Saturday, December 31, 2016

The TV Crushes of 2016

I did a post of my favorite book characters from this year and didn't want to neglect my imaginary TV friends!  Below are some of the characters I fell in love with, some admittedly a little more lustfully than others, but all with due respect and affection for how they lit up the small screen!  It's maybe not such an exciting list because they all come from a handful of shows but I still think they deserve some love from me.


1) Galavant/Joshua Sasse from Galavant

I remember being pretty underwhelmed by the promo photos etc... of Josh Sasse.  He's meant to be the quintessential Fairy Tale hero and I didn't think he really fit that mold.  It took him basically the opening song of the first episode to win me over.  Sure he's hella handsome but he's also got a great singing voice, great comedic timing and nails Galavant's mix of arrogance and romantic sweetness.  He's perfect and imperfect all at the same time. Sigh....

2) King Richard/Timothy Omundson from Galavant

Timothy Omundson plays the deplorable and childish King Richard in Season 1 and he is hilarious but not especially lovable. It takes season 2, to renovate this adorable dragon owner. If Season 1 was Galavant's journey from immature, arrogant hero guy to all around decent and self-aware human being, season two is King Richard's turn.  His bromance with Galavant is adorable and we see his world opening up as he gets outside of his sheltered castle and role as king.  By the end of season two I was more in love with him than Galavant!

3) Princess Isabella/Karen David from Galavant

Princess Isabella is a modern Princess  - well-dressed and beautiful sure but that pales beside her competence, intelligence, kind heart and toughness.  She's tiny, fierce and in all cases braver than the men that surround her.  Karen David captures it perfectly and also has perfect comic timing.  I want to pick up watching Once Upon A Time Again because I heard she was cast as Jasmine!

4) Oliver Queen - Arrow/Stephen Amell from Arrow

Like Joshua Sasse, Stephen Amell didn't make a great first impression with me.  I didn't think he was all that handsome and Oliver was kind of boring even if he was a secret super hero.  By season 2, my feelings about him, on all levels had changed.  I think the character of Oliver was developed more fully and in interesting directions and Stephen Amell really improved in his portrayal of him by the end of that first season.  What I love about this character is that he is seriously flawed and messed up and the way they have written his character arc has been slow, realistic(ish) and really interesting.  And Oliver doing the Salmon Ladder - Oh my good gracious goodness. *fans self*

5) Felicity Smoak/Emily Bett Rickards from Arrow

Unlike Oliver, I fell in love with Felicity immediately.  The writers have not been as kind in her character development as they have been with Oliver but I still adore her and she is my favorite part of the show.  In fact it was a blog post (I don't remember from whom - speak up if it was you!) that compared Felicity to Cress from Marissa Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles (nerdy socially awkward IT girl with a heart of gold and mad skillz) which convinced me to try Arrow again this year after stalling out on it early in season one a couple years ago.  She has not disappointed.  Thank you Arrow for elevating this character that was supposed to be very minor to a leading role.

6) Kim Boong Do/Ji Hyun-woo from Queen In Hyun's Man

Kim Boong Do may be my most favorite romance hero of all time much less in K Dramas.  He's a beta hero - respectful, but not in anyway weak, sweet, romantic and kind.  He's also super clever, bad-ass with a sword and has a fantastic sense of humor.  He also happens to be a warrior and scholar from 500 years in the past who gets catapulted into the modern era whenever his life is threatened, so he has all sorts of interesting first-hand knowledge about history.  He ain't hard on the eyes either: ). I love him.

7) Melinda May from Agents of Shield

I so admire, love and envy tough bad-ass ladies who have complete control over their emotions.  This describes Agent May perfectly.  I love how cold and stone-faced her character is but how the show reveals how much she cares in key moments.  If I needed to be rescued from dastardly peril of any kind?  I'd want Melinda May to head up the rescue mission.

8) Clarke Griffin/Eliza Taylor from The 100

Clarke. She is THE BEST.  Possibly my favorite character from my 2016 TV watching.  She is the only character ever that I ship with absolutely everyone (if forced to choose I am probably in the Bellarke camp).  Of course all these people are in love with her...She's Clarke. More coherently, Clarke is a super flawed but super talented and interesting character who takes a leadership role among the Ark teenagers that are sent down to a toxic planet Earth to fend for themselves.  Things are TOUGH but Clarke is tougher while also holding on to her compassion and sense of justice.  She is an absolutely fantastic character and Eliza Taylor is amazing at playing her.

