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oblue

Obsidian Blue

Government drone by day and book lover and geek girl by night!

Currently reading

The Time Traveler's Wife
Audrey Niffenegger
My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
Rainbow Rowell, Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Myra McEntire, Kiersten White, Stephanie Perkins, Gayle Forman, Matt de la Pena, Jenny Han, Ally Carter, Kelly Link, David Levithan
Secrets of the Tulip Sisters
Susan Mallery
Let's Talk About Love
Claire Kann
The Wedding
Dorothy West
The Man in the Brown Suit
Agatha Christie
Progress: 5 %
You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain
Phoebe Robinson, Jessica Williams
The Round House
Louise Erdrich
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Hanukkah-24 Tasks

Hanukkah

Task 1:  Have you had any miracles in your life?  (Kids are a given.)  Just enough change for tolls?  Just enough gas to get you to the station?  Been tragically late for a flight only to find the flight was even more tragically delayed?  Nothing is too small - share your miracles with us!

 

After I found a lump a few years ago (back in 2013) I was scared to death. My mother died of breast cancer and every time I get my mammogram (which I have been doing since I was in my mid 30s since my mother was diagnosed when I was in my first year of college) I would just worry that I would get told that they found something.

 

I was asked a few years ago about doing genetic testing and I said no to that. I just rather deal with the here and now, and not sit and fret about something that may not come to be.

 

Anyway, I found a lump. And because I am an idiot I ignored it for about 2 months (no don't do this). I just hoped that it would go away. I finally sucked it up and went to my primary care physician who said, yeah that's a lump. They ordered an ultrasound which came back inconclusive and off to get a mammogram I went. At this point I just said, yep it's cancer, I am probably going to die. And I spent a lot of time randomly bursting into tears. I didn't tell anyone about it at first because I was so stressed about it.

 

After the mammogram came back though, they said nope, it's not looking like it's cancerous. They diagnosed it as being fatty breast tissue that had traveled to under my armpit (which apparently happens sometimes). So I felt like I got a great reprieve. Of course though after a year of dealing with the pain from the lump and it swelling up every month during my time of the month, I finally had enough and had it removed in 2014. They had to do a biopsy of that, and it turned out to be fine, they didn't find any cancer cells in my lymph nodes. So that's my miracle right there.  

 

Task 2: Light 9 candles each representing something you’re thankful for (share a picture with us; sharing anything else is optional).


Will do when I get a chance at home!

 

Task 3: Have a donut – and let us share it via a photo. Homemade donuts and shared recipes encouraged … but any donut will do just fine.

 

 

Here's my donut picture! 

 

 

Task 4: A miracle crucial to Hanukkah is the Miracle of the cruse of oil, which concerns a jug of oil that (ostensibly) only contained enough oil for a single day, but miraculously turned out to last all of eight days. – Miracles aside, tell us: Have you ever experienced that something you had bought or you owned lasted a lot longer than anticipated … or where you expected a shortage which then fortuitously didn’t occur after all?

 

Crisco is that for me. You get a regular sized can and that thing can last for ages. I think the longest one I had was almost for a year. I think it's because if you just use a regular tablespoon you end up having enough to just coat your pan all dang day. I used to love to watch my mom scoop up a ton to fry chicken in. And of course we take that grease and put it into an empty Crisco can that we also use for frying :-)

 

Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening - 16oz - image 1 of 1

 

Book: Read a book about light, miracles, characters who are Jewish or books set in Israel.  OR: Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the second temple in the second century; read the second book in a series or a book with the word “second” or “two” in the title.

 

Stumped on this one. 

Obsidian Blue's 24 Tasks of the Festive Season Card

 

 Only going to put an ornament on dates where I have completed all tasks and the book too. 

 

Updated as of 12/06/18 through Russian Mother's Day book task.  Whoops, forgot to update Diwali. 

 

Total points: 65

 

Door 1: Dia de Los Muertos (November 1): points 5

Completed tasks 1 through 4, and readThe Pale Horse by Agatha Christie.  

Dia de Los Muertos Tasks

The Pale Horse Review

 

Door 2: Guy Fawkes Night (November 5): points 5

Completed tasks 1 through 4 and read The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Guy Fawkes Tasks

The Essex Serpent Review

 

Door 3: Melbourne Cup Day (November 6): points 6

Completed tasks 1 through 4 and only got two points for task one and read This Year It Will be Different and Other Stories by Maeve Binchy

Melbourne Cup Day Tasks

This Year it Will be Different Review

Door 4: Diwali (November 7): points 5

Completed tasks 1 through 4. 

Diwali Tasks

Dark Sacred Night Review

 

Door 5: Veterans/Armistice Day (November 11): points 4

Completed tasks 1 through 3 and read Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber

Veterans/Armistice Day Tasks

Dashing Through the Snow Review 

 

Door 6: International Day for Tolerance (November 16): points 4

Completed tasks 1 through 3. 

International Day for Tolerance Tasks

Christmas Magic Review

 

Door 7: Mawlid or Mawlid al-Nabi al-Sharif (November 20): points 5

Completed tasks 1 through 4 and read Towards Zero by Agatha Christie

Mawlid Tasks

Towards Zero Review

 

Door 8: Day of Penance (November 21): points 5.

Completed tasks 1 through 4 and read The Copper Beech by Maeve Binchy

Day of Penance Tasks

The Cooper Beech Review

 

Door 9: Thanksgiving (November 22): points 4

Completed tasks 1 through 4. 

