Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Year in Books: Part 4

Hallelujah, I made it.  Please note that I've written four consecutive posts.  You're welcome.

I have so much to do to get ready for tomorrow and Wednesday that I'll keep this as short as possible - on to the books!

31.  The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason  After a big ol' novel like American Gods I needed something to read (or listen to) that I didn't have think very hard about and this was recommended to me by Goodreads somehow. And since I love both the Sherlock Holmes character (having watched all of the BBC series) and Bram Stoker's Dracula this seemed like just the thing.  I ended up liking it and I'm not going to lie, I may just read any successive books.
3 Stars

32.  Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts  Oh Nora Roberts.  Why you gotta do me like this? Last year I saw that she was writing a new trilogy and I had enjoyed quite a few of her other trilogies so I thought, why not! The first book in the series was.... just okay.  And being the glutton for punishment that I am I signed up for the pre-order for the second book and folks, I hated it.  It took me FOREVER to slog through this dang thing! I can't explain it.  Also, I'm hoping the third book (I am such a sucker) won't suck so hard.
1 Star

33.  The Shadows by Jacqueline West  I am not quite sure where this suggestion came from, maybe I was trolling Goodreads or Book Page but it came highly recommended.  It just so happened that my Beloved and I were walking through Kroger (to waste time while Jet's was making our pizza) and they had a table of books with this one on it! w00t! A very good book.  Enough so that I recommended it to a friend and she too loved it.  The rest of the books are on my list to read further down the road.
4 Stars

34.  Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke  Another suggestion from Cari! (Thanks Cari!)  This was an amazing book, all 32 hours of it! The first three quarters of the book were sssslllloooowwww and then BOOM! It picked up and I lovedy love love love the last 1/4 of the book.  I realize that she had to set up the characters (which she did very well) but there were points where I wanted to tear my hair out.  Plus BBC is making it into a TV Series.  Sweetness!
4 Stars

35.  Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman  One of the characters from American Gods gets his own story fleshed out.  I liked this book a lot, there was a good twist and something that I hadn't expected.  If you've read American Gods this'll be right up your alley.
4 Stars

36.  The Big Year by Mark Obmascik  Ohmygoodnessgracious! How is it that the girl who wishes she even knew that being an ornithologist was a thing, had never read this book? I'll tell you how - I bought the dang thing, didn't realize I had it and let molder away on my bookshelf for YEARS.  However, I'm really glad that I finally downloaded it to listen to because I really, really enjoyed this book! It had me Googling all kinds of birds/facts.  Every birdwatcher/ornithologist wanna be needs to read this book.
4 Stars

37.  The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood  Ooph.  You want to read a depressing book? Read this.  It had the misfortune of being both wholly sad and implausible.  What else.... um.  It's (barely) about knitting.  That's it.
2 Stars

38.  The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse by Alan Bradley  I would say I feel sorry about adding this short story on my list but, Flavia! There is nothing I can say other than if you're a Flavia de Luce fan then this 99 cent short story is a must.  It's enough to tide me over until January and the release of the newest book As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust.
5 Stars

39.  Hild by Nicola Griffith  I originally heard about this book on NPR when they interviewed the author and promptly went home and purchased it, where it sat on my Kindle ever since.  And in an effort to read some of the books that have been there the longest I downloaded the audiobook to listen to on my way to and from work.  Historical novels at their best.  I love how the author draws such beautiful scenes of 7th century life.  Wow! I had a lot of difficulty in the beginning differentiating between people, places and items because of the Old English/Old Irish/Anglisc/British/Latin - phew! But once I got the hang of it and looked in the glossary things got better.  I loved Hild's wild, frenetic world and her calmness.  Good, good book.
4 Stars (once again, I think it should be at least 4.5 - 4.75)

40.  The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness  BLERG! This book, I tell you.  Don't you hate it when a book in the series just stinks? I really enjoyed the first book, the second book was pretty good and this one? Craptastic.  From the first few pages I kept yelling at the book (the cats did not enjoy this) because the author is, from one chapter to the next, switching perspectives.  I used the like the lead male character, Matthew, but all I saw of him in this book was him being overbearing, mean and crazy amounts of possessive.  Pffft.  The Diana from the first book wouldn't put up with that horse manure.  Also, for reals? The ending wasn't an ending at all! Dang it! Whatevs.  I'm over it.
2 Stars

A goal that I set for myself and exceeded.  That makes up for the near misses, no?