9) Lily Bell/Dominique McElligott from Hell on Wheels

The last two characters on the list are actually characters which I encountered for the first time in past years but I developed a new or more pronounced respect for them in 2016.  I re-watched the first two seasons of Hell on Wheels with the intention of catching up on the several seasons which had been released since then.  This re-watch prompted me to write a whole post about the awesome Lily (SPOILERS AHOY - don't follow that link if you don't want to be spoiled for Hell on Wheels!!).  Lily is awesome, beautiful and accomplished, brought up in a well to do British family she could have had a very comfortable life.  Instead, she chooses to marry an American surveyor and follows him to the Western frontier as he charts a course for the railroad.  Like the other women on this list Lily is intelligent and strong and when things get tough she does what she has to do.  What can I say, I have a type: ).

I did another re-watch of Glee this year to catch up with seasons 4-6.  It was the first re-watch since the tragic death of Cory Monteith and it made me pay a little more attention to his character of Finn which I'd never really cared about before.  By doing so, I really developed a fondness for the goofy, good-hearted but sometimes judgmentally challenged Finn.  His character development over the first 3 seasons is great and Cory does a really great job playing him.  RIP

Last post of 2016!  I'm glad it was sharing my love for some very inspiring characters and the talented actors and actresses that play them.  Thanks for the many hours of joy you gave me this year!

What were some of your favorite TV character discoveries this year?

Saturdays in the Garden | New Year's Eve


It's turned into a beautiful sunny New Year's Eve afternoon.  Besides taking a walk with the dogs this morning, I haven't really stepped outside choosing instead to re-organize, clean and clean-out my closet.  Not fun really but satisfying.

It's satisfying because we're headed into winter where the cold temperatures and the high potential for snow and ice will keep me indoors a lot.  I've made some purchases lately to help being outside during winter be less unpleasant (yaktrax, balaclava, a day-glo yellow winter cap with a built in light, comfortable long-underwear).  I want to make a real effort to get outdoors more this winter for my and the dogs' sake,  Still.  There will be lots of indoor time.
A lovely early winter morning at the dog park.
Having a clean, tidy house is one way to make being indoors more pleasant.  Another thing that helps get me through the winter is planning my garden and surrounding myself with indoor plants.  Seed catalog season is fully upon us and all my favorites for 2017 have arrived.  I've also splurged on two new plant members of the household - a gardenia, a jasmine and bonus a narcissus bulb gifted from a friend.  They help make January and February more bearable!


I am one of those people, who places significance in the turnover of the year.  I don't know why as I'm not sure I have ever made some major life change that originated at the new year but at the least it seems like a convenient and appropriate time to take stock of where you are and how you'd like to move forward.  Rather than shove all of that rumination into this weekend, I think I am going to carry this through the month of January.

One way I am doing this, which also relates to the above, is that I've signed up for the Hibernate workshop put on by Heather at Beauty that Moves.  I took her Freezer Cooking class last year and it was excellent and I've been intrigued by the hibernate workshop ever since I noticed it. As I indicate above - I need help getting through winter.  It's a 4 week online workshop starting January 16th.  It involves some sewing and knitting, both of which I have zero to little experience in so it might get interesting! Hopefully I'll pick up at least one new hobby as both seem like such useful skills!



After the success of Voltron, I stumbled upon a Japanese anime title on Netflix - Inuyasha.  It's been a fun little diversion but don't know if it will remain so for much longer.  It's getting a little frustrating and repetitive at halfway through season 2 and I just discovered that although Netflix only has these two seasons there are actually 3 or 4 more seasons and a total of like 160ish episodes. Do I care enough to seek out the other eps?  The one really good thing about it is that because it is subtitled I have to focus on it and can't multi-task which drives me crazy but is likely healthier for my brain : ).


Finished Since the Last Time I Posted

I've officially polished off 117 books as of today, surpassing my Goodreads goal by 2 books: ).  I may, if I can find the time, polish off A Plain Malice and start fresh in the New Year! 
  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (Peter Wimsey #5) by Dorothy L. Sayers:  Slowly making my way through this series of mysteries.  This one is very interesting!
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe:  A classic African novel about the downfall of a man and  his culture.
  • Armada by Ernie Cline: I listened to Wil Wheaton read this one and it was fab!  Definitely a more gamer oriented book even then Ready Player One but still a lot of fun for this non-gamer.