Thanksgiving Tasks

Switched out planned read since it's not available anywhere. The Wedding by Dorothy West is my planned read. 

 

Door 10: Bon Om Touk (November 24): points 3. 

Completed task 2, 3, and 4. 

Bon Om Touk Tasks

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie is my planned read. 

 

Door 11: Russian Mother's Day (November 25): points 4

Completed tasks 1 through 3. 

Russian Mother's Day Tasks

The Empty House Review

 

Door 12: St. Andrew's Day (November 30): points 4

Completed tasks 1 through 4.

St. Andrews Day Tasks

Snow in April by Rosamunde Pilcher is my planned read. 

 

Door 13: Advent (December 1): 2 points 

Completed tasks 1 and 2. 

Advent Tasks

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years, #1) by Gregory Maguire is my planned read. 


Door 14: Hanukkah (December 2): 2 points

Completed tasks 1 and 4. 

Hanukkah Tasks

Prince Capsian by C.S. Lewis is my planned read. 

 

Door 15: Sinterklaas / St. Nicholas Day (December 5): points 3

Completed tasks 1, 2, 4. 

Sinterklass/St. Nicholas Day Tasks

Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharrat is my planned read. 

 

Door 18: Winter Solstice / Yuletide (December 21): points 1

Book related task: The One You Really Want by Jill Mansell

The One You Really Want Review

 

Door 19: Festivus (December 23): points 1

Book related task: How to be Successful Without Hurting Men's Feelings by Sarah Cooper

How to be Successful Without Hurting Men's Feelings Review

 

Door 20: Christmas (December 25): points 1

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor Review

 

Door 21: Kwanzaa (December 26 - January 1): points 1

Book related task: The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

The Proposal Review

 

Door 22: New Year's Eve (December 31): points 1

Book related task: An Irish Country Cottage by Patrick Taylor

An Irish Country Cottage Review

 

Door 23: Hogswatch (December 32)*: Read anything by Terry Pratchett. 

Planned read is The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

 

Door 24: Epiphany (January 6): Read a book with three main characters OR a book about traveling on a journey to a faraway place OR a book that’s part of a trilogy OR with a star on the cover OR with the word “twelve” or “night” in the title OR or concerning kings or spices.

Planned read is Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Reading progress update: I've read 5%.

The Man in the Brown Suit - Agatha Christie

Tell me this gets better!

So far I am bored listening to the story narrated by Anne Beddingfield. We just hear about how her father died from pneumonia. 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

It Was the Worst of Times...

The Empty House - Rosamunde Pilcher

It didn't occur to me this would fit for any tasks until I recalled that the Russian Mother's Day book tasks said read a book if it involves a mother. Luckily for me, the main character in this one is a mother of two.

 

Wow. I just cannot. This book was published in 1971 so I tried to make allowances for the main character Virginia. I just gave up that at the point that she literally decides to move her two children, who just lost their father, to live in a place with a man that she talked to only twice in her life, more than 10 years ago. 


I usually don't like to do spoiler reviews, but so great is my rage at this book, that I am going to do it.

 

So..."The Empty House" follows Virginia Keile. Virginia is visiting with an old friend of her mother's in Cornwall and essentially recovering from being made a widow at 27. Virginia has two young kids (a boy and girl) who are currently staying with her mother in law. It never seems to occur to Virginia that maybe she should be with her children by the way until the love interest pops up (I digress). This book really just goes into the backstory of Virigina and her love interest Eustace.

 

I hated almost every character in this one except for the kids and the poor mother in law. Virginia spends the book obsessing over Eustace. Though Virginia has been married for almost 10 years, she still wishes that Eustace had called her like he promised he would when she was visiting the family friends. She goes back and forth over everything and how even though she was 17 when she met his 28 year old self she fell for him. Their conversation was beyond boring and nothing of substance was even said. Sorry, the whole plot about her falling for him and he for her with the age differences just squicked me out. I would still argue how much did he fall for her though since the dialogue we get in this book is beyond boring. They just had two separate conversations. 

 

Virginia's mother is made to be the villain of the piece since she wanted her daughter to marry well, and probably had qualms about a 28 year old farmer romancing her daughter. I also didn't like Eustace since he was rude to everyone in this one, but hey, I guess he had ethics or something. I don't know.

 

“Hallo,” said Eustace, meeting her eye with an unblinking blue gaze.

Her hand was half-way out to shake his, but Eustace either didn’t see this or chose to ignore it.

Mrs. Parsons’s hand dropped back to her side.

Her manner became, subtly, a fraction more cool.

Yeah, if I meet someone for the first time that is trying to romance my daughter and they pulled this, I would totally be cool to them too.

 

Eustace is just nasty to Virginia from what I can see. He calls her a terrible mother for not being with her children and having them come and stay with her. He acts like the kids father as soon as they meet (it was disconcerting). And then pretty much within like a freaking day Virginia is all we will stay here and live with you forever. Let's go tell the children.

 

“I don’t think you can give a damn for your children. You don’t want to be bothered with them. Someone else has always done the washing and the ironing and you’re not going to start now. You’re too bloody idle to take them for picnics and read them books and put them to bed. It’s really nothing to do with Bosithick. Whatever house you found, you’d be sure to find something wrong with it. Any excuse would do provided you never have to admit to yourself that you can’t be bloody bothered to take care of your own children.”

