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Showing posts from 2020

#blacklivesmatter

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I took too long to say something here.

Black lives matter.

I'm participating in the Movement for Black Lives Week of Action: In Defense of Black Life and I hope you'll join me.

There's so much great content out there already I hardly know what to share; but for now, here's a wonderful thread of mutual aid funds that could use donations.

Grateful to everyone out there witnessing, protesting, and fighting for Black lives.

Goldilocks by Laura Lam

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She said her goodbyes, one by one. She spoke out loud to them, her voice soft but unwavering. Sharing her memories, thanking them for what they had learned, what they had taught her. If they could speak, would they accept their fate? Or would they beg, plead, fight for the same chance at life?

If you've seen anything about this book, you've likely seen the formula that it's The Handmaid's Tale meets The Martian, and that's a pretty apt pitch. US society has turned so conservative that women have been pushed from their jobs. Earth has been so destroyed that there's urgent need to move to a new planet and one has been found in a "Goldilocks"-zone: not too hot, not too cold.

Goldilocks by Laura Lam
Orbit, 2020
Review copy via publisher
Read Harder reading challenge
Valerie Black, genius inventor, has been building toward this momentous event -- with technology, money, and skilled crew. Her ward, Naomi Lovelace, is to be the crew's biologist. The rest…

The Overstory by Richard Powers

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The best arguments in the world won't change a person's mind. The only thing that can do that is a good story.

A book club pick I was pretty unenthusiastic about: prize winners always disappoint me, and I am impatient with fiction by white men. Intellectually I understand the dangers of climate change but find myself unable to connect with stories about it. This book felt like it would be a slog.

The opening vignettes intrigued me -- they were great! -- but I just could not fathom how they would encompass 502 pages when each one was such a brief, and seemingly complete, sliver.

I should be less judgy, I know.

The Overstory by Richard Powers W.W. Norton & Company, 2019 Personal copy
Powers pulled together these small slivers into a book that hit me with surprising impact, a story that left me breathless and a little teary. As a tween who was obsessed with the radical environmental activists of the 1980s and 1990s who grew into an organizer whose work with Greenpea…

Weekend reads, or quaran-weekend

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How are you doing? I think this is my sixth week of pretty serious social distancing and as an extrovert, I Am Dying. I mean, there's been an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Zoom meetings, but I'm also experiencing serious Zoom fatigue. Unabridged Kid is a wicked extrovert to and while he's loving being home with me all the time, he's also missing his farm community.

Our coronahobby has been gardening, in that we're checking daily on the bulbs I planted last fall and buying already established flowers and putting them into the yard. We're addicted. We've also started seeds but that's not going as well and is vastly less satisfying.

Other than mock gardening, I haven't indulged in my hobbies as much as I'd like; I've been too tired and stressed to do more than watch tv. But I'm finally adjusting: I'm dressing up for work, which has actually helped me keep Work Time to work hours, and doing non-work the rest of the time. Thi…

Something to Talk about by Meryl Wilsner

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Today, Jo made her feel safe and warm and cared for, and that was how Jo had made her feel for months now. Emma was finally read to admit it, was finally able to see it. She wondered what her life would be like without the rumors.

Jo is a former child star, now a successful writer and producer. Emma is her competent, empathetic assistant. When the tabloids declare them a couple, both Emma and Jo find themselves microscopically analyzing everything they do around each other and in the process, realize they'd had/have massive crushes on each other. It's a serious slow burn workplace romance. 

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
Berkley Books, 2020
Digital ARC from publisher

Sadly, I didn't love this debut as much as I wanted to; I thought it wouldn't be an issue but I actually ended up being really squicked out by the supervisor-employee relationship with the two leads. Even though Wilsner is conscientious to address that element multiple times in the boo…

Weekend reads, or social distancing...

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One million library holds arrived this week. Which is nice because my community, like so many, has requested people exercise "social distancing" to help prevent a wider spread of COVID19.

I plan to participate in next weekend's #StayHome24in48, a little readathon for all of us who need some bookish time alone/together. Are you going to?

I have one million reviews to write for Historical Novel Review but I still plan to read something. I'm leaning toward Sarah Gailey's Upright Women Wanted. What are you reading this weekend?


On cleaning up the blog roll...

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I'm so terrible at checking through my blog roll, even on days when I post here. I'm slightly better at responding on Instagram or Twitter. But I added some blogs to my blog roll, in another fit of hopefulness that I'll be better at nurturing community; and wondered if I ought to clean up my blog roll.

There are blogs that haven't been updated in years -- many years -- that I still don't have the heart to remove because I feel like they're the last connection I have with said blogger. In one case, the blogger has died, and I just can't let go of her. Seeing her blog name always makes me smile. The others are bloggers who have moved on, but I would wait forever for an update from them. Is that weird?

How do you handle your blog roll? Are there bloggers you keep on your blog roll for some reason -- sentimental or otherwise?

Weekend reads, or life in the sugar shack

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I really hate February as a rule: it's so gray, and cold, and snowy, but not in a pretty way; there aren't enough warm days to make it feel springy, and the rain is still wintry cold and makes me feel achy.