Currently Reading:

  • A Plain Malice (Appleseed Creek #4) by Amanda Flower:  I've been kind of obsessed with this Amish country mystery series and this is the last book in the series:(.    

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!
  • Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee:  I've seen this book lauded many places but didn't record what/who tipped it onto my TBR!  A science fiction debut novel.
  • The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima: I didn't record who recommended this either but I'm pretty sure it was Kaja at Of Dragons and Hearts.  *Runs off to check* Yup that's the place.  She indicated that this was one of the best YA Fantasy series she's read in a while!
  • Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain:  A historically written memoir from a nurse in World War I.  It sounds fascinating and I'd never even heard about it  - thanks to The Book Stop for bringing it to my attention!
  • The Summer Dragon by Todd Lockwood: This was one of Mogsy at the Bibliosanctum's favorite debut authored books for 2016.  It has dragons.  Need I say more?
  • The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins:  Ditto the recommender from above!  This looks like a rather more thoughtful and interesting book involving Irish folklore.
  • Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde:  A historic, romance with a diverse set of characters that made Reading Reality's top ten of the year list.  There's a dog on the cover.
  • Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend: This book made 500 Books top of the year list and she describes it as a quiet book focusing on women's life after 40 and a lifelong female friendship.  Sounds lovely to me.


MONDAY: I Watch Too Much TV | 2016 Edition - The shows I was obsessed with this year.
TUESDAY: Top Ten Tuesday | Best Books I Read in 2016
FRIDAY: Celebrating my Book Series Addiction: 2016 - My favorite books series I read this year.

Lots of lists  - I have one more 2016 wrap-up list I'd like to post (hopefully tonight) and then call 2016 done.

Let your Freak Flag Fly:)! It's like he started to get off the couch but then got sleepy.


Friday, December 30, 2016

Celebrating My Book Series Addiction: 2016

I have a problem.  I am addicted to book series.  I just love them, whether they are telling one big sweeping story or just loosely connected through characters or setting.  It seems like as soon as I finish one series I pick up another. All in all, out of the 115 books I have read and finished this year, 84 of them were part of a series. That's 74% of my reading.  Oof. 

I made a whole challenge for myself last year to try and make progress on/finish some series because I was feeling overwhelmed.  However, I won't be addressing the results of that at all here - that needs its own post.  In this post, I'd just like to highlight some of the series I was happy to have dabbled in this year.  In some cases they are the series I have great hopes for that had a smashing beginning - in others they are old favorites which continue to delight or that wrapped up nicely!  Get ready to be hit with a LOT of books. Let's do this:


Beginnings... Series I started this year but haven't read past book 1.

The Passage Trilogy by Justin Cronin

GENRE: Dystopia Sci-Fi, Horror, Adult

The first book in this dystopic series, The Passage, made it into my top ten books of the year list.  It was a fantastic beginning so I really hope this trilogy lives up to its potential.  I've heard grumblings.  All the books in this series have been released.

Laura Elliston Trilogy by Melissa Lenhardt

GENRE: Historical Fiction, Adult

This historical series, which starts with the book Sawbones, set in the American western frontier has a marvelous female protagonist and a great mix of drama, mystery and humor.  The second and third books are due out in 2017. 

Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab

GENRE: Fantasy, Adult (?)

A Darker Shade of Magic, the first in this series, started a little slow for me but once the unique setting was set, it picked up pace and flew by.  The first two books are out and book three is due in 2017.

The Cinder Spires by Jim Butcher

GENRE: Fantasy, Adult

I did NOT need another series addiction from Jim Butcher - The Dresden Files already has me completely hooked - but this more classical fantasy novel has talking cats and big three masted sailing ships that fly.  I didn't stand a chance after reading The Aeronauts Windlass.  The second book in the series is called The Olympian Affair and lord knows when it will be released.

Charlotte Holmes by Brittany Cavallaro

GENRE: Mystery, YA, Sherlock Holmes Fan-Fiction

In A Study in Charlotte, Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson meet at a New England boarding school** and shortly thereafter...MURDER!  I loved both these characters and their relationship while also adoring Cavallaro's writing style and humor.  Can't wait for more stories with these two! Book two is due out in 2017.

** The phrase New England boarding school is almost certainly on my list of  what words describing a book  will make me want to read it immediately.

