her), so I don't really know the best care and keeping of it. So far I'm trying hard not to spill anything I'm cooking! But I will have to clean it one of these days.

>47 Crazymamie: :D Glad I could be of entertainment hehe

>48 AMQS: Ha, yes, quite the adventure for sure, Anne.

>49 drneutron: Hahahaha, well I had literally just started it so it wasn't in a fit state to give anyone. Maybe I should send my next batch down to the fire station as a thank you?

>50 scaifea: I had to look that up, Amber, but that's a delightful reference. I don't think I quite have the guts to try it in person though.

>51 MickyFine: Oh my gosh, that's fantastic, Micky. Maybe next time they can help me with a paprika bottle that doesn't want to open? I liked the curtain rods too, bought them off Amazon. I haven't been able to put up pictures of the drapes I bought for the living room, but they cost me even less than the rods ($30 for all six panels).

>52 Crazymamie: Good morning, Mamie, good to see you!

Well, the Verizon store closed early so was only open for my exact work shift yesterday. I'm planning on getting my phone today, however.

54thornton37814
Ene 6, 1:48pm

>53 bell7: I grew up with a gas stove so it's really my preference as well. I've had electric all my adult life now. I do have a gas line, but the house came with a brand new electric stove from the person who flipped it. I suppose he chose an electric because they are cheaper. I'll eventually replace it, but I guess I didn't see the need to do so at the time.

55bell7
Ene 6, 2:51pm

>54 thornton37814: I've heard good things from cooks in the know, and other than that one scare really haven't had a problem with it. The booklet seems to indicate I can clean it out with soap and water, and when I moved in it was pretty clean so I'll probably keep it as long as it runs, honestly. The propane is for the stove and hot water, and there's no rental fee as long as I use a certain amount a year so it's just a matter of figuring out my budget, I think.

56bell7
Ene 6, 2:53pm

In the ongoing phone comedy of errors, I went to the store today just in time for them to be locking up due to an employee testing positive for Covid. I'm emailing folks that I need to contact. Anyone want some snail mail?

57norabelle414
Ene 6, 4:38pm

Love your new curtains!

I've always had a gas stove but the one I have now is too hot (I think?) on all four burners. If I owned it I could probably figure out how to turn it down but I don't so I won't bother. My cooking has gotten a lot better since I learned I have to constantly turn the burner up and down to keep it at a low temperature.

58MickyFine
Ene 7, 8:39am

>56 bell7: Oy. Hopefully this is the last hurdle before you actually get it.

59bell7
Ene 7, 11:10am

>57 norabelle414: Thanks, Nora! Any tips for cleaning? It *looks* fairly straightforward but it's hard to separate from my mother's reluctance about gas stoves in general. The burners are a bit tricky, and I've found using others' stoves that I turn down gas lower than electric to get the temp I need.

>58 MickyFine: I hope so! My boss suggested getting a burner pre-paid phone for emergencies, and I may do that. It doesn't hurt to have a backup at the ready, in any case.

60bell7
Ene 7, 11:16am

2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Why now? After watching the most recent movie, I decided it was time for a reread - this is only Little Women, not Good Wives which I decided to wait a little while on even though my volume contains both

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy are home with their mother, Marmee, while their father is serving as a chaplain the Civil War. These episodic chapters tell of their everyday trials and tribulations, fun and joys, as they strive to become better people and grow into young women.

This classic hardly needs an introduction, right? My first foray was actually one of those Illustrated Classics that was much abridged and had a drawing on every other page. I still have a lot of fondness for the story, for all its moralizing, and found that a lot of Marmee's precepts had wormed their way into a lot of my own thinking*. As a classic, I think it would still hold appeal to some readers, as while details have changed certainly the challenges of growing up, trying to be good, and dealing with friends and family are still very much the same. 4.5 stars.

*That chapter on balancing work and play really stands out in this, actually. It was a little disconcerting.

61The_Hibernator
Ene 7, 11:40am

Hi Mary! Sorry about your phone! That's an expensive mistake. And glad to see you're settling into your new house.

Interesting story about the fire department. That sounds like an adventure. Our fire alarms go off for no reason all the time. Aaron just takes them down every once in a while. Then I always make him put them back up because I worry about a real fire.

62MickyFine
Ene 7, 5:18pm

>60 bell7: How did you like the newest adaptation, Mary?

63bell7
Ene 8, 10:59am

>61 The_Hibernator: Eh, fortunately I had had it for about 3 years so it was an older phone and one I knew I'd replace soon anyways. That's weird about your fire alarms - are they old enough that they need replacing? Someone I dogsit for had that happen - at 3 a.m. of course, while I was sitting for them - and the reason turned out to be they were about 10 years old and new ones were needed.

>62 MickyFine: Mmmm, I liked it okay but I was a little mixed about some of the decisions. The opening scene is Jo running to the editor's office and I was a little miffed because part of the fun for me reading it as a kid was wondering if she'd be successful in her literary endeavors. But... at the same time I thought it was an interesting choice to have that moment at the end where the editor insists Jo get married. It was true to life that Louisa herself never really got married but she ended the book that way because it was how happy endings were done, and I liked that nod to her real life. One of my co-workers pointed out that all of the religious references are taken out, and while I don't think the 1994 version had the references to Pilgrim's Progress that the book did (and I didn't really expect that to begin with), this one almost deliberately has a very late, quick mention that Mr. March is a chaplain, when in the book he's clearly not fighting and they lay that out immediately, so it did feel like a surprisingly deliberate omission. I'll have to rewatch the earlier version to be sure, but I think it hit me at the right moment (I was a preteen) and I'm not sure any other version will top it as a result. What did you think?

64bell7
Ene 8, 11:06am

Well, last night I went out and bought a prepaid phone (thanks to my boss for the suggestions) and 30 days of unlimited talk and text so I'm at least reachable by family, co-workers and a few friends now. I got in touch with my Little and we're still planning on hanging out tomorrow, so the immediate challenges are averted and now I'll just wait to be able to get the ordered phone. And in the future, I have a back up phone I can use if anything like this happens again.

Here are the knitting project updates:

Ladybug


Bumblebee


These will most likely be with my niece and nephew's birthday gifts in July and May, respectively.

I'm now working on some fish that I think will be for my friend's twins. Their birthday is in the summer, too, late June or July, and they'll be three.

65scaifea
Ene 8, 11:14am

>64 bell7: Those are adorable! Well done, you!

66jnwelch
Ene 8, 1:22pm

Happy New Year, and Happy New Thread, Mary.

I like your POC and non-US/UK author goals. I'm reading your December book club book The Vanishing Half right now, and liking it.

I grok your new house to-do list - we started one more than 20 years ago, and just kept it going, crossing off some and adding new ones. It must still feel so great to have your own place.

67thornton37814
Ene 8, 1:48pm

>64 bell7: Those are cute!

68MickyFine
Editado: Ene 8, 3:55pm

>63 bell7: I found the emotional connections the newest film made for all four sisters were really wonderful. I bawled over Jo lamenting her choice to turn down Laurie and feeling lonely - so beautiful and relatable . I also enjoyed how the ending of the new film is really open to interpretation and gives viewers the choice of which ending they find happy/ realistic. However the 90s version has so much nostalgia wrapped up in it from my childhood (including my crush on Christian Bale) that it will always come out on top.

Your knitted insects are adorable!

69bell7
Ene 8, 6:44pm

>65 scaifea: Thanks Amber!

>66 jnwelch: Happy new year, Joe! Ha, yes, I can imagine that the house to-do list will be never-ending. I have a few things that are must-dos, like new (and automatic) garage door and replacement windows, and then some "it would be nice" updates, but I am looking forward to making the place my own.

>67 thornton37814: Thank you, Lori!

>68 MickyFine: Yeah, I think they did a nice job of the sibling connection and the rowdiness of the play that they had, talking over each other, and having fun really well. And yeah, I could really feel for Jo in that moment too. It'll be interesting reading Good Wives to see if I have a different reaction to it - I'm definitely closer to the parents' age now than the girls! And thank you, I'm having fun with the knitted creatures.

By the way, my latest knitting projects have come from Little Knitted Creatures by Amy Gaines. I may have to buy it, all of the options are adorable.

70Crazymamie
Ene 9, 11:09am

Good thinking with the prepaid phone. And your little knitted creatures are adorable!

Happy Saturdaying, Mary!

71richardderus
Ene 9, 5:09pm

Oh, those little knitty-wittys are adorable! I love the ladybug best.

Here's to hoping we'll be living coup-free for a while longer.

72bell7
Ene 9, 6:59pm

>70 Crazymamie: Gotta give my boss props for that one, she's a smart cookie! It's been good to at least stay in touch with family and have a way for co-workers to reach me (or for me to call in, in bad weather) though I haven't shared it with friends yet just because I'm *hoping* to get my new phone (and old number) back soon and don't want to make a huge hassle out of it either way. I'm almost done a fish that I'm looking forward to sharing too :) Hope you're having a good weekend, Mamie!

>71 richardderus: Thank you, Richard! The ladybug was my first and still my favorite so far. I'm *very* pleased with it. Ugh, yeah, it's been a rough week and was probably good for my mental health that I had no Internet set up yet on Thursday night. No matter what side of the aisle (and as of my move, I'm "unenrolled"/Independent), that was absolutely appalling. I'm praying (quite literally) for the country and a peaceful transition. I could say more but I'll leave it at that. Fortunately my family in the area is fine, my married sister and her husband are still working from home, and my other sister was working from home that day (though she doesn't always) as well.

73bell7
Ene 9, 7:03pm

I'd been trying to wait out Internet service until after I came back from a dogsitting gig, but the dates keep getting pushed back (understandably) and I finally decided I need to have it - the phone situation really sealed the deal too. I need a way to be in contact with family and friends if one or the other goes down. So this morning I got the prepaid deal and bought a router from the local provider. Now I can look forward to starting Bible study on Monday and having book discussions while in the comfort of my own home. The Internet speed is the most basic it gets, but so far video calls and surfing have been fine from one end of the first floor to the other, so I'm happy. And it's a little less expensive than I'd originally budgeted for.

Happily, though, that means a little more LT time so I'll probably be catching up on threads some over the next few days.

74norabelle414
Ene 9, 7:40pm

>64 bell7: Very cute toys!

>59 bell7: Usually a lot of the parts come off. The grates over the burners will come off and you can soak them in the sink, then usually the whole top of the stove will lift up or come off so you can clean around the burners. Though your stove looks very different from mine, so your mileage may vary.

75bell7
Ene 9, 7:53pm

>74 norabelle414: Thank you! Oooohhhh, okay. There is a way to get the top to come off, though I just tried and can't quite manage it so I'm not sure if my angle is wrong or it's rusted tight. I'll make a project out of cleaning the whole thing one of these days, but since the oven is pretty clean I'm not too worried about it yet. The directions with it are from 1978, and the microwave (I just checked) is 1987. The washer appears newer but I have to add a spin cycle for clothes to not be totally sopping wet, and the dryer's pretty old and hooked up to the propane too, I think. But these appliances really do last and came with the house, so that's more bemusement than anything else. There's enough to do I'm not replacing them 'til I have to. And there's plenty of places to hang clothes in the summer.

