Down the TBR Hole #3

Down the TBR Hole was originally created over at Lost in a Story.

Most of you probably know this feeling, you’re Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10, if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
  • Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next week!

Current “to-read” shelf: 930 titles

The Dovekeepers – Alice Hoffman
Published: October 4, 2011
On TBR Since: October 5, 2011

Historical fiction about the women at Masada. Yes, please.

Stay or Go? Stay

Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum – Jason Felch
Published: January 1, 2011
On TBR Since: October 11, 2011

A dive into the Getty Museum’s questionable antiquities deals. This might count for the Read Harder challenge under True Crime.

Stay or Go? Stay

Glut: Mastering Information through the Ages – Alex Wright
Published: January 1, 2007
On TBR Since: November 2, 2011

Another one to file under “Professional Reading”.

Stay or Go? Stay

The Winter of Our Disconnect – Susan Maushart
Published: May 3, 2010
On TBR Since: December 6, 2011

I’m not really feeling this one these days.

Stay or Go? Go

Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World – Dalai Lama XIV
Published: December 6, 2011
On TBR Since: December 9, 2011

Well, this sure still seems relevant.

Stay or Go? Stay

Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe – Norman Davies
Published: September 1, 2011
On TBR Since: December 21, 2011

The historical shifting borders in Europe are interesting, but I’m not that interested in this particular book anymore.

Stay or Go? Go

Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners – Michael Erard
Published: January 10, 2012
On TBR Since: December 23, 2011

People who can pick up other languages are amazing. I took 5 years of Spanish and keep turning back to Duolingo for another try, and I can don’t know enough to be able to conduct a decent reference interview at the library.

Stay or Go? Stay

Shakespeare: The World as Stage – Bill Bryson
Published: November 1, 2007
On TBR Since: December 29, 2011

This one is an alternate on my TBR Pile Challenge list.

Stay or Go? Stay

The World We Found – Thrity Umrigar
Published: January 3, 2012
On TBR Since: January 3, 2012

I might come back to this one sometime, but now is not that time.

Stay or Go? Go

Connectome: How the Brain’s Wiring Makes Us Who We Are – Sebastian Seung
Published: February 7, 2012
On TBR Since: January 12, 2012

There are other books on neuroscience on my TBR that I’m more interested in.

Stay or Go? Go

Seven to stay, three to go. Progress?

Related Posts:

Down the TBR Hole #2

Down the TBR Hole was originally created over at Lost in a Story.

Most of you probably know this feeling, you’re Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10, if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
  • Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next week!

Current “to-read” shelf: 932 titles

Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference – Cordelia Fine
Published: August 30, 2010
On TBR Since: September 23, 2011

I think I started reading this years ago, but I didn’t finish it before I had to return it to the library.

Stay or Go? Go

Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature – Emma Donoghue
Published: May 25, 2010
On TBR Since: September 23, 2011

Oddly, I thought I had put this on my TBR Pile Challenge List, but I did not. This is a book I own and still want to read.

Stay or Go? Stay

How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It – Arthur Herman
Published: November 27, 2001
On TBR Since: September 24, 2011

Another one I own and still want to read.

Stay or Go? Stay

The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Published: January 19, 2008
On TBR Since: September 24, 2011

I think the moment for this (for me) has passed.

Stay or Go? Go

The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World – Edward Dolnick
Published: February 8, 2011
On TBR Since: September 24, 2011

I’m on the fence on this one. I think it might be interesting to read before reading Enlightenment Now.

Stay or Go? Stay

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things – Randy O. Frost
Published: January 1, 2010
On TBR Since: September 25, 2011

*eyes bookshelves nervously*

Stay or Go? Stay

Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case – Debbie Nathan
Published: January 1, 2011
On TBR Since: October 3, 2011

I first encountered Sybil on my local library’s used book sale shelf when I was in junior high, if memory serves. I’m not feeling the need to revisit the subject.