Rogues of the Republic by Patrick Weekes

GENRE:  Fantasy, Adult(?)

A disparate cast of mildly nefarious, mostly heroic characters band together to pull off a heist in a fantasy world setting. It was as awesome as it sounds.  It felt like the first book only scratched the surface of a complex world and society so looking forward to more.  I think this series is a trilogy and that all the books are out.  

The Great Library by Rachel Caine

GENRE: Fantasy, YA

I didn't get as into the first book of this series as some but it is such an original idea, has an international flavor and I am interested to see where it is headed! 

Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews

GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Adult

I'm branching out from the Kate Daniels series!  This was a fun and really unique urban fantasy that kind of mashes Sci-fi and Fantasy together.  I like the main character a lot and it looks like this series will have plenty of action and a great mystery.

The Colors of Madeleine by Jaclyn Moriarity

GENRE: Fantasy, YA

The characters in this reminded me a lot of Stiefvater characters and it's got a very interesting set-up with a character in this world passing notes through a parking meter to another reality/world which is more magical but not super different from our own.  The perspective switches back and forth between the two worlds.

Middles... Series I'm in the middle of...

Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold

GENRE:  Science Fiction, Adult

I read book 13 of this series (Diplomatic Immunity) this year and it's still going strong and might even be getting better.  LMB doesn't seem to be losing interest in this universe - there is so much to explore.  This year saw the release of book 16 and I'm excited to get to it because it focuses on Miles' awesome mother Cordelia!

Peter Grant/Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

GENRE:  Urban Fantasy, Adult

This and the next series on the list are in a duel to the death as my favorite Urban Fantasy series.  I adore Peter and his shenanigans and humor as he polices London's paranormal happenings.  I read book number 4 (Broken Homes) this year and am kind of parceling them out so I don't catch up.  Book 6 was released this year.

Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews

GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Adult

I read book 6 (Magic Rises) this year and this series seems to get better with every book.  I love this series and am so invested in all the characters.  Book 10 is set to release next year.  Another series I am doling out slowly to myself to make it last:).

Lord Peter Wimsey by Dorothy L. Sayers

GENRE: Mystery, Adult

A classic mystery series that I just picked up this year!  I should finish book 5 by year's end.  Lord Peter is hilarious and the mysteries are clever and unique.

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

GENRE: Graphic Novel, Science Fiction, Definitely Adult

I read the first 4 volumes of this amazing space opera this year.  It's as good as everyone says.

Endings... Series I finished this year

Lewis Trilogy by Peter May

GENRE: Mystery, Adult

Such a great moody mystery trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides.  I wish he hadn't cut it off at a trilogy. 

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

GENRE: Fantasy, YA

I adored this series about 5 friends looking for a dead Welsh king in the Virginia hills.  Also, a boarding school!  4 books total in the series.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

GENRE: Fantasy, Myth, Middle-grade

I started and finished this 6 book series this year.  It brings the Greek myths into the modern day and gives them fun little twists!

Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger

GENRE: Fantasy, Steam Punk, Adult

I so loved getting acquainted with Alexia and her gang of unusual friends and family.  I can honestly say I've not encountered another series like this.  Fun, funny, charming and unique! A total of 5 books in the series.

The School for Good and Evil by Somain Chainani

GENRE: Fantasy, Fairy-tale, Middle-grade

This series was a total roller coaster and constantly surprised me.  I was sad to see it end but think it did so quite well. 

RE-Read... I re-read one series from my youth and it was awesome

The Belgariad by David Eddings

GENRE: Fantasy, YA

So technically this epic fantasy series was published before Young Adult was a thing, lol, but if released these days I think it would count as that.  I read this series as a teenager and was ready to be completely underwhelmed by it now that I'm old and all adult and stuff.  Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised!  Unfortunately, I was not as impressed with the first book in the follow-up series (The Mallorean) and have thus stalled on reading that.

That's my big list of series that I loved this year!  How about you?  Are you a series junkie too?  If so what were some of your faves this year?

Monday, December 26, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY | Best Books I Read in 2016

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 prompt is pretty self-explanatory. The only thing I'd like to clarify is that these are the best books I read in 2016 and most were not published this year. The list is in no particular order. Mostly.  Here goes...

1) The Round House by Louise Erdrich

GENRE: Fiction, Adult

So most of this list is not in a particular order but The Round House was definitely the best book I read this year.  Part mystery, part coming-of-age tale, part social justice instructive and all of it so beautifully written, encompassing both heartbreak and humor.  It was the only book to get a five star rating from me this year.  

