Norabelle414's Trilogy in Four Parts

É uma continuação do tópico Norabelle414's Trilogy in Three Parts.

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2023

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Norabelle414's Trilogy in Four Parts

1norabelle414
Editado: Nov 18, 2023, 6:45 pm


Sunbeam cat

Hello and welcome! I'm Nora. I live in the Washington DC area. This is my fourteenth year of having my own thread in the 75ers group! Aside from books, I also love:

animals/biology/zoology - I am once again starting to volunteer at Smithsonian's National Zoo
TV - scripted only, mostly science fiction and fantasy, especially anything based on a book
theater - I have season tickets to Arena Stage but I go to shows elsewhere as well
podcasts - especially about books
knitting (I'm on Ravelry), and now also cross stitch and embroidery
progressive politics (particularly urbanism)

You can find me on Bluesky @ norabelle (send me a message if you want an invite)

I know trying to read more books is a futile goal, so my goals for 2023 are:
1) Be more present here, including actually posting on everyone else's thread instead of just lurking
2) Write reviews promptly after finishing a book

2norabelle414
Editado: Nov 18, 2023, 6:50 pm

A selection of books I have finished recently:

The Stranger by Albert Camus, translated by Stuart Gilbert - 2.5/5 stars
The Helios Syndrome by Vivian Shaw - 5/5 stars
Pink is Not a Color by Lindsay Ward - 4/5 stars
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi - 3/5 stars
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus - 3/5 stars
The Possibility of Life: Science, Imagination, and Our Quest for Kinship in the Cosmos {audiobook} by Jaime Green, narrated by the author - 4.5/5 stars

3norabelle414
Editado: Jan 1, 2:09 pm

For a full list of books I have read this year, click here: https://www.librarything.com/catalog.php?view=norabelle414&collection=769953...

4norabelle414
Editado: Nov 18, 2023, 8:30 pm

Happy weekend!

Thursday I finally took the arm chair out to the dumpster.....yay! The dumpster was moved closer to the building today than it usually is which means it was easier to dump the chair in...so that's my excuse for not doing it sooner. I have only seen one moth since cleaning where the chair used to be, so I think the problem should be over. Now I have a big empty spot near my bedroom door but maybe I'll move my laundry bin there. I prepared to have my apartment water turned off all day on Friday (filled up some jugs to make tea, wash my hands, flush the toilet, etc.) but as far as I can tell they never actually shut it off. Yesterday I cleaned and packed.

Today I cleaned and packed some more and set off for my brother's house. I took a rolling suitcase instead of my usual tote bags because of the walk from the Metro station, and discovered that the zipper is broken. It's fine for this visit but I will probably throw it out when I'm done. The Metro was sharing a track on the line that goes to my brother's house, because of course it was, but it only added about 10 minutes to my trip. The dog and I went on a very long walk - we walked 15 minutes to a coffee shop and then did a big loop for a total of about 3.5 miles. I'm not used to walking in the suburbs - thankfully there are big wide sidewalks on every street but there are no crosswalks or stop signs and the cars on the through streets drive very fast. There are also no trash cans anywhere, I had to carry a full poop bag almost the whole walk. I ordered delivery Thai for dinner and my grocery delivery arrived right after I was done eating so I'm doing very well.

Tomorrow I'll take the dog for a long walk in the morning and then go back home to feed and check on Rory. A friend is coming to feed him Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday so I'll see him again on Thursday. The library I want to go to is closed on Sundays so I could go after work on Monday or Tuesday (they're open until 9) but I might wait until Saturday so I don't have to walk home in the pitch black.

Currently reading:
I brought a modest 4 books with me but I haven't read anything yet.
Reviews behind: 0

Currently crafting:
Nothing

Currently listening:
I listened to a huge backlog of podcasts on my metro trip and walk but I think my shower radio won't hold a charge anymore so I haven't been listening to much music lately.

Currently watching:
I started new shows Colin from Accounts (fine but be warned that the premise is a dog getting hit by a car) and Monarch: Legacy of Monsters (it's a godzilla show! It's pretty good). Caught up on Saturday Night Live, Taskmaster, Last Week Tonight, Hotel Portofino, Annika, For All Mankind, and World on Fire. I watched the season finales of Welcome to Wrexham (I already knew what the ending was going to be because...real life) and Native America.

5PaulCranswick
Nov 18, 2023, 11:26 pm

Happy new thread, Nora.

Thanks especially for >3 norabelle414: !

6FAMeulstee
Nov 19, 2023, 6:44 am

Happy new thread, Nora!

7figsfromthistle
Nov 19, 2023, 8:56 am

Happy new one!

8katiekrug
Nov 19, 2023, 9:25 am

Happy new one!

9drneutron
Nov 20, 2023, 3:57 pm

Happy new one, Nora!

10norabelle414
Editado: Nov 20, 2023, 6:05 pm

Happy Monday!

Metro yesterday was brutal, it took me an hour and a half to get home. I fed Rory, cleaned a little more, packed a few more things. It took me another hour and a half to get back to my brother's, and the Metro was standing room only. Thankfully that was the end of the track work and I'm not going back until Thursday.

Today I'm in the office. It only took me 32 minutes to get to work this morning - 20 minutes of walking and 12 minutes on the shuttle. Not bad, particularly in the nice weather. Tomorrow it's going to rain so I will probably be much less pleased.

Currently reading:
I read some of All Systems Red on the Metro yesterday but I'm not finished yet.
Reviews behind: 0

Currently crafting:
Did a decent amount of knitting on the placemats yesterday, but I have a lot more to go.

Currently listening:
Really plowing through the podcasts with my long walks to/from the Metro and walking the dog.

Currently watching:
Caught up on The Spencer Sisters and Sullivan's Crossing. Watched the first two episodes of the new season of Whose Line Is It Anyway? which is rumored to be the last. I finished all of Everyone Else Burns, which has been cancelled by The CW and they dumped the second half of it online. Also watched the first half of season 6 of The Crown, which is boring.

11curioussquared
Nov 20, 2023, 5:06 pm

Happy new thread, Nora!

12bell7
Nov 20, 2023, 7:20 pm

Happy new thread, Nora!

I'll me taking the Metro on Wednesday to get to my sister's so wish me luck :D

13norabelle414
Nov 20, 2023, 7:34 pm

>12 bell7: You should be fine! Sorry if I scared you! The track work was only for 2 days and it just happened to be at the exact junction where I had to change trains. Really bad luck for me but there's no more track work scheduled until Saturday.

14foggidawn
Nov 21, 2023, 3:58 pm

Happy new thread!

15bell7
Nov 21, 2023, 5:44 pm

>13 norabelle414: oh no, you're fine. I could use the good wishes traveling the day before Thanksgiving in any case, but I'm also going in the middle of the day so hopefully the metro itself won't be too bad. Which reminds me, I need to make sure my card is in my wallet before I leave...

16_Zoe_
Nov 22, 2023, 7:40 am

Happy new thread!

18norabelle414
Nov 22, 2023, 12:45 pm

It's an extra-Friday-ish Wednesday today!

After walking 5-10 miles each on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, yesterday my shins and knees were like "lol no" and I had to slow down a lot. It took me 22 minutes to walk to the bus instead of 18. It was drizzling a little in the morning and then when I left work it was POURING. This was expected so I had an umbrella, but my shoes and socks were soaked through after just a minute or two. The rain continued into the morning so the dog did not get a walk and he was fine with that. This was the first rain since my brother bought the house a month ago, so I poked around to see if there was any leaking or flooding or standing water but everything looks great.

I'm in the office right now but headed home early and I'll telework for a few more hours this afternoon. Tomorrow I'll be taking the dog on a long walk and going home to feed Rory, then Friday I'll be teleworking.

Currently reading:
I really thought I would feel relaxed and in the mood for reading while dog-sitting, but I have not.
Reviews behind: 0

Currently crafting:
Ditto with knitting.

Currently listening:
Nothing, though I might start Christmas music any minute now.

