Sunday, December 31, 2017

Books Read in 2017

January

David Morrell, Ruler of the Night
Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen

February

Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove
Meredith Duran, A Lady’s Code of Misconduct
Zadie Smith, Swing Time

March

Katherine Addison, The Goblin Emperor
Heidi Heilig, The Ship Beyond Time
Nell Stevens, Bleaker House
Sally Thorne, The Hating Game

April

Laurie Lico Albanese, Stolen Beauty
Kristy Cambron, The Illusionist’s Apprentice
Carol Goodman, The Widow's House
Barbara Ann Kipfer, 1,001 Ways to Slow Down
Crystal King, Feast of Sorrow
Sylvain Neuvel, Waking Gods

May

Maurice Broaddus, Buffalo Soldier
Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Sarah Lotz, The White Road
Catherine Magia, The Fisherman's Bride
Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon, Novel Destinations
Emilie Wapnick, How to Be Everything
Naomi J. Williams, Landfalls [reread]

June

Christina Henry, Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook
John Pfordresher, The Secret History of Jane Eyre: How Charlotte Brontë Wrote Her Masterpiece
Kate Quinn, The Alice Network

July

Victoria Alexander, The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen
Balli Kaur Jaswal, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
Mallory Ortberg, Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters [reread]
Sarah Perry, The Essex Serpent
Sarah Schmidt, See What I Have Done

August

Sarah Gailey, River of Teeth
Stephen Graham Jones, Mapping the Interior
Melissa Pimentel, The One That Got Away

September

Damon Galgut, Arctic Summer
Sarah Lotz, The Three

October

Felicia Day, You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)
Matt Ruff, Lovecraft Country

November

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists
Marissa A. Ross, Wine. All the Time.: The Casual Guide to Confident Drinking

December

Joan Lindsay, Picnic at Hanging Rock
Zadie Smith, On Beauty



Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Never has a Victorian-era picnic been so chilling, bittersweet, and shocking

First line: Everyone agreed that the day was just right for the picnic to Hanging Rock -- a shimmering summer morning warm and still, with cicadas shrilling all through breakfast from the loquat trees outside the dining-room windows and bees murmuring above the pansies bordering the drive.

This book. This book!

It's a slim read but one I dragged out over two months because I savored each line. It's a surprisingly bittersweet and chilling read about the aftereffects of a tragedy; in this case, the disappearance of three students and a teacher during a school picnic.

Opening on Valentine's Day, 1900, at a posh girls school in Australia, the novel spans three short, but devastating, months following the strange disappearance of three beloved students and a teacher at Hanging Rock, a local rock formation. The survivors are impacted in varying ways, from the school's steel-spined headmistress, Mrs. Appleyard, and her attempts to keep her school functioning, to Mike, a British transplant touched by friendship with a working-class

Lindsay's prose is stellar. She's just vicious and no one, from Mrs. Appleyard -- ...her high-piled greying pompadour and ample bosom, as rigidly controlled and disciplined as her private ambitions... -- to the sibling of one of her employees -- ...dank, pompous and half-baked...holding Views and Opinions on every subject under the sun from Female Education to the incompetence of the local Fire Brigade. -- is spared.

Lindsay makes this story sound as if it's based on a true story, but it's wholly fictional. Still, I was invested in discovering what happened to these girls, caught up in the ripples of pain and terror caused by their disappearance. (Unseen, unrecorded, the pattern of the picnic continued to darken and spread.) Bittersweet realism mixes with the utmost melodrama, and I loved every letter.

This edition was released for the book's 50th anniversary with an introduction by Maile Meloy. As with most introductions, read it after reading the book, for Meloy discusses plot points as well as Lindsay's what-really-happened chapter that was published later. (I agree with Lindsay's editors: it doesn't add anything to the story, and actually detracts from the oomph!) The jacket copy compares this to Shirley Jackson and Rebecca and the comparison is spot on: feminine, fierce, and unforgiving.

One million stars. I bought the audiobook to have a reread over the winter break! (It's going to make my Top 10 for this year.)

Title: Picnic at Hanging Rock
Author: Joan Lindsay
Genre: Fiction (Historical / Victorian / Australia / Girls School / Mystery / Interpersonal Relationships / Survivors / Teachers)
Publisher/Publication Date: Penguin Classics (10/3/2017)
Source: The publisher
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction


Friday, December 15, 2017

Weekend reads and ... I got nuthin'

So, after rallying to get back into blogging in October, I've struggled to keep up that momentum and enthusiasm. I've also stalled out on my reading. I blame all that on my eight-week cold which barely resolved itself before I caught another bug, and I'm kind of just tired and grouchy.

I'm still not ready to call it done on my 2017 reading, however. I'm still wading through Middlemarch and really, really want to finish it before 2018. And I've started Zadie Smith's On Beauty and am uh-doring it, so hopefully I can find some time before the 30th to do some long stretches of reading. And I'm, like, 95% done with the shrug I started in May (with the original goal of being done by September) and I really really really want to finish it so I can start something new.