2) The Passage (The Passage #1) by Justin Cronin

GENRE: Horror, Dystopian Sci-Fi, Adult

I spent the first section of this book rolling my eyes at all the literariness of it and was tempted to put it aside.  Then, everyone turns into vampires and we nuke ourselves and it became a totally brilliant read.  It's not a particularly original story but it's well told and the characters, relationships and settings are riveting. One caveat, is that I have not run right out to pick up the next book in the trilogy so I guess I wasn't that riveted but still an all around fantastic read. 

3) Diplomatic Immunity (Miles Vorkosigan #13) by Lois McMaster Bujold

GENRE: Sci-Fi (Space Opera), Adult

I should just reserve a spot on this list each year for LMB.  She is always blowing me away (though I read another book this year which was the first by her I didn't like- horrors).   This is a convoluted mystery story set on a space station supporting a very diverse community - something most Barrayarans find unsettling at best.  But Miles Vorkosigan isn't your average Barrayaran and his hyper and intelligent mind is fully engaged solving this mystery and bringing it to a diplomatically neutral if not positive conclusion for his home planet.  This is the first book after Miles has gotten married and the way LMB subtly shifts how she writes his character is a pleasure to behold.

4) Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

GENRE: Sci-Fi, Media Tie-in (Star Wars), YA (?)

This was my first Star Wars Tie-in novel and it was so fantastic and didn't even involve any of the main characters from the franchise.  It's a Romeo and Juliet inspired love story set against the backdrop of the war between the Rebels and the Empire.  I love how it brought into focus the average Janes and Joes of these two fighting forces.  

5) Saga, Deluxe Edition, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

GENRE: Graphic Novel, Sci-Fi, Adult 

Yes, I know, I am WAY behind the times on this one but everyone was absolutely right.  It is brilliant and beautiful.  Definitely the best Graphic Novel I read this year.

6) The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

GENRE: Fiction, Historical, Adult, Fairy-Tale/Fable/Folk Tale

About a childless middle-aged couple homesteading in Alaska during the 1920s who adopt a little girl who mysteriously and suddenly appears in the winter woods around their house one day.  The wilderness imagery is gorgeous, and the details about surviving in such a harsh climate are a wonderful backdrop to this character story about two people slowly finding themselves and each other.  Beautiful.

7) Longbourn by Jo Baker

GENRE: Fiction, Historical, Fan-fiction, Adult

This is the story of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice told from the perspective of a servant in the Bennet's household.  It strikes a completely different tone than Jane Austen and doesn't try to mimic her writing - it's a completely original story set in the same universe.  It worked really well for me, even though it threw many of my favorite P&P characters into an unflattering light.  

8) The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

GENRE: Fantasy, YA, Fairy-Tale/Fable/Folk-tale

My favorite YA read this year and a stand-alone from Maggie Stiefvater.  She writes characters and settings like nobody else and this book showcases that talent to perfection. Plus there are marine, flesh-eating horses to make sure it stays interesting!

9) Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

GENRE: Romance, Historical, Adult

This is a classic of the Regency Romance sub-genre but I just discovered it this year and loved it.  Rather shockingly the male protagonist takes center stage (highly irregular) and he is a HUGE douche-nozzle and somehow Loretta Chase made me love every second reading about him.  How did she DO that?  It is partly due to the brilliant heroine, Jessica Trent who is more than a match for her difficult romantic interest.

10) The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

GENRE: Fantasy, Historical, Adult (?)

Again, I am way behind the times with this book but I am glad I finally got to it this year.  It's so original, and difficult to describe.  It's an immigrants tale, an outsiders tale, a romance, a coming of age tale and a story of turn of the century New York.  I loved it!

Here are a few more titles that it kills me not to include but they fell just outside the top ten:
Honorable Mention: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro, Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie, Sawbones by Melissa Lenhardt, H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

All in all, while all of these books were great, it was a so-so reading year.  My average star-rating this year according to goodreads was a 3.3. Ouch.  Though I should clarify that a 3 is not a bad book for me - it's a book I like and enjoyed reading but just didn't have that unique something or give me an exceptional reading experience.  

How was your reading year?  Have you read any of these books and what do you think of them?