Currently watching:
Rewatching seasons 1 and 2 of Ragnarok, a Norwegian teen fantasy I really love, so that I can watch season 3.

19klobrien2
Nov 22, 2023, 3:17 pm

>18 norabelle414: I really liked Ragnarok! I think your rewatching of the first two seasons prior to watching the third is a great idea!

Karen O

20norabelle414
Nov 24, 2023, 9:35 am

>19 klobrien2: Hi Karen! Always nice to talk to someone who likes one of the weird shows I do :-)

21norabelle414
Nov 24, 2023, 10:05 am

Happy Friday!

Yesterday I did not do much. Fussed around on the internet too long, went home to feed Rory, came back, walked the dog for about 45 minutes, ate a frozen pizza.
Today I'm teleworking, no meetings since a lot of people are on leave, and my friend is going to feed Rory so I don't need to go anywhere. Should be a relaxing day. I have some fussy data-cleanup work to do so I will probably put the tv on in the background.

Tomorrow I'm going to go to the library, about 2 miles away. There's a bus I can take halfway but I have to walk a mile to the bus stop so I might not bother and just walk the whole way.

Currently reading:
Metro was quiet yesterday so I've almost finished All Systems Red. I put the next one on hold at the library but I'd like to finish more of the books I already have out first.
Reviews behind: 0

Currently crafting:
None

Currently playing:
Took advantage of a Steam sale and bought Strange Horticulture, a mostly text game where you run a plant shop in Victorian-ish times and try to identify plants for your customers but also explore some mysterious goings-on. I finished the main storyline in a few hours but it's one of those games with different endings depending on choices you make, so I'll play again soon.

Currently watching:
The series 16 finale of Taskmaster!! The hotel task was so delightful! Pleased Sam won but Susan is still my favorite. They also announced the cast for the New Year Treat - Deborah Meaden, Kojey Radical, Lenny Rush, Steve Backshall and Zoe Ball- I'm not very familiar with any of them but it seems like a good variety. It is pretty wild that they're going to have a 14-year-old on!

22norabelle414
Nov 27, 2023, 11:12 am

It's Monday.

Wednesday evening I had a bit of a breakdown and have been feeling pretty low since then. I'm not much of a holiday person (especially because most US holidays celebrate things I don't really think are worth celebrating) but the idea of everyone else spending time with their friends and family while I sat alone in an empty house in an unfamiliar neighborhood was more than I could take.

Saturday was a gorgeous day, and I walked to a coffee shop a mile away, which was very cute, got a coffee, and kept going for another mile and a quarter to the library. Along the way I walked past the community center, which was having a craft sale, so I stopped in. It was very cute, with a large variety of crafts - sewing, knitting, pottery, laser cutting, etc. I bought a couple small things for Christmas stockings and picked up some business cards of vendors I liked. Then I went on to the library just around the corner to get a library card and they were having a book sale! Pickings were slim but I got The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks and The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds for my niece for $1. I wandered around the town for awhile, visiting the historic library building from 1897, which has a matching Little Free Library outside which is almost as big as the real library:



Then I went to another coffee shop to get another coffee and had a nice walk back along a different route. Somewhere during my walk a transit app that I wasn't even using managed to download 3.11GB of data in less than 10 minutes for no discernible reason, blowing past my mobile data plan of 2GB per month. So far for the month I had used 0.6GB. I'm looking at probably $30 in overage charges, which is not the end of the world, but since I was already very anxious I spent several hours fretting about what I could have done wrong. I eventually sent an email to the app company about it, since it is clearly some kind of bug.

Sunday morning I did laundry, cleaned up the house, packed, and went home. I was supposed to go to my friend's house for friendsgiving but I was feeling so low and anxious and missed home a lot so I canceled. It might have made me feel better to interact with real in-person humans but I don't know. I had a quiet day at home, collecting packages that had been delivered while I was gone, unpacking, spending time with Rory (who was very happy to see me) and catching up on TV.

Nothing in particular going on this week, then next week is my annual conference on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in DC. I'm very excited about it but no one else in my office seems to care.

Currently reading:
Finished All Systems Red, read 200 pages of Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands, and a bit of Where There Was Fire on the bus this morning.
Reviews behind: 1

Currently crafting:
None

Currently playing:
Re-downloaded my comfort computer game, Two Point Hospital, while I was feeling anxious and have been playing that quite a bit.

Currently watching:
I finished the final season of Ragnarok. The ending was weird - it seemed as though the whole series had been in Magne's head, which would have been infuriating, but I think a better interpretation is that when the battle, which was on another plane of existence, ended, our universe was kind of reset to a state where no one was a god or giant at all. Not great, but endings are hard.
I watched two episodes of The Fall of the House of Usher, which was good but I wasn't really in the mood for it. When I got home yesterday I got caught up on Julia (Rachel Bloom is on it this season!), The Buccaneers (a lovely show but it suffers by being on at the same time as The Gilded Age, which is a very similar story but has more money and more historical research), and watched 3 episodes of Colin from Accounts, which I'm enjoying more as it goes on.

23libraryperilous
Editado: Nov 27, 2023, 1:12 pm

>21 norabelle414: I really liked Strange Horticulture, especially when I murdered that one creepy guy.

24norabelle414
Nov 27, 2023, 3:08 pm

>23 libraryperilous: Rule follower that I am, I assumed I was supposed to give everyone exactly the plants they asked for, it never occurred to me until I looked at my Steam achievements that I could do anything different!

25curioussquared
Nov 27, 2023, 3:31 pm

Sorry your Thanksgiving was tough :( I hope this week is better! I also loved Strange Horticulture and I also played it 100% by the rules, lol. My first playthrough was probably two years ago now so I am feeling another one coming on...

26norabelle414
Nov 28, 2023, 9:36 am

>25 curioussquared: Thanks Natalie! I am already feeling more relaxed this week, and next week's conference should be pretty fun.
(P.S. next year's conference is going to be in Seattle the week before thanksgiving so save the date if you want to meet up!)

27norabelle414
Nov 28, 2023, 10:45 am

Good morning!

Got home from work yesterday and zoned out for a bit. Still haven't figured out how to keep from doing that. If I go out and do something else I just zone out when I get back, and if I try to watch a bit of TV (which in theory could work well because it's a limited amount of time) I just zone out with the TV on. Thankfully I made some pasta on Sunday so dinner was easy. I picked up a package from the office and added it to my stack of Christmas presents. I have a lot more arriving soon so I need to start organizing and wrapping them.

Today I need to return two books to the library and pick up another hold that is ready (oops) but I might save it for Thursday if I'm feeling tired. Tomorrow the future director of my department is coming to visit. I've met him before but still want to make a good impression. He'll be starting in February.

Currently reading:
Did not read anything before bed last night. I've switched to Legends & Lattes for my purse/bus book because it's due back sooner.
Reviews behind: 1

Currently crafting:
None

Currently listening:
I have not started the Christmas music yet because I haven't been in the mood, which usually ends up with me wanting to listen to it well past Christmas, but whatever.

Currently playing:
nothing

Currently watching:
Caught up on For All Mankind (the venture-capital-worship was especially bad this episode) and Monarch: Legacy of Monsters (such a stupid name for a really good show! It's Godzilla!!!) and watched one episode of The Gilded Age (I'm still behind, though)

28norabelle414
Nov 28, 2023, 12:00 pm



37. All Systems Red by Martha Wells

Murderbot is a robot for murder, but they would rather not. They have disabled their governor module, so they don't have to follow orders if they don't want to, but still need to pretend in order to stay off the scrap heap. Murderbot is contracted to an extremely boring exploratory mission when things start to go very wrong. In order to save their crew (who are actually pretty nice) they will have to … trust some humans? Ew.

Exactly as good as expected. A very unique point of view and I did find the plot interesting. I loved Murderbot’s crew, and found them more directly relatable, but totally respect Murderbot's decision to leave, which was obviously the right decision for them.

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ (5/5)

29foggidawn
Nov 28, 2023, 12:06 pm

And another Murderbot fan is created! Welcome to the club!

