Tuesday, September 19, 2017

My Fall 2017 To-Read List

It's nearly the official first day of autumn! This will be my second fall back in Hawaii, and man, do I ever miss my favorite season! Please enjoy crisp air, crunchy leaves, stunningly colorful foliage, apple cider, sweaters and sitting by the fireplace for me! We'll have one more fall to spend in Hawaii after this one, and while there will definitely be things I miss about living here, I'm crossing my fingers that we head someplace with seasons!

I really cannot believe it's nearly October (my favorite month of the year, by the way). Time has just flown, and now we only have a few months left to cram as many books as we can into 2017! As I've said, it's been a kinda mediocre reading year for me, and I'd love to finish it off on a high note. So tell me, what's the single best book you've read so far this year? And your favorite 2017 release?

I've got a pretty ambitious fall to-read list, and I know I won't get to all of these books. I didn't even read half the books I talked about in my summer to-read post. But I'm gonna give it my best shot -- and hopefully some of these will blow me away! What are you excited to read this fall? (I'm linking up with The Broke and the Bookish to share my list for Top Ten Tuesday.)

fall 2017 to read list

1. Quiet Until the Thaw by Alexandra Fuller: This novel has to do with the Sioux Nation, and it sounds a little intense. It also has very mixed reviews, so we shall see! It has the least priority among my current library books, and I won't be totally heartbroken if I have to return it unread.

2. Himself by Jess Kidd: "Himself" is a mystery set in Ireland and I've been looking forward to it for months! My library finally got it in and I'm so excited to dive in. I love books set in Ireland.

3. The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne: I've pretty much given up on the thriller genre, but I'm going to give this one a try. It seems to have tinges of one of my favorite 2016 books, "The Wolf Road" by Beth Lewis.

4. American Eclipse: A Nations's Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World by David Baron: I meant to read this non-fiction book around the time of the eclipse, which has come and gone. Oops.

5. The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan: I stumbled across this book while browsing online and the cover caught my eye, then I saw it has really good reviews!

6. Artemis by Andy Weir: The second book by the author of "The Martian," which I loved, and it's set on the moon! I can't wait for this one!

7. From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty: I loved the morbid and educational and thoughtful "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," Doughty's memoir about working in the funeral industry. Her second book sounds just as interesting!

8. Strange Weather by Joe Hill: I've read all but one of Joe Hill's books and, though I don't normally like short stories, I'm going to give Hill's a shot!

9. Origin by Dan Brown: For some reason, book bloggers seem to look down on poor Dan Brown, but I enjoy his Robert Langdon page-turners!

10. Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz: This seems like the perfect book for October!

11. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: I really liked "Maybe in Another Life" and I want to read all of Taylor Jenkins Reid's work! This is her newest release and has to do with a classic film actress -- different from her other stuff, but I'm intrigued.

12. Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie: That cover totally sucked me in! The plot sounds good too, so I asked my boss at work to order it for the library.

13. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: This is a 2017 release everyone seems to love, so of course I have to jump on the bandwagon!

14. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie: This is a carryover from my summer to-read list. Another book that should be a perfect fall read, and then I can go see the movie.

15. The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh: This book has a hideous cover and a kinda weird-sounding plot, but I saw several people raving about it online so I decided I want to give it a shot.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday Musings


My week: Wow, what a crazy week here! I actually worked six days in a row, and the above picture of Alohi (while taken on Saturday) is a pretty accurate representation of me yesterday! Zzzzzz.

We're quite short-handed at the library right now so work was pretty busy to begin with, and on top of that I had my 4th and 5th grade book club meeting on the same day a co-worker and I put on preschool storytime -- something I've never done before (though it was actually pretty fun). It was a busy, busy week!