I Watch Too Much TV: 2016 Edition

I watch a LOT of TV and post about it pretty regularly here on the blog so it only seems right to reflect upon what I was most obsessed with this year.  I do 99% of my TV watching through Netflix so I'm usually way behind (i.e. don't expect the programs/seasons listed to be terribly up-to-date)


1)  Arrow

This was probably my most significant obsession this year. Oddly (or not) it is one of two shows on this list that I started watching ages ago and couldn't get into but then fell in love with when I gave it another try.  I have never read the comics the show is based on but it seems to be a variation on Batman, but with more Archery.  The first half of season 1 is quite slow but once Oliver starts forming a team, it starts to pick up.  You can also expect CW levels of soap opera on top of the super hero bad-assery.  And yes, I am one of those annoying Olicity fans. Sorry, not sorry.

Unlike Arrow, I loved this show from note one.  I watched all available episodes three times in a row until the music was burned into my skull for all eternity.  The Little Mermaid is my favorite Disney movie of all time so I love the music of Alan Menken and especially love it paired with more adult lyrics.  This show is sarcastic and saucy and romantic and heart-warming all at the same time.

I went on a KDrama watching jag about mid-year and among a few other good offerings (Oh My Ghostess, Splash,Splash,Love) this historical, time-travel drama blew me away. I wrote about it semi-coherently and have yet to get back on the K Drama bandwagon, because how can anything else compare?  About a Joseon era warrior-scholar who gets thrust into modern day Korea whenever his life is threatened.

I started watching this show early in the year when I was stressed out/had a lot going on and I had to discontinue because it's so intense and dark and stressful.  However, when things calmed down in life I picked it back up again and it was so so good!  It continually surprises me and is chock full of amazing female characters.  I've only watched the first two seasons and am dragging my feet on season 3 because I hear it is a bit rocky for the first half or so but never fear I WILL be watching!

This is a relatively new discovery for me.  It's a remake by Netflix of the old school Voltron cartoon that I never watched but maybe I should have because its an awesome little sci-fi adventure show.  That involves giant robo-cats that combine into an even gianter robot. And the robo-cats are piloted by a scrappy gang of misfits.  Of course I loved it!  Season 1 ended on a serious cliff-hanger!

6) Longmire - Season 5

After being sorely disappointed by season 4 of Longmire, I started watching season 5 with a heavy heart and ended up being pleasantly surprised!!  Another Netflix produced show, which after a quick search produced some shaky evidence that there will be a season 6 but then that will likely be the final season.  After the awesome season 5, I have hope and confidence that the show runners will produce a good wrap up season for the show.

As does everyone in known creation, I love the BBC Sherlock but if I'm honest I was underwhelmed by season 1, and simply liked very much season 2.  BUT SEASON 3? WAS AWESOME!!  I love seeing the softer side of Sherlock and an emphasis on the bro-mance between he and Watson.  It's amazing what this show can do with such short seasons!

8) Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

This is the second show on this list that didn't really work for me at first.  It's the Whedon family for goodness sake so I was so ready to love it and I just didn't.  Somewhere around halfway through season 1 however, the show begins to become awesome and it has just been up from there.  It's not perfect - the character of Skye doesn't work for me (though she's gotten better), they've killed some of the best characters (Trip! *sniff*) - but I absolutely adore May and Fitz-Simmons and that one character that goes evil that I don't want to spoil.  Coulson, who was colorless at first has really grown on me and his humor cracks me up on the regular these days.

Being a die hard Veronica Mars fan, I fervently believe Rob Thomas can do no wrong.  And he hasn't proven me wrong with this charming, hilarious and poignant show about a girl who becomes a zombie and then uses her new zombie powers to solve crimes.  As one does.  I've only seen season 1 but will be catching up with season 2 shortly. Also I believe this is the third show on this list adapted from a comic. These comic things..They seem to be having a moment, huh...#statingtheobvious

I don't usually watch cooking shows, even the competitive ones but when I stumbled across this show on Netflix and watched the first episode in desperation, I was completely transfixed.  The drama, the insane baking skills, the Goofy hostesses and a Simon Cowell-esque judge.  It is, in fact, great.

11) The Summer Olympics

I am such a sucker for the Olympics - I love everything about it- the drama, the heroism, the athletic prowess on display.  My  favorite athletes from this year's Olympics were Usain Bolt, Ashton Eaton, Lilly King and Simone Biles.