30curioussquared
Nov 28, 2023, 12:52 pm

So glad Murderbot worked for you 😁😁😁

31norabelle414
Editado: Nov 30, 2023, 10:50 am



38. Heartstopper, Volume 1 written and illustrated by Alice Oseman

Charlie is a quiet high school sophomore, who was bullied last year for being gay. He’s assigned to sit next to rugby star Nick Nelson in homeroom, and the two of them develop a friendship. Or is it something more?

Sweet and cute, as expected. I’m not sure how much I would have gotten out of it if I hadn’t seen the TV show first. It’s all very simple and most of the other characters and background and nuance aren’t there (yet? I’ll keep reading).

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ (4/5)

32norabelle414
Editado: Nov 30, 2023, 5:44 pm

Happy Thursday!

Uneventful couple of days. Today I went to the library and returned three books and picked up one hold. I only have 7 books out now!

Tomorrow is the start of my local bookstore's winter sale so I have a full shopping cart full of christmas presents, ready to hit "buy" first thing in the morning. I might go to a high school musical tomorrow, and I might go to a holiday market downtown this weekend. We'll see.

Monday is my conference and I'm very excited.

Currently reading:
I'm a good chunk into Legends & Lattes and enjoying it a lot(te) of course. Running into a slight problem that it's now too dark to read on the bus on the way home from work. I might give up, or I might get a little book light to keep in my backpack, or I might start leaving work 15 minutes earlier (which I should probably do anyway because I keep getting stuck in traffic)
I started Heartstopper, Volume 1 last night and accidentally read the whole thing.
Reviews behind: 0

Currently crafting:
Got a little knitting of placemats done during a meeting today. I should be able to bring the placemats to the conference and I always get a lot of knitting done during conferences since it helps me pay attention.

Currently listening:
Spotify Wrapped is out! Most of my listening is podcasts and I don't listen to podcasts in Spotify, but I do use it for music.
My top genres were pop, broadway, and indie rock
My top songs were all from Eurovision, unsurprising
My top artists were Taylor Swift (unsurprising), OK Go (my favorite band since middle school, never gets old), Death Cab For Cutie/The Postal Service (saw them in concert in September) and the cast of Ride the Cyclone (which I saw twice in February)

Currently playing:
nothing

Currently watching:
Caught up on The Gilded Age, Last Week Tonight, and the season finales of Annika (extremely weird ending, I hope it gets renewed!), Hotel Portofino, and World on Fire (absolutely no attempt to tie up loose ends). Watched s2e7 of SurrealEstate but then I ran out of VPN data for the month so I'm still behind.

33katiekrug
Nov 30, 2023, 8:18 pm

I have a little clip-on LED light (USB charged) that I use when reading a print book in bed if The Wayne is sleeping. It's very small and lightweight and comes in handy. I'd link to it, but it was a stocking stuffer a few years ago, so I'm not sure where it came from. I have a feeling they are probably easy to find these days...

34norabelle414
Dez 2, 2023, 12:14 pm

>33 katiekrug: I'm hoping I'll find one around my apartment somewhere? I used to use a lot of book lights when I had less control over my life (for reading after lights-out or in a car or in a dark corner at a social event) but since I've lived in my own apartment I just...turn a lamp on or go home.

35norabelle414
Dez 2, 2023, 1:12 pm

Happy weekend!

Yesterday I bought uhhh $200 worth of books from the bookstore winter sale (online) but most of them are gifts so it's fine. In the evening I went to the local high school's production of Into the Woods, kind of on a whim because I saw a sign on the street. It was so much fun! Brought back lots of memories of being in the pit orchestra for my own high school's Into the Woods in 2005. This one had a pre-recorded orchestra, though. Boo!

I am too lazy today to go to the downtown holiday market, but maybe tomorrow.

Currently reading:
Still reading Legends & Lattes, which is the only library book I have checked out that can't be renewed. I shouldn't have any problem finishing in the next 3 days since it's small enough to fit in my purse. Then I'll go back to Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands with Fen, Bog and Swamp as my purse book.
Reviews behind: 0
Library books: 7

Currently crafting:
None

Currently listening:
Thanks to Ursula for reminding me that Last.fm exists! I haven't used it in many years but I logged back in and I'm all set up. It works on YouTube now so everyone knows how many times last night I watched Chris Pine sing "Agony" from the Into the Woods movie...oops.

Currently playing:
nothing

Currently watching:
Finished Lessons in Chemistry - The series made a lot of changes from the book but managed to flop for me in the exact same way. In addition to opening with my least favorite scene, where a chemist tells women they are not allowed to use canned food because it's "full of chemicals", the final episode added a new scene where Elizabeth rants about "seed oils" (a very recent right-wing conspiracy theory) and ends with her telling a room full of students that "chemical reactions are unpredictable". No!!!!! You're a chemist, the entire basis of your field of work is that chemical reactions are extremely predictable!!!!!!!! If they were unpredictable they would be called "magic"!!!!!!! I'm absolutely livid thinking about it. It suffers especially airing adjacent to Julia, a show about making a cooking show in the exact same time period but with kindness and solidarity instead of fatphobia and condescension.
I also caught up on Saturday Night Live (not a great episode but the opening sketch of Tian Tian the giant panda upstaging Biden's press conference was very funny. They are right that Tian Tian would love weed but wrong that he is not horny all the time), The Spencer Sisters, and Sullivan's Crossing (Chad Michael Murray is still extremely hot, in case anyone was wondering).

36MickyFine
Dez 4, 2023, 4:50 pm

Took a small break from LT and just catching up.

Delighted to see you've joined the Murderbot fan club.

Hope the conference is treating you well!

37norabelle414
Dez 4, 2023, 9:56 pm

>36 MickyFine: Hi Micky! Welcome back!

38norabelle414
Editado: Dez 10, 2023, 10:00 am

Happy Monday!

Yesterday I went to the downtown holiday market but I didn't find anything I wanted to buy.

Today I was at my conference all day, which was very nice and I enjoyed the sessions I attended. No one wanted to hang out after the conference, everyone I knew there was local and they all wanted to go home. So I did too.

Tomorrow: more conference

Currently reading:
I'm about 75% done with Legends & Lattes
Reviews behind: 0
Library books: 7

Currently crafting:
Got quite a bit done with my placemats during the conference

Currently watching:
I watched the first two of the new Doctor Who specials and they were incredible! Can't wait for more. Finished Colin from Accounts, which turned into a nice little romcom in the end. Watched the first two episodes of Slow Horses season 3 and the first three episodes of Fargo season 5. I don't like this season as much as last season, which was set in 1950.
The official Taskmaster YouTube channel has started posting season 1 of Taskmaster New Zealand so I've watched the first two episodes. They're posting an episode every 3 days, which means they'll finish this season just in time for the New Year Treat, how considerate.

39MickyFine
Dez 5, 2023, 4:42 pm

I am SO GLAD Russell T. Davies is back writing Doctor Who. I've loved both the new episodes so far and I'm looking forward to seeing what he does with the writing for Ncuti Gatwa's Doctor. Also, delighted for the return of the Doctor Who Christmas Special.

40Ravenwoodwitch
Editado: Dez 6, 2023, 10:10 pm

Howdy Nora!

>4 norabelle414: A very late but HAPPY New Thread Nora :)
>21 norabelle414: I have Strange Horticulture too and also had real fun with it. I enjoy sim-like games where I keep a shop (and love plants) so the whole identity/label/medicate aspect of it was just, just *chef's kiss*
>22 norabelle414: I'm really sorry about what happened. It sounds like you really listened to yourself and did what you thought was best, though, so I don't think you can be faulted for that.
>32 norabelle414: I have a similar issue on my bus. Maybe switch to an audiobook if you can?

41ffortsa
Dez 10, 2023, 9:32 am

Hi. I really have to come by and take time to read your thread, but in the meantime, thanks for the NPR post on Katie's thread. I took a look and marked it as 'followed' just to be able to find it again. OMG there are so many books to read!