Have you finished your 2017 reading? What's the last book you plan to read for the year? If you've done your top ten (or top reads) for 2017 post, share it with me -- I plan to do wholly free-range reading in 2018 so I'm building my TBR now!

Monday, December 11, 2017

2018 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

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!

Read

Justina Ireland, Dread Nation
Alma Katsu, The Hunger
Angelle Petta, The Artist and the Soldier
Laura Purcell, The Silent Companions 
Cat Sebastian, The Lawrence Browne Affair
Cat Sebastian, The Soldier's Scoundrel
Mary Sharratt, Ecstasy


Thursday, November 30, 2017

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

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 fancy, or healthy, or both. Ross is that friend, and she walks you through every aspect of wine: types and why you should care; how to read labels; growing regions; tasting notes; and so on. She shook us out of our three-buck Chuck purchases, and so far, we've been well rewarded.

Girl of All Work: Classic Character Sticky Tabs

I was gifted a set of Great Gatsby character sticky tabs last year and I love them so much. They're great as small bookmarks or note-taking flags. Unabridged Toddler uses them on his toys. Pretty much, if you've got someone who loves office supplies and books, you need to gift them at least one set of these stickies. (And honestly, the rest of the stuff Girl of All Work does is also wickedly adorable, so apologies if you go broke there!)

Eric Carle Museum: Mo Willems' Pigeon Bumper Sticker and/or Eric Carle Bath Toys

If you've got a parent in your life, especially one who is in the early book portion of child-rearing, these two presents might be especially appreciated. The Eric Carle Museum's gift shop has adorable, unique book gifts I haven't seen elsewhere, so you'll likely get something they don't already have AND you'll support a great museum.

Unabridged Toddler was gifted the bath toys and they're just uh-dorable. As devoted Pigeon fans, this bumper sticker brings me non-stop joy. (The museum has a dedicated Mo Willems section that includes gorgeous, playful fabric inspired by his books. It makes me wish I could sew!)

Friend of [Your Town's] Library: Donation!

Libraries save lives. In addition to free access to media, most libraries also provide enormously important services in our communities. This year, our family realized we need to start demonstrating our appreciation for our libraries, and we're making a donation to the Friends of our local library branch. Almost all libraries have 'em. Donate in a beloved reader's name! (Lucky enough to have access to books and media without needing to use your library regularly? Make a gift anyway!)

And finally, I recommend most of the books I've read this year. I'll make my top ten list later in December, but there have been so many knockout reads this year, it's going to be a challenge -- and I'm not sure I could pick out one or two for this post. But if you are looking for recs, start there (or feel free to ask me as I looooove pairing people to books!).

What are some of your highly recommended bookish purchases for this year?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Midweek reads: cold temps, cozy home

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 language is that good:

With her high-piled greying pompadour and ample bosom, as rigidly controlled and disciplined as her private ambitions...

or

Insulated from natural contacts with earth, air and sunlight, by corsets pressing on the solar plexus, by voluminous petticoats, cotton stockings and kid boots, the drowsy well-fed girls lounging in the shade were no more a part of their environment than figures in a photograph album, arbitrarily posed against a backcloth of cork rocks and cardboard trees.

I should speed up my reading as I'm ten books away from hitting my 2017 reading goal, and I'd really like to finish Middlemarch before the new year.

Anyway -- a midweek update of nothing much. What are you reading right now?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wordless Wednesday, November 8

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?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

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

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 about her and her baby (and if she's co-parenting with anyone!) but after hearing about how one fan broke into her house and her address was published online, I can appreciate why she's so secretive.

The opening on her memoir focuses on her childhood, and her "weirdness". I put that in quotes because I honestly don't think she's all that weird; she's got a slightly unusual childhood, but as an Air Force brat, it wasn't unlike that of others I knew growing up. When introduced to the internet, she dove into online games, and found a community there. (Full disclosure: when I was introduced to the internet, at about the same time, I found a community of horse-loving tweens, and spent years writing what I now realize was thoroughbred racing fanfic. Seriously. We imagined we owned the great famous thoroughbreds of history -- occasionally other famous horses -- and wrote stories about our adventures with them. Anyway...) All this to say: her title is accurate.

While she doesn't dish on Hollywood, Day does share a wealth of detail about the making of The Guild and her creative process. (As I'm struggling with my novel, I found these portions so helpful/moving.) She also writes openly about her mental health, too, and the impact illness and depression had on her life. (I just want to smish her.) There was a dearth of tawdry details, which I can appreciate, and yet, I really wanted at least one tidbit about her dating Nathan Fillion. (In the Book Tour section, she addresses this specifically -- she felt weird about sharing stories about famous people she's worked with, which is classy. Sorry I'm vulture, Felicia!!)

Day is the reader of her own book, which is wonderful, because I love her voice. The audiobook comes with a PDF of the illustrations/photos so you can snerk along.