 

Literally hasn't seen her for 10 years and this comes up.

 

“Well, what am I going to eat?” Eustace caught the tail end of this conversation as he came, dripping, up the beach. “What’s this?” He stopped to pick up a towel. “I’m very hungry and Mummy hasn’t brought anything to eat.” “Too bad,” said Eustace unsympathetically.

 

I guess screw kids being hungry and actually wanting food. I just cannot.

 

The book tries to paint Virginia as a victim to her mother and dead husband, but I had zero sympathy for her. She signed up for everything she got and didn't really care about her husband. She wanted something that she thought she glimpsed when she was in Eustace's home for maybe an hour 10 years ago. It felt childish to me. She put out zero effort with other people and just continued to allow things to happen to her. I assume if there was ever a sequel that Virginia would find herself fully under Eustace's thumb. That is 100 percent not love. 


The writing wasn't great. It just read as repetitive after a while. The dialogue between characters was stilted. The great reveal in the end about how Virginia was kept apart from her first love was beyond dumb. How she couldn't see that baffled me. Also who cares at this point?!

 

The flow was not good. I loved Piclher's other books so much and this one was just a dud. It was a chore to keep going since we had Virginia going back and forth about things and just generally acting like a victim the whole time.


The ending was ludicrous. She and her two kids are leaving Scotland forever to live with Eustace in Cornwall. I assume if there was an epilogue we would have heard how the mother in law tried to fight for custody or something. 

 

Russian Mother's Day

Goodreads Best Books of 2018

I always post the results here because the conversation it evokes in the Booklikes community is always great. 

 

Best Fiction

Still Me (Me Before You, #3)

 

Seriously how??? I read the first two books and thought it was terrible and the third book had a lot of negative reviews. 

 

Mystery and Thriller

The Outsider

 

I still wish that King had showcased the women in this story more.

 

Historical Fiction

The Great Alone

 

I didn't read this. Hannah is hit or miss with me, so I skipped it.

 

Fantasy

Circe

 

I got told by some reviewers this didn't live up to the hype at all.

 

Best of the Best

The Hate U Give

 

Woot!

 

 

Romance

The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1)

 

I really liked this one!

 

Science Fiction

Vengeful (Villains, #2)

 

Sorry, I didn't read this one.

 

Horror

Elevation


This one seemed to disappoint a lot of people out there.

 

Humor

The Last Black Unicorn

 

Love Haddish, but I still only gave this 3 stars.

 

Nonfiction

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

 

I really want to read this one! I heard it's fantastic.

 

Memoir & Autobiography

Educated

 

Sorry, have no clue about this one.

 

History & Biography

The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers

 

I definitely want to read this. 

 

Science & Technology

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World

 

This looks interesting.

 

Graphic Novel & Comics

Herding Cats (Sarah's Scribbles, #3)

 

Poetry

The Witch Doesn't Burn in This One (Women Are Some Kind Of Magic, #2)

 

Debut Author

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1)


Sigh.

 

Young Adult Fiction

Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood, #2)

 

I didn't like this one at all.

 

Young Adult Fantasy

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass, #7)


Sorry, got no clue about this one.

 

Middle Grade & Children's

The Burning Maze (The Trials of Apollo, #3)

 

Picture Books

I Am Enough

Sinterklaas / St. Nicholas Day-24 Tasks

 

Sinterklaas / St. Nicholas Day
 
Task 1:  Write a book wish list to St. Nick.
 
Dear Saint Nick,
 
I apologize in advance for the number of books that I want. I can't help it though, I love books. I do want to say that my goal for 2019 is to read more books by women and men of color. Thanks in advance for helping me out with that!
 
BecomingNot That Bad: Dispatches from Rape CultureThe Wedding PartyThe Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient, #2)
 
A Princess in Theory (Reluctant Royals, #1)On the Come UpThe Key to Happily Ever AfterThe Right Swipe (Modern Love, #1)
 
Lies Sleeping (Peter Grant, #7)The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in AmericaThe Everlasting Rose (The Belles, #2)
 
The Downstairs GirlHere and Now and ThenWhat We Talk About When We Talk about RapeMagical Negro

 

Task 2: You are King / Queen for the day and can have 3 ‘wishes’:  one for yourself, one for your community (however you define it), and one for the world: What are they?

 

Wish for me-I wish that I could take a fantastic trip to a different country in 2019. 

 

Wish for the community-I wish that we could have an open and honest conversation about race and religion and have people stop trying to shut down things. I loathe that we still have states in this country that like to pretend still that the Civil War was over states right. I loathe that we all act like Jim Crow laws were not a thing. It makes me seethe that we had a whole Civil Rights Movement that took place in the 1950s and 1960s and people act like we have come so far, though not really. I hate that if I say black lives matter, I get people screeching about me about the police and how black lives matter is a hate/terrorist organization. 

 

Image result for civil rights movement

 

Wish for the world-That we stop sugarcoating it when people are pushing racist ideologies the world over. Call them out, call them racist. Call it a lie when someone uses an obvious terrible talking point. It seems scary to me that we seem to be hell-bent on going around and blaming immigrants for everything in the U.S. with some factions in Europe doing the same thing. At this point I wonder if people just want them to be pushed out to sea to fend for themselves or what. 

 

Task 3: If your holiday family traditions should include bowls or plates filled with gingerbread, cookies, oranges / tangerines, chocolate, nuts and the like, share a photo with us!

