Curioussquared begins 2021 with some books

Converses75 Books Challenge for 2021

Afegeix-te a LibraryThing per participar.

Curioussquared begins 2021 with some books

1curioussquared
Editat: gen. 1, 6:56pm

Hello everyone! I'm Natalie. I have participated in the challenge on and off over the years, and consistently over the past few years.

I'm located in Seattle, where I work in marketing for a healthcare company. I used to get a lot of reading done during my bus commute, but of course am working from home presently, and when I do return to office work, my new commute will be via car, so I expect to get through lots of audiobooks. Otherwise, I do most of my reading curled up on the couch with my retired racing greyhounds, Skelly, Otter, and new addition Kermit, or listening to audiobooks while doing chores and walking the dogs.

Aside from the pandemic and its obvious implications, 2020 was actually a great year for me on paper. In order, my boyfriend and I got engaged, I changed jobs and am happy at my new company, and we acquired greyhound #3, Kermit. Tim and I are both able to happily work from home and so far, our families are safe and doing okay.

2021 will of course bring its own challenges. I'm still hopeful we can have a decently sized, normal wedding at the end of August; we'll have to make a call on that sometime in January or February, depending on how vaccine rollout is going. If it does look like we'll be able to do it, I'm sure wedding planning will cut into my reading time in the new year.

I read mostly fiction, with a heavy emphasis on YA, along with some fantasy and sci-fi, general fiction/literature, a scattered mystery here and there, and the occasional non-fiction title. I've been keeping track of my books read since 2008, and I have traditionally aimed for 100. In 2020, I finally managed to both hit and surpass my long-time goal of of 150, with a total of 166!

Last year I also read 72 books off of my own shelves, an all-time high for me. I'm going to keep this goal at 50, in case I do end up very busy with wedding planning, etc. (I'll have a thread in the ROOTs group as well where I cross-post reviews of books off my shelves.)



Here are Skelly, Otter, and Kermit on one of our neighborhood walks, modeling winter's latest fashions. Why is it so much more difficult to get a good picture of three dogs than it is to get one of two dogs?

3curioussquared
Editat: març 17, 4:17pm

Books read in 2021:

January
1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (off my shelf)
2. Jack, the Giant-Killer by Charles de Lint (off my shelf)
3. Drink Down the Moon by Charles de Lint (off my shelf)
4. The Sisters of Straygarden Place by Hayley Chewins (off my shelf)
5. Unwind by Neal Shusterman (off my shelf)
6. The Camelot Betrayal by Kiersten White
7. The Flip Side by James Bailey
8. The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan
9. Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith
10. The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman (off my shelf)

February
11. A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow (off my shelf)
12. In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
13. The Iliad by Homer (off my shelf)
14. The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary (reread)
15. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (off my shelf)
16. The Icebound Land by John Flanagan
17. Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia (off my shelf)
18. Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones (reread)
19. The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright
20. The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal (off my shelf)

March
21. Nancy's Mysterious Letter by Carolyn Keene (off my shelf)
22. A Pho Love Story by Loan Le
23. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (off my shelf)
24. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes (off my shelf)
25. Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
26. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (off my shelf)

4curioussquared
des. 31, 2020, 4:04pm

Books read in 2021:

April

May

June

5curioussquared
des. 31, 2020, 4:05pm

Books read in 2021:

July

August

September

6curioussquared
des. 31, 2020, 4:05pm

Books read in 2021:

October

November

December

7curioussquared
Editat: març 16, 4:10pm

Finally, I have a pool of books off my shelf I'd like to get through this year. It's a mixture of books I've owned forever and want to finally get to, some newer titles I'm excited about, and everything in-between.



Here is the list -- it is truly random, just a bunch of titles I pulled off my shelves when they caught my eye. We'll see how I do!

1. The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal
2. Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown
3. The Secret Commonwealth by Phillip Pullman
4. Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia
5. Angel Mage by Garth Nix
6. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
7. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
8. Havenfall by Sarah Holland
9. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
10. The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake
11. Children of Blood and Bone by Toni Adeyemi
12. Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami
13. A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
14. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
15. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
16. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
17. Darkwing by Kenneth Oppel
18. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
19. LAMB: The Gospel According to Biff by Christopher Moore
20. Firebug by Lish McBride
21. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
22. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
23. Rosmersholm by Henrik Ibsen
24. Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
25. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
26. A Very Long Engagement by Sebastian Japrisot
27. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
28. A Winter's Promise by Christelle Dabos
29. The Sisters of Straygarden Place by Hayley Chewins
30. A Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik
31. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins
32. Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
33. Shaman's Crossing by Robin Hobb
34. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
35. Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
36. Jack of Kinrowan by Charles de Lint
37. Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip
38. The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope
39. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
40. Slay by Brittany Morris
41. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
42. A Sudden Wild Magic by Diana Wynne Jones

8drneutron
des. 31, 2020, 4:58pm

Welcome back!

9PaulCranswick
des. 31, 2020, 6:06pm

Welcome back, Natalie.

10AMQS
des. 31, 2020, 6:31pm

Hi Natalie! Came by to see you and will definitely be back to see the greyhounds! We do have similar tastes in reading - I read two of the books on your top 15 lis last year, and two others I have bought for gifts for my daughter! I'm dropping a star and will be back!

11FAMeulstee
des. 31, 2020, 7:02pm

Happy reading in 2021, Natalie!

12libraryperilous
des. 31, 2020, 7:37pm

Happy 2021 threading and reading, Natalie!

Fingers crossed the wedding goes off at the size you'd like.

13MickyFine
gen. 1, 12:27am

Happy new thread, Natalie! Wishing you an excellent reading year.

14PaulCranswick
gen. 1, 1:28am



And keep up with my friends here, Natalie. Have a great 2021.

15scaifea
gen. 1, 9:41am

Oooh, The Return of the Thief! So happy to see that in your Best Reads list - I'm still working through a reread of the previous volumes in the series, but I'm so excited to get to this one!

16thornton37814
gen. 1, 6:48pm

Hope you have a great year of reading!

17curioussquared
gen. 1, 6:55pm

>8 drneutron:, >9 PaulCranswick: Thank you!

>10 AMQS: Thanks for stopping by, Anne! The greyhounds have now been added :D

>11 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita!

>12 libraryperilous: Thanks, Diana! We'll see; I have days where I'm optimistic and days when I'm sure it won't happen.

>13 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky!

>14 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul!

>15 scaifea: I hope you enjoy it, Amber! I thought it was just as well done and complex as the other novels, and a really satisfying conculsion.

>16 thornton37814: Thanks Lori!

18Berly
gen. 1, 6:57pm

Happy new 2021 thread!! And congrats on Kermit and getting engaged -- you did have a good year!

I love several of your top picks from this year:
The Flatshare
My Sister the Serial Killer
Kindred
We Were Eight Years in Power
Network Effect (have it -- need to read)

Here's to an even better, brighter and bookier 2021.

19karenmarie
gen. 1, 7:00pm

Hi Natalie and Happy New Year!

>1 curioussquared: Even with the pandemic, it does sound like there were a lot of positives for you last year. Question: What’s the boot for on Skelly’s left front paw? Just curious….

20curioussquared
gen. 1, 7:34pm

>18 Berly: Thanks, Kim!

>19 karenmarie: Thanks, Karen! Skelly has a corn on his front paw; it's similar to a human corn, and greyhounds are weirdly prone to them -- they're not common at all in other dog breeds. Something to do with how large they are compared to how tiny their feet are, maybe. So he wears a bootie with a baby sock on walks to make him more comfortable. He's really good about it and knows that putting the bootie on means it's time for a walk!

21AMQS
Editat: gen. 1, 7:57pm

>1 curioussquared: SQUEEEEEEEEE! What gorgeous dogs! Do they do that thing I've seen greyhounds do where they fit together like puzzle pieces when they walk and sort of mesh into one dog?

Our Whistler has had so many problems with his feet and legs over the years. I think their life on the track is really hard. Plus his skin is so thin it doesn't take much for them to get hurt. We were forever taping bandages to his legs and feet. Now he can't walk much and has had age-related health issues that have prompted our vet to have us restrict his activity. Since I can't walk much these days either it suits me fine, but I'm sad that his world is getting smaller.

22curioussquared
gen. 1, 9:59pm

>21 AMQS: I wish they would merge into one dog on walks!! They are all big sniffers and pee-on-stuff-ers so mostly it just feels like we're always trying to go in four directions at once. Their leashes are always tangled; we call it the maypole effect.

I'm sorry Whistler (and you!) have been movement-restricted lately! Yes, I feel like the boys are always banging their legs up somehow. Skelly is the only one who raced and he has lots of mysterious scars; all it takes is a scratch and then the fur that came out never grows back. Otter and Kermit both didn't race and I think they are better for it -- they don't have the weird hang-ups that Skelly has, like stairs or slippery floors.

23norabelle414
gen. 2, 1:11pm

Happy New Year Natalie! Your stack at >7 curioussquared: looks eerily similar to my own bookshelves... Maybe we will have some reading overlap this year.

24curioussquared
gen. 3, 11:52pm

>23 norabelle414: Thanks, Nora! That's pretty funny -- excited to see if we read some of the same things this year!

25curioussquared
gen. 4, 12:15am



1 book read: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Pip is not born into a family of means; rather, he is "raised by hand" by his sister and her husband Joe after the death of his parents, and has nothing to look forward to but eventually apprenticing to Joe as a blacksmith. But a few interesting events occur in his childhood, including when he helps a convict escape from prison in the marshes near his home, and when he is asked to come and keep the old Miss Havisham company, a lady who was left as the altar as a young woman and since has never left her house or removed her wedding finery. There, he meets Miss Havisham's pretty ward Estella, who he adores. When a young man, Pip begins his apprenticeship to Joe -- but is soon surprised by the news that he has a mysterious benefactor, who wishes to make him a gentleman. As Pip has longed to become a gentleman since meeting Estella, he quickly accepts and begins his new life, leaving Joe and all the others behind -- but being a gentleman might be more complicated than he expects.

I always forget how darn funny Dickens is; I think reading David Copperfield in school ruined it for me. I have always enjoyed Dickens on my own, but have never enjoyed studying his works. I'm so glad I finally got to this classic, and enjoyed every minute of it -- it's a classic for a reason. 5 stars.

I would love to hear others' favorite Dickens books. Aside from this one, I've only read Oliver Twist, the aforementioned David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, and A Christmas Carol (as of last week!).

26MickyFine
gen. 4, 10:11am

A Tale of Two Cities probably tops my list of Dickens I've read, but I'm also very fond of Little Dorrit (although my love for it is massively influenced by the amazing miniseries adaptation from 2008, which includes Matthew Macfadyen in its large cast).

27libraryperilous
gen. 4, 10:25am

You've read my favorites, David Copperfield and A Tale of Two Cities, but I also think Bleak House and Our Mutual Friend are fantastic. I've not read Barnaby Rudge, but I hope to get to it in 2021.

28curioussquared
gen. 4, 12:48pm

>26 MickyFine: >27 libraryperilous: Thank you both! I enjoyed A Tale of Two Cities when I read it a few years ago, and will put the others mentioned on the list (as well as that miniseries, Micky!). I might try David Copperfield again at some point, too; I read it for a really tough class during a really tough term and I think it was just not meant to be.

29humouress
gen. 4, 1:32pm

Wishing you, Tim and the dogs all the best for 2021! And happy new thread.

>1 curioussquared: The boys are looking handsome. I'm afraid I can't contribute to the Dickens discussions because it's been decades since I've read any - not that I read many - and I can't even say for certain which ones I've read, apart from A Christmas Carol which was the first book I ever studied in school.

30Whisper1
gen. 4, 5:28pm

Hi Natalie. Congratulations on all the good happenings of 2020. And, good luck with the planning of your wedding, and the addition on Kermit to the two other beautiful greyhounds.

I don't know a lot about the bred, other than they can be used for racing. I love Shetland Sheepdogs (shelties). They are loving, intelligent, loyal and they do require a lot of brushing because they have two coats.

My Sheltie is Lilly, she is eight years old. Other than arthritis, she is healthy.

31curioussquared
gen. 5, 1:32pm

>30 Whisper1: Thank you, Linda! I am clearly biased, but I think greyhounds are very special dogs :) The misconception is that because they are super fast racers, they need a lot of exercise, when really they are couch potatoes who sleep about 18-20 hours per day! Lilly is gorgeous. I have loved the shelties I have met, but I will say I don't envy you all that brushing! Another nice thing about greyhounds is that they require very little grooming. Minimal brushing with a soft rubber brush, mostly because they like it, not because they need it, and very very occasional baths --- they have the kind of coat where dirt and mud mostly slide right off.

32curioussquared
gen. 5, 1:33pm

>29 humouress: Thank you Nina! :)

33curioussquared
gen. 5, 2:04pm



2 books read: Jack, the Giant-Killer by Charles de Lint

Faerie, but make it Canadian. (Honestly, that could sum up most of de Lint's books.) Jacky Rowan is a normal girl dealing with a breakup by cutting off all her hair and getting really drunk... but when she's stumbling home through the park after her bender, she witnesses what she thinks is a motorcycle gang chasing down and killing a small man. When Jacky runs up after the gang are gone, the man is clearly dead, and she picks up his red cap from its spot on the ground. When she looks away, the body disappears, but she still has the cap. Soon she learns that the man was actually a hob, and the motorcycle gang are the Wild Hunt, and the hat allows her to see into the world of Faerie -- which has also made her a target for the hunt. Soon, Jacky and her friend Kate are wrapped up in an ancient prophecy about a Jack who will free the Seelie court from the encroaching Unseelie court, and their lives will never be the same.

