Weekly Reading Update 7/1-7/7

Life got a little crazy in the past week (we now have a move planned for an unknown date within the next month), and the weekend was extra crazy, so I only have one finished book this week.

I’m starting to do some library book management and try to focus on books that are available at my current library but not the new one I’m moving to. (I’m surprised there are some like that, since my current library system is MUCH smaller and has fewer of my TBR books over all.)

Finished Reading:
Please Look After Mom: I was somewhat enjoying this book for the novelty of it early on, but eventually I got tired of disliking most of the characters, and of the view of homemaking as drudgery.

Currently Reading:
Education of a Wandering Man: Still great.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Parts of this book are so dark…

North! or Be Eaten: Amazingly good–in places.

Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?: Intriguing.

Winter: Still fun.

DNF:
Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning Home: Just had no more interest. Subject was great in theory, but writing and approach were not for me.

June Reading Challenges Update

Modern Mrs Darcy:

Book recommended by a source you trust: Planet of the Damned

A book in translation: Almond: A Novel

Silver Valkyrie: 

Amnesia or memory problems: When God Doesn’t Fix It

A classic for ‘Classic and a modern bestseller in your favorite genre’: Planet of the Damned 

Back to the Classics:

Genre Classic: Planet of the Damned

The Unread Shelf:

Starting total unread: 309

Read: 9

Unshelved/DNF: 7

Acquired: 11

Ending Total: 304

June Prompt: A Book from a Series: Chasing Vermeer

(I DNF’d my planned May prompt, which also counts as removing unread books from the shelf, so, yay… May Prompt: A Backlist Title: Lost Lake House)

Purge the Pile 2020 (Goodreads ‘Lost Challenges Group’ Challenge): 

June Prompt: A book you would read on vacation: Chasing Vermeer

BINGO (Goodreads ‘Lost Challenges Group’ Challenge):

I read three from this list and DNF’d and replaced two more. Twenty two to go!

July Plans:

Modern Mrs Darcy:

After knocking off two in June that leaves me with book nominated for an award this year, which I will probably fill with Ten Thousand Doors of January after my life settles back down a bit.

I think I’m also going to replace my book for ‘published the decade you were born’ with Education of a Wandering Man since my original choice has a lot of confusion about publication date compared to date of writing.

Silver Valkyrie: 

Book related to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan: When My Name was Keoko

Back to the Classics:

Classic by a person of color: The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano: Written by Himself

The Unread Shelf:

Starting total: 304

July Prompt: A book chosen for you by Bookstagram (or other friends): I think I’ve chosen a set of four to have voted between on my bookstagram account, but haven’t started that process yet!

Purge the Pile 2020 (Goodreads ‘Lost Challenges Group’ Challenge): 

July: Read a book whose background is a color from your country’s flag: I’m noticing that the set of four I chose for The Unread Shelf voting prompt all work here, so I’ll probably just count whichever one gets chosen for this challenge too.

May: book with a bare chest on the cover: The Gods of Mars (still didn’t around to reading this one…)

BINGO (Goodreads ‘Lost Challenges Group’ Challenge):

Education of a Wandering Man and The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano: Written by Himself will count for this one. Other than that, we’ll just see if I happen to feel like reading any of them this month.

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Weekly Reading Update 6/24-6/30

I finished three normal length books this week, plus an extra four very short reads.

Three of those short reads MAY have been just because I was trying to get my count down for The Unread Shelf Project before the end of the month, but I’m actually okay with that. They’re short, but they’re on my TBR because I wanted to read them, and because I could knock them out in ten or fifteen minutes I always think I can do that ‘any time’ which always means ‘later’. And isn’t the whole point of The Unread Shelf Project to read all those books that you always put off until later because you own them and could read them ‘any time’?

I’ll get my monthly challenge update for June posted in the next couple of days too–June was a phenomenal reading month!

Finished Reading:
Chasing Vermeer: Five stars, a lot of fun, plus makes the world of fine art a lot more intriguing.