42bell7
Dez 10, 2023, 12:32 pm

Hi Nora! You remind me I have yet to watch any more than the first of the Doctor Who specials. I really liked the first one.

Hope you're having a good weekend!

43norabelle414
Dez 10, 2023, 12:49 pm

>39 MickyFine: Me too!

>40 Ravenwoodwitch: Thanks Angela :-)
I'm constantly behind on podcasts so I'll always have something to listen to if it's too dark. I like very different books in print vs. audio so if I listen to an audiobook I'm still not going to be able to read the book I want to be reading.

>41 ffortsa: Hi Judy! I'm glad you're enjoying the list! I'm slowly going back and adding previous years as well. LT's new awards feature is pretty nice and easy to use.

____________________

For everyone else, I turned NPR's 2023 "Books We Love" list (the best book list of the year, formerly known as the Book Concierge) into a "Notable List" in LibraryThing using the awards feature: https://www.librarything.com/award/15142/NPR-Books-We-Love

44norabelle414
Dez 10, 2023, 1:07 pm

>42 bell7: Thanks Mary! You're only a week and a day behind on Doctor Who, that's nothing! *eyes long list of TV shows I'm behind on*

45norabelle414
Dez 10, 2023, 1:59 pm

Happy Sunday

The week ended up being rather laid back. The conference was good but I still couldn't get anyone to hang out with me. The last day we ended at 3 so I went back to the downtown Christmas market (it was only 4 blocks away from the conference) and got some tea to give to my dad's friend who is coming to Christmas dinner. Thursday and Friday were teleworking and catching up on emails. Yesterday I putzed around a bit, putting away some clean clothes, unpacking the backpack I took to the conference, packing my normal work backpack, unpacking a few items left over from when I stayed at my brother's house. Also went to the grocery store.

Today I'm doing laundry, and baking cupcakes for my coworker's birthday tomorrow.

The next week is going to be extremely busy. Tomorrow I'm in the office, with cupcakes. Tuesday I am teleworking because my HVAC filters are being replaced in the morning (which means I need to tidy up a lot today and tomorrow) and I need to pick my dad up from the doctor in the afternoon (quite convenient for those things to be scheduled on the same day, but still a lot going on). Wednesday I'm having dinner with my dad and brother and also need to pick up my book order from the bookstore (luckily I convinced them that we should go to a restaurant next to the bookstore). My mom and her husband are arriving in the area late on Thursday and I'll take Friday off of work. Friday night we're going to see a local production of Ragtime.

Currently reading:
Finished Legends & Lattes, haven't written a review yet. I haven't read more of Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands because I've been going to bed too late. Fen, Bog and Swamp is my purse book but I haven't started it yet.
Reviews behind: 1
Library books: 7 (1 overdue)

Currently crafting:
Got another chunk of the placemats done during the conference but now one block has too many stitches so I have to compare and figure out where I went wrong.

Currently listening:
End of the year stats always encourage me to listen to more music but of course it's december so anything I listen to is going to be overwhelmed by Christmas music. I listened to a bunch of Moneskin (2021 Eurovision winners) but I still like their Eurovision song best. I did start listening to Christmas music, A Very Kacey Christmas by Kacey Musgraves, Barenaked for the Holidays by Barenaked Ladies, and a compilation called Holidays Rule with songs by The Shins, Paul McCartney, Rufus Wainright, etc. All very good but I'm still not in a Christmas music mood. Which is ...not usual for me.

Currently playing:
I've been playing Two Point Hospital and a couple phone games but next week is too busy so I've deleted them for awhile.

Currently watching:
Finished season 2 of SurrealEstate (it's all on Hulu now so I could watch it legally!), which was not as good as season 1 but I still really enjoyed it and I hope they make more!. I watched the first four episodes of A Murder at the End of the World, which is an odd puzzlebox show and I'm not sure I recommend it. Probably depends on how it ends. I watched s1e3 of Taskmaster New Zealand, and caught up on The Buccaneers.

46norabelle414
Dez 11, 2023, 3:16 pm

Well.....it's Monday.

Yesterday I did a bunch of laundry I had been procrastinating and ended up spending hours in the laundry room because there was a long line. I'm always amazed to see people gripe about all the washers and dryers that have completed their cycles but are sitting uncollected (at one point all 25 washers in the room were full and finished with their cycles, with no one in sight to unload them) and then promptly leave their own clothes in the washer/dryer for hours. I baked a cake for a coworker's birthday, a vegan clementine cake adapted from a King Arthur Flour cupcake recipe.

We got a little snow last night! What an unexpected treat, as snow before New Year is very unusual here. Some locations in the area got more snow last night (0.5in) than all last winter. There's a little creek on the campus I work on that looked lovely this morning covered in snow. The cake turned out okay, it probably could have been baked a bit longer but it was hard to tell since the recipe was originally for cupcakes.

Tomorrow is going to be even more nuts than I thought, because I just (like 10 minutes ago) found out that my dad's appointment was moved from the late afternoon to the early morning, which means much less time to clean my apartment before the HVAC guys come, and I won't be able to be there. I'm supposed to crate Rory if I'm not home while they are doing maintenance but probably he will just hide under the bed and they won't even know he's there. The tidying I had planned might turn into shoving everything into the closet.

Currently reading:
Started Fen, Bog and Swamp: A Short History of Peatland Destruction and Its Role in the Climate Crisis by Annie Proulx on the bus this morning. I don't love it but I'm only 20 pages in.
Reviews behind: 1
Library books: 7 (1 overdue)

Currently crafting:
None

Currently listening:
None

Currently playing:
None

Currently watching:
I watched all 5 episodes of a Roku original show called The Holiday Shift, about a bunch of 20-somethings working at a mall in December. Extremely cute and extremely Canadian.

47norabelle414
Editado: Dez 12, 2023, 12:45 pm

Happy Tuesday,

Stayed up a little late last night tidying the living room, then the bedroom this morning. Went out to collect my dad from his doctor's appointment and everything went smoothly. We took a rideshare home because the doctor's office is 4 blocks from the Metro, and boy is riding in a car in the city annoying. It took way longer than my Metro ride to get there. Maintenance came while I was out and replaced the filters, but somewhere in the 2 hours I was gone Rory managed to barf in the middle of the carpet. Great.

Now I can relax a little, I guess, though I really do need to get presents wrapped and finish some knitting. Tomorrow I'm back in the office, then I'm going to pick up an order from the bookstore and get dinner with my dad and brother. My mom and her husband get here (to my brother's house) on either Thursday night or Friday morning.

Currently reading:
Creeping along in Fen, Bog and Swamp: A Short History of Peatland Destruction and Its Role in the Climate Crisis and I still don't love it. The intro is about climate change and environmental destruction in general and it's focusing too much on the aesthetics of nature (coastlines unspoiled by train tracks, humans living near nature, etc.) and not enough on the pragmatics (densely-packed cities and "ugly" trains are far better for the planet than sprawl and airplanes).
Reviews behind: 1
Library books: 7 (1 overdue)

Currently crafting:
None

Currently listening:
None, but I have Everyday is Christmas by Sia queued up for later.

Currently playing:
None

Currently watching:
None

48norabelle414
Dez 12, 2023, 7:45 pm



39. Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

Viv is an orc, retired from questing. She’s decided to live a different kind of life - running a cozy shop in a small city selling fragrant hot bean juice. She’s found a family and built something to be proud of, and if anyone gets in her way…well, she’ll negotiate with them because she doesn’t do that fighting thing anymore.

This was as lovely as expected. It has a little bit of an Ankh-Morpork vibe, with the fantasy city setting and not quite knowing what normal things are. I did find the interchanging of “coffee” and espresso a bit annoying (they’re not the same thing!) and while I enjoyed that there wasn’t too much conflict, I think I would have found some confrontation a bit more satisfying since I found the fire pretty traumatic! I really liked it and look forward to reading more.

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ♥ (4.5/5)

49MickyFine
Dez 12, 2023, 11:09 pm

>48 norabelle414: The prequel that just came out has more action going on, so it might earn that last half star from you. 😊

50norabelle414
Dez 13, 2023, 9:04 am

>49 MickyFine: I've already got it on hold! Looking forward to it.