Technically I'm reading this in an omnibus edition of this book and the sequel, Drink Down the Moon, but I'm counting it as a book read because it was originally published that way and because it's my thread and I can do what I want :D I enjoyed this urban fantasy take on classic tales of Faerie. Charles de Lint can be a little hit or miss for me; sometimes I love his stuff, sometimes I'm more meh, and this was definitely more on the hit side. It definitely feels very late 80s/early 90s, but not in a bad way. 4 stars.

(Totally unintentional to have my first two reads of the year be written by men named Charles!)

34Crazymamie
gen. 5, 7:47pm

Nice review! That sounds like something I would like - I have not read any by him before. What would you recommend as a starting place?

35curioussquared
gen. 5, 11:19pm

>34 Crazymamie: Hi Mamie! I liked this one, and I think it would be a fine starting point. I also have enjoyed his The Onion Girl and The Riddle of the Wren. A few I liked less were Little (Grrl) Lost and Waifs and Strays, though the latter might have been because I'm not big on short stories. Many of his books are in a loosely interconnected series called Newford; I haven't read all of them by any means, and I think you can pretty much start anywhere.

36Crazymamie
gen. 6, 11:28am

Thanks so much for that, Natalie.

37aktakukac
gen. 6, 12:02pm

Happy New Year! I should go through some of my books and try to read them this year, but I always read library books. Looks like you have a great selection off your shelves and some wonderful reading ahead!

Are you watching Jeopardy! this week? :( I'm also curious how the first show without Alex will go...

38curioussquared
gen. 6, 12:15pm

>36 Crazymamie: Anytime! I hope you enjoy whichever you decide to start with!

>37 aktakukac: Thanks, Rachel! I imagine I would have a lot more trouble reading my own books if I worked at a library :) I am watching Jeopardy; it's definitely bittersweet, but Alex was a consummate professional until the end. From what I've heard, he was in massive amounts of pain during the final filming, and somehow still pulled it together and performed. I'm curious about the first shows without him, too. I don't think Ken Jennings is the right choice for a replacement, and hope he is truly temporary. I've heard some calls for LeVar Burton to be the next host, and I think that's closer to the right choice -- I'd definitely be willing to give him a try!

39vikzen
gen. 6, 4:22pm

Happy New Year and thread! Hope all goes well with your reading plans. The greyhounds are super cute!
Re your book pic: I loved An American Marriage last year, and Bel Canto is also really good! Seems we have similar tastes as I've seen quite a few books in this pile that also caught my attention!

40scaifea
gen. 7, 7:37am

Hi, Natalie!

>38 curioussquared: I just saw a headline this morning that Katie Couric has signed on to do a week of hosting Jeopardy, which makes her a candidate for the permanent replacement. Not sure how I feel about that, but honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about *anyone* but Alex.

41curioussquared
gen. 8, 1:00pm

>39 vikzen: Thanks, Vic! I'm looking forward to those two this year. We'll see how well I stick to my plans!

>40 scaifea: Hi Amber! I saw that too. I think I feel pretty meh about Katie as a possibility. I can't imagine replacing Alex, either, but it definitely needs to be someone with the same level of charisma, charm, and compassion (the three C's? haha), as I think that's what made him so successful. I watched the first episode of the new game show The Chase last night, which features people competing at trivia against one of Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, and James Holzhauer. If I learned anything from watching it, it's that Jennings definitely is not the right replacement. He's a great contestant and a super smart guy... but he's not very likeable, and I'm saying that as someone who does like him!

42aktakukac
gen. 8, 1:13pm

>41 curioussquared: I would not care for Couric as a replacement, either. I haven't been reading much about who the guest hosts will be. I saw most of The Chase last night, but missed the end as my toddler required me to be in his room before he would fall asleep, and I needed him to go to bed! I'm also not sure how I would feel about Jennings...he does love the game, and he could be a host for decades due to his age. But would he want to be done playing? Or is he already finished as a contestant, due to his other affiliations with the show? I don't keep up on all this. I did recognize the female contestant on The Chase last night as a former Jeopardy champ!

43curioussquared
gen. 11, 12:44pm

>42 aktakukac: I knew that female contestant looked familiar! Too bad you missed the end of the show; I thought most of it was a little slow but the end was very exciting. I honestly can't really see either Jennings or Couric committing to hosting Jeopardy permanently, so I think we'll be OK.

44curioussquared
gen. 11, 12:48pm

Happy Monday, all. I haven't been reading nearly as much as I would like; turns out major political unrest and attempted coups make it hard for me to focus. I DO feel like I have read the entirety of Twitter so there's that. And I finished Bridgerton last night; so much fun!

I'm hoping to finish Drink Down the Moon today, and I'm getting close to finishing my audiobook, too. Audiobooks often get me through the times when I can't focus on books, but my current listen has been a little meh so I haven't really been driven to finish. Hopefully done soon.

45Whisper1
gen. 11, 1:03pm

>31 curioussquared: Hi Natalie. I recently took Lilly to a local groomer. It took many hours to get the tangles out of Lilly's two coats, even though I brush her every day. The cost for grooming was a whooping $136. But, I understand the cost. Lilly looks lovely with her new haircut.

46libraryperilous
gen. 11, 4:20pm

>44 curioussquared: I've bounced from book to book and not settled on any. I can't even focus on middle grade! I think I've hit every reputable political scientist's Twitter feed, though.

Anyway! I hope you find a bit of comfort in a good book soon.

(Also, screw that trash fire party for ruining both the Georgia election results celebration and Twelfth Night. Sod off forever.)

47curioussquared
gen. 12, 12:52pm

>45 Whisper1: I'm sure Lilly looks very pretty! Yes, the greyhounds don't need grooming, but they have other costs associated. I think all dogs do!

48curioussquared
gen. 12, 12:52pm

>46 libraryperilous: I wish the same for you! And for real, I finally felt like I could maybe relax and start to look forward to the future... and then a few hours later that was over.

49curioussquared
Editat: gen. 12, 12:57pm



3 books read: Drink Down the Moon by Charles de Lint

In this sequel to Jack, the Giant-Killer, Jacky and Kate, now established as part of Faerie, must deal with a new threat to Kinrowan, with help from various fiana sidhe and a few normal humans, too.

It took me a lot longer to get through this sequel; I felt like there were too many new characters and not enough time spent with any of them. Kate is the star of the show this time, and was my favorite part of the book. Jacky became kind of annoying and made a lot of dumb choices. 3.5 stars.

Hey, that's my first book out of the pool done. 41 more to go!

50libraryperilous
gen. 12, 1:02pm

>48 curioussquared: Thank you. 💚

Some things still are good.

51curioussquared
gen. 12, 1:05pm

>50 libraryperilous: Yesssss. Minette is such a vibe that I can't help but vibe along with her every time. I will admit to getting a little too into Tik Tok... sometimes it's able to distract me or lighten things up when nothing else can capture my attention and stop the doomscrolling!

52libraryperilous
gen. 12, 1:09pm

>51 curioussquared: She's so elegantly insouciant in her vibing too. Style goals!

I really need to explore TikTok and see if I can find some of the shanty videos. I love sea shanties at all times, even terrible ones.

53curioussquared
gen. 12, 2:26pm

>52 libraryperilous: It's definitely a time suck but a fun one. I have run across some shanty videos but haven't looked for them specifically, but you can conveniently search by hashtag to get directly to the good stuff :)

54curioussquared
gen. 12, 8:08pm



4 books read: The Sisters of Straygarden Place by Hayley Chewins

Sisters Winnow, Mayhap, and Pavonine have always lived in Straygarden Place, ever since their parents disappeared into the tall silver grass leaving only a note telling them not to leave under any circumstances. The house provides for their every need, and when they need to sleep, they brush their loyal droomhunds and drift off. But one day, Mayhap finds that Winnow has gone, and the front door is open -- and she knows that Winnow has left the house, and she is in danger.

I received this from the Early Reviewers program last year. I wanted to love it-- the imagery and writing were delightful. There were moments where I was totally spooked; Mayhap's feeling of being helpless and at the mercy of the house was very powerful, and I thought might actually be a bit too scary for middle grade. I loved the concept of the droomhunds. At the same time, I had a lot of questions and most of them weren't really answered, and I was pretty unsatisfied by the ending. Maybe I just wanted to know too much, I don't know, but it just wasn't a fulfilling read for me. 3.5 stars.

55curioussquared
gen. 13, 1:32pm



5 books read: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

In this dystopian United States, a war was fought between the pro-choice and pro-life faction, and neither won. Abortion is illegal, but teenagers can be "unwound" between the ages of 13-18 -- they're not killed, technically they're still alive, because every part is harvested and used in other people who need organ or tissue replacements. Conner, Risa, and Lev are three teenagers who are slated to be unwound, all from different situations and backgrounds, but they end up on the run together -- and eventually end up taking a stand.

Maybe I've just read too many YA dystopian novels... but this didn't do it for me. I was surprised to see all the super positive reviews. I just couldn't make it past the premise, which seemed totally unbelievable to me, and the author wasn't able to really provide any of the context for how society got there. (Don't ask me why, but even the Hunger Games seems more realistic to me.) The writing and characterizations were ok. Maybe this would have been fresh and exciting when it was published in 2007, but reading it in 2021, I felt like I'd read better versions of it dozens of times before. Part of my issue was that it seemed like a lot of shocking philosophical questions smushed together into a sub-par novel, with no real attempt at answering any of those questions. There were a few exciting parts, and I kept reading in hopes it would improve, but nothing really to fully redeem it. Definitely not reading any sequels. 2.5 stars.

56MickyFine
gen. 13, 1:34pm

>55 curioussquared: Oof that does sound like a dud. Hopefully your next read is better.

57ffortsa
gen. 16, 6:20pm

Hi Natalie! Congratulations on your engagement and I do hope the wedding plans go smoothly.

Regarding Dickens, I strongly recommend Nicholas Nickleby. I read it before seeing the play many years ago, and found it a thrilling ride. It goes fast! I also love Bleak House, but it has a very different rhythm, suited to its subject matter.

58Whisper1
gen. 16, 10:27pm

Susan, I like browsing through your thread and noting the YA books you read. Awhile back, most of my reading was YA. I have many YA books, perhaps it is time to revisit them.

59curioussquared
gen. 18, 1:15pm

>57 ffortsa: Hi Judy, thanks for stopping by and for the well wishes! I'll keep an eye out for both of those Dickens recommendations :)

>58 Whisper1: Hi Linda! I read a little of everything, but I do love a good YA novel. A do a lot of my reading to escape and there's nothing like escaping to a good, fast-paced story.

60curioussquared
gen. 18, 1:34pm



6 books read: The Camelot Betrayal by Kiersten White

In this sequel to The Guinevere Deception, Guinevere continues her charade at Camelot with her loyal allies Arthur, Brangien, and Lancelot, while facing the continuing threat of the rise of the Dark Queen. Together, they deal with threats coming from outside the city, as well as threats coming from close to home when Guinevere's "sister" Guinevach shows up and threatens to expose Guinevere's deception.

White has done it again with this sequel -- these books feel like a breath of fresh air in the Arthurian tradition. I love this reimagined Guinevere, a Guinevere with agency and powers of her own, and I love her honorable, stiff Arthur and gender-bent Lancelot. Recommended if you like fantasy and ever enjoyed the tales of King Arthur, even if you feel like you've burnt out on Arthuriana. 4 stars.

61curioussquared
gen. 18, 1:50pm



7 books read: The Flip Side by James Bailey

Josh has it all planned out -- he's spent ages shopping for the perfect ring, and he's set it all up so propose to his girlfriend on New Year's Eve in a private carriage on the London Eye. But then Jade says no -- and in one fell swoop, Josh loses his girlfriend, job, and apartment. Feeling at a loss and not trusting his decision-making skills, Josh decides it might be time to leave things up to fate for a while, and he commits to making decisions based on the flip of a coin for the whole year. Over the course of the year, as Josh pursues his crazy resolution and hunts for new love and a new job, he has some new experiences and learns some things about himself, too.

This was such a fun concept, and I had high hopes that were unfortunately unfulfilled. This book was fine; I wasn't feeling very well on Saturday night (possible food poisoning) and it was the lighthearted, no thinking required read I needed for that moment, but it definitely had its issues. First -- this book needed some really, really heavy-duty editing. There were a couple moments of such weak writing that it made me wonder how this dude got published in the first place. (Did he get published because he's a rare man writing romance? I really hope not -- there are so many better writers out there.) The dialogue especially was super weak and stilted; I don't know any people in their late 20s who talk exclusively without using contractions. I also called most of the plot twists. Don't get me wrong -- there were some fun moments. It almost felt more like a movie script, at times, maybe because there was almost no internal dialogue or introspection from the protagonist, and a lot of the time it seemed to jump from funny scene to funny scene without any transition or any acknowledgement of the time that had passed. Anyway, this is fine if you're looking to kill a few hours with some absolutely mindless brain candy, but don't look too hard at any part or you'll be disappointed. 3 stars.

62AMQS
gen. 18, 1:52pm

>61 curioussquared: forewarned is forearmed - thanks! It does sound like a great premise, but not so great execution.

63libraryperilous
gen. 18, 2:08pm

Did he get published because he's a rare man writing romance?

LOL, you already know the answer to this kind of question.

Bummer that it didn't hold water. It sounds like a cute concept. This dude sounds pretty basic.

>60 curioussquared: Really need to read this series!

I hope you're feeling better. I had food poisoning a couple of years ago and it was not fun.

64curioussquared
gen. 18, 2:16pm

>62 AMQS: Yep, this one was all premise and no execution. Oh well, it was quick!

>63 libraryperilous: LOL. Yeah, I suppose I'm being generous. If he's anything like his main character, he's SUPER basic. I didn't really think about it before, but that was another issue with the book -- there is literally nothing interesting or distinctive about the protagonist. He is the definition of Generic Male Paper Doll lead.