The Housekeeper and the Professor: Five stars again, and makes me want to read more Asian literary fiction. (Though I don’t know if I’ll enjoy others as much if they don’t have the math references…)

Digitocracy: A short story by Andy Weir, available to read for free online. I found this one very entertaining. Yet another five star read.

Chopin The Story of the Boy who Made Beautiful Melodies: One in a series of very short biographies for children, available for free on kindle. The formatting is very odd as the books are very old, meant to be read as whole series (references to other biographies are frequent), and the pictures are missing in the kindle version. Despite all of that, I do enjoy how they give a good picture of the lives of composers in a short time.

Stranger Things Ashcan/(Sample Chapter): Confirmed that I would like to read the whole comic eventually.

Cress: The romance in this one is not my favorite of the series, just because I dislike Thorn so much at the beginning. He does improve (even more so in the following book), and there are some sweet moments, but the best part of this book is having almost the full ensemble cast together at last.

Life and Adventures of Calamity Jane: This is a short memoir by ‘Calamity Jane’, originally sold as a kind of gift shop booklet. It’s apparently highly edited and fictionalized, but an entertaining read nonetheless.

Currently Reading:
Education of a Wandering Man: I keep getting distracted from this one, and then loving it again every time I actually pick it up again.

North! or Be Eaten: Finally getting around to reading this next installment of the Wingfeather Saga I borrowed from my nephew’s wife right before lockdown started. Sometimes I feel the ‘middle-grade-ness’ of the book a bit heavily, but then it totally makes me bawl my eyes out, and I realize just how good it is again.

Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?: I’m really enjoying this one so far (except for the copious references to evolutionary theory) as it goes through real neuroscience about how our brains work and applies it to how zombie brains might be malfunctioning.

Winter: Finally got to the last book in my audio revisit of the Lunar Chronicles! Loving it so far, but also hoping I can get through it before the digital copy returns to the library in two weeks, because this is a long one!

DNF:
Poems (by GK Chesterton): I forgot to record with I DNF’d this a week or two ago–love the content, but the very traditional style poems I just cannot get into.

A Princess of Wind and Wave: I love this author and series, but I inexplicably have a genetic inability to enjoy mermaid stories.

Third Daughter: After all the five star reads in a row I think I got a lot less patient with lesser books… This one was okay, I just was bored with the sneaking out for a make out session intro, especially since I thought she was going to have a cooler reason for sneaking out that meeting a guy that she clearly wasn’t going to end up with.

The Cottingley Secret: This one is probably just a temporary DNF for mood mismatch. I went in looking for magical childhood moments and mostly was getting feel-good used book store story.

Cobweb Bride: I would have stuck with this one, except there was too much creepy-horror feel for me. ONE example of how bad it is when Death refuses to take people who are on the brink of dying would have been plenty, thanks.

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The Housekeeper and the Professor


Silver Valkyrie:
Sadly, calling anything in this book an adventure would be a stretch. While there are perhaps some heroic qualities exhibited here and there, this is not really a Silver Valkyrie kind of book.

Princess Raqpunzel: I’m not sure I can fully explain what I loved about this book, but the slow character development, and the friendships that formed, were very sweet. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Hammer of Justice: I really appreciated the theme of mathematics being beautiful, and even something that humans copy from ‘God’s Notebook’ as we get deeper glimpses over time into how numbers work together.

Content Warning:

(This is accurate to the best of my recollection, but always has a chance of being incomplete.)

Violence: No violence. There are a couple of minor injuries and blood is mentioned.

Language: None.

Sex/Nudity:  Only the slightest hints at sex, as there are references to children born out of wedlock, with absentee fathers, and an accusation of impropriety at one point. The closest thing to nudity is an old man in his underwear.

Other: A character has short term memory loss, which significantly impacts his ability to live a normal life. A character tells another character essentially, “I’ll forgive you, but I’ll never forget,” a dubious portrayal of what forgiveness means.

Summary: 
A story that slowly unfolds a rich portrayal of friendship and mathematics. Recommended for everyone who can enjoy or tolerate the very slow pace.