Day and I have the literal same birthday (year and everything), and I couldn't help -- despite her frequent requests to refrain from doing such a thing -- from side-by-side comparisons. Her grit (overused trendy word right now, I know, but it really is one of the things Day has in spades), dedication, and talent are breathtaking.

Title: You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)
Author: Felicia Day
Genre: Non-Fiction (Memoir / Contemporary / Internet / Acting / Coming-of-Age / Sexual Harassment/ Mental Health)
Publisher/Publication Date: Simon & Schuster Audio (8/11/2015)
Source: My public library

Monday, October 23, 2017

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

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.

Julie Eshbaugh, Ivory and Bone

I picked this up solely because of the A prehistoric fantasy—with allusions to Pride and Prejudice. tagline, and it is pretty accurate. This quick and fun YA novel is set in some ambigu-prehistoric era/place, with a P&P-esque plot and slightly more serious ends. I read it over a weekend while camping, and it was the perfect thing to settle in with in front of a campfire.

Our hero, Kol, was a cutie, and refreshingly, not an alpha male or messiah figure or anything like that. His mother wasn't Mrs. Bennett, altho she had five sons she was frantic to marry. Cute, fun touches like that made this story a fun escapist read.

My only complaint is that the buildup to the conflict was so long that the gasp! moment and everything following it just tumbled along too quickly. I wanted a little more lingering.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Un-cynical, relentlessly cheery, brisk and bouncy. Following the Pulse shooting, I found her voice and this book a relief, to my surprise. A pep talk about my value as a creative person. That she slogged so much herself before her success with Eat Pray Love is one of main reasons I found her advice, cheerleading, and you're-a-child-of-the-universe affirmations tolerable. She's done the work, a lot of it, without success, and if she can still feel chirpy about the creative process, then I'm going to listen.


Kent Haruf, Our Souls at Night

I started a book club at work and this ended up being the first pick. It's a book I'd never have picked up on my own, so I already love my book club. A brief, powerful read, mild in many ways and surprisingly intense in others, this story of two people who decide to share a bed for platonic comfort and the way this simple decision rattles everyone around them was a surprising, moving story. I don't have enough swear words and insults for Addie's son Gene; otherwise, I adored all the characters.

Mary Robinette Kowal, Valour and Vanity

Enjoyed this one the most of the four previous Jane and Vincent novels I've read. I feel like Kowal has done the things I'd been yearning for: gone deeper with the characters, settled longer with descriptions of things, lingered on moments.

I appreciated, too, the way she really addressed one of the major events from the second book (which I thought was ignored too much in the third). I also appreciate her clear desire to include POC characters as much as possible -- in both this one and the 3rd book, she included a POC character. Tertiary, true, but it was nice to see her name that POC existed in the Regency world.

Robin Coste Lewis, Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems

A haunting, intense, moving collection of poetry, both personal and political. The title piece is composed solely from titles and descriptions used in Western museums to describe art/art objects depicting women of color. When I heard about it, I thought it would be hokey, but it was a staggeringly good/depressing/painful/shocking/illuminating piece.

In this political climate, when an elected official huffily asks what other "subgroups" contributed to civilization more than whites, and in this era of the #blacklivesmatter and #sayhername movements, this collection feels especially prescient.

Richard McGuire, Here

Embarrassingly, I had no idea the groundbreaking background of this graphic novel (or at least, the panel that started it all). I picked it up on the recommendation of a fellow blogger, and I was dubious that a graphic novel about a room could be all that interesting. Well, perhaps interesting, but not moving. But I was wrong. There's humor and tenderness, a few narrative threads, and an incredible sense of place and time (you know, a billion years or something). I inhaled it in about an hour, then reread it twice. A fascinating, magical, pragmatic, depressing, inspiring read.

Rena Olsen, The Girl Before

Read this is one evening -- started it when I came home from work, and finished it around midnight-ish. Easy, quick, compelling -- horrifying -- read of human trafficking. Alternating timelines -- then and now, essentially -- the tension comes from seeing the horror our "heroine" has experienced and worse, the horror she's inflicting on other girls. The author is a therapist, and that, sadly, is where the book suffers -- the scenes involving any sort of therapy are too earnestly accurate. They read like an after school special and pulled me from the story.

Patricia Park, Re Jane

Pitched as a kind of retelling of Jane Eyre from the viewpoint of a young Korean-American orphan in Queens, New York, I found this book unsatisfying in that sense but brilliant and delicious as a kind of coming-of-age story. Jane's journey in finding herself -- as a Korean-American, woman, lover, professional -- was captivating. A top 10 read of 2016.


Friday, October 20, 2017

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

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: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney, about the vibrant friendships these famous women had. As a big fan of friendships between lady-identified ladies, I'm all over this.

What are you reading this weekend?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

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

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 in human history for entertainment, and I’m tired of white audiences falling over themselves to praise a film that has the courage and honesty to tell such a brutal story. When movies about slavery or, more broadly, other types of violence against black people are the only types of films regularly deemed “important” and “good” by white people, you wonder if white audiences are only capable of lauding a story where black people are subservient."