Stay or Go? Go

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True – Richard Dawkins
Published: October 4, 2011
On TBR Since: October 3, 2011

One day, I will read some Dawkins, and it will probably be this book, mostly because of Dave McKean’s illustrations. Today is not that day.

Stay or Go? Go

Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America – Shawn Lawrence Otto
Published: October 11, 2011
On TBR Since: October 3, 2011

This book came out seven years ago, and it still feels completely relevant.

Stay or Go? Stay

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood – James Gleick
Published: March 1, 2011
On TBR Since: October 5, 2011

File under: Professional Reading (Information Theory)

Stay or Go? Stay

Six staying and four going this week. Progress!

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Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

Hello, UniverseHello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Eleven-year-old Virgil Salinas already regretted the rest of middle school, and he’d only just finished sixth grade.

It’s the beginning of summer vacation, and the lives of four middle-schoolers are about to cross in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is small and quiet in a family of loud, large personalities. Kaori Tanaka is determined to use her gift of the “second sight” to help other kids. Valencia Somerset loves nature, but doesn’t really want to spend as much time alone as she does. Chet Bullens wants to impress people, especially his father, and believes to make himself bigger he must make others small.

I hadn’t heard about this book before it won the Newbery (though I did have Kelly’s two previous middle-grade books on the shelf at my library), so I really didn’t know what to expect.

I loved this book. It’s sweet and funny, and it captures so much of what it means to be at that age, just on the precipice of teenager-hood, when you’re figuring out who you are and what you believe.

The characters are diverse in a way that feels totally natural, and none of them are one-sided. The perspective rotates among Virgil, Valencia, Kaori, and Chet, giving the reader a wealth of information not available to the individual characters. Valencia’s chapters are written in first person, while the other three are all third-person. (I am curious about that choice!) Chet’s chapters, in particular, were a little heart-breaking to me as an adult (and the parent of an eleven-year-old). While the book is very much centered on the kids, I thought the glimpses of the adults in their lives were really interesting. And Lola is just fabulous.

The action of the novel takes place over just a day or two, so a lot of the “action” is internal, with the characters confronting their own ideas. There’s more than a touch of magical realism, too, giving the book an added dimension, but not drawing the story over the line into fantasy. Are these converging events nothing more than coincidence, or is the universe trying to get the characters’ attention?

This is a lovely little book that touches on big themes – friendship, bullying, standing up for yourself and others. If things seems to wrap up just a little bit too neatly, well, that’s the universe for you.

Source: Checked out from the public library

Reading Challenges: Counts for the Newbery Reading Challenge (Medal Winner: 3 points).

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2018 Reading Challenge Check-In #2

We’re two months into 2018, so how are those Reading Challenges going?

February flew by. I know it’s a short month, but it felt particularly short this year.

On to the Challenges!

Mount TBR (hosted at My Reader’s Block for 2018)
Goal: 24 books
End of February Progress: 16% (target pace: 17%)

I read a lot of library books in February, but I didn’t finish any books from my own shelves! Whoops.



The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge at Roof Beam Reader
Goal: 12 books
End of February Progress: 8% (target pace: 17%)

No progress on Mt TBR means there was definitely no progress on this one. I started reading both Listening for Madeleine and A Study in Lavender, so I’m hoping to catch up by the end of this month.



Newbery Reading Challenge at Smiling Shelves
Goal: Konigsburg (75+ points)
End of February Progress: 15% (target pace: 17%)

As predicted, my point total jumped after the YMA announcements on the 19th. And I haven’t even started this year’s Caldecotts.

  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats: 1 point (Caldecott winner, 1963)
  • Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson: 2 points (Newbery Honor, 2018)
  • Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly: 3 points (Newbery Winner, 2018)
  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds: 2 points (Newbery Honor, 2018)


  • Sounder by William Armstrong: 3 points (Newbery winner, 1970)


Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge 2018 at Read-at-Home Mom
Goal: 12 books
End of February Progress: 8% (target pace: 17%)

Another neglected challenge! A Wrinkle in Time is due for a re-read before the movie, so that will probably be next.