Reading: I didn't have much time for reading this week, but I did finish "Good Morning, Midnight" by Lily Brooks-Dalton. It's a novel set around the apocalypse told from the perspectives of a researcher stranded in the Arctic and an astronaut on a return trip from Jupiter; being so isolated, they don't know what has happened to the planet, only that something has. Sounds absolutely fascinating -- but it was far from the action-packed page-turner I expected and was a lot more... existential. It wasn't a bad book, but right now I'm in the mood for (and need, really) a more fast-paced, unputdownable book.

Yesterday I started "The Scribe of Siena" by Melodie Winawer, which involves a modern-day neurosurgeon time traveling back to 1300s Italy in the midst of the Black Death plague. The writing feels slightly off to me for some reason, but I'm definitely intrigued by the plot so far!

Watching: We started watching the newest (final) season of "Orphan Black." We also watched a really good movie called "Gifted," which I had never heard of until three separate people recommended to me. It's about an absolutely adorable little girl who's a math prodigy, and the battle over how to handle her genius -- keep her living a normal little-girl life, or send her straight to university and beyond. It stars Chris Evans (a.k.a. Captain America) and Mckenna Grace, who simply stole the show.


Looking forward to: My day off Wednesday! I plan to read and relax and maybe do a little shopping and possibly even get a massage!

*I'm linking up with Kathryn of Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My Favorite Books Published 10 Years Ago

November 2007.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a throwback freebie. It can be anything that involves not-so-recent books, and I decided to look back 10 years (10 years?!?!) to books published in 2007 and 2008. I would have really loved to make a post of favorite books I actually read 10 years ago, but sadly I didn't keep good track of my reading back then.

In 2007 I got engaged, graduated college, moved to Florida, got a job at a newspaper, and brought home our first boxer, Conan. In 2008 I got married, moved to Texas and learned to knit. My life has changed a lot since then, and I'd love to see how my reading tastes have changed as well (they definitely have).

I know I went through a Philippa Gregory phase around that time, and I also read all the earlier James Patterson books, and I've since grown out of both those authors, as well as others I used to enjoy like Jennifer Crusie and Sophie Kinsella. I do still love Dan Brown, though -- I distinctly recall devouring "Deception Point" and "Digital Fortress" in college, and I'm anticipating his new book next month!

So, without further ado, lets' take a walk down memory lane and look at 10 books I enjoyed that were published in 2007 or 2008 (some I read back then, others I read much more recently).

2007 books

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (5 stars)
2. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (4.5 stars)
3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (5 stars)
4. The Daily Coyote by Shreve Stockton (4.5 stars)
5. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult (4 stars)
6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (4 stars)
7. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (4.5 stars)
8. Half-Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls (5 stars)
9. The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir (5 stars)
10. In the Woods by Tana French (4 stars)

Bonus! Here are five 2007/2008 books on my to-read list -- ones that I'd really like to get to sooner than later.

2007 tbr

1. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
2. The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes
3. Sarah's Key by Tatiana DeRosnay
4. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
5. City of Thieves by David Benioff

Monday, September 11, 2017

Monday Musings


My week: We spent the weekend on Kauai, which, though a very quick little trip, was still rejuvenating and relaxing. We like to stay at some military beach cottages on the far west side of the island. They're pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but we enjoy the seclusion. And without all that light pollution, the night sky is absolutely stunning! Plus we love falling asleep at night to the sound of crashing waves. We sat on the beach, did a waterfall hike and ate some delicious food. It was fabulous.

I was a little worried about leaving Alohi for the first time, but we had a friend dog- and house-sit for us, so Alohi got to spend the weekend with her new BFF. As much as it was refreshing to have a break from my wild and crazy puppy -- I wrote this entire blog post without her stepping all over me, pressing a squeaky toy against my face or scratching to go out -- I missed the crap out of her!


Reading: Alert the media: it's finally happened! I have given my first 5-star rating of 2017! I absolutely loved "Red Sister" by Mark Lawrence, and I can't wait until the second installment of this fantasy series comes out in April! I told a friend that it was sort of like a mix of "The Queen of Blood" and "Harry Potter" and assassins. If you like fantasy, READ THIS ONE! (P.S. I personally think this cover is horrible -- see the much prettier U.K. one in my cover battle post here!)

