Posts

2018 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Image
This is probably my favorite challenge of the year because historical fiction is one of my favorite genres to read (really, it's probably my The Fav). It's also my laziest challenge because I really never need to push myself to hit my goal, so...

For 2018, I'm actually going to limit myself. I'm trying to expand my reading horizons and embrace authors and genres I don't typically dive into. So I think I'm going to commit to Renaissance Reader - 10 books to encourage myself to read widely this year.

Here's to 10 stellar hist fic reads in 2018!

Book and Bookish Presents I Think You Should Get: Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Image
If you're part of a group/tradition that does gift-giving in the winter, you're probably being barraged with ideas, so I'm sorry to add to the pile up. But I looooooooooooooooooove recommending things and I love gifting, so I'm inserting myself into the melee.

Bookish Things Unabridged Chick Thinks You Should Gift People: 2017 Edition

Marissa A. Ross, Wine. All the Time.: The Casual Guide to Confident Drinking

I've bought this book for myself, and I plan on gifting it to people who are in their mid-20s and their mid-50s (translation: this book is great whether you're new to adulthood or old hat). This wonderfully irreverent and accessible guide has totally changed my relationship with wine, and I've had to stop myself from chasing people around liquor stores recommending this book. Imagine you have a non-snobbish friend who is well-versed in drinking good wine, and she knows you're on a budget but that you also have aspirations to eat/drink a little more…

Midweek reads: cold temps, cozy home

Image
I can't believe it's been so long since I've updated but I've been felled by a four-week cold that has just really started to clear up. I'm able to sleep through the night with only one bad coughing fit, and while I've lost my voice, I'm not barking like a sea lion every fourteen seconds. Whew!

With great help from a woo woo mystical Facebook group, I've decided to settle into the late fall/winter season and embrace it rather than dread it. Toward that end, I've tried to hygge up my life with coziness and what not. Last night, I pulled out a cup and plate set I bought while on a trip to Savona, Italy years ago (and forgotten about until I found them again), and I indulged in some panettone cake and coffee with my reading.

I'm about a third through Picnic at Hanging Rock, and the only reason I'm going slow is that I'm seriously lingering. I bought the audiobook and am listening to it, but I'm also concurrently reading it. The languag…

Wordless Wednesday, November 8

Image
I only approve of Christmas-before-Thanksgiving when it comes to Christmas-y foods. (Eggnog, panettone, and nougat-based treats are my particular weaknesses.)

Unabridged Toddler has a cold -- possibly croup -- and it's been a long, tiring week. I'm wicked behind on my NaNo draft and feeling the tickle of a cold in the back of my throat. Winter-ish weather has landed in Boston, which I don't mind, only I've still got AC units in the windows so it's a bit chilly in my house!

As usual, my Wordless Wednesday isn't so wordless but ... whatever, I can only do so much. What's going on with your Wednesday?

This brief memoir of the internet, art, and harassment broke my heart. I didn't expect that.

Image
First line: I recently experienced the perfect summary of my career at a Build-A-Bear store inside a suburban mall in Lancaster, California.

I only know Felicia Day from The Guild but I find her so funny, charming, and sweet, so when I needed a short audiobook to listen to while doing chores around the house, I settled on hers. I don't know what I was expecting -- Hollywood gossip, I think? some gossip about kissing Nathan Fillion?!?! -- but this memoir instead felt like a plea for some to understand her humanity.

Which isn't a bad thing, but is certainly heartbreaking.

In these post-Weinstein days, it was impossible for me not to hear it as that. Being an actress introduced harassment into her life (she shares more than one icky story of casting harassment), but her connection with gaming and the "geek" world meant an increase in horrible harassment and threats. When she weighed in on #gamergate, it just got worse.

I'm just a nosy fan who wants to know more abou…

Brisk Book Reviews: 2016 Reads I Never Reviewed, Part One

Image
Okay, since it's really clear I'm not going to power through and write the fifteen plus reviews for my unreviewed 2016 reads, I'm going to attempt some mini-reviews because honestly, these books shouldn't linger here un-reviewed. They're all so great! I might try longer reviews once I get past this block, but in the meantime, quick thoughts about some of the books I read last year.

Genevieve Cogman, The Invisible Library

Literally an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink kind of fantasy book: an otherworldly Library where librarians try to collect one copy of every book from every universe/world.

Amazing premise, but between the overloaded plot and annoying lead characters, I was pretty ambivalent the entire time I was reading (also I'm not into men so pale you see veins; why is this a thing??). It was okay-to-good upon finishing, but despite having books two and three on hand, I've not bee interested enough to pick 'em up, so I guess that says everything.

Weekend reads and it's cold and sunny like my mood...

Image
It's been a week. On Wednesday, we euthanized my 19-year-old cat Olivia. It was sudden, but necessary, and I'm grateful we were able to do it at home where no one was stressed. We're now a cat-less house, and both Unabridged Toddler and I are planning visits to local shelters because we're not ready to be without animal vibes around.

The weather is decidedly fall here in Boston: blazingly sunny but crystal cold. The house is chilly because we haven't pulled out the AC units, so I'm having to bundle up which is not my favorite way to stay warm. (In this sense, hygge isn't really my jam. Candles and cocoa and roaring fires, yes; wool sweaters and socks, no ma'am.)

