Author Archives: Belle Wong

The Read List: Death at Breakfast, by Beth Gutcheon

deathatbreakfastI hate to say this, but Death at Breakfast just didn’t work for me. When TLC Book Tours sent me their list of upcoming books going on tour, I read the synopsis for this book and loved the sound of the two main protagonists:

Indulging their pleasure in travel and new experiences, recently retired private school head Maggie Detweiler and her old friend, socialite Hope Babbin, are heading to Maine. The trip—to attend a weeklong master cooking class at the picturesque Victorian-era Oquossoc Mountain Inn—is an experiment to test their compatibility for future expeditions.

Hope and Maggie have barely finished their first aperitifs when the inn’s tranquility is shattered by the arrival of Alexander and Lisa Antippas and Lisa’s actress sister, Glory. Imperious and rude, these Hollywood one-percenters quickly turn the inn upside-down with their demanding behavior, igniting a flurry of speculation and gossip among staff and guests alike.

But the disruption soon turns deadly. After a suspicious late-night fire is brought under control, Alex’s charred body is found in the ashes. Enter the town’s deputy sheriff, Buster Babbin, Hope’s long-estranged son and Maggie’s former student. A man who’s finally found his footing in life, Buster needs a win. But he’s quickly pushed aside by the “big boys,” senior law enforcement and high-powered state’s attorneys who swoop in to make a quick arrest.

Maggie knows that Buster has his deficits and his strengths. She also knows that justice does not always prevail—and that the difference between conviction and exoneration too often depends on lazy police work and the ambitions of prosecutors. She knows too, after a lifetime of observing human nature, that you have a great advantage in doing the right thing if you don’t care who gets the credit or whom you annoy.

Feeling that justice could use a helping hand–as could the deputy sheriff—Maggie and Hope decide that two women of experience equipped with healthy curiosity, plenty of common sense, and a cheerfully cynical sense of humor have a useful role to play in uncovering the truth.

Don’t Maggie and Hope sound just lovely? I think the mystery world is really really ready for a pair of middle aged sleuths like them. So as I settled in to read, I was all set to cheer for Maggie and Hope, and ride along as they set out on their first mysterious adventure. Only … it didn’t turn out that way, because I didn’t really get a chance to get a sense of who Maggie and Hope are.

Unfortunately, it takes a good long while before the murder in this murder mystery actually happens, and in the scenes leading up to it, we get into Maggie’s or Hope’s POV just a few times. Now, the murder itself doesn’t have to happen quickly in order for a murder mystery to be good; Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley mysteries come to mind as an example of long build-ups to the murders themselves that work well. But George is also a master of characterization, and good characterization is something I found Death at Breakfast lacked.

A lot of the scenes in the book are scattered among an astonishing number of secondary characters. At first I’d start reading a new scene, be confused about who this particular character was, flip back to find out, then start back on the scene again. After a while, though, I got tired of doing that, so I just kept plodding on, on the assumption that sooner or later it would dawn on me who this person was. But having to do that just doesn’t add up to very enjoyable reading for me.

The writing itself is fine, with a nice turn of phrase here and there. But without solidly fleshed out characters and a better developed plot, I wasn’t really drawn into the story itself. It’s a little bizarre, but I found the character I liked best, in that I was intrigued by her and actually wanted to learn more about her, was Artemis, a celebrity pop star who never physically shows up in the book.

When I finished reading, I headed over to Amazon and Goodreads to see some of its reviews; I like to do this when a book doesn’t work for me because there’s always the chance I missed something that could have made a difference. But after reading through the reviews, it occurred to me that Death at Breakfast would probably be enjoyed by the reader of general fiction, but perhaps not so much by mystery aficionados.

And on a side note, it was interesting to see one reviewer had actually counted the number of secondary characters who make an appearance in the book: there were twenty-three of them! That’s a lot of secondary characters, and with several of them getting their own scenes in the book, it was all too confusing and unwieldy for me.

Depending on your reading tastes, your mileage with this one may be different, though.

 

The Read List: Witches of Lychford, by Paul Cornell

Witches of Lychford

What it’s about:

Traveler, Cleric, Witch.

