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Reading check ins 2020 > Week 37 Check In

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message 1: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 876 comments Mod
Hi Everyone,

Sorry this is late, yesterday was a bit hectic. But I'm officially on vacation until the 21! Woo! We're going to spend today - Friday in a cabin on the other side of the state, hiking in some dunes, enjoying nature. Being as socially distant as possible while just not being in our home for a little bit! Then the rest of next week hopefully can work on some projects that keep being delayed

THis week I finished:

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot - a really good guide to intersectional feminism, and all the ways mainstream (white) feminism often ignores the differing needs of different groups of people.

Dragonsong, Dragonsinger needed a bit of a break with some light reads.

Currently reading:

The Dragon Republic - second book of The Poppy Wars, reading it for Read Harder's doorstopper written by a woman after 1950. I like it so far, although war books arent' my favorite genre over all, even fantastical ones.

Neverwhere- doing an audio re-read, this is my favorite of Gaiman's novels <3

Nocturna - on hold while i wait for my hold to come back up


I'll borrow from popsugar because it's kinda fun. List a book you loved and a book you hated, but don't say which is which. People can see if they can guess!

I'll switch my answers up because I feel like people here would already know for a fact which one I loved haha.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home and A Gentleman in Moscow

message 2: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 159 comments For assorted holiday-related reasons I only had one finish this week: Ada's Algorithm: How Lord Byron's Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched the Digital Age. There sure are a lot of children's books about her, and there's a novelization, but I wanted to read an actual (nonfiction) biography for adults. There's a lot of interest in holding her up as a brilliant female figure in the history of computing, and I'm actually less interested in that than in her actual life (Byron's daughter and all that). This book did a decent job with the biographical details; it's somewhat difficult, as many of her letters were destroyed by her mother. I was a bit disappointed that the titular algorithm was not included in the book. It's not really understandable to the average reader (me), and the author provides a URL where it can be found, but come on, if you're gonna call the book that, at least stick it in an appendix.

I did also check out Birds of the Central Carolinas, but that was more of a test-drive than a read. It was on a list of recommended books from our local wildlife federation chapter, and I thought I might buy it but wanted to look at it first. I didn't realize it's textbook-sized. It has a lot of fascinating historical reports on the presence of all the species of birds found in my county, and detailed studies of breeding locations, but I'm not sure how often I would reference it if I owned it, so the jury's still out.

QOTW: Interesting! I'm not familiar with either book, and it seems both have some raves and some... otherwise. Since Daniele liked Tell the Wolves last week, I'm going to guess you did, too.
I feel like all of mine are either obvious (particularly the loves) or previously mentioned, but I've picked two thematic pairings.
Bird-related titles not actually about birds: Magpie Murders vs The Goldfinch
Novels about birding: The Life List of Adrian Mandrick vs A Guide to the Birds of East Africa

message 3: by Shel (new)

Shel (shel99) | 265 comments Mod
Rebecca - I'm going to guess that you hated The Goldfinch, I don't know the other one. I'm picking the Goldfinch even though I haven't read it, because I HATED her other book The Secret History. (I guess I can't use that one for my answer now, can I?) :). Sheri, I don't know either of those so I have no idea!

Last week I read The City We Became, which was brilliant and now I can officially say that I've read everything that N.K. Jemisin has written. She's become an absolute must-read for me. But now I have to wait for the rest of the series to be published!!

I also finished The Last Olympian with my son, and I really liked the way the series wrapped up. He of course was totally into the action (and completely invested in (view spoiler)), I was pleasantly surprised by the way that the books became progressively more thoughtful as the series went along - I loved the portrayal of the goddess Hestia, who I was always curious about because the traditional myths never seem to mention her except as an afterthought.

I don't usually bother finishing books that I hate, so the prompt is tricky...I'll go with a book that I couldn't get past the first 50 pages for that one. Which is it?

The Library at Mount Char or The Shadow of the Torturer?

Bonus round - children's books!
The Giving Tree or You Are My I Love You?

message 4: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 876 comments Mod
For the kids book I’d assume you hate the giving tree? I don’t know many people who still love that one!

message 5: by Shel (new)

Shel (shel99) | 265 comments Mod
Yep. I despise that book. What an awful message to send!

message 6: by Daniele (new)

Daniele Powell (danielepowell) | 164 comments Just one finish this week: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, which I used for the Slytherin/Borgin & Burkes/with a dark cover prompt. Enjoyed the storyline, but the romantic sub-plot got grating pretty quick, as did the audiobook reader's interpretation of a Canadian accent (not that the author's words helped much, EH?) That said, it seems the author's been recently canceled for all sorts of cruddy behavior, so buyer beware.


The library informs me that my next read is going to be Artemis Fowl, for a book set in Ireland prompt.

QOTW: Let's call it the doorstopper edition: Moby-Dick or, the Whale or The Satanic Verses?

I won't answer Sheri's because I read her review of Tell the Wolves :) As for the others, they're not books I've read, so my guess is as good as a coin flip! I've heard very divided opinions about The Goldfinch, so let's say bad, and mostly positive opinions about The Library at Mount Char.

message 7: by Shel (new)

Shel (shel99) | 265 comments Mod
I loved and highly recommend The Library at Mount Char so I'm pleased to confirm your guess :) The Book of the New Sun series seems to be highly polarizing -- all of my friends who had read the series had rated it either one star or five stars, nothing in between. I could not get past the first few chapters, I thought it was so poorly written. It was a neat premise and I did look it up on Wikipedia to see how the plot turned out, but I couldn't get past the writing style to push through.

message 8: by Jen (new)

Jen (piratenami) | 216 comments I'm still working on The Fifth Season. I guess because work's been busy, I haven't had as much time to read as I wanted lately. I'm enjoying it, but I'm still going slow.