Ruff hits all the Jim Crow notes, usually one per episode: arbitrary police violence? Check. Sundown towns? Check. Redlining? Check. Reparations? Check. Which again, hooray, I'm glad Ruff didn't ignore this reality and/but his lingering on it also felt a little too ... look-how-woke-I-am-ish. It felt performative. (At one point, our POC hero refers to himself as a "magical negro" after the villain basically implies it. It was the first thing I was thinking and also felt really really too on the nose having it come from the character, not the least because I'm not sure that phrase was in use in the 1950s among other things.)

Woven within this portrait of life for people of African descent in Jim Crow America is the supernatural, Lovecraft element: a malevolent secret society that needs this family for their nefarious gain. The Lovecraftian influence was pretty minimal, I thought, so those who don't go for "weird" fiction will still enjoy this one. It's atmospheric and creepy, and plays well with the real life tension, leaving the reader to stress whether it's the monster that's going to get our heroes or the local police.

There's always a lot of disagreement about what writers can write about and I can't say I know the answer. But to paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart, I know when it feels right, and this didn't quite hit me right. (In spirit of balance, Alex Brown, who identifies as a person of color, liked this book and dismisses apprehensions of Ruff's identity, so don't take my opinion too seriously!)

Title: Lovecraft Country
Author: Matt Ruff
Genre: Fiction (Historical / 1950s / Lovecraft / Supernatural / Secret Society / Racism / Family / Interconnected)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper (2/16/2016)
Source: Personal copy
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

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

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 Lizzie expert confirmed it (while not remembering the details) so I kept checking and reading through the transcripts. It turns out Lizzie got a "sneak peek" at the skulls when the tissue paper covering them inside a valise was accidentally swept away during someone else's testimony...and yes, she did in fact faint at the grisly and sad spectacle. That was a particularly difficult incident of trying to fact-check something.

Erika Mailman
Is there a food/drink/smell/music/other you associate with the writing of this book?

Maybe (I hope this isn't too gross) the smell of blood. There are some pretty visceral scenes where, if you have imagination, you're smelling it. History has made much of the fact that the poor Bordens ate off the same mutton roast for a week, even having mutton stew for breakfast the morning of the murders. Yech. I actually don't know what mutton tastes like (the lamb in my gyro is as far as I've gotten), but I can only imagine that a stew made of elderly meat is pretty unattractive on a hot August day. I would've gone with Dunkin Donuts instead.

Speaking of the Bordens, is it true their house is now a murder themed B&B?

Yes. It is. My editor made me stay there. My account can be read at The Millions.

With an old college friend, I slept in the attic bedroom of Bridget Sullivan, the fresh-from-Ireland maid who was responsible for that mutton stew. She was washing windows when the stepmother was killed, and upstairs in that very room napping while Mr. Borden was murdered. She woke to Lizzie at the bottom of the stairs calling up three flights, "Come down! Someone's come in and killed Father!"

Read anything good recently?

Seven Stones to Stand or Fall by Diana Gabaldon, which is sitting on my Kindle waiting for me; Dear Friend: Letters of Encouragement, Humor, and Love for Women with Breast Cancer by Gina Mulligan (incorporates full-color scans of people's handwritten letters to loved ones); and can't wait to start Sparks of Light on my bedstand by Janet Butler Taylor

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Embed Code: The Murderer's Maid




Friday, October 13, 2017

Weekend reads and fall is here...

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 detailing the real horror of daily life for people of African descent in the 50s, which I appreciate, but at times it verges on being ... I don't know, too on the nose? Too woke? I'm looking forward to book club discussion, needless to say, and hopefully that'll help me wrestle with my feelings.

What are you reading this weekend? Any exciting weekend plans?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

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

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 a leeeeeeeeetle too long. But I found India charming -- a working woman who enjoys order and control -- and Derek -- to-be reformed raconteur who helps India loosen up -- and the secondary characters were fun.

The reveal was fun, and an interesting set up for the Lady Travelers Society. In terms of sex, there was none (or virtually none, I really can't recall), so if you're not feeling the hot-and-heavy, this is a good romance to read. I've had my eye out for the second book -- something to keep in my back pocket for cranky days and depressing weekends.

First line: It certainly did not look like the type of place where genteel, older ladies were bilked out of their life savings.

Title: The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen
Author: Victoria Alexander
Genre: Fiction (Historical / Romance / 19th Century / Paris / Missing Person / Mystery)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harlequin Books (5/23/2017)
Source: NetGalley
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction

Monday, October 9, 2017

Book Arrivals, October 9

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?

Friday, October 6, 2017

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

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




Thursday, October 5, 2017

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

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 been working my way through Tor's novella series, and I'm actually not enjoying most of them, so it really maybe be me and not this book!). There's a sequel coming, and I intend to read it because I want more of the world Broaddus imagines.

First line: Desmond Coke pinched a clump of chiba leaves from his pouch and rolled it into the fine pressed paper.

