Monday, May 23, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY | Books that Confound and Confund

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for bloggers who like books and lists. It's awesome and is graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Tuesday's topic today (Hee!) is a particularly fun one that made me exercise the old gray cells.  My brain was so irritated by the overworking that it, in fact, convinced me to cheat.  Just a little.  But more about that later - first here's the topic:
Ten Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed (less love, more love, complicated feelings, indifference, thought it was great in a genre until you became more well read in that genre etc.)
I completely understand the phenomenon the topic is referring to but actually changing my feelings about a book, reversing them especially, is somewhat rare for me.  It happens and I have a few examples below.  Here's where the cheating comes in.  The rest of the books are mostly those that I felt differently about at the end then I did while reading - that underwent some shift when taken as a whole.  Not exactly what this topic is about but close enough, my brain says.

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1) Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

So I have been fascinated with vampires since I was a small child.  They're my monster of choice, if you will.  So I was of course intrigued by the phenomenon that was Twilight.  I was well beyond the target age bracket when I picked it up but I have to admit I got pretty caught up in it while reading.  It took me back and reminded me of all my teenage fantasies.  My very silly teenage fantasies but still I can't deny, I ate it up.  But as soon as I finished the book, all that nostalgia went away and I just felt mildly ill.  I've never had any desire to pick up the rest of the books in the series.

2) In the Woods by Tana French

Twilight is a book that suffered upon further thought.  This book is one that did the opposite.  One of the main characters in this book goes through a pretty profound transformation and while reading it felt like a betrayal.  I was upset and mad.  Then I finished the book and really thought about what the author had done and how she'd done it and what it really meant and Whoa.  This was a book that I realized was amazing only after moving away from the emotion of reading and thinking back on it more intellectually.

3) The Thomas Covenent Series by Stephen R. Donaldson

I read this series when I was quite young and it was my first real introduction to an anti-hero in fantasy literature.  It consequently Blew. My. Mind.  Thomas Covenent is an honest to god leper in the real world but his leprosy is gone when he crosses into the Land and his white gold wedding band, symbol of his failed marriage, becomes a token of power.  The thing is, one of the first things he does when he crosses over into the Land is rape a woman.  As a young person, I was of course bothered by this but mostly thought of it as being a gutsy move on the author's part.  I don't think older me would view this in the same light at all.


I re-read (for the first time) the entire Harry Potter series last year and was surprised to find that my feelings about several of the books changed.  Most notable was book 5, which had been my least favorite on the first go round and was probably my favorite on this second read.  I appreciated Harry's journey this time instead of being annoyed by it.  My Re-Read Review.

5) Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

Nothing much happens in this book and my review talked mostly about how charming, delightful and funny the book was.  And it was all those things - I read it in two days.  I realized as I sat with it though that it also had really spoken to me and had a deeper impact on me than I imagined.  It's a book that hides a really substantial core with a veneer of delightful wit and writing.

The rest of the books on the list are all books that while reading I struggled with parts or had portions of the book where I wasn't quite getting it but by the time I closed the back cover and reflected I realized I really loved the book/series as a whole.  The whole is greater than the parts and all that: 


Every single book in this series surprised me by the end. Every single one. In a good way.


I initially thought this book was just a string of imaginative imagery.  By the end it was SO MUCH more while still be an impressive display of a creative imagination.

8) A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

This one may just be a matter of starting off slow for me but regardless it really pulled off being awesome by the end.  It started lackluster but by the end I was in love.


In each of the three books in this middle-grade series there was a point where I wondered if it was going to work.  It always did and this series was one of my favorite reads of the year when I read it.  



10) The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt

This was a rambling beast of a book that had me occasionally screaming come on at my car's cd player but when it was over I was kind of lost without it for several days.

11) The Fall of Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos #2) by Dan Simmons

This is the sequel to one of my favorite all time Sci Fi Novels (Hyperion) and it's long and involved and so different from Hyperion.  I felt ambivalent and weird about it for much of the time I was reading but at the end I thought it worked and was excellent in its own right.  Though not as good as Hyperion.