Thanks, I am feeling better! It was a very short, intense bout of nausea that evening that luckily had passed by the time I woke up on Sunday. I suppose I should be grateful to The Flip Side for getting me through it, lol.

65MickyFine
gen. 18, 3:19pm

>61 curioussquared: Dang. Cute premises spoiled by terrible execution are so disappointing. Hopefully your next read is better.

66humouress
gen. 19, 12:18am

>60 curioussquared: Ooh - can't wait to read this! But because I enjoyed The Guinevere Deception so much when I borrowed it from the library, I bought my own copy - but I only found the mmpb size last month. So I am going to have to wait until I find The Camelot Betrayal in the right size, too.

67curioussquared
gen. 19, 3:27pm

>61 curioussquared: Agreed! I hope so too :)

>66 humouress: Good luck finding the right edition! You could always get The Camelot Betrayal from the library in the meantime while you're searching... ;)

68humouress
gen. 20, 1:10am

>67 curioussquared: I'm almost tempted. Except then I couldn't justify the cost/ bookshelf space. I'm glad that your review makes it sound like the wait will be worth it and adds a touch of deliciousness to the anticipation.

69libraryperilous
Editat: gen. 20, 12:17pm

It's a little after noon EST, so here is one last Minette for the road ahead. Thanks to notre petit chou* for providing a little fun during a tense time.

*Apologies for the bad French, lol

Edited: stray period

70curioussquared
gen. 20, 1:03pm

>68 humouress: I get it!! Good luck finding your copy soon :D

>69 libraryperilous: Omg, the Minette x sea shanty remix I didn't know I needed in my life. Thank you! I'm going to keep pretending to work while I celebrate a new era.

In other good news, my grandparents and my parents all got the first dose of their COVID vaccine today! Tim's parents' got their first dose last Friday. Things are looking up!

71curioussquared
gen. 20, 2:05pm



8 books read: The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan

In this book 2 of the Ranger's Apprentice series, apprentice Will sets out with Ranger Gillan and his friend, battle school apprentice Horace, to deliver important information about a coming war to King Duncan. But things go wrong along the way, and soon the group is separated. When Will and Horace stumble upon a bridge that would allow Morgarath's forces to enter the country with no forewarning, they know there's no time to tell anyone else, and it's their responsibility to do something to stop it.

This second entry in the series was another enjoyable ride. These are nice, undemanding listens; I'll definitely continue with the series. 4 stars.

72curioussquared
gen. 22, 1:05pm



9 books read: Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith

In this fifth book in the series, Cormoran and Robin are presented with their first cold case, the mysterious disappearance of a female doctor almost forty years ago. Both are doubtful they'll find anything, but are intrigued nonetheless. Meanwhile, Cormoran's aunt, who raised him much of the time, is fighting cancer, and he is preoccupied with her illness and spending more time than usual in Cornwall, all while fending off surprise requests to meet from his famous father and disturbing late-night texts from his ex, Charlotte. Robin is dealing with problems of her own, working through what has turned out to be a nasty divorce and trying her best to ignore her family's expectations and unwanted advances from one of the agency subcontractors. They're so busy that it's no wonder the two agency partners find themselves struggling to find moments to talk about anything other than cases....

JKR has done it again; this latest entry in the series is massive, coming in at almost 1000 pages, but I couldn't put it down and flew through it. The mystery was intricate and compelling; I kept trying to read this as a bedtime book and accidentally staying up for an hour or two past my bedtime. I still love Cormoran and Robin as characters, although in this one I wanted to shake them and yell TALK TO EACH OTHER, they were so uncommunicative. Fans of this series won't be disappointed, and if you haven't read these books yet and you like mysteries even a little bit, what are you waiting for? Although, they can be a little gruesome, if that's not your thing. 4.5 stars.

73FAMeulstee
gen. 22, 1:56pm

>72 curioussquared: I felt the same about Troubled Blood, Natalie.

>71 curioussquared: Good to see you are enjoying the adventures of Halt, Will and Horace.

74PaulCranswick
gen. 23, 4:36am

Pretty solid reading start to 2021, Natalie. I wonder whether your 166 books from last year will be surpassed in 2021?

75PersephonesLibrary
gen. 23, 5:15am

>1 curioussquared: Sweet dogs and >7 curioussquared: lovely book piles!

76curioussquared
gen. 25, 5:40pm

>73 FAMeulstee: Hi Anita! I do love the Cormoran Strike books. I don't consider myself a big mystery person, but I love these.

>74 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! I'm always hopeful, and am still aiming for 150 books this year, but I'm doubtful I'll hit it if we end up doing our wedding this year.

>75 PersephonesLibrary: Hi Kathy, thanks for stopping by! Thank you -- dogs and books, my two favorite things!

77curioussquared
Editat: gen. 25, 5:53pm

Speaking of wedding stuff, I'm letting myself get cautiously hopeful that we'll be able to have our celebration in late August, especially with Biden's recent assertion that he believes anyone who wants to be vaccinated in the US will be able to get their vaccine by "Spring."

I've been waiting to go dress shopping until it's safe to go in person, but I'm getting a little stressed by the amount of stuff we just haven't done or planned at this point and decided to tune into a virtual online dress sale on Saturday morning and try to purchase two gowns. They were all unaltered samples for $150 each, so I figured why not buy two and just sell them if they don't work? Unfortunately it was a much more competitive event than I expected and I didn't manage to be first to request either dress I wanted, which put me in a bad mood for the day. So I ordered a few full price, returnable gowns to be delivered to my house to make myself feel better -- at least I can try on a few dresses and get an idea of what I want! The same shop is doing another virtual sale this Saturday; I think I'm going to try again, whether or not it's a good idea for my mental health... I'm too enamored with the idea of such a good deal!

I also ordered matching bow ties for the dogs, because we are shameless millennials and want the pups to walk down the aisle with us. :)

No books finished over the weekend, but I made good progress on a few!

78curioussquared
gen. 26, 12:21pm

Happy Tuesday! I hope you all enjoy this bit of Pride and Prejudice fun as much as I did:

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMJErhK27/

79MickyFine
gen. 26, 1:57pm

>77 curioussquared: Dress shopping during a pandemic is no fun at all, Natalie. Sorry you're missing out on some of the fun experiences of planning a wedding. When I did dress shopping in the before times I had a whole crew of friends and fam with me. One of whom wisely asked me when I couldn't decide between two dresses, "Which one makes you feel more like a bride?" Handy wisdom for the process, I hope.

>78 curioussquared: Snort.

80curioussquared
gen. 26, 3:46pm

>79 MickyFine: I know, I was definitely looking forward to the whole crew going dress shopping :( I think I will still try to have a few people come weigh in when I try on the dresses at home. Now to figure out how to try on these dresses outside without getting them dirty so I can still return them....

81libraryperilous
gen. 27, 12:24pm

>78 curioussquared: LOL, perfect.

One of my hottest film takes is that the 2005 adaptation is the only good one.

Good luck on the dress shopping! Do you have a shape for the dress in mind, or are you trying several?

82Whisper1
Editat: gen. 27, 12:41pm

Natalie, I read Unwind awhile ago. Your excellent comments affirmed what I liked about the book.

83curioussquared
gen. 27, 12:51pm

>81 libraryperilous: Oh, but I love the Colin Firth miniseries too. I can never choose between them. There's a delightful scene in the second Bridget Jones book where she's working as a journalist and is sent to interview Colin Firth, but when she gets there she asks zero questions about his new movie and only asks him very detailed questions about the scene where he falls in the pond in Pride and Prejudice, like how many shirts they had to go through to get the final shot. Of course they couldn't include this scene in the movie because Colin Firth plays Mark Darcy in the Bridget Jones movies, but they did film an outtake with Renee Zellweger in character as Bridget interviewing Colin as himself, and I love it a lot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjyoWj1GICo

I think I'll probably end up going for an a line/ballgown shape; that's always what I've thought I've wanted. I did order a more fitted dress as well, though; I think the dress is gorgeous, but just am not sure I can pull off that shape or if it's what I want in a wedding dress. We will see!

84curioussquared
gen. 27, 12:58pm

>82 Whisper1: Hi Linda! I'm glad you liked Unwind; it didn't do it for me, but I know it has a lot of fans.

85MickyFine
gen. 27, 3:53pm

>83 curioussquared: I love that Bridge Jones outtake also!

86aktakukac
gen. 27, 5:47pm

Ohh, wedding dress shopping! You never know what you'll end up with. I knew I wanted long sleeves, which I got, but the style of the rest of the dress was not exactly what I thought I wanted. When you find the right one, you will know.

87MickyFine
gen. 27, 5:50pm

>86 aktakukac: Oooh, long sleeves. Nice! I made sure my dress had straps wide enough I could wear a normal bra. Nothing ruins a long day like having to haul up a strapless bra continually, IMO.

88curioussquared
gen. 27, 6:11pm

>86 aktakukac: That's partly why I'm disappointed I'm at least starting the process virtually! I think I know what what I like, but I won't know for sure until I try stuff on, and it's a lot harder when I have to order stuff to myself instead of trying things on in a fully stocked store :( I would love to try the long sleeves look -- I'm leaning toward something with straps and a deep v, though one of the styles I ordered has little lacy cap sleeves.

89curioussquared
gen. 28, 6:59pm



10 books read: The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman

It's been over 20 years since the events of La Belle Sauvage, and many years since the events of The Amber Spyglass, too. Lyra Silvertongue is now 20 and studying at St. Sophia's College, still living during the holidays at her beloved Jordan College. But things are not right between Lyra and her daemon, Pan, and the two struggle through life, each knowing they need to talk to the other but finding no way in which to do so. Meanwhile, unrest is stirring in the east, as a certain precious type of rose oil becomes impossible to obtain. And in the Magisterium, certain high-placed individuals are making moves to consolidate power in a way that could have serious implications for anyone used to scholastic freedom. As her world crashes around her, Lyra starts on a journey that will see her reunion with the Gyptians, and with Malcolm Polstead, the boy who saved her from the flood all those years ago.

This book felt very different from its predecessors; the original trilogy and La Belle Sauvage felt like magical adventure stories, but the Lyra of The Secret Commonwealth has rejected magic, imagination, and adventure, and that fact is evident not only in her characterization but in the tone of the whole book. Given that, this book was a little hard to get into, and there were sections that made me want to scream at Lyra, but I found myself sucked in pretty quickly. There are lots of big questions in this book. Pullman has also liked to dabble in philosophy, and I think he does so more overtly in this entry. It's not a satisfying book, per se; I think by nature in its status as not only the middle book of a trilogy but also because it takes place so long after the others that there was a lot of development to be done. There are many, many unanswered questions, and I was disappointed at the cliffhanger ending -- more so because I haven't seen any info on book 3 yet! Overall I was caught up in the story and hungry for more by the end, though I think if you go into this book expecting it to be just like the others in the series, you will be disappointed. 4.5 stars.

90PersephonesLibrary
gen. 29, 3:08am

>89 curioussquared: Lovely review!

91curioussquared
gen. 29, 1:41pm

92libraryperilous
feb. 1, 12:56pm

Found on Twitter: A happy reunion.

93curioussquared
feb. 1, 1:26pm

>92 libraryperilous: 😭 Thank you for the perfect Monday pick-me-up!

94curioussquared
Editat: feb. 2, 1:51pm

I'm starting off the year at a slightly slower pace than I'd like -- but making some good progress with my list of books I'd like to get through, so that's good. And I should keep in mind that my last two reads clocked in at 900+ and 600+ pages respectively!

This weekend was my annual weirdest weekend of the year as I participated in the Great Midwest Trivia Contest, an event hosted by my college that's best described as a sort of Google scavenger hunt that goes on for 50 consecutive hours. I play with a team of alums based around the country. This year the event was entirely virtual for the first time due to Covid and the hosts had to adjust to hosting on Twitch and Discord instead of the traditional college radio station and several phone lines; they all did a great job considering the circumstances. Our team took it pretty easy this year (we won in both 2019 and 2020, so could afford to rest on our laurels a bit); we all slept a little more than usual and came in fourth among non-student teams. For parties interested in learning more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Midwest_Trivia_Contest

I usually try to take the Monday after Trivia weekend off to recover a bit from not sleeping. Tim took the day off too and we took advantage of the weekday to take the dogs on a long rainy walk at Discovery Park while it wasn't too crowded.

95MickyFine
feb. 2, 4:26pm

Love the photo of your pack, Natalie.

After picking up Mr. Fine from the bus yesterday, we drove past a guy walking three golden retrievers and their fluffiness made the pack seem huge. :)

96humouress
feb. 2, 10:41pm

>95 MickyFine: They's some classy-lookin' dogs.

97scaifea
feb. 3, 8:06am

>94 curioussquared: Aw, look at their coats! I love it!

98Crazymamie
feb. 3, 8:36am

Lovely photo!

99Whisper1
feb. 3, 9:05am

Natalie, the dogs are amazing! I'm accustomed to Lilly's grooming needs. Shelties have two coats that require daily brushing. Do you need to take the dogs to a groomer? Do the have longer hair, or are their coats sleak.

They are indeed beautiful dogs.

100curioussquared
feb. 3, 1:29pm

>95 MickyFine: Thanks Micky! I love the idea of a floofy pack :D Sometimes we talk about getting a borzoi at some point because they are essentially just floofy greyhounds.

>96 humouress: You know it! ;)

>97 scaifea: Thanks Amber! They have quite the wardrobe. I have to say I don't mind owning dogs who enjoy wearing outfits. Otter gets very upset if we forget to put his pajamas on before bed and will get his revenge by whining in the night to be covered up.