The villagers in the sleepy hamlet of Lychford are divided. A supermarket wants to build a major branch on their border. Some welcome the employment opportunities, while some object to the modernization of the local environment.

Judith Mawson (local crank) knows the truth — that Lychford lies on the boundary between two worlds, and that the destruction of the border will open wide the gateways to malevolent beings beyond imagination.

But if she is to have her voice heard, she’s going to need the assistance of some unlikely allies…

I picked up Paul Cornell’s Witches of Lychford after I read an excerpt of it on the Tor website (actually, I pre-ordered it right after reading it, as it wasn’t released yet — and I don’t normally place pre-orders, so the excerpt definitely grabbed me). 

Then the ebook was released and sent to my Kindle … and like lots of other ebooks on my Kindle (and my Kobo), it ended up sitting on my Kindle for a while. But then I remembered it, and decided to pick up where I’d left off.

And I’m really glad I did. Even though this is a short book (it’s novella-length), Cornell has no problems building a believable world where magic is worked within the nicks and corners of the normal, magic-less every day.

Set in a small English village, the story pulls in the workings of local politics and is quite epic in scope. The rest of the story turned out to be just as good as the excerpt that had pulled me in, and when I finished, I found myself hoping Cornell would continue to set more stories in this world he’s created.

I had read Cornell’s London Falling a while back and enjoyed it, so reading the Witches of Lychford has reminded me how much I wanted to read his The Severed Streets, too.

 

The Read List: Die Again, by Tess Gerritsen

die again

So … I figured out “whodunnit”. Not until close to the end, but definitely before the big reveal.

Sigh.

It’s never nice when that happens. Still, this was an okay read. I particularly liked the parts of the narrative that took place in Botswana, and I enjoyed the mystery of how those parts fit in with the rest of the story. Unfortunately, once I found out exactly how those bits fit in, the rest of the puzzle pieces slipped into place–just a little bit too early.

Botswana? you say. But I thought Die Again was a Rizzoli and Isles mystery … And so it is. Here’s the synopsis:

When Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles are summoned to a crime scene, they find a killing worthy of the most ferocious beast—right down to the claw marks on the corpse. But only the most sinister human hands could have left renowned big-game hunter and taxidermist Leon Gott gruesomely displayed like the once-proud animals whose heads adorn his walls. Did Gott unwittingly awaken a predator more dangerous than any he’s ever hunted?

Maura fears that this isn’t the killer’s first slaughter, and that it won’t be the last. After linking the crime to a series of unsolved homicides in wilderness areas across the country, she wonders if the answers might actually be found in a remote corner of Africa.

Six years earlier, a group of tourists on safari fell prey to a killer in their midst. Marooned deep in the bush of Botswana, with no means of communication and nothing but a rifle-toting guide for protection, the terrified tourists desperately hoped for rescue before their worst instincts—or the wild animals prowling in the shadows—could tear them apart. But the deadliest predator was already among them, and within a week, he walked away with the blood of all but one of them on his hands.

Now this killer has chosen Boston as his new hunting ground, and Rizzoli and Isles must find a way to lure him out of the shadows and into a cage. Even if it means dangling the bait no hunter can resist: the one victim who got away.

So yes, the Botswana parts were good. Figuring it out early? Not so good. Still, it was nice to meet with Rizzoli and Isles again.

But I have to say, I’ve not been all that interested in the story arcs of a number of continuing series characters for a while now, this one included. I don’t mind the conflict going on at Rizzoli’s parents’ house (although someone really really needs to sit Angela down and talk some sense into her) but the whole thing with Isles and her sociopathic mother? It’s like, the priest thing didn’t work out (both literally and also as the continuing story arc) so we have to have something just as dramatic going on. We share DNA so we have a bond … I mean, really. Isles is supposed to be a scientist.

And while I’m not one to rip covers apart, and I love the woman’s eyes in the cover of the hardcover version (which is the version I read), I really don’t get the connection between that cover and the story.  I think the paperback cover provides a much better connection to the story:

die again v2

 

If you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I mean.

If you’re a Rizzoli and Isles fan, you’ll probably enjoy this one.

 

Let’s Celebrate: I’m Reading Again!