76bell7
Ene 9, 11:02pm

Stolen from Anne who stole it from Richard:

1. Name any book you read at any time that was published in the year you turned 18:
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
2. Name a book you have on in your TBR pile that is over 500 pages long:
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
3. What is the last book you read with a mostly blue cover?
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
4. What is the last book you didn’t finish (and why didn’t you finish it?)
Beach Read by April Henry - outside of my comfort zone as a straight-up romance anyway, and I just couldn't get into it
5. What is the last book that scared the bejeebers out of you?
Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
6. Name the book that read either this year or last year that takes place geographically closest to where you live? Actually Little Women again - Cambridge is where the Alcotts really lived, about 70 miles east of me
7.What were the topics of the last two nonfiction books you read?
Personal libraries & books, and a memoir of a game show host
8. Name a recent book you read which could be considered a popular book?
A Man Called Ove - a reread for book club, and very popular at my library
9. What was the last book you gave a rating of 5-stars to?
Not counting rereads, Class Act by Jerry Craft
10. Name a book you read that led you to specifically to read another book (and what was the other book, and what was the connection)
It's going back a bit, but when I read The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu, in one of his introductions he mentioned that he had patterned his "documentary" story after one by Ted Chiang, so a few months later I read the brilliant The Story of Your Life and Others collection
11. Name the author you have most recently become infatuated with.
Octavia Butler - how have I never read her before 2020?
12. What is the setting of the first novel you read this year?
Cambridge, MA (wow, that one book is coming up a lot!)
13. What is the last book you read, fiction or nonfiction, that featured a war in some way (and what war was it)?
Okay so Little Women is set during the American Civil War because their father's away in it, but it isn't exactly featured so I'm going to say Lilac Girls, World War 2
14. What was the last book you acquired or borrowed based on an LTer’s review or casual recommendation? And who was the LTer, if you care to say.
Or What You Will by Jo Walton - Mark (msf59) gave it a positive review *and* sent me a copy to read
15. What the last book you read that involved the future in some way?
A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
16. Name the last book you read that featured a body of water, river, marsh, or significant rainfall?
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward - set in New Orleans in the days leading up to and during Hurricane Katrina
17. What is last book you read by an author from the Southern Hemisphere?
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsym Muir
18. What is the last book you read that you thought had a terrible cover?
The copy I own/read of Dicey's Song has a pretty meh cover
19. Who was the most recent dead author you read? And what year did they die?
Alex Trebek, 2020
20. What was the last children’s book (not YA) you read?
The Book of Boy by Catherine Murdock
21. What was the name of the detective or crime-solver in the most recent crime novel you read?
Gumdrop Coal, an elf in The Fat Man: A Tale of North Pole Noir by Ken Harmon
22. What was the shortest book of any kind you’ve read so far this year?
Packing My Library was technically last year, but only 146 pages and shorter than the two books I finished this year
23. Name the last book that you struggled with (and what do you think was behind the struggle?)
The Guest Book by Sarah Blake - I had just read a book I loved so it was hard to compete, and the writing style left a lot to be desired
24. What is the most recent book you added to your library here on LT?
Daily in His Presence, one of the devotionals I'm working through this year
25. Name a book you read this year that had a visual component (i.e. illustrations, photos, art, comics)
Again technically last year, but The Answer Is... by Alex Trebek had a significant number of photos; even more so, Humans by Brandon Stanton
26. What is the title and year of the oldest book you have reviewed on LT in 2020?
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, 1818

77bell7
Ene 11, 2:46pm

3. Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park
Why now? My nonfiction reading was stalling and I needed something quicker, so I read this over the weekend. It was billed as a good update to Little House on the Prairie without the racism and with a main character of Asian and white heritage

Hanna and her Pa move to Dakota Territory in 1880, and she's hoping they can finally settle in and go to school. But that means revealing that she's part Chinese, and that's caused trouble before. Will the town's racism drive them out again, or will Hanna and her father be able to stay? Will Pa let her have her dream of making dresses for their shop?

This middle grade book has been getting good reviews lately, with the inevitable comparisons and contrasts to Little House on the Prairie - which is very much intentional, as the author herself was a fan of the series but knew there were racist characters and beliefs portrayed, and that no one like herself was in the story. Hanna has to deal with racism every day, and throughout the story it broke my heart to see her decide when to say something or stand up for herself and when she just didn't want to argue, even with her father. She's a great character, and it's a quiet, well-told story that would appeal to fans of historical fiction. 4 stars.

I really liked Linda Sue Park's Newbery Award winning A Single Shard, so it was fun to read another book - and one totally different - by her.

78scaifea
Ene 12, 8:04am

>77 bell7: Oooh, I like Park's stuff, so I'll have to put this one on the list. Great review!

79AMQS
Ene 12, 9:24am

>76 bell7: I like your answers, Mary! I liked this one because it made me think about my reading in different ways.

>77 bell7: I have been going back and forth about Prairie Lotus and ultimately deciding against it (ordering it, that is, not reading it) because technically my collection development guidelines say that a book has to be recommended for at least two grade levels in my school (so 4th and up). What do you think: is it appropriate for a K-5 school?

80bell7
Ene 12, 10:42am

>78 scaifea: Love it when I can recommend a good book to you, Amber - hope you enjoy it!

>79 AMQS: I had fun answering it, Anne, I had to look back through a lot of last year's books to determine some answers like the book with significant rainfall. Hmmmm, Prairie Lotus is probably borderline for your school. The main character is 14. The prose reads young to me but there is an attempted assault towards the end. One review had it ages 8-12 (Kirkus) while Booklist had it grades 5-7, and I think I'd tend to agree with the latter. But maybe a good read it yourself and decide - I do this it's one you'd like.

81bell7
Editado: Ene 12, 11:14am

4. Umma's Table by Yeon-Sik Hong
Why now? This was a well-reviewed graphic novel from an award-winning author/artist that also happens to be in translation, so it was a nice addition to my TBR stack and a quick read yesterday between errands

Madang Bae straddles his responsibilities to his wife and young child in the South Korean countryside and his aging parents back in Seoul. He dives into building a garden with joy and reminisces about eating his mother's kimchi, even while struggling with anger at his alcoholic father and dealing with his mother's medical challenges.

I really enjoyed this graphic novel exploring that unique part of middle age where you're pulled in different directions by the generation older and younger than you. The illustrations of the characters as cats give a sense of whimsy, and there's a blend of lightness and humor as well as more serious reflections on getting older, family, and the connection that - in Madang's case - food brings. 4.5 stars.

Not a bad way to start out my graphic novel reading for the year, and it's my book in translation for January, originally written in Korean. I'm going to have to look up the author's previously translated work, Uncomfortably happily.

82richardderus
Ene 12, 3:10pm

Hey there Mary, enjoyed your answers in >76 bell7: and you bloody well book-bulleted me with >81 bell7:.

Time for me to stalk off in a huff.

83bell7
Ene 12, 4:49pm

>82 richardderus: Glad you liked the answers, Richard, and sorrynotsorry for the book bullet. I know you're extra picky about graphic novels so I'm rather delighted it still appeals to you.

84Esquiress
Ene 12, 9:09pm

>64 bell7: Those are so cuuuute!

85bell7
Ene 13, 9:46am

>84 Esquiress: Thanks, Es! I should have some fish to share soon :D

86bell7
Ene 16, 1:56pm

Happy Saturday! I'm looking forward to a long weekend of reading, knitting and possibly getting some projects (like taking down all my Christmas decorations) completed.

The store where my new phone arrived in time to close has reopened today, and the poor person working there was the only person working there. While I was there getting things set up, about five people came in to pay their bill and had other questions, and she had to redo the order to charge me for the right phone (a Pixel 4a, not the 4a 5G), so I'm headed back in a few to get it. Fortunately it's right around the corner, ALL of my text messages and stuff came through, and all of the old apps on my Pixel 2 are sent to this one (though I do have to sign back in to everything...). Hurrah! And as I told one of my co-workers... if this is the most inconvenienced the pandemic makes me, I'll be doing well.

I started Before We Were Yours yesterday for book club and am making good progress today. I should be able to finish it this weekend, as well as my home projects (nothing major, just laundry, tidying up, and the said Christmas decorations), and hopefully writing a couple of letters. I'm looking forward to a couple of quiet days at home.

In knitting projects, I finished two fish and started a third because I'm enjoying the patterns so much. I've been watching Schitt's Creek and while I'm a few episodes into season 2 I can't quite decide if I like it or not - some things make me snort and others are just not funny to me. *shrug* But David's character makes me laugh and I love that now I get a bunch of Internet memes that I didn't before. And they're super short episodes that don't take a lot of concentration, so I've been knitting said fish in front of a few episodes every night which has been pretty enjoyable.

Alright, off to get my phone back. You all have a wonderful weekend, and I'll look forward to updating you with book reviews and knitting project pics soon.

87charl08
Ene 16, 2:43pm

>81 bell7: Not one I've heard of, and I thought Grass (also South Korean) was amazing. Not that those should necessarily be linked, I realise as I'm typing this! Glad you're coming to the end of your phone woes.

A big bounce proof plastic case this time round?

88richardderus
Ene 16, 2:58pm

>86 bell7: Have "fun" at the phone store! And be safe out there among the looneys who aren't masked.

89MickyFine
Ene 16, 6:47pm

Have a great weekend, Mary, and enjoy getting all set with your new phone.

90bell7
Ene 18, 12:31pm

>87 charl08: Hi, Charlotte! I'll have to look into Grass at some point. And thanks for the good phone wishes! I ordered a cover from Amazon but it's not due to come in for awhile, so I'm going to have to be careful with it for another week or so.

>88 richardderus: Haha yes, well, it wasn't really how I was planning on using my stimulus check but there ya go. Thanks to Google backup, I was able to get all my apps on the new phone and signed in to most of them over the weekend so things are up and running again.

>89 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! It has been good so far and I'm happy for the three-day weekend.

91bell7
Ene 18, 12:38pm

This three-day weekend has been rejuvenating, a nice mix of crossing things off my to-do list and relaxing. I started watching Schitt's Creek and after spending most of season 1 wondering if I liked it or not, I've definitely decided I do and have been enjoying binge-watching while knitting.

Since I got Internet last weekend, I decided I needed to start getting in the exercise habit again, so I started Yoga with Adriene, her series on Breath. I'm only on Day 5 today (I took Friday and Saturday off), but I'm really enjoying it and like that I feel refreshed after doing it, but not so wired that I can't go to bed if I do it after work.

I finished my book club book over the weekend and will be updating with a review soon - Wednesday is book club, thus the push to get Internet at home.

It's currently warm enough that I can sit in my sunroom and it's delightful. I've essentially set it up as a library/knitting room but it's been too cold for me to really spend time there. This is really going to be my go-to place to sit when the weather gets into the 40s and above.

