Sorry kids, no feet.

I'm a reader raising voracious readers. To mock my children, I have recently quit my job so  I can stay at home and read all day. I enjoy caffeinated beverages, short walks to the library, and long walks down aisles of used book stores. 

In Case You Need a New Brain Wrinkle Today

Reading progress update: I've read 65 out of 361 pages.

Belgrave Square (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt, #12) - Anne Perry

Let's try something a little familiar. 

Labyrinth (Languedoc #1) - Kate Mosse

Labyrinth - Kate Mosse

I finally got through this book. And by that I mean I skipped huge chunks of the middle and read the last ten chapters. Honestly, I don't think I missed anything. I think anyone who picked this book up at the last ten chapters wouldn't miss anything.


But seriously - Molasses on a cold day moves faster than this book did. 

Reading progress update: I've read 221 out of 515 pages.

Labyrinth - Kate Mosse

I need to finish the two books I'm currently reading before I can start on my summer reading challenge or BL-opoly. This is one of them. It's going to be a struggle.


For starters, I have the attention span of an ant right now. This book is not great for people with no attention span. Walking around in an actual labyrinth would be easier than trying to navigate the constantly increasing cast of characters in this book.


Secondly, I don't speak French. There is a lot of French in this book. I knew that there would be. The author makes it perfectly clear in her preface. However, the author also states she included a glossary. She did. That glossary is nowhere near inclusive enough. I'm constantly stopping to translate words or phrases. Not a fan. It's doing wonders for that attention span issue I'm having. 

Is 2020 done yet?

It's halfway through the year and I'm finding that I'm constantly asking myself one queston - "How hard would it really be to move to a different country?"


I can't even count the number of times I've asked myself that question in the last week. After seeing the Cheeto photo op last night, my internet search history is also asking about relocating. 


I live in Minnesota. I live about two hours out of Minneapolis. I grew up even closer to the metro area. I have stood in the spots where buildings are burning. I have helped remodel the Target stores that were destroyed. I have family and friends who haven't slept in days for fear they are going to be chased from their homes by fires, rabid rioters, or potentially one of the other four horsemen of the apocalypse. My best friend and her husband are both active members of the National Guard. He's been in the area for a few days. She was sent home after one night but only because she's a respiratory therapist for Mayo hospitals. Right now people just can't seem to decide where she's needed more. 


All of these things are so very minor when you stop and acknowledge the reasons why all of this is happening right now. At the end of the day, I'm safe today. I'm safe everyday. I don't fear flashing lights in my rearview. I don't have to teach my children how to act if they are ever approached by a police officers. I don't have to worry about seeing my husband being murdered on the internet. 


There won't be any protests in my town. We're too rural. We're too red. We don't believe Black Lives Matter. We believe All Lives Matter. We believe the Cheeto should absolutely drop the full force of the United States Army on all of the ungrateful citizens who should be at work instead of protesting. We are the reason things will never change.


Maybe instead of spending my time wondering what it would take to relocate my family to another country, I should spend my time making sure my children are never the "we". 


I've been struggling for days to come up with something to say. The problem is I'm not in the mood to fight. I'm not in the mood to point out to my Christian friends why they are suppose to care about the plight of other human beings.  I know that's not a helpful attitude. But I know these are fights I'm not winning. I would much rather save my sanity and focus it on areas where I know I can help. Right now I need a safe space. I need for people to actually read the words I am saying and not immediately judge me for using words like "safe space".


I would like to end by thanking everyone here for being a safe space. 

BookLikes-Opoly 2019 - Master Post

I'm just going to do a quick start before I get lost in my to-do list for the rest of the day. Right now I'm just keeping track of things in a notebook. I'll fix my post when I get a free minute.


Roll 1

Number Rolled: 9

Space: The Stay-Cation

Task: Read a book that the author's name beings with one of the letters in R-E-L-A-X

Book: ?

Date Finished:

Bank Total: 

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter #6) - J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince  - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré

I must be turning into a bit of a cynic in my old age. Each time I re-read these books, I find a few more things that irritate me.