I’ve been feeling rather self-congratulatory lately, because YES! I’ve started reading again! And by reading, I don’t mean my comfort listens of Agatha Christie mysteries. I mean new-to-me novels.

Yes, I’m back in my reading seat. Which alternates right now between my sofa and my bed. Neither feels ideal, so I have a feeling I’ll be spending a bit of time rearranging things furniture-wise.

But still—I’m reading!

Here’s what I recently finished:

The House on Cold Hill

The House on Cold Hill by Peter James. Peter James writes mostly mysteries, none of which I’d read before (I rectified that after I finished The House on Cold Hill by putting a hold on some of his previous books). The House on Cold Hill is a standalone, and as you might be able to tell from the cover, it’s a haunted house book.

I like a good haunted house book, although I haven’t read that many in this genre. I definitely enjoyed this one. I read the occasional horror, and one thing I find is that often, what’s labelled as “horror” is really all about the gore. I prefer horror stories that scare the crap out of me without diving into too much gore. The House on Cold Hill is that kind of book. It has a slow, almost soothing build-up and of course I ended up finishing it late at night, which increased the scary quotient quite a bit.

Opening Belle

Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry. Yes, I’ve actually managed to read a fairly new book for once! Not only that, but it’s apparently already been optioned by Reese Witherspoon …

But really, how could I resist? It’s not that often I get to read a book where the protagonist bears my name (well, okay, so she’s “Isabelle” but people often call her Belle, which works for me). Plus there were certain things about her life that really resonated with me (not, however, her salary—to that, I can only say “if only!”)

It was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I particularly liked learning about women on Wall Street—and it’s amazing how caveman-like the environment continues to be. I think this will make a good movie, although there were a couple of things about the ending that didn’t particularly thrill me. I won’t say anymore, though, because they’re definitely on the spoiler side.

I’m looking forward to settling back into reading again. Here’s what I might (or might not, because I’m persnickety that way) be reading in the next few days/weeks:

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald. I was at the library a few weeks ago picking up some holds so I decided to browse the New Books section. I came across the trade paperback copy of The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. I’m not sure what prompted me to pick it up—it’s not in my usual genres of mystery, horror, fantasy or science fiction. But the cover was so obviously of a bookish nature. And then there’s the “Readers” in the title.

So I flipped it open and began reading, and I liked what I read.  Such a quirky bookish book! Hopefully I’ll get to it before I have to return it (I’ve already renewed it once).

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Stories by Stephen King. I’m looking forward to dipping into this one, especially since I’ve started a re-listen of King’s On Writing in the hopes of getting myself back on the writing track, so dear Uncle Stevie has been on my mind a fair bit. (I love listening to On Writing, partly for the inspiration and partly because King narrates it himself, and he does some great voices). And maybe the best part of The Bazaar of Bad Dreams will be the forward King’s written for each of the stories that are included in the collection, which details why he came to write that particular story. I love stuff like that—it’s like getting a lovely peak straight into an author’s “writing mind”.

The Virgin of the Wind Rose by Glen Craney. This was sent to me by the author; I don’t normally accept a lot of review books that come my way, but the storyline for this one was very intriguing:

While investigating the murder of an American missionary in Ethiopia, rookie State Department lawyer Jaqueline Quartermane stumbles upon a Latin palindrome embedded with a cryptographic time bomb. Separated by half a millennium, two global conspiracies dovetail to expose the world’s most explosive secret: The real identity of Christopher Columbus.

Glen Craney also sent me a link to an instant preview of the book, which was great, as I always like to read the first chapter or two before saying yes to a review book. I took a look, and liked what I read. And while I’m not big on historical fiction, things change when you throw in a modern-day component, plus mystery and a great deal of suspense.

So this is what’s (tentatively) on my reading agenda right now. But no matter what, I know I’m back on the reading track, and that’s definitely something this particular writer is celebrating!

Settling In

I am finally—FINALLY!—feeling settled in. I moved into my new place at the end of January, and since then it’s been a madhouse of unpacking and keeping on top of my work deadlines, which have not slowed down at all. They’ve actually expanded, because on top of everything else I’ve been branching out and diversifying my services.