And that, my pretties concludes my 1st annual Year in Books Review.  I'm resting my eyes and ears for now and deciding how many books I plan to challenge myself to read in 2015!

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Year in Books: Part 3

My Beloved and I went to Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village last night.  So super magical.  You should absolutely do this if you're ever in SE Michigan around Christmastime.

Without further ado, I present to you books 21-30 that I have read in 2014!

21.  The Goddess of Fried Okra by Jean Brashear  This was supposed to be a quick, fun read to tide me over until I got my next Audible credit (I was feeling cheap and not wanting to purchase credits) and I downloaded it from the library.  Let's see... what I can remember is thinking whatevs every other chapter.  The characters were well written but I found the story silly and unbelievable.  Not my kind of book.
2 Stars

22.  Stardust by Neil Gaiman  So, being a complete goober headed ninny I never realized that the movie Stardust (!) was adapted from a book.  Say whhhuttt?! I broke down and purchased a ton of Audible credits because who wants to wait when you can have it now, now, now!  Oh Holy Heavens am I ever glad I did. I love this book so hard and Neil Gaiman is such a fantastic narrator.  If you haven't heard him read his books, do it, do it, do it!
5 Stars

23.  Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen  Confession time. I don't do well with animal books so I avoid them (I still haven't read Marley & Me) and then they went made a movie of  this book with what's-his-face sparkly vampire boy... So that immediately turned me off of it and I stubbornly resisted reading it because I am nothing if not stubborn.  Sooommmeeeonnne said I should read it so I downloaded the audiobook and I cried a hundred times (stupid animal books!). I don't remember loving or hating it - just liking it. I still haven't seen the movie.
3 Stars

24.  Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan  A Goodreads suggestion because I read The Storied Life of AJ Fikry.  A book about books and a bookstore? Plus the author is from Michigan? Sign me up! What a great good read. A little mystery, a little magic a lot of fun.
5 Stars

25.  The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman  Two words: Neil.  Gaiman.  I think maybe this is my favorite of his books (I haven't read nearly any of them) but this one is Ah-May-Zing! Again, he narrates his own book and sucks you away into his fantastical worlds.  I found myself often sitting in my car just to keep listening until I absolutely had to get out and go inside.
5 Stars

26.  Mirror Sight by Kristen Britain  Oh boy.  Let me tell you a little story.  A long time ago (2000, I think) while wandering around Borders with my MommaBean I picked up the first book in this series -  Green Rider and have been in love with the series ever since (I buy the books then pass them along to MommaBean who loves them too).  However, after waiting for years for this book, I struggled with it.  As in it took me five months to read.  I had to force myself to keep reading it in hopes that it would get better.  Maybe it is because I am such a hardcore fan of this fantasy series that when the author turned it from fantasy to a steampunk/alternate universe in this book I was crushed and sorely disappointed.  This could have been a stand alone book (with different character names) and would have been great.  UGH.  Painful.  Sad.
3 Stars

27.  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce  It's no secret that I am a huge Anglophile.  This book fit perfectly in my England-is-awesome lovefest.  Goodreads kept suggesting this book to me but I kept stubbornly (shocking!) avoiding it.  Wanna know why? Because I didn't like the cover.  Moron.  Does anyone else love book covers too? They can convey so much and I have been known to buy a book because I like the cover. Anyway, once I got over my bad self and bought the audiobook, I immediately fell in love with Harold and admire his perseverance in the face of difficulties. It a good story that made me glad I kicked my stubbornness in the knee.
4 Stars

28.  Doctor Who by Stephen Cole  Being a humongous Doctor Who fan you'd'a thunk I had read at least one of the quadrillion Doctor Who books, but you would be wrong.  I think this book was on sale for some pithy amount on Audible and I saw it was read by Tennant (love me some Tenth Doctor!) so I bought it. Good thing too because Tennant does an amazing job narrating and he absolutely kills Rose & Mickey. Good short story for commuting.
4 Stars