In the meantime, I've also gotten in a couple of comics finishes: Moonstruck, Vol. 1: Magic to Brew and Moonstruck, Vol. 2: Some Enchanted Evening. They were really cute.

QOTW: Trying to pick a book I hated which I actually finished, rather than one I DNFed....

The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Lord Foul's Bane

message 9: by Megan (new)

Megan | 236 comments At last check-in, I had just started Bear Town for IRL book club #1. Wow. I was already a fan of Fredrik Backman, but this one is really his masterpiece. It's like everything else he's written was building up to this - and it's the first in a series, so I can't wait to keep going. He somehow makes every aspect of the town and its residents come completely to life, and while it deals with some very triggering topics for many people (there was a lot of discussion about these in the book club, but I won't get into them here to avoid spoilers), they are written in such a skillful way that they don't come across as trying to shock the reader or be provocative as much as a natural but terrible progression of events. Even if you don't care about hockey, this one is worth your time.

I decided to get ahead of myself after that and read the October pick for the same book club, Slade House. It's a perfect Halloween pick - short, action-packed, and with plenty of spookiness. I hadn't read anything else by David Mitchell, but since all of his books are set in the same universe, I'm going to try to read a couple more before that group meets again.

Next up was Fates and Traitors for IRL book club #2. It started promisingly - despite being a history major and spending quite a bit of time on the Civil War (as one does in Ohio), I really didn't know much about John Wilkes Booth's family other than Edwin, and the author clearly did her homework on his mother and sister, so their sections are really fleshed out and well written. It's the last two parts that go off the rails - the Lucy Hale section is well written but seems to come from a different book, as there is no flow from the previous section, and the Mary Surratt section is clunky and even more out of place, since even the most ardent defenders of her participation in the plotting don't suggest much of a personal relationship between her and JWB, and the book doesn't contradict that. I do appreciate that it is presented as a novel rather than non-fiction, but I still have a hard time getting past the baseless attribution of unknowable thoughts to actual people who existed.

The alternate history continued with IRL book club #3 in Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures. This one is a straight-up novel, but most of the characters come across as thinly-veiled versions of real Hollywood people from the 40s-60s with minor name and title changes. There is a lot of potential in some of the side characters, but the main plot is pretty Lifetime movie generic.

I'm now about halfway through The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, which I heard about through another book group I follow online. I went in with no real idea of what it was about, but it is turning out to be the perfect bridge between last month's and this month's books for IRL book club #3. I won't spoil it by going into more detail, but I will say that it is a more intriguing story of 20th century Hollywood than Laura Lamont.

I've also had more time in the car this week than usual, so I'm almost finished listening to The Will and the Wilds, which has been very enjoyable, especially as fairy tales lend themselves well to the audio format.

QOTW: I'll try some less recent ones that I probably haven't talked as much about here....

The Casual Vacancy or The Cuckoo's Calling?


A Brief History of Seven Killings or Song of Solomon?

My guesses for the preferred books (for those that haven't already been answered):

Jennifer: Ocean at the End of the Lane
Daniele: Moby Dick
Rebecca: The Goldfinch and A Guide to the Birds of East Africa
Sheri: Tell the Wolves I'm Home

message 10: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 876 comments Mod
Funny how different tastes can be! I loved Britt Marie Was Here, My Grandmother asked Me to atell You She's Sorry, and A Man Called Ove, but I DNFed Beartown halfway through.

message 11: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 159 comments You all got me - I was not a fan of The Goldfinch. Apparently I don't like books about professionally successful drug addicts (see also: Adrian Mandrick).

This reminds me of my Battle of the Books days, when a friend and I got really good at navigating the Venn diagram of each other's taste, and could say things like, "Here, this one's a You book."

message 12: by Susan (new)

Susan LoVerso | 292 comments It has been a few weeks since I checked in. I was on vacation last week and was busy most of the time.

I sort of finished Small Fry: A Memoir. I got about 2/3 of the way through it and it was due back at the library so I skimmed the rest and returned it. Technically I didn't really read it all so it isn't a finish but I'm counting it. It was not enjoyable and it was not holding my interest.

I am still listening to Cibola Burn. I am not quite halfway through it. Still loving it but I didn't get to listen to it much on vacation and just got back to it yesterday.

I also had a quick read of Clean Sweep. That was a palate cleanser and fast and light hearted. I enjoyed it.

I will have to think on the love/hate books. I cannot think of anything right now.

message 13: by Megan (new)

Megan | 236 comments Sheri - some of the other folks in my book club struggled with Bear Town, some because of the triggering content and some because of the overwhelming number of characters. Without getting overly personal, could I ask which it was for you (or something else entirely)? I ask only because we had a really interesting conversation, and I'm interested in more views than just the people who were there.

message 14: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 876 comments Mod
It was kind of triggery, I had just read Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, which had detailed the sexual assault that she had suffered which gave her all kinds of trauma. I think I just was not in a state to read something that felt like it was going to go in that direction. I'd also googled some reviews, reading the low ones to see if other people were upset, and it was feeling like the perpetrators were not going to get sufficient punishment, in my mind. It's possible I could try it again and get through it ok in a better state of mind, but honestly I just have a lot of negative emotions tied up in my attempt to read it. I just don't really WANT to try again. I'm still going to read Anxious People!

message 15: by Megan (new)

Megan | 236 comments Thanks, Sheri - I don't think I could handle more than one book in a row on that topic, either. There are way too many books out there to dwell on the ones that don't work for you!

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