Saturday, February 17, 2018

My Blogging Hiatus

Hi friends! You may have noticed, I've taken a bit of a blog hiatus. I had been thinking about the blog a lot during the fall and winter -- and whether I wanted to continue with it -- and the first of the year seemed like the perfect time to take a break. Turns out, I'm enjoying the break quite a bit.

I started Lindsay's Library way back in 2011 as a way to keep track of my reading, solidify and remember better what I read by writing book reviews, chat with others about books, and share a bit of my life with the world. Over the years, Goodreads and Instagram have come to fill those roles quite nicely -- and with much less effort on my part.

I do miss having a writing outlet, as well as the friends I've made through blogging with whom I'm not connected on other social media, but the blog was becoming one of those "lots of work, not a lot of reward" situations. For reasons I don't quite understand, this was never going to be a blog with thousands of followers and publishers filling my mailbox with free books. That's not at all what I had hoped for the blog when I began it, but it would've been nice to see more growth over the years.

Now I have way more time for reading and other fun pursuits, and I still get to talk about books on Instagram. I try to post a picture of every book I read, and I share pictures of all facets of my life (dog, beach, knitting, coffee, coffee and more coffee). I'd love to be Insta-friends if we aren't already. You can find me @knittinglindsay.

It's been six weeks since I decided to take a break from the blog and I don't feel any burning pull to come back to it, so I'm going to continue the hiatus. Maybe in a couple months I'll feel the urge to sit down and write a post, or maybe it's just come to its natural conclusion.

Either way, thanks for reading Lindsay's Library, expanding my to-read list to epic proportions, and providing a book-nerd community over the past seven years!

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Best Books I Read in 2017

It's that wonderful time of year -- time to look back at all the books I read in 2017 and think about which ones I loved, which ones stuck with me, which ones lost their luster over time, and come up with this list of favorites!

Really, it was not a fabulous reading year for me. The first half of the year I read a lot of disappointing new releases, and books I was sure I'd love that ended up being just so-so -- including more 2-star reviews than ever (and to me, 2 stars means I hated it; 1 star is DNF). Things finally picked up the past couple months when I read some highly recommended 2017 releases -- so in 2018, I'm going to do things a little differently and let other readers be the new-release guinea pigs for a couple months. I'll be focusing mostly on backlist in January and February, at least, and then I'll see which 2018 books held up to the hype.

One positive note about my reading year is that I read broadly across the genres. I got in more non-fiction and graphic novels than ever before, I continued to nurture my growing love of sci-fi and fantasy, and of course there were plenty of the usual suspects: literary fiction, historical fiction, mystery. I even tried a straight-up romance novel!

So which books stole my heart this year? I selected 12 that I loved initially and whose impression remained with me throughout the year. Some of these books were fun reads, but many had a real impact on me. I come away from my 2017 reading year with new perspectives on LGBT and race issues, among other things.

Here's my list, in no particular order other than the 5-star best-of-the-best (a meager three this year) followed with a slew of 4.5-star reads. I'd love to know which books will go down as your 2017 favorites!

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Wayfarers #1
First published in 2014
Genre: science fiction
My review

Why I loved it: This book was such a delight to read and it put a smile on my face every time I picked it up. It's set in a far-off future with intergalactic travel and features the multi-species crew of the Wayfarer, a wormhole-drilling ship. I can't wait to read the second book in the series!
Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
The Ancestor #1
First published in 2017
Genre: fantasy
My review

Why I loved it: I could not. put. it. down. I was totally absorbed in this fantasy novel set in an semi-apocalyptic future and I adored Nona, the main character. Plus I loved how the school where she trains and hones her powers was ever-so-slightly reminiscent of Hogwarts.
A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
Shades of Magic #3
First published in 2017
Genre: fantasy

Why I loved it: The whole of this fantasy series has been a joy to read. It's about four parallel-universe Londons, each with varying degrees of magic. The characters, plot, and worldbuilding are all fabulous, and I'm sad it's over!