I've got laundry going and may or may not take down the Christmas decorations after lunch. That and a little tidying in the kitchen and maybe a grocery shopping will round out the day.

92bell7
Ene 18, 12:45pm

5. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Why now? Book club book for January

Back in 1939, Rill narrates her story of living on the river with her parents and several siblings, but they are stolen away when her parents had to go to the hospital when her mother gave birth. In the present day, Avery Stafford has been groomed for the politician role but isn't really sure what she wants in life. When she meets May Crandall at a nursing home, and realizes May knows her grandmother, Avery starts looking in to her family's past despite what a scandal might mean to her father's position as senator or her own political future.

This was compelling historical fiction about a little known but horrific story about... well, I can't really say because I already knew what it was going in, and it took out some of the tension of Avery discovering the connection between past and present. I figured it out pretty early on, and even if I don't tell you, you might too. The writing style and dialog was occasionally stilted, but most of the time I was reading too fast to care. And I'm definitely going to have to add some nonfiction reading to supplement. 4 stars.

93richardderus
Ene 18, 1:17pm

>92 bell7: It's one of those "the joke is the story" tales, like The Crying Game was years ago. I'm not spoiler-phobic, so I always regard those stories as suspect. If it won't hold up to a second viewing/reading, it's really not that great to begin with....

94katiekrug
Ene 18, 1:41pm

I am VERY relieved to hear that you decided you liked Schitt's Creek. It took me a bit, too, and The Wayne even longer, but we just finished Season 2 and it just gets better.

95AMQS
Ene 18, 1:43pm

Happy Monday, Mary! We are not TV people at all but my husband recently "discovered" Schitt's Creek and has encouraged me to watch it with him. I'm really enjoying it. On hold until he returns from a road trip.

96MickyFine
Ene 18, 3:14pm

One day I'll get to Schitt's Creek. Dan Levy was on David Tennant's podcast last year and their whole conversation was a delight (as is every episode of the podcast, IMO).

97bell7
Editado: Ene 20, 4:54pm

>93 richardderus: Yeah, I rated it pretty high because I was enjoying it while I was reading it, but I think ultimately it's one that wouldn't be a good reread. Unlike something like The Thief where the plot is so cleverly done that you enjoy picking out the double meanings and hints all along when you know what's coming. It'll be interesting to see what the book club ladies make of it.

>94 katiekrug: Oh good, another fan! I was wondering where I would fall because when it first started I was like... is this gonna be like Arrested Development? But I was talking to my brother about it and what we came up with was that it's different in that every single character is over the top about something, so there's no secondhand embarrassment for me watching average people trying to cope with outlandishness, and also they're all pretty likable even while being ridiculous, where the characters in AD are... not so much. It could also be my mood too.

>95 AMQS: I either watch nothing or binge watch like crazy, Anne. I'm just wrapping up Season 3.

>96 MickyFine: Thanks for that, Micky, I've added David Tennant's podcast to my subscriptions and downloaded the one with Dan Levy. I wasn't paying attention to which actors played what characters (the only name I recognized was Catherine O'Hara and I couldn't even tell you why), so I didn't realize that David (edited to clarify - the character, played by Dan Levy) was one of the show creators and started down a rabbit hole. I'll have to listen to that episode soon.

98MickyFine
Ene 20, 11:06am

>97 bell7: Catherine O'Hara has been in tons of stuff but likely culprit for knowing her is Home Alone. Enjoy the podcast - David's a great interviewer and his guests are all lovely. I particularly loved his chat with Judi Dench last year.

99bell7
Ene 20, 4:54pm

>98 MickyFine: Oooh, yeah, that could do it. There's a lot of movies I missed as a kid because my dad didn't watch movies, but I have seen that one.

100richardderus
Ene 20, 7:08pm

Greetings Mary, happiest of Humpdays in living memory.

101bell7
Ene 20, 8:37pm

>100 richardderus: Thanks, Richard! It's been a busy week already, but it's nice to be halfway through.

102bell7
Editado: Ene 20, 8:45pm

Tonight was book discussion, and we doubled up a little because we didn't have a discussion in December. We talked about Before We Were Yours which everyone liked more than me - some reread it - so I wonder if maybe I'm just getting nitpicky? I don't know. But there was a lot to discuss, topically, from family secrets to the historical record of the fictionalized story to the idea of our lives getting busy and getting away from us. I think part of it was that I had really high expectations again - I didn't hate the book, I read it in two days, but I didn't like it as much as I expected to. We also had the highest attendance I think I've had for an online book discussion, with six of us in attendance. We took a few minutes at the end to talk about A Man Called Ove (December's title), and all liked that one as well.

Next month we're reading Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson and I'm really looking forward to that one (maybe I should try to temper my expectations...).

This has been a weird week, starting with the holiday, and then my boss has been out due to family circumstances starting Tuesday afternoon, so I've been pretty busy. Tomorrow I'll take on signing in all of the in-person appointments (five time slots instead of two-three as me and my boss split them), and then Friday I'm headed to Boston to drop some things off for digitization (I need to remember to put them in my car tomorrow...). So yeah, it'll be a week. Saturday is my day with my Little and Sunday is a day of REST, baby.

In the meantime, I'm still reading The Last Stargazers, I'm dipping into poetry with An American Sunrise and I've started rereading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (my least favorite of the books, though still good). I have far too many library books out and I'm going to return a couple tomorrow just to make the stack a little more manageable before a whole lot more holds start coming in. Oops.

Oh, and I *might* be dogsitting in a week or two? Still have to confirm dates.

When I put it like that, it doesn't really appear that the pandemic has slowed my life down much at all.

103MickyFine
Ene 21, 10:16am

Life sounds very full, Mary. Wishing you all the energy you need to get through until Sunday. :)

104richardderus
Ene 21, 10:36am

Full of good, productive busyness, as >103 MickyFine: says, though that energy boost wish is one I think is an evergreen in Mary-land.

105bell7
Ene 21, 11:08am

>103 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! So far so good on appointments - the morning went very smoothly, and the afternoon's filling up. I'll have to remember to grab an audiobook for my drive tomorrow.

>104 richardderus: Indeed, Richard, an extra little energy boost never goes amiss! I can be a little scatterbrained and like having enough margin to remember all the things I'd forget if things got too hectic. So far so good today - the morning appointments went well, there's not a lot of curbside appointments left to be made and a co-worker is helping me with those, and I've brought the things out of storage that I need to bring to Boston tomorrow to digitize.

106PaulCranswick
Ene 22, 1:42pm

>105 bell7: Have a great trip to Boston. I miss Caro who is one of our group Bostonians.

107bell7
Ene 24, 11:46am

>106 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! It was a quick trip to drop something off at the Boston Public Library for digitization, but thankfully everything went smoothly. The one bit of excitement was there was a film crew on the street I had to park on for the loading dock to drop off my items - if only I'd kept my head, I might've seen a celebrity instead of worrying if I was parked in the wrong place and hightailing it out of there quickly! I do miss being able to go into the city and sight see - the last time I really hung out was in October 2019 and I met Caro and Marianne and others for the Boston Book Festival, which was a bunch of fun.

108richardderus
Ene 24, 12:44pm

Sunday orisons, Mary, and a good new week ahead!

109bell7
Ene 24, 2:50pm

>108 richardderus: Thanks, Richard! Back at ya :D

110bell7
Ene 24, 3:01pm

After a busy couple of days, I'm enjoying some downtime at home today. I had virtual church service this morning and have been reading, watching Schitt's Creek and knitting. I am working on a decoration for my dining room wall that's going to have a large wall clock with just the hands, a decal reading "Time spent with family is worth every second" and 4 x 6 photos around it all of family at weddings, holiday celebrations, and more. I've ordered all the items on Amazon and should be getting the rest of my purchases this week. The photo frames came a few days ago. Today's fun was picking out photos to go in the frames and printing them out at the drugstore down the street, so they're all ready to go. I still need to get myself AAA batteries for the clock and stickies to mount the photo frames on the wall, but I'll add those to my grocery list this week and should have it up soon.

In a little bit I'll be watching some playoffs, though my team is so far out of it I don't really care who wins. I'll probably end up going for whoever falls behind first just to see a comeback. Go close games!

Back to work tomorrow, I should see my boss again early in the week but Wednesday-Friday I'll be the senior staff member and the end of the week I'll be doing payroll (not as bad with Covid, because now I just email a copy to someone when I've finished instead of physically driving to Town Hall).

Still reading the same books as the last time I mentioned. In knitting, I finished a baby blanket with no one particular in mind and took the opportunity to use up some yarn I just had around (tag sale purchase, actually). Now I'm working on a baby sweater, again no particular purpose in mind - it's kinda fun to be ahead on projects for once. If I get enough of them, I may donate some.

111MickyFine
Ene 25, 11:59am

>110 bell7: Have fun being the adultiest adult at work this week. :)

Your photo wall sounds fun. I'm still doing math and deciding what I want to hang above our mantel in the basement. I want at least 5x7 photos so that they're more discernible from a distance but the wall is weird dimensions so figuring out what I like and will fit is the biggest slowdown.

112richardderus
Ene 25, 4:08pm

>110 bell7: what >111 MickyFine: said about the photo wall! I love that idea.

113bell7
Ene 25, 6:16pm

>111 MickyFine: Haha, thanks, Micky. It's definitely more stressful being the adultiest adult, but I'll enjoy my weekend after :D

>112 richardderus: Thank you, Richard!

I'll take a picture to share of the photo wall when complete. It's been fun planning it out, and if all of the pieces come in, I may get my mom to help me actually hang it over the weekend. I remembered the batteries but forgot hanging stickies today.

114bell7
Editado: Ene 25, 9:34pm

6. This Time Together by Carol Burnett
Why now? I needed an audio for a trip to Boston, and having recently listened to an interview Carol Burnett gave on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, I thought listening to her read her memoir would be fun

In short vignettes, Carol Burnett reflects on life, laughter, family and friends. Awhile back, she toured the U.S. giving one woman shows that were essentially an extended question and answer period. She never knew what would be asked ahead of time, but some questions and stories kept coming up often. From those stories, and others she chose to share, Carol gives you a window into her life as a woman in show biz, a wife, a mother and a friend in this entertaining memoir.

This was made truly delightful by listening to the unabridged audio read by Carol herself. Her personality really came through in the reading, from comedic timing in the funniest stories to hearing her choke back tears during the most poignant. Whether you were a huge fan of the show or, like me, too young to have seen it (yes, I know, but that's what DVDs and YouTube are for, and I promise I'm rectifying that), this is a fabulous, heartwarming and very funny read. 4.5 stars.

I have a short list of light and funny audiobooks such as Bossypants by Tina Fey that I like to recommend to patrons, and this one is added to that list. It came out 10 years ago but it's not the sort of book that ages. Also people are just fascinating - I've discovered only in the past few years how much I enjoy memoirs.