 

I probably will have to skip this. Will see if I am up for taking pictures to post. 

 

Task 4: List your 3 favorite books involving children being rescued from serious peril.

 

1. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, review can be found HERE

2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, review can be found HERE

3. The Monstrumologist (The Monstrumologist #1) by Rick Yancey, review can be found 

HERE

 

 

Book: with an orange or red cover or with nuts, chocolate or coins on the cover, set in The Netherlands or Germany, by a Dutch or German author, or with canals or beer on the cover.

 

Daughters of the Witching Hill

Advent-24 Tasks

Advent

 

Task 1:  Post a picture of your advent calendar - store bought or homemade.

 

 

Yeah, I broke this out this weekend. I just posted the same picture from last year though because the one I took of it this morning was really blurry. I was in a hurry. I also managed to put up my stockings too. However that's it for decorations so far this year. The counter-tops and half bath were done this weekend. So hoping when I get home today there are signs of more progress. We are looking at finishing up everything by this Friday (please let that happen). 

 

Task 2: The holidays season is in full swing – tell us:  What’s your favorite tradition?

 

Well my own tradition is to watch every version of "A Christmas Carol" that I can before Christmas. I also still throw in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" because Linus is the best and his speech always moves me to tears. This Saturday I watched "Scrooge" with Albert Finney. Up next I think is going to be "A Christmas Carol" with George C. Scott and then "A Christmas Carol" with Patrick Stewart. If you don't think I am putting The Muppets in there, you don't know me. 

 

Image result for i thank you very much scrooge gif

 

Image result for muppets christmas carol gif

 

Task 3: The tradition of carol singing in the Advent / holiday season is linked to the old Anglo-Saxon (and medieval) custom of wassailing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wassailing). Prepare an apple cider wassail bowl or a wassail bowl containing your favorite drink or fruit. Post a picture and enjoy!

 

That's a no from me. Sorry, I don't have my kitchen back, and even when I do get it back (hopefully this Friday). I am going to be missing from the site from December 10th on. I am having surgery the 11th and will be in the hospital for a few days. And then when I get released, no lifting. I think my Kindle is light enough for me to get away with lifting things. 

 

Task 4: Make your own Advent wreath and share a picture of it. Instructions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWw83CCa2cg

 

No thanks. 

 

Book: Advent also means “second coming”: Read a pastiche, or a book written by an “authorised author” by the deceased author’s estate. OR: There are four Sundays in Advent. Read the fourth book of a series or a book with the word “four” in the title.

 

Planned read is Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years, #1) by Gregory Maguire. I am basing this on Goodreads though. It may not be correct. 

When Harry Met Renee

Dark Sacred Night - Michael Connelly

So this was the match-up that I never knew I needed. I am now wishing that Connelly had decided to match-up Harry with a strong female non-romantic lead before. I am not counting the books with him and Rachel Walling (see the Narrows, Echo Park, The Black Box, and The Burning Room). Fingers crossed that Connelly resists the urge to put them together. It is mentioned many times that Bosch is as old as her father (Renee) but Connelly also heavily implies that Renee has issues over the death of her father. That said, the only reason why I gave this four stars, is that I had a hard time with the ending.

 

"Dark Sacred Night" takes place a year after the events in "Two Kinds of Truth" and a couple of months after the events in "The Last Show." Just a quick recap, Harry is now working as a volunteer closing cold cases for the San Fernando Police Department. He has somewhat burnt all of his bridges with the LAPD due to some of his own actions and lawsuit against them which he won. Renee is still on The Late Show, however, she seems more content with her place in that group now. 

 

Renee is working late when Harry Bosch "invites" himself to go digging through a detective's drawer looking for some index cards on a cold case. Renee is initially mistrustful of Harry (not blaming her) but then becomes intrigued when she finds out he is looking for the murder of a young woman who is related to a friend of his. Harry is also dealing with a cold case in Sen Fernando that is taking up some of his time as well. We also get to see Renee working some routine and not routine calls while working solo on the Late Show. 

 

Harry seems more mellow in this one. I think he's a bit burnout because the woman he meets in the last book (Elizabeth) is now living with him. I maybe went "Error, Error" when Connelly reveals that. Though Harry and Elizabeth are not romantic partners (yet) she is cooking and keeping house for him while he is out chasing down leads on her daughter's cold case. I definitely believe in redemption, but I am still shaking my head at Harry taking on so much with Elizabeth because she resembles his ex-wife Eleanor. And of course he and Maddie are partially estranged over this nonsense. If Bosch realized that Elizabeth looked like his dead wife, I am sure Maddie realizes she resembles her dead mother. 

 

Harry seems separate from prior characters in this one except for Lucia Soto, his old partner and his partner so to speak at San Fernando, Bella Lourdes. We have no mention of him reaching out to his brother, Mickey Haller (I am guessing Bosch is still ticked about what went down in "Two Kinds of Truth") or to anyone else. He does call J. Edgar for some information and then just hangs up on him (still being treated like crap by Harry). I did laugh when Harry had the nerve to tell Renee to ask about him, that he was always a good partner. Ahem, I think that David Chu (who hasn't been mentioned since The Burning Room) and Iggy Ferras (last appearance was "9 Dragons") would argue with his comment. 