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
First published in 2017
Genre: literary fiction, historical fiction

Why I loved it: One of the reasons I enjoy reading is to gain new perspectives, and this book put me firmly in shoes very different from my own: Cyril Avery's. The book follows Cyril from birth to death in a very-Catholic Ireland as he grapples with his identity as a gay man. The writing was beautiful, and there was no way I could avoid falling in love with Cyril as I journeyed with him over the hills and valleys of his life.
The Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo
First published in 2017
Genre: historical fiction
My review

Why I loved it: This is a very well-researched WWII novel that satisfied my desire to read about both theaters of war -- Europe and the Pacific -- as it followed the wartime experiences of two best friends who become Army nurses. It was intense and sad, but I highly recommend it to any historical fiction fan.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
First published in 2017
Genre: literary fiction

Why I loved it: Oh, Eleanor. She's quite possibly the world's most socially awkward human being, but boy does she grow on you. You'll be cheering her on as she conquers her (rather surprising!) demons. I went in thinking this was fluffy women's fiction, but my expectations were quickly turned on their head!
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
First published in 2017
Genre: literary fiction
My review

Why I loved it: I try to be open-minded, but I've always been a little baffled about how a young child could know with certainty that he or she is, at heart, the opposite gender. This novel, about a transgender 5-year-old and how her family handles the situation, was written by the mother of a transgender child, and it gave me some new perspective on the issue. Too, I absolutely loved this adorable, slightly dysfunctional family!
One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson
First published in 2013
Genre: non-fiction
My review

Why I loved it: While the title proclaims that this book dissects the summer of 1927, it's really a fabulously informative and entertaining history lesson about the '20s as a whole. I learned SO MUCH and it never once felt boring. Bryson has such a talent for writing absorbing, educational non-fiction!
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
First published in 2017
Genre: historical fiction
My review

Why I loved it: I'm a huge fan of dual narratives, and this one was unique in that it dealt with both WWI and WWII. Too, with dual narratives I'm usually a little more into one story than the other, but I was completely engrossed by the tales of both flawed, determined, brilliant protagonists!
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
First published in 2016
Genre: literary fiction
My review

Why I loved it: This book packed such a punch! It was intense, it was controversial, it was dark and disturbing -- and it made me feel so many things, which, to me, is a sign of great storytelling.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
First published in 2017
Genre: young adult

Why I loved it: After many disappointments, I typically avoid YA, but I finally gave into the hype last fall and picked up this novel about the police shooting of a black teenager. And, I'm thrilled to say, it far exceeded my expectations. It's an important, timely, and eye-opening read (that managed to feel fairly neutral) that gave me a peek at what it's like to be black in America.
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
Lady Julia Grey #1
First published in 2007
Genre: historical mystery
My review

Why I loved it: Oh my gosh, I absolutely tore through this book. The 19th-century London atmosphere positively oozed through the pages, and I was totally wrapped up in the mystery. It usually takes me ages to continue series, but I almost immediately read book 2!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

2018 New Year's Goals

Can you believe a fresh, new year begins in just a couple of days?! I'm slightly sad to see 2017 go -- it definitely had its ups and downs, but overall it was a pretty good year in my house. I have high hopes for 2018, though, and below I'm sharing some of my resolutions. What are your goals for the new year?

1. Dig out -- and do! -- the beginner embroidery kits I ordered from Etsy months and months ago.
Plus knit more. And just be more crafty and creative in general. All that really went by the wayside in 2017 (partly thanks to a certain puppy) and I hope to regain and add to my creative outlets in 2018. There are so many things I want to learn: sewing and quilting, embroidery, yarn spinning, weaving, hand-lettering, crochet, pottery, jewelry-making, the list goes on!

2. Start making pizza crust from scratch, and maybe just maybe try sourdough bread.
I always say I'm going to get better at working with yeast and I never do -- it's so intimidating, and so much work! So it's a little crazy to suggest I might start making sourdough bread, when it's far more work than yeast and feeding and nurturing a sourdough starter is even more intimidating! Plus, do I really need more carbs in my life? But... we'll see. The pizza crust is a must, the sourdough is a hopeful maybe.

3. Get scuba certified.
This was actually my birthday goal at the end of October and we've just been too busy the past two months to set up lessons. I'm scared... but excited!

4. For god's sake, figure out SOMETHING to do with my curly/wavy/frizzy mess of hair so it doesn't look like I rolled out of bed directly into work every morning.
Ugh. My hair and I are never going to make peace with each other -- at least not til I move back home to Colorado and can straighten it every day and it'll actually stay straight and look nice (which probably won't ever happen, given our luck with the military never sending us where we want to go). I'm 32... it's time to finally take control of my hair -- and maybe learn how to apply a little makeup too, so I can look like a reasonably put-together adult when necessary.