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Weekly Reading Update 6/17-6/23

Three books finished this week, despite a busy weekend with little reading time. I need to tidy up my ‘currently reading‘ list at some point, as the nine books on there don’t represent what I’m actively reading. I haven’t decided on some whether that means DNFing, or a push to finish.

Finished Reading:
Scarlet: On re-reading, I decided to bump my rating from 4 to 4.5 stars. I think the first time through I was too distracted by needing to know what happened to Cinder to really enjoy Scarlet’s story line.

How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real World Problems: A really entertaining, educational read. Five stars.

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions: Probably educational, but much less entertaining.

Currently Reading:
Education of a Wandering Man: I’m about a third of the way through now, and finding this to be a great book, in every sense of the word.

Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning Home: I’m still having mixed feelings about this book. I just read a section of the book with some historical facts that I found interesting, and possibly informative, but felt she was trying to twist them to point in a specific direction I don’t agree with… but also never brought it all the way to her implied full conclusion, which just leaves it all in ‘vaguely uncomfortable’ territory.

Cress: Continuing my re-read (on audio) of Lunar Chronicles, and really enjoying the story at this point, despite not really liking Thorn this time through.

Chasing Vermeer: Really enjoying this middle grade mystery/adventure with overtones of art and questions about the world.

DNF:
Gift from the Sea: Decided to just give up on this one while in the process of writing this post! The writing is lovely, and I can see how some people really connect to it, but I just don’t seem to be getting anything out of it.

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For Darkness Shows the Stars

Silver Valkyrie:
While the adventure in this story is cleverly disguised as every day life, I enjoyed following a heroine who was torn between romantic adventure and staying home to try to make the world a better place in the midst of a messy and confusing situation.

Princess Raqpunzel:
If you’ve read Persuasion, which this novel is loosely based on, you’ll know to expect a very understated love story. I found it to be very sweet, and also enjoyed the portrayal of several different friendships in the story.

Hammer of Justice:
What really makes this book shine, and brings together the other threads of the story, is the setting. It clearly parallels the time when the South was just starting to move away from slavery, but tells its own story in a world that was once destroyed by genetic manipulation of all kinds, and pokes a bit at the lines between what’s helpful and harmful in that field.

Content Warning:

(This is accurate to the best of my recollection, but always has a chance of being incomplete.)

Violence: There is a dramatic injury, and a couple of intense threats of violence which bring up the tension level.

Language: I think there’s one instance of ‘british’ swearing toward the end of the book, but to be honest I didn’t even notice it myself, just saw another reviewer point it out.

Sex/Nudity:  Given how much genetic manipulation is part of the plot, some discussion of breeding animals and passing on genes is inevitable, but is handled in veiled language. In fact, I’m impressed how much the author manages to imply without saying anything inappropriate. A brothel is implied in context with the phrase ‘a house of young girls’, and there are similar highly veiled hints at rape. There’s also one scene where a girl falls asleep in boy’s arms, written for emotional impact rather than sensual detail.

Other: There is a death. There are a lot of family tensions and some emotional manipulation. Thematically, a lot comes up about trust and breach of trust.

Summary: 
I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys reading about social issues or who gets excited about the idea of a sci-fi Jane Austen retelling. And since I loved this book myself, I might even try to convince you to read it if you don’t fall into one of the above categories.

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Weekly Reading Update 6/10-6/16

I’m in the middle of an unreasonable number of books again, but I also finished two and really enjoyed both of them, so I’d call it a successful reading week.

Finished Reading:
For Darkness Shows the Stars: This one may end up on my all time favorites list–I figure I should give it a year or two and re-read it at least once before I officially put it on the list. Recommended.

Almond: A Novel: If you’re a person who’s looking to diversify their reading, this book is for you: set in Korea, by a Korean author, about a boy with a rare brain problem that keeps him from feeling emotions. If you’re not looking to diversify your reading, just read it for the interesting story. (Note: This one does have some disturbing content, including brief descriptions of images from porn magazines.)

Currently Reading:

How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real World Problems: Almost done with this one! It makes me laugh just about every time I pick it up.

Education of a Wandering Man: Despite loving this book, I’m making very little progess, as I’ve mostly been a fiction mood this week. Soon!

