1

Library Checkout – March 2017

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Another month just about over, which means it’s time to look at how we used the library via Charleen @ It’s a Portable Magic.

I felt like I was in the library all the time this month but the actual reading shows that I didn’t get through whatever I brought home very quickly. I bought a lot of books this month (bad, bad) and was excited about a lot of them. In a way you could say that I was just sticking to my blogging goal of reading the books I already have?

Read
Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory
Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (I’m a proper Canadian now, guys!)

DNF’d
The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Queen Margot by Alexandre Dumas (I got 200 pages in and just did not care. However, I recently found the non-fiction version of the story and the showdown between Catherine de Medici and her daughter, Margaret of Valois and I’m super excited about it)

Returned unread
none, yet…

Currently out
The Lights of Paris by Eleanor Brown (anyone read this? I loved The Weird Sisters but have been avoiding this for some reason…)
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter

On hold
Sisi by Alison Pataki (I really really liked the first one, The Accidental Empress)
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante (conversion complete)

There you have it. Kind of a low-key library month. If you used the library this month, visit Charleen to link up!

10

Never Have I Ever

As someone who thinks and talks and reads about books like 80% of the time, you kind of become defined by what you have read.

But what about those books that you haven’t read?

There are some books or authors that when you admit you haven’t read them, people don’t believe you. They think you’re missing out on some crucial bookish experience, like maybe you aren’t as widely read as they thought you were.

I try my best to read as much and as widely as possible. But there are inevitably going to be some books or authors that I don’t get to in this lifetime. Here’s a list of some of the ones that I haven’t reached yet.

Anything by Margaret Atwood. I know. I somehow managed to get through high school and university without reading any of her work. I actually didn’t know she was read in high schools until the other night. As far as I can tell, most of her work is dystopian? And that’s never really been in my wheelhouse. Still, The Handmaid’s Tale has been talked about a lot recently and I decided that maybe the time had come to read me some Atwood. I have a copy out from the library right now and if I actually read it, I can keep my passport.

 A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. One of those books that’s probably considered compulsory if you want to think of yourself as well-read. Well, too bad. I will probably never read this and it has a lot to do with the fact that anything I’ve ever read about Hemingway makes me not like him as a person. And I’m sure there are some of you out there that think I should separate the man from his art but nah. This is one I will probably never get to.

Books by Joan Didion or Nora Ephron. Am I wrong lumping them in together? They feel like they go together. People are always raving about one or the other and, while I suspect I would probably quite like their work, I haven’t gotten to it yet. I did read a Delia Ephron book recently-ish. Does that count?

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. It constantly surprises ME that I still haven’t read this. It’s really hard to find a copy of it. Well, at least, every time it’s popped into my head to look for it, I can’t find it. I can hear you all yelling about online shopping but I prefer my book buying to be an in-store experience for the most part.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. Are you yelling? Look, I gave The Hobbit a whirl and I was super bored. I can’t imagine reading three books of the same. I couldn’t even stay awake for the whole first movie. Pass.

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Any books or authors people are surprised you’ve never read?

14

Library Checkout: February 2017

I’m trying not to be an apologist blogger anymore so I won’t apologize for not putting up blog content. I totally feel bad about it and I’m alive. Just…really terrible at putting up blog content!

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This is why the library checkout, hosted by Charleen @ It’s a Portable Magic, is so great. We all get content and I don’t have to use my brain too too much. (What is wrong with my brain, you guys? It feels mushy)

Although, really, it’s been a shameful month at the library. You’ll see. I just have so many stacks of books at home and I’m starting to feel really terrible about not reading all of them, all the time. It’s a horrible feeling and I’m hoping it goes away if I focus on my own books for a while. I’m really terrible at that, though. I’m the kind of reader that’s like “OH THAT’S SO SHINY AND NEW, LET ME HAVE IT NOW.” I need to get more in the mindset of “These books aren’t going anywhere. I don’t need to have this book in my possession this instant.”

Even though I know it’s true, it feels like a lie.

Anyway, let’s get to the shame of my month at the library.

Read
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante (ohhhh I loved this one! Remember when I was super lukewarm about My Brilliant Friend? I take it back. Give me all the Ferrante books!)
Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory (I’m still reading this as I write this. I’m really enjoying it but it’s dense and long and I know someone’s waiting for it so I’m trying to read as fast as I can)

DNF’d
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave (I don’t know what happened here – I have loved all of Cleave’s other work. This one felt inauthentic and forced. Since someone was waiting for it, I decided to just send it back)

Returned unread
The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (this is the second time I have returned one of her books to the library unread even though I really enjoyed Eligible!)

