Light Bulb Moments (Bookish Edition)

Two things I’ve recently realized:

  1. I can’t put down The Count of Monte Cristo for any length of time and expect to pick it back up again with a good memory of what I’d read before. And…
  2. I’ve got to quit getting new books on hold at the library if I want to read all the books on my TBR list that I say I want to read.

So I’ve delved back into my gigantic Dumas classic, after letting it sit on my shelf for most of March. I’ve already made some good progress – I’m now at 70% complete! That Count is quite the master of disguises. I feel like Villefort is juuuusssttt about to figure it all out but he’s not quite there yet. It’s still a wonderful, entertaining read. I just have to maintain my momentum and not let it sit for too long. Then it becomes too easy to not pick it back up again.

Also, I’ve used the “vacation stop” function on my library holds and pushed them all back until next month so that I can focus on what I’ve got checked out now and what I’m reading from my own shelf. I was getting inundated with holds and could feel the others looming.

I was going through my Goodreads TBR list, which I do from time to time to assess whether or not I really want to still read these things. And I kept thinking, Oh I really want to read that! Why haven’t I read that yet? You know why? NEW BOOKS. Shiny new books that keep coming out every week and sound so amazing and I have to get on the holds list right now! Perhaps as my holds stop date gets closer I’ll extend it further. I really want to make a dent in my TBR list, which at the moment is 363 books.

What am I reading now?

 

My Sister the Serial Killer is SOOOO compelling. I just started Notes of a Native Son and so far it’s wonderful. It’s my choice for April’s Instagram #Unreadshelfproject2019. The prompt this month is to read the latest book you’ve acquired. I’ve only read three stories in the Gallant collection but I will finish it by the end of the month.

Have you had any bookish light bulb moments lately?

Mid-Year Reading Goal Check-In

Since the year is half over, I thought it was time for a 2018 Reading Goal check-in. You may recall that I made two teeny-tiny reading goals for the year:

  1. Read at least one book a month from the books I already own, and
  2. Read The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
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Of this stack from February I’ve read four!

 

On the first goal I am doing AMAZING. I’ve already read 13, which means I’ve technically completed my goal! But I have added new purchases to my owned stacks of books (is anyone surprised? No.) So I want to keep making a dent in my piles of owned books through the rest of the year.

I haven’t yet begun to read Count, but I am definitely planning on diving in this fall, after 20 Books of Summer is over. Actually, I’ve been mulling over doing a little readalong. I’ve never led my own readalong before and I’m intimidated, frankly! Would anyone out there be interested in reading along with me this fall? It would be SERIOUSLY low-pressure. I’d probably just try and break it up into sections and take my time with it. If you’re interested, let me know in the comments!

I lowered my number of books for the Goodreads Reading Challenge this year to 52. I completed it this past week. Before you think I’m some reading machine, I have included several books that my son and I have read together, like some of the Magic Tree House books and Bad Kitty books. I decided to do that because I’m reading them too and I want to have a record of what we read together! But the lower page counts of those books do inflate my numbers.

img_2257As far as my 20 Books of Summer challenge, I’ve read 7 and am almost finished with my 8th book. I’ve only written about three of them, though, so I definitely see some mini-reviews in my future. Right now I’m in a good reading groove, but I only have time to post once or twice a week, and if I have to choose between actually reading a book and posting a blog post, I’ll pick reading!

So how are your reading goals going so far this year? I’d love to hear if you’ve completed any goals, made progress, or if you’ve abandoned any goals. Do you set goals for your yearly reading? 

These Books Need To Go: a Mini-Review Round-Up

Having (regrettably) set my Goodreads Challenge number higher than I ever had in the past, I felt the pressure to read faster.  I have indeed turned on the jets and finished quite a few books in the past six weeks.  But I haven’t been reviewing them at the same pace.  So I’ve got this stack of books staring me in the face and, honestly, getting on my nerves.  Plus, they just need to get back to the library (where I procured them all.)  Because I’m sick of looking at them, here are some super quick mini-reviews to clear the decks.

Now You See Me (Lacey Flint #1) by Sharon Bolton.  Fiction Fan turned me onto this author.  I really enjoyed this one.  It’s got a strong female detective constable (Lacey,) a Jack the Ripper copycat killer with a mysterious connection to Lacey, and a nice slow-burning sexual tension between her and DI Mark Joesbury.  Very suspenseful, and I really didn’t know how it was all going to work out until the end.  High quality writing as well.  Definitely will be reading more of this series and this author in 2018!  Four stars.

Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards (British Library Crime Classics.)  My pick for Christmas reading this year.  An uneven collection, but five of the Golden Age crime stories really stood out and made this a worthwhile pick.  Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock story, “The Blue Carbuncle” was entertaining as one might expect.  “Stuffing” by Edgar Wallace was short and sweet.  H.C. Bailey’s “The Unknown Murderer” featured an unlikely criminal and an unexpected twist.  “The Chinese Apple” by Joseph Shearing (a pen name of Marjorie Bowen) is a masterpiece of misdirection.  And my favorite, Ethel Lina White’s “Waxworks,” is a creepy delight.  A young female journalist investigates a hall of wax where two people have mysteriously died.  Determined to find out of the hall is indeed haunted, she sneaks in and gets herself locked in overnight on Christmas Eve.  Suspense builds as the night goes on and she finds herself imagining things – or could there be a murderer locked in with her?  I absolutely loved this one.  Overall, though, for the collection, Three stars.