It seems to be books 5-7 that annoy me more so than 1-4. I feel like by this point in time, Harry should know better. He doesn't listen to any of the adults in his life. His friends are just trying to help him and all he does is treat them like dirt. Harry has a huge listening problem. He's a bit of a narcissist. You would think that after everything he's seen and been through in his time as Hogwarts, he would be a little more level headed and make some better choices. Stopping to think things through isn't something Harry excels at. He always seems to be smacking himself in the forehead when he comes to a great realization after everything has gone horrifically wrong. 


Don't get me wrong, I still love all of these books. Perhaps being a mom has made me less tolerant of something the things Harry does? Maybe working in a school with children who aren't my own has made me question how Harry's teachers handled his constant rule breaking? Who know. Whatever it is, I'm actually starting to be a little concerned. What happens the next time I try to read these books? Will I have turned into a complete cynic to the point where I just can't with any of Harry's antics? Only time will tell. 

Reading progress update: I've read 467 out of 757 pages.

The Mirror and the Light - Hilary Mantel

We played hooky today. The only time I spent with a device today was right away this morning when I lied to the girls' teachers and told them that of course we were going to be working today. It's been cold and raining for the last four-ish days. Today was sunny and 70. We're all out of the office today. Sorry. Not sorry. When you go to the lake on a Tuesday, you get the beach to yourself. It was glorious.


Now that everyone has scrubbed of the sand and I have applied half a bottle of aloe gel to the places I apparently forgot to apply sunscreen, I'm going to curl up with some tea and contine on with Lord Cromwell. However, it feels like Bring Up the Bodies would be a more fitting book today. 


"I filled his treasury, made his coinage sound; I packed off his old wife and got him a new one of his choosing; while I did this I soothed his temper and told him jokes. If like a princess in a fairy tale I could have spun a babe from straw, I would have worked a year of nights. But he has his prince now. He has paid a price for him, but good fortune never comes free. It is time he knew that; it is time he grew up."


I've said it before and I'll say it again - I think Mantel paints the most complex and human portrait of Henry VIII of any author, EVER. 



"Henry's eyes are on his portrait of himself, massive, on t he wall of the chamber. His own eyes consult the image of his master 'What should I want with the Emperor, were he emperor of all the world? Your Majesty is the only prince. The mirror and the light of other kings.'


Henry repeats the phrase, as if cherishing it: the mirror and the light. He says, 'You know, Crumb, I may from time to time reprove you. I may belittle you. I may even speak roughly.'


He bows.


'It is for show,' Henry says. 'So they think we are divided. But take it in good part. Whatever you hear, at home or abroad, I repose my faith in you.' 


Anyone else feel like Cromwell should know better than to believe Henry. 

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts - Kate Racculia

I'm going to start with some of my favorite passages from the book. Just so I can remember the potential. 


"All relationships are real," said Tuesday. "Friendship can be as deep as the ocean. It's all a kind of love, and love isn't any one kind of thing." 


"This was self-medicating drunk, this was it fucking hurts drunk, this was the only way I know how to survive being alive right now is legal poison in my body drunk." -- This line really hit me. I've been that kind of drunk more time than is probably healthy for a person. 


"Jesus, he is charming," Dex said to Tuesday. "Charming like a psychopath. Are we sure he's not going to murder us down here?" He paused. "That's a legitimately horrifying thought. Please don't do that to us, Mr. Arches. I haven't drunk half of what I intend to before I die." -----This is one of the many, many reasons Dex was my favorite character.



On with it.


I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this book. I slept on it. I'm still not sure how I feel about it. Everything started out so good. This book was fun and funny. It had characters I wanted to drive to Boston and find. It had a treasure hunt. It had brooding billionaires who are hiding secrets. It had a female main character who was wondrously odd and didn't really care what other people thought. 


Then it all kind of fell apart. The whole premise of this book was suppose to be some big Boston-wide treasure hunt headed by an eccentric deceased billionaire. Sure that happened. Was it the main focus of the book? Not so much. Tuesday and her "crew" find two clues. Then everything disappears for about 100 pages. The reader then needs to slog through flashbacks, pages of mental anguish, and inner monologues that reminded me of high school football coach pep talks. 