29.   The Legend of Drizzt by R.A. Salvatore  Three things about this book: a) Drizzt! I love, love, love, love, love the D&D character Drizzt.  b) the narrators! Sean Astin, Ice-T, Felicia Day, Al Yankovic, David Duchovny, Wil Wheaton & others and c) IT WAS FREE!! Oh my gawwwsh it was so amazing y'all.  If you're a D&D fan then you'll love this collection of short stories.  Seriously.
5 Stars

30.  American Gods by Neil Gaiman  I asked Cari to recommend another Neil Gaiman book for me since I know she'd read a billion of them and she suggested this.  An amazingly fantastic book that has the most tragic character of any book I've yet to read in it. I listened to the unabridged version with his preferred text and I loved all 19 hours of it.
4 Stars (again I would give this bad boy a 4.75 if I hadn't already set a precedent)

And that my lovelies concludes part three!  I'm off to work but I'll be back on Tuesday with the final installment, swearsies!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Year in Books: Part 2

I am sitting here wrapped in the fuzziest blanket we own, with a chubby Flint butt pressed up against my hip, listening to Christmas music, drinking coffee and tellin' y'all about the books I read this year.

Life is good.

And I am so blessed that when I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes.

Shoot.  Enough of that - on to books 11 - 20!

11.  Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman  Still on a Southern kick and having enjoyed Jenna Lamia's other narrations and Beth Hoffman's other book Saving CC Honeycutt AND because we had just come back from Charleston (stupid Charleston!) I bought this book.  Mucho gusto! I loved the characters and wished that I had seen the Charleston that was portrayed in the book as well as wishing I was Teddi and that I restored antique furniture.
4 Stars

12.  The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston  There must've been some book in my "read" list that Goodreads recommended this to me.  Based on the reviews I downloaded it and I really, really enjoyed it! I like historical fiction and this fit the bill perfectly.  I had Greensleeves stuck in my head for a month.
4 Stars

13.  A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger  I am not quite sure how I picked this book but boy am I ever glad I did.  If you like historical fiction, this book is amazing!  The author is a Medieval scholar and it shows.  With his descriptions he makes you believe you're in Chaucer's England.  Marvelous stuff this.
5 Stars

14.  Rumour Has It by Jill Mansell  Contemporary romance time via the library.  Romance novels; do you love 'em or hate 'em? I have a special place in my heart for them and every once in a while I get a hankerin' for some light hearted reading.  While this was pretty okay, and while it sufficed it wasn't anything super-awesome enough to insist everyone I know read.
2 Stars

15. Keeping Bees with Ashley English by Ashley English  Another type of book I feel bad about adding to my "read" list is reference books. I don't know why because I've read them! This book came highly recommended and it doesn't disappoint.  I like the photos and the you-can-do-it-too-edness of it.  Come Spring I will have bees and maybe they'll survive thanks to this book!
4 Stars

16.  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin  This is the first book that I chose on the recommendation of Book Page.  And wow did they hit it out of the park with this selection.  If you love books and book stores then this is an awesome book.  There may or may not have been tears involved.
5 Stars

17.  The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs  I remember choosing this book because I too have an apple orchard.  That's it. Silly reason, eh? Anyway, I can't remember much about this book except for that I didn't really enjoy it. It wasn't bad it just wasn't good for me.
2 Stars

18.  The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom  Another historical fiction and remarkably enough, set in the South (fancy that).  I really liked this book but honestly at the end all I could think was "can't SOMETHING, ANYTHING, ANYTHING AT ALL go well? Please?".  But other than that (no small thing) it was an enjoyable book to read.
4 Stars

19.  The History of Love by Nicole Krauss  Okay, so the underlying story the book told is really good.  I just had a hard time following the story along as it was being told.  I wasn't emotionally invested until near the end where the story started to come together and make sense (to me).  That and I loved the protagonist, Leo.
4 Stars

20.  The House at Riverton by Kate Morton  I had read a couple of Kate Morton's other books (The Forgotten Garden & The Secret Keeper) so I thought I would read this one as well.  This book fits the Historical Fiction bill being set in Edwardian England (I still haven't watched Downton Abbey, but this made me want to!).  What I remember about the book is that it is well written so that you feel like you're a fly on the wall watching the story unfold and that I truly enjoyed listening to the whole thing.
4 Stars (I've set a precedent by keeping to whole numbers but this one should really be 4.75)

Again, don't listen to a stinking word I've said because these are my opinions and they're only true to me.  Make your own opinions and tell me!

