Holiday Reading

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I’m running a bit behind on this year’s Christmas-y listens, and haven’t quite finished The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen, but since it’s about the 12 Days of Christmas and those go beyond Christmas Day, I figure I’m good. The Twelve Clues of Christmas is the 6th installment of Her Royal Spyness series, and one of the most grisly. Our fearless gang finds themselves in a quaint English village for Christmas were a death a day occurs in the order of the 12 Days of Christmas song. Doesn’t sound very Christmas-y, nor very quaint, but I love it. Probably because Georgie and Darcy finally make some headway in their “relationship.”

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I started with my annual re-listen of Lauren Willig’s Mischief of the Mistletoe. I believe I’ve mentioned my love of Willig’s Secret History of the Pink Carnation series before, and I think this is one of my favorites! It’s so hard to decide sometimes… Mischief of the Mistletoe is the only one in the series not to include Eloise and Colin, our modern day frame story couple. When I first started reading the series I really enjoyed the Eloise storyline. I was also a student in England and could appreciate several of the dilemmas Eloise found herself experiencing. However, as the series went on, I found myself skipping the Eloise and Colin chapters (much harder to do in audio), so I really appreciate not having to deal with them in this version. Also, I love Turnip. He certainly isn’t a swashbuckling hero, but a nice, loyal, (if goofy one), which is a nice change of pace.

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Since my parents moved up north we have a 4 (ish) hour drive each way. To pass the time I checked out The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, which is my husband’s favorite Christmas book. Maybe it was lack of sleep (we hosted my high school friend’s annual holiday party the night before), or maybe it’s the cultural/political climate today, but I almost cried at the end. I don’t remember having that kind of reaction in the past.

*updated for pictures and links*

Lonesome Dove

I do apologize for my long blogging absence… My husband and I have several new(ish) house projects and an adorable new(ish) puppy dog that are taking up lots of our time. However, I have been reading! And listening.

A while back I downloaded Lonesome Dove onto my Audible account. At the time it seemed like the best way to tackle the 945 page saga. Then when I read through  the 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge categories I decided I would use Lonesome Dove to check off “a book that’s more than 600 pages” and “a book and it’s prequel.” Generally I decided not to use a book to check off more than one category, but in this instance, I made the exception, since any of the two prequels were also 900+ pages.

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In the end, I decided not to use Lonesome Dove or Comanche Moon as the “book and its prequel.” Mostly because I waited too long to start Lonesome Dove and it took me more than a month to listen to it, even while painting kitchen cabinets and walking the dog. I certainly couldn’t cram it in the last few weeks of December.

This is all really pointless and muddled information, but it’s all kind of related…

As for Lonesome Dove, I loved it. Lee Horsely narrated the audible version and he is fantastic. Sometimes, when I listen to a book I can’t read it simultaneously because I need the narrator’s voice, or it feels wrong. This is one of those instances. Horsely really made the story for me.

I can’t quite explain why I liked the story so much. Maybe it’s because the “main” characters are older, which seems to be uncommon today. Maybe because McMurtry skillful creates a multitude of believable characters, and tells the story from each of their perspectives. Maybe because I could really sense his love of the American West throughout his writing. Maybe it’s because the concept of driving cattle from Texas to Montana with no roads or modern amenities is completely foreign to me and I admire their strength and determination. Maybe because the writing is so vivid and the characters so timeless I felt like I was on a cattle drive in the 1800s.

While there are flaws (I wish the Native characters were given a stronger voice, for example), it is overall a skillfully written saga of the American West as told by a multitude of historical viewpoints. I can completely understand why it won the Pulitzer Prize.

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The miniseries on the other hand, did nothing for me (except that Robert Duvall reminds me of my grandpa). I felt it was way too short and unless you read the book you have no understanding of most character’s motivations. Also, Tommy Lee Jones is practically impossible to understand, he mumbles so much. I wish Lonesome Dove and the rest of the series were turned into a real TV show like Outlander or Game of Thrones.

Mosquitoland

From Goodreads:

“I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.”

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After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.