Currently out
Hitman Anders and the Meaning Of It All by Jonas Jonasson

On hold
Nothing right now but I’m thinking about putting a hold on the next Elena Ferrante book…maybe Emily Climbs too…

8

Non-Fiction November: Be the Expert

This week as part of Non-fiction November, we’re thinking like experts. We’re either being the expert, asking the experts or becoming an expert.

I have been most looking forward to this week, hosted by Julz @ Julz Reads.

For as long as I’ve been reading, I’ve been obsessed with Royals, mainly female Royals. I’ve read about Tudors and Yorks, Romanovs, Stuarts, Windsors, even a Bernadotte or two. I’ve read about minor German duchies, Spanish Infantas, French Queens, and Austrian Empresses. I’ve read about Elizabethans, Georgians, Edwardians, and the Restoration.

I will forever be drawn to Royals.

Here are some of my favourite  books about Royal women (in no particular order):

The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport. I’d read a lot about Nicholas and Alexandra by the time I read this one. Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia were always mentioned as their lives intersected with their parents’. Their deaths at such young ages meant that they were never really known as their own people. Rappaport’s book was the first time I was introduced to the sisters as individuals. The whole thing is of course, totally sad, because ultimately you know how their story ends.

The Mystery of Princess Louise by Lucinda Hawksley. Princess Louise, was the sixth child and fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. She was unusual in that she convinced her parents to let her have an artistic education. She was quite a talented sculptor, married a commoner (as much a commoner as the era would allow anyway, he was still in line to a Dukedom), and spent part of her life in Canada when her husband was appointed Governor-General. The province of Alberta is named for her.

Anything by Julia P. Gelardi. She is, hands down, my favourite Royals biographer. She has written three books looking at multiple Royals. Five Granddaughters, which looks at the lives of the Queens of Norway, Russia, Spain, Romania and Greece, each of whom was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria; In Triumph’s Wake, which looks at the lives of incredibly successful Queens (Victoria, Maria-Theresa and Isabella of Spain) and their very tragic daughters (Vicky, Marie-Antoinette, Katherine of Aragon); and From Splendour to Revolution, which takes on some of the Romanov women, from 1847-1928. Anyone of them is so very worth your time – I can’t even pick a favourite.

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie. Catherine was Empress of Russia but she was also a woman. Massie’s portrait of her manages to do justice to both sides of this august historical figure.

Ambition and Desire: The Dangerous Life of Josephine Bonaparte by Kate Williams. Before reading this, my knowledge of Josephine was that she was always really well dressed. Williams introduced me to a completely different person, a woman who was born on a remote island, who kicked and scratched her way through life. It was exquisitely researched and I loved every page. (Williams is actually a prolific author. She has many books about royal woman, as well as fiction books like the WWI series that starts with The Storms of War. I totally read it – also quite good)

The Reluctant Empress by Brigitte Hamann. The first time I ever became aware of Empress Elisabeth of Austria was when I was actually in Austria. Her portrait, the Winterhalter one of her in a white dress with diamond stars in her hair, is everywhere. I bought this biography of her while I was there. Empress Elisabeth wasn’t supposed to marry Franz-Joseph, her sister was. But he fell in love with Elisabeth and she with him. Life at the very formal Austrian court turned out to be a lot to handle for a young woman raised in an informal Bavarian household. She spent the rest of her life searching for ways to avoid court life, to live as free as possible away from the gossip and the rules that otherwise governed her life.

Well those should get you started should you feel the need to better acquaint yourself with some of these Royals. If you know of a good one, please let me know. I’m always looking for more.

14

Library Checkout – September 2016

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Did September feel like the longest month ever to anyone else? Maybe it’s just that it was an eventful month so it feels long? Like, if I look back to the long weekend, that feels like years ago.

It was a fairly solid reading month. The great thing about September is that things go back to normal. I mostly really like normal. I’m hoping to finish one more book before the month is actually over so that I can say I finished 14 books this month but I’m not totally sure that it will happen.

That said, I’ve been pretty happy with my reading this month. It started a little slowly, I wasn’t loving the books I was reading but they weren’t terrible. The later half of the month saw an uptick in book love.

And now it’s time to join Shannon in looking at library reading this month!

Library Books Read
Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe
The After Party by Anton DiSclafani
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta
Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia
Little Sister by David Hewson

Checked Out, To Be Read
Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella
The Big Four by Agatha Christie
The Accidental Empress by Alison Pataki
Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy
Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub

Returned Unread
All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani – I’m still kind of regretting this

On Hold
None, currently BUT I did put Bellweather Rhapsody and The Accidental Empress on hold. AND I’m the very first person to read their copy of The Accidental Empress. Hold progress.

Did you get anything great at the library this month?

9

Lake Reads – Weak Sauce edition

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You know what that means! Time for another edition of “here are the books I’m dragging with me to the lake!”