 

Renee is still feeling pretty great about solving the case in The Late Show. She has seemed to make more friends in the department, and once again Connelly shows us how smart she is when she walks into a scene and deduces how an older woman was killed. I felt very a ha my dear Watson when she walks the officers through what happened. The same thing occurs on another call of Rene's in a missing person case. I like the contrast between her and Harry. Harry would have went in guns blazing, but Renee is more methodical about things.  

 

We get some call-backs to earlier Bosch cases and of course long-time characters resurfacing. I did have to say that I was surprised at the who done it in this book on the cold case involving Elizabeth's daughter. The case Bosch was tied up in felt like a weird distraction after a while. 

 

Connelly switches from Renee and Harry's perspective throughout the book. We get a kindly reminder of who is "speaking" too just in case you get confused. I don't think readers will, but it's a nice call-out to those listening to on Audible. I liked all of the writing in this one and you can feel the difference between Renee and Harry's sections. Connelly knows both of their voices. The flow was good between chapters and I maybe had a panicky moment when it looked like our fair heroine and hero were looking to end things on a sour note. Connelly pulls things together though in a kind of Hail Mary I am not sure about. 

 

The setting of this book is LA after hours. We have Renee and Harry doing a lot of leg work at night and around dawn. And at one point, Harry is going on very little sleep doing day shifts, coming home to sleep (eh) and eat and then meeting up with Renee. I am glad the book didn't have this going on for that long since it was making even me antsy after a while. 

The ending shocked me (in a good way) and I wonder at the implications for future books. I don't know how Connelly is going to do this, but I have faith he will do it well. 

Sweep of the Blade is a Fun Novella

Sweep of the Blade -  Ilona Andrews

Wonderful! The Innkeeper Chronicles books are becoming a favorite of mine. This free novella released on Ilona Andrew's website gave us a look at Dina's sister Maud. We heard some of which Maud had to endure in the last book, this one shows us though why she is so reluctant to give in to loving Arland and marrying another vampire again. The only reason why I gave this four stars though is that I thought the flow was a little lacking between chapters. I am prepared to raise this to five stars when the full novella is released.

 

After the events in the last book, Maud agrees to go with Arland to his House's planet. Maud is afraid to hope for anything more really after what happened to her and Helen when her husband cost them everything. If I were Maud, I would probably be bitter forever. I don't know if I would want to be courted by a vampire either. However, we get enough scenes between Maud and Arland to know she's fighting loving him. He is everything different than her late husband was (in a good way). I usually don't like to read romance books with a widow, but Maud's husband was an ass so good riddance to him. 


Helen gets enough scenes in this one to make her a favorite with readers I can see. 

 

Arland's mother and his mother's husband were a bit frightening, I did love how quickly Arland's mother came to view Maud as a wonderful asset to their house. And her love of Helen was great to see. I want so many stories with this family!

 

I also loved how this book focuses more on vampire politics and we learn more about them in this one. We also get to see Maud finally get the acknowledgment of how worthy she is when it comes to Arland's family. 

 

I really do want a stand-alone book explaining the innkeepers, vampires, and other alien species our characters have met so far in these books.


The writing was good, will not say much about that though. Reading this on the author website you will probably see some typos. I won't say anything about that in this review. The flow as I said wasn't great. I think it will get all smoothed out in the final version. I also love how these books incorporate pictures into the final version. I wish more books did that. 

 

The ending was top notch and we are left with a dun dun dun (in a good way) when Maud gets an unexpected visit. 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

Dark Sacred Night - Michael Connelly

Hmmm I enjoyed but wonder at the next book in the series. I don’t see how it could work. Harry has done the retired but investigates thing before. It’s also odd he never reached out to his brother after the events in this book. There’s a reference to Haller and that’s about it.

I did laugh at Harry telling to ask a round about him and how he was always a good partner. I got some names for you guy.

 

Rene is intriguing, but the living on the beach thing is odd and it’s getting old.  

 

 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 16%.

Dark Sacred Night - Michael Connelly

What is Bosch thinking? Him deciding into looking into the cold case of a woman (Elizabeth who is now a recovered drug addict) that he met in the events in his last standalone book is a bit much. I can see him trying to help Elizabeth out, but him allowing her to move in with him? I get she resembles Eleanor but this sounds like bad news. And apparently he and daughter are partially estranged over it. The same book Bosch I have been reading would never have been okay with that part. 


Why Rene pushed in on this is weird to me though. Based on the events in her first standalone book it just doesn't seem plausible to me she would be ready to jump into investigate something with Bosch.

 

St. Andrew's Day-24 Tasks

St. Andrew's Day

 

 

Task 1:  Nominate someone for sainthood.  Who?  Why?

 

I am going to nominate Lousia May Alcott who refused to give in to fans of Little Women and did not have Jo and Laurie get together. People still complain about that even if you are a reader of the books and realize those two would have murdered each other. I think the best thing an author can do is hold to their vision for their characters and not bow under pressure by the fandom. I still say JK Rowling should have pushed back on people insisting that Harry couldn't die and Hermonie and Ron should be together. Bah. 

 

Task 2: St Andrew is revered in many countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, where he worked as a Christian missionary, long before his relics were brought to Scotland centuries later. – Tell us: Is there a book (regardless whether fiction or nonfiction) for which you would basically walk up to strangers and tell them: “Read this!”? What would you say and do to get people to read that particular book?