Okay, I am dying to hear from you!  What were the highlights of your TV watching year and why?  Based on the list above are there any you think I must try toot sweet?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Saturday in the Garden | The Shortest Day is Done


This week in the Northern Hemisphere, we saw the start of winter, the longest night and the turning point where days start to get slowly longer.  The Winter Solstice in other words. In Iowa (and I'm sure everywhere from here on north) it always seems a little confusing that Winter does not officially begin until December 21st because we've usually already seen Winter weather and temperatures for a few weeks by now.  I also celebrated my birthday this week and it was officially the coldest birthday I had ever had at -15 degrees fahrenheit when I woke up. Brrrr.....
The Turning of the Year
We have come to the ridgepole of the year. 
Time falls away to past and future; now is pause. The sun is a cold, unwinking eye, sleepless, serene.The day no more grows shorter; the night no more grows longer.
All change awaits the turning.The sun has descended from the mountain of the year into the dim valley.
It awaits upon the renewal of its strength, to begin the climb of the slow hillside of the year ahead.The grass sleeps in the frozen soil.The trees are stripped for their endurance; their juices have fled into the roots.Their branches are black oracular tracery against the stainless sky.
Only a few flying flowers are left; do these reluctant birds mistake the snow for manna?
Black and white are the colors of the day, with sulky tan, blue­gray of smoke, and saffron afterglow of the sun.Let us gather the old year into quiet minds.Let us for a while not think to the year ahead.Let us wait for a few moments within this motionless while.
These hours are as timeless as childhood.Now is the mood for old mythologies, for tales of gods and heroes, for virgin mothers and shining babes, for dying huntsmen and weeping goddesses, jeweled gifts for a king’s son, and the nostalgic promises of miracles and forever.
Now, in the pause of the year, when time has stopped, and reality is no more real, let us make our delight of songs, and our feast of poems, and our celebration the telling of old tales.
-  Kenneth Patton

Now that we have turned the corner of the year and are heading (nay running) into a new year (thank GOD!), my thoughts turn, among other things, towards book challenges.  I really like the idea of book challenges but am really really terrible at them. I have trouble following a reading prescription.  The challenge I am currently eyeing is Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge which has the goal of  expanding one's reading comfort zone.  I tried it a couple years ago and got only about half of the 24 assignments done.  My interest has gotten engaged again, though because they have been emphasizing that you can run the challenge however you want - if you're not sure something counts, it does, if you want to knock out multiple assignments with one book, do it.  If I could meet all the challenge requirements and not have almost a quarter of my yearly reading be tied up in the challenge, that sounds possibly do-able.

What about you?  Any challenges you're eyeing?



I finished up my re-watch of The Vicar of Dibley.  I love Dawn French and it gave me so many warm fuzzies.  And it ends on such a perfect note with Geraldine being wooed by Richard "oh my Dear Lord" Armitage. Sigh..... Just look at how cute they are:

I then moved on to something completely different but just as awesome - Voltron: Legendary Defender, a re-boot on and by Netflix.  Ever since I fell head over heals for Avatar, The Last Air-bender after reading a recommendation of it on The Book Smugglers, I never dismiss recs for kids' cartoons because sometimes they can be really really awesome.  The rec for Voltron again came from the Book Smugglers site and it was so right - what a fun show!  Currently there are only 11 half-hour episodes (well, the first episode is longer) and they are great.  LOVE the female characters on the show and how can you not get jazzed about giant robotic wild cats that bond with their operator and can combine to form an even more gigantic super robot.  I flew through all the available episodes and highly recommend it if that's your kind of thing!


Finished Since the Last Time I Posted

  • The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets (Enola Holmes #3) by Nancy Springer;  This is such a bizarre little middle-grade series that tells the story of Sherlock Holmes little sister.  They seem like they should be charming and delightful and instead are intensely depressing and serious.  Enola desperately needs a Watson-like sidekick!

Currently Reading:

  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (Peter Wimsey #5) by Dorothy L. Sayers:  Slowly making my way through this series of mysteries.  This one is very interesting!
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe:  A classic African novel about the downfall of a family.
  • Armada by Ernie Cline: I'm listening to Wil Wheaton read this one and it's fab!
  • A Plain Malice (Appleseed Creek #4) by Amanda Flower:  I've been kind of obsessed with this Amish country mystery series and this is the last book in the series:(.    