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions: The best thing I can say about this at the moment is the chapters are short, so I can keep making progress between other books. I don’t want to just give up on it, because the ideas are interesting, but I also can’t say I’m really enjoying it.

Scarlet: After a short break, I’m back to my re-read of The Lunar Chronicles, and enjoying it again. (I’d forgotten how genuinely sleazy Thorn is though–blech.)

Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning Home: I started this as my Sunday afternoon book this week, and am having mixed feelings. I think there are going to be some really good thoughts that are relavant to my current stage of life, but I’m also having a hard time really connecting with the writing style, or something.

Gift from the Sea: Decide it was time to use this to check off a couple challenge prompts, and got it out from the library since my copy is packed away. So far it’s a pleasant enough read, but not life changing or anything.

DNF:

Vita Nostra: I don’t know, maybe I’ll try this one again sometime and my mood was just wrong…

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: I never like villain back stories, and since giving up on this one I’m told that’s not really how it reads, but the first chapter or so wasn’t inspiring me.

Weekly Reading Update 6/3-6/9

My blog is back! I think it was down for only a short time, so likely no one else noticed. I’m very happy that human review proved that my blog is, in fact, NOT spam, and should not be taken down.

This week I finished a book every day for five days in a row! A couple were short, most of them I’d been working on for a while already, but I still feel like my reading life is on a roll right now! I just can’t decide if I’m thrilled to be making great progress on my Unread Shelf Project or a bit guilty about the huge stack of library books I’m not paying much attention to right now…. Yeah, I think I’m going to stick with thrilled as the more reasonable reaction.

Finished Reading:

Spindle’s End: Thoroughly enjoyed this re-read, and cemented this book in place as one of my all time favorites.

Planet of the Damned: Not a favorite, but still fun. I’ll probably look up more books by the author next time I’m in a pulpy sci-fi mood. I’m using it for classic book in your favorite genre for the Silver Valkyrie Reading Challenge.

When God Doesn’t Fix It: I’m going four stars on this, because parts of it are a little cringey for me, because of difference ranging from personality to theology, but several parts are easily in the five star category, as she makes it easy to see the power of God in her life story. Also I’ll be using this book about someone with memory problems for the Silver Valkyrie Reading Challenge.

The City Beyond the Glass: I stayed up too late to finish this fairy tale retelling, which is officially of Twelve Dancing Princesses, but feels to me like it’s crossed with Phantom of the Opera. It got just a little bit creepy by my standards, but not enough to disturb me. (In fact I kind of like the way all of those aspects were handled as the story kept moving…) Five stars!

Diana: Princess of the Amazons: Very meh for me. I’m sure it had great lessons for middle graders, but reading as an adult felt like watching a train wreck I had no way to stop.

Currently Reading:

The Canterbury Tales: The Summoner’s Tale was probably very funny if you’re a twelve year old boy. On to the Clerk’s Tale!

Poems (by GK Chesterton): Exactly the same mixed feelings as I have had.

How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real World Problems: Still thoroughly enjoying this, just reading a chapter or two at a time.

Education of a Wandering Man: I’m only a couple chapters in so far, but I’m LOVING it. Probably going to go on my personal list of books everyone should read.

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions: So far this isn’t so much ‘science fiction’ or even quite ‘satire’ as much as ‘thinly veiled commentary on Victorian society, but if people were two dimensional shapes’. So, we’ll have to see if that goes anywhere…

DNF:

Lost Lake House: There was nothing really wrong with this Prohibition era retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, there was just also nothing holding my interest.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Volume 1: High School is Hell: It’s supposed to be an updated, more modern retelling of the show, but it just felt like a pale imitation of Joss Whedon, with changes for no reason.

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May Reading Challenge Update

Modern Mrs Darcy:

No progress.

Silver Valkyrie: 

None finished for May, but I’m in the middle of a couple I’ll mention in June plans.