101curioussquared
feb. 3, 1:31pm

>98 Crazymamie: Thanks Mamie!

>99 Whisper1: Thanks Linda! Nope, it would be pretty useless to take these guys to the groomer. There's barely anything to groom! They have the sort of very sleek coats that stay clean on their own. Even when they get super muddy, it just dries and flakes right off. Bathtime is pretty rare around here and grooming is limited to the very occasional brushing with a soft silicone brush.

102libraryperilous
feb. 4, 3:37pm

Okay, look, I said I was done, but we're not quite out of the woods yet, so: Twitter. All that's missing is Biden!

103curioussquared
feb. 4, 4:14pm

>102 libraryperilous: That is quite the party!!

104aktakukac
feb. 4, 5:19pm

>94 curioussquared: Great picture! It's nice to see something of Discovery Park, after reading A Field Guide to Getting Lost last week. I did look it up after I finished the book - it seems like a neat place!

105PersephonesLibrary
feb. 5, 1:07pm

>94 curioussquared: Beautiful dogs - and amazing location to go for a walk!

106curioussquared
feb. 5, 1:18pm

>104 aktakukac: I thought you might like that! Honestly, thanks for reminding me about it. We live about a block outside of another similar park up the coast from Discovery Park (woods, trails, beach access) and typically will just walk in there, but it's nice to get out of our comfort zone a bit, especially during COVID when our outside walk time is really the only time we leave our house.

>105 PersephonesLibrary: Thanks Kathe! We are very lucky in Seattle to have lots of natural beauty right in the city.

107curioussquared
feb. 5, 4:03pm

Ok, I've officially gone wedding dress-crazy.

Two of the dresses I ordered last week were delivered on Tuesday and I had some safe try-at-home sessions with my family and best friend. I really like both of them, which is good, but also hard because I don't know if I LOVE either of them. I think one looks better on me, but I like the detailing on the other one more. I'm totally a know-all-my-options kind of person (it drives Tim crazy that I like to thoroughly look at the menu every time we order at our favorite Mexican restaurant) so I want to feel like I've tried on enough dresses to really know what I like and that the one I choose is truly the one.

The third dress I ordered last week is backordered until May... so I decided to also order it in a bigger size to try on sooner and know if I'll like it. That one should ship next week. Then I re-ordered one of the ones that came last week in a smaller size because the one I have is too big and I want to see the proper size on me. That one should ship any moment.

THEN I found another shop online that will ship you a try-at-home box with three dresses, so I ordered that with three styles and it will come next week. Then today I found a local shop that will let you take home four dresses to try on at home for a refundable deposit, so I selected four to try and will pick them up this evening. (This was the point at which my credit card asked me to confirm it was me making all these wedding dress purchases, lol.)

Help, I think I'm officially dress-obsessed! I do hope being able to try on so many in quick succession will make me more comfortable actually making a decision. But maybe it will just confuse me.

108MickyFine
feb. 5, 4:08pm

>107 curioussquared: Well at least your credit card company is now prepared for some wacky future charges. Our wedding definitely gave mine a good workout. ;)

Trying on a bunch of dresses can be fun, especially now that you have a sense of styles you like. I found between knowing what I wanted and having a firm budget limit in mind, trying on a bunch of dresses didn't make it more confusing for me. Fingers crossed it's the same for you. Are you observing the "no seeing dress before wedding" rule or is Tim helping you in and out of all of these?

109libraryperilous
feb. 5, 4:24pm

>107 curioussquared: Just don't wait so long making sure you know all your options that you miss return deadlines on the nos. :)

I hope you find one you like soon. Do you have a link to the current frontrunner, if you feel like sharing the company's webpage?

110curioussquared
feb. 5, 4:26pm

>108 MickyFine: We are trying to do the no-seeing-dress-before-wedding rule, so I've been keeping and trying them on in our basement while Tim is upstairs and keeps the dogs from jumping on any expensive gowns :) So far the two I tried on were easy to get on, just a zipper and the backs are pretty low so I don't even have to reach very hard. My mom and my best friend came over at different times masked and gave opinions, and my grandma and some aunts came over and took a look from outside. I feel very blessed that all of the family members I mentioned and my best friend have all already received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine a few weeks ago, and studies are showing that the first dose of that one on its own can provide up to 80% efficacy. So we're still being very careful, but I feel way better about letting my mom in the house than I would if she hadn't already had her first dose.

My best friend lucked out; she works in research for a local children's hospital and got an email on a Thursday that all of the hospital's employees, including research employees, would be eligible for the vaccine. So she signed up and got her dose that Saturday. Then on Monday they got another email that they had been mistaken and research employees were not actually eligible!

111curioussquared
feb. 5, 4:32pm

>109 libraryperilous: Absolutely! I just marked the date by which I need to return the first dresses on my calendar :)

Here are the two I ordered initially and have tried on:

https://www.bhldn.com/products/carmel-gown
https://www.bhldn.com/products/seeley-gown

112libraryperilous
Editat: feb. 5, 5:01pm

>111 curioussquared: Oh, those both are gorgeous! I love the neckline on the first one. The 2nd dress's illusion panel shows up a bit more, probably because there's more of it, but I like its tulle bottom better. I can see why this will be difficult!

ETA: I definitely will be hitting you up for Mexican restaurant recs if I move to Seattle.

113curioussquared
feb. 5, 5:11pm

>112 libraryperilous: I know! I liked how the Carmel fit me better, but I loved the detailing on the Seeley even more in person. And you can't tell on the site, but the Carmel tulle skirt is actually glittery -- which I kind of like, but it doesn't feel very me. This is hard!

114MickyFine
Editat: feb. 5, 5:20pm

>111 curioussquared: Oh those are both beautiful. Are the other dresses you've got coming to try on pretty similar or are you trying really different styles?

ETA: Practice sitting in all your dress options. My SIL's sister went with a mermaid cut for her dress and then couldn't really sit at her reception.

115curioussquared
feb. 5, 5:28pm

>114 MickyFine: Oh, that is a really good tip!

Most of the styles I have coming are similar -- sort of boho lace + tulle a-line or ballgown, but I'm trying a few different sleeve options. One I'm picking up tonight has off the shoulder sleeves, another has cap sleeves, and another has long lace sleeves.

I also have two coming that are more of an all over lace mermaid style. I don't think I want a mermaid cut, but I definitely want to try it on in case I'm wowed!

116libraryperilous
feb. 5, 5:37pm

>114 MickyFine: makes a great point. With all of them, but especially the mermaids, you also might want to practice bending and making dance-like maneuvers.

117ronincats
feb. 5, 10:40pm

I like the Carmel better of those two.

118humouress
feb. 6, 9:47am

>112 libraryperilous: Agreed.

>114 MickyFine: >116 libraryperilous: And make sure you’re going to be comfortable wearing the dress for a long time. You don’t want it to spoil your day by distracting you from your celebrations.

119curioussquared
feb. 6, 4:12pm

>116 libraryperilous: Yes I will definitely try! Most I've tried have been pretty light and comfortable; it's a little hard to tell when the dresses are too big and long but I think they will be fairly easy to move and dance in. The mermaids might be another story.

>117 ronincats: Thanks Roni! I think I have decided the Carmel comes off as a little too Barbie-like in person but it is definitely beautiful.

>118 humouress: Thanks Nina! My favorite dresses seem to be pretty light and airy which is good. I tried on a few heavier ones and could immediately feel the difference in comfort.

Ok, after the whirlwind try-on session last night and this morning, I have a new favorite option: https://www.watters.com/wtoo/products/prescott

This is the frontrunner right now and I really think it might be the dress! I'm going to try the others I still have coming and make sure, but I feel really good about it, and I think I'm starting to feel like I've tried on enough styles to feel like it's right.

120ronincats
feb. 6, 4:23pm

Love the skirt detail on that one.

121MickyFine
feb. 6, 4:51pm

>119 curioussquared: Beautiful choice!

122libraryperilous
feb. 6, 5:48pm

Definitely a flowy gown, and very glam but cheerful. Lovely!

123PaulCranswick
feb. 6, 11:31pm

>111 curioussquared: Of course I only have my male eye to dictate but I would have chosen Carmel from your picks.

>119 curioussquared: That does look lovely, Natalie.

124humouress
feb. 7, 1:22am

>119 curioussquared: The dresses are all a similar style (so you have a definite direction, at least) but I think the bust fits the model better on this one. They're all pretty.

125scaifea
feb. 7, 9:28am

>119 curioussquared: Oh, that one is beautiful! Thanks for sharing the links with us!

126curioussquared
feb. 7, 11:43am

Thanks everyone! I'm excited :) with the less than stellar vaccine rollout happening in the US, I'm losing hope that we'll be able to have our big party, but we're definitely getting married at least in a small ceremony in August and I feel so much better making some progress. And if we don't have a party this year, we'll have one next year.

>124 humouress: I like how the bust fits on this one too, and the little sleeves. The sample I got to try on was 3-4 sizes too big so a little hard to tell how it will hit me exactly, but I think my mom got it clipped up enough to tell.

127PersephonesLibrary
feb. 7, 2:34pm

>119 curioussquared: Very classy and beautiful, Natalie! I am glad you will have a ceremony in August, even if it's not as big as you hope for. Much energy for the preparations! Looking forward how your dress will finally look like!

128curioussquared
feb. 8, 1:02pm

>127 PersephonesLibrary: Thanks so much, Kathe! Me too -- it feels good to decide that we're going to do SOMETHING, even if we're not sure what that something will look like yet.

129curioussquared
feb. 8, 1:02pm

Tim caught me in my natural habitat this weekend -- La Croix in hand, Kindle on lap, and covered in dogs.

130MickyFine
feb. 8, 1:19pm

>129 curioussquared: Awww, lovely portrait!

131curioussquared
feb. 8, 1:23pm

>130 MickyFine: Thank you! I also realized I am weirdly color-coordinated in this picture. I assure everyone I do not usually match my shirt to my kindle case or Fitbit band, nor my scrunchie to my headphones. Lol.

132curioussquared
feb. 8, 1:34pm



11 books read: A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

Tavia and Effie are sisters by adoption, living in a magical Portland, OR where magical beings like mermaids, elokos, and gargoyles are real. Tavia has a secret -- she is a siren, and her voice has the power to compel others to her will. For this reason, sirens are shunned in society -- and it doesn't help that almost all sirens are Black women, dealing with multiple forms of prejudice at the same time. So Tavia keeps her identity under wraps, with only a small support system of friends and family she trusts. Meanwhile, Effie doesn't know WHAT she is -- but there's definitely something weird about her natural predilection for swimming, not to mention her skin condition that seems more like she's shedding than eczema. As both girls struggle to find themselves, their world starts to crumble as a young siren is killed and her killer let off with no charges, and riots break out in Portland.

This book got a lot of attention when it came out last June, in the midst of the protests surrounding George Ffloyd's death and the calls to support Black creators, artists, and authors. I can definitely see why -- Morrow has woven a complex story that is both a YA coming of age novel and a magical metaphor for the BLM movement. I really wanted to love it, and I loved a lot of things about it. I think a slightly stronger editing job could have made this book great instead of good; I had some issues with the writing and pacing. Just too many moments where the text jumped around and I had trouble following what was happening or felt like I was lost due to lack of context. But this was just such an interesting story, I think I'll be looking for the sequel and Morrow's other books. 3.5 stars.

133libraryperilous
feb. 8, 1:37pm

>132 curioussquared: I've tried MEM a couple of times and bounced off it. I'll be interested in your thoughts if you get around to it.

134PersephonesLibrary
feb. 8, 1:39pm

>129 curioussquared: (P)Awesome picture!

135curioussquared
feb. 8, 1:41pm



12 books read: In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

Maelyn has spent her life coming to the cabin for the holidays with her parents, brother, and her parents' best friends and their children, Andrew and Theo. She's also spent half her life hopelessly in love with Andrew, the older brother, even though she and Theo are the same age. But one Christmas night, after too much eggnog, Maelyn makes out with Theo -- and it's horrible. She's full of regret the next morning, and then full of sorrow after her parents' friends announce they are selling the cabin. On the way to the airport with her family, Maelyn wishes for the universe to show her what will make her happy. And suddenly, they get into a car accident -- and Maelyn wakes up back on the plane on the way to the cabin, in what she quickly realizes is a Groundhog Day-type situation. Stuck in a time loop, Maelyn has to figure out how she can be happy, and be careful not to make the wrong choices.

Thanks to Micky for the book bullet! This one was so fun, even after Christmas. My worry with time loops is always that there will be too much repetition, but this one is done really, really well, and is just pure enjoyment. 4 stars.

136MickyFine
feb. 8, 1:50pm

>135 curioussquared: Oh yay! Christina Lauren are one my fave contemporary romance authors and I'm glad to see you enjoyed this one.

137aktakukac
feb. 8, 2:13pm

>135 curioussquared: You and Micky liked this one a lot more than I did. The time loop didn't work for me, but I'm glad you enjoyed the read!

Very pretty dress! I'm glad you could find a style that you like and is comfortable! The dogs look quite comfortable in >129 curioussquared: as well :)

138FAMeulstee
feb. 8, 5:52pm

>129 curioussquared: Two content dogs, and you in the middle reading, a perfect picture :-)

139scaifea
feb. 9, 8:03am

>129 curioussquared: Oh, that's lovely! Very cozy-looking.

140curioussquared
feb. 9, 12:40pm

>136 MickyFine: I haven't read anything else by them but I'd definitely pick something up again if it caught my eye.

>137 aktakukac: Thanks Rachel! Sorry you didn't like In a Holidaze as much -- I have a soft spot for time travel stories :) I am excited about the dress -- just waiting to try on a few others before I fully commit! The greyhounds are very very good at being comfortable.