Title: Buffalo Soldier
Author: Maurice Broaddus
Genre: Fiction (Novella / Steampunk / Weird / Western / Political Intrigue / Alternative History / Jamaica)
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor (4/25/17)
Source: Library
Reading Challenges: Read Diverse

Monday, October 2, 2017

Mood Ring Recommendations: Feeling... Changeable

My current mood is influenced by the changing seasons and the slide into October (possibly my favorite month), so, for this week's Mood Ring Recommendations, my mood is ...

~ Changeable ~

First, the mood I've picked isn't precise, because I'm not exactly sure what mood I'm trying to express. Something that's more than what's on the surface; something duplicitous (but not always bad); one thing and then another. What's one word for all that?

Whatever the word is, these reads all came to mind when I started thinking about stories with a character who wears a mask, is different than we think, or changes midway once we thought we knew them.



Eleanor Hallowell Abbott, Molly Make-Believe: This sweet novel is from 1911, and it's the only positive novel featuring misdirection and misapprehension. It reads like The Shop Around the Corner and other sweet rom-coms, and it's a really lovely, light romance.

Louisa May Alcott, A Long Fatal Love Chase: Pretty much the title sums up the plot. One of Alcott's pot boilers that she was shamed for writing, this delightful Gothic features a heroine fleeing from a nefarious lover, and all the drama that entails.  (Alcott's Behind a Mask is really a better fit for this theme, but isn't my favorite, but if you want the original twisted-caretaker-edges-out-the-wife, this is your book.)

Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's: Forget the beloved film (which I actually dislike) because Capote's Holly Golightly is nothing like Audrey Hepburn's version. This Holly is worthy of a close look: she's a little dangerous, very sexy, and a survivor.

Jane Harris, Gillespie and I: This chunky book is so good, with a wonderfully appealing unreliable narrator that I just adored. It doesn't hurt there's a midway oh-my-gosh-what?! twist that makes everything upside down. (I'm tempting myself to consider a reread now...!)

Rashad Harrison, Our Man in the Dark: This was one of the earliest books I reviewed on this blog and I still think about it. I loved every page of it. Our narrator is a thieving bookkeeper with MLK's Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the FBI manipulate him into getting dirt on King.

Sheila Kohler, The Bay of Foxes: This is a haunting novel of an Ethiopian immigrant in France who meets a famed French novelist; the older woman wants to relive an affair with the young man, and what should be a Cinderella story is much, much darker. I was reminded of Jane Bowles, Marguerite Duras, and Daphne du Maurier.

Alex Myers, Revolutionary: Another novel where "changeable" is less negative; in this case, a young woman disguises herself as a man to fight with the Continental Army. Myers, who is trans-identified himself, explores identity and love in a quick-reading hist fic that was surprising and romantic.

What books make you think of "changeable"?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Book Arrivals, October 1

A quick booktube video of some of the books that have arrived over the last few weeks, both review copies and some free-range reading library arrivals. (Including a classic better known as a film than a book!) Have you read any of these?



Thursday, September 28, 2017

Creepy kids are creepy, especially when they ought to know better...

In our house, this book is practically a sacred text (my wife uh-dores Shirley Jackson). My book club selected this as our read for May, and I was thrilled for the reread because this book surprises me every time.

Our narrator, Mary Katherine (or Merricat, as she's called) lives in her dilapidated house with her sister and uncle. The town shuns them after a terrible family tragedy that resulted in the death of most of her fmaily. But Merricat likes the little life she has, and she does what she needs to in order to protect all of them. And as you might expect, when her happy world is threatened, she gets to work.

I'm being vague to ensure you get the pleasure of Merricat and her story. If you're only familiar with Shirley Jackson through her short story "The Lottery", you need to get this novella. It's a great, atmospheric read -- very quick at 160ish pages, depending on your edition -- and the creepiness crawls over you.

Jackson's Merricat is so sweet and yet, so deeply, deeply deranged (for some fun parallel reading, get Sarah Schmidt's See What I Have Done as I loved the similar sort of narrators and atmosphere). Today's thrillers are swimming with unhinged heroines, but I think Merricat is their grandmother (this was originally published in 1962) and Jackson makes you agog at the horror without depicting anything gruesome.

First line: My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood.

Title: We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Author: Shirley Jackson
Publisher/Publication Date: Penguin (1984)
Source: Personal copy
Reading Challenges: #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: But the little things need to be quality

Today's Wordless Wednesday is a response to my Wordless Wednesday from last week.

Basically: $2 stickies have no sticky and now I have learned my lesson. But life isn't over because last night my wife made caramel apples because it was Tuesday.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Teaser Tuesday, September 26: Happy birthday, Gloria Anzaldúa!

"I want freedom to carve and chisel my own face, to staunch the bleeding with ashes, to fashion my own gods out of entrails."