I finished "Red Sister" Friday night after we got to Kauai, and then I read "James and the Giant Peach" for the September meeting of the kids' book club at work, which is this Wednesday. I've never read Roald Dahl before -- somehow he escaped my voracious childhood reading -- and I don't think I've ever seen any of the movies either. The book was ok... cute and zany, but I didn't really get the point of the story.

Now I'm reading "Good Morning, Midnight" by Lily Brooks-Dalton, which is a post-apocalyptic thriller set partly in the Arctic Circle.

(I'm still reading "One Summer: America, 1927" by Bill Bryson, but I was so wrapped up in "Red Sister" that I didn't read much non-fiction this week.)

Checking out: Once again, way too many library books. I had four holds to pick up from the public library on the same day I brought home the next six books for the kids' book club!

Watching: I squeezed in one episode of "Outlander" season 2, and we watched the last couple episodes of the most recent season of "Homeland."

Making: My AzkaBANNED Prison bulletin board -- and the accompanying Azkaban wanted poster photo board -- are finished! It was a labor of love, as all these boards are, but I really like the way this one came out! And it's been gratifying to see people reading it, getting all afluster that books they love are on the wall (many people apparently don't know books are challenged and banned!), and checking out books from the pile I've set out.


Eating: All our favorite restaurants on Kauai (including our favorite burger place, which uses local beef, and kalua pork tacos and teriyaki chicken tacos from our favorite taco restaurant). We also had the best fried Brussels sprouts -- they were mixed with jalapenos, raisins and pepitas, and topped with a delicious jalapeno honey vinaigrette. And I got my first salted caramel mocha and pumpkin scone of the season from Starbucks.

Monday Musings
I Judge Books By Their Covers: Red Sister
Book Review: The Essex Serpent

Looking forward to: The weekend! Even though our trip to Kauai was relaxing, it wasn't the same as having a normal weekend, and I'll actually be working quite a bit more than usual this week to help fill some gaps at work (who knew September would be the random crazy month of everyone needing time off while we're also down an employee?!). I'll also be helping out with preschool storytime for the first time ever, on the same day I have the 4th and 5th grade book club. I'm going to be so happy when Friday night rolls around!

*I'm linking up with Kathryn of Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Book Review: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

"The Essex Serpent" by Sarah Perry
First published 2017
418 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5

The Short Of It:

A lovely historical fiction novel that started out strong but fell a bit flat for me in the latter half.

The Long Of It:
"The Essex Serpent" is a quiet story set in the late 1800s about an English village terrified by a sea serpent, the contrariety of reason and religion, and an unlikely friendship between a vicar and a very unusual woman.

After the death of her abusive husband, Cora Seaborne is happier than she's been in years. She's free to wear men's clothes, travel where she wishes and pursue her naturalist instincts. Her search for fossils takes her to the Essex shore where rumors of an evil serpent have wracked the hamlet of Aldwinter, and there she befriends William Ransome, the local vicar. Though the two disagree on much, they instantly form a near seamless meeting of the minds.

Meanwhile, a surgeon ahead of his time is in love with Cora, his best friend is in love with Cora's companion, Cora's odd son Francis gets even odder, and eerie things are happening in Aldwinter -- blamed, course, on the serpent.

The first part of the novel completely sucked me in -- I enjoyed the gorgeous prose, the unique cast of characters, and the letters sent between them scattered throughout (I do so love epistolary novels, and this one had just the right of good old fashioned snail mail tucked between chapters). And I was fascinated by the idea of the malevolent Essex serpent that had Aldwinter and the surrounding towns all in a tizzy -- something that could easily have happened a century and a quarter ago.

But there really wasn't very much action -- it turned out to be a much more character-driven novel than I expected, and eventually it started to feel a little boring. And, too, some of the characters I really liked ended up doing things that disappointed me.