51norabelle414
Dez 13, 2023, 11:37 am

Since I teleworked yesterday, today somehow feels like both a Monday and a mini-Friday, but apparently it's actually Wednesday?

It's amazing how much better I feel when my apartment is tidy! Maybe this will motivate me to keep it tidy more often (no - I basically can't do anything without external motivation). I did a lot of knitting and listening to podcasts yesterday and actually sat on the couch instead of at my desk, constantly scrolling. When I was baking my cake on Sunday I found an old packet of chocolate chip cookie dough mix that someone had given me so I mixed it up yesterday and made 5 chocolate chip cookies in the toaster oven - perfect. I have enough dough left for ~5 more in the fridge.

Today I'm back in the office but everyone else is out on a trip so it's quiet. After work I'll head home to drop off my stuff then go to the bookstore to pick up my order then have dinner with my brother and dad. Tomorrow I'm teleworking and I need to go to the grocery store.

Currently reading:
Fen, Bog and Swamp and Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands (did you know oil sands are a bog?)
Reviews behind: 0
Library books: 7 (1 overdue)

Currently crafting:
Finished the 5th block on all 3 placemats, and started on the 6th (and final) block. If I want to give them to my mom on Saturday I'll need to get them on the blocking mats by Friday night.

Currently listening:
I started Everyday is Christmas by Sia but I zoned out after a couple songs so I'll need to go back. DC's local brass soul band (doesn't every city have one of those?), Dupont Brass, has a new Christmas album out that I want to listen to but I can't remember the name at the moment.

Currently playing:
None

Currently watching:
I watched last week's episode of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters (no kaiju this week but there were a lot of cats so that's nice) and The Gilded Age. I watched two episodes of an Irish show called Obituary, about a woman who loves writing obituaries for the town newspaper so she starts murdering people so she'll have more obituaries to write. I'll get back to it eventually but for now it's on the backburner because I think it needs a bit more attention. It seems like there might be an anti-antidepressant theme so I'm not recommending it at this point.

52The_Hibernator
Dez 13, 2023, 11:40 am

I always liked working when noone else was around. It's so much easier to get stuff done. But some people hate it.

53norabelle414
Dez 13, 2023, 12:06 pm

Reading plans for the rest of the year:

I'm currently at 39 books read this year, which is higher than any year since 2018 (44). I can definitely finish Ducks and Fen, Bog and Swamp by the end of the year, plus maybe Where There Was Fire, which would put me at 42. Add a quick romance and two graphic novels and I think it's possible I could make 45, which would be my highest since 2017. I'll have a lot more reading time after the 20th, but over-planning myself is always a recipe for disaster.

I would also like to catch up on The Iliad by the end of the year - I'm only halfway through the introduction while the podcast I listen to about it is up to chapter 5. However, I don't think I can manage that and get to 45 books and I think I'd prefer that satisfaction.

54norabelle414
Dez 13, 2023, 12:07 pm

>52 The_Hibernator: I'm not really a fan - it gives me time to work on weird projects that catch my interest but I'm bad at staying on task for what I should really be doing if no one else is around. I would probably feel differently if I didn't spend most of my free time alone, though.

55foggidawn
Dez 13, 2023, 12:35 pm

56curioussquared
Dez 13, 2023, 5:10 pm

Good luck with your reading plans! I definitely overplanned and only made it to 5/6 of the physical TBR I had set for myself in November, lol, even though it was my best reading month of the year. And I still haven't read any more of them and don't think I'll get to most before the end of the year what with the holidays and an end of year trip to California for a family wedding over New Year's. Oh well, more books for next year!

57Ravenwoodwitch
Dez 15, 2023, 2:23 pm

Howdy Nora!
Your past couple of weeks has looked pretty busy/stressful. I'm hoping you get a chance to relax and unwind very soon!
>48 norabelle414: This one always had my curiosity on the title. I do enjoy my fiction to be conflict heavy; so the lack of it could be a minor concern but I'm willing still to give it a gander :)
>51 norabelle414: I feel you on finding the motivation. It's always the start of the engine that's hard :/
Ignore this if you know already, but cookie dough does freeze :) If you don't feel like making more later on, wrap it in cling wrap and chuck it in the freezer.
And yeah, good luck on the reading plans! I really didn't make much of a dent in my "owned" books and just went too crazy at the library. But for what it's worth, I think you've made good progress this year :)

58norabelle414
Dez 19, 2023, 7:49 pm

>55 foggidawn: Thanks foggi!

>56 curioussquared: Thanks Natalie! Looking at your reading numbers this year I think you're doing fine!!

>57 Ravenwoodwitch: Hi Angela! I've tried freezing cookie dough before but I tend to just forget it's there for...uh...years.

59norabelle414
Dez 19, 2023, 10:03 pm

Happy Tuesday (which is kind of like a Sunday for me?)

Wednesday I picked up almost all of my ordered books from the bookstore, but my brother couldn't make it to dinner so it was just me and my dad. My mom arrived much earlier than expected on Thursday (she said she would get here either very late on Thursday or early on Friday but she arrived early Thursday afternoon) so I logged off from work early and went to my brother's house for dinner.

Friday my mom and her husband and I cleaned up my brother's yard (he has a giant oak tree and hadn't had a chance to rake leaves or acorns since moving in) and then wandered around the town a couple miles away from my brother's house. We went to the old library which is now a museum and the manager happened to be walking by while we were peeking in the windows and let us look inside. We ate lunch and visited a new bookstore and a used bookstore. (I didn't buy anything since I try not to buy books right before Christmas.) In the evening we went to dinner and then went to see a production of Ragtime, which was great. My mom's husband really loved it.

Saturday morning I wrapped all the presents then went to my brother's house for "Christmas Eve". We had lobsters for dinner, as we always do, then ate cookies and opened presents. I gave:
Pawpaw: In Search of America's Forgotten Fruit for my mom (and also a copy for myself)
The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny, and Murder for my brother
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue for my sister-in-law
We Had a Little Real Estate Problem: The Unheralded Story of Native Americans & Comedy for my mom's husband, plus Birnam Wood which was majorly backordered so I printed out a copy of the cover and wrapped it
and Bear Snores On for my niece, which she loved (thanks foggi for the rec!)
I received:
Wild New World: The Epic Story of Animals and People in America
The Book Eaters
Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution
Knitting the National Parks: 63 Easy-to-Follow Designs for Beautiful Beanies Inspired by the US National Parks
and my mom's copy of The Fannie Farmer Baking Book
(my mom's husband showed her how to use LibraryThing to see if I already have a book so she felt much more confident giving me books this year.)

Sunday I went back for "Christmas Day" and had breakfast and opened stockings, then we went out for sushi and played the board game Dominion, which my brother really loves. Yesterday I took the day off and my mom and her husband and I went to the zoo so I could show them the new bird house, then we went to a big bookstore and I bought:
Blood of Elves
The Deep
Hench
We went back to my brother's house for dinner and got delivery and played more Dominion. My sister-in-law gave me her copy of The Maid which she had just finished reading.

I had already taken today off but my mom and her husband left super early this morning so I just went to the library, relaxed and caught up on tv. Tomorrow I'm working in the office, then Thursday after work I'm going to see Swept Away, a musical based on the music of The Avett Brothers. Saturday is my niece's birthday party and Sunday I'm having a low-key Christmas with my dad at my brother's house. That's basically all my plans for the rest of the year!

Currently reading:
No reading got done this week
Reviews behind: 0
Library books: 7

Currently crafting:
I was expecting to finish the placemats on Thursday but since my mom arrived early I thought I would knit them on the long trip to my brother's house....and I immediately lost a knitting needle on the metro. So I wrapped up the two I had finished and explained I would finish the other two and send them later. I'd like to whip up a quick pair of fingerless mitts for my sister-in-law before Sunday, and then I'll go back to the placemats.