So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, Mosquitoland is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.


I started out really enjoying this book and Mim’s voice, but as it went on, I felt like the author was full of himself. The characters became caricatures and I’ve heard others describe the book as a mouthpiece for Arnold’s own philosophical ideas, which I think sums it up pretty well.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Despite being only 7 when Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was first published, I always wanted to read the modern classic. I’m not sure when I first heard about the book, but the title stayed with me for a very long time. Who can’t resist a title like that? And that cover! Gorgeous.

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I found the book very intriguing, and a wonderful portrayal of the city pre-tourism boom. I really enjoyed reading about the various characters in Savannah and the culture, especially the history surrounding the restoration of old houses in the area, and Lady Chablis’ story.

** spoiler alert **

The end of the audible version included an interview with the author and we learn the murder took place at least a year before Berendt arrived in Savannah. In the book it happens halfway through, and readers are led to believe the author had already developed a friendship with Williams. Knowing the truth, I don’t know how I feel about his credibility.

The other interesting thing with the Audible narration? The narrator is the same as that of Looking for Alaska by John Green. Very jarring for me originally since the two books are very different. #audiobookproblems.

Now to watch the movie

Popsugar Reading Challenge: *New York Times Bestseller
*it’s not a best seller now, but it was when published.

Red Queen

I saw this book coming through the library constantly. Aside from Harry Potter, I generally do not enjoy fantasy. However, I figured I should try this book out, and knock out a category for the Popsugar Reading Challenge. Two birds with one stone, right?

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I downloaded Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and started listening sometime in mid-June. As I write this, I already forgot some of the plot points because I just did not find them memorable. One review I read described the series as The Hunger Games meets X-Men, which pretty much sums it up. While that description sounds awesome it all felt old–we’ve seen this, or read this, and Aveyard added nothing new to the tried plot. Except maybe an excessive use of flowery language. She really needed a strict editor…

The story follows Mare, a Red girl with no future prospect outside the military and pickpocketing. In Mare’s world the Reds, or those with red blood, are the servant/workign class, while the silvers (those with silver blood) are the elites. Aside from the different colors of blood, the silvers mutated and now have “abilities,” like the ability to control fire or metal, or someones mind. Through a series of events, it is discovered that Mare has an ability of her own, something that could change the dynamic of the kingdom forever.

The Circle

The Circle by Dave Eggars filled my “book becoming a movie this year” in the Popsugar Reading Challenge 2016. This challenge is really forcing me to read a lot of dystopian/science fiction novels, which are not my forte.

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This particular book was creepy and dystopian in a way that could actually happen though. Mae begins working at a company called The Circle, a google/facebook like company. Throughout her time there the mindset in this organization becomes more and more along the lines of “secrets are lies” and staff are required to post X number of posts on the Circle, follow X number of people, etc etc. Their entire lives are on social media, and nobody sees a problem with that.Well except Mae’s parents and ex-boyfriend Mercer, and she resents them for their “backwardness.”

The passages in which Mae is dealing in customer relationships and the neediness of the customers really stressed me out. I’m not sure why those passages in particular bothered me, but the expectation that everyone will “like” our postings or help us all the time rings so true. Of course, the book delves into even deeper issues, but I won’t get into those here. I don’t want to ruin it for anybody!

I can’t say I loved this book, but it certainly kept me invested and I talked about it A LOT. Sorry friends and family, I’m sure I drove you nuts.

Looking for Alaska

I wanted to love Looking for Alaska by John Green, but I just didn’t. Maybe I just don’t get John Green. I enjoy his books, so far Paper Towns is my favorite, but I don’t love them the way everyone else does. 

When I last mentioned  Looking for Alaska I had high hopes. My husband and I laughed and commiserated with Miles (Pudge) as he integrated himself into his new boarding school, befriending Chip (The Colonel) and Takumi and falling head over heels for Alaska. 

Then the “after” happens. I don’t want to say too much and give away the plot, but Pudge drove me crazy. 

Despite not loving any of his books, I’m still not going to give up on John Green. An Abundnace of Katherines is still on my to read list.