What I Read: Dec ‘16

Uprooted by Naomi Novik: Several friends recommended this young adult fantasy novel to me and I can see why they loved it. It is one of the most inventive stories I have read in a long time! Novik tells the story of Agnieszka, a plain daughter of a woodcutter. She lives in a valley protected by a cold and driven wizard from the encroaching and evil Wood, called the Dragon, who selects one girl to come live in his tower every 10 years.

What I Watched: Christmas Vacation, A Muppet Christmas Carol, Elf, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

What I Read: Nov ’16

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald: While incredibly well written, I read this over the week preceding and following the election. It was nice to be reading a downer so I could escape into someone else’s melancholy for a bit but it didn’t leave me with too much of a great recommendation for this book, which frankly, it doesn’t deserve. Following Helen, an accomplished falconer, as she grieves the loss of her father by training a goshawk, one of the most fierce hawks.

Walk into Silence by Susan McBride: Jenny Dielman vanished from small town Texas and Detective Jo Larson wonders if it is a simple case of a bored housewife running away. As she digs deeper into this mystery, she discovers a controlling husband, a tragic past with its callous ex-husband. I really enjoyed this novel and found it to be a quick read but think the ending would not surprise regular mystery readers.

Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis #2) by Octavia Butler: I ADORED the first book in this trilogy and this book follows one of Lilith’s children, Akin, who is taken by resisters as a youngster. I loved this book and flew thru it.

Imago (Xenogenesis #3) by Octavia Butler: The final book in the Xenogenesis trilogy follows another of Lilith’s children, Jodahs, who grows up to be ooloi – something that isn’t supposed to happen. I thoroughly enjoyed this trilogy and highly recommend it. We are so lucky to have her words and ideas with us.

What I Watched: A Muppet Christmas Carol, Elf, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,

What I Read: Aug ’16

The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen: This was the first contemporary fiction I’ve read in a while and I really enjoyed it. Set in a suburb in North Carolina, this story follows several families during a summer where the delicate balance of appearances behind their carefully curated white pickets fences has been upset by an accident at the local pool. I felt the characters where flawed in a totally human and normal way. It was a fast read and I’m really glad I picked it up.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling: I’m not sure I can put my feelings on this one into words but I’ll try. I love the HP world and will lap up anything JKR puts out like a kitten who’s never seen CatSip before. I love Scorpius and just wanna hug him. I had some real issues with how a few beloved characters were portrayed (cough Hermione cough) but also really loved seeing how a few matured as adults (Draco, what?). Have you read it? What did you think?

This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving Where You Live by Melody Warnick: I ordered this during a late night nursing session and while I don’t normally treat myself to book books, I did really enjoy this one. Melody embarked on a project to love Blacksburg VA once she and her family moved there for her husbands job. Filled with practical tips and a roadmap to love your town a little better, I really enjoyed this one and can’t wait to implement some of her suggestions when M and I settle into a house at some point.

What I Watched: Back to the Future, Tallulah, Stranger Things, Roman Holiday

What I Read: June ’16

A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi: This was a quick pool time read about two women, linked by surrogacy. I found the stories of both the Indian-American mother and Indian gestational mother to be truthful and heartfelt. The ending was not a surprise, nor were there any plot twists and turns but I really enjoyed this uplifting novel.

The Last Woman Standing: A Novel by Thelma Adams: Another Kindle First book! I ADORED this one! It’s a piece of historical fiction that tells the story of Josephine Marcus, lured out west by a smooth talking lawman, Jonny Behan, and her relationship with the famous Earps. Adams has reframed the famous shoot out at the OK Corral through a spunky and independent female voice. Granted, I love historical fiction but I really enjoyed this one. (Warning, there are some spicy bits if that isn’t your thing).

The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman: I added this to my queue back in January as part of my Read Harder challenge. This post-apocalyptic literary epic tells the story of 15 year old Ice Cream Star as she is forced to grow up much too fast in a world built on the debris of a collapsed America. The language is unique and reminded me of reading Shakespeare – slightly different from modern English but once you’re a few pages in, the cadence finds itself. This is something I’d have never sought out myself but I’m glad I read it!

What I Watched: Ex Machina, X Men: First Class, (Dis)Honesty: The Truth about Lies,

What I Read: May ’16

So much Read Harder progress this month!

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald: This was a fast read and it was just OK. I didn’t like some of the sexist overtones and found the movie to be a bit trite.

Girl Waits with Gun (Kopp Sisters #1) by Amy Stewart: I really enjoyed this novel set in the early 1900’s about Constance Kopp, who doesn’t fit the demur mold expected of her at the time. She’s an excellent detective and I was happy to learn there were more books in the series. There are some language that is definitely not accurate for 1914 but I found it easy enough to overlook.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks: I found this set of oral histories a unique approach to storytelling. This is something I would have never picked up without this challenge and I’m glad I did!

The Witches: 1692 by Stacy Schiff: This was much more dense than I was expecting! Schiff explores the Salem witch craze and trials of 1692 thru a thorough and critical lens. If you’re interested in this period of history at all, I highly recommend this deep dive into the details of what happened and how it happened.

What I Watched: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Deadpool, Ali Wong: Baby Cobra, Scenes from A Marriage, Tomorrowland, The Bicycle Thief, Mr. Holmes

What I Read: Feb ’16

The Japanese Lover by Isabelle Allende: I will always read everything Allende writes, always. Goodreads describes it as ‘an exquisitely crafted love story and multigenerational epic that sweeps from San Francisco in the present-day to Poland and the United States during the Second World War.’ This is much more modern piece of fiction from her than my beloved House of the Spirits and is set her adopted hometown of San Francisco.  She doesn’t shy away from political commentary and was glad she turned her pen towards a dark time in American history – the internment of citizens of Japanese descent during WWII. I also love that she writes so eloquently about aging with dignity.  I really enjoyed it!

Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot #10) by Agatha Christie: I listened to this on a car trip and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m clearly getting into Christie!

Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo: I also listened to this on the same car trip and while I enjoyed the story, I found the narrators voice to be incredibly grating. She has a strong clear New York accent and while I’m sure the New York based editors couldn’t hear it – it was beyond distracting from the otherwise well written story. You follow an unusually successful hit man with quite a capacity for love as he grapples with one final job from his boss.

What I Watched: The Lizze Borden Chronicles, Tangerine, Journey to the Center of the Earth (holy sexism Batman!), Princess Kaiulani, Guys and Dolls

What I Read: Sept ’15

The Wet Nurse’s Tale by Erica Eisdorfer: This had been on my to-read list for so long, I can’t remember why I put it on there. I really enjoyed this piece of historical fiction, especially as it was set Victorian England that wasn’t about those living ‘upstairs’ but rather a working class woman. Susan Rose is strong willed and determined to make her own way in the world and I was glad to go with her on this journey.

What I Watched: A Walk in the Woods, The Master of Disguise, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Season Three (this is a MUST WATCH), Sleepy Hollow