Currently listening:
Not much

Currently playing:
None

Currently watching:
Did not watch any TV for the last week but today I caught up on the season finales of The Gilded Age, The Buccaneers, The Spencer Sisters, and Sullivan's Crossing, and caught up on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Slow Horses, Fargo, and Julia.

60MickyFine
Dez 20, 2023, 6:20 pm

Sounds like lovely celebrations so far. Which of your newly received books are you most tempted to read first?

61norabelle414
Dez 21, 2023, 4:37 pm

>60 MickyFine: Ummmm, the shortest one :-)
Two of the books, Wild New World and Eve, my mom and her husband got for me with the intention that my zoo book club could read them, before I told them that the book club had been disbanded.
I'm in more of a fiction mood lately so I might read The Book Eaters first

62norabelle414
Editado: Dez 21, 2023, 5:30 pm

Happy Thursday, happy solstice!

Yesterday I worked in the office, today I teleworked and now I'm getting ready to go to dinner with my dad and then Swept Away, the Avett Brothers musical. My friends who have seen it say the plot is meh but the performances are good and everyone in it is super hot.

Tomorrow I'm teleworking and I need to get a lot of knitting done and wrap my niece's birthday present and my dad's Christmas presents. I've also not been to the grocery store in like two weeks? but I have plenty of milk for my coffee and that's enough to live on.

Currently reading:
Some Fen, Bog and Swamp. I'm liking it more as it gets more into the specifics of different peatlands around the world.
Reviews behind: 0
Library books: 7

Currently crafting:
More than half done with one fingerless mitt.

Currently listening:
Not much

Currently playing:
None. I got a "year in review" thing from Steam but its pretty boring. I played a few new-to-me games this year (My Time at Sandrock, Pentiment, Strange Horticulture) but they were dwarfed by Two Point Hospital and random casual time management games.
Nintendo "year in review" was even worse - I played 52 hours of Pokemon Violet this year, but less than 10 each of anything else. And it turns out I haven't even touched my Switch since September. I always mean to pick it up but I can't concentrate on anything long enough to actually do it.

Currently watching:
Caught up on Saturday Night Live

63MickyFine
Dez 22, 2023, 7:15 pm

Wishing you luck on finishing all the craft projects with deadlines!

64PaulCranswick
Dez 25, 2023, 7:18 am



Thinking about you during the festive season, Nora

65norabelle414
Dez 26, 2023, 8:55 am

>63 MickyFine: Thanks Micky!
>64 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul!

66norabelle414
Dez 26, 2023, 1:00 pm

Happy Boxing Day! In my family most of our traditions were on Christmas Eve (special meal, opening presents, cookies, etc.) so most of the things other people would do on Boxing Day we just did on Christmas Day. Today is just a normal work day for me.

Thursday evening my dad and I went to a new-to-us Lebanese restaurant near the theater. I frequently go to a Lebanese place across the street from my apartment but that's more mid-range and this was high-end and it was fantastic. My favorite dish was a teeny baked pumpkin (a bit smaller than a tennis ball) stuffed with pearl couscous and smoked pumpkin puree. I'm still thinking about it.
Swept Away was fine; the performances were great but it was pretty short and The Avett Brothers are not my thing.

Friday I teleworked and knit. Saturday morning was my niece's 2nd birthday party, which was a lot of fun. My brother and sister-in-law announced news they had told me a couple weeks ago but I wasn't allowed to tell anyone at the time - they're having another baby, due in July. Sunday I went back to my brother's house for Christmas with my dad. I got him Astor: The Rise and Fall of an American Fortune by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe and Hidden Alleyways of Washington, DC: A History By Kim Prothro Williams (Re: Astor, I find Katherine Howe a fascinating choice for co-author. She knows her shit about early New England history but most of her work is about witches) (Re: Alleyways, I thought this was going to be a book mostly of photographs, like the "Images of America" series, but it's actually quite a lot of research and writing on the specific conditions that lead to early DC's underclass of alleydwellers and the later reforms that abolished that kind of housing. I might pick up a copy for myself!)

From my dad I got (per my specific request):
Snacking Cakes and Snacking Bakes by Yossy Arefi

Yesterday I slept until 10 and did absolutely nothing. Today I'm at the office working on year-end stuff, some of which requires information from people who are out of the office until January which is very frustrating. Nothing going on this week until Friday, when I'm doing an online trivia game in the afternoon and then watching a podcast livestream in the evening.

Currently reading:
Still reading Fen, Bog and Swamp and I've turned on it again. I thought there was going to be a chapter on each of the peatlands mentioned in the intro (the Central Congo basin, Hudson Bay, Great Vasyugan Mire, Mayo Boglands, Okefenokee, Indonesian peat forests, Magellanic moorland, Tierra del Fuego and Mesopotamia) but about a third is just an imagination about how idyllic life must have been for the fen people of pre-industrial England. Sure, they died of malaria and dysentery and floods and periodic famine, but their lives were perfect! It's kind of icky. (She also mentions being pro-Brexit because the EU has food-production requirements but without the EU the UK could choose to preserve peatland instead of using it for food production...) (lol they won't though)
I've also started the audiobook of Last Night at the Lobster, because it's short and it was available from my library and I know Katie loves it. I have about 2 hours left on that and then I'll also listen to The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson, which will be covered by the podcast Overdue on Friday.
Reviews behind: 0
Library books: 7

Currently crafting:
I finished the mitts for my sister-in-law in plenty of time, I even got to wash them. I moved on to assembling the parts of a stuffed panda toy that I knitted several years ago, but assembling knitted things sucks and the instructions are absolutely no help (e.g. "sew into shape" ???) and I came nowhere close to finishing it in time to give it to my niece for Christmas. She didn't notice one less present, of course. I am still going to finish it eventually just because I want it out of my house forever. I also need to get new needles to finish the placemats for my mom, and knit some mitts for my niece which I said I would do last winter and never finished (and now the one that I did knit is too small for her)
I'm planning to knit another baby blanket for my impending nibling, probably something cottony for a summer baby. I'm thinking of this one: https://www.knitpicks.com/summer-throwback-baby-blanket/p/14853D

Currently listening:
Not much. I had a pretty bad, stressful Christmas this year and so I was not really into the Christmas music.

Currently playing:
None. I would like to play more Switch in the new year. My friends have been raving about I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, so I've bought that. I also have more Pokemon Violet to play.
Also, if anyone was on the fence about getting Witcher 3, it's currently free on the Switch. Make sure you get the deluxe edition because the second expansion pack (Blood & Wine) is super fun.

Currently watching:
Watched the season finales of Last Week Tonight and Julia (the tricking the FBI plot was a bit over-the-top but otherwise a great season of a lovely show). Watched all 3 episodes of Murder in Boston, a documentary about a 1989 case where a man murdered his wife and then blamed it on "a black man" and the police used that as an excuse to terrorize the Black community. I learned a bit about recent Boston history but the documentary overall was just okay. I started the new series Percy Jackson and the Olympians, which is good (I like it better than I liked the books, which is not saying anything). I caught up on Fargo and Slow Horses, and I've been watching the second half of season 3 of All Rise, which is recently available on Hulu.

67katiekrug
Editado: Dez 26, 2023, 1:47 pm

Lobster! Lobster! Lobster!

🦞🦞🦞

68ChelleBearss
Dez 26, 2023, 6:10 pm


Merry Christmas!

69norabelle414
Dez 27, 2023, 9:03 am

>67 katiekrug: I've never been to Red Lobster so some of it might be lost on me...

>68 ChelleBearss: Thanks Chelle! It's good to see you!

70katiekrug
Dez 27, 2023, 9:58 am

>69 norabelle414: - I don't think the specific setting has all that much to do with it. It could be any chain restaurant, really. Or cog in a faceless corporation of one sort or another...

Sounds like it's not really working for you? It's okay - Helen (helenliz) just finished it and loved it, so I don't feel totally rejected ;-)

71norabelle414
Dez 27, 2023, 10:07 am

Happy Wednesday

Yesterday after work I picked up a couple packages from the office (a present for my dad which was late and will now need to wait until he gets back from his winter vacation, and a present for my friend who is out of town until next week) and went to the grocery store but it was crowded and I was tired so I only got about half the things on my list.