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This was definitely a TTT that made me wish my brain wasn't getting older and still worked because it was thought provoking.  Hopefully the books I chose work even if they didn't always fit the criteria.

What about you?  Have you had any books you've done a 180 on after having a few days to ruminate upon them?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

REVIEW | Percy Jackson and The Olympians Series by Rick Riordan

Book 1 | The Lightning Thief | 2005
Book 2 | The Sea of Monsters | 2006
Book 3 | The Titan's Curse | 2007
Book 5 | The Last Olympian | 2009


WHY?: Honestly I'm surprised it took me as long as it did to start this series.  I was (and still am) a HUGE Greek Mythology nerd as a kid and this series would have been a godsend (Hee!) for me back then.  It's natural that I would pick it up now.

This book was my entry into the sordid world of the Greek Gods.

If you've never read it and have any interest in Greek Mythology go get it and read it now. Go on.  I'll wait.  ......  Isn't it great and the artwork stunning?  I eventually graduated on to Bulfinch's Mythology and Edith Hamilton's Mythology but D'Aulaires' will always have my heart.  I would pore over it again and again and again and my young self was never even phased by the fact that the Gods?  Kind of assholes and really amoral.  It is one of the things that is so great  and impressive about Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series.  He manages to capture all the stuff that fascinated me as a child and he doesn't ignore the more troublesome aspects of the mythology but it also never seems sordid and ugly.  It's full of love, adventure and Satyrs just like D'Aulaires.
From D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. I like how Aphrodite is at the bottom all "I was born of sea foam so who knows where I fit on this family tree!"

Persisus or "Percy" Jackson is a dyslexic 12 year old, apple of his mother's eye but who has seemingly been kicked out of every school in New York City.  Unbeknownst to him, his father happens to be a Greek God. I won't say which as that is a bit of a spoiler for the first part of book one but suffice it to say his dad is very powerful.  Percy becomes aware that there is something different about him when he starts to see things others do not.  Oh and his math teacher turns into a monster and tries to kill him.  Percy is what is known as a demi-god which are somewhat more  plentiful than you would assume (or if you've read the Greek myths maybe not) and all these children of the Gods are powerfully attractive to monsters.  Many don't live for very long and others are destined to be great heroes.  Before their fate is known however many, including Percy are found and brought to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp in upstate New York where they are kept safe and trained to take on missions for the good of the Gods of Olympus.

Rather than going into the plot of each book, the overall trajectory of the series is to follow Percy from the age of 12 to the age of 16, when a great prophecy says he (or some child of the gods) will make a decision that will save or destroy the world.  Each book features a different quest-type adventure except for the final book in the series which focus on a war among the Gods and the fulfillment of Percy's prophecy.  On all his quests Percy has some help from his friends like Grover a somewhat bumbling but goodhearted satyr who just wants to find the lost nature god Pan; Annabeth, daughter of Athena and very smart; Tyson, Percy's half-brother and also a cyclops; Thalia, daughter of Zeus and somewhat too like Percy for them to work together comfortably; Chiron, the famous centaur and Percy's mentor; Dionysus, the negligent camp director; Nico D'Angelo, a mysterious young demi-god with troubling powers; Rachel Elizabeth Dare, a mere mortal who somehow can see through the "mist" which usually obscures anything magical from humans and many more of the campers.  All the Gods also make appearances, some to help, others...not so much.  In all it's a fun cast of characters and Percy's voice as the narrator of it all is pitch perfect.  He's very personable, funny and believably adolescent and his growth from kid to young man worked really well for me.