115bell7
Editado: Ene 25, 9:48pm

7. The Last Stargazers by Emily Levesque
Why now? I was hearing a lot of publisher marketing for this title, and was intrigued enough to ask our nonfiction purchaser to get it for the library, and grabbed it from the new shelf when I thought I'd have some time to read it

Emily Levesque, an astronomer who studies red supergiants, gives lay readers a window into the wild and woolly world of astronomy and astronomers, from the history of using photographic plates in telescopes to the future of celestial science as more and more digital means of observation become reality.

The Last Stargazers is a tough book to categorize. Part memoir, part history, and part science book, this accessible and sometimes humorous book gives readers all sorts of stories about a fascinating and pretty rare job. She never gets over-heavy on the math/science aspects while still sharing a lot of fascinating tidbits about stars, telescopes, and how an observatory works. Interviewing dozens of fellow astronomers, Emily shares her own and others' stories of the work, and delves into hairier aspects such as inequalities and the challenges of the future with an even-handed approach. 4 stars.

I could see this appealing to a wide audience, both those who enjoy popular science books and those who like memoirs about unique careers (I'd also put Word by Word by Kory Stamper in there, for lexicographers).

116MickyFine
Ene 26, 1:10pm

>113 bell7: I respect librarians who transition into management. It's definitely not for me but I'm glad you're finding it rewarding.

>114 bell7: I've only seen clips here and there from Carol Burnett but do love the Gone with the Wind sketch.

>115 bell7: Hmm, I did enjoy the Stamper. Putting this on a mental maybe list.

117Crazymamie
Ene 26, 2:21pm

Hello, Mary!

>114 bell7: I also loved this one on audio. I grew up watching her show, and one of my many favorites is the one that Micky mentions - the Went With the Wind skit that parodies the famous book/movie Gone With the Wind.

118bell7
Ene 27, 6:28pm

>116 MickyFine: I'm in a weird in-between kind of place as assistant director. Most of the time I answer not what I would say but what I think my boss would say. I gave myself five years in this role to decide if I'd ever want to be real director, and I think if nothing else 2020 helped me realize that I could handle it (and that in some ways it would be easier to just make the decision than to... guess). I think I've seen the Gone with the Wind sketch, or part of it, maybe on one of those countdown shows (50 funniest moments in TV history or some such).

>117 Crazymamie: Hi, Mamie! As I mentioned to Micky, I think I saw part of that sketch but I will see if I can find the whole thing and some others. I was telling my co-workers how much I enjoyed the memoir even though I hadn't seen the show.

119SandyAMcPherson
Ene 30, 11:11am

Hi Mary. I starred your thread in mid-January and then bailed out of posting pretty much anywhere. The threads were swamping my brain, filling so fast.
I was (am) intrigued with your eclectic book genre.

Must be a real challenge to hang photos. I went through that exercise a few years ago. A friend gave me a tip: lay out all the photos you would potentially choose to display on a extra-large piece of white newsprint (we buy "end rolls" from our local newspaper publisher for 50¢ each). Use painter's tape and number the photos (the tape doesn't mark up the surface, assuming you have framed them).

I had this on the floor and then stood on a step stool to take a photo graph. It really helped visualize the display when I looked at the photo on our larger computer screen.

Trace around each photo frame, remove the frame and number each space.
Tape the newsprint to the wall and stand back to get an idea of the arrangement as far as spacing and sizes.

I know, you didn't ask... but this was such a dandy idea for me because I was famous for having to fill the nail holes and do a touch up after making a bad choice!

120bell7
Editado: Ene 31, 6:38pm

>199 Welcome, Sandy! That's a great bit of advice. I put up my photos yesterday before I saw your post and didn't have the graph/paper, but I did measure it out on the floor and managed to eyeball it pretty well to get them up there. My photo wall makes me smile every time I walk by.


It looks vertical on my Google photos and downloads landscape, so I'm sorry you'll have to crick your neck a little to see. I've adjusted both the "three" frame to be in a bit more and the "six" to be down lower to even out my spacing, and I'm really happy with how it came out. I used command strips to velcro the frames, and if I really wanted to replace a photo (and I may some day as I have more nieces and nephews and perhaps children of my own) I could in the future.

121bell7
Ene 31, 6:37pm

As of yesterday, I watched all of Schitt's Creek *sob*. It was SO good, and I managed to get a bunch of knitting done while binge-watching. I finished this lovely white sweater today and was super pleased with how the flower buttons look with it:



I'm working on a variegated pastel one next, but haven't decided what to watch yet. I'm leaning towards Virgin River. I don't know much about it, but my co-worker's wife likes it and she and I share a lot of our taste in movies/shows.

122bell7
Ene 31, 6:47pm

8. An American Sunrise by Jo Harjo
Why now? I figured I should read something by our current poet laureate, and chose one of her recent collections that I had purchased in my last poetry order for the library

This was a mixed bag for me. The structure is part poems, part story - some sections were basically stories or histories, not just poems - and tells of Harjo's ancestors Trail of Tears being forced by the federal government to move from their homeland in Alabama to Oklahoma. This made the collection especially hard to read. Several poems were opaque to me, in part because I'm a reluctant poetry reader but also because I'm unfamiliar with some of the history and tradition that she as a Mvskoke woman conveys in poetical format, making it that much harder for me to follow. This is not just history, but also everyday and present life, with history spiraling in and out as it does for all of us. There are some really beautiful lines and descriptions to be found here. "Washing My Mother's Body" and "My Man's Feet" were two poems that really resonated with me. So I'm glad I read it and I would try something by Harjo again, but for this one I almost wished for a whole college class to focus on the collection and a good teacher to guide me through to better understanding.

123bell7
Ene 31, 7:02pm

9. Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
Why now? Apparently I put this on my TBR list back in September but I didn't make a note about what put it there - I had suspended library holds that I'm trying to work my way through slowly but surely, and of my too-high library stack I was reasonably sure I could read this one fast.

Tarisai has been raised alone with her tutors, unable to touch anyone because she'll learn their memories, and for a wish that her mother wants her to fulfill: kill the heir apparent in this kingdom. But once she travels to the capital and meets the prince, she knows she'd never want to kill him. Will she be able to defy her mother and rewrite destiny? Will she and her friends be able to right the wrongs they begin to see as they're groomed to lead a nation as its council serving the heir, Dayo, the Raybearer?

A fun teen fantasy with solid world-building a few delightful twists that kept me wondering what would happen next. Because a lot of set up and discovery happens, it feels like the first in a duology or trilogy, but has a satisfying ending of it's own. This is Jordan Ifueko's first book, and I'll be adding her to my list of authors to watch for when a new book comes out. 4 stars.

124richardderus
Ene 31, 8:23pm

>12 PaulCranswick: I saw it on Google, so I got the full effect. It's just wonderful!

125bell7
Ene 31, 8:26pm

January in review
9. Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
8. An American sunrise by Joy Harjo
7. The Last Stargazers by Emily Levesque
6. This Time Together by Carol Burnett
5. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
4. Umma's Table by Yeon-Sik Hong
3. Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park
2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
1. Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

Books read: 9
Rereads: 1
Children's/Teen/Adult: 1/2/7
Fiction/Nonfiction/Plays/Poetry: 6/2/0/1

Because I want to awards:
Umma's Table for a fabulous graphic novel in translation
This Time Together for being laugh-out-loud funny, poignant, and making me have to watch some of the Carol Burnett Show

YTD stats -
Pages read: 2,364
Avg pages a day: 76
POC authors: 4

Thoughts:
Nine books in January is pretty typical for me, and it's funny to look back over dates read and realize that most books were finished somewhere from Friday-Monday rather than mid-week. I'm happy to report I managed to squeak in two more books finished over the last two days of the month, putting my total number of POC authors to 4 out of 9. I read a nice variety of genres that still reflects my personal taste with - no surprise, really - two books each of fantasy, historical fiction, and memoir. I also met my goal of having a book in translation - Umma's Table was originally written in Korean and was a fabulous graphic novel to boot.

What will February bring? I have a stack of about a dozen library books, many of which I managed to fit into TIOLI challenges and most of which are by authors of color. I've been rereading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, plan on starting Interior Chinatown tonight, and Red at the bone by Jacqueline Woodson will be our book club book.

126bell7
Ene 31, 8:33pm

>124 richardderus: Thanks, Richard! I saw the idea on Pinterest and was originally thinking it would work well on the stairs, but I see my dining room so much more, I'm happy it's there instead, in a place for gathering and eating and visiting together. Also a clock is much more useful on the dining room wall than the stairway. (I'm assuming you meant >120 bell7:, right?) My mom liked it too and said she may copy me haha.

I've been slowly but surely reading Love the House You're In for ideas and inspiration, and while I can't say I've (yet) come away with any brilliant ideas solely from reading it, I've definitely felt empowered to do what makes me happy and what feels like home in my space... to trust my instincts, so to speak, even though I'm not a professional designer.

127richardderus
Ene 31, 9:03pm

>126 bell7: Yes indeed, >120 bell7: is the one I meant and *absolutely* it's perfect for the dining room! I'm so glad you're gaining the clarity from the read to know that your house is yours so should reflect you not some design ethic.

128ronincats
Ene 31, 9:24pm

>123 bell7: Book bullet!! Such an original grouping for your photos, Mary.

129bell7
Ene 31, 9:37pm

>127 richardderus: I think it's helped that this is my first house and I went in with, literally, everything bare. I've been gifted all the furniture, but everything else I've moved with - my books, pictures and wall hangings, music boxes - are things that are already meaningful to me, so I'm starting with a blank slate of a house and a few important items to start making the place my own, instead of having some design aesthetic imposed and having to remember what I like and what's important to me.

>128 ronincats: Oh yay, hope you like it as much as I did, Roni! And thank you - I had a lot of fun putting it together after seeing something similar on Pinterest. A lot of them are from "special events" too - a wedding, Christmas, Thanksgiving, a Super Bowl trip with my dad and brothers, and one silly photo of my sister was taken at the National Book Festival.

130BLBera
Ene 31, 10:03pm

>121 bell7: I love the sweater, Mary!

I love Joy Harjo as well. I just finished an early collection of hers. In that one, she commented on the inspiration for some of her poems.

131Crazymamie
Ene 31, 10:20pm

Mary, I love the clock - it's full of fabulous, and the dining room sounds like the perfect place for it. And the sweater!! You are so talented; it's adorable.

132scaifea
Feb 1, 8:38am

Lovely wall, and that sweater is so sweet! Well done, you!

133katiekrug
Editado: Feb 1, 10:50am

ETA: I'm mid-way through Season 3 of Schitt's Creek and loving it more and more. I would probably binge it more, but The Wayne likes it, too, but only 1 or 2 episodes at a time, so it's taking FOREVER....

134MickyFine
Feb 1, 1:30pm

Wall turned out great and the baby sweater is adorable! Nice to have a stash of those around.

Glad to see you wrapped up the month with some solid reads.

135bell7
Feb 1, 3:38pm

>130 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! I'll have to try another collection soonish (by which I mean, possibly April for National Poetry Month); having some comments about the inspiration would be fun. An author did t hat in a short story collection I read last year, and I loved that.