  • Sounder by William Armstrong, published in 1969


Book Riot Read Harder 2018
End of February Progress: 21% (target pace: 17%)

I thought that “Celebrity Memoir” would be my next category, but my hold on Mother of Black Hollywood has not yet come in. Instead, I curled up with some cozy mysteries for one task and a fantastic historical romance for another. I recently picked up a copy of the first volume (four issues) of the Black Panther comics written by Ta-Nehisi Coates; the “comic written or illustrated by a person of color” task is likely to be next.

  • A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author: Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon
  • A romance novel by or about a person of color: An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole


  • A children’s classic published before 1980: Sounder by William Armstrong, published in 1969
  • A one-sitting book: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
  • The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series: Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett


2018 Book Blog Discussion Challenge
Goal: Creative Conversationalist (11-20 posts – aiming for 12)
End of February Progress: 8% (target pace: 17%)

Um, oops?



2018 Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge at Becky’s Book Reviews

I have still not posted anything about tea this year.


So, how’s your 2018 reading going? I’ve got some room for improvement this month!

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Down the TBR Hole #1

Down the TBR Hole was originally created over at Lost in a Story.

Most of you probably know this feeling, you’re Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10, if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
  • Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next week!

Current “to-read” shelf: 934 titles
An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science – Edward J. Larson
Published: May 31, 2011
On TBR Since: April 7, 2011

I’ve mentioned my fascination with the Heroic Age of Exploration before, and this has been on my TBR a long, long time. When I was in New York in January, I visited the Strand and purchased a very nice copy for myself.

Stay or Go? Stay

Remarkable Creatures – Tracy Chevalier
Published: August 24, 2009
On TBR Since: May 4, 2011

Early 19th-century lady fossil-hunter. Yes, please.

Stay or Go? Stay

The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths – Michael Shermer
Published: May 15, 2011
On TBR Since: May 24, 2011

As much as I like reading about the brain and how it does the things it does, there are newer books I’m more excited about.

Stay or Go? Go

Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker – Kevin D. Mitnick
Published: August 15, 2011
On TBR Since: May 24, 2011

This sounded like an interesting Internet History/True Crime/Memoir blend, but I’m just not that interested in it anymore.

Stay or Go? Go

The Story of Charlotte’s Web: E.B. White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic – Michael Sims
Published: January 1, 2011
On TBR Since: June 1, 2011

I’ve mentioned that I’m a Children’s Librarian, right? I’m a little annoyed at myself that this got buried on the list.

Stay or Go? Stay

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie – Wendy McClure
Published: April 1, 2011
On TBR Since: June 1, 2011

I want to read this more because I enjoy McClure’s writing than because of the particular subject

Stay or Go? Stay

A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos – Dava Sobel
Published: October 4, 2011
On TBR Since: September 8, 2011

I wanted to read this because I enjoyed Galileo’s Daughter (which I seem to have neglected to put into my GoodReads), but I don’t think I’m going to get to this one.

Stay or Go? Go

Knitting Lessons – Lela Nargi
Published: April 14, 2003
On TBR Since: September 23, 2011

A book of knitting essays that I completely forgot about? I’m interested to see how this compares to Clara Parkes’ Knitlandia.

Stay or Go? Stay

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void – Mary Roach
Published:: August 2, 2010
On TBR Since:: September 23, 2011

Space travel + Mary Roach = Why haven’t I read this yet??

Stay or Go? Stay

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream – Tanya Lee Stone
Published: February 24, 2009
On TBR Since: September 23, 2011

The 2010 Sibert Award winner, women’s history, and the space program. Another one that just got buried on the list!

Stay or Go? Stay

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#BookishBloggersUnite – Women’s History Month Kick-Off

Bookish Bloggers Unite was formed when a group of like-minded writers decided they want to talk about books together.