I haven't seen the movies but Logan Lerman looks perfectly cast to me (though he's too old)
I have to admit that I wasn't immediately drawn into this series.  I started it a couple times before I persevered and I'm really glad I did.  The Lightning Thief was a little slow for me; there was so much set up and the quest portion of the book ended up feeling very short and anti-climactic.  The Sea of Monsters (book 2) was also a little slow but it featured the introduction of Tyson, a character I really love, and  I liked it a bit better than book one.  Riordan really hits his stride though in Book 3, The Titan's Curse, and I think each of the following two volumes just get better and better.  Book 4, The Battle of the Labyrinth was probably my favorite. which isn't surprising considering it has a pretty baldly stated environmental message.  All that is to say, if you are like me and after book one are unsure what all the fuss is about, hang in there because ambrosia and nectar are on their way.  The books did not seem to age up quite as much as happens in for example the Harry Pottter series but they do become a little more complex and deal with some of the more interesting ethical debates that might be expected to be confronted when dealing with the ever so naughty Greek pantheon.  Basically the themes become a little more mature but it never loses it's overall playful spirit nor gets as dark as the HP series.

I also felt like in the first couple books that the slotting in of the Greek mythology into modern civilization was a little clunkier then it is in later books.  In fact, Riordan's skill at doing this in the later books is one of the total delights of those books.  It's fun to see his vision for how each of the Gods and mythological creatures fits (or not) into our modern culture.  As a hardcore Greek mythology geek, I love revisiting all the myths but seeing them in a new light.

I like how the series ends.  The final battle is sufficiently infused with tension and is exciting with the wrap up of all the moving pieces being mostly satisfying.  I was a little disappointed in the fate of Rachel Elizabeth Dare who kind of immediately became one of my favorite characters when she was introduced.  In fact,


I feel like I should also comment on how I think this series would work for the target audience since I am WAY out of it.  In a word, I think it would go over great and of course it has since it has sold a floppity-jillion books.  I know my nephews, who aren't big readers loved this series when they were younger (they are now teenagers).  I think Percy's status as the hero of the books despite his dyslexia and problems in school might be incredibly empowering to many kids. As I've said the Greek Myths do not always provide the best examples for good behavior but I think Riordan does a really good job presenting and addressing all things in a responsible way while also understanding that kids will eat up all that borderline scandalous behavior.

Finally, I listened to the whole series which had the same narrator, Jesse Bernstein, so I should say something about him.  For me Jesse was absolutely perfect for Percy.  His normal voice and the way he voiced Percy's thoughts and jokes and dialogue were perfect.  For everything else, he was somewhat less perfect, only because his voices for the other characters tended to be a little too exaggerated and cartoonish.  When voicing someone who is meant to have an American southern accent he sounds oddly Australian.  He voices Annabeth, with kind of a valley girl type inflection ending each line of dialogue on a up note which may have contributed to me not liking her as much as I could have.  Overall, I really enjoyed listening to the series and he did a great job conveying the meaning behind the lines but he did struggle with the voices.  So, if that's a pet peeve of yours beware.

FINAL VERDICT:  A fun middle-grade series that got better and better as it went along with an engaging cast of characters and action/adventure galore.  Plus GREEK MYTHS!  4 out of 5 stars for the whole series (3 out of 5 for the first two books and 4 out of five for the final 3).

Other Opinions Are Available: Writer of Wrongs | Indianapolis Public Library

Have you read this series? What's your favorite of the books?  How big of a Greek Mythology nerd are you?


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Saturday in the Garden | Play Time!

OUTSIDE

It's been one of those glorious weeks that just makes you thankful you live in this world and especially in a temperate climate.  Sunny, highs in the mid-60s to lower 70s, crystal blue skies.  It's hard to argue with springtime.


Last Sunday I got the rest of my planting done and mulch spread which is basically the bulk of the springtime work.  It is my second favorite moment in gardening - everything in and growing and I can just sit back and watch it.  (My favorite moment is of course harvesting but this comes pretty close).  I still have a lot to do in the garden but the important stuff is accomplished.  I ended up planting: Radishes, Sugar Snap Peas, Carrots, Kale, Green Beans, Lima Beans, Tomatoes, Peppers, Swiss Chard, Lettuce and garlic.  Everything is up except for the beans.