>131 Crazymamie: Thanks much, Mamie! I've been having fun decorating the house as you can see. The sweaters are nice quick&easy knitting projects. I'm following a pattern someone else made up (I don't quite know the construction well enough to make up my own), and she includes two different sizes (the newborn only has one button) and both long and short-sleeve versions. I love how adorable they come out and I've tried all sorts of different yarns and colors now.

>132 scaifea: Thank you, Amber!

>133 katiekrug: YES for Schitt's Creek. I really do think each season got even better, the characters really developed depth and I cared about them more and more as the show went on. So. Good. Hope you and The Wayne are able to move along a little more quickly with the snow day :D

>134 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! Yeah, enough of my family and friends are starting or growing families that it is nice to have a stash and not feel any sort of time pressure in having a project done. I have another baby sweater on the needles and then I'm contemplating making myself a pair of socks. And thank you! I'm pretty happy with my January reading overall.

136bell7
Feb 2, 3:52pm

Happy Tuesday! We got a good 8 inches of snow, at least, at my place, but my work schedule is such that I was home before we closed yesterday, and I got a one hour delay to when I'd normally arrive today. That's okay, though, it gave me enough time to both shovel out AND do my yoga video for the day, and so far the day is flying by. We've had people in the library building by appointment, and the afternoon has been busy for me to check folks in (the director takes the morning appointments). I'm here 'til 6 p.m., and I'm planning to go home and make a very simple quiche for dinner.

Tomorrow I have to be up and dressed early, as the wildlife guy is coming out to see if I have a squirrel problem in the attic or just very noisy mice. And Thursday after work my brother might be coming to install my security system - good news, I get the family discount for monitoring and though I have to pay annually, it's about half price what it would be otherwise.

I'm slowly but surely continuing my reread of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and have been reading Interior Chinatown pretty steadily. I didn't realize it's written like a screenplay, so I'll probably be able to finish it up pretty quickly.

137MickyFine
Feb 2, 7:01pm

I'm not sure whether it's better to hope for squirrels or mice. Either way, wishing you a smooth eviction of the critters.

138ronincats
Feb 2, 7:48pm

When they inspected the attic of my new house, Mary, they found evidence that bats had been nesting in it. The owners had pest control in to block up access, hopefully, and I plan to build and erect a bat box when I get there this summer.

139bell7
Feb 2, 9:03pm

>137 MickyFine: Heh, neither am I. Squirrel, and I'm not losing my mind (I'd been hearing scrambling sounds every week, week and a half for so around 9 a.m. but of course not since I set up a time for the wildlife guy to come out). Mice, and I don't have to pay for the eviction and blocking up access (he doesn't do mice), but I do have to buy traps and take care of it myself.

>138 ronincats: Ooooh, I've had bats before, I'd laugh if that were the case. When I first moved out of my parents' house into the renting situation I had up until recently, there was one particular window in my bedroom that a bat loved to roost in, and one got in the first night I discovered this. After that, I'd keep that window closed for the month of April and I was okay. When they purchased a new house and we moved to another town, there were bats in the house as well, but oddly enough they liked other rooms besides mine better. I remember being jolted out of bed one time when a former housemate saw one in her radiator and let out a blood curdling scream. But thank you for that reminder, I may look into getting a bat box myself regardless of whether any are found in the attic.

140SandyAMcPherson
Feb 2, 9:30pm

I just lurked a few minutes ago, then forgot to say Hi. I sure loved that little sweater at >121 bell7:.

I wanted to about a book you are listed as reviewing, Tess of the Road. I asked a general question earlier on my thread, about the plot. Then I saw you had reviewed it not that long ago.

141bell7
Feb 2, 10:24pm

>170 Hi, Sandy! I'm glad you like the sweater. It's a fun pattern I've returned to often for baby gifts.

I responded on your thread too, but in brief I think your gut is probably right in waiting on Tess of the Road. I ended up liking it, but the first half especially was pretty hard to read even prior to Covid. Have you read Seraphina? That book (and Shadow Scale, I'd forgotten but now I'm looking at my library) actually occurs before Tess, and I don't remember it being as heavy.

142charl08
Feb 3, 1:58am

>136 bell7: Hope the wildlife person was able to solve the scrabbling noises, Mary.

I found Interior Chinatown a quick read - lots to think about though.

143jayde1599
Feb 3, 7:46am

When we bought our first house - an old camp that was renovated - we heard scratching and rolling in the ceilings and walls. Then one day I saw a critter in the basement that was not a mouse or squirrel! I did not know what it was! DH set up a have a heart trap in the attic crawl space and caught a Flying Squirrel! Drove it a ways and set the trap up again - and caught another ...and another. It took us some time to eradicate the problem. DH was surprised one day when he opened his closet and acorns came rolling out! We could hear them rolling the acorns across the ceiling!

144Crazymamie
Feb 3, 8:01am

>143 jayde1599: That is a great story, Jess!

Morning, Mary! We have an attic story, too. Several years ago, in the middle of the night, Daniel came into our room and woke up Craig. He wanted him to come upstairs because he could hear something in the attic and it had been scratching at the attic door access in his room. It sounded much bigger than a mouse, so he wanted Craig up there when he opened up the door just in case it was a raccoon or something. Craig gets up and follows him back upstairs, and I am listening to see what happens, and I hear...laughter. Apparently they opened the door and out strolled Mayhem. We still don't know how he managed it, but somehow he opened the access door in Rae's room (he sleeps in Rae's room at night, and she shuts her door so he can't roam the house and get into trouble. Because he would.). Anyway, he went into the attic above her room and made it all the way across the house to Daniel's room to come out from a completely different attic space. We did not know they were connected at all, but Mayhem found some kind of passage. To this day, we still don't know how he did it.

145Whisper1
Feb 3, 9:33am

>136 bell7: Mary, I'll trade your eight inches of snow for the 30 plus inches we received. It took my neighbor three different times to finally clear my driveway.

Today is the first day in a week that I will go out. First, I'll need to warm my car as I see there is a covering from last night.

Good luck with all the things you are accomplishing with your house. When all is finished, you will breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy all you did!

146SandyAMcPherson
Feb 3, 11:24am

>141 bell7: I had no idea there was a series... thanks for the insights. I will be my usual organized self and start with the first one. If I understand correctly, that's Seraphina, yes?

147jnwelch
Feb 3, 4:27pm

Hi, Mary.

Red at the Bone was another good one from Jacqueline Woodson, IMO. I think you'll enjoy it.

I'm glad you made it home before the big snow. We got a lot of snow here, and more supposedly is coming tomorrow. Hard to complain; we haven't had much before February.

We had squirrels in a roof space above our attic, and could hear them skittering around. Thank goodness there are folks who know how to get them out of there.

148figsfromthistle
Editado: Feb 3, 5:02pm

>120 bell7: What a wonderful idea! Definitely makes you smile.

149bell7
Feb 3, 7:00pm

>142 charl08: Thanks, Charlotte! The good news was, there was no squirrel currently in the attic crawl space (it's... a ridiculously tiny space up there), though he did find an area where the gutter had kinda pulled the wood down so there was a couple of inches of space along 25 feet or so of the side of the house where it appeared that birds might have got in at one point. The noises, we think, were probably mice in the walls and floorboards directly above my head, rather than the attic space above. He gave me an estimate, but the (temporary) fix he had in mind was close to $1,000 so I'm gonna ask a friend of mine in construction for his opinion before doing anything, um, quite so expensive. Interior Chinatown is moving along quickly, and so far my thoughts are similar to yours.

>143 jayde1599: Oh no! No evidence of flying squirrels here, but nice to know it's not just my place that's making all sorts of unwanted noises haha. The mice I've had where I was renting for the last several years left me a nice stash of bird seed in my bureau and some I even found behind books on a bookshelf when I packed up house. No acorns, though!

>144 Crazymamie: Hahahaha, that's a great story, Mamie. Sounds like Mayhem deserves his name and still manages to get into trouble when shut up in Rae's room.

>145 Whisper1: I think I'll keep my 8 inches, Linda, even if I did have only a shovel for the heaviest bits added on from the snow plows! I was shoveled out by 9:30, and reminded myself with every heave that I am happy I'm physically fit enough to handle shoveling. My mother couldn't when she was my age. How lovely that your neighbors helped you out! I have a feeling the house will never be quite done, but I will be especially thrilled when I have an automatic door on the garage, replacement windows done, and the painting finished. One of the guys from my church who helped me move flips houses for a living, and I'm thinking of asking him to do a walk through with me sometime, and help me prioritize (and get price estimates for) what needs to be done. I'll also be asking his advice about the space near the gutter.

>146 SandyAMcPherson: Yes, Seraphina is first. I went years between reading them and could follow what happened in Tess's story just fine, but I think for setting up the world a bit you'll appreciate starting with the first book.

>147 jnwelch: Right, Joe? Fortunately there was no exact evidence of squirrel in the attic or bite marks on the wood, though he said there were some feathers and birds probably got in at one time. Hope you are safe and sound in the coming snow storm - I think we're getting more Sunday. But yes, it's been such a mild winter here so far, I can't complain. I've had three instances of shoveling since I moved (I lucked out, there was a big one right before the closing date that the seller had to take care of) nearly two months ago. I'll take the trade off of having a car in a garage and being responsible for shoveling any day. Glad to know Red at the Bone is a good one! It's short, so I'll probably start it in a week or so.

>148 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita! If only all my home improvements could be that simple and fun haha.

150tututhefirst
Feb 3, 9:51pm

>143 jayde1599: We also had a horrible problem with flying squirrels at our house in Maine. One day we opened the door to the basement and a big guy who was sitting on the steps looked boldly at us and just came marching on in to the main floor. We finally had to contact a real wildlife dude who found that they had burrowed in UNDEr the concrete garage floor and from there went across the basement ceiling and then UP the chimney to the attic. We knew we had mice, we knew we had carpenter ants, but them the wildlife guy discovered the bats and the flying squirrels were have a real party up in our attic.

P.S. WE never had any problem while we had 2 or 3 cats in residence, but after they all left us and we decided to wait until we completed our move to Virginia (just closed on the house yesterday) the residents of the five forested acres around us decided that Hotel TUTU was the place to go. AH.....such is life in the woods.

151bell7
Feb 4, 12:20pm

>150 tututhefirst: Hi, Tina! Oh nooo, that sounds like quite the challenge with bats and flying squirrels! I would contemplate getting a cat, though it would make long petsitting jobs more challenging. Maybe in a couple of years. The wildlife guy came and said it doesn't even matter about the age of the house (mine is over 100 years old), even houses as new as 2 years old get mice, and he estimated about 85% of the houses he's been in had some kind of mice in them.

152bell7
Feb 4, 12:49pm

10. Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
Why now? On my radar when it won the National Book Award, and grabbed it from the library when our copy became available

Willis Wu has always been Generic Asian Man in the set happening in interior Chinatown, the cop drama Black and White constantly in production. He dreams of moving to bit parts in the shadow to becoming Kung Fu Guy, the highest attainable job for him, but it becomes more and more difficult for him to fit into this narrative.