5. Start meal-prepping lunches to take to work.
Back at the beginning of last summer, my schedule at work changed from three 8-hour shifts plus an hour lunch (so 9-hour days) to four 6-hour shifts. I like it SO much better, but since I only work 6 hours I don't get a lunch break anymore and I've just been eating snacks like yogurt and Lara bars... which means I come home and I'm famished, and I end up hoovering down a bunch of junk food. So, as awkward as it is to go sit in the back and take an on-the-clock break to heat up and eat real food when nobody else does (since they all get an hour for lunch) I've recently started doing it. Sometimes I have leftovers, but for the days I don't, a pre-made, fully-prepped nutritious meal would be sooooo nice. There are tons of meal-prepping resources out there, I just have to start wading through them. Any recommendations would be appreciated!

6. Send more snail mail.
Call me old-fashioned, but I adore snail mail. I love getting it, and I love sending it out knowing I'm going to make someone else's mailbox happy. I have a few friends and penpals with whom I exchange letters, but in 2018 I want to send more random, fun mail. Maybe an unexpected birthday card here, a surprise Hawaii postcard there.

7. Get back on a good cleaning schedule.

Before Alohi came along, certain days were for certain household tasks. Grocery shopping was this day of the week, bathroom cleaning was this day of the week, and so on. Well. Little Miss and her feline sister don't get along, so it can be difficult to get upstairs (now the cat's domain) much when Jarrod isn't home. And by the time he makes it home at 6 or 7 every night, I sure don't feel like vacuuming the upstairs! So cleaning -- right alongside my crafting -- has been neglected and out-of-whack this year. I'm a creature of habit and routine, and I want to get myself back on a solid cleaning schedule. (I will say -- thank god for the Roomba! I bought one last spring and it has been a LIFESAVER this year!)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

2018 Book Releases I'm Eagerly Awaiting

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is about books we're looking forward to in 2018. Below I've listed nearly all the upcoming releases that've caught my eye, and while I know I won't get to all of them, I'm sure going to try! Are you excited for any of the same ones I am? What books are you eagerly anticipating in the coming months?

The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson
January 2

From Goodreads: Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive. Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As memories of her old life haunt her, she has been forced to forge ahead in the snow-covered Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap to survive. But her fragile existence is about to be shattered. Shadows of the world before have found her tiny community -- most prominently in the enigmatic figure of Jax, who sets in motion a chain of events that will force Lynn to fulfill a destiny she never imagined.

My thoughts: This reminds me vaguely of another post-apocalyptic thriller that I loved, The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis, and I'm super intrigued! I've got an advance-read copy and I'm excited to get to it -- especially since I'm totally craving some cold-weather settings!

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
January 9

From Goodreads: If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present? It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children -- four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness -- sneak out to hear their fortunes. Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in '80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

My thoughts: The premise totally caught my attention and I'm looking forward to seeing how the Gold family handles this knowledge -- and whether it becomes a blessing or a curse.

The English Wife by Lauren Willig
January 9

From Goodreads: From Lauren Willig comes this scandalous New York Gilded Age novel full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder. Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life...But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel.

My thoughts: It's been a while since I've read anything by Lauren Willig, but I'm planning to check out her new gothic mystery! The early reviews have been mixed so I'm not expecting to be blown away, but I'm hoping for an absorbing, easy read.

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
January 16

From Goodreads: Five women. One question. What is a woman for? In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom.

My thoughts: I immediately added this to my to-read list when I first came across it months ago! Early reviews are positive, and I have very high hopes for this timely novel.

Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict
January 16

From Goodreads: In the industrial 1860s at the dawn of the Carnegie empire, Irish immigrant Clara Kelly finds herself in desperate circumstances. Looking for a way out, she seeks employment as a lady's maid in the home of the prominent businessman Andrew Carnegie. Soon, the bond between Clara and her employer deepens into love. But when Clara goes missing, Carnegie's search for her unearths secrets and revelations that lay the foundation for his lasting legacy. With captivating insight and stunning heart, Carnegie's Maid tells the story of one lost woman who may have spurred Andrew Carnegie's transformation from ruthless industrialist into the world's first true philanthropist.

My thoughts: I enjoyed Benedict's previous drawn-from-fact book, The Other Einstein, and this one sounds like it'll bring to light another little-know woman.

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
January 25

From Goodreads: One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid. As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr. Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on… and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course, on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost. Where will their ambitions lead? And will they be able to escape the destructive power mermaids are said to possess?