GAK

I have the next 9.5 days off from work!!!!  I am staycationing which I do at least a couple times a year.  I find stepping away from work and having the energy to get the house and my personal life a little more organized helps me re-focus and be better at my job when I return. I still always feel a little guilty though.  Regardless I needed this break and  am super happy about it.  I have a big long list of productive things I need to do - oil change and a cleaning for the car, eye exam and new glasses, freezer cooking, clutter purge and some of that additional garden work - but am struggling a little bit with fun, relaxing things to do.  I think I am going into both a reading and TV slump at the moment, which is just cruel timing.  I will undoubtedly do both of these things as well as some blog post writing but I'm not super excited about it at the moment.  I have a jigsaw to work on, some plans with friends and maybe a hike somewhere new. I have a couple of adult coloring books I haven't yet dived into.  Hmmm... None of it is really thrilling me.  So what would you do for fun if you had 10 days off work and all to yourself?  I'd be interested in some ideas.

WATCHING, READING and BLOGGING


Watching 
Xerox from last week - I'm in the throes of an Arrow hangover so not watching much of anything.

Reading

Finished Last Week:

  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater:  This was really lovely.  I'm glad my instant repulsion to Shiver was a fluke. 
  • The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5) by Rick Riordan:  A really nice conclusion to this middle-grade series.  

Currently Reading:

  • One Magic Square by Lolo Houbein: A gardening book about maximizing food production in a small space.  An ARC from Netgalley (though I think it's an older title).   
  • Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson:  A non-fiction account about the sinking of the Lusitania.  I'm all about boats.  And disasters. I'm DNFing this for now because it was really boring me.  I was also super annoyed by the reader who infused all these needless and artificial dramatic flourishes into his reading.
  • Murder in Chinatown by Victoria Thompson (Gaslight Mystery #9):   A favorite standby historical mystery series set in turn-of-the-last-century New York.
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood:  I'm surprised I had not read it before.  This audio version is read by Claire Danes who has a really pleasing voice.  Is the cover above badass or what!?
  • A Quiet Life in the Country (Lady Hardcastle Mysteries #1) by T.E. Kinsey: Set in the early 1900s in rural England - mysteries investigated by a Lady and her maid.

Added to the TBR:

This is a list of books that I have added to my Goodreads TBR list this week.  It helps to burn the books I want to read a little more firmly into my mind, maybe get them on some other folks TBRs and gives me a chance to recognize a lot of the awesome bloggers that add stuff to my TBR!


Blogging 

On the BLOG LAST WEEK:

TUESDAY: Top Ten Tuesday | Whimsy and Anarchy - about books picked up on a whim.
THURSDAY: Review of Longbourn by Jo Baker.  It was fantastic!

Have great week!


Thursday, May 19, 2016

REVIEW | Longbourn by Jo Baker

Longbourn by Jo Baker
Publication Year: 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: NA
Awards: NA
Format: Audio (from Library)
Narrator: Emma Fielding

Snarky Subtitle: Why You Should Thank The Good Lord For Washing Machines

WHY?: I am practically an Austen fan-fiction aficionado.  I read most any Jane Austen re-telling, re-imagining, alternative perspective novel I can get my hands on and this particular book got a lot of praise a couple of years ago.  

The first thing to say about Longbourn is that it is such a brilliant, genius, fantastic idea.   It follows along the timeline of and takes place in the same space as Pride and Prejudice but it focuses instead on the small staff of Longbourn house rather than the daughters of the house.  It is easily the best and most inspired "re-telling" I've read.  This is probably because it really isn't so much a re-telling as it is its own story set against the backdrop of a more famous tale.  

The main player is Sarah, a young maid in the Longbourn household.  Despite her youth, she has been at her job many years and she is getting restless with her lot in life as she enters adulthood. About this time, a new footman, James, arrives bringing with him a relief from tedium but also confusion and mystery.  Rounding out Longbourn's staff are the motherly housekeeper/cook, her husband an aged and rather dull butler and a much younger housemaid still learning her way.  They form a kind of family of their own though they all seem to harbor secrets and have personal dramas.

I was a little nervous going in.  I've read one other book by Jo Baker, The Mermaid's Child, and it was rather grim, dark and depressing, certainly nothing like Austen's witty confections that always have happy endings.  My worries were mostly unfounded.  This is in no way the light-hearted romance of Austen's writing but it is also not overly grim.  It is dark and hard in a way that makes sense when telling the tale of people who spend almost every waking moment of their days serving others desires and needs.