Playfully using the format of a screenplay and making the reader work to tease out reality and the "show", Yu shows how racism in America has made Asian Americans - Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, and more - a generic "other", and how that could play out when internalized. The screenplay really cleverly makes you realize how ridiculous our stereotypical roles in movies have played out to give us a generic Asian man or exotic Asian woman, instead of recognizing the wide variety of experiences and personalities of individuals. It's a fast read and incredibly thought-provoking. I have a hunch I would get even more out of it on a reread. 4.5 stars.

153Whisper1
Feb 4, 4:23pm

>145 Whisper1: Mary, It is a great idea to have a professional walk through your houses and provide priorities. I focused on the first level, not major items, but I hired painters to paint my living room and dining room, the ceiling of the downstairs bedroom, and the deck.

I gave away a lot of furniture and bought some new pieces.

I'm done for awhile.

Good luck with all your projects, even though they may seem small, they cost a lot.

154thornton37814
Feb 4, 7:11pm

>151 bell7: I'm all for getting cats!

155bell7
Feb 6, 10:39am

>153 Whisper1: Thank you, Linda! Yes, the cost is a factor in having to space some things out. I have a few things that are safety updates and will be first priority as a result, though I'm looking forward to doing more painting. I'm fortunate that ALL of my furniture was gifted to me, so I had a good start for moving in. Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

>154 thornton37814: It's certainly a possibility, Lori, though it makes it tough to leave and petsit for weeks at a time! :D We'll see how this year goes. I'm half convinced one of the "scrambling" noises I heard above my head was actually a stack of books that's fallen over in the upstairs bedroom currently storing all the books with no shelves.

156bell7
Feb 6, 10:50am

Happy weekend, everyone! Today is a fairly low key day. I've already run some errands to get gas, drop off cans and bottles and cardboard on free recycling day, and go to the post office. I'm probably going to putter a bit at home, washing dishes, and cleaning bathrooms and such. I've got some letters to catch up on, a water bill to pay (so I'll probably be reconciling my checkbook and February budget too), small things like that to catch up on at my leisure. Tomorrow is the Super Bowl with my parents and brother.

That same brother came over this week to get my alarm system set up. I have a couple of motion detectors left to put up, but now have contacts on doors and windows and an app on my phone that can (even remotely) turn the alarm off and on. It's a pretty snazzy system and I doubt I'll use the half of it, but it's nice to have even if I'm still a little afraid I'll set it off by forgetting it's there.

Current reads are Remote Control, Harry Potter #5 (yes, still), and The Midwife's Apprentice as audio/ebook combo (Newbery Award winner). My library stack is too tall as usual, so this weekend may also be evaluating which ones I can conceivably read before the due date and which are going back. Or just reading as fast as I can...

157Crazymamie
Feb 6, 12:47pm

>152 bell7: Great review, Mary! I have this already on The List from Charlotte, but if I didn't, your review would have landed it there. Giving it my thumb if you posted it.

How are you liking Remote Control?

158bell7
Feb 6, 8:00pm

>157 Crazymamie: Done! And thanks for the push, I usually try to post my reviews from my threads on the book pages, too, but I had gotten about a month behind and did a little copying and pasting to catch up. I hope you enjoy it when you get to it!

I just finished up Remote Control and liked it pretty well. I'll try to write up a review shortly.

159bell7
Feb 6, 8:29pm

11. Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor
Why now? I put this one on hold almost as soon as I'd ordered a copy for the library - I enjoy this author's works quite a bit, so she's on my mental "automatic read" list

Fatima has forgotten her name. She's Sankofa, a child walking alone with the ability to kill, taking from villagers and chasing after what's been stolen from her.

I hesitate to give too much of the story away, as it's a slight novella and the discovery of what happened to Fatima, and how the people of Ghana turn her into a legend, should probably happen knowing as little as possible. It is a slight story, and I somehow wanted just a little more from it as it gives tantalizing glimpses of near-future tech and communities. 4 stars.

An enjoyable read, but for a real flavor of Okorafor's style and storytelling, I'd recommend starting with Binti.

160bell7
Feb 6, 9:59pm

12. The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman
Why now? Available as an audio and e-book when I wanted that format to listen/read before bed, and it was a Newbery Award I hadn't read yet

The girl hasn't had a name or a home until the midwife found her in the dung heap, keeping warm. The midwife, Jane, is no saint but she does take the girl in, calling her Beetle or Brat, or worse, making her work hard for her keep and not letting her really learn how to birth babies. Can the girl make a place for herself in this world?

There seems to be a certain type of book that appeals to adults who give out awards to kids but that I question whether kids would ever pick up on their own, and this is one of them. The main trouble is, though it is a short book, not much happens. It's much more about the girl - who names herself Alyce - and her growth than any story arc or even one event that happens in her life. Some of the interactions are so subtle I doubt a young reader would pick up on it, like why the boys who tease Beetle eventually leave Alyce alone. It's set in the Middle Ages, and the author has clearly done her research on medicine and midwifery of that time period. But all in all, it was a little boring. 3 stars.

161PaulCranswick
Feb 6, 10:47pm

Enjoyed the attic stories. Don't recall ever having an attic.

Have a great weekend, Mary.

162bell7
Feb 6, 10:53pm

>161 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! Mine is more of a crawl space and could never be used for storage. There was just enough room for me to climb up a step ladder in the room below and look around at the insulation and inside of the roof :)

163thornton37814
Feb 7, 10:24am

>160 bell7: I'm pretty sure that one is on my TBR list. Your review makes me less eager to get to it.

164SandyAMcPherson
Feb 7, 4:02pm

>160 bell7: There seems to be a certain type of book that appeals to adults who give out awards to kids but that I question whether kids would ever pick up on their own...

That's really true and I sure have seen this myself.
I gave a couple of books from the ALA Notable Awards and the choices were flops. I was especially sorry that Goddess of Yesterday wasn't successful. I read it some years ago and thought a 10-year old who was reading at least a grade or two ahead of what's expected would really enjoy it (she was very much into ancient myths). I think it was indeed a case of an adult's perception.

165msf59
Feb 8, 8:02am

Morning, Mary. Good luck with your work week. Good review of Interior Chinatown. I really want to read that one.

166kidzdoc
Feb 8, 10:41am

I'm glad that you enjoyed Interior Chinatown, Mary. That was one of the books from my wishlist that my father bought me for Christmas, so I'll read it soon.

167norabelle414
Feb 8, 11:43am

>160 bell7: For the record, I *loved* The Midwife's Apprentice when I was about 8. I read that and Catherine, Called Birdy over and over and over again, probably a hundred times. I still have both my original copies, I should read them again and see how I feel about them as an adult.

168curioussquared
Feb 8, 12:14pm

>160 bell7: >167 norabelle414: Seconding you, Nora -- I checked out The Midwife's Apprentice and Catherine, Called Birdy several times each from my elementary school library. I can't speak for whether or not they'd appeal to today's kids, but I loved them in the 90s.

169bell7
Feb 8, 6:28pm

>163 thornton37814: Ah, sorry, Lori. Maybe you'll like it better than I did - as you can see, a couple of commenters below you did!

>164 SandyAMcPherson: It's always hard to know, Sandy, because this point as an adult I'm not sharing book recommendations for kids' books with my peers anymore. So all I can really say is what I would've read - and I, personally, remember picking up a book by Karen Cushman when I was maybe 16 (it might have been this one, I remember it being short) and finding it very boring. That's not to say that award winners always have to be popular books, either... just that there does seem to be a way that adults look for a good children's read and certain historical fiction seems to win multiple Newberys. *shrug*

>165 msf59: Thanks, Mark! Hope you enjoy Interior Chinatown when you get to it.

>166 kidzdoc: I'll look forward to your thoughts on it, Darryl!

>167 norabelle414: and >168 curioussquared: Well, I happily take that comment back then, Nora and Natalie. I'll amend - it would not have worked for me. As a child, I wasn't good at picking up subtlety in written or spoken form, and it would've bored me quite a bit.

>167 norabelle414: I'll look forward to your thoughts as an adult, Nora. I think The Midwife's Apprentice will hold up very well since you liked it so much then.

>168 curioussquared: Well, I would've been the right age to read them right about then too, Natalie. Maybe this one just wouldn't have worked for me. I do remember liking Adam of the Road, though, another Newbery that was set in the Middle Ages (see what I mean, though? I should count up how many Newbery Awards and Honors are set in the Middle Ages haha).

170bell7
Feb 8, 10:13pm

First DNF of the year:

Love the House You're In by Paige Rien

It's not that I'm not enjoying it, it's just that I've had it out of the library for a loooonnnng time right now and I really want to take my time and go through it and work on all the projects she suggests for creating a home you love. I think I'm also in a different place than most home owners in that I'm a first-time home buyer slowly but surely making a place my own, so my attitude is already in line with what I think she's trying to shift a lot of people into - seeing your home's potential and quirks, as well as tapping into what makes you uniquely you, and working with it to make it something that works for you in a home. So while I like it and would return to it, it's almost the sort of book I'd want to own and work through a little bit at a time and have it to refer back to instead of reading from cover to cover.

171richardderus
Feb 10, 11:09am

>170 bell7: Oh dear...at least it's a *good* reason.

I received the TBR-exploder today, a month later! *smooch*

172bell7
Feb 11, 12:43pm

>171 richardderus: Ah well, can't finish 'em all, right? I'll put it on my Amazon wishlist and maybe someone will buy it for me.

Yay! Hope you like it. The lateness is my fault and not the post office's. I got it ready to go and then took a couple of weeks to get out to the local USPS to send a few packages.

173SandyAMcPherson
Feb 11, 6:23pm

>170 bell7: I just reviewed that one myself Mary. (I was scrolling back on your thread to see where I last made remarks...)
I didn't have Paige Rien's book as a BB either. It was chance-met at the library when I went in to pick up some holds.

I agree that it is not a good book to have to read from cover to cover, because it's a loaner and you don't have time to really do that mental/emotional work first. I think it would be an excellent book had I read it when we bought our house (and not even a first house, but one that was brand-new to us). One does indeed have to work hard determining what psychological quirks lie in wait when making a house into a home with which you can identify.

I reviewed the book as a person looking to solve the dissatisfaction we (okay, I ) have with this place we live in now. We are pretty much done with costly upgrades and necessary repairs. So I was very focused on wanting to see what it was that made me so annoyed about the place! And what view I could adjust to make a chance.

174bell7
Feb 12, 12:36pm

>173 SandyAMcPherson: Yes, I think there's a lot of value to it and I was enjoying it, but would definitely need time to absorb and work my way through the "homework" she gives you with each chapter. I'm tremendously satisfied with the "bones" of the house, so for me as far as I read, my main takeaway is that I should trust my instincts for what makes it feel homey to me, rather than fitting a mold of what's popular in real estate right now.