Farm life has made February more bearable in the last few years: we get baby animals, including some hilarious kids most recently; and sugar season starts.

Our second home the last few weeks has been the sugar shack, where my wife and other staff boil the maple sap for 12 hours a day. The small wood shack gets steamy and smells of maple, and is warm and cozy with children and dogs.

My weekend read this weekend is the audiobook of The Deep by Rivers Solomon, read by Daveed Diggs. It's an incredible listen but I'm not surprised, given how amazing Solomon's previous novel, An Unkindness of Ghosts, was.

What are you doing this weekend? Will you be reading anything?

The Woman in the Camphor Trunk by Jennifer Kincheloe

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As a teen, Anna had indeed broken in to drink the communion wine, because she needed the extra holiness.

I've not been so madly in love with a heroine in a long time as I am with Anna Blanc. I gushed about her in my review of Kincheloe's first book, The Secret Life of Anna Blanc, and this second historical mystery featuring our plucky, daring, poised, naive, sweet, reckless girl was so satisfying and exciting.

The Woman in the Camphor Trunk by Jennifer Kincheloe
Seventh Street Books, 2017
Copy from my public library & audiobook review copy from the author
Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

I tend to drop serial historical mysteries because at a certain point it feels like the interpersonal stuff with the main characters gets frozen at a certain point to ensure that readers can drop into new releases without wondering what they missed. Possibly this could happen with Kincheloe's series if it goes on for ten more books but so far, I'm really impressed with how much …

Book Review: Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

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Was this a sign that she was ready to shed him like a layer of old skin and move on?

At this point, I think this is my seventh Tessa Bailey romance and I'm sad to say I really think I'm just not the right reader for her books. This book is the second in her newest series, Hot & Hammered, set in Port Jefferson, Long Island, centered around the Castle family and their home renovation business.

Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey
Avon, 2020
Copy from the public library

Dominic works on the construction crew and is married to his high school sweetheart. But after a decade together -- including the time he served in the Marines in Afghanistan -- things with his beloved Rosie are stilted and tense. They never talk, his wife's emotional life is a complete mystery to him, and he firmly believes that acts of care, done in secret, is the only way for a husband to behave. For Rosie, she feels like a shadow in her own life, her dream of own a restaurant drifting further and furthe…

Audiobook Review: The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe

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Anna didn't like children. Her greatest fear was that her prayers would get crossed with some other Catholics. Anna would get pregnant without even asking and some other woman would get a motorcycle or permission to play flag football.

I've got a new heroine addiction in the form of one Anna Blanc -- socialite, heiress, adventurer, crime fighter.

Set in 1907 Los Angeles, our heroine Anna is the daughter of a French banker and is known for being a charming, beautiful socialite. But she wants more than all that. She wants to be a police detective. Her reputation is already borderline ruined from an impetuous decision she makes in the first chapter, but she manages to juggle a handsome, wealthy suitor and a position as a police matron -- the closest thing to being a police detective she can manage. But wrangling orphans into orphanages isn't the work she wants to do, and with guts, moxie, and obliviousness, she gets to work solving murders and other crimes.

The Secret L…

Audiobook Review: Pemberley: Mr. Darcy's Dragon by Maria Grace

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Elizabeth's stomach churned. To be so ambushed, first thing in the day.

Austen's classic novel of manners, marriage, obligation, misunderstandings, poor judgments and well-founded ones is well-served by Maria Grace's imaginings of how society would respond to a world with dragons. It is not merely a retelling with lizards thrown in but a story with new threads of tension and complications that make Lizzie and Darcy's dislike of each other novel and real -- and something that must be urgently overcome.

Pemberley: Mr. Darcy's Dragon: A Pride and Prejudice Variation (Jane Austen's Dragons, Book 1) by Maria Grace; Narrated by Benjamin Fife
Self-published, 2019
Review copy for Audiobookworm Promotions
Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Pride and Prejudice isn't my favorite Austen novel which means I seriously love P&P re-tellings and variations.  (Ayesha at Last is one of the best bestest, btw, so if you haven't read it, read it now!) I found myself inst…

Reading Challenge: 2020 Historical Fiction

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I can't believe I'd forgotten to sign up for my favorite reading challenge! (Although, to be honest, it's hardly a "challenge" because it's my favorite genre, so basically, it's like that easy thing one can cross off their to do list!)

Hosted by Passages to the Past, the 2020 Historical Fiction challenge encourages readers to dig into more historical novels. Like last year, I'm going for Ancient History - 25 books.


Books Read

Mari Coates, The Pelton Papers
Tessa Dare, The Duchess Deal
Tessa Dare, A Night to Surrender Tessa Dare, Once Upon a Winter's Eve
Tessa Dare, A Week to Be Wicked
Maria Grace, Pemberley: Mr. Darcy's Dragon
Jennifer Kincheloe, The Body in Griffith Park
Jennifer Kincheloe, The Secret Life of Anna Blanc
Jennifer Kincheloe, The Woman in the Camphor Trunk
Eva Leigh, My Fake Rake
Diana Lloyd, About an Earl
Cat Sebastian, A Delicate Deception
Cat Sebastian, A Duke in Disguise
Cat Sebastian, Unmasked by the Marquess
Olivia Wai…