My thoughts: This sounds ever so slightly reminiscent of this year's The Essex Serpent, which I found to be a slight disappointment, but I'm intrigued enough by the plot to check it out.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
February 6

From Goodreads: Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

My thoughts: This sounds like one of those books that, once picked up, is impossible to put down.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
February 6

From Amazon: Alaska, 1974. Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown. At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture.

My thoughts: I've only read one Kristin Hannah book before and I didn't like it -- and I still need to read the ubiquitous The Nightingale -- but I'm willing to give this one a chance because ALASKA! I'm just a wee little bit obsessed with books set in places like Alaska and Antarctica so obviously this went on my to-read list!

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman
February 13

From Goodreads: It’s 1944, combat in the Pacific is intensifying, and Violet Iverson and her daughter, Ella, are piecing their lives back together one year after her husband vanished. Violet enjoys the camaraderie of her friends as they open a pie stand for the soldiers training on the island for a secret mission. But even these women face their own wartime challenges as prejudice against the island Japanese pits neighbor against neighbor. And then there’s the matter of Sergeant Stone, a brash marine who comes to Violet’s aid when the women are accused of spying. She struggles with her feelings of guilt but can’t deny the burning attraction -- or her fear of losing another man when Stone ships out for Iwo Jima. Set amid the tropical beauty of Hawaii, Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers offers a fresh perspective on World War II as it presents timeless depictions of female friendship, the bond between a mother and her child, and the enduring power of love even in the darkest times.

My thoughts: It's always fun to read books set in places you've lived or visited, so this WWII book set in Hawaii, where we currently live -- with a gorgeous cover and a catchy title -- immediately went on my to-read list. I love WWII books, so I've got high hopes for this one!

All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. Church
March 6

From Goodreads: A powerful novel about a gutsy showgirl who tries to conquer her past amongst the glamour of 1960s Las Vegas--and finds unexpected fortune, friendship, and love.

My thoughts: I happily awarded 5 stars to Church's debut, The Atomic Weight of Love, so there was no question I'd read whatever she wrote next!

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon
March 27

From Goodreads: In an enthralling new feat of historical suspense, Ariel Lawhon unravels the extraordinary twists and turns in Anna Anderson's 50-year battle to be recognized as Anastasia Romanov. Is she the Russian Grand Duchess, a beloved daughter and revered icon, or is she an imposter, the thief of another woman's legacy?

My thoughts: Reading books set in Russia is a new interest of mine, and I really don't know a whole lot about the Romanovs. I came across this novel on a list of anticipated historical fiction for 2018 and look forward to learning a thing or two.

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain
May 1

From Goodreads: The bestselling author of The Paris Wife returns to the subject of Ernest Hemingway in a novel about his passionate, stormy marriage to Martha Gellhorn -- a fiercely independent, ambitious young woman who would become one of the greatest war correspondents of the twentieth century. In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in devastating conflict. She also finds herself unexpectedly -- and uncontrollably -- falling in love with Hemingway, a man already on his way to becoming a legend. But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha must make a choice: surrender to the confining demands of being a famous man's wife or risk losing Ernest by forging a path as her own woman and writer. It is a dilemma that will force her to break his heart, and her own.

My thoughts:
I really enjoyed both The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun, and I was excited to see McLain has a new book coming out in a few months!

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
September 2018

From Goodreads: A brilliantly original high concept murder mystery from a fantastic new talent: Gosford Park meets Inception, by way of Agatha Christie "Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out." It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed. But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden -- one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party -- can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot. The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath...

My thoughts: This doesn't come out in the U.S. for months (though the UK release is in February) and it's already got tons of hype! The premise sounds really interesting and the reviews have been fabulous.

A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn
Veronica Speedwell #3
January 16

My thoughts: Possibly my favorite ongoing series! If you like historical mysteries and spunky female protagonists, I highly recommend getting acquainted with Veronica Speedwell, butterfly enthusiast and amateur sleuth.
Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
Red Rising #4
January 16

My thoughts: The first book in this sci-fi series set on Mars, Red Rising, is probably my most-recommended book. And everyone I've suggested it to has liked it. I *hangs head* have still not read book 3, Morning Star, but I WILL -- and then I'll avoid the excruciating wait for the next book!
Still Me by Jojo Moyes
Me Before You #3
January 30