I've somehow signed myself up to run a little end-of-year book awards in a discord server I'm in (meaning, someone said "we should have our own book awards" and my brain wouldn't let it go until I had organized it) so that's been taking some of the energy I would be spending fretting about the end of my book club, which is nice.

Currently reading:
Halfway through Fen, Bog and Swamp and we've finally moved on from England.
Reviews behind: 0
Library books: 7

Currently crafting:
Did not get any crafting done but I am scheduled to babysit on Jan 13 so I would like to have the stuffed panda (good riddance) and fingerless mitts for my niece done by then. I need to have the placemats done by whenever Birnam Wood comes back in stock (maybe never? I ordered it on Dec 1 so it's been almost a month)

Currently listening:
There's a lull in some of my podcasts so I'm catching up a bit

Currently playing:
None.

Currently watching:
Caught up on For All Mankind (the two most annoying men in the solar system (now that Danny is gone) made a unionization effort all about their egos and have now have teamed up to heist an asteroid....what a perfect show. I hope they both get yeeted into space.). Up to s3e18 in All Rise.

72norabelle414
Dez 27, 2023, 10:23 am

>70 katiekrug: I don't dislike it! And it's probably mostly not working because it's not the kind of story I enjoy in audiobook. I just needed something to fill the time and it's doing that wonderfully :-)

73katiekrug
Dez 27, 2023, 10:46 am

>72 norabelle414: - Ah, got it. I've listened to it a couple of times and I don't love the audio as much as the book.

74MickyFine
Dez 29, 2023, 8:30 pm

Congrats to your family on the forthcoming nibling!

What kind of books are you picking for your discord server awards?

75The_Hibernator
Dez 30, 2023, 9:45 am

Hi Nora! Hope you had a happy holiday season. I try SO hard not to volunteer to organize things for groups. I'm terrible at it! Do you do a good job, or spend too much time stressing about doing it right?

76bell7
Dez 30, 2023, 9:48 am

Congrats to your family on your soon-to-be nibling! Best of luck finishing the panda, too. "Sew into shape" is less than helpful and I would be annoyed too.

77norabelle414
Dez 30, 2023, 4:04 pm

>74 MickyFine: It's just the usual categories: best romance, best audiobook, best memoir, best sci-fi, etc. but the books don't have to be published in 2023. (it came out of a conversation of griping about how other book awards and lists only care about books published this year, and yet also are awarded in like November)

>75 The_Hibernator: I try not to volunteer for things either, but in this case I knew I had nothing going on this weekend so I would have the bandwidth for it. And I haven't committed to anything I didn't already know how to do (I made a google form for nominations, and now I'm writing everything out neatly in a document so I can just copy/paste it into the server on Monday.)

>76 bell7: Thanks Mary!

78norabelle414
Dez 30, 2023, 5:38 pm

Happy weekend!

It's been quiet here. On Thursday I baked a cake from my new cookbook, a pumpkin-olive oil cake with maple glaze. It called for pepitas on top but I had walnuts so I used those. I want to make a different cake next but now I have half a can of pumpkin sitting around in my fridge so I need to use that up. Yesterday I did online TV trivia in the afternoon (my team won) and in the evening I watched the podcast Overdue talk about The Snow Queen. I stayed up too late for no particular reason and then slept very late this morning. Been doing mostly nothing today, although I did clean off my desk. Nothing really going on for awhile.

Currently reading:
I finished Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands, Last Night at the Lobster, and The Snow Queen. That puts me at 42 for the year, and I think I can finish Fen, Bog and Swamp and my current read, Moistly Harmless: How to Appreciate Newts & Salamanders and another graphic novel by the end of the day tomorrow.
Reviews behind: 3
Library books: 7

Currently crafting:
Nothing. And somehow I can't find two of the needles I was using for the mitts last weekend? Hence the desk-cleaning.

Currently listening:
Nothing but the aforementioned audiobooks

Currently playing:
None

Currently watching:
Briefly caught up on Monarch: Legacy of Monsters but then there was a new episode yesterday. I finished season 3 of All Rise and season 3 of Slow Horses, caught up on Fargo and Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I watched the Christmas specials of Doctor Who and Call the Midwife.

79Ravenwoodwitch
Dez 31, 2023, 12:47 am

Oh, the ingredients in the fridge always get me. They end up forgotten, used, or rotten. Best of luck.
Happy Holidays (since I missed you) and nice work on the book count as of now!

80norabelle414
Editado: Jan 1, 9:48 pm

>79 Ravenwoodwitch: Yeah, I have to use them immediately or never. I ended up mixing the pumpkin into some boxed Mac & Cheese for dinner, plus frozen peas, which worked great. (If I had made another pumpkin cake it probably would not have worked because the cake calls for 8oz of pumpkin puree but the cans are 15oz so I actually had less than half a can (7oz) left. Annoying!)

81norabelle414
Jan 1, 12:34 am

I did do it! I finished three books yesterday, for a total of 45 books read in 2023! I'll be back to review them later (now I'm 6 reviews behind lol)

82MickyFine
Jan 1, 5:58 pm

Congrats on wrapping up those books. That's awesome!

My mom made pumpkin bread in the fall and it was amazing (sort of like zucchini bread in consistency and sweetness).

83norabelle414
Jan 2, 10:00 am

>82 MickyFine: Cakes that are dense and not too sweet, almost like a quickbread, are my favorite. This cookbook has a lot of them!

84norabelle414
Jan 2, 10:02 am

Happy New Year, everyone! I have a new thread OVER HERE.

I'll be posting my final 6 reviews only here (as soon as I write them) and then I'll post my year-end stats on both threads.

85norabelle414
Jan 3, 7:06 pm



40. Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands written and illustrated by Kate Beaton

Kate Beaton is from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, which has been suffering from an economic depression since the collapse of the fishing and coal industries a generation ago. Upon graduating from college with large student loans, Kate followed in the footsteps of many of her neighbors and joined the oil industry in Alberta, which promised more cash in a short amount of time than she could ever hope to make at home. For two years she moved around between different mining sites, working in a tool shed here and an office there. The isolation, belittlement, and sexual harassment were near constant, and if she tried to do something about it she was chastised for causing problems. Most of all, she bore witness to what this life does to men like her family and neighbors - poor men who leave their family behind for months or years and become hard and mean and get hit by trucks or maimed by machinery, all while destroying the environment.

This book is the definition of a magnum opus. Over 400 pages of hand-drawn grayscale comics detailing how she ended up in the oil sands and the complicated people she met there. The drawings of people are simple, in Beaton’s style, but interspersed are stunning illustrations of oil pumping equipment, landscapes, and wildlife. It’s a story that could never be told in any other format.

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ♥ (4.5/5)

86norabelle414
Jan 3, 7:24 pm



41. Last Night at the Lobster {audiobook} by Stewart O’Nan, narrated by Jonathan Davis

Manny is the manager of a Red Lobster for the very last shift before the restaurant closes forever. He deals with the quirky personalities of his staff, minor restaurant-related problems, a blizzard, and thinks about what he’s going to get his girlfriend for Christmas and whether he still has feelings for his ex-girlfriend, who is a waitress on shift with him.

This was nice to listen to, even though slice-of-life is not really my kind of book. It’s realistic, and character-driven. Very bittersweet. The narrator was good, and had distinct voices for each character, but I'm not sure this is a story suited to audiobook (for me, at least). Too many characters.

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ♥ (3.5/5)

87katiekrug
Jan 4, 8:25 am

>86 norabelle414: - I don't think I would have loved it as much as I do if I'd listened to it first.