In fact, I think that Baker's very different style, the fact that she does not try to ape Austen, is one of the book's strengths.  It sets it apart from Pride and Prejudice, makes it its own entity while still touching on the characters loved from P&P.  It's the different tone that makes it possible for Baker to highlight how thoughtless Lizzie and Jane and all the Bennets are of their servants without causing me to become overly protective of those beloved characters.  

Beyond the interesting story told about the servants of Longbourn, the book is also interesting for showing those interstitial moments for the P&P cast - what they are doing in between the moments of great import in their own stories.  It also suggest some character-deepening ideas about the secondary players in P&P, particularly Wickham and Papa Bennet.  I appreciated these speculations and thought they made a lot of sense based on what we learned of them in Austen's story.  I've read a few reviews from Austen purists that weren't particularly pleased with the liberties taken, particularly with the characters but while I love Austen a lot, I enjoy when people take her material and get creative.  It didn't bother me one bit and in fact I loved how different sheBaker goes with her perspective but be aware if you are someone who gets shirty when other authors mess with Austen.

For me, the one slight misstep the book took was when it took a tangent to tell James' back story.  It was surely interesting enough but it is the only part of the book that significantly jumps away from the timeline and events of Pride and Prejudice.  It felt jarring and the book works best when it stays connected to its "source".  

FINAL VERDICT:  A creative and well-written alternate perspective take on Pride and Prejudice which balances well the telling of it's own tale while shadowing the old.  4 out of 5 stars.

Other Opinions Are Available:  Austenprose | The Pathological Readers

Monday, May 16, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY | Whimsy and Anarchy

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for bloggers who like books and lists. It's awesome and is graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.


This week's Top Ten Tuesday is about those books you just happen upon and pick up without hearing anything about them beforehand.
Ten Books I Picked Up On A Whim (however you decide to interpret that (bought or read or something else) -- I know most people read based on recommendation but we want to know those books you picked up without really hearing about or knowing much about!)
Being led to books through recommendations is pretty reliable but while it may be more risky, picking up a book with no previous knowledge can be extra rewarding especially when the book turns out to be good!  I've actually discovered some of my favorite books this way.  Here are eight of the best books I picked up on a whim:

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1) The Game of Kings (Lymond Chronicles #1) by Dorothy Dunnett

This is my most favorite historical fiction series of all time and I don't think it will ever be eclipsed.  I picked it up while browsing at a bookstore.  It had just been re-issued and I was drawn in by the beautiful new cover.  Yup, I totally judged this book by its cover and it worked!  

2) A Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin

With these first two entries I'm wondering if I have some kind of weird fascination with games involving royalty?  As with book one above, I picked it up while browsing in a bookstore back in the heady days of the mid-1990s when this series debuted and before it became a phenomenon.  I don't think it could have been the cover that drew me in (though it's kind of nice) but I don't remember what made me grab it in the first place.  I read it and loved it and it blew my mind and now I have had almost 20 flipping,years of wearily hoping that Martin will actually finish the series.   It's been fun to see this series turn into such a sensation and really become an important contribution to the fantasy genre.

3) Crow in Stolen Colors by Marcia Simpson

I picked this mystery set in Alaska up on a whim at the library and completely loved it.  The bummer is there are only two books and the author has written nothing else :(.  

This is one of my very favorite mystery series!  It features Jane Austen as the detective.  I was lucky to have stumbled upon it!

5)  In the Shadow of Gotham (Simon Ziele #1) by Stefanie Pintoff
I think the awesome cover and the Edgar award made me pick this one up and it has become one of my favorite historical mystery series!

6) Mister Monday (Keys to the Kingdom #1) by Garth Nix

I picked this one up because of the Garth Nix name recognition so not completely whimsical but I had never heard of this series and hadn't read anything else by Nix except one short story.  I ended up loving the series, it turned me into a stalwart fan of Nix and sparked a still active interest in middle-grade fiction.  Pretty good for a whim read.