This week’s #BookishBloggersUnite is hosted by Doddy About Books, and the topic is:

Favourite Women Writers Across Multiple Genres. Pick your favourite genres and tell us about your favourite female authors writing within them (or around them or across them!)


Lyndsay Faye

I heard Lyndsay Faye speak before I actually read her work. She was at the 2013 Sub-librarians Scion meeting in Chicago, and she gave the toast to Kitty Winter. Her Holmes stories are my first recommendation to new readers looking to explore pastiche. Her Timothy Wilde trilogy is a fantastic read, and Jane Steele is just so clever. Her writing is atmospheric and detail-rich, with characters who seem ready to step right off the page.

Graphic Novel

Alison Bechdel

Okay, I know that “graphic novel” is a format, not a genre. Alison Bechdel’s work covers fiction and non-fiction in her singular style. I fell in love with Bechdel’s long-running “Dykes to Watch Out For” comics series in college, collecting the paperback compilations over the years. I was a little sad to see the end of the regular run, but, of course, Fun Home and Are You My Mother? are excellent memoirs.

Children’s Fiction

Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time is one of the beloved books of my childhood. In elementary school, a friend and I must have spent hours talking about how to “square the squared square”. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie with my daughter, who is just about the age I was when I read the book (and her teacher read the book to her class this year).

Historical Fiction

Sarah Waters

Waters’s novels are full of period detail and fascinating characters. Among her books, my favorites are the ones set in the Victorian era, with Affinity perhaps just edging out the others.

(Lyndsay Faye could have gone in this category, too!)


Emma Donoghue

I will read almost anything Emma Donoghue writes. (I say “almost” because I cannot bring myself to read Room. Which is all to do with me, not with her.) I especially enjoy her historical fiction, but I have her new children’s series on my TBR, as well as some non-fiction.

Jeanette Winterson

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit is one of my desert island books. I found my copy at a flea market in Florida when I was in college. I fell in love with the narrative voice. It’s a book I’ve gone back to again and again over the years. Winterson plays with style and structure in her writing, creating a distinctive voice that I find really appealing.

(I maybe cheated a little bit, putting two authors in here, but Fiction is a broad field.)

So, who are your favorite women authors who I’ve missed here?

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Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Long Way DownLong Way Down by Jason Reynolds
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Blood soaking into a
T-shirt, blue jeans, and boots
looks a lot like chocolate syrup
when the glow from the streetlights hit it.

But I know ain’t
nothing sweet about blood.
I know it ain’t like chocolate syrup

at all.

At 15 years old, Will knows the rules: Never cry. Never snitch. Always get revenge. And that’s what he’s going to do. His brother was shot last night, and Will is sure he knows the guy who did it. So, he’s got his brother’s gun tucked in the back of his pants and he’s waiting for the elevator to get down to the lobby. But before he gets there, he has to deal with some ghosts – in a very literal sense.

There was a lot of buzz about this novel-in-verse last year – it was nominated for a National Book Award and an Edgar award – so it wasn’t too surprising to see it get some attention from the ALA Youth Media Awards.

It’s a very timely, powerful book. The verse format makes it a quicker read than it looks at first, but those few words pack some serious punches. The main action takes place in a very short period of time and in one location, and the style brings us right into Will’s thoughts. The subject is serious, but there are moments of humor that remind you that Will is still just a teenage boy.

There’s a lot a food for thought in this novel – questions about responsibility and loyalty, right and wrong, choices and consequences. It would be good for a teen book group prepared to wrestle with those questions.

Source: Checked out from the public library

Reading Challenges: Counts for the Newbery Reading Challenge (Honor: 2 points)

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Ten Books I’m Looking Forward to in March

Ten of the books on my TBR coming out in March that I’m especially looking forward to:

1. The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro (March 6)

The hotly anticipated final book in the New York Times bestselling Charlotte Holmes trilogy, in which Charlotte and Jamie finally face their longtime enemy…and their true feelings for each other.