I'm in that weird place where I've got, like, seven books started, and I'm probably not more than fifty pages into any of them (other than Middlemarch). I blame work, and stress over the cat, but I'm looking forward to biblio-comfort. 

I'm really digging A Secret Sisterhood: …

What's the unbelievable horror?: secret society of power-hungry magicians or relentless, unabashed racism?

Image
First line: Atticus was almost home when the state trooper pulled him over.

This ended up being my book club's October read, and I'm glad, because it's been on my TBR since it was released last year.

And I'm wicked conflicted about it.

On one hand, this was a really, really entertaining read, a mix of family history and supernatural drama. On the other hand, I struggled (and am struggling) with the author's identity as a white guy, and his depiction of characters of color.

The novel was originally pitched as a tv show, which shows, as it is a series of interconnected vignettes that feels like a tv episode. Which isn't to say it's not good, but it only goes so deep.

The detail Ruff explores most is the repressive violence the main characters face as people of African descent. Which is good, and, brings to mind Kara Brown's piece "I'm So Damn Tired of Slave Movies":

"I’m tired of watching black people go through some of the worst pain i…

"Someone's come in and killed Father!": An interview with Erika Mailman

Image
I'm thrilled to share my interview with novelist Erika Mailman. Erika wrote Woman of Ill Fame, which I read in 2013 and uh-dored. (I actually can't believe I read it four years ago - it's so vibrant in my mind I would have sworn I read it last year!)

Now Erika is looking at the infamous Borden family murders with her book, The Murderer's Maid. I'll be reviewing this one soon (could there be a more perfect October read?!).

While you wait for my inevitable squees, here's an interview with Erika about her writing of this book (question three shows she is far, far more brave than I could ever be!).

What scene or character surprised you while you were writing?

I had to track down the story that Lizzie Borden had fainted during her trial at the sight of her father and stepmother's skulls. I knew the person showing the skulls was Dr. Draper, but the court transcript during his testimony didn't show her fainting. I started to think the story was apocrypha, but a…

Weekend reads and fall is here...

Image
After being a weird, steamy 80 for a few days earlier this week, it's not Uber Autumn out: sunny but brisk, clear and fragrant. I love this weather, which is a bummer, because I'm juggling two good reads and on deck for a few more!

I forget how Marissa A. Ross's Wine. All the Time.: The Casual Guide to Confident Drinking crossed my radar, but I immediately requested it from the library and it is so good we're going to buy a copy to keep. Ross is funny and approachable and her whole attitude about wine is so normal and refreshing. It's like having your cool but not snobby friend teach you about wine.

I'm also reading Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country, which is this month's pick for my book club. It's a great read and one that I'm so conflicted about. Set in the 1950s, it's a series of interconnected stories of an African-American family who gets embroiled with a white family obsessed with secret societies and arcane secrets. Ruff is unabashed in…

A twenty-eight second walk with me this morning...

Image

The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen is a guide I wish were real...

Image
I love romance novels for the fluff escapism: tame drama, happy-ever-after, armchair time travel, appealing sexytimes.

This first book in a new series did that for me, and if you like tame, slow-burn romances, this one is for you. Our heroine, spinster India Prendergast, is convinced the Lady Travelers Society is a scam. Her beloved aunt has disappeared, and the women running the society are unable to locate her. Worse, Derek Saunders, famed bad boy, is related to one of the women who run the society, and he has taken it upon himself to "help" "find" India's aunt.

Obviously, their instant dislike for each other means they're going to fall madly in love (and that was fine by me).

Normally I wolf down romances in a matter of days, but I actually took a break from this one because it's pretty slow moving. The mystery was a little tiresome because there was an intentional can't-tell-the-truth-for-this-rather-flimsy-reason plotline and it did stretch on…

Book Arrivals, October 9

Image
A quick video for a Monday: another batch of library holds came in this past week, and I got two books in the mail, so hooray for new reads! Have you read any of these? Got any good new books?

Weekend Reads, and it's all toddler all the time

Image
I meant to do a weekend reads video for my stuff, but Unabridged Toddler had other ideas!




A speculative novel about cloning, Jamaica, an alternative United States, and secret agents was remarkably boring...

Image
I really ought to have loved this speculative short novel but I didn't, and it bums me out!

Set in an alternative now, where the US is broken into smaller countries -- Five Civilized Tribes, which is a conglomeration of US Indian/Native American tribes (I believe), the industrialized Tejas and puppet state of Albion, among others -- the story follows a Jamaican secret agent, Desmond Coke, who has smuggled a young boy from Jamaica in hopes of keeping him safe from a variety of nefarious forces.

It takes most of the novel to learn why they're being pursued and it's an intriguing premise. Desmond's work is hampered by geopolitical drama and some good old-fashioned double crossing, and with the 'Old West' ambiance and technology, it has the feel of Firefly or other weird West style stories.

And yet...I wanted more. I think were this a full length novel, it would have worked; the novella format didn't serve the setting or characters. (Full disclosure: I've …