My thoughts: I didn't really think Me Before You needed any sequels, and while After You was ok it was nowhere near as good as the original. But I like Lou and I enjoy Jojo Moyes' writing, so I'll give her next adventure (in New York!) a try.
Force of Nature by Jane Harper
Aaron Falk #2
February 6

My thoughts: The Dry -- possibly the most-hyped mystery of 2017 -- was the best recently released book in the genre I'd read in a while. And I especially enjoyed that the series is set in Australia! I'm looking forward to rejoining Detective Falk for a new mystery.
Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence
The Ancestor #2
April 3

My thoughts: The first book in this fantasy series, Red Sister, was one of my top reads in 2017. If you like fantasy, READ IT!
Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
Wayfarers #3
July 24

My thoughts: I recently read and looooved the fun and engrossing sci-fi novel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and I'm going to read the second Wayfarers book, A Closed and Common Orbit, in the next couple months. Then I'll be all ready for book 3!
The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden
Winternight Trilogy #3
August 14

My thoughts: I enjoyed The Bear and the Nightingale and I just finished the second book, The Girl in the Tower. It took me some time to get into it, partly, I think, because it'd been over a year since I read the first book. So I'm glad to see the series conclusion is only 8 months away rather than a whole year!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Monday Musings & Merry Christmas

christmas collage
Mele Kalikimaka!

My week: It was a fine week here. I feel like it was a busy one, but I can't actually remember why or what I did. I had to work all day on Saturday, but I made the best of it by wearing reindeer antlers and a Christmas shirt. Sunday we went to the beach; Jarrod goes surfing at least once a week, but it was the first time my toes had been in the sand since October!

I actually managed to snap a good picture of Alohi and me this week! We're driving home from her afternoon at doggie daycare here... but what you don't see is the desk leg she chewed into a thousand shards in the morning!

Reading: I finished "Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery" by Jenny Colgan and enjoyed it well enough. I'm soooo jealous of the protagonists' pet puffin, as well as their quaint English village. It's the third in a series and I do think I want to go back and read the first two.

Then I read and LOVED the first Rat Queens volume. It was so different than I expected. I knew it was about some spunky, badass girls, but I had no idea it was also a sort of medieval fantasy! I already checked out the second volume from the library.

After that I read the sequel to "The Bear and the Nightingale," "The Girl in the Tower." It took me for-ev-er to get into it -- I actually fell asleep reading three times in a row before making it to page 100 -- but once it clicked, I blew through the rest. I enjoyed being back in magic-tinged medieval Russia.

I felt like I needed one more holiday read, so I grabbed "Last Christmas in Paris" from the library. It's a WWI book told in letters -- right up my alley -- and I'm enjoying it so far.

Watching: We watched the newest Pirates of the Caribbean movie this week. It was ok, though I started losing interest toward the end. I didn't really watch any TV this week, or movies, but Jarrod has to work all day today (yes, on Christmas) so I'm planning to catch up on all those Hallmark Christmas movies on the DVR!

Knitting: I didn't do a single bit of knitting this week, but I did snap a picture of the bird ornament I knit for my work Secret Santa last week. (The bird is from the Flock mobile pattern on Ravelry -- my go-to pattern for knit birds.)


Buying: Tickets to see Luke Bryan! One of the things I hate about living in Hawaii is the utter lack of decent people coming for concerts, so we were thrilled when we heard Luke Bryan would be here in March!

Baking: Some really tasty cranberry-white chocolate-pecan cookies with brown butter icing! The recipe is from Taste of Home, and I was very pleased with the results. Plus I was excited to find a recipe for fresh cranberries! I highly recommend it.

Monday Musings
Holiday Q & A
The Grinch Book Tag

Looking forward to: My upcoming three-day weekend!

Merry Christmas to you all!

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

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Grinch Book Tag

I saw this tag on Adventures of a Bibliophile, and it's originally from Thoughts on Tomes.

Half of the lights on the Christmas tree are burnt out: Name a book/series/character that started out good but then went downhill
The Diviners series by Libba Bray. Really liked book 1, hated book 2. Also, The Others series by Anne Bishop gets less fabulous and more campy with every book; I'm still going to keep working toward getting caught up, though.

Annoying Great Aunt Sally who will not leave you alone: Name a book that you didn’t enjoy, but everyone else seems to love so it never goes away
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I didn't hate it, but I certainly didn't love it as much as everyone else. In fact, I've read two John Green books now (I had to read one for work) and I wasn't all that impressed with Looking for Alaska either!