I'll see ya back here on Monday with part three!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Year in Books: Part 1

So! I missed the December 1 mark.  Typical.  In my last review at work, at the point where they ask you what you think are areas for self-improvement, do you know what I said? (rhetorical question much, Poppy?) I told them that while I always get everything that I have to get done done, and on time, that I underestimate the time that it'll take me to do said task.  That I am HORRIBLE at time estimates!

Bad.  Like bad, bad, bad folks.  Nevertheless, I finished it!

I can breather from the MADRUSHILLSEEYOUINAFEWMONTHSHONEY of it all until March! Pat-tay time up in the hizzouse! And all before Christmas, which was our dead stop we-ain't-got-no- more-time-everything-has-to-be-published deadline.

Who cares about that anymore, let's talk about fun stuff like books.  Something to ease back into (sporadically) blogging.

Goodreads & Book Page are my go-to's for book recommendations along with my uber cool friend Cari over at Clan Donaldson.  Goodreads is great for keeping my list of all the books I want to read and they have a reading challenge that I talked about in another post.  This year my goal was 35 books and I read (or listened to because of a long commute) 40! Yahoo!  Book Page is just straight up awesome.  One of the Nurse Anesthetists gets it from her library every month when she goes for book club and passes it along to me - I'm not sure if they're available at my library, I guess I should check because a subscription is 30 bloomin' dollars! They have the very best new book recommendations.

And, lucky enough for you, I am going to give you my 40 books and a blurbby "review" right now in only 4 posts!

Note: I hate writing reviews because I really dislike critiquing someones hard work.  'Cause you know, I hate when people say something negative about something that I have work my hiney off on.

1. Heaven Preserve Us by Cricket McRae  It's the second book in a series and I guess I should've read the first but it was only 99 cents and, you know, I like canning and I kind of dig mysteries.  It was, just okay.  I remember liking the characters but being  all kinds of meh about the story.
3 Stars

2. The Sherlockian by Graham Moore  Free download from the library.  You know I've never read any Sherlock Holmes. And I was just at that point getting into BBC's Sherlock series with yummy Benedict Cumberbatch. This was good! I really enjoyed the mystery and the characters.  Now I want to read all of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock books -they're on the list.
4 Stars

3. A Life in Stitches by Rachael Herron  I love knitting so any book that involves it is on my list.  Is it bad to say I don't remember so much about it? I gave it 4 out of 5 stars so it must've been good.  I hadn't ever read a memoir before so this was a first for me.
4 Stars

4. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley  Aaaahhhh... Flavia de Luce.  I am a rabid fan of this series; I even named our kitten Flavia for the character.  Do you know who else loves the books? My Beloved.  We have listened to every single book together and Jayne Entwistle is THE voice of Flavia - I almost like listening to the books better than reading them because she is such a great narrator.  The first book The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie was one of those books that's "Always Available" for download from the library and what a happy find it was! We've pre-ordered the next book both in print and audio so we can listen on our anniversary vacation! Sosososososo excited.
5 Stars

5. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling a) I love anything and everything Harry Potter, b) I always feel bad for listing short story or booklet type things on my "read" list for these things.  It was good fun and money from the e-book sales went to comic relief and I'm all about helping others.  Did you know they're making a movie of it? Sweet!
5 Stars

6.  Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg  Free audio book from the library that I don't remember much about except the protagonist kept annoying me.  There were some eye rolls that were so hard my eyeballs actually hurt. I just felt annoyed with the main character Helen a lot and that was frustrating.
2 Stars