The first few days after the move were more on the depressing side—lack of sleep, coupled with the mess of tons of boxes. My new place is much smaller compared to my past homes, and with the clutter of so many boxes (because … books, right?) it was tough to even find a pathway from the living room to the kitchen!

But I persevered, and unpacked. And unpacked some more. And then some more.

The end result? I’ve decided a minimalist lifestyle is very much to my liking. I ended up giving away boxes and boxes of books, and I’ve also come up with a couple of new rules for myself:

  1. For every print book I buy, I must giveaway TWO from my shelves.
  2. Every month I will go through my bookshelves and pick books to donate or give away.

I ended up getting my living/dining room (it’s all one and the same, rather small, space) cleaned up, and I love it! But I will need to keep my eye on clutter, because I’ve noticed the moment I start heaping books and papers on my coffee table or the dining room table, the place doesn’t feel quite so cozy any more.

On top of that, I managed the feat of clearing/unpacking the living room by lugging all unpacked boxes up to my bedroom/office. These are the “difficult” boxes, filled with papers and miscellaneous things for which I have absolutely no room, so the plan is to slowly go through them one by one, while at the same time brainstorming and implementing some sort of filing system that will accommodate what I need it to accommodate. Plus there will be a whole lot of shredding going on …

And what I am I looking forward to?

  • The implementation of new habits and routines
  • Getting back to reading
  • Getting back to writing
  • Getting back to blogging

Most of all, I’m eager to start blogging about my reading again. And to kick things off, here’s what’s on my currently reading list right now:

Elegance

Elegance, by Kathleen Tessaro. This is a reread for me, one of the books on my comfort reading list. This may seem like a strange choice for those of you who know me and my reading tastes, as it’s neither mystery, sci-fi or fantasy, but aside from these genres, I also adore transformation/Cinderella stories. Since there is, unfortunately, no readily available genre of “transformation/Cinderella stories”, when I do find one I love, it usually ends up in my comfort reading list.

life-changing magic of tidying-up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. According to my Kobo, I’ve read about 60% of this book. It’s been helping me a lot. Not that I’ve actually been holding things in my hands and asking myself, “Does this spark joy?” (I find this doesn’t work very well with books, because I tend to say, “Yes!” to each one, read or unread). But somehow, just reading this book has made it easier for me to declutter. Things don’t feel as precious anymore, and I’m finding there’s nothing like that feeling of “letting one more thing go”.

Have any of you read Kondo’s latest, Spark Joy? I’m on hold for this one at the library, and I’m expecting great things from it.

miracle morning

The Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod. I haven’t started this one yet, but I’ve heard so many good things about it. And I’m definitely in need of a new morning routine, one that will help me build fun, happy and productive days.

Really, truly: A room of my own

I couldn’t title this post “A Room of One’s Own” because I’d already written a previous post with that same title. That post had been about getting an actual room of my own, but this post? It’s all about a place of my own – because the apartment hunt has ended and I will truly have a “room of one’s own” soon!

This week has been one dramatic ride, that’s for sure. The week began with my real estate agent calling me to let me know that the unit my ex- had lost out on just before the new year was now back on the market because the deal they’d signed with the competing bidder had fallen through, and the other agent had actually called Jay, my agent, to see if my ex was still interested.

Yes, he still was.

So the race to find a place for me was on, since Ward couldn’t sign the lease unless I was also getting a unit in the same building–we’d decided that, since living “together but separate” wasn’t working for us, the next best thing for coparenting would be to have units in the same building, so Dylan could go back and forth without going outside. Ward was getting a really good deal on his new place, so everyone knew it would be ideal if I could land a unit in the same building.

I’d already put in two offers just prior to the new year, and had them both defeated by competing offers (I tell you, the rental market in Toronto is HOT, that’s for sure). But Jay had another unit to show me. The next day I met with him, saw the unit, and put in my offer.

And then …

NOTHING.

We didn’t hear a peep out of the other agent. Since the unit was up for lease and also for sale, we figured either the owner or the agent was holding out for a sale and reluctant to lease, despite having listed it as being available to lease. And the time was ticking on Ward’s offer–his potential landlord really wanted to rent out the place, and if Ward didn’t get his deposit in soon, he might lose it.