Your pets keep knocking over the Christmas decoration: Name a character that kept messing things up for everyone else (can’t pick a villain!)
He's a villain in that I and surely every reader hate him, but he's more of an unwitting villain than an evil, ill-intentioned one. I'm going with Father Konstantin from The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden.

You hear your parents putting out the presents and learn Santa isn’t real: Name a book you were spoiled for
I can't think of a single one! I'm usually pretty good about avoiding spoiler-y book reviews. Shows, on the other hand -- I've been spoiled for Game of Thrones, Homeland, The Walking Dead, Grey's Anatomy, and many others.

It’s freezing outside: Name a main character you just couldn’t connect with
I was hoping to love both of these books, but I didn't really feel a spark with Jazz from Artemis by Andy Weir (sad face!!!) or Aviva from Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin.

Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ and it’s giving you anti-romantic feelings: Name a couple you couldn’t stand
Ron Weasley and Lavender Brown is all that's coming to mind!

That scratchy homemade wool sweater you got for Christmas years ago but won’t get rid of: show some books that have been sitting on your shelves for a while, and you aren’t motivated to read, but you don’t have the heart to get rid of
The remainder of Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series, all the Jodi Picoult books I bought secondhand years ago and have yet to get to.

Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer: Name a character death you still are mad about (warn people for spoilers! You can also use TV or movie deaths)
Spoiler alert for anyone who hasn't read Harry Potter!
I'm reversing this a little: I'm mad that Peter Pettigrew didn't get killed in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. That whole scene in the Shrieking Shack irritates me every time, whether reading the book or watching the movie; if Sirius and Lupin would just TELL HARRY WHAT IS GOING ON, so many things could've been different! I feel like that's one of the few scenes that really shows J.K. Rowling was writing the books for children.

The malls are overly crowded with holiday shoppers: Name a series that has too many books in it/went on too long
The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich (though I'm still reading it!)

The Grinch: Name a main character you HATE (No villians again!)
I couldn't stand Manon from The Little Paris Bookshop!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Holiday Q & A

Well, who am I to resist a Christmas Q&A?! I spotted this one at Rebel Mommy Book Blog (see her post here).

1. Real or fake tree: I really don't care, but my husband insists on a real tree. And since we're getting a real tree, I insist on selecting and cutting down the perfect tree rather than getting a pre-cut one from the store. In Hawaii we go to a Norfolk pine tree farm; they look kind of Dr. Seuss-ish, but that's your only choice of fresh-cut Christmas tree in Hawaii.

This year's tree, complete with puppy.

2. Favorite Christmas cookie: I pretty much like any and all cookies, except sugar cookies. They're fun to decorate but not my favorite to eat (though, really, I'm not going to turn down a cookie if one's offered to me)!

3. Home or travel on Christmas: Depends on where in the world we're living! Here in Hawaii we stay home (and this year my husband will actually be working on Christmas), but when we're stationed on the Mainland we try to spend holidays with family.

4. Clear or colored lights: Colored on the tree, both outside.

5. Christmas cards?: Yes, yes, yes! I'm a snail mail fanatic. I've been sending Christmas cards since I was in elementary school!

6. Favorite present given: ...crickets. I have the worst memory and I have no recollection of what I gave for which occasion -- or even really what I've given. Let's just say I buy a lot of cool presents from Etsy!

7. Favorite present received: Probably the pogo stick Santa brought when I was in elementary school, or the reindeer bell he left me in my stocking one year (I still have it in my stocking today!).

8. Stockings?: Yes! I have a stocking that my mom embroidered for me when I was a baby, and I made a similar one for Jarrod after we got married. The pets even have stockings!

9. Christmas PJs?: Nope, that's never been a thing in my family. Maybe we'll make it one if we ever have kids.

10. Favorite Christmas carol: Carol of the Bells.

11. Favorite holiday tradition: Driving around looking at Christmas lights (nowadays, with a peppermint mocha in hand) and Christmas music playing on the radio.

12. Early or last-minute shopper: Early, typically. A bit last-minute this year.

13. Favorite Christmas movie or show: The Holiday and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. And of course I soak up a bunch of Hallmark Christmas movies each year.

14. Favorite holiday beverage: Anything peppermint -- peppermint mocha, peppermint chip shake, peppermint cocoa.

15. Cookies and milk for Santa?: Of course! Growing up we always left carrots for the reindeer too.
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