 

Oh wow. I have already told people at my office to read Boy's Life by Robert R. McCammon. The one person who has read it based on my recommendation loved it and thanked me for recommending it to him. That book moved me in ways that had me weeping while reading. The entire story is told in the first person by Cory. There is not much to say besides the fact that I thought that Cory was wonderful as a character. Robert R. McCammon perfectly captures an 11 year old boy who loves his family, friends, and his loyal dog. Watching as Cory starts to understand the power of words, telling stories, and ultimately writing down his stories was great. This book had so many great lines. 

 

“The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us.

We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It's not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don't know its happening until one day you feel you've lost something but you're not sure what it is. It's like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you 'sir'. It just happens.” 

“Maybe crazy is what they call anybody who's got magic in them after they're no longer a child.”

 

“If you were my girlfriend I would give you a hundred lightning bugs in a green glass jar, so you could always see your way. I would give you a meadow full of wildflowers, where no two blooms would ever be alike. I would give you my bicycle, with its golden eye to protect you. I would write a story for you, and make you a princess who lived in a white marble castle. If you would only like me, I would give you magic. If you would only like me.”

 

“I understood then what courage is all about. It is loving someone else more than you love yourself.” 

 

“They may look grown-up,” she continued, “but it’s a disguise. I

t’s just the clay of time.

Men and women are still children deep in their hearts.

They still would like to jump and play, but that heavy clay won’t let them.

They’d like to shake off every chain the world’s put on them, take off their watches and neckties and Sunday shoes and return naked to the swimming hole, if just for one day.

They’d like to feel free, and know that there’s a momma and daddy at home who’ll take care of things and love them no matter what.

Even behind the face of the meanest man in the world is a scared little boy trying to wedge himself into a corner where he can’t be hurt.” 

 

Task 3: Legend has it that the saltire or St. Andrew’s cross (white on an azure background) – which constitutes the national flag of Scotland – originated as a cloud formation, symbolizing St. Andrew’s being crucified on an X-shaped cross rather than an upright one.  Do you have any pictures of unusual cloud formations?  If so, share them with us!

 

This was a picture I took at the pool in August this year. I though the cloud looked like a young girl with her arms out about to take off and fly. 

 

This is a picture I took in Portland this April. It's weird, when I took this it seemed like Mt. Hood was surrounded by clouds. I pretended to myself that they were clouds whisking gods and goddesses off to Mount Olympus. 

 

 

This is a picture I took at Great Falls in September 2017. I thought the clouds in the sky looked like cotton balls. 

 

Task 4: The town of St. Andrews, where the saint’s bones ended up in the course of the spread of Christianity to Scotland, is also famous for its golf course and tournament.  List your 3 favorite books where golf is key to the plot.

 

1. Murder in the Mews (Hercule Poirot #18) by Agatha Christie. I don't want to spoil this whole thing, but golf is a central part of this story.  

 

2. 4:50 from Paddington (Miss Marple # 8) by Agatha Christie. Lucy Eyelesbarrow uses her practicing golf in order to look for a body that is hidden. 

 

3. Why Didn't They Ask Evans? by Agatha Christie. One of the main characters in this one (Bobby) finds a man dying on the golf course. 

 

Book: Andrew was the first apostle; read the first book in a series. OR:  Andrew and Peter were brothers; read a book about brothers. OR: Read books about or set in Scotland or by a Scottish author, or set in Charleston, South Carolina (which is where the celebrations as we know them today began – by a group of Scottish expats – according to scotland.org).

 

Yeah a Rosamunde Pilcher book should fit this! Going to read Snow in April.

Christmas in Ballybucklebo

An Irish Country Christmas - Patrick Taylor

This is the third Irish Country book and this one has a lot of moving parts. It's still one of my favorites though. Not going to lie, though I initially felt for Doctor Barry Laverty in this one, I ended up losing all of my sympathy after a while due to how he was treating the woman he is dating (Patricia Spence). Him acting as if her studies or meeting new people, seeing new things is not as important as coming home to spend a few days with him during the holidays got old after a while. The star of this one really is Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly and his second chance romance with Sister (meaning nurse) Kitty O'Hallorhan. It's so weird though, the first couple of books acts as if O'Reilly and Kitty didn't really have much of anything until you read the later books. I am shocked that O'Reilly didn't look her up ages ago or at least get why she felt the way she did about him. 

 

"An Irish Country Christmas" has the village of Ballybucklebo waiting for the Christmas season. Unlike in the first two books, we have Taylor switching between Doctor Barry Laverty and Doctor Fingal O'Reilly. Both men have the holidays and romance on their mind in this one.


Barry was an ass in this one. I can't say much more than this. I get that the book takes place in 1964 and of course men's attitudes about equality among the sexes had not set in yet, but good grief. Barry got involved with Patricia Spence in book #1 with the understanding that she was attending Cambridge. Him all of a sudden acting put upon because she is studying and meeting people got old fast. Barry I realized was quite selfish when it came to his relationship in this book. 

 

“The same family own property with a big wood, and that was the very spot A. A. Milne called the Hundred Acre Wood in the Pooh stories.”

“Really?” He started to let his tone show his disinterest. He was certain she was using all this trivial chitchat as a smoke screen to avoid having to tell him she wasn’t coming home. “That’s interesting."