Overall, I enjoyed it, and I'd say it's worth a read, but don't expect an action-packed romp. This is a more subtle, atmospheric story, so save it for a time when you can sit down and savor it.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

I Judge Books By Their Covers: Red Sister

Hi, my name is Lindsay, and I judge books by their covers.

Right now I'm reading "Red Sister," the first in a new fantasy series by Mark Lawrence, and it's soooo good! When I was grabbing the cover image for the blog, I noticed the U.K. cover was quite different -- perfect time for a cover battle!

U.S. <---------------------------> U.K.

It may not be a ridiculously easy cover battle for you, but it is for me. I almost always dislike fiction covers that have realistic pictures of people on them, and this is no exception. The color scheme is nice and I do like the red smears, but overall -- the U.S. cover is totally not my cup of tea.

On the other hand, I really do like the U.K. cover. If you read these posts regularly you'll know I'm a big fan of pops of red. And I'm drawn to anything that says "cold weather," as well as illustrated, artistic covers. This fits the bill for all of those! I'm not even quite a third of the way into the story, but I can say the ice is relevant and that the girl in the U.K. cover is dressed the way I've been imagining the protagonist (she's at sort of a convent/training school for people with special abilities). I could do without the tagline above the title, but other than that this cover is right up my alley!

Do tell: which cover do you prefer?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Monday Musings

We stumbled across this awesome mural while running errands Sunday.

My week: It was a pretty quiet week here. My alarm either didn't go off one day or I turned it off and went back to sleep with zero memory of doing so, so that was fun! We had an afternoon of pouring rain with a bit of thunder and lightning, which is super-rare for Hawaii, and that actually was fun. College football started back over the weekend and I'll now be a football widow for the next several months. On the plus side, Hawaii plays my alma mater Colorado State in a couple weeks and we'll be going to the game!

Reading: I'm continuing to read "One Summer: America, 1927" in 25-page chunks, though I admit to skipping a couple days last week because I didn't have as much time to read. (I'm thoroughly enjoying it, though, and I've learned a ton!) I started "The Essex Serpent" last Monday and finished it on Friday; I loved the first half but the second fell a bit flat for me. Still, I gave it 4 stars.

Now I'm reading "Red Sister," the first in a new fantasy series. I grabbed it when I saw it at the library because I remembered it was on my to-read list, but I had almost no recollection what it was about and I decided to just dive in without reading the blurb. I'm a little ways in and it's really good so far -- and I'm intrigued by the wholly new world it's set in -- but I really couldn't say yet what it's about! (A young girl who gets rescued from the gallows to become a nun/assassin maybe?)

Watching: The "Game of Thrones" season finale, "Homeland," season 2 of "Outlander." We didn't watch any movies last week.

Buying: Some new pillows for the couch! I splurged and bought some big, fancy ones from Pier 1 and then found two complimentary pillows at Target. I'd been wanting to change out the pillows -- we still had the same ones that came with the couch four years ago --  and I love how such a small change can just brighten up a room!

Making: It's time to change up my giant bulletin board in the kids' section at work again, and this time it's Banned Books Week-themed. I (with help from a fabulous co-worker) have been working on "AzkaBANNED Prison." It features books behind bars (with speech bubbles saying why they're banned or challenged -- i.e. "Diary of Anne Frank" tells people "I'm too depressing."), and when it's done it'll have a dementor and an Azkaban wanted poster photo board for patrons to take pictures with. I'll post pictures when it's done -- I really need to do a wrap-up post of all the boards I've put up since I took over bulletin board duties in March!

Monday Musings
11 Hidden Gems on My To-Read List
Book Title Book Tag
15 Intriguing September 2017 Book Releases
Turning the Page on August 2017

Looking forward to: Our weekend getaway to Kauai! I'm a little nervous about leaving Alohi for the first time -- she is probably going to drive the friend who's house/dog-sitting for us absolutely crazy -- but I'm sooooo ready for some rejuvenation and relaxation on our favorite island!

*I'm linking up with Kathryn of Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
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