I did, however, research the house and neighborhood history (combined a little with my own family history) and discovered that I live within walking distance of where 3 of my forebears (2nd great uncle, great-grandfather and 2nd-great-grandfather) lived 100 years ago.

175MickyFine
Feb 12, 1:42pm

>174 bell7: That's a pretty cool bit of personal history to know.

Happy Friday, Mary!

176richardderus
Feb 12, 2:29pm

>174 bell7: What >175 MickyFine: said! You do learn cool things when looking into the history of the place you're from. I skedaddled far away from my birthplace...and there's a family connection to Long Island! My maternal grandfather's family had one member whose lovely old home in Stewart is still here. He booked it out of Barbados when a slave rebellion was brewing and lived here the rest of his life.

No wonder I feel so at home.

177richardderus
Editado: Feb 12, 2:30pm

I don't remember the last time I had a duplicate post!

178SandyAMcPherson
Feb 12, 9:49pm

>174 bell7: That is so majorly cool (ancestral history in the area over a 100 years ago)! I would adore knowing those type of connections if I ever visited the right places.

179bell7
Feb 14, 10:58am

>175 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! Yeah, after I made an offer on the house, my uncle asked if I was buying Uncle Charlie's house - I did not, I'm down the street, but it's awfully cool to realize how close they were. Almost eerie, actually, to realize the same neighborhood 100 years ago was where my family lived and worked.

>176 richardderus: That's so funny how things can come full circle when you think you're leaving it all behind, no? I've lived in small towns in western Mass all my life, so I haven't left at all, but I had no idea when I bought the house how VERY close I was to where my relatives lived and worked. That same great-great grandfather who lived around the corner moved all the way from England when he was in his teens - he and three siblings came to the U.S. and the rest of the family stayed behind - and I will always wonder what motivated him, first, to leave so drastically and second, to come from Philadelphia to this small town?

>177 richardderus: Guess it was due!

>178 SandyAMcPherson: Thanks, Sandy! I get a kick out it, and it's motivating me to want to know more about this town's history as well. Another connection in another family branch is to the railroad, and while that side of the family never lived here, they most likely passed through while working on the trains. I can hear trains from my house (when I try, they mostly fade into the background), and it's the same tracks that went by the last place I lived and my parents' house, so that's kind of a fun connection too.

180bell7
Feb 14, 11:05am

Happy Sunday, all! I meant to watch church virtually today, but Facebook is being a butt and trying to make me sign in to see the Facebook live stream, probably because I refreshed the page one too many times trying to see if the video stream had started yet. So, I am catching up on threads, reading, and knitting because I've recently decided that I'm going to try to do my utmost to make Sunday a fully relaxing day rather than "getting stuff done" around the house. I'm chatting and crafting with a friend over Zoom this afternoon, and I've started a pair of socks for myself.

Tomorrow being a holiday, my main plans are to collect all the items I need for my taxes and to finish my book club book if I don't do that today. Then there's a Zoom Bible study in the evening.

I'm reading a bunch of books lately, a little more than I like to be, but I had the misfortune of an e-audiobook expiring before I was finished, so I'm still reading that book while I added another to read, and then book club was almost upon me so I started that one too...So now I'm in the midst of

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo and
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

I am halfway or more through most of these, so I expect to have some book reviews over the next few days. They're all really good so far, too. Usually February is a pretty slow reading month for me, but I don't think that's going to be the case at all this year.

181bell7
Feb 14, 11:26am

Forgot to mention, I've also been following the Australian Open. I don't have TV and it's not streaming without an account somewhere, so I've been listening to Australian Open radio. I can't really follow what's happening each point that way, but it's extremely entertaining to listen to and at least I know some of the scores and have a decent idea if they're close matches or not.

182bell7
Editado: Feb 14, 7:25pm

13. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
Why now? Book club book for February

The book opens with a party: Melody is sixteen, getting ready in her grandparents' brownstone, for an event that her mother, pregnant at fifteen, had not had herself.

Relationships between Melody, her mother Iris, her father Aubrey, and her grandparents are illuminated in the course of the novel which moves back and forth in time and each of the characters have a turn telling the reader his or her story. The result is a poignant, powerful exploration of two Black families living in Brooklyn, their histories, and the intricacies of their relationships. The spare prose, deceptively simple, conveys so much that I will have a lot to chew on long after I put the book down. 4.5 stars.

I read paper and e-book and listened to the audio for some of this as well. The audio is pretty cool, narrated by the author and a few actors, and the part where Melody was at school and realized her father was in the World Trade Center on 9/11 was read with crying/passion and made me tear up as "My father" was repeated over and over again. I'm planning on taking some work time on Tuesday to prep for book club. I think this will be one I have even more appreciation for after delving into and discussing it a bit. Really looking forward to what my ladies have to say on Wednesday!

183bell7
Feb 14, 7:25pm

14. The Book of Delights: Essays by Ross Gay
Why now? I have no idea what originally prompted me to put this on the TBR list - actually I skipped right to my library holds list - but I've been trying to work my way through some of the books that have been "suspended" there to read some day, and I activated the hold to read this month.

On his forty-second birthday, poet Ross Gay decided to write essayettes about things that delighted him. He made a few "rules" for himself: to write every day (or almost), and write it longhand, for one year. The result is this book.

As one might expect, such a book ranges far and wide through Gay's observations and stream of consciousness style of writing. In the midst of delight are also some serious observations about race, how time has become a commodity, and the challenges his parents had when they married, a Black man and a white woman. There are also moments of joy with friends, loving the quirkiness of living, and working in his garden. I enjoyed reading this so much that I reached that almost painful place of wanting to keep reading but also wanting to slow down, pause, and draw out the experience just a little longer. His style of writing meant that while I loved some sentences and observations on their own, it depended so much on the phrase or sentence before and after that I couldn't pick out just one sentence (or handful) to write or quote - I would've just rewritten the whole mini essay. They're each only a paragraph to a few pages long at the most, so it's easy to sit down and just read a few at a time, fitting it in during lunch breaks or reading just a bit before bed. It's inspired me to notice what delights me as well - not least of which is this book. 4.5 stars.

Rather than making my holds list any shorter, I've now added one of his poetry books that is currently suspended but will activate in April. One book leads to another...

184PaulCranswick
Feb 14, 8:46pm

>182 bell7: & >183 bell7: Looks like you are on a good book reading roll, Mary.

185bell7
Feb 15, 11:31am

>184 PaulCranswick: I really am, Paul! I finished another excellent one this morning that I'll try to review shortly as well.

186katiekrug
Feb 15, 11:46am

I really loved Red at the Bone, too, Mary. I read it in print, but picked it up on audio to revisit it that way in the future.

187bell7
Feb 15, 2:15pm

>186 katiekrug: Glad to find another fan, Katie! I think rereading via audio would be really worthwhile. Looking back at my reading, I'm surprised to find this is the 6th of her works that I've read, including books for all ages. I'll have to go back and read the rest now!

188bell7
Feb 15, 2:31pm

15. The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
Why now? I was positive this made its way onto my TBR list, but when I looked today it was not one of the 2,000+ titles on my spreadsheet. It was, however, available as an e-book and audio when I was looking for that format, and then when I forgot a book for my lunch break I grabbed the paper book too just for good measure. It fits my goal to read more diversely, as the author is a Malaysian writer of Chinese descent.

Malaya, 1931. Ji Lin is working secretly as a dance hall girl trying to make money to help pay off her mother's debts. Ren is a houseboy working for a doctor who descends into apparent madness before his death, demanding that Ren find his finger and bury it with him so he can rest in peace. Meanwhile, Ji gets the finger and while she and Ren both race against time to figure out the mystery of the finger, several mysterious deaths occur, possibly caused by a vengeful tiger.

Beautifully blending historical fiction, mystery, and Asian folk tale, this compelling story completely hooked me as it became more and more complicated, more and more intense. I had to stop reading right before bed because the hairs on the back of my neck would stick up while I read and I'd be too wired to rest. Superb storytelling, and I can't wait to see what Yangsze Choo does next. 4.5 stars.

I can't think of a book to compare it to, but I think this would have wide appeal. I loved it, if you couldn't tell, so much that it was hard to review without 1. giving something away and 2. fangirling all over it. If I haven't made it clear, go read it!

189bell7
Feb 15, 2:50pm

Today is Presidents' Day here, and I took advantage of my day off sleeping in a little, finishing a book, listening to podcasts, cooking a little, and organizing my paperwork to give to my tax professional. Turns out I actually did make some dogsitting money last year, but probably half what I would've made in a year without a pandemic.

Tonight into tomorrow we're supposed to get some icy weather. I thought I'd get ahead of it a little and put some of the sand-or-something from the basement on the driveways before it started. I went downstairs, started to spread it and smelled it... turns out it's actually kitty litter. Apparently kitty litter is supposed to help keep mice away (does this work?) and can be used in gardening, so I'll hold onto the bucket of it for now, but I guess I'll also go down and get some sand from the recycling center down the street next time I'm there.

The rest of my day should be pretty quiet. I'll read and knit - I started on a pair of socks - before my Zoom Bible study this evening and relaxing. I'm hoping to read a chunk of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and then I'll be making some decisions about what book(s) to start next now that I've finished a few.

190curioussquared
Feb 16, 1:44pm

>189 bell7: I have used kitty litter for traction purposes before! We don't get too much snow or ice in Seattle, but we got a big storm about two years ago and all the stores sold out of salt and sand really quickly. We have a long, steep driveway that iced up quickly and while we didn't need to drive anywhere, we did need to be able to walk the dogs up to the street -- so we got some kitty litter and it worked :) The smell was definitely a little weird, though.

191MickyFine
Feb 17, 4:18pm

>188 bell7: Glad to hear you fell in love with your latest read. Hope whatever ends up on your read next pile that it's just as enjoyable.

192richardderus
Feb 17, 4:24pm

>188 bell7: My nudging you to read The Ghost Bride by the same author may now and henceforth be safely assumed to be occurring on an ongoing basis.

*smooch*

193msf59
Feb 17, 5:58pm

Happy Wednesday, Mary. It sounds like you have been on a great reading roll. I also loved Red at the Bone and The Book of Delights: Essays sounds like a perfect palate cleanser.

194Whisper1
Feb 17, 7:51pm

>188 bell7: Hi Mary! I very much liked your review of The Night Tiger. This is on my tbr list since two years ago. Now, I will see if the library has a copy. I'm glad that you are reading between your projects...
That is a very healthy way of breaking the stress of things yet to do.

195bell7
Feb 17, 8:20pm

>190 curioussquared: I daresay I will use it in the future for traction purposes - it just didn't work well as a pre-ice melting arrangement! Fortunately by the time I left for work on Tuesday, it was just raining and my commute is all main roads that are well-salted, so it was easy peasy to get to work.

>191 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! I may have a review sooner rather than later. I'm reading What I Carry by Jennifer Longo on the recommendation of my teen librarian and it's also excellent so far.