>138 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita! We spend a lot of our time this way :D

>139 scaifea: Thanks Amber! Having multiple dogs to cuddle at once definitely ups the cozy factor.

141curioussquared
feb. 9, 1:00pm



13 books read: The Iliad by Homer

The classic tale. I never read this in school and have had it on my shelf for ages. I listened to the Odyssey a few years ago and that format worked for me then; I did the same with this one, even with the same narrator and everything, and had more trouble with it. I enjoyed listening and appreciated the language, but had some trouble following overall. I'm sure this was more me and my current mental state than the story itself. I'll give it 3 stars and the benefit of the doubt and maybe try again another time.

142humouress
feb. 9, 9:30pm

>129 curioussquared: Aren't they gorgeous! You too, of course. I'm guessing that coral is your favourite colour, since you didn't intentionally colour co-ordinate?

>135 curioussquared: Thinking about it. I've borrowed a lot from Overdrive this week already though.

143curioussquared
feb. 9, 9:45pm

>142 humouress: Thank you! I do like a pretty light pink. I end up buying a lot of it because I like it and I find that items like the kindle case or headphones are often slightly cheaper in pink, I presume because there's less demand on the male side of the population. So I just end up having a lot of it!

144curioussquared
feb. 10, 12:38pm

https://variety.com/2021/film/news/netflix-redwall-movie-tv-show-brian-jacques-1...

Netflix Redwall series!! I am excited and I hope they do it justice :D

145libraryperilous
feb. 10, 12:48pm

Ooh, hope it does well enough that we get a Mariel season!

146curioussquared
feb. 11, 12:45pm

>145 libraryperilous: I would LOVE that. I'm feeling like I might need to reread Taggerung. I do love the otters.

147curioussquared
feb. 11, 12:52pm



14 books read: The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

Tiffy is desperate to move out of her ex's flat -- so desperate that she answers the ad for a flatshare with a man who works nights, sharing the flat and the one bed but never seeing each other. As months pass and Tiffy and Leon still don't meet, they get to know each other through scrawled post-it note messages and shared food. And even though they've never seen each other or spoken, each starts thinking of the other as friend. Meanwhile, Tiffy is realizing her ex might have been even worse for her than she thought, and Leon is grappling with the legal system that put his innocent brother in prison.

My first reread of the year, and it's one I only read for the first time about a year ago. This was a Kindle deal a few days ago and I leapt at the chance to own it myself -- and once I did, I couldn't resist a reread. I love these characters a lot, and this book has very quickly become a favorite. I stayed up late last night finishing it because I couldn't put it down, even though I'd already read it and knew what was coming! 5 stars.

148souloftherose
feb. 11, 1:57pm

Belatedly getting to your thread Natalie to say I love all the doggy pictures! And adding my congratulations on the wedding and best wishes on the planning :-) It sounds like you're making good progress with the dress.

>135 curioussquared: Oooh, added In a Holidaze to my list.

>147 curioussquared: I really loved The Flatshare when I read it last year. The Switch by the same author didn't quite hit the spot for me in the same way but I'm still going to look out for her new book out later this year (The Road Trip).

149curioussquared
feb. 11, 2:19pm

>148 souloftherose: Thanks for stopping by, Heather! I did really like The Switch when I read it last year, but I think I love this one more. And I hadn't heard about The Road Trip so you've made me very happy this morning!

150curioussquared
feb. 11, 3:23pm



15 books read: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome and his wife Zenobia are stuck in a loveless marriage; Zeena is perpetually ill and Ethan struggles to eke out a living for them on the farm and mill they always intended to sell. Zeena's cousin Mattie Silver, orphaned, came to stay with them about a year ago, and Ethan finds he has become fond of her -- helping her finish chores she should be able to do herself. When Ethan sees Mattie flirting with another man, he starts to realize his feelings might be more than platonic -- but also doesn't see a way the situation can end well.

This is a bleak, tragic short novel -- any longer and I think it would be tough to get through. Every sentence is charged with tension. I thought I knew how it ended, so I was waiting to get to that point and building up to it even more, but the ending was actually even worse than I expected! A heavy read, tempered by brevity, and definitely made an impact on me. 4 stars.

151Whisper1
feb. 11, 10:33pm

>111 curioussquared:. I love the dress in the first link.

All good wishes to you in your search to find the dress that feels the best.

152Whisper1
feb. 11, 10:35pm

>150 curioussquared: Natalie, I read Ethan Frome awhile ago. I was so upset at the passivity of Ethan. And, the manipulation of the wife drove me crazy!

153curioussquared
feb. 12, 12:34pm

>151 Whisper1: Hi Linda, thank you! I have a few more dresses arriving today to try on :)

>152 Whisper1: Yes, I agree! I think all of the characters were somewhat at fault; Mattie maybe the least so, but she had her own issues too.

154libraryperilous
feb. 12, 1:27pm

>153 curioussquared: LOL. Your house will start leaking tulle out of the windows. :)

Glimpses of the Moon is the only Wharton I've read and loved. It's her screwball comedy take on the same themes that occupy her tragedies.

155curioussquared
feb. 12, 1:32pm

>154 libraryperilous: Right?!? Good thing I had to give the four dresses I borrowed from the local shop back. The basement bedroom where I was storing them was starting to look like a bridal salon.

Ooh, good to know -- I haven't even heard of that one but will keep an eye out for it now!

156curioussquared
feb. 12, 2:13pm

We got our first snow of the season yesterday and last night, and are supposed to get some more tonight and this weekend. Snow is definitely more of a once-per-winter thing around here. I'll try to get some pics of the pups having fun!

157MickyFine
feb. 12, 3:30pm

Yay for a snow day. Hope you're enjoying it a little bit too and that your upstairs work space isn't too cold. :)

158curioussquared
feb. 12, 3:54pm

>157 MickyFine: Thanks Micky!

Skelly doesn't come upstairs, but here are Kermit and Otter keeping warm in their office beds/nests :) I swear the brown blob on the left is Kermit's tucked-in head!

159humouress
feb. 13, 2:35am

>158 curioussquared: I see that the boys do what I do and snuggle their noses under the blankets.

160PersephonesLibrary
feb. 13, 12:28pm

>158 curioussquared: Babies! 😍 Our dog likes to be covered in a blanket but he doesn't like his head snuggled into it...

161curioussquared
feb. 13, 1:20pm

>159 humouress: oh yes. Gotta keep the snoots warm!

>160 PersephonesLibrary: I don't usually cover up their heads, Kathe, but they will tuck in their noses and burrow in on their own :)

162FAMeulstee
feb. 14, 8:14am

>158 curioussquared: That is fun to see, Natalie. I always had dogs with thick coats. They all thought room temperature was on the warm side, and would never do this.

163PaulCranswick
feb. 15, 2:52am

>129 curioussquared: Love that - it looks like the Kindle version of a lullaby!

>158 curioussquared: The one peeping eye obviously doesn't realise that if he can see us then we can see him.

164curioussquared
feb. 16, 3:44pm

>162 FAMeulstee: Otter will sometimes even whine to be covered up. He's definitely the coldest of the three. Ridiculous boys!

>163 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! I think they're a little like ostriches -- my head is buried, so you can't see me!

165curioussquared
feb. 16, 3:52pm

Well, our promised snowy weekend was delivered! Saturday was Seattle's second snowiest day in 50 years. It's mostly slush at this point, but at the height we probably had 8-9 inches with higher drifts, which is just not normal for us. It was fun to see people cross country skiing around the neighborhood, and I even saw one guy snowmobile-ing around with his kids.

The dogs had a good time; Kermit was a little uncertain at first but got into it. Here are some pics from our walks and from backyard playtime!





Otter's playtime face in this one kills me :D


Blurry because Skelly is playfighting with Otter




And finally, some supercute Valentine's day snuggles from Otter and Kermit


166scaifea
feb. 17, 8:22am

Aw, your pups are such cuties! I'm glad they enjoyed the snow. Our Mario loves to jam her entire face down in it and always comes back inside with a hilariously snowy face.

167curioussquared
feb. 17, 12:17pm

>166 scaifea: Thanks Amber! These guys don't jam their whole face in, but Otter seems to enjoy both eating snow and also sticking his nose in and sneezing.

168karenmarie
feb. 18, 10:32am

Hi Natalie!

>72 curioussquared: Excellent review. I especially agree with I couldn't put it down and flew through it.

>80 curioussquared: When I got married in April of 1991 and started shopping for a dress in the fall of 1990 it didn’t even occur to me to want the whole crew. Not my mom, sister, best friend, etc. Just one friend, who offered, and whose clothing sense I trusted. It worked out well. I was very happy with my choice.

>107 curioussquared: It sounds to me as if you’re doing the next best thing to zooming around to different shops in different towns. *smile*

>129 curioussquared: Excellent pic! Tim did good and thank you for sharing.

>150 curioussquared: I read what might have been an abridged Scholastic version of Ethan Frome in elementary school. I missed all the nuances, of course, but definitely remember the shocking ending.

>165 curioussquared: Sweet babies. I love all their different coats.

169Whisper1
feb. 18, 12:53pm

Natalie! I love your animals! I know it takes a lot of care with only one dog. How do you handle all?

170curioussquared
feb. 18, 2:38pm

>168 karenmarie: Thanks for stopping by, Karen! I have the kind of giant family that is always around, so going from seeing my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins multiple times per month to not at all during the pandemic has been difficult, and I always just assumed my grandma and aunts would come dress shopping, and my best friend, too.

Wow, adapting Ethan Frome for children seems a little misguided to me, and it's already so short! That is hilarious that an abridged children's version exists.

171curioussquared
feb. 18, 2:39pm

>169 Whisper1: Thanks Linda! Greyhounds are pretty easy, luckily :) They like a walk or two per day and breakfast and dinner on time, and otherwise they like to sleep with maybe the occasional break to play. Aside from the walks, it's almost just like having a bunch of overgrown cats!

172curioussquared
feb. 18, 2:48pm



16 books read: The Icebound Land by John Flanagan

In the continuing adventures of the Ranger's Apprentice, Will and Evanlyn are kidnapped to the icy cold land of Skandia. Meanwhile, Halt and Horace set out against the king's wishes to rescue them.

I'm still enjoying this series as undemanding listening. Fun, easy-to-digest stories are exactly what I need right now. 3.5 stars.

173curioussquared
feb. 18, 2:55pm



17 books read: Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia

Tuesday is a loner, and spends most of her time on her own watching old X Files DVDs or horror movies -- aside from the time she spends at bars or playing pub trivia with her friend Dex, and the Thursday evenings she spends with her high school-aged neighbor, Dorry. But when the eccentric millionaire Vincent Pryce dies and leaves his fortune to whoever can solve the puzzles he has laid out, Tuesday finds herself uniquely positioned to take on the challenge -- with Dex and Dorry's help, of course. But some who are playing the game have less than good intentions...

This book was a lot of fun! Many are calling it The Westing Game for adults, and it definitely has that feeling; the puzzle aspects also reminded me of Ready Player One or Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore. Definitely one to check out if you like those sorts of books -- really quirky and I never knew what was coming next. 4 stars.

174curioussquared
feb. 18, 3:00pm

I've been feeling a little down lately (I think just pandemic blues catching up to me; can you believe we've been in this thing for almost a year?) so I ordered myself a bunch of books to cheer myself up!

Among the Beasts and Briars, Winter's Orbit, The Cloud Roads, Today Tonight Tomorrow, Faithful Place, The Mirror and the Light, Shuggie Bain, Nocturna, and The Royal We are all on their way to me.

175PersephonesLibrary
feb. 18, 3:33pm

>165 curioussquared: Love those pictures! They look slightly sceptical of the snow, though. :) But that makes the after-walk cuddle just better.

>174 curioussquared: I am not surprised. I feel the same. And you chose the best remedy: books! Hope you feel happier soon!

176MickyFine
feb. 18, 3:36pm

Hope your pandemic blues ebb a bit, Natalie. Sounds like you'll have good things to distract you.

177libraryperilous
feb. 18, 4:38pm

I hope you feel better soon, Natalie. I'm so jealous you get to read Winter's Orbit.

178Whisper1
feb. 18, 4:43pm

>174 curioussquared: Natalie, I've also ordered books (many) in the last month because of feeling penned up. It is a wonderful way to keep the blues at bay. There is nothing like opening a box containing new books. Bookoutlet.com is having a winter sale.

179curioussquared
feb. 18, 5:29pm

>175 PersephonesLibrary: Thanks Kathe! Kermit was definitely skeptical of the snow at first. He also spent a lot of time inside watching the snow fall and barking and growling at it, which made me laugh. He thought the snow was very suspicious! I hope you feel happier soon, too :)

>176 MickyFine: Thanks Micky! Books are always a good distraction; I'm rereading a favorite now which is always comforting. I also bought a few new video games; Pokemon Sword seems to be the perfect level of engaging but not very challenging that I need right now.

>177 libraryperilous: Thanks, Diana! I know, I'm so excited -- I'll let you know how it is!

>178 Whisper1: Linda, how did I not know about Bookoutlet.com? I might need to place another order...

180Whisper1
feb. 18, 6:05pm

I'm only happy to show you a new site to purchase books! I learned about this site a long time ago via this group.

Have fun, as you can see, there is a sale going on.

https://bookoutlet.com/

181curioussquared
feb. 19, 6:03pm

>180 Whisper1: Linda, I bought way too many books yesterday, thanks to you ;) Retail therapy indeed!

