Tag Archives: book count

Addendum to 2019 reading

Finished Gideon the Ninth.  It took several tries to get past the first 50 pages or so, but then it was an engrossing read.  Having finished, I feel ambivalent.  It was very well written, with excellent world building.  And I didn’t see the end coming until just before it happened.  The ending is what I’m ambivalent about, but I can’t really explain why without spoilers.  Enough to say that I wish I had read the ending first, because my mindset about the whole book and characters would have been somewhat different.

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September reading

More library books!  Mostly checked out when I visited the Grand Reopening, which included a block party with deejay and music, dance performances, speakers/readings, and more people in the library than I have ever seen.

Wherever She Goes by Kelley Armstrong.  I first started reading Armstrong’s paranormal/urban fantasy books, back before werewolves were popular in SFF/UF/romance, and gradually stopped reading them when other magic stuff was involved.  But every so often she publishes a stand alone or short series with a female protagonist that isn’t paranormal/UF, and I usually check them out.  This one was kind of unimpressive, mostly because I thought the narrator was not as smart as she thought she was.  Also, as I get older, I find mysteries as fantasies of justice wrought by police or by civilian vigilantes less and less palatable.  It wasn’t terrible, but I would probably not go out of my way to read another book with this narrator.

The Orphans of Raspay by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Another Penric and Desdemona novella.  Pleasant read in the Five Gods world, which I like very much.  The pacing was a little uneven, but still worth the time and waiting through the hold list for ebooks at the library.

Small Change (Vol 1) by Roan Parrish.  This was a free Kindle recd by someone on Twitter. Liked the bi narrator, but ultimately felt like she was a spoiled twit. I’m so non-standard, my family is so terrible, blah blah blah. She had the traditional tortured, uncommunicative hero role; it didn’t work any better for me with gender roles flipped. Felt like the hero deserved better, much as I generally feel like the heroines deserve better than the emotionally constipated heroes they get in traditional romance.

The Third Mrs. Durst by Ann Aguirre.  Liked this very much.  Although I guessed the twist early on, it was well done and kept me reading to get to the end for the wrap up.

Arsenic with Austen by Katherine Bolger Hyde.  Meh.  Did it want to be a cozy mystery or a social commentary a la Austen?  Kind of failed at both.  The writing style was fairly old fashioned and full of telling rather than showing, with a pretty predictable whodunit.  The narrator’s voice was not particularly distinctive, with a Big Secret that was hinted around but ultimately predictable.  (I think I was supposed to find her sympathetic but mostly she just struck me as pathetic.)  There’s a second book out in this mystery series, but I won’t be borrowing it from the library.

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Year end summary for 2018

According to LibraryThing, I read 28 books.  I have two others still in progress that I started in 2018 and have stalled on a little, mostly because I haven’t had the patience to settle in to a long read since about Thanksgiving.  Several of the 28 books were the Rivers of London graphic novels, which I find to be easy/quick reads, although I don’t love the art particularly. The highest rated books were Ann Leckie’s Ancillary series, which I read all in one go, and two pieces of non-fiction: a biography of the Widow Clicquot and The Prodigal Tongue by Lynne Murphy.   The biggest disappointments (other than DNFs that I have stopped recording) were the two In Death books I tried to read: one had victim blaming and slut shaming, while the other had transphobia and showed a complete lack of knowledge/research about civil and criminal securities fraud investigation/prosecution. Stick a fork in me, I am done.

Theater and film:  Just film this past year, because I didn’t love what was scheduled for the then-upcoming theater season and so did not renew my subscription.

  • Molly’s Game
  • Phantom Thread
  • Black Panther
  • Annihilation
  • Tomb Raider
  • Love, Simon
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • RBG
  • Ocean’s 8
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor
  • Crazy Rich Asians
  • Widows
  • The Girl in the Spider’s Web (Lisbeth Salander)

Travel

  • Houston
  • Pittsburgh
  • Asheville
  • Rome – primarily for the food and the Italian Open 🙂
  • Spain – Granada, Sevilla, Madrid

NWHL – all the Riveters’ home games for the end of the 2017-2018, including playoffs and the Isobel Cup Final; all but one home game for the beginning of the 2018-2019 season (it was Thx weekend), as well as the neutral site game in Pittsburgh.

NHL – an embarrassing number of games, including playoffs.  But I didn’t renew my partial season ticket plan to the Capitals; in part because they jacked the prices up in a crazy way, and in part because I’m tired of being harassed and threatened at the games.  One of my colleagues swears the harassment should stop now since they’ve won the Cup, but the two individual games I went to early in the season (Toronto, VGK) did not bear that prediction out.

For baseball, there were just three games:  NYY, Marlins, and Rays, all in June and July.