Maybe now you're thinking "Well that doesn't really sound like fun". It wasn't fun. But it wasn't not fun either. In other hands, this kind of drop in action might have made this book a DNF for me. Racculia managed to keep me reading. Not necessarily because I wanted to know what happened with the billionaire's game but because I genuinely wanted to know what happened to Tuesday. And Dex. And Archie. 


Eventually we come back to the billionaire's game. The fun returns for a minute. Then everything turns strangely dramatic. Bordering on horrific. Rather Lifetime movie like. This is what really brought the book down for me. Even with the slightly boring middle, this book still had the potential to be a five star read for me. Then the end happened. At the end we are given a character who is so basically evil all he needs is a mustache to twirl. I mean, he's just a bastard. He's your typical "I'm rich and I can get away with literally anything I want" kind of dude. Compared to Racculia's other cast of characters, this guy felt completely out of place. At one point, the end of the story felt like I had switched to a completely different story. Subtract two stars. 


Then there was the end, end. Without given too much away, it was predictable. Painfully predictable. The only way it might work for me is if the author has plans for a Tuesday Mooney series going forward. This is just the kind of thing that screams cozy series turns into hit television series. Only if Kristen Ritter is Tuesday Mooney. 


At the end of the day, would I recommend this book? Umm...I wouldn't not recommend it. It was a light, quick read that sandwiched itself in nicely with some of the more intense reads I have going right now. For a lot of people who are currently having problems reading because the world around them is just too much, this is a book that will help take your mind off things if only for a minute. 



Read 5/11/2020 - 5/16/2020

Book 33/75



Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia

Since I can't add any new books I'm reading, I guess I'll just do things this way.


It's cold and raining here. The girls are all done with their school work for the day. I've given up on trying to keep them entertained at this point. Two of them are in the basement watching Star Wars cartoons and the other one is holed up in her room reading. This means I can curl up in my favorite chair with some tea and this delightful book.


From the publisher: 

Tuesday Mooney is a loner. She keeps to herself, begrudingly socializes, and spends much of her time watching old Twin Peaks and X-Files DVDs. But when Vincent Pryce, Boston's most eccentric billionaire dies - leaving behind an epic treasure hunt through the city, with clues inspired by his hero, Edgar Allan Poe - Tuesday's real-life adventure begins.


Puzzle-loving Tuesday searches for clue after clue, joined by a ragtag crew: a wisecracking friend, an adoring teen neighbor, and a handsome, cagey young heir. The hunt tets their mettle, and with other teams from around the city also vying for the promised prize - a share of Pryce's immense weath - they must move quickly. Pryce's clues can't be cracked with sharp wit alone; the searchers must summon the courage to face painful ghosts from their pasts (some more vivid than others) and discover their most guarded desires and dreams.


I'm about 100 pages in and loving everything about this book so far. It's fun. Very National Treasure but without Nic Cage (bonus). 

Reading progress update: I've read 434 out of 757 pages.

The Mirror and the Light - Hilary Mantel

"What is a woman's life? Do not think, because she is not a man, she does not fight. The bedchamber is her tilting ground, where she shows her colours, and her theatre of war is the sealed room where she gives birth.


She knows she may not come alive out of that bloody chamber. Before her lying-in, if she is prudent, she settles her affairs. If she dies, she will be lamented and forgotten. If the child dies, she will be blamed. If she lives, she must hide her wounds. Her injuries are secret, and her sisters talk about them behind the hand. It is Eve's sin, the long continuing punishment it incurred, that tears at her from the inside and shreds her. Whereas we bless and old soldier and give him alms, pitying his blind or limbless state, we do not make heroes of women mangled in the struggle to give birth. If she seems so injured that she can have no more children, we commiserate with her husband."



No pressure on your uterus Jane. I mean, everyone knows Henry's not the problem. 

Reading progress update: I've read 358 out of 757 pages.

The Mirror and the Light - Hilary Mantel

"People are always prompting you, you notice, to forgive and forget. They are always urging you, do as your father did, boy: be what your father was. Young men claim they want change, they want freedom, but the truth is, freedom just confuses them and change makes them quake. Set them on the open road with a purse and a fair wind, and before they've gone a mile they are crying for a master: they must be indentured, they must be in bond, they must have someone to obey."


