Sunday, December 31, 2017

Books Read in 2017


David Morrell, Ruler of the Night
Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen


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


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


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


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]


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


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


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


Damon Galgut, Arctic Summer
Sarah Lotz, The Three


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


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


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!


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