182curioussquared
feb. 19, 6:10pm



18 books read: Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones

When Sirius the dog star is charged with a crime he did not commit by his fellow luminaries, he is sentenced to inhabit the body of a dog on Earth and live out its earthly life. He knows he needs to find a precious, powerful weapon called the Zoi, which fell to Earth, but his dog mind cannot for the life of it remember what a Zoi is or what it looks like -- it can barely remember who he is. Trapped as a dog, Sirius is adopted by a young Irish girl named Kathleen living with relatives in England. As he grows from a puppy, he becomes more and more aware of his true nature, and also Kathleen's mistreatment and predicament.

I have a hard time summarizing or reviewing this book. It's so perfect. Jones does an exquisite job of melding Sirius's luminary personality with his dog brain and mannerisms, and you can tell she loved dogs, too. I don't think I caught the historical context the many times I read this as a kid, so it's interesting to read it now with that perspective. I bawl at the bittersweet ending every time. 5 stars, a perfect comfort reread.

183ronincats
feb. 19, 9:10pm

>182 curioussquared: I loved, loved, loved this book when I encountered it in my 20s. Still have a copy. So good!

184humouress
Editat: feb. 20, 12:15am

>180 Whisper1: >181 curioussquared: Ah; you see, I took a look and hurried away.

... but I suspect I will be going back sometime soon ...

>182 curioussquared: You almost had me until 'bittersweet ending'. :0)

185libraryperilous
feb. 20, 10:18am

>184 humouress: Yes, this is my hesitation as well. Kids love bittersweet endings. Middle grade is full of them.

186curioussquared
feb. 20, 1:26pm

>183 ronincats: It's one of my favorites too, Roni. My copy is the battered one I've had since I was a kid. Zero clue where I got it. It might have been from a Scholastic book fair. My elementary school librarian turned me on to DWJ and I never looked back!

>184 humouress: >185 libraryperilous: Oh, I think you would both like it. It's more sweet than bitter. I always feel like I cry in a good way.

187curioussquared
feb. 23, 4:43pm



19 books read: The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright

The four Melendy children are bored one afternoon when suddenly they hatch a plot for a new club -- a club where they all will pool their allowance each week and one child will get to take all of the money to spend on his or her excursion that Saturday. They're all thrilled with the idea and the chance to do some activities they could never afford otherwise. Each sibling has a great adventure, and the family overcomes some bumps along the way.

I think I first heard about this sweet book from Foggi. I really enjoyed it! It's a timeless children's novel; I didn't even realize it was published as early as 1941 until I looked it up. I think I read Gone-Away Lake by the same author in elementary school but I don't remember much about it, so I'm glad I found this one. I wish I had read it as a kid! I will probably read the rest of the series eventually, though I don't feel the need to seek them out immediately. 4 stars.

188curioussquared
feb. 23, 4:51pm

Not much reading done this weekend; too busy playing Pokemon Sword. It's not a difficult game but it's entertaining and engaging, which is the kind of thing I feel like I need right now. I grew up with the initial US pokemon craze and all the newfangled pokemon look ridiculous to me, so Tim and I also just spend a fair amount of time trash talking the pokemon designs and naming them stupid things :)

Yesterday we had virtual book club and talked about Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts. Mostly we agreed that we really liked it but didn't absolutely love it, and had a few issues with it. But overall a good pick for everyone. We also just cooed over a bunch of babies -- book club has exploded with babies lately. We have a three-year-old, a 1.5-year-old, a one-year-old, and a four-month-old. Excited for when we can have in-person meetings again and eat food and play with all the babies!

I'm hoping to make my final wedding dress decision this week. The Prescott dress I linked to above is still the favorite, but I have one more dress coming tomorrow, and then I'm going to borrow four samples, including the Prescott again, from that local shop and try them all on at the same time and make my choice!

189MickyFine
feb. 23, 5:24pm

I'm sure whichever dress you end up picking will look amazing. :)

And you keep reminding me that I really should ship off my dress for cleaning. I bought one of those cleaning and preservation kits back when we were planning but just haven't taken the box to UPS yet. We've been married two years...

190curioussquared
feb. 23, 5:51pm

>189 MickyFine: Lol, it does seem like one of those tasks that just kind of falls to the end of the to-do list once the wedding is over...

191curioussquared
feb. 25, 1:47pm

OK, I think I made my final dress decision! I'm going with this one -- it was one I took home to try on on a whim and I just totally fell in love with it. I guess I just wanted to be a princess the whole time. I'm driving the dresses back to the shop at lunchtime and placing my order!

https://www.watters.com/wtoo/products/montgomery

192libraryperilous
feb. 25, 2:06pm

>191 curioussquared: Absolutely stunning! I'm glad you found something you loved.

I like that the illusion panel doesn't show too much on the deep V neckline. V-necks are my favorite neckline, and I want them to be as pure as possible. :)

193MickyFine
feb. 25, 3:01pm

Gorgeous choice! You'll look amazing, I'm positive!

194curioussquared
feb. 25, 4:36pm

>192 libraryperilous: >193 MickyFine: Thank you both! I'm excited :D Definitely had that "this is the one" moment I wasn't sure I would have!

195curioussquared
feb. 25, 4:43pm

Other things going on around here: We're starting to think about our next house project. We have a great roof deck over our garage, but the waterproofing is going and it's badly in need of replacement. The garage itself has some waterproofing issues and part of the siding and inner wall has some rot. I've started to look into contractors who can do the project, but it's a little difficult because I think it might be something of a combo project. The people who specialize in flat roofing don't seem to do much else. Ideally I'd like to get the garage waterproofed, the roof deck surface redone, and new railings all done by the same contractor/company or at least all managed by one person since I think everything in the project is related. The final touch I'd like is to put wood tiles over the top of the roof deck surface to create a nicer looking deck area; essentially the tiles will create a "floating" wood deck over the roof deck surface but still allow water to drain off the roof.

House stuff is always so hard to get going! I really want the Fixer Upper couple to just come to my house and make it nice. They can do what they want, I trust them, lol.

196humouress
feb. 25, 11:13pm

>191 curioussquared: Oh, pretty! It's quite different to your other choices. I like. Will you be wearing a veil, too? How about the flamingos?

>195 curioussquared: You could write and ask the Fixer Upper couple and see if they'd come across the country for you. Covid restrictions permitting. I always wonder how these kinds of programmes work behind the scenes - budgets, clashing tastes and so on.

197scaifea
feb. 26, 7:24am

Oh wow, the dress is beautiful!! How exciting!!

House projects: Our next big one is dealing with our deck, too. We're going to get rid of it, we think, and put in a stone patio instead. We used to have a deck over the garage at one of our previous homes and I *loved* it. Good luck finding your contractors and getting going!

198MickyFine
feb. 26, 12:13pm

Our big house project this year is having our shingles replaced. At least it's very easy to find contractors for that. Hope you find someone awesome to take on your garage, Natalie.

199curioussquared
feb. 26, 12:37pm

>196 humouress: Thanks Nina! I'd like to wear a veil, but the company that makes this dress doesn't appear to do veils, weirdly. So I guess I'm on the hunt for a light pink veil? Or one that coordinates with the pink, somehow. Hmmm.

Honestly, I'd kind of love some flamingos as decoration at the actual event. I love a good lawn flamingo.

Lol, I'm sure they'd love to take a break from their new TV show and Target product line to travel from Texas and do my house in Seattle :D Honestly, though, I love her taste and never saw an episode where I didn't like what she did with the house, so I would be happy to give them free rein.

>197 scaifea: Thanks Amber! A stone patio sounds excellent :) I love our roof deck, too; It's the perfect place to soak up some sun when Seattle deigns to give us some. The warning you always hear about roof decks is that they leak and ruin your house, so I think a roof deck over the garage, where a leak is not desirable but also not catastrophic, is a perfect solution. I'm actually super excited to update it, so we can enjoy it more, and it's also sort of the first impression you get from our house, so it'll be nice to have a little extra curb appeal too.

>198 MickyFine: Thanks Micky! Me, too. I'm also excited because this is our last big need-to-do project before we can get to a few want-to-do projects -- namely, a kitchen remodel and installing gas fireplaces, which I'm very much looking forward to.

200PersephonesLibrary
feb. 26, 1:43pm

>191 curioussquared: This is an absolutely spectacular dress - I am sure you will look gorgeous in it!

>195 curioussquared: House things are hard. When I got my new kitchen I was so happy that the electrician and the plumber collaborate on a regular basis - and they talked with each other when what has to be done. Fingers crossed for your new house project!

So exciting times for you. Thanks for sharing - that makes me happy, too.

201jayde1599
feb. 27, 7:43am

I had to google a garage deck to visualize it because it is just not something that is very common here in the Northeast. Is the entrance to the deck off of a bedroom? I like the idea of a deck over the garage!

202curioussquared
feb. 27, 11:29am

>200 PersephonesLibrary: Thank you Kathe! Yes, I think having workers who talk to each other is important! I'm hopeful we can have one company kind of run the pieces of this project -- we'll see how it goes!

>201 jayde1599: Hi Jess! It's not something that's too common out here, either, although a lot of the more modern boxy houses they're building lately have roof decks, but they're more likely to be on the roof itself.

Our house is 2 and half stories, with a first floor daylight basement (it's only partially underground on two sides of the house) and the second floor being our main living space. So the "basement door" next to the garage is what you see first and most people think it's our front door, but actually our front door is up some stairs and on the roof deck!

This is not our house, but I found this while researching roof deck contractors in Seattle and not only is the design pretty much what we're looking to upgrade to, but the set up with the lower door, garage, and upper door is very similar to ours: https://www.mulholland-design.com/west-seattle-deck

203Whisper1
feb. 27, 11:50am

>191 curioussquared: What a beautiful gown! I'm sure you will look quite stunning in this incredible dress.

204Whisper1
feb. 27, 11:53am

I've added The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright and Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones to my TBR list. It is so good to know that another person in our group likes YA as I do.

205humouress
feb. 28, 1:13am

>202 curioussquared: That looks nice. I suppose if you camouflage the basement door and make the stairs obvious, people might find your front door more easily. That really takes advantage of the views - whether you have sea or mountains.

206scaifea
feb. 28, 8:48am

>202 curioussquared: Oh, wow, I love the look of that deck! Very cool!

207curioussquared
feb. 28, 10:43pm

>204 Whisper1: Thank you Linda! I'm very excited about the dress. As for the YA, I feel kind of lucky to have grown up right around when YA became more of an accepted, popular genre that publishers wanted to market to. So in my case, I started reading children's and YA novels as a kid and really just never stopped.

208curioussquared
feb. 28, 10:46pm

>205 humouress: Honestly, the door thing doesn't bother me too much; it's not a big deal for me to go and collect packages from the basement door, and I don't blame the delivery drivers not wanting to climb a bunch of stairs after coming all the way down our (long) driveway. So I won't intentionally camouflage it, but one bonus of swapping out the current solid railing on the roof deck to a see-through cable style would be that our actual front door would be more visible from the driveway and street.

>206 scaifea: Thanks Amber! Hopefully I can actually find someone to make ours look like that!

209curioussquared
març 1, 1:43pm

I squeezed in one more book for February:



20 books read: The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

In this third Lady Astronaut novel, we turn our attention to Nicole Wargin, another of the WASP pilots turned first astronauts. She also happens to be the wife of the Governor of Kansas, so she deals regularly with publicity on a few fronts. Despite the fact that she is a senior astronaut, she's never been tapped as pilot or copilot on a space mission, and she's desperate to be the first woman to get that distinction. Years into the accelerated space program and during the first mission to Mars, a new anti-space group has arisen, called Earth First -- they want to focus on repairing the US post-Meteor and fixing things on Earth rather than abandoning ship for new planets. And they're not just rioting and protesting -- things have started to go wrong with shuttle launches that just shouldn't go wrong, and the FBI suspects sabotage. As Nicole's husband Kenneth prepares to declare his candidacy for the next presidential election, Nicole finds her next Moon launch expedited as other astronauts are injured in some of the launch misfires. Soon, she's back on the moon, one of her favorite places -- but it's not so comforting as it once was, as she's worried that any of the members of their small lunar colony could be the saboteur. Nicole must make decisions about who to trust while helplessly watching events unfold back on Earth, before it's too late.

Kowal has done it again -- this entry was just as good or better as the first two Lady Astronaut books. I will say it might not have been the best reading choice for me right now -- I found it pretty stressful and felt like I was holding my breath along with Nicole the whole book, waiting to see what next would go wrong to endanger the Moon colony. But that was just a mark of how good it was. Once I got past the setup, I couldn't put it down. 4.5 stars.

210humouress
març 2, 2:25am

>209 curioussquared: Sounds like a good one. *sigh* Possible BB; let me see if I have the first. I suspect it's on my Kindle somewhere.

211curioussquared
març 2, 1:54pm

>210 humouress: Read the first two books first! The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky. I guess you don't NEED to start with them, but they're both excellent and they set up the whole meteor situation.

212curioussquared
març 2, 2:10pm



21 books read: Nancy's Mysterious Letter by Carolyn Keene

Nancy Drew's latest mystery starts when she receives a mysterious letter from an address in England -- but before she can read it, it's stolen out of the mail carrier's bag! Soon, she's trying to track down the intended recipient of the letter, a Nancy Smith Drew, which she manages to find out is news of an inheritance. At her side as always are Ned, George, and Bess.

I'm counting this as a ROOT even though I'm pretty sure I read all of the Nancy Drews in elementary school, at least all the ones my school library had, just because I remembered zero things about it and can't be sure I actually read it. I found a few vintage Nancy Drew books at my favorite book store pre-lockdown and scooped them up; I wanted an easy read the other day and this fit the bill. Nancy Drew is such an iconic character, and I so enjoyed the books as a kid; this was a fun read now, but I found myself laughing at it a lot, too. I love Nancy and the police department's obsession with "clues"; it's never evidence or information, it's a clue! Also, why does the police department let her help? Don't they have people trained to solve crimes who aren't teenage girls? This was fun anyway. 3 stars.