The next day, I was scheduled to see another potential unit in the same complex. But Jay had a surprise up his sleeve. Another unit in the complex, a really gorgeous unit, had just come on the market. It was priced a tiny bit above my maximum, but even then, it was a real steal. He’d made arrangements for me to take a look at it. He was so quick to make the appointment, we were the first ones to view it.

(He’s an absolutely fabulous real estate agent, by the way. One of the rare ones who are as committed to closing rental deals for their clients as they are to closing sales (real estate agents make far more on sales than they do on rentals–something like ten to 20 times more) so I really lucked out when I found him.)

I honestly did not think I had a chance at this place. I walked through it without really comprehending all the details–I didn’t want to start really liking it, because I just knew I wouldn’t get it. I actually pointed out all the flaws to myself (there isn’t enough closet space; the master bedroom is a loft so there’s no privacy, etc etc) so I wouldn’t be disappointed when I didn’t get it. I just knew there would be competing offers by the zillion, and I wasn’t willing to get into a bidding war  Also, it wasn’t a good day for me. I’d had less than five hours of sleep and I was feeling like a zombie.

But we put the offer in anyway. Jay said it wouldn’t hurt to try, and if I didn’t get it, there was the backup unit, which I’d also viewed while in my zombie-like state.

And … I got it! 

So Ward and I both get the keys to our separate units the end of next week. Neither of us are ready to move, so we’ll probably each be moving closer to the end of the month. After I gave my deposit to Jay, he took me through my place again (it feels so weird to be saying my place!)  so I could take proper measurements. This time around, I was fully awake and alert and aware. And I had to keep pinching myself. Because the place was even better than I remembered!

You mean this place is mine?!

I still can’t believe it. But it must be true. I have a call in to the movers we used the last time (who are absolutely fabulous–if you live in Toronto and you need movers, they’re called Wild West and they’ve moved my stuff three times now, and hopefully if I can book them again, it will be four times–tell them Belle sent you. They are extraordinary people and do an amazing job), I have Internet service installation booked, and I have tenant insurance in place to start on the day I pick up my keys.

So … yes, it’s real!

A place of my own.

I can hardly wait!

Finding My Now

I had the most interesting mini-epiphany this morning. Life has been super hectic for me lately: the usual clamour of winter deadlines coupled with the energy-draining thrills of apartment hunting. It’s been so busy I haven’t even taken the time to do the kind of contemplative thinking about the new year which usually occupies me at this time of the year.

This morning, it really hit me: I have been spending so much time focusing on work and on dealing with the uncertainty of not knowing where I’ll be living next month or the month after that, I’ve totally lost track of my Now.

So much of my life lately has been about the future: Where will I be living? What will it be like? How will Dylan adjust? And I’ve been putting off everything I want to do, postponing it into the future. When I’m more settled, I’ve been telling myself. That’s when I’ll do all these things. When I’m more settled.

I’m talking about all the things that are important to me. Like writing. And going out for walks. And adding more art into my life. By focusing so much on the future, I’ve been willingly postponing all of these things.

No wonder I’ve been feeling so tired. So de-energized. So anxious and on edge. I’ve removed the fun from my life and placed it all within the near future, where it’s only vaguely accessible to me.

And you know what? I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to wait until I’m “more settled”. I have this Now, this moment—it is mine, all mine, and there is no reason why I cannot be here now, truly be here. And all the reasons in the world why I should be here now.

We put in two offers last night. My ex’s offer is more or less a sure thing, as the owners of the unit he’s put in an offer for are very motivated to sign a lease. The unit I’ve put in an offer for has a competing offer on the table already. I was filled with angst last night about this, but this morning, I’ve found peace. Because it would be wonderful if we got the units, but it’s not a disaster if we don’t. If it doesn’t work out, there are many, many condo developments in this city, and there are many, many apartWments going up for rent every single day.

I will find the right apartment for me. My ex will find the right apartment for him. And together they will both be the right apartments for our son.

So I’ve found my Now. For this moment only, and I know I will get all tangled up in the knots of uncertainty again, sooner or later, but that really doesn’t matter, not right now, when I’ve found my Now.