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!
  • Nothing this Week


Monday, December 19, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY | Favorite Characters of 2016

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.

I'm going off script this week. The assigned topic was books (or other things) that we're hoping Santa brings but that's not how my reading works.  I'm a whim reader-buyer.  

Instead I am going to do one of my favorite end of the year lists (which isn't one that The Broke and the Bookish does) which is the characters that I encountered this year that really made an impression.  These aren't necessarily characters from books published in 2016 just books I read this year, most of which are backlist. Here goes...


Laura Elliston 
From Sawbones by Melissa Lenhardt

I've mentioned Sawbones a few times now as a favorite read this year and much of that was because of its prickly, arrogant, smart, funny and compassionate heroine.  Laura Elliston (aka Dr. Catherine Bennett) felt very real, both admirable and flawed.  

Minerva Dobbs and Calvin Morrissey 
From Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

It is hard not to love both of the protagonists in this romantic comedy.  Min is such a practical soul who expresses her more creative side in her footwear and razor sharp wit.  Beside some commitment issues, Cal is pretty hard to beat - he's charming, funny, romantic, kind and more interested in the substance of a woman's character than her looks.  Dreamy!

Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes 
From A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

I loved this YA modern-day take on Holmes and Watson and I think Cavallaro hit a home run writing her two protagonists.  Charlotte really feels like a teenage, female version of Sherlock Holmes and Jamie while being the perfect sidekick and friend is developed more deeply than the original Watson.

Lord Peter Wimsey 
From The Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy L. Sayers

Lord Peter Wimsey is an iconic character at this point - the foolish-seeming aristocrat in 1920s London who uses this good-nature to hide his very keen intellect.  His turn of phrase and wit is to die for as well!

Jessica Trent 
From Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

This is a classic in the Regency Romance sub - genre and for good reason  - It's brilliant, particularly in its capable, intelligent, take-no-crap, I'll-shoot-you-don't-think-I-won't heroine.  Jessica is amazing and has such a great head on her shoulders which she needs to be able to reform the disaster which is the Marquess of Dain.

Ronan Lynch 
From The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Technically, I met Ronan in 2015 when I started reading the Raven Cycle but it wasn't until reading The Raven King - finishing his arc - that I really grew to love his poor, tortured, dear, romantic soul.  Maggie Stiefvater is so good at writing interesting characters I'd love to know!

Joe and Bazil Coutts 
From The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Initially, I wanted to just include Bazil, Joe's father, who is a quiet but poignant part of the story but I realized that the narrator Joe was also very special to me.  It feels a bit traitorous to pick the two men in a story about a woman's sexual assault but I found their story, their anger, despair, feelings of helplessness and their relationship with each other to be really compelling.
Kell Maresh 
From A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Kell is an enigmatic young man who is highly valued for his special talent but who feels like he is maybe not valued for himself.  He's a fascinating character and just so cool.

From Longbourn by Jo Baker

Sarah is a servant of the Bennett family at Longbourn and she's such a lovely subtle character.  She's smart and is just reaching an age where she is questioning her lot in life.  We meet her at such a perfect moment in her life and get to see her escape a life of servitude - it's lovely!

Mrs. Pollifax 
From The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman

Mrs. Pollifax is a very proper middle-aged widow whose children have left home and she's bored.  What's there to do?  Why barge into CIA headquarters and offer your services as a spy, of course.  Mrs. Pollifax is utterly charming and clever while also practical and a surprisingly good...and tough...spy!

Grandfather Zook 
From Appleseed Creek Series by Amanda Flower

Finally, Grandfather Zook.  He's a cheeky old Amish fellow who comes from a liberal Amish community into the more conservative Appleseed Creek Community to live with his daughter.  He's mischeivous and fun, likes to annoy his conservative and serious son-in-law by being a champion for his grandchildren who have decided to leave the Amish and takes a special delight in Englischer cop slang.  He's adorable.

This year was actually not a great year for characters, at least not compared to the last two years.  I mean last year I met Gus MacCrae (from Lonesome Dove) who quickly earned a spot on my top ten favorite characters of all time and 2014 had both Peter Grant (from Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant series) AND Mark Watney ( The Martian) who both top my list of fictional book characters I'd date in a heartbeat. This year was more of a grab bag, with many characters I liked but none that I was truly gaga over.  Still not a bad year!

How about you?  Do any of these lovely fictional folks have a place in your heart?  What were the characters you met this year that stole your heart?