I'm strangely excited by an author who manages to use a colon correctly. It's a skill I have yet to master and Mantel doesn't just do it once. Twice. In the same paragraph. 

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5) - J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix  - J.K. Rowling

This has always been my least favorite Harry Potter novel. There are several examples of bad decisions made throughout the series but the bulk of those bad decisions come in this book. Bad decisions were made by everyone but none more than Dumbledore. We don't see much of him in this novel but the bit we do see isn't great (imo). 


Don't get me wrong. I still love this book. I still love this series. Maybe my overly negative view has more to do with the world we are living in right now than anything else. I mean Cornelius Fudge and Dolores Umbridge are refusing to see what's right in front of them because it doesn't fit their own personal agendas. Dealing with the truth is too scary for them. It sounds strangely familiar. Umbridge alone. Ugh. If you have read all of these novels and if by the end of them, you don't hate Umbridge more than Voldemort, you read them wrong. Go back and try again. 


And Harry? He is unbearably arrogant and foolish in this book. About the only action of his I agree with is at the beginning when he snaps at Ron and Hermione because they are always bickering with each other. They are. They deserved to be snapped at. After that it's all down hill. Bad decision after bad decision. If we're being honest with ourselves, Umbridge is really the only person who actually hold Harry accountable for his actions. I don't agree with her methods but she's not really wrong. Yelling at teachers? Not following directions? Those are things you aren't suppose to do when you are the student. When other adults (McGonagall, Lupin, the Weasley's, etc.) all tell you to put your head down and just do what you're told, maybe you should listen to them. But no. Harry just barrels on and does whatever he wants. Maybe just do what you're told and let the truth come out on its own. That's kind of how I'm currently feeling about that stupid "PLANdemic" movie that people keep posting all over Facebook (Seriously, my friend list has been cut in half in two days). Eventually people will realize how stupid they look. And if not? Well, sometimes you can't fix stupid. 


If I'm going to come to an overall conclusion about TOOTP, it's that maybe I'm the problem. It's entirely possible, I'm just reading this book at a bad time. This is the first time this series has failed me. I always read it when things get a little out of hand. I like the predictability. I like the characters. It feels normal to me. Maybe the bigger problem here is that normal is changing. Maybe the problem is I'm not willing to accept the change so I'm irrationally lashing out at a book. This is some pretty deep thinking for someone who is only through one cup of coffee this morning. 


Read 4/24/2020 - 5/7/2020

Book 32/75

Potential Unpopular Opinion

I'm in a few book groups on Facebook. It's the only non-political, mostly positive thing I have going on Facebook right now (completely different rabbit hole). There have been a few mutterings about something coming out from Stephanie Meyers, the woman who graced us with Twilight (insert harsh eye roll here). This morning I woke up to find that all of my groups had been completely taken over by the news that Meyers is releasing a new Twilight novel and fans are here for it. 


But wait. She's not really releasing a new novel. She's basically re-re-releasing (give me a minute and the two "re's" will make sense if they don't already) Twilight but as told from the perspective of mc and literary heartthrob (resident creeper) Edward Cullen. For those of you who have never read Twilight, the story is told in the first person by Bella Swan, who becomes Edward's love interest. Apparently the Edward version has been in the works for quite some time. At one point, portions of it were even released online. Then suddenly the project disappeared and fans have been left wondering ever since.


Back to the 're's'. For those of you who don't know, on the tenth anniversary of the original release date of Twilight, Stephanie Meyers released a special edition of Twilight that was actually two books in one. The second version was Twilight but with the character genders flipped. Edyce Cullen became the object of desire and the story was told by Beau Swan. So if my math is correct, Meyers book announcement today makes this new book a re-re-release of the original Twilight. Feel free to debate. 


All of this brings me to a wondering. Why do authors release the same book from different perspectives? E.L. James and the 50 Shades of Questionable Literature comes to mind too. More importantly, why do readers spend money to be told the same story over and over again? 