 

"Barry took a deep breath. “Look, Patricia, it’s great to chat, but I need to know so I can work out on-call schedules with Fingal . . . are you coming home?” He heard the edge of irritation creep into her voice. “I still don’t know.” Barry tried not to let his own disappointment show. “If you still don’t know, why did you call?” “Because, Barry, I like to hear your voice”—her tones were measured—“and I knew Jenny’s dad wouldn’t mind. I miss you, and I was happy we would be able to talk.”

 

I swear, after a while I started just sighing heavily and speeding past Barry's sections. 

 

Fingal has a lot of thinking to do in this one. Kitty throws it out there that she could care for Fingal again, but she won't wait forever for him. Fingal is still haunted by his first wife's death. 


The doctors are still doing what they can to take care of the villagers in Ballybucklebo. We get another antagonist in this one besides Bertie, we have an introduction to a former classmate of Fingal's, Doctor Roland Hercules Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick was awful in these earlier books and one wonders why Taylor ended up getting rid of all of the doctors antagonists in this series. It has started to make things dull in these books. 

 

The writing in these earlier works was good to me. Taylor explains diagnosis and what people did back then with regards to labor and other things. 


The flow wasn't great though. I always tell people if you read these books be prepared for some repetition and slowness to things. It's not a bad way to spend an afternoon inside.


The happy ending was funny to me based on what ends up happening next in the series with regards to Barry and Fingal's romances. 

DNF at 2 percent

Summer Light - Luanne Rice

I can't take seriously this book. We know that a child (Kylie) is apparently clairvoyant or has visions and is being studied at a university? I just noped out of the book at this point. I like romance and magical realism, but this is definitely not the book for me. 


The writing also reads as off to me. It's very flat to me. When the heroine (May) tells you how she got pregnant with her daughter Kylie I was flabbergast. She was dating some guy, got pregnant, he tells her hold up, I'm really married, sorry about that? I just...there's not enough time to absorb information before the author moves to something else. There's no build up that is grabbing me at all. 

 

My Least Favorite Binchy

Heart and Soul - Maeve Binchy

It's weird. I started off reading this book years and years ago. It was published back in 2008 and I just didn't like how it ended much. Binchy ended up changing up the ending, but I don't have that version in my Kindle version (grrrr) so I do know that she had a new ending that worked a lot better. That is the main reason why I gave this one 3 stars. We end up leaving a lot of characters in the lurch I thought. I also thought the whole thing with Clara and Hilary needing to "get" their two kids together was ridiculous. Additionally, the amount of jobs that the character Ania was working didn't even make sense since it sounded like at best she would only be getting about 2-3 hours of sleep. I know it was to show the contrast between Clara's one daughter, but it was a bit much.

 

Heart & Soul follows characters that many Binchy fans have been reading about for years. We have Aiden and Signora popping up (Evening Class (96) and Quentins (2002), Brenda (from Evening Class and Quentins), Grania and Tony (Evening Class), Fiona, Barbara, David, Vonni (Nights of Rain and Stars 2004), Maud, Simon, Cathy Feather (Scarlett Feather 2000) and Father Flynn (Whitehorn Woods 2006) and probably a whole host of other people I have forgotten. 


We also have some new ones like Clara Casey, the new director of a heart clinic and Ania, a young Polish immigrant living in Dublin. 

 

Though Binchy doesn't call out characters by chapter heading in this one, we do go back and forth to characters within chapters sometimes. So if we start off with Clara, we may also include another character like her daughter, her ex-husband, etc. I didn't mind it at all in this one, but I think I miss that we could just stick with a character through one sitting instead of bouncing around a lot with them. I found all of the characters to be good, but I was really happy with the follow up to Fiona and Barbara. I had really liked Fiona in Nights of Rain and Stars and we see that she  has totally changes from who she was after the events from her last relationship that was depicted in that book. 

 

As I said above though. I had a bit of an issue with Clara in parts of this book. We find out that she has been long separated from a cheating spouse who wants to divorce and marry his partner of several years. I know it wasn't great, but her reaction to it wasn't great either. I liked that she realized that her friends and family were tired of her hanging on to the guy and she needed to move on from him. She starts a new relationship in this one, that left me feeling meh, and it was good to see her realize that too. Her fighting with her daughter Linda though made me scratch my head. Her thinking that she needed to get married and settled with Hilary's son made me want to go huh. This was written in 2008, not 1988, so I didn't get why she thought her 21 year old daughter needed to settle down. 

 

Ania's story was sad at first. We meet her and she's barely hanging on doing odd jobs in Dublin to obtain money to send back to her mother. We don't know what happened to her in Poland, but hints are it wasn't great. When Binchy reveals her tale, it was okay and all, but not Earth shattering. I just thought it was a bit much that Ania works at the heart clinic, at the laundromat, at a restaurant, helps with landscaping, etc. At one point I felt myself getting panicky at her jobs that she was doing. And her acting as if everything was super expensive (like some lace for sleeves on a dress) was making me go okay after a while. Ania is set up as some perfect person, but I was left a bit cold towards to her while reading.

 

We follow a new doctor named Declan in this one and we get to see his romance with someone that readers are familiar with (no spoilers). I liked Declan okay, but liked to see him push back on things later on in the book. He seemed a bit too perfect to me at first.

Hilary's story I found sad. I don't know if Binchy was going for clueless with her, but I definitely felt she was. We find out that she married a perfectly charming and handsome man who never worked. Her poor mother went and got more jobs to support them all (Hilary and her son Nick too) and Hilary works more to help. Things don't go well in Hilary's life I thought when we see that her mother is having some medical issues. 