I came across Gloria Anzaldúa in college, after stumbling across the above quote. It electrified and shocked me, as did the passage around it (from her book Borderlands/ La Frontera: The New Mestiza), which provided more context:
"So don’t give me your tenets and your laws. Don’t give me your lukewarm gods. What I want is an accounting with all three cultures—white, Mexican, Indian. I want freedom to carve and chisel my own face, to staunch the bleeding with ashes, to fashion my own gods out of entrails. And if going home is denied me then I will have to stand and claim my space, making a new culture—una cultura mestiza—with my own lumber, my own bricks and mortar and own feminist architecture."
You can read a few more powerful excerpts at She's Got the Mic.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Mood Ring Recommendations: Feeling...Indecisive

I'm going to start a new series I'm calling Mood Ring Recommendations, in which I'm going to share recommendations and reviews for books (or other things?, if I feel like it) that relate to the mood. It's an experiment; let's see if it's any good!

Since I'm in the midst of angst-ing about what to do with this blog (I even gave myself a tarot reading for advice!), today's mood is going to be:

~ Indecisive ~

These recommendations are reads that immediately came to mind when I started thinking about making choices (or not), hesitating or being impetuous, or otherwise dithering about doing something.


Kage Baker, In the Garden of Iden: When you can live forever, you have lots of time to wonder about the choices you've made. This book is the start of a thirteen book series (or something like that), but it's a fabulous standalone novel, set during Elizabethan England, with a woman who is more cyborg than human (but she still struggles between head and heart).

Rumer Godden, In This House of Brede: This novel about a woman becoming a nun had me researching convents as soon as I was finished. (See, I'm all about dramatic choices and impetuous decisions!) Despite my penchant for drama, however, this is a wonderful novel about what vocation really is, and how one chooses to join a cloistered community.

Nicola Griffith, Slow River: A young woman gets sucked into a new life that may or may not be worse than the one she left. This is a sci-fi-ish/speculative novel with a lesbian heroine and might be one of my top ten all time favorite desert island picks.

Penelope Lively, Making It Up: I love Lively and this collection of short stories is fantasy autobiography, if such a genre could exist. Basically, she takes moments in her life and imagines if she did something differently. It's for all of us who spend our time wishing we could have Sliding Door vision.

Sigrid Nunez, The Last of Her Kind: This novel is set in 1968 and follows two roommates who come from wildly different lives; their friendship spans decades and their terrible, terrible life choices.

Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow: On the off chance you've never read this novel, do it. Is there anything more dramatic then going on an interstellar mission when you're having a crisis of faith? This is the least science fiction-y scifi I've read.

What books come to mind for you when you think of  indecisive characters and plots hinging on terrible, dramatic, or non-choice choices?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Tarot Reading: On continuing to blog...

As I shared on Friday, I've been seriously considering closing my blog, since I'm feeling sort of 'eh' about the work it takes to keep it up. And yet, that doesn't feel quite right to me, so I decided to give myself a tarot reading about what to do.

I used the Biz Spread created by New Age Hipster and the Ostara Tarot deck, consulting my two favorite tarot books right now, Melissa Cynova's Kitchen Table Tarot and Jessa Crispin's The Creative Tarot.

Essentially, to my surprise, I think this reading is telling me not to quit! I'm a little fuzzy on some of the cards, but what jumped out to me was this sense of waiting, needing more time, and rejuvenating.

The first card, about where one's business is at, is the 7 of Coins. Crispin interprets sevens as determining what we really want, and 7 of Coins about not rushing to harvest/call it quits. That really struck me because while I've been thinking I'm being honest with myself, it may be that I'm just rushing an incubation period!

The fourth card, about what is blocking the business, is the 7 of Swords. (More 7!) Even without looking at either book, I felt like I could easily interpret this card: it's all about me coveting, feeling envy, and/or comparing myself to other blogs/bloggers. And is that what I really want? Of course not!

I'm having to sit with this reading but ultimately, I'm quashing these thoughts of quitting. And of course, the comparing. I do this for everything in my life, and it never ends well.



Friday, September 22, 2017

Weekend reads and considering closing the blog...

I'm not sure what provoked it, but was struck very strongly this week that I should consider closing this blog.

I think it's maybe that I'm trying to renew my work on it -- I'm trying out different review formats, attempting some YouTube vids, hoping to integrate my tarot and woowoo research -- but I'm so aware of how little interaction I have through it all. I know -- or 'know' -- many bookish folks online, but my interactions are fleeting and quick. I started my blog to connect with other readers -- a virtual book club, I imagined -- and I'm just not doing that.

Reviewing books to help authors and publishers promote them has become the meat-and-potatoes of my blog, and I'm not that excited about it. Certainly my free-range reading of these last few months have been refreshing and fun, but even writing about those reads feels like I'm talking to myself.

So, if that's the case, why continue here?