7.  Angels at the Table by Debbie Macomber  Another freebie from the library.  I have read this whole series of books about three guardian angels named Shirley, Goodness & Mercy (it's where I got the two chicken names, Goodness & Mercy).  This is the only one that I haven't liked! I must've been in some sort of mood because I remember being all annoyed with this book too.  So, really, don't listen to me about books 6, 7, 8 10 because I was in a serious funk.
2 Stars

8.  Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen  I signed up for Audible at this point because I was (you guessed it) annoyed because of the super long waiting lists for books I wanted from the library.  I love Sarah Addison Allen books because I love her magical South.  It wasn't as good as her other books. Still, again, I love how she builds wonderful magical places in the South (I have secretly always wanted to be a Southerner).
4 Stars

9.  The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd  On a Southern trend and by recommendation ( I also really enjoy the narrator, Jenna Lamia - she read The Help & Saving CC Honeycutt, two books I love) I downloaded this for my Beloved and I to listen to on our way back from our anniversary trip to Charleston (which was a bad experience - see the trend?).  I really liked this book.  I wish I would've liked the movie more.
4 Stars

10.  The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly  Still in a funk I listened to The Book of Lost Things on recommendation.  Ummmm.  Let's see.  Great premise, good, scary story EXCEPT that I feel like the author stepped over the line a few times and was exceptionally cruel and disturbing.  The Crooked Man scared the bejeezus out of me, and I liked that but, maybe I am a ninny, because some of the cruelty bothered me.  A lot.
2 Stars

And that's it for the first installment.  I highly encourage you to not listen to a word I've said about these book and read them for yourself! Form your own opinions so we can discuss.  I miss being in a book club but in all honesty, at certain points of the year I don't have the time or energy to do anything other than come home, make dinner and go to bed.  If only they revolved around me! Ha!

See you tomorrow for part two!

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Well, hello there!

The craziness isn't over yet, I'm shooting for December 1.  But, in the last few weeks I've been able to catch my breath in little snatches.

Therefore, I've been Instagramming the bejeezus outta' my life.  And, lucky for you I have found time to share the Instayummy with you!

Would you look at all this cray-cray! I found it clearing out boxes
a) I cannot believe I used to wear this stuff
b) I cannot believe that I saved it 

Don't Blink! I bought a new ornament for our Christmas tree. Way excited!

I finally bought something (from a craft show) to hang on the bathroom wall
AND I hung it up - w00t!

In an effort to get ahead of the game I've been addressing Christmas cards,
only 5 a night, while dinner is in the oven

Entry into Creepy Town
Underneath the addition on the house is a basement only accessible
via a trapdoor in the floor of the library.
The well tanks are down there and my Beloved had to go down there
to turn of the water to the outside hose bibs.
I tried valiantly not to panic while he was down there.

Dutch Baby Pancakes - my newest addiction

Flavia (L) & Flint (R) turned one!
Happy Birthday babies!

I managed a little Christmas knitting finally - yaay!

Nike has been doing really, really good.
We are all happy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Let's Talk

So in the real world outside of my knitting, homesteading, blogging, voracious readering, Doctor Who watching empire I have a job.  I mean in addition to being the most spectacular wife my Beloved has ever had (I am fairly positive that I am the only wife he's ever had) and the Best Thea Poppy ever in the history of Thea Poppy's.

Me.  Every morning lately.

So, yeah, job.  I am a "Physician Scheduling Manager" for a a fairly large group of doctors.  And that means the my life gets cray-cray at certain points of the year.

Like now.

Which of course means that fun things like:

Blogging - however one could argue this

Eww, wait? Are those ALL of my hobbies? Ummm... anyway, those things are put on the back burner ( insert cute joke about the burner pans needing to be cleaned too here  ).

So on top of working 55-60 hours a week, I have, you know, wifely things like "cleaning the whole entire house" and "making dinner every single night" and the occasional "try to have a life and not go to bed at 7 pm on a Saturday night"... you get it.  It's all those other things that we have to do as an adult to keep our households running while not going utterly insane.

Which just makes me:

So I will continue to suck down coffee like it's my lifeblood and when I get through with this Call Schedule - I'll try to resume my normal blogging (which as we all know if spotty at best).

Fare thee well until next I find a spare moment!

*EDIT: I should have titled this - The Queen of Memes Post