The third book in Cavallaro’s Charlotte Holmes trilogy is due out next month, and I still haven’t read the second book. That just means I will now get to read books two and three back-to-back, which sounds like an excellent idea.

2. Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet by Claire L. Evans (March 6)

Join the ranks of the pioneers who defied social convention and the longest odds to become database poets, information-wranglers, hypertext dreamers, and glass ceiling-shattering dot com-era entrepreneurs. This inspiring call to action is a revelation: women have embraced technology from the start. It shines a light on the bright minds whom history forgot, and shows us how they will continue to shape our world in ways we can no longer ignore.

Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper have been getting some long-overdue attention in the kid-lit world, but I’m super-interested in the women I haven’t yet heard of.

3. Camp Austen: My Life as an Accidental Jane Austen Superfan by Ted Scheinman (March 6)

In a haze of morning crumpets and restrictive tights, Scheinman delivers a hilarious and poignant survey of one of the most enduring and passionate literary coteries in history. Combining clandestine journalism with frank memoir, academic savvy with insider knowledge, Camp Austen is perhaps the most comprehensive study of Austen that can also be read in a single sitting.

True confession: I have never read Austen. I will most certainly be reading some this year.

4. Soon: An Overdue History of Procrastination, From Da Vinci and Darwin to You and Me by Andrew Santella (March 13)

Like so many of us, including most of America’s workforce, and nearly two-thirds of all university students, Andrew Santella procrastinates. Concerned about his habit, but not quite ready to give it up, he set out to learn all he could about the human tendency to delay. He studied history’s greatest procrastinators to gain insights into human behavior, and also, he writes, to kill time, “research being the best way to avoid real work.”

Now I’m pondering whether reading about procrastination is just going to be another way to procrastinate.

5. To the Edges of the Earth: 1909, the Race for the Three Poles, and the Climax of the Age of Exploration by Edward J. Larson (March 13)

In 1909, three daring expeditions pushed to the edges of the globe, bringing within reach, for the first time, a complete accounting of all the earth’s surface. In January, Douglas Mawson, as part of Ernest Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition to Antarctica, became the first man to reach the South Magnetic Pole. Soon after, Shackleton himself set a new farthest south record in pursuit of the Geographic South Pole. In April, American Robert Peary, with Matthew Henson, claimed to be the first to reach the North Pole. And in the Himalayas—the so-called “Third Pole,” the pole of altitude— a team led by legendary mountaineer and dashing Italian Prince Luigi Amedeo, the Duke of Abruzzi, reached 24,600 feet, setting a world altitude record that would stand for a generation.

I’m fascinated by the Antarctic and the Heroic Age of Exploration, and I’m familiar with Mawson and Shackleton, but I haven’t read much about Arctic exploration, and nothing at all about the Himalayas.

6. Searcher of the Dead (A Bess Ellyott Mystery #1) by Nancy Herriman (March 13)

Living amid the cultural flowering, religious strife, and political storms of Tudor England, Bess Ellyott is an herbalist, a widow, and a hunted woman. She fled London after her husband was brutally murdered, but the bucolic town in the countryside where she lands will offer her no solace. She still doesn’t know who killed her husband, but she knows one thing: The murderer is still out there.

First book in a new historical mystery series!

7. The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater: Essays on Crafting by Alanna Okun (March 20)

Alanna Okun knows that crafting keeps her anxiety at bay. She knows that no one will ever be as good a knitting teacher as her beloved grandmother. And she knows that even when we can’t control anything else, we can at least control the sticks, string, and fabric right in front of us.

The reader reviews say this is more memoir than essays, which is fine with me.

8. Semitism: Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump by Jonathan Weisman  (March 20)

Anti-Semitism has always been present in American culture, but with the rise of the Alt Right and an uptick of threats to Jewish communities since Trump took office, New York Times editor Jonathan Weisman has produced a book that could not be more important or timely. When Weisman was attacked on Twitter by a wave of neo-Nazis and anti-Semites, witnessing tropes such as the Jew as a leftist anarchist; as a rapacious, Wall Street profiteer; and as a money-bags financier orchestrating war for Israel, he stopped to wonder: How has the Jewish experience changed, especially under a leader like Donald Trump?