Museums and cultural events…the Walters, the Heinz, so much in Rome that I need to write about.  Two Frank Turner shows.  Sunday in the country, which I went to more to be social than because I knew anything about any of the acts.

Professionally speaking, the beginning of the year was a grind.  The middle of the year and into fall were pretty good.  And then the end of the year was okay in terms of the substance of work but a nightmare because of the furlough.  (So much work is accumulating. It will take a massive effort to dig out.  And the longer it goes, the harder it will be to get current again.)

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Summer and fall reading 2018

Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau – recommended by someone on Twitter, liked the premise in theory and found the book readable, but didn’t care about the characters at all.

Flowers of Vashnoi by Lois Bujold McMaster – nice to circle back to the Vorkosigans but nothing groundbreaking here.

Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews.  Painful retconning to make Hugh D’Ambray a palatable protagonist.  I didn’t really care about the romance, and would’ve been more interested in Hugh as villain adrift without the retconning.

The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English by Lynne Murphy.  Very interesting and extremely readable for non-linguists.

Provenance by Ann Leckie.  Interesting, but not as gripping as the Ancillary series.

Jane Austen, the Secret Radical by Helena Kelly.  An interesting mental exercise, but it seems a little strange and speculative to interpret backward based fiction texts; one could just as easily have selected much more conservative positions and defended them using different passages from the same texts.

Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews.  Andrews writes very readable books.  As I read them, the plot holes and worldbuilding inconsistencies don’t matter.  It’s only after I’m finished that I think, well, that doesn’t really match up with prior texts.  The denouement was…predictable, I guess.  With lots of other series bait.  And more retconning for Hugh D’Ambray.

The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It by Tilar Mazzeo.  Picked this up on impulse while at the Battery Park Book Exchange; it seemed appropriate in light of their extensive champagne menu.  Fascinating if a little speculative about some of the widow’s early life/experiences, given lack of primary sources.

Leverage in Death by JD Robb.  DNF.  I’ve mostly stopped reading this series, but a copy of this was on an end cap at the library, so I borrowed it on impulse.  I’m so sorry.  Look, if Roarke is a bazillionaire capitalist and investor, he probably in theory should understand how markets are regulated, and if he’s also a brilliant reformed criminal he should understand civil and criminal authorities engage in manipulation investigations. Maybe Robb could have done some research before building a plot around it; it reads as sloppy and lazy.  Not impressed.

 

 

 

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April reading!

I read enough in April to actually write a short post about it! It’s a miracle!

I’m still inching through Color of Law, but my progress slowed in the last week or so because I became hooked by Ann Leckie’s Ancillary series.  So, right now the Central Branch of the Enoch Pratt library, which is an absolutely gorgeous old building, is being renovated.  It’s still open, but all of the collections have been moved around as floors are done in stages; a copy of Ancillary Justice was on one of the very small displays and it caught my eye.  Back in 2014, I read rave reviews, but couldn’t get past the first 100 pages.  But this time, something clicked after the first couple of chapters.  I finished it in a couple of days and then went back to the library to get the other two books, Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy.  Which I finished on Wednesday and then this morning.  I’m not sure what about my reading style or taste has changed since 2014, but the dual timeline didn’t bother me at all this time around, and I enjoyed the default she, which made me think about how gender roles even in SFF are very traditionally driven.

Early in the month I tried and failed to read Patricia Briggs’ Burn Bright, but something mentioned casually early on squicked me so I DNF’d it and returned it to the library.  Done with Briggs, I think, unless she revisits Hurog at some point.

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2016 – year in review

Reading:

I read 33 books or novellas in 2016; that doesn’t count the books I picked up and put back down or returned to the library unread or unfinished, since I may circle back to some of those at some point.  The two best fiction reads were Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric novellas. Best nonfiction was Rebecca Traister’s All the Single Ladies.  Biggest disappointment was Bujold’s Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.

Also, I read an excellent original hockey fic on AO3. I really like the writer’s voice and style…but the typos and punctuation abuse make my brain hurt.

I started Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine on 12/31 but have not finished it yet; I think it’ll be one of my favorite reads when it comes time to tally up 2017.