This post is kind of me "thinking out loud" (so no need to reassure me, I swear I'm not fishing for compliments!) and I'd love to hear from folks who have either stopped blogging or intentionally stayed on. I know I need to give more if I do stay blogging; I need to engage more deeply with other bloggers, rather than do the drive by "great review!" comments that seem necessary and collegial (but maybe aren't?). But I'm also aware of my limited time. I come to work early to write, and after work, I'm trying to wean off being online so I can do other things -- my woowoo work, kitchen witchery, and other homemaking stuff. And reading -- I'm reading voraciously again, and I'm loving what I'm reading. And I'm a social creature, so I keep circling back to this place, the online book community, because

My weekend read is Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller. It's an authorized prequel about Laura Ingalls Wilder's mother, Caroline (or Ma). I'm not a Little House fan (more of a Caddie Woodlawn girl myself) but my wife and toddler have been listening to the audiobooks of the series (read by Cherry Jones, by the way, and they're smashing) and I've been intrigued by Ma. She's the more biased one, to my adult ears, and very cautious considering she's with someone who keeps moving and introducing major disasters into their life.

So...what are you reading this weekend? And do you have any tips for helping me figure out whether to stay or go?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: It's the little things

Decided to dress up my work game. $2 from Target -- like I could resist!

Check out more Wordless Wednesday posts!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Creepy kids are creepy, especially when they survive plane crashes

My wife was listening to this on her commute and I got hooked, and we spent the last four nights listening to it at home after dinner while halfheartedly doing dishes and whatnot.

Four airplanes crash on the same day, and unbelievably, in three of the accidents, one child survives. But the world is changed by Black Thursday, as the day becomes known, as the children garner international interest and panic. We learn about what happens through Black Thursday: From Crash to Conspiracy, a book that details the events in the days and weeks that follow, and of course, what happens after this book comes out.

I found the premise suuuuuuuper intriguing and I'm a sucker for found documents/ephemera/books-within-books narrative structure, so all that worked for me; but I did get a bit tired near the end of the drawn out mystery.

My wife said this felt like an overpadded novella; I kind of agree. Maybe in book form, when I could have read faster, it might have raced more, but listening, it did seem a bit like ohmygod, just move faster!!

The two readers for the audiobook were pretty fabulous; their range of accents and voices was impressive (even if, at times, they slipped into different accents).

Unlike some folks, the ending seemed very clear and unambiguous to me; and I'm still thinking about this book. I'm particularly struck by the world Lotz imagined: in 2012, I think I would have found her suppositions a bit overdramatic, but now, well, it all seems a little more plausible...

Unsure if I'll get the "sequel" (Day Four) because it seems even more cool-set-up-without-great-pay-off, but The Three was a pretty fab creepy read for the fall. (And yes, I found it very creepy -- the last few nights I've been jumpy as I've gone off to bed!)

First line: Come on, come on, come on...

Title: The Three
Author: Sarah Lotz
Publisher/Publication Date: Little, Brown & Company (6/3/2014)
Source: My public library

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Booktube: Library Haul, September 14

A quick vid of some of the free-range reads I snagged from the library recently!


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Teaser Tuesday, September 12: Middlemarch!

My Teaser Tuesday for this week comes from Middlemarch!...which I am still reading. What are you reading today? Have a teaser to share?


Friday, September 8, 2017

Weekend reads and my first vlog!

It feels like summer is over in Boston -- it's brisk and beautiful and while I love it, I'm also mourning the end of summer because I don't feel like I did enough summer stuff!

So, after fumbling with many different apps, I've made my first vlog/booktube, below. Don't judge me too harshly; I decided to just do it and not agonize, and I'll figure it out along the way. (But helpful tips always welcome!)

My weekend reads are more of Middlemarch as well as The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper. What are you reading this weekend?


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A novel about E.M. Forster not getting some is surprisingly moving

I grabbed this book from the library in my usual, arbitrary way: I liked the spine and the binding, and the cover; then I saw it was a Europa Edition and decided to check it out. Then I never got around to reading it, and had forgotten about it until noticing it on my Overdrive wishlist.

Arctic Summer is biographical novel of English novelist E.M. Forster; it's mostly about Morgan's desperate search for love and companionship and sex, and how he basically didn't get those things. It's gorgeous and emotional and restrained, and I loved every word.

Overwhelmingly, this novel is just bittersweet. Morgan is so sweetly likeable (I know it's trendy these days to want unlikable characters, but there's something to be said for characters you also just want to squish) but his life so empty despite the people, jobs, and travel that fill it. He finds some intense emotional relationships, a few that translate into physical/sexual ones, but all seem lopsided and unequal -- some, because the other man is not as interested; some, because of racial and class inequalities.

Morgan's yearning for companionship just hit me so hard; despite all the changes legally and socially in some parts of the world, queer folks still can't live freely and openly. I'm lucky in my life that I haven't lost anything in being open with the person I love -- but it's easy to imagine a world in which I didn't have that luxury.

Galgut draws from a wealth of source material, and apparently includes real quotes -- slightly amended -- in the text, a technique I didn't notice, and the narrative reads beautifully. Every other line is quote-worthy; despite the slim size of this read, I kept pausing to meditate and chew over the story.

I'm genuinely sad having finished it; not just because I've ended a good read but because I ache for Morgan. I want a few more pages where he is not just fine -- because he is fine -- but where he is stupidly, insanely happy.