Back to the Classics:

Place in the Title: The Red House Mystery

The Unread Shelf:

Starting total unread: 306

Read: 2

Unshelved/DNF: 1

Acquired: 6

Ending Total: 309

May Prompt: A Backlist Title: (*facepalm* I totally forgot that I was supposed to read Lost Lake House for this prompt, and with my grandfather’s funeral right at the end of the month I didn’t check in on what I needed to finish up for reading challenges. I’m going to give myself a bit more time on this one.)

Purge the Pile 2020 (Goodreads ‘Lost Challenges Group’ Challenge): 

May: book with a bare chest on the cover:

I discovered the book I had planned for this was NOT the clean romance anthology I thought it was, so that got DNF’d in a hurry. And then I forgot to read the ONE book I found that also counted, The Gods of Mars, so I’ll have to catch up this month.

June Plans:

Modern Mrs Darcy:

I have three prompts left to fill: book recommended by a source you trust, translated, and nominated for award. I may replace my planned ‘recommended’ book with a book more recently recommended by my husband: Planet of the Damned.

At some point I really need to do some research on book award nominations this year… (*does a quick search* This one looks interesting: Ten Thousand Doors of January )

Silver Valkyrie: 

Amnesia or memory problems: When God Doesn’t Fix It

A classic for ‘Classic and a modern bestseller in your favorite genre’: Planet of the Damned (I really meant to finally force myself to read I, Robot for this prompt, but I’m not sure that’s happening.)

Back to the Classics:

Genre Classic: Planet of the Damned or The Gods of Mars

Nature in Title: Gift from the Sea

The Unread Shelf:

Starting total unread: 309

June Prompt: A Book from a Series: Chasing Vermeer

May Prompt: A Backlist Title: Lost Lake House (Since I forgot to read this last month, I’m going to try to knock it out this month.)

Purge the Pile 2020 (Goodreads ‘Lost Challenges Group’ Challenge): 

June Prompt: A book you would read on vacation: Chasing Vermeer

May: book with a bare chest on the cover: The Gods of Mars (Ditto May prompt above.)

BINGO (Goodreads ‘Lost Challenges Group’ Challenge):

This is a new challenge I just joined with no specific end date, just a fun way to get some randomized books off my TBR shelf. I’m not sure if I’ll specifically track it on my blog every month or not.

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Weekly Reading Update 5/27-6/2

I’ll have to post a monthly challenge update soon, but right now I’m still exhausted from traveling halfway across the country and back for my grandfather’s funeral this weekend. In terms of my reading life, this means I made some really good audio book progress, but had less visual reading time than usual.

Finished Reading:

The Princess and the Pea: A very short and slightly inappropriate version of the fairy tale… It was still mildly enjoyable.

The Red House Mystery: The author of Winnie the Pooh writes a quite enjoyable cozy/classic mystery. So happy I finally read this one, but a bit sad it didn’t become a series.

Cinder: I remember loving this series, but had forgotten the slow start, before the ensemble cast is all introduced and working together. Enjoyable, but almost like a prequel to the series I loved.

Currently Reading:

The Canterbury Tales: Finally managed to get back to this, but had trouble concentrating or enjoying The Friar’s Tale, and have twice fallen asleep while listening to the ‘Summoner’s Tale’ so still have no idea what it’s about.

Spindle’s End: Despite the fact that I’m only reading it sporadically, I’m still really enjoying this re-read of an old favorite.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Made even more progress on this during our weekend trip, and continuing to enjoy it.

Poems (by GK Chesterton): What I said last week still exactly applies, “A little too ‘traditional poetic style’ for me to really love them, but still enjoying some of the content very much.”

Planet of the Damned: A fun pulpy vintage sci-fi. I have a feeling I’m going to have to be in the right mood to move forward with this one, so it may be slow, but I’ve enjoying what I have read.

When God Doesn’t Fix It: I must have really been ready to get some memoirs, or nonfiction in general, back in my reading life, because this has unexpectedly become my main read of the moment. I don’t think it’s going to rank among my very favorite books on suffering and trials, but it does have some good stuff in it.

How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real World Problems: Before Strange Planet there was xkcd… It’s taken me way too long to get around to reading the books by the xkcd author, but I’m finding just as much fun as I thought they should be.