I suspect that this time will be different – we’re only going up for a few days, and more people are coming with, including 2 little boys.

Regardless of how much time I will have to actually read, I would never want to be in a situation where I had nothing to read. I’m still bringing options! Whether I will get through any of these is anyone’s guess, but these are the books that will be making the trip this time:

Cecilia by Frances Burney – I’ve been limping along recently, trying to keep up with the Summer of Cecilia hosted by Laura @ Reading in Bed. I’m more than halfway though so if I just make some kind of effort, I should be able to get back on track!

All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani. If I do get some time to sit and read in the sun, I feel like a book about Golden Age movie stars will be perfect.

Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel. I read the first few pages of this book about privileged white people who lose all their money – it took place at their summer home. I’ve also heard that the characters in this one are fun to hate. Reading about despicable people in a beautiful place? One of my favourite things.

The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger. I just re-watched The Devil Wears Prada. It’s been too long since I read something by Lauren Weisberger (we probably should just forget Revenge Wears Prada ever happened, ok?). I was dragged to Costco with the promise of a book, this was the one I picked (also, I had already read most of the books on offer. Get your sh*t together, Costco!)

Feels like a weak list doesn’t it? I’ll probably sneak something else in last minute but I really don’t think it’ll be reading productive time this trip.

Enjoy the last days of summer, friends! See you on the other (scheduled, September) side!

22

The Tsundoku Chronicles: Moving Edition

My husband and I are in the process of hopefully moving. We’ve been in our place for nearly six years and it feels like it’s time for a change. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that we’re partially motivated by the needs of our German Shepherd who seems to be craving personal outdoor space like he never did before.  But you know, when your dog is a family member, you accommodate.

You’d think that, with the looming spectre of packing up all my books and moving them, I’d be a little more hesitant to buy more books, but there, you’d be wrong.

See, I had a birthday not that long ago. And when I have a birthday I get gift cards to buy books and I’m incapable of saving them for very long.

Also, spring is a ridiculously great time for new titles AND discounted book as stores gear up for summer titles.

Here then, a reckoning of some of the books I have lying around the house that I haven’t read.

The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie. This is the second in a promised trilogy. The first looked at a group of sisters who were all the mistresses of Louis XV and this one features the next group, including the Marquise de Pompadour. I made the mistake of loaning this to my sister and a friend and now both are waiting for me to read the second one so they can read it too. The third one will be out at the end of the year.

Ritual by Mo Hayder. This is the 3rd in the Jack Caffrey series which is proving to be seriously messed up. There was some open-endedness with the end of the second book and I’m looking forward to finding out what happened but I also need to be in the right headspace. Luckily, I borrowed this from a friend (along with The Nightmare by Lars Keplar and The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, so good) so if I read it soon, I can return it and not have to pack it.

I Am Malala by Malala Yousefzai. I started reading the Foreward in the bookstore and became completely invested, so I bought it. I have yet to read it.

The Illegal by Lawrence Hill. I meant to read this before Canada Reads started but obviously didn’t get to it. I even leant it to a friend so she could finish it and return the Speed Read to the library. There’s something preventing me from reading this even though, by all account it’s wonderful. And I always love Hill’s books.

Stalin’s Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan. This book has won all the awards, including the Hilary Weston Writer’s Trust Prize for Nonfiction, and the BC National Award for Canadian Non-fiction. I bought it when it first came out in hardcover (it’s now available in paperback) and I still haven’t read it! By all accounts, Stalin adored his daughter and I so want to read about this other side of a monster who was responsible for the deaths and disappearances of millions of people.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig. I loved The Humans and I love Matt Haig on twitter. He’s been so open about his own struggles with mental illness and I admire him so much for being such a tireless advocate for those sharing his struggle. He wrote this book for himself but it seems like anyone that reads it gets so much out of it. I have wanted to read this for as long as it’s been available and I still haven’t.

Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman. Seems like there’s a non-fiction theme going on doesn’t it? It took me a long time to think about the woman behind Jane Eyre. When I read Syrie James’ book about the Brontes I became interested in them as women for the first time. I was so excited about this biography and it sits on the shelf, gathering dust!

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. This is my book club book and I always have to time the reading of our picks properly, so I don’t forget the details before we meet. Our date’s been set for Cinco de Mayo so I do really need to read this soon.

She’s Not There by Joy Fielding. This is one of those books that I know I will devour in an afternoon under the right conditions. Why have I not dipped into it yet?

The Lost Prince by Selden Edwards. So I bought this book (discounted) months and months ago and actually started reading it once. Then I realized that it was the second in a series and you really did need to read the first to understand what the hell was going on. I have yet to find the first book.

Did I mention that I went to the library last week??

I’m the worst.