Update:  I’ve just started reading again from Practicing the Power of Now, which is basically composed of excerpts from Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, picking up from where I’d left it back in the fall. And this is from today’s reading:

When the compulsive striving away from the Now ceases, the joy of Being flows into everything you do. The moment your attention turns to the Now, you feel a presence, a stillness, a peace. You no longer depend on the future for fulfillment and satisfaction-you don’t look to it for salvation. Therefore, you are not attached to the results. Neither failure nor success has the power to change your inner state of Being. You have found the life underneath your life situation.

I am feeling quite awed at how accurately these words reflect what I just wrote about minutes ago in this post!

A New Year: No Resolutions (Yet) and More Packing (Hopefully)

Happy new year, everyone! I hope your holiday celebrations were wonderful and everything you wanted them to be. Mine were crammed full of deadlines, as seems to be the norm for me at this time of the year, and when I add that on top of everything else that’s been going on in my life, it’s been quite a busy two weeks or so.

I’ve been so busy, in fact, I haven’t had any time at all to think about the new year. Normally at this time of the year I have all these fabulous ideas about new habits I want to incorporate or fun-sounding challenges I want to undertake. That hasn’t happened yet because I’ve been so busy, so I’m kind of postponing my end of the year thinking to somewhere around the third week of January, which is when my work deadlines start slowing down to a more gentle, manageable pace.

On top of the deadlines, and all the Christmas things one has to fit in at this time of the year, I’ve also been apartment hunting! My ex- and I have decided things would work out far, far better if we found our own individual places, but within the same apartment building.

At first, the plan was to find two units on the same floor. And while we did actually find two such units—and lovely units they were, too, as well as being only two doors apart—unfortunately we put in our offers too late. In the time between us deciding we wanted to put in our offers and our actually putting in the offers (between which basically fell Christmas Day and Boxing Day) a set of earlier, competing offers had come in. So we lost out on the units. Very unfortunate.

After this, it dawned on us how difficult it would be if we continued to confine ourselves only to units that were on the same floor. Not only would we have to actually find such units, but then we’d have to have both our offers accepted, and the fact that one offer would be conditional on the other would make things even more challenging.

So after some thinking things over, and further discussions with our son Dylan—after all, he’s the one who will be going back and forth between the units—the joint consensus is that two units in the same building would work just as well. A quick elevator ride between floors takes mere minutes, and the plan is for Dylan to be comfortable going back and forth whenever he likes.

Anyway, all this means there will be more packing in my near future! The rental market is fast-paced here in Toronto, with lots of units coming up for lease but also lots of units being leased every day, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed we’ll find new places soon. I’m looking forward to truly having my own space, and in many ways I feel like life is on hold until I move.

With all of this going on, you probably won’t be surprised I haven’t done much reading lately. Mostly I’ve been listening to BBC dramatizations of Agatha Christie mysteries while I’m working. They’re great in the background, and since I’ve read each of the novels being dramatized a zillion times or so, it’s like “comfort noise”, and really helps me get through my deadlines more quickly (or at least, that’s what it feels like!).

And then, in the hour or so between work and sleep, I’ve been finding myself watching episodes of Poirot on Netflix. It’s been interesting to see the novels transformed onto the small screen (truly small, as I watch them on my iPad). And while there’s the familiar comfort of plots and characters I know well, I am actually even more in love with the series sets. Poirot is set in the 20s, and to my surprise I am really enjoying all the architectural and design details, as well as the clothes and accessories.

So that’s my new year’s update. How did your new years go? What resolutions or new habits are you looking to incorporate into this bright and shiny new year?

Sunday Snapshot: All the Books

Well, it’s that time of the year again. Everyone’s coming out with their “Best _____ Books of 2015″ and I spend most of the time saying to myself, “I want to read ALL THE BOOKS”, and then I look at all my TBR titles and try not to get too depressed that it’s not that likely to happen. Not that likely to happen? More like an impossibility.

Especially not when I’m madly adding even more titles to my various lists.

On the other hand, it’s fun. Not only that, it’s free fun. Free fun is always a great thing, if you ask me. I can pleasurably while away a couple of hours here and there browsing Best Of … lists, with my library‘s website open in a separate tab. Not that I put everything I find on hold, because we all know what happens when you go down that road:

They all come in at once. It never fails. You don’t hear from the library for ages, and then suddenly one day you get umpteen emails. Your holds have come in! Argh!