7) The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

Again this one wasn't an entirely whimsical choice as it was on the recommendations shelves at the library where each of the librarians pick 10-15 books to display.  It's not like  I know the librarian and their taste so I had no reason to trust the recommendation.  It just looked interesting and had a fantastic cover.  And it was one of my favorite books in the year I read it.  The follow-up gets released next month!

8) The Foundling (Monster Blood Tattoo #1) by D.M. Cornish

This was one of my very favorite series from a couple of years ago and I discovered it just browsing at my library.  It's a unique middle-grade Dickenisan fantasy tale and I think the cover drew me in.


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Looking at the list, I realize that I don't do whim very much anymore, especially with all the recommendations I get from bloggers I trust.  That's all well and good but I should do a little more browsing and picking especially when # 1 and 2 above are two of my favorite series of all time.

What's the last book you picked up on a whim?  Do you have any all time favorites that you just stumbled upon?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Saturday in the Garden | TV Hangovers Lead to Reading Challenge Success

OUTSIDE

Daucus carota sativa came up! Also, Radishes.

Also my garlic is so lush and fantastic this year.  The warm spring must have agreed with them!


An update on Ms. Turtle.  See reminder picture below.
She has enjoyed a week of lording (ladying?) over my spare room, feasting on night crawlers, bananas and strawberries but she is on the way to a new home today.  A nature center in Southern Iowa is going to take her in and she will begin a new life teaching kiddos and others about how cool turtles are.  Wish her luck!

WATCHING, READING and BLOGGING

Watching 
I'm in the throes of an Arrow hangover so not watching much of anything.


Reading
Caught up with my goodreads challenge!  Now to keep up with it...

Finished Last Week:

  • Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Wimsey #3) by Dorothy L. Sayers: More Peter Wimsey!  Always a good thing though I could do without the healthy dose of anti-semitism.
  • The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #4) by Rick Riordan: Wow, I can't believe I've almost completed this series and just how sad I am about that! 
  • The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater:  I loved it but I will freely admit my love may be 100% about how much I love Ronan and Adam and have nothing to do with the story etc....

Currently Reading:

  • One Magic Square by Lolo Houbein: A gardening book about maximizing food production in a small space.  An ARC from Netgalley (though I think it's an older title).   
  • Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson:  A non-fiction account about the sinking of the Lusitania.  I'm all about boats.  And disasters.
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater:  Yup. Two Stiefvaters at once.  What of it? 

Added to the TBR:

This is a list of books that I have added to my Goodreads TBR list this week.  It helps to burn the books I want to read a little more firmly into my mind, maybe get them on some other folks TBRs and gives me a chance to recognize a lot of the awesome bloggers that add stuff to my TBR!

  • Starflight by Melissa Landers: Recommended to me directly by Selah from A Bibliophile's Style and it looks awesome.  She describes it as YA Sci Fi with Firefly feel and a slow burn romance.  Yes Please!


Blogging 

On the BLOG LAST WEEK:

No posting this week.  Blergh.

Well, this it's been an especially boring and thin week so I will leave you with a picture of my dog giving me the stank eye for no apparent reason.  Have a good week!



Saturday, May 7, 2016

Saturday in the Garden | Nonsense Words!

OUTSIDE

It's that time of year when EVERYTHING is happening.  The first lawn mowing (I'm about 3 weeks after everyone else on this one), the tomato and pepper planting, the columbine and horseradish blooming. It's grand! Columbine by the way is one of my favorite shade loving plants:

Lettuce and radishes are also coming up but no carrots yet.  Annny day now, Daucus carota sativus, any day.  

In other news I have a guest using my spare bedroom:
It's a three toed box turtle someone found wandering the streets of the town where I live. I got called because of my day job.  It's not a native species to Iowa so it is likely someone's "pet" that they picked up out of the wild in its natural range and then either lost or deliberately released here.  Folks, don't do this.  Leave the wild critters where you found them. They can be bought in some places as well. If you do this, don't set it "free".  Three-toeds can't survive Iowa winters. Anyhoo, I will likely try to find a nature center who could use an educational animal or she may end up staying with me if I can't find a place for her because she can't be released.  