>192 richardderus: Oh yes, I've put it on hold already, it's just suspended for now while I try to catch up with my library reading. Since so many good books are coming out and reading said books is adding MORE to the TBR list, this is a losing battle, but at least I won't run out of books to read anytime soon.

>193 msf59: Thanks, Mark, I'm very much enjoying this roll of excellent books.

>194 Whisper1: Thank you, Linda, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! Yes, I'm certainly "between projects," I still have my emergency fund ready if there's an immediate home repair needed, but I'm adjusting my budget to mortgage-and-utilities, and I'm short on extra spending money until I get more dogsitting jobs post-vaccination. But life is good! Also the garden will keep me very busy come spring.

196bell7
Feb 17, 8:54pm

Happy hump day! I'm halfway through my work week (four day week with the holiday), and I may regret this but I've set an alarm to attempt to listen to the Australian Open finals live this weekend. There are always naps, right?

Tonight was my book discussion, so I worked 9-4, ran a few errands, ran back to work because I'd forgotten my phone, came back and had dinner and then book discussion. There were four of us, so a smallish virtual discussion but a lively one at that. Most of us liked the book to varying degrees, and we talked a lot about the characters and their familial relationships. Iris was a very divisive character, interestingly. Our next book is nonfiction, Hidden Valley Road, and I'm looking forward to diving into that one too.

I'm currently reading What I Carry, a book our teen librarian recommended to me after her book club read it, and I'm really enjoying it. I started it yesterday and I'm already over halfway through. I'm thinking it's time to put on some PJ's and curl up with it for awhile before heading to bed. Tomorrow is an in-person appointment day, and we're supposed to get more snow Thursday into Friday, though only a few inches, so it's a crap shoot if it'll be a come-into-work day or work from home day. I'm not loving the idea of more shoveling, but I tell myself at least I am capable of doing it.

197MickyFine
Feb 18, 12:54pm

Do you have big driveway/stretch of sidewalk to shovel, Mary?

198bell7
Feb 18, 1:07pm

>197 MickyFine: Nah, two small driveways that barely fit my car and a stretch of sidewalk so the mail can be delivered (my box is on the house rather than along the road). When the forecast is for light and fluffy snow like this one, it's quite doable. Heavier gets me grumbling, especially after the snow plows have been by and make the lower driveway a real bear, but in a pinch I could park in the garage and only shovel that driveway to go in and out. Next year I may invest in a snowblower, but my monthly budgets are a little bit tight while I don't have dogsitting jobs, so it'll be a purchase to intentionally save up for at some point.

199bell7
Editado: Feb 19, 8:26pm

16. What I Carry by Jennifer Longo
Why now? Checked out from the library on my teen librarian's high recommendation, and I was in the mood to read something good and fast after a string of excellent reads

Muiriel hasn't stayed anywhere longer than 11 months for a long time, but as she gets closer to high school graduation and aging out of the foster care system, her social worker brings her to one more home - and asks Muiriel to try to stay and make it her last. Sure she can't depend on anyone but herself, Muiriel promises to try but is reluctant to make friends or trust anyone.

This is as clear-eyed a look as I've ever seen of the foster care system. I loved Muiriel - and in case you're wondering about the spelling, you find out pretty quickly that she was named after John Muir in the hospital where she was found as an infant - and the cast of characters she comes to meet on an island in Puget Sound: the foster mom, Francine; a maybe friend, Kira; a maybe boyfriend, Sean. We see Muir's present, her fears for the future, and flashbacks of her past in the system. She's a fierce advocate for herself, and shares a lot about the imperfections of the system as well. 4.5 stars.

Certainly continuing my string of great reads - I managed to read this one in two days, even when the reading was primarily work nights.

200katiekrug
Feb 18, 1:19pm

>198 bell7: - I don't know what kind of snow blower you are thinking about, Mary, but you can get smallish, rechargeable electric ones for under $300. Still maybe something to save for, but I know the big, gas-powered ones are way more expensive. Until The Wayne started researching, I wasn't aware of the less expensive option... Or a power shovel is even cheaper and makes shoveling a bit easier, too.

Sorry if you are already aware of these options - I'll shut up now!

201MickyFine
Feb 18, 1:26pm

>198 bell7: That sounds pretty reasonable. We have a double-wide driveway so that makes for more snow clearing. We might eye a snowblower someday but we don't tend to get big dumps of snow in one go more than once or twice a year. Bright side is most of our snow tends to be the light stuff being on the dry prairies. The heavy wet stuff usually only shows up in the spring.

202SandyAMcPherson
Editado: Feb 19, 2:46pm

Hi Mary. Not reading books lately, just the threads, and waving as I pass by. Not envying your snow, neither...

203bell7
Feb 19, 8:33pm

>200 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie, I appreciate that! Do you know if the rechargeable electric ones would need to be stored in a garage or outdoor structure, or are they okay to put in the basement? (I know gas-powered can't, and unless it's smallish, I don't think I can fit it in the garage along with my car.

>201 MickyFine: Yeah, this morning it took me all of a half hour to get it all cleared out, I think. Not bad at all. We can get...anything, really. A winter where it hardly snows at all or one where we get a foot dumped on us every week, light & fluffy or heavy. It seems to me that February has been the big snow month the past several, though the only "snow day" we had at work this winter was in December soon after I moved into the house (that amazing day of calling the fire department for the cigar under my stove).

>202 SandyAMcPherson: Hi, Sandy! Hope you're enjoying the threads lately and can get into a book soon. The snow was not bad today, thankfully. A little exercise this morning and an okay commute to work.

204bell7
Feb 19, 8:51pm

200. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Why now? Continuing my reread through the series; I started when the e-audio was available from the library, and continued reading my copy of the book because I was slow enough the audio had to be returned

Here's my review from my last read, ten years ago (Spoilers for book 4):

Lord Voldemort has returned. Cedric Diggory died. Harry is left at the Dursleys again this summer, and no one in telling him anything of importance. He's whisked away to the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix - a group of adult wizards trying to defeat Voldemort - and finds out that no one else is particularly sure what's going on, either. Voldemort's been keeping quiet, apparently after something that he didn't have last time he was in power; meanwhile, the Ministry refuses to believe Harry and Dumbledore's report of Voldemort's return and The Daily Prophet has started a smear campaign to discredit them.

This has always been my least favorite of the series, and one that I have not reread as often as the first four. Usually, I get annoyed with Harry and his attitude and his downright whiny behavior, especially in the first half of the book. But this time was different. Maybe it was the fact that I was listening to the audio. Jim Dale's narration really brings out each of the characters and their emotions, and I zone out a little sometimes with stories I'm familiar with. I don't think that's the whole story, though, as I was more prone to stop what I was doing to listen to or read the story. No, I think it was because this was the first time rereading it after I finished the series. Some of the explanations to come made a huge difference in how I interpreted Harry's actions, and I found myself listening for clues to that later revelation. As a result, my understanding of events was richer, and I'm really looking forward to my first reread of
Half-Blood Prince.

This is still my least favorite in the series. Harry's whiny and annoying even when I know why. The book's too long - 870 pages could've been two or three books, for pity's sake - and the book is not really about what the title says it is.

Here are some more specific but spoiler-filled observations:

Basically, Harry has some moments of temper at least in part because he's a horcrux and connected to Lord Voldemort. There are times when he's feeling emotions not his own, and he's generally grumpy and yells at his friends and weirdly gets jealous at Ron for being a prefect, which is stupid imo and not really like Harry at all. But then, he did just see someone murdered and Voldemort come back, so I should probably cut him some slack. The book has less of Umbridge than the movie version, and there's a lot less made of the Educational Decrees than I remembered. I'd forgotten that Harry was banned from playing Quidditch and that Ginny was Seeker for awhile. The way the Weasleys leave is different but just as epic as the movie version, and I'd forgotten how delightfully Peeves bothered Umbridge all along. I'd also forgotten that McGonagall was stunned and had to leave Hogwarts. I'm still annoyed that if Harry had opened his Christmas gift from Sirius he would've had an easy way to contact him and realize that he wasn't at the Ministry. And on this reread I found myself really annoyed with Dumbledore. He's all apologetic at the end, explains the prophecy, and explains the prophecy, but still doesn't really explain it all to Harry. He's still hiding that Harry's a horcrux and even while he tells Harry he's sorry he's hidden it because he, essentially, grew to care about Harry too much to want him to die in combat with Voldemort, he's still not coming completely clean and it's maddening. Ugh. Also I'd completely forgotten that Umbridge admitted she'd sent the dementors in the beginning of the story, that was never explained in the movie I don't think. And finally, I managed to mix up parts of Half-Blood Prince and kept expecting Lavender Brown to show up, but I guess I have snogging to look forward to in the next one.


After reading this off and on for the last month and a day, I think I'll give myself at least a few months' break before tackling the next one. I started A Court of Silver Flames, though, so apparently I won't be taking a break from super long books anytime soon.

205ronincats
Feb 19, 8:55pm

NOt fair! I just had two book bullets on Jim's (drneutron) thread and now two more here! I've requested both Love the House You're In and The Night Tiger from the library. The Salina library doesn't have the house book, so I want to look through it before I move. It does have the second book if I don't get to it before I move.

206drneutron
Feb 19, 8:56pm

>205 ronincats: Red letter day for you, huh? 😂

207ronincats
Feb 19, 8:57pm

>206 drneutron: Big raspberry!!!

208bell7
Feb 19, 9:12pm

>205 ronincats: Always happy to share some of the love :) If it makes you feel any better, Roni, since I've absolutely loved The Night Tiger and Book of Delights, I haven't been able to reduce my TBR pile at all because I just added the others by those authors. I hope Love the House You're In gives you some good ideas for the new house.

>206 drneutron: and >207 ronincats: Hahahaha, I'm sorry, you too gave me the biggest belly laugh with that one.

209SandyAMcPherson
Feb 19, 9:31pm

>205 ronincats: Roni, I just finished Love the House You're In and honestly, if I was moving or had just moved, I'd buy this book. It was so applicable whether you're new to owning or on your 18th dwelling (like I've faced, in a lifetime).

Paige Rien is very sensible and I loved that she says, "Nope don't go out and buy stuff". She outlines some thinking points that will help you find what's needed from all the things you own already. And if you do have to shop, her advice how to conduct The Search is priceless.

When I reviewed the book, I was writing from a very personal perspective so it got a 3½-star rating, with 5-star mentions. But so many chapters were worthy of my unabashedly scanning a few relevant pages.

I'd never seen the book until I was having a hissy over something in this house that "I hate" and my very next trip to the library ~ there was this book on the display shelf where librarians love to put "Staff Picks".

210bell7
Feb 19, 9:33pm

>209 SandyAMcPherson: Too funny that it was a staff pick, Sandy. I found it at the library where I work when I was combing through the general house decorating section and checked it out. I don't think I mentioned here, but a very kind LTer gifted it to me after I had to return it, so I'm sure I'll be reading it at my leisure now throughout the year.

211bell7
Feb 19, 9:33pm

Join me on my new thread!