I've already seen several discussions about how excellent it would be in J.K Rowling re-released Harry Potter as told by Hermonie or Ron or even one Draco Malfoy. As much as I love Harry Potter, any of those books would be a hard pass for me. For starters, I'm still left with a bad taste from The Cursed Child. Secondly, the whole idea of continually releasing the same story over and over again with a few tweaks, seems greedy to me. Authors aren't doing this because they love their fan base. They are doing it because their publishers have told them they will get a big pay day. 


Nothing is ever as good as the original. At least when it comes to literature. Movies? That's an entirely different post. 


Thoughts? Do you read books that are from the same author that tell the same story but from different perspectives? Are they any good if you do? Do you have a favorite story that you would love to see told from a different perspective? 

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel - Amor Towles

This book was just what I needed. For starters the main character is forced to spend all of his time in one building. Granted that building has a five star restaurant, a full-service bar, and a barber shop that's allowed to operate but the man is stuck inside all the same. It kind of seems fitting right about now.


This was a charming book from start to finish. I adored the Count. I adored Nina. I adored Sophia. I adored everyone we met in this book. Even some of the high ranking Russian officials. The Count was one of those men it was impossible not to be charmed by. I can see where some readers might have an issue with this. People like characters to have obvious flaws. They like when bad things happen. They like brooding. The Count had obvious flaws and bad things did happen to him (You don't get forced into house arrest for the rest of your life for nothing. Well maybe in Communist Russia but it sure beats the firing squad.). The Count just wasn't the type to brood. That doesn't mean he was happy all the time either. The Count is much more complicated than that. Unless you read the book, you just won't understand it. 


When I first started this book, my immediate thought was it was much like an adult version of Eloise. The Count lives in the tippy top floor. The Metropol is much like the Plaza. The Count isn't quite as naughty as Eloise but he's not without his shenanigans. This comparison remained apt through out the novel's entirety. I think it lends to the charm.


Aside from the characters, I can see people taking issue with words themselves. The author has English related degrees from Yale and Stanford. His education is on full display at The Metropol. At times his word choices border on arrogant but it works. There is nothing wrong with an author who sets out to publish a smartly written book. At the end of the day, that's what this is. I get where that might rub people the wrong way. They may feel like he's insulting your intelligence. He's not. He's just displaying his own. What his own intelligence translates into is a lyrical work with more notable passages than I can track. 


This is one of those books I will heartily recommend to anyone who asks with the understand that they will either love it or loathe it. If you love it? Wonderful. If you loathe it? That's fine too. We're all different. 


Because I can't focus on just one thing at a time while I'm working on this, I have about 15 different browser tabs open. In one, there is a group discussion of this book where some talks about a movie that was rumored to be in production with Kenneth Branagh in the lead. I'm not opposed to that casting. I just don't think it works for the whole movie. The book starts with the Count in his early 30s. Branagh, while brilliant just might be a little too old to go start to finish. He definitely has the charm to pull it off. I would also like to throw Tom Hiddleston into the ring as a man who oozes charm. Again, the age thing might be problematic. Any one else who has read this book have any other suggestions? 


Dates read 4/24/2020-5/1/2020

Book 31/75


Reading progress update: I've read 229 out of 480 pages.

A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel - Amor Towles

I've been trying to read more than five pages at a time for what feels like forever. There are just too many interruptions. Not today. Today was one of those perfect weather days that demanded you be outdoors for the bulk of it. 


There's a little creek next to our house. The girls spent all afternoon trying to lure out turtles and catch bullheads with Cheetos. Thankfully, they didn't succeed at either of those things. Especially the bullheads. 


Meanwhile, I was able to plant myself in my favorite lawn chair on the bank and spend some quality time with the Count. 


I can absolutely see why people don't like this book. It's sophisticated, bordering on arrogant. The author uses words people don't hear in daily conversation. The author assumes a certain level of intelligence from his reader. I'm not really sure what else you would expect from a man who holds English degrees from Yale and Stanford. 


At this point, I don't see myself being one of those people who don't like this book. I'm finding it charming.It's lyrical. I was worried it would be a little too heavy for my current attention span. That isn't the case at all.