LIFE

I think I need to start calling this section "Miscellaneous".  My "life" is pretty intensely ho-hum.  Work, stressing about work, and my dogs are pretty much the only things shaking most weeks beyond the gardening, TV watching and reading...which are covered in the other sections.  Occasionally something comes up that I think folks might find interesting but it's pretty occasional (intensely ho hum) and often not really about my "life" at all. So from here on out this section will only happen when that occasional thing happens and it will be called "gak" or some similar nonsense word.

Have I mentioned before how much I love nonsense words?  Gak is a favorite (=miscellaneous sh*!,  though it is also apparently the name of the slime Nickolodeon made famous [now that I think about it Nickolodeon is a fun word and what does that even mean - nonsense word!] ), as is Hookemafaa (= stand in for any object whose name I can't come up with at the moment). Wonky is probably my favorite word that sounds like a made up word but isn't (adj. not functioning correctly; faulty).  I'd be really interested to hear what your favorite nonsense word is!  Is it blergh (a recent favorite of mine)?  Or perhaps some word known only to you?


WATCHING, READING and BLOGGING

Watching 
I've been a little unenthusiastically meandering through the first season of The Flash this week.  Barry Allan/Grant Gustin is totally charming but he's the only real draw for me.  Oh, and the fact that the folks from Arrow occasionally pop up.


Reading
As you will see below,  I kicked some serious booty in the reading of books this week!  That is thanks to some shorter titles, a graphic novel and two books that I'd been reading for a while that I was able to finish.  They were all pretty good to boot, with The Round House being my favorite and The Wicked and the Divine and The Colonel's Lady being tied at the bottom of the list.  I thought it was going to be enough to catch me up with my goodreads challenge but alas, I am still one book behind.  I will always be one book behind! *shakes enraged fist*

Finished Last Week:

  • The Wicked and the Divine, Volume 1 by Kieron Gillen, Jame McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles - The artwork was lovely and the concept interesting but the story was a little garbled, aka a lot confusing.
  • Monks Hood  (Brother Cadfael #3) by Ellis Peters:  Medieval mysteries set at a monastery. Need I say more?  I didn't think so.
  • The Round House by Louise Erdrich:  It took me forever to read but it is a really lovely, amazing book.  Loved it.
  • No Wind of Blame (Inspector Hemingway Mystery #1) by Georgette Heyer:  Oh Georgette Heyer, you charming minx.  You even make murder seem charming.
  • The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia DeLuce #6) by Alan Bradley: This is a fun historical mystery series that I thought had a planned end but I looked and there are two more books listed.  The events of this book though may signal a pretty big shift in future books however and that makes me happy.
  • The Colonel's Lady by Laura Frantz: I got this one back from the library and finished finally.  It's a christian historical romance set during the American Revolution and didn't really work for me though it is well written.

Currently Reading:

  • One Magic Square by Lolo Houbein: A gardening book about maximizing food production in a small space.  An ARC from Netgalley (though I think it's an older title).   
  • Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Whimsey #3) by Dorothy L. Sayers: More Peter Whimsey!  Yay!
  • Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson:  A non-fiction account about the sinking of the Lusitania.  I'm all about boats.  And disasters.
  • The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater:  I've been scrupulously avoiding reviews and spoilers of this one.  I have a feeling my heart's going to be broken....

Added to the TBR:

This is a list of books that I have added to my Goodreads TBR list this week.  It helps to burn the books I want to read a little more firmly into my mind, maybe get them on some other folks TBRs and gives me a chance to recognize a lot of the awesome bloggers that add stuff to my TBR!

  • Nada/Zilch/Zip.

Blogging 

On the BLOG LAST WEEK:

TUESDAY: TOP TEN TUESDAY |  Fictional Character Speculations
WEDNESDAY: Review | The Last Ever After (School for Good and Evil #3) by Soman Chainani

“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” - Roald Dahl