Watched:

  • Fox’s Pitch series (please be renewed?)
  • The Crown
  • GBBO
  • Star Wars (mostly liked it, love General Organa)
  • Jason Bourne (meh)
  • Ghostbusters (loved it)
  • Star Trek (meh)
  • Love & Friendship (loved it)

Theater, Museums, Music:

  • Jan 9 – The Critic and the Real Inspector
  • March 5 – Othello
  • March 26 – 1984
  • May 21 – The Taming of the Shrew
  • Oct 29 – Romeo and Juliet
  • Dec 3 – The Secret Garden
  • The Menil
  • The National Aviary
  • Fort Pitt Museum
  • The Andy Warhol Museum
  • The Frick – the carriages and cars in the garage are amazing, as is the house
  • The Heinz History Center, multiple visits – Toys Exhibit, Pixburgh exhibit, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, glass industry.  The exhibit on slavery is excellent and awful.  As a white person, it was ugly and shame-inducing to walk through.  I cannot imagine how painful it would be for a POC, or even tell whether it would be cathartic or just rage-inducing.
  • ROM (loved the Chihuly exhibit)
  • Casa Loma
  • Bata Shoe Museum
  • AGO
  • Textile Museum
  • Gardiner Museum of Ceramics (loved)
  • Smithsonian National Gallery of Art
  • Garth Brooks & Tricia Yearwood concert (wow, not much music this year)

Sports:

Okay, this category, now that I look at it, is a little excessive.  Sorry, not sorry.  Also, I’m sure I went to at least one more baseball game, but I can’t find the ticket stub or a note on my planner, so.

  • Feb 22 – Coyotes @ Caps
  • Feb 27 – Jets @ Penguins
  • March 11-14 – Indian Wells for the BNP Paribas tournament, love this venue.
  • March 18 – Predators @ Caps
  • March 28 – Blue Jackets @ Caps
  • April 7 – Penguins @ Caps (makeup game for blizzard), WIN!
  • April 16 – Game 2 of the 1st round of the playoffs – NYR @ Penguins, loss
  • April 23 – Game 5 of the 1st round – NYR @Penguins, won the series
  • April 28 – Game 1 of the 2nd round – Penguins @ Caps, lost in OT.
  • May 4 – Game 4 of the 2nd round – Caps @ Penguins (OT win!)
  • May 13 – Game 1 of the ECF – TBL @ Penguins – ouch, lost, Letang got boarded (and knocked out) right in front of me.  It was ugly.
  • June 1 – Game 2 of the SCF – Sharks & Penguins, OT win.  The Goal (actually all the goals) was right in front of me!
  • June 5 – NYY @ Orioles
  • Sept 14 – pre-tournament SWE-EUR
  • Sept 17-29 – World Cup of Hockey tournament; 16 games.  So. Much. Hockey.
  • October 15 – Ducks @ Penguins (win!)
  • Nov 8 – Sharks @ Caps (Sharks win!)
  • Nov 16 – Penguins @ Caps (ugly, ugly loss)
  • Nov 19 – Penguins @ Buffalo (SO loss, man, Flower was so good in the 3rd and OT).
  • Nov 20 – NWHL Pride @ Beauts (posted thoughts/opinions about this over on tumblr)
  • Dec 30 – Three Rivers Classic (consolation game and championship game)
  • Dec 31 – Canadiens at Penguins (OT win!)

Travel:

  • Houston
  • Pittsburgh
  • Buffalo
  • Beach
  • Toronto

Goals/plans for 2017:

  • Drop the Caps tickets, use the money to visit other teams’ arenas
  • Go to at least two more NWHL games this season
  • Go to either Italy, Portugal, or Spain on vacation (in February, maybe?)
  • Read 40 books
  • Make myself post more regularly
  • Find a tutor or conversational group to refresh/relearn the Russian I’ve mostly forgotten

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Checking in

Well, I have failed at reading Middlemarch.  Again.  But I’ve started listening to the audio book, narrated by Juliet Stevenson (whose Persuasion I enjoyed), so maybe I’ll get through it in that medium.

A couple of other books from the library have been slightly more successful.  About A Girl by Lindsey Kelk read as fluffy chick lit, a lighter version of early Marian Keyes.  It was fine; I probably would have really enjoyed it 10 years ago and gone looking for the sequel, but now it reads as pretty derivative to me.  Olivia de Havilland’s memoir, Every Frenchman Has One, was charming.  It was dated, of course, and narrated a lifestyle that seems as alien and distant to me as medieval England or China under the Han dynasty.

I ran across an interview with Lois McMaster-Bujold in which she talked about self-publishing her work as electronic rights became/become available, along with a Penric short story.  The story, Penric and the Shaman, was a lovely little adventure; it went over much better for me than her last full book.

Currently I’m reading one of Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight Mysteries, and I’ve got a Le Carre novel up next; the one that has been turned into a movie recently (out this summer), its title escapes me at the moment.  There are a couple of library books sitting on the table, as well.  After that, who knows.  It’ll be time to pick out some beach reads by the time I finish all that up…assuming I manage to finish them.

Saw Love & Friendship, which was quite funny; I’d recommend it not only for the costumes and set decoration but for the acting and writing of the screenplay.

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