White Rage: The Unspoke Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson.  This book grew out of an op-ed in the Washington Post in response to the 2014 Ferguson, MO riots after the killing of Michael Brown.  I could call this book Important Stuff We Should Have Studied in High School.  In a short but well-researched 164 pages (and 60 pages of end notes) Anderson lays out a map of white oppression tactics to every gain in status that African Americans have won since the end of the Civil War.  From the unjust laws of the former CSA states during Reconstruction to the assault on voting rights after the election of our first black president, Anderson makes a persuasive argument that every time African Americans win a victory, there is always a well-coordinated and legalistic backlash by a segment of white people in power.  The chapter on the aftermath of the Supreme Court case Brown vs. Board of Education was especially good.  An eye-opening, enraging, important book.  Four stars.

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons.  A debut novel about grief and identity.  Unusual structure – some photographs, some graphs, a few pages include only three or four sentences.  The main character is Thandi, born and raised in America to a mixed-race South African mother and a light-skinned Black American father.  Thandi’s mother has died of cancer (not a spoiler) and we get to see how the event shapes Thandi’s life as she tries to find her place in the world as an adult.  There were some beautifully written passages about grief, but it just didn’t come together for me as powerful, cohesive  narrative.  The most interesting sections of the book for me were explorations of contemporary motherhood and marriage.  Three stars.

The Burning Girl by Claire Messud.  I’ve loved Messud’s two previous novels, The Emperor’s Children and The Woman Upstairs.  This one wasn’t on par with those, unfortunately.  A portrait of two twelve-year old best friends on the cusp of big changes and growing apart.  It moved along quickly and I was engaged, but I couldn’t quite believe that the narrator was supposed to be a seventeen year-old looking back and not a middle-aged author.  The voice was felt too mature.  There are some intelligent observations about the physical freedoms that girls give up as they grow into women, and there are scenes as the girls explore an old abandoned asylum that are lovely and creepy.  Messud is a good writer, I just wanted more vitality from this book.  Three stars.

Hear me now – I’m setting my Goodreads Challenge number nice and low next year!  This (self-imposed) pressure is for the birds.  Three more books by the end of the year to meet my goal.  I can do it!  Hope you all are enjoying some good reading this weekend.  Will you meet your Goodreads Challenge goal?

In Progress, and Jane Austen Bingo

I hope the weekend is treating you well and you’re finding time to read!  Lately I feel like I just can’t make much progress, but the tide may be turning, since last night I knocked out a big chunk of my current read, Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale.

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Now I know I just wrote a post about not being able to choose a book on a whim.  But that’s pretty much how I chose this particular book!  I love the Goodreads List 2016: What Women Born in the 1970s Have Read So Far This Year.  This is the fifth year that the list has existed.  I am kind of obsessive about putting down what I read on that list and seeing where it falls, how many other people are reading it, etc.  I don’t know.  It’s just my jam.  So far this year the top two spots have alternated between The Nightingale and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

I read Girl on the Train, and it was just… okay.  I know so many people loved it, but I really feel like there are so many better written thrillers out there that didn’t get the attention they deserved in the shadow of GOTT.  So basically I decided to read The Nightingale because “everyone” else is reading it and I want it to beat GOTT for the number one slot on the Goodreads list!  Am I insane?  Quite possibly.22557272

I have never read Kristin Hannah before, but I am told that this historical novel is a departure for her, because she usually writes contemporary women’s fiction.  (Whatever THAT means.  That seems like such a bogus, made-up genre to me, but what do I know?)  It’s set in France in World War II, and the main characters are sisters – an older one who is married, a mother, and more reserved, and an impetuous, brash younger sister.  I will say that the plot of The Nightingale has me turning pages super-fast.  But as I get over the half-way mark, the SAD STUFF starts really piling up.  And I find myself having to skim over certain sections, especially about mothers and children.  The writing is okay.  It’s not bad.  But it’s not really the quality of writing that rings my bookish bell.   However, the story is indeed compelling enough.  So I predict that by the end of the weekend I will be done with The Nightingale.  Next on deck after that:  Paul Beatty’s The Sellout.   Talk about bookish whiplash!

51gc1HCCV8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_On a totally unrelated note, I feel compelled to share something that one of my book group members put on Facebook the other day.  It’s a Jane Austen Bingo Card!  I think it’s been around a while, but you may have seen it floating around lately.  I absolutely cackled when I read it.  Click the link and be prepared to laugh.  You don’t have to be an ardent Austenite to appreciate it.

What are you reading right now?  Have you read The Nightingale, Girl on the Train, or The Sellout?  Tell me in the comments.