213MickyFine
març 2, 3:35pm

I mostly read the 80s-90s reboot of Nancy Drew and loved them to bits. Particularly the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Double Mysteries. I still have my favourite one of all time on my shelf, which my Mom bought for me because I checked it out from the library so many times.

214curioussquared
març 2, 5:18pm

>213 MickyFine: They're definitely a little nostalgic for me! Like I said, I read every one my school library had (and I remember there being a shelf or two), but I can't say if they had all of them. I also owned books 1-6 so read those a few times each.

215curioussquared
març 2, 5:19pm

My Book Outlet order arrived today but it was missing four books! The box had a "Sorry your package was damaged" sticker from USPS and one side was totally taped up, so I wonder if the books literally fell out. Oh well. I submitted a ticket to the website and hopefully I'll get the missing books shipped out or a refund at least.

216humouress
Editat: març 3, 6:35am

>212 curioussquared: Have you seen the new TV series? Barely related to the books apart from the characters' names (Nancy and crew are older, series one is the solving of one mystery with plenty of supernatural goings on and the friends only meet for the first time in episode one) and the episodes are named after books in the series. Season two is now showing in Singapore though I haven't managed to catch it yet.

>215 curioussquared: Oh no! I hope you get your books.

217curioussquared
març 3, 12:56pm

>216 humouress: I have watched a few episode of the new TV series! I plan to finish it eventually; right now I'm mainly blocked by the fact that I watch a lot of TV (especially TV Tim isn't interested in, like this) on my personal laptop while I'm doing some of the more boring parts of my job, and for some reason I can't get into the HBO Max website on my laptop. Tim pays for this service and getting him to reset a password is always painful, lol.

218curioussquared
març 3, 2:45pm

>215 curioussquared: Phew -- Book Outlet is shipping out the missing books :) It sounds like they did literally fall out during transit, as the package was the correct weight when it left the shipping facility.

I also decided to finally shell out for a fancy standing desk for my home office. It goes up and down electronically and arrived today! It has a glass top and there were some reviews warning that their desktop had shattered during shipping, but mine seems to have arrived intact, so I'm excited to get that set up.

219MickyFine
març 3, 4:55pm

Envious of your standing desk. We just got them in the office right before we started working from home. *sob*

220curioussquared
març 3, 5:23pm

>219 MickyFine: Noooo. My old job offered them, but only if you got a doctor's approval and went through several rounds of ergonomic assessments, and getting one took about six months, so I never bothered to apply. Word on the street at my new job is that everyone has one, so that's exciting for when we're finally in the office! I've still only been to campus to get my laptop on my first day. But it sounds like even when we're back on campus we'll be moving to more of a hybrid in the office/WFH model, so I think I'll still get a lot of use out of my desk.

221MickyFine
març 4, 10:57am

>220 curioussquared: I did buy a new desk chair for my desk at home (which I was in desperate need of even before I started WFH) and it's good but I'm still getting occasional hip muscle pain. With virtual backgrounds in Microsoft Teams, I've started standing up in our kitchen on one of the chef mats when I've got meetings as I don't need my dual screen set up during those. It's working pretty well so far.

222curioussquared
març 4, 12:26pm

>221 MickyFine: I like it! I always seem to forget that I can like... move around my house with my computer. I think part of it is that I don't have a docking station, so when I move, I have to unplug like five separate things from my laptop, but it's really not THAT hard... I've definitely noticed an onset of increased lower back pain since working from home so hopefully the standing desk will help with that.

223PaulCranswick
març 6, 5:42am

>218 curioussquared: Would be interested to see a picture of that one......*hint hint*

224libraryperilous
març 7, 4:50pm

>215 curioussquared: Can't wait until that asshole of a postmaster general is 86ed. Glad Book Outlet is sending you replacements. I caved and ordered Winter's Orbit a couple of days ago.

>223 PaulCranswick: Seconded.

225humouress
març 8, 5:17am

I’m giving you credit for two BBs for In a Holidaze and The Flatshare; although it’s entirely possible that they came from elsewhere too - sometimes it takes more than one BB for me to accept I’ve been hit.

226curioussquared
març 8, 2:16pm

>223 PaulCranswick: >224 libraryperilous: Ask and ye shall receive! Here is the new desk, before I got all my stuff set up on it. Otter and Kermit were very interested.

227curioussquared
març 8, 2:18pm

>224 libraryperilous: I still need to get to Winter's Orbit! I honestly haven't had any issues with the postal service lately until now. But agreed, new postmaster general ASAP, please.

228curioussquared
març 8, 2:20pm

>225 humouress: I accept! I hope you enjoyed them both :) I've been needing lighthearted comfort reads more than ever lately and those two definitely fit the bill.

230curioussquared
març 8, 4:44pm

I finished one book over the weekend:



22 books read: A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

Linh and Bao have worked across the street from each other in their parents' respective pho restaurants for years, but have never really spoken -- they've each been warned by their parents not to associate with the other family. But when Linh's family runs a Pho Day special and she's barely holding down the fort, Bao offers to step in and help serve after seeing her crying outside. Soon, the two develop a forbidden friendship, partnering on restaurant reviews for their school newspaper and helping each other figure out how to follow their dreams without disappointing their demanding immigrant parents. But then Linh hears something that suggests that their families don't just hate each other because they're the competition -- they hate each other because of something that happened long ago, back in Vietnam. Falling in love but torn apart by their parents, Linh and Bao must figure out how to make things work -- and maybe even heal the rift between their families.

Romeo and Juliet, but make it modern and center it on pho! This was a fun read. Pho might be my favorite food, which is what initially drew me to the novel, but it was also a strong story. Linh and Bao are believable high schoolers just trying to not disappoint their parents, and there's also a small cast of fun side characters -- Chef Le might be my favorite. Warning, though: If you read this book, you will probably be compelled at some point to eat some pho. There's nothing for it. I caved Saturday night. 3.5 stars.

231libraryperilous
març 8, 5:15pm

>230 curioussquared: This sounds delightful, and I'm glad you got some pho out of it.

I really struggle with teen romances. It all seems so much more fraught than it should be. You're teenagers! You have your whole lives ahead of you! You most likely will dump this dude in two months over a band he likes and you hate!

>226 curioussquared: Ooh, that looks very ergonomic.

232curioussquared
març 8, 5:36pm

>231 libraryperilous: Lol, I can definitely understand that. Most of the time I find them to be sweet, light reads, but other times I can be frustrated by them. This one was definitely more on the sweet and light side; there wasn't so much romantic conflict as conflict over dealing with the bigger issues between their families, and that worked for me.

233AMQS
març 8, 8:05pm

Hi Natalie! As I was getting caught up on your thread I was stressing out a bit about your wedding dress - I'm so glad they're figuring out how to make the process easier for pandemic brides, and your final choice is absolutely stunning! So glad you get that "this is the one" feeling - then you KNOW it's right!

Oh boy do I love your greyhound photos. They're such goofy, sweet dogs. The pajama story made me laugh out loud:)

And you got me with some BBs: Dogsbody and the Lady Astronaut books all sound great!

Our yard needs some serious attention, and like Amber, I think we are going to ditch our low deck and do a stone patio instead. We had some huge and sadly rotting cottonwoods cut down last year. Now we don't worry so much when we have windstorms (a giant branch broke off some years ago from a neighbor's cottonwood and did serious damage to our roof and deck - our lawn never recovered from the time it took to get it all cut up and disposed of) but we need shade! We'll hopefully figure out how to work that in. Post pictures when your is underway!

234humouress
Editat: març 8, 8:20pm

>229 MickyFine: >226 curioussquared: More Oooooohs! So is the glass white? I was imagining transparent.

>230 curioussquared: :0) Sounds delicious.

>231 libraryperilous: That’s what I think when I look at my teenage son. And he hasn’t even started having romances yet. (That I know of.) Everything is so much more intense at that age.

235curioussquared
març 10, 4:30pm

>233 AMQS: Hi Anne! I was really happy I got that "this is the one" feeling -- I was worried I wouldn't, and I didn't have the luxury of trying on as many dresses as I wanted, but it all worked out :) The greyhounds are definitely big goofs. They have been such a joy during this pandemic -- they make us laugh every day. I hope you enjoy the BBs!

Our yard might be next on the list to attend to once the deck/garage project is finished. Our backyard is a big "critical slope" area; there's a flat part at the top and then a big hill down to the street below, with probably 8-10 huge evergreen trees. I think the trees could use some attention from an arborist, as they're shedding lots of branches whenever we have storms. The deck project is moving slowly; we've had two contractors come out to take a look so far and are waiting on bids. One of them I really liked, the other infuriated me by being over salesy, not respecting social distancing recommendations, and not listening to me in a way that gave off very sexist vibes (he paid perfect attention whenever Tim said anything). So we'll probably use that company's quote as a price point input, but I can't see us actually working with them. I hope you figure out your patio situation and find some shade! At the very least you can get an umbrella :)

236curioussquared
març 10, 4:33pm

>234 humouress: Hi Nina! The glass is white on the bottom, I believe, so it does look white.

I think I like YA romances sometimes when I want a sweet love story, but maybe don't want something super steamy.

237MickyFine
març 10, 4:35pm

>235 curioussquared: Ugh I hate when I bump into sexism in the trades. I still get annoyed about the time I dropped my car off at the garage to have seasonal tire switch done and the guy at the counter directed all of his comments to my husband, who was standing well behind me, doesn't drive, and isn't the one paying for the dang service. *growl*

Fingers crossed that if you talk to any further contractors they're all far better. :)

238curioussquared
març 10, 5:27pm



23 books read: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

The classic, epic, sweeping story of Scarlett O'Hara and her struggle to survive through sheer force of will during the civil war and reconstruction era in the south. Scarlett has many men interested in her, but she has eyes only for her old friend Ashley Wilkes -- but Ashley, it turns out, is engaged to another. Over the course of many years, Scarlett moves from her childhood home at Tara, her family's plantation, to Atlanta, contributing to the war effort and her family's survival during reconstruction, and eventually pushing the bounds of what women are allowed to do by opening and running her own business. Along the way, she clashes frequently with Rhett Butler, the scandalous wartime supplier and dashing but no good businessman.

Oof, I have a lot of Feelings about this one. I missed reading it when I was younger despite a friend's urging to pick it up, and figured now was as good a time as any. First, I can see why it's a classic and has remained so popular; the story is engaging and Scarlett, despite her inherent selfishness and narcissism, is an interesting protagonist. "Sweeping" and "epic" are two words that really do apply to this story. Despite this, I'm just not sure this is a book I needed to read in 2021. I went in knowing it was a story of the south and expecting plantations and slavery, but there's a lot of egregious language and the depiction of Black people and slaves was honestly worse than I expected. WAY too many animal comparisons, way too many suggestions that they're just too dumb to function, way too many implications that slaves didn't want to be free, they wanted to stay enslaved forever and be taken care of by their nice masters. The general tone of the book is boohoo, feel sorry for the poor wronged southerners and the slaves forced out of their comfortable slavery arrangements, and I just... no. Obviously, any war is terrible, and sure, we can feel bad for the starving civilians and men who died, even if they died for a cause that was wrong, but I was pretty tired of the confederacy apologist narrative by the end. I think the book got praised a lot for historical accuracy, too, and I just hope there aren't people reading this as a True History of the Civil War. And let's talk about that ending -- I listened to 50 hours of this for THAT?

Anyway. Sort of glad I read it for the cultural context; definitely will not read it again, but may watch the movie for similar cultural context reasons. 2 stars.

239curioussquared
març 10, 5:31pm

>237 MickyFine: Ugh. The fact that they persisted in talking to your husband despite the fact that he doesn't drive is hilarious in an awful way. Reminds me of when we traded in my car a few years ago. The trade-in car was mine outright. I was paying for and going to be the main driver on the new car. Tim was there as my partner and because he likes to negotiate and I don't, but still, my questions were literally ignored by the sales guy. Why are car guys so often jerks?

240scaifea
març 11, 8:04am

Adding my UGH to the disgusted pile. So frustrating. How about this one: paying for something with Husband standing next to you and having the male cashier hand the change to him. *adds another UGH*

241curioussquared
març 11, 9:42am

>240 scaifea: OMG, I don't think that's ever happened to me but I would be infuriated and am infuriated on your behalf.

242curioussquared
març 11, 12:51pm

For your daily dose of cute, please enjoy Kermit figuring out how to squeeze himself into the slice of dog bed not occupied by Otter, and then some enthusiastic snuggling.



243MickyFine
març 11, 1:04pm

Aww puppers!

244FAMeulstee
març 11, 4:09pm

>238 curioussquared: Almost exactly what I thought of this book, Natalie, reading it 10 years ago. My rating was also the same.

245PersephonesLibrary
març 11, 4:22pm

>242 curioussquared: Kermit just wanted to smoothly kick Otter out if the bed. ;-) They both are soo adorable!

246curioussquared
març 11, 4:38pm

>244 FAMeulstee: Glad to know I'm not alone, Anita. I wondered if I was missing something when it placed so highly in the Great American Read event that happened a few years ago, but don't think I was.

>245 PersephonesLibrary: You're probably right! Otter stayed there for about 45 minutes but eventually gave Kermit the bed :)

247AMQS
març 11, 4:46pm

They are SO CUTE!! Love those greyhounds:)

There have been very few times when I've felt I was treated dismissively because I am a woman. I guess I am lucky that in my professional life I have worked in a female-dominated field. My daughter is tiny and very young-looking and has been talked down to on several occasions but she refuses to take it. She's way gutsier than I was at her age, but truly, what's the matter with people?? Sheesh.

248curioussquared
març 11, 5:03pm

>247 AMQS: Hi Anne! I do feel lucky that I don't think I've encountered sexism professionally. Car dealerships and contractors have definitely been the worst offenders I've run into.