I expect this to be informative, terrifying, and important.

9. Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore (March 22)

Drawing upon her cutting-edge research in her London laboratory, award-winning neuroscientist, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore explains what happens inside the adolescent brain, and what her team’s experiments have revealed about our behaviour, and how we relate to each other and our environment as we go through this period of our lives. She shows that while adolescence is a period of vulnerability, it is also a time of enormous creativity – one that should be acknowledged, nurtured and celebrated.

A peek at the neurobiology behind teenage behavior? Yes, please.

10. Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond (Baker Street Academy #1) by Sam Hearn (March 27)

Told through Watson’s blog, detective notes, school assignments, media reports, and energetic comic-strip illustrations, this introduction to Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic characters will have every young super-sleuth hooked!

I am always here for a new children’s adaptation of the Holmes stories. It looks like this may have come out in the UK a couple years ago, but I haven’t heard anything about it yet.

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Round-Up Review: Gethsemane Brown Mysteries

Murder in G Major (Gethsemane Brown Mysteries, #1) Death in D Minor (Gethsemane Brown Mysteries, #2)Killing in C Sharp (Gethsemane Brown Mysteries #3)

Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Death in D Minor by Alexia Gordon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Killing in C Sharp by Alexia Gordon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m putting up one review for all three of these books, partly because I read them all in a span of about 4 days, and partly because it’s difficult to talk about the second and third books without spoiling the first (and second).

I stumbled across this series looking for books to fulfill the Read Harder Challenge Task #21: A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author. A cozy mystery series about an African American musician stranded in rural Ireland and recruited by a ghost (and she doesn’t believe in ghosts) to solve his murder, which was written off as a suicide decades ago? Yes, please.

Early on, I was a little skeptical about the ghost thing. (Ha! See what I did there?) But Eamon is an absolutely perfect foil for Gethsemane, and their interactions are thoroughly charming.

Of the three books, I liked the second one, Death in D Minor the best. The book introduces Gethsemane’s brother-in-law, an interesting character in his own right as well as a window into Gethsemane’s life before Dunmullach. There’s also a new ghost in town, which is just fun. And there’s a needlework sampler that plays a major role, which I found even more appealing than the music angle (but that’s me).

I liked the second book so much I immediately downloaded the e-ARC of the third book, Killing in C Sharp, from NetGalley rather than wait for the book to be published next month. When the crew of a ghost-hunting television show arrives on Gethsemane’s doorstep, you know things are about to get interesting. In fact, they get downright bizarre. There’s another new ghost, and this one is not at all friendly.

As much as I enjoyed the books, though, I am troubled by the representation of queer (apologies to those who dislike that word, but it’s really the best catch-all in this case) characters – there are a few, but none of them seem quite okay. I don’t need every queer character to be good, but when every one is evil and/or mentally ill, that’s a problem. The representation of mental illness is a little problematic, too, especially in the first book.

Overall, I found the series entertaining and engaging, which is what I want in a cozy mystery. I’ll be keeping an eye out for a fourth book in the series.

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#BookishBloggersUnite – Introduction

Welcome to #BookishBloggersUnite!

In the words of Katy @ The Bookish Cronk, this week’s host:

Bookish Bloggers Unite was formed when a group of like-minded writers decided they wanted to talk about books together. We hope you’ll join us!

This is the first week, so it’s only natural that our topic this week is introductions. Katy answers the full list of questions on her blog; I’ve selected some of them to answer myself.

Who/What got you into reading?

I’ve been reading as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is of sitting in our basement, reading a tiny little book of Peanuts comics.

My parents were (are) both readers, and our house was full of books of all kinds.