So what I do is send the books I want to read but not frantically so to a special Trello list I’ve got set up. There’s a handy little bookmarklet that lets me quickly add the link to the book on my library’s site to my list—so easy!

And now, here’s today’s Snapshot:

Feeling: Well rested – because I slept in today! For the first time in quite a while. My body is feeling very thankful. I definitely needed those extra hours.

Reading: Yesterday Dylan and I started reading Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I’d come across a blog post somewhere where the blogger had said it was a fabulous book to read with your kids—and she is so right! But it’s also a fabulous book to read on your own, and the only thing that’s stopped me from plowing ahead with it on my own (without Dylan knowing, of course) is my workload. If you love novels that are made up of memos, texts, messages, interviews etc., and you like science fiction, this is definitely a novel you should check out.

So much fun!

Illuminae

Listening: November was really busy for me work-wise, and December has shaped up to be the same, so I’ve been doing re-listens to help wind down in the evenings. I finished a re-listen of Reginald Hill’s The Price of Butcher’s Meat, one of my absolute favourite audiobooks. My copy is called A Cure for All Diseases, which is what the book was released as in Canada and the UK (and it makes more sense to me than The Price of Butcher’s Meat—one day I’ll have to look into why the publisher felt it needed a different title in the States).

I am now doing a re-listen of Relic, the first Agent Pendergast book by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child and my favourite of all the Pendergast books.

Writing: Nothing. {insert big sigh here} I’m hoping things will change in January. But I’m just so busy with work right now.

Working: November to January are traditionally the busiest indexing months of the year for me, and this year has proven to be no different. So yes, I am STILL NOT FULLY UNPACKED. I would take a picture of all the boxes I have left but it’s too depressing to even think about.

To add insult to injury, I somehow agreed to work on two chemistry textbooks this month. One is bad enough, but two?! I don’t know how it happened. (Well, okay, actually, I do—I hate to turn down work. It’s been my downfall many a time.)

I had, however, turned down a third chemistry book a few months ago, which would probably have been due this month as well. Thank goodness. The reason I turned that one down is because I actually remembered working on it about three years ago. I might have blogged about it: it was the project that gave me hives. I literally broke out in hives all over my lower jaw!

Creating: {Insert another big sigh here.} I’m hoping I’ll do better in the new year.

So that’s my snapshot for today. How have you all been doing? Do you have any “Best of 2015″ book lists you’d recommend?

Getting Reacquainted With My TBR

One thing about moving – it’s given me the chance to get reacquainted with my TBR stacks.

While I was unpacking my books, I found myself creating three piles from my rather massive TBR stash. The first pile contained the books I really really really wanted to read. I decided to dedicate two book shelves to these books.

The second pile was made up of the books I wanted to read, but didn’t feel like they belonged on the “really really really” bookshelf. These books I stacked in the “someday” pile on the walk-in closet shelf (which is really now just a shelf, as it’s no longer a walk-in closet but my “bedroom”, although I’m still sleeping on a twin mattress on the floor, as I’m waiting until I get all unpacked before I buy my new bed).

The third pile? My reluctant giveaways. These were all ones it would be nice to get around to, but I didn’t have enough commitment to put on my “someday” shelf AND my library has them available in ebook format. So they got put on the ebook wishlist there. Here’s what this pile looks like:

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It’s hiding out under my desk at the moment. To the far right, where you can’t see them in the picture, are two stacks of art technique books which I’m hoping to resell at one of the bookstores in the city that buys used books that are in good condition. I also belong to a local Facebook books buy/sell group, so I will post my old TBRs on there first. Whatever doesn’t sell, I’ll donate to the library.

So, having now gone through my TBR with much thought, I’ve been finding myself getting reacquainted with my TBR. There are lots of books on my “really really really” shelf that look like fun:

I’ve even grabbed a book from my “really really really” shelf and started reading it—The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. It’s good, but I had to put it down because the latest Gamache book, The Nature of the Beast, came in from the library so of course I have to get that read before it has to go back.

But it’s been fun getting to know all my TBR books again—there are some treasures in there I had long forgotten!