249libraryperilous
març 14, 10:35pm

>234 humouress: So much angst. And angst about angst. I would not want to be that age again.

>232 curioussquared: I've borrowed The Gravity of Us. A sweeter romance that doesn't have as much conflict sounds quite nice at the moment. Also, I'd like to get more into YA. I enjoy it when I read it.

>248 curioussquared: Some of the most overtly sexist and obnoxious experiences I've had have been car-related, especially car repairs.

250humouress
març 15, 3:05am

Re the sexism, I have a confession to make. I travelled back to my parents' place both times that I was expecting and you're not supposed to do too much heavy lifting when you're expecting but you're also not really supposed to fly when you're close to your due date (although I made sure that I wasn't too close) so I camouflaged my bump for the flight. Usually I have a plan for swinging the suitcase(s) off the carousel because I tend to pack everything but the kitchen sink; but those two times petite me thought I would hang around strong-looking guys and try to look a bit frail and incompetent so that some nice gentleman could get my bags off the belt for me. It worked.

Look, sexism happens so I thought I might as well take advantage of it. ;0)

251curioussquared
març 15, 12:34pm

>249 libraryperilous: Ooh, I haven't read that one. Report back if it's good! There's definitely a lot of subpar YA out there; I remember reading Twilight for the first time in high school when all my friends were into it, and just not understanding what I was missing. The whole YA paranormal romance genre never worked for me. But when YA is good... it's really good. I guess you could say that about most genres, but with YA I think I'm more inclined to finish the bad ones instead of DNFing them since they go so fast.

>250 humouress: Hey, a pregnant lady's gotta do what a pregnant lady's gotta do! I consider myself a master packer and have been known to cram an insane amount of stuff into a carry-on bag, which is fine until I have to swing that heavy thing up and into the overhead bins without braining anyone... I have been known to accept the help of taller men in that situation.

252curioussquared
març 15, 12:47pm



24 books read: Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Evvie Drake's husband died suddenly, a year ago. Since then, she's become the town widow in her small Maine town where everyone knows each other, and she's sick of the knowing, pitying glances -- partly because nobody knows that the night her husband died, she was packing up the car to leave him. Dean Tenney is a professional baseball pitcher having a really bad couple of years. He went from one of the game's best pitchers to throwing wildly into the stands, and none of the psychologists, sports medicine experts, or hypnotists can figure out why. He doesn't know himself. But some quiet time in nowhere, Maine, sounds like a good place to start recovering. Andy, Evvie's best friend and a childhood friend of Dean's, suggests she rents out the small apartment in her home to Dean to get a little extra cash, and after meeting each other, the two agree, with one condition -- Dean won't ask about Evvie's husband, and Evvie won't ask about baseball.

A cute little romcom of a book; if this hasn't been optioned for film yet, I'm shocked. It'd be a perfect chick flick. I thought this book was going to be a lot more sad than it was for the first chapter or so, and I also thought Evvie was older, which is probably due to my reading it late at night, so it took me a bit to get going. But once I got past the initial chapters, it picked up and I loved the story -- predictable, but in a comfortable, comforting way, just like your favorite romcom. 4 stars.

253libraryperilous
març 15, 12:59pm

>252 curioussquared: Oh, this sounds super cute, and it's almost Opening Day. Borrowed!

>251 curioussquared: Yes, I think one of my problems with YA is that some of the faddish books seem dreadful—poorly written and often with abusive tactics labeled as romantic. It's bad to judge a whole genre by its worst offenders! I have Gravity and Cemetery Boys on my Paperwhite atm. I'm looking forward to both of them.

254curioussquared
març 15, 1:06pm



25 books read: Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

Dani Brown is not relationship material. She's hyperfocused on work, planning to get her PHD and become a professor in record time, and she doesn't have time for all that romantic emotional stuff. She does enjoy having a nice friends with benefits situation going, though, and her last one of those imploded when Josephine told her Dani was too closed off. Zafir is just a friend, working security at the university building where she teaches, until he gallantly rescues her from a stuck elevator during a fire drill and they're filmed exiting the building, Dani in Zaf's strong arms. The rescue video quickly goes viral. Zaf is mostly embarrassed, until he starts getting requests for interviews... but only if Dani is part of the interview, too. Shy Zaf doesn't want the spotlight, but he knows he needs to get more out there if he's ever going to get his nonprofit off the ground. So he and Dani agree to start fake dating for the publicity, at least until Zaf can get the word out about his nonprofit. Fake dating NEVER goes wrong, right?

I'm definitely on the feel-good book train these days! I think I liked this one even better than the first Brown sisters book, Get a Life, Chloe Brown. This is a sweet, positive romance, with lots of emphasis on healthy relationships, taking care of your mental health, and supportive partnerships. It's steamy at parts, so do not recommend if that's not your thing. 4 stars.

255curioussquared
març 15, 1:08pm

>253 libraryperilous: Enjoy! I'm not a baseball person at all and I loved it in spite of that, so I think liking baseball would only add to it :) I picked up Cemetery Boys as a kindle deal recently -- must get to it soon!

256curioussquared
març 15, 1:16pm

Exciting update from Friday -- Tim and I got a tip that a mass vaccination site about an hour from us was going to have extra vaccine they would need to administer that night, regardless of current phase eligibility. We decided to take a shot (ha) and dropped everything to drive out there. After a traffic-y drive and some tense waiting, we got our first dose of the Moderna vaccine! The nurses were super happy to see us and so thrilled that enough people had showed up that not a single dose would go to waste.

Saturday was one of those gorgeous March days that teases you into thinking it's spring, and we went up to my aunt's country property about 45 minutes out of Seattle. It was a sad occasion -- she has to put her old mastiff to sleep today, so we came to say goodbye to him, but it was good to see him one last time, and really good to see some family from a distance. The dogs had a great time -- I'll post a Kermit zoomies pic below.

Saturday night and Sunday Tim and I both had pretty bad vaccine side effects -- super achy, bad arm pain, some fever and chills. I spent most of Sunday wrapped in a blanket listening to audiobooks and doing puzzles.

257curioussquared
març 15, 1:19pm

Here's Kermit with a look of pure joy on his face demonstrating the patented greyhound "double suspension" gallop -- at two points in a greyhound's running stride, all four feet are off the ground. This is the point where it looks funniest, lol. The stretched out stride is a lot more noble :D

258ronincats
març 15, 2:26pm

The gown is drop dead gorgeous, Natalie! I had my grandmother sew mine, very much a flower-child sort of thing. It is still up there in the attic.

Those house photos should be useful showing your contractor what you want. This might be a situation where you want a general contractor to bid on the job so they can handle all the subcontractors for different parts of the job.

Congrats on the tax and doesn't Kermit look ecstatic?!

259MickyFine
març 15, 3:23pm

Congrats on getting your first vaccine shot, Natalie. Hope you're feeling more human today.

>257 curioussquared: Oh doggo.

260curioussquared
març 15, 3:31pm

>258 ronincats: Thanks, Roni! While I was trying on dresses, one of my aunts brought hers for me to try on, and my mom brought her dress for me to try. Neither was my style, but it's fun to have that little bit of family history :) Most of the contractors we've talked to so far have been general-ish contractors with specialties in roofs and/or decks, which seems to be the way to go. It's crazy how specialized the flat roofing material is -- I'm reassured so far because the people we've talked to all seem to know what they're talking about. I'm working on getting another team or two out here to bid this week. The only downside is that both people we've talked to so far have recommended not installing wood deck tiles on our specific roof; those generally work better on decks that are built for them, which makes sense. But I hope we can find a membrane material to install that's not TOO ugly.

>259 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! I know the side effects are a sign the vaccine is working, so I was glad to have them to some degree, but the feeling bad wasn't fun. Today I feel much better and even the arm pain seems mostly gone.

261AMQS
març 15, 11:31pm

>257 curioussquared: LOVE THIS!! We have a picture of Whistler that's just like this. Those days are behind him, but I absolutely love the look of joy on their faces when they're all out running.

262curioussquared
març 16, 12:32pm

>261 AMQS: Same here! It makes me feel bad that our yard doesn't allow for all-out zoomies, but we can always take the boys to my parents' house 10 minutes away if they really need to run.

263curioussquared
Editat: març 16, 2:10pm



26 books read: The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

In two pieces, a letter to his nephew on the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, and an essay, Baldwin writes about race in America in 1963. Most of his words, unfortunately, are just as relevant now as they were then, and just as powerful, if not moreso.

I meant to read this during February, for Black history month, but February was rough, and this was not an easy read. And hey, we should read about Black history every month, not just in February. It's a slim volume, but a weighty one, and so important. 5 stars.

264Whisper1
març 16, 2:53pm

>221 MickyFine: What a lovely work station! Can you tell me a bit about the personalities of Greyhound dogs? They seem so gentle!

I hope your day is a good one.

>263 curioussquared: I very much like the writings of James Baldwin. I will be sure to add The Fire Next Time. I remember watching either a netflix or hulu documentary about his life. He truly was a remarkable man!

265MickyFine
Editat: març 16, 3:48pm

>263 curioussquared: I'm going to do the non-fiction librarian thing and recommend follow-up reading if you want to engage further (and haven't read it already). In 2016 Jesmyn Ward edited a collection of essays and poems that are essentially in dialogue with Baldwin and is aptly titled The Fire This Time. *burrows back into library stacks from whence she came*

266curioussquared
març 16, 4:26pm

>264 Whisper1: Sweet and gentle is about right for greyhounds. They are big, lovable couch potatoes who sometimes run very fast. Sometimes they can be shy and skittish, if they had a rough time in the racing industry, but all of our boys are big, happy-go-lucky goofs. I'll have to look for that documentary about Baldwin!

267curioussquared
març 16, 4:28pm

>265 MickyFine: Ooh, I'll have to look out for that one! Thank you, resident non-fiction librarian! ;) I have both Ward's Salvage the Bones and Sing, Unburied, Sing on my TBR, too.

268libraryperilous
març 18, 12:05pm

This is on sale today for 99 cents and might be of interest to dog lovers and/or middle grade fans: The Dog, Ray.

269curioussquared
Editat: març 18, 1:20pm

>268 libraryperilous: I am tempted....

270humouress
març 22, 11:53pm

>256 curioussquared: Congratulations! (On striking it lucky with the vaccine, not the side effects).

>257 curioussquared: So, are greyhounds the only dogs with 'double suspension' then? Kermit looks thrilled! By the way, did you name your dogs or did they come with their names?

Jasper usually looks goofy when he runs around at home because we don't have the space for an all-out gallop. Sometimes he does that mad-dog gallop in circles around our small lawn and if he needs a straight for a long gallop, he takes it inside. But we have a stone tiled floor and he has so much fur between his paws that if he tries galloping indoors he does that cartoony thing where they look like they're running really fast but going nowhere.

Poor guy - even when he lies down his back paw starts sliding out from underneath him :0)

271curioussquared
març 23, 12:44am

>270 humouress: Thanks Nina! I'm not 100% sure if they are the only dogs that do the double suspension; I know they are supposed to be the second fastest land animal after cheetahs, but I'd bet some other sighthounds that are similarly built like salukis, azawakhs, or borzoi would run in a similar way.

We named Skelly and Kermit (and actually had chosen those names before even choosing the dogs), Otter came with his name and it suited him so we kept it :)

Poor Jasper!! We have hardwoods on our main floor and as a consequence, I have area rugs and runners literally everywhere because Skelly will not walk anywhere where he doesn't have at least two paws on a rug. Kermit and Otter do fine on the slippery hardwoods, but they do slide out every once in a while and all three of the dogs prefer to sit or lie down on rugs to avoid the paw sliding out issue :)

One bonus of moving my office to the basement is that Kermit and Otter are now allowed free reign of the basement while I'm working there during the day -- it was always closed off to them before. (Skelly is allowed down too, but the basement stairs are too scary.) We have a relatively unfurnished big carpeted rec room down there and Otter and Kermit have taken to randomly initiating wrestling with each other during the work day. I'll just be working away and hear their collars jangling and come out to find them playbowing and zooming and jumping around in a way they can't do in the more cramped space with hardwoods upstairs. It's adorable!

272humouress
març 23, 1:08am

Jasper and rugs! We do have some carpets/ area rugs around but when Jasper gets excited, he likes to chew things - and since I object to his sharp teeth on my toes, the carpet is the next target. We just got them last year and they're expensive, so I'd rather he didn't do that.

Maybe if you can coax Skelly (I love his full name!) down to the basement once or twice, he'd dare it more often once he knows what fun it is? I feel sorry that he's missing out.

273curioussquared
març 23, 1:28pm

>272 humouress: Very fair! The rugs we have are mostly pretty cheap because they get so many muddy pawprints on them all the time (thanks, Seattle rain!) that I didn't even bother investing in nicer ones :)

Don't feel bad for Skelly! I have tried to coax him down before but he won't budge; I think we took him up the stairs once before forcefully and it traumatized him, lol. But he gets plenty of wrestle time upstairs. Part of the reason I think Kermit and Otter like to play downstairs is that Skelly usually comes in and dominates the upstairs play sessions by taking their whole necks or heads in his mouth, lol. He has to make sure they know he's the boss. So the downstairs sessions are a little more playful without the fear of big brother Skelly coming in to assert himself.

274humouress
març 23, 3:12pm

>273 curioussquared: He gets their whole heads in his mouth?! I can understand them wanting to be able to play by themselves.

As for our rugs, I think my husband got bored last year with the lockdown. We spent a whole afternoon (once they started easing up) in a carpet warehouse looking at (mostly) handwoven Middle Eastern carpets and rugs (there seem to be quite a few emporiums around Singapore).