First line: In October of 1912, the SS City of Birmingham was travelling through the Red Sea, midway on her journey to India, when two men found themselves together on the forward deck.

Title: Arctic Summer
Author: Damon Galgut
Publisher/Publication Date: Europa Editions (9/2/2014)
Source: My public library
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Book Review: The Family Plot by Cherie Priest

First line: Yeah, send her on back.

I love a good haunted house story and this one is just perfect. (Hot tip: save this for October and thank me later!)

Reminiscent of The Haunting of Hill House and Insidious, this novel features a tough, slightly damaged heroine who didn't make me eyeball roll once; serious place as character; and creepiness in spades.

The plot is pretty simple: Dahlia, whose family runs a salvage business, is tasked with tearing apart an old estate in a matter of days, a job which requires her and her small crew -- cousin Bobby, Bobby's son Gabe, and new colleague Gabe -- to sleep in the house while they work at all hours to salvage what is can be resold.

The house has other ideas, obviously.

While some of the ghostliness of the story was predictable, I found the anticipation upped my eager jumpiness. But Priest surprised me with a ghostly encounter I'd never considered before, and it has made me even jumpier when I'm alone. The book's narrative vibe is pragmatic and grounded -- Dahlia puts up with no BS -- which makes the creepier elements all the scarier: if Dahlia's nervous, then I'm jumping out of my skin!

I can't say more without giving away anything, so if you're into haunted houses, add this to your TBR immediately. This was my second Priest novel (after Maplecroft, which I uh-dored!) and I've got everything else of hers in my queue as she clearly excels at the stuff I yearn for in a supernatural-y novel: mood, atmosphere, and complicated, cranky heroines (mmmmm).

Title: The Family Plot
Author: Cherie Priest

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Supernatural / Ghosts / Haunted House)
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor (9/5/2017)
Source: NetGalley

Monday, August 28, 2017

Monday....musings? August 28

The things that feel summery-y for me are coming to an end: our summer hours at work, which end after this week; vacation for school kids; college kids moving into the dorms; a kind of shift in the weather from muggy heat to tolerable heat; the farm in full harvest mode.

We went camping this weekend, and it was really perfect; I finished Ship Fever which was unbelievable. I love historical short fiction in a way I don't always love short fiction generally -- and while a few of Barrett's stories were too neat, the titular story was un-believable. I'm currently in the throes of Damon Galgut's Arctic Summer, which was a free range reading find, and now confirms I'm just going to browse the library or catalog subject index until a title or book cover catches my attention. (I'm still struggling to finish Middlemarch for my 9/21 bookclub!)

Inspired by Andi of Estella's Revenge, I'm starting to think a little more -- creatively -- about what I want to do with this blog, and what I want from it. I still want to track and reflect on my reading, but i might try less formal reviews (and as I'm doing less book tours, that won't impact things there). I'm really intrigued by the idea of vlogging but am self-conscious, so we'll see what happens. Ultimately, I'm craving connection and feeling like I'm not there right now -- neither giving nor getting -- and I can't tell if book blogging is just not the place for it/me or if I'm just not doing it right. (I don't mean "right" but, you know, right-in-a-manner-that-invites-connection-and-community.)

For a variety of reasons, while I'm still passionate for historical fiction, I feel pretty disconnected from the community -- my major work conference overlaps the Historical Novel Society's conference, so I can't really attend -- and the low-grade drama that exists around book reviewing has really exhausted me that I'm skittish about working with new-to-me authors.

I've really gotten back to my "woo woo" roots, so to speak, and have done some deep diving into one of my longest passions, tarot. I plan to blog a bit more about that -- as well as other kitchen witchery endeavors. I've been reading tarot since I was 16 or so -- so 20 years now! -- and I've amassed a massive collection of decks. But I'd stalled out on serious study for more than a few years, and I'm grateful I'm being called back to this place of meditation, reflection, and musing. I've been back-and-forth-ing about starting a new blog for this stuff, but honestly, I can't manage that -- and my Instagram seems to hold many various themes so why not here?

TL;DR: biographical novel about E.M. Forster's thwarted attempts at gay love is so good; blog not so good; tarot a forgotten favorite. How do you keep book blogging fun and nurture the community you've found?

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Bout of Books, Day 2 and Wordless Wednesday, August 23

Yesterday I started, and nearly finished Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut, a short novel about E.M. Forster. It's just beautiful! and so poignant! and bittersweet! and sad! and talks about exoticization (this is a word, right?) of people of color and repressed homosexual impulses and writing and travel and moms and ... basically, it's working for me and has lured me away from my other current reads which is ... good?

My Wordless Wednesday offering is today's Bout of Books challenge: book spine rainbow!

My rainbow is less rainbow-y than it should be, I realize, but it was the best I could do between making dinner, getting toddler to bed, and, obviously, reading! (It's very blue-y which I vaguely recall reading somewhere is the most used color for book covers, maybe because it's a popular color? or something...? Any book cover/design nerds care to weigh in?)