 

Father Flynn who popped up in Whitehorn Woods shows up here and his whole storyline was weird I thought. Leaving that one alone.

 

The book going back to Vonni in Greece and Aiden and Signora caused it to drag for me a lot too. 

The writing was okay, but I am realizing that the flow wasn't great. Binchy jumping from character to character within a chapter didn't work as well for me in this one. I was looking forward to the ending which isn't like me usually. 

 

The setting of the book revolves around the heart clinic doctors, patients, and friends of patients or doctors working there. Maybe if we stayed focused on the staff it would have worked more. It would still be nice to read about characters that were introduced in prior books still, but we could have focused on new characters more.


The book ends with a wedding and just kind of ends. I liked the new ending ( I happened to read it in a new paperback release one day at the bookstore) that showed some characters after the wedding and what something new is going on with all of them. 

Binchy Takes A Look at Students Attending an Evening Class

Evening Class - Maeve Binchy

So I apologize in advance for not reviewing these books in the order of publication. I tend to go back again and again to my tried and true Binchy novels. I decided this year I will aim to at least post reviews for all of the books that I have read. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I enjoyed re-reading this book, Heart & Soul, and This Year it Will Be Different. There is something so homey with these books. At this time I have been reading about the same characters for more than a dozen years. I likened her a bit to Rosamunde Pilcher who returns to the same characters or references them in her other books. It's like a very nice present you get each book. That said, I thought that some of the character stories in this one were pretty adult. You have Binchy tackling marital rape (still rape), adultery, and theft. There are still some good heartwarming stories here and there though.

 

Evening Class starts out with Aiden Dunne realizing that his dream of becoming principal of Mountainview College is never going to happen. A new teacher, Tony O'Brien is who the administrators want as principal. Aiden doesn't know what he is going to do now and how he will be able to spin this to his family. Tony pushes him (for his own reasons) to do a potential evening class that Aiden recommends in order to bring in people to the school. 

 

Once again Binchy does a good job of setting up the stories of the people who will end up attending this evening class. We know that at least 30 people sign up, but we ultimately only follow Aiden, Signora (real name is Nora), Bill, Kathy, Lou, Connie, Laddy, and Fiona. 

 

Per usual I think my favorite sections to read about were Aiden, Signora, and Connie.

 

I felt for Aiden since he is realizing that his wife (Nell) and two daughters (Grania and Brigid) have grown apart through the years. His wife is barely home, his two daughters don't really talk to him, and he is starting to realize that he is middle-aged with the possibility of this being his life until the day he passes. Him organizing and taking the evening class which will ultimately teach its participants Italian allows him to think about his life in a totally different way. His burgeoning friendship with the teacher, Signora, always allows Aiden to dream about something new. I did get frustrated with Aiden a bit, because I felt like he was just way too clueless about a lot of things going on. He was a bit passive, except a few times in the story. I was ultimately happy with how Binchy concludes his story in this book. 

 

Signora was interesting. Usually I would despise this type of character. At the age of 20 something, Signora met an Italian boy named Mario and proceeded to defy her family and follow him to Sicily. While there, Signora finds out that Mario is to be married. She still decides to stay and be Mario's other woman for more than 20 years. When Mario dies in an accident, she is asked to leave by his wife and children and Signora finally returns home. Ireland has moved on while she was away so Signora has trouble finding a place to live and work. When she ends up teaching Italian at Mountainview College it seems her prayers are answered. I felt a bit for Signora's family. They don't sound great, but I can see why her family was a bit put out with her. She ended up reconnecting with her best friend from years ago, Brenda, who runs the ever popular Quentins, so that was good. I did read Quentins years ago, but will do a re-read to post a review. 

 

Connie's story was something else though. A young girl who had it all until her father died leaving her family penniless. Being forced to give up her dream of being a lawyer, she goes to a secretarial school where she ends up avoiding men. She eventually meets someone that she thinks will be a perfect husband and father, Harry Kane. Connie thinks that her life will be perfect, but there a ton of wrenches thrown in the way. I liked how Connie pushed through them though I did wish that the character had went to therapy. There definitely seemed to be something going on with her. I did love how Binchy wrapped up one part of her story. I didn't really like the whole thing that went down with her when the group gets to Italy though. 

 

The other characters are interesting, I just didn't like them as much as the others. I just felt like Bill was being a pushover, and a jerk at times (his realization of him having to be his younger sister's caregiver after his parents are gone just made me dislike him a bit). Kathy's story was okay, just not that engaging. I though Lou was a jerk honestly when we find out what he was getting up to. And Laddy's story was just sad to me. Honestly it should have been called Rose's story (Laddy's sister) since the story focused on her and what she had to deal with as a married woman. 

 

The writing was really good. Binchy has a way with words that just draws you in. I always love reading her works in the fall/winter because that always seems to be the time of year to me that is best to read her works. The flow was a bit up and down though between character chapters. That and me not being as engaged with the different characters stories is why I gave this one 4 stars. 

 

The setting is Ireland in the late 90s I imagine. Evening Class was first published in 1996, but I got this book back in April 2009. Some parts of the book felt a bit dated to me then with discussions of one of Aiden's daughters working in a travel agency. I honestly don't know if there are travel agencies anymore. 

 

The ending leaves things with a newfound hope and joy for two of the characters. And some of them are definitely in a new stage of their lives like Fiona and Lou.