There’s a photo of me as a toddler, sitting on the floor, “reading” a copy of Ringer’s Winning Through Intimidation. I also happen to have a washcloth on my head, proving that I have always loved books and always had questionable fashion sense.

What are your favorite genres?

Historical fiction, mystery, and some fantasy. I’ve been on a cozy mystery kick of late. I used to be slightly obsessed with Arthurian-inspired tales. And, of course, I’m completely obsessed with Sherlock Holmes.

On the non-fiction side, I enjoy memoir, social science, and history, especially the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

What are your least favorite genres?

As a teen, I was really into horror, but I’ve found that as an adult (and particularly since becoming a parent), I just can’t read it anymore. The big-name thriller novels are also generally out for me. I like my mysteries cozy, historical, and/or “soft-boiled”, as I once heard them described.

If you had to choose between bringing a mediocre book series or one great standalone book to a deserted island, which would you pick?

One great stand-alone, please. Something I can read again and again and keep finding interesting things to think about.

How do you organize your bookshelves? Do you even have any organizational system?

As a Librarian, I am deeply horrified at the idea of not having an organizational system for my books. (Just kidding. Mostly.)

My books are loosely organized by subject, and sometimes then organized by author. My knitting/crochet/spinning books are all together and usually alphabetized. I have a small(-ish) bookcase that is all Sherlock Holmes books, with scholarship and pastiches in their own sections, plus another shelf with books about Arthur Conan Doyle and Victorian England, and a small shelf of Holmes adaptations/pastiches in graphic novel format.

When I have a lot of books by one author, I put them together and organize them by title.

What’s the next book on your TBR that you’re excited about?

Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor – I heard about this a while back, thought it sounded interesting, and then kind of forgot about it until it was named a Printz Honor book.

Have you ever gone to any book signings? Which was your favorite?

I’ve been to several signings for Neil Gaiman, including one at ALA Annual Conference first thing in the morning the day after the Newbery/Caldecott Award Dinner in 2009. He was scheduled to sign at the publisher’s booth at 9am, when the Exhibits Hall opened for the day.

I got to the Convention Center and was waiting outside the closest door to the booth at 7am. (At 7:05, the girl next to me in that photo arrived with her mom. The first thing she said was something like, “See! I told you there’d be people waiting!”)

Around 8:30, one of the HarperCollins employees brought out signs for the beginning and end of the line that was by then quite long. The one I’m holding says, “Neil Gaiman line starts here”. He signed it for me (along with my book); it has been under the glass top on my desk ever since.

Another ALA signing with a special place in my heart was in 2012, when Jeanette Winterson was in the Exhibit Hall signing ARCs of her memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? Her first book, Oranges are not the Only Fruit, is one of my absolute all-time favorite books. Of course, I didn’t manage to bring my beloved original copy with me to the conference, so I had to buy a new copy there. (Yes, “had to”.) Which is why I now have two copies of Oranges (I used to have three, actually – my original copy, a second copy I picked up at my local used bookshop, and the copy I bought that day and had signed) and two copies of Why Be Normal (the signed ARC and the hardback that I got as soon as it published).

Hardcovers or Paperbacks or eBooks or Audiobooks?

Yes, please! I will have all the books, thanks. I love a nice hardback book, but library ebooks might be stealing my heart.

What is the ideal reading day for you look like?

Me, a pot of tea, some yummy snacks, and a cozy spot under a blanket on the couch. (I actually did this on a day off work, while my daughter was at school, and read Dan Brown’s Origin. It was lovely.)

What book are you most excited about in 2018?

All the Perverse Angels, by Sarah Marr, which released yesterday!

I got to read the book when it was still in manuscript. I’m so excited that it’s finally out in the world!

(Full disclosure: I got to read the book pre-publication because Sarah is a good friend of mine. She is also a fantastic writer, and the book is amazing.)

This is a beautiful book about love and loss and art and feelings and stories. It is powerful and smart and original, and you should read it.


Now, I’m off to read some more #BookishBloggersUnite via the link-up in Katy’s post.

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