88norabelle414
Jan 4, 6:29 pm



42. The Snow Queen {audiobook} by Hans Christian Andersen, narrated by Katherine Kellgren

A fairy tale in seven chapters: The devil and/or a troll makes a mirror that only reflects and amplifies bad things, which shatters. A little boy named Kai gets a shard of the mirror in his eye and runs away. His friend Gerda tries to find him but gets stuck at a witch’s house where she forgets about Kai for a bit. Then she hears of a princess who married a man who looked like Kai, but it’s not Kai. Then she meets a little robber girl who has guns for some reason. Gerda rides a reindeer to Lapland. She gets to the Snow Queen’s palace and says the Lord’s Prayer which defeats the Snow Queen and saves Kai through the power of love.

Truly bizarre. You can see why Disney was like “we should make a movie about The Snow Queen” and then trashed absolutely all of it except the reindeer. What is the point of the mirror at all? Kai could have just been kidnapped or run away for some other reason. The religious aspects don’t make any sense, they’re just shoehorned in for hand-waving purposes at the end. Also, the Snow Queen is not the Queen of Snow, she’s the Queen of the Snow Bees, which are snowflakes that look like bees??? It sounds more entertaining than it is.

However, I started listening to this audiobook without even realizing it was narrated by my favorite narrator. What a gift! An extra star for Katy Kellgren.

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ♥ (3.5/5)

89norabelle414
Editado: Jan 4, 11:08 pm



43. Fen, Bog and Swamp by Annie Proulx

Fens, bogs, and swamps are all wetlands. The lack of oxygen under the water prevents things that fall into it (plants, animals, artifacts of human civilization) from decomposing, so it just builds up in thick layers of carbon, called peat. Peat is so dense that, if left untouched, wetlands hold more carbon than any other kind of environment. They’re also one of the most endangered environments on earth. Throughout the last several centuries they have been drained of water and pillaged for their resources, then turned into monoculture farmland.

Proulx discusses what led her to be interested in wetlands, a bit on the differences between types of wetlands. Then a chapter called “Fen” discusses the people who lived in the fens of prehistoric England, a chapter called “Bog” discusses human bodies found in bogs and the Battle of Teutoburg, and a chapter called “Swamp” details the draining of various North American swamps in the mid- to late-1800s.

I was very much looking forward to reading this and it was quite disappointing. Proulx is not a non-fiction writer or a science communicator. There is no real point here, no thesis statement nor call to action. There are many long tangents (it would be enough to say that the Germans lured the Romans into a swamp at the Battle of Teutoburg, I don’t need 10 pages on it!) and lots of idolizing ancient (white) people for being perfectly at-one with nature, as if they were omniscient instead of just not yet technologically capable of destroying the planet. Proulx rightly criticizes historians who allege that death-by-bog was the traditional punishment for being gay in ancient times, but alleges herself that ancient people would be upset at modern humans for draining wetlands for agriculture (I doubt it! They don’t know what climate change is but they definitely know what easy food is. And they did levee and redirect the wetlands themselves, just not to the modern extent). Most notably, while there are very brief mentions of wetlands elsewhere in the world, the book seems to be willfully only about white people. The fens of eastern England and the bogs of northern Germany together take up half the book, and discussion of swamps in the US begins and ends with white explorers, white politicians and white farmers. How can a book possibly talk about the Great Dismal Swamp and skip over the generations of escaped slaves who lived there? Let alone all of the native people who lived in wetlands across the continent for ten thousand years.

This is a white-washed nothing-burger that does not live up to its title. I want to learn more about peatlands but I’d like something both more scientific and more historical. This is just a few musings. If it was background for a novel it would be fine, but it is not a serious natural history book.

Also, I would never downgrade a book for this, but the lack of Oxford comma in the title and throughout the book drove me crazy. In my head I kept referring to it as “Fen Bognswamp”, which would be a great DnD character name.

Rating: ❤ ❤ ♥ (2.5/5)

(honestly I could have gone on a lot longer about the things that frustrate me about this book, but I need to move on with my life)

90FAMeulstee
Jan 5, 7:58 am

>89 norabelle414: Thanks for your review, Nora, the book is (still) on my TBR. I'll approach it more cautiously now, with your thoughts in mind.

91norabelle414
Jan 5, 10:44 pm



44. Moistly Harmless: How to Appreciate Newts & Salamanders written and illustrated by Ethan Kocak

Cartoonist Ethan Kocak writes and illustrates about what salamanders are, how he came to love them, where to find them, and how to identify them.

Very funny, with sweet drawings, especially of the cute salamanders. Just a joy to read. I’m so impressed that something like this got made! Clearly a lot of effort went into it, almost entirely from Kocak alone, but also additional illustrations by Jon Rosenberg, Jessi Sheron, Abby Howard, and Rosemary Mosco.
A large section at the end is about how to keep salamanders as pets, which is not my thing, but the illustrations are still very cute.

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ♥ (4.5/5)

92norabelle414
Jan 5, 11:22 pm



45. Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples

Marko is an escaped prisoner, who fell in love with his guard, Alana. They are from two different planets that have been at war with each other for so long that no one remembers why, but now they’re in love, and have a baby, and are on the run through strange and distant worlds.

Theoretically I really enjoy this, and I do find myself still thinking about it a few days later. The story is simple and the world is complicated. The characters are so odd…I understand who the people with horns are and the people with wings, but I don’t understand why the prince of the winged people has a tv for a head, or how everyone else fits in. It’s intriguing enough for me to keep going, but the Brian K. Vaughan of it all keeps me from really loving it. The edgelord-y ‘00s vibe is just not for me - I don’t think any book needs to start with the words “Am I shitting?”, the nudity and sexual exploitation are gratuitous, and there’s an R-slur that I thought we stopped using in the ‘90s. I might keep going, but I’ll get future volumes from the library.

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ (4/5)

93norabelle414
Jan 7, 9:31 am

2023 Statistics

In 2023, I read 45 books. That's 20 more than last year, and the most I've read in a year since 2017.
6,900 pages (nice), plus 34 hours and 47 minutes of audiobooks.
I averaged 17 days per book, 19 pages per day, 4 books per month.
Average book length was 153 pages.

The longest paper book was Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands at 436 pages; the longest audiobook was Slow Horses at 10 hours and 51 minutes. The shortest paper book was Peek-a-Who at 16 pages; the shortest audiobook was The Snow Queen at 1 hour and 20 minutes.

I acquired 48 books (9 of which were individual issues of comics).
I bought 39 books (9 of which were individual issues of comics).
I deaccessioned 24 books, the most since 2019.

27 (60%) of the books I read had non-male authors/artists.
26 (58%) were marketed for adults, 2 (4%) for young adults, and 17 (38%) for children.
7 (16%) had authors/artists of color, and 8 (18%) had a main character of color.*
8 (18%) had LGBTQ authors/artists, and 10 (22%) had an LGBTQ main character.*
3 (7%) were translated from another language (French, Danish).

(*These are to the best of my knowledge. It is very hard to find biographic information about a lot of baby book authors!)

11 (24%) of the books I read were were purchased by me. 25 (56%) were checked out from the library. 0 were free. 9 (20%) were borrowed (mostly from my niece), 0 were gifts, and 0 were early review copies.
39 books (87%) were physical books, 0 were ebooks, and 6 (13%) were audiobooks.

34 (76%) were prose books. 0 were plays. 6 (13%) were comics. 5 (11%) were poetry.*
32 books (71%) were fiction, and 13 (29%) were non-fiction.

(*I'm counting any children's book that has a distinct rhyme or meter as poetry)

2 books (4%) were rereads. 9 books (20%) were published in 2023. 36 books (80%) were published before 2023, and 13 of those (29%) were published before 2013. The oldest book I read was The Snow Queen, published in 1844.

For the first time in many years, I finished a book in every month this year. My best reading month was August, in which I finished 10 books. My worst reading months were March, May, and June, in which I finished 1 book.

My most-read genre was general fiction, of which I read 17 books (38%). 10 books (22%) were speculative fiction/science fiction/fantasy/horror. 4 books each (9%) were science nonfiction, romance, and biography/memoir. 2 books (8%) were historical fiction/fantasy. 1 book each (2%) were adventure/mystery/thriller, general nonfiction, history nonfiction, and essays.

My Top Five Books of 2023 in no particular order:
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
The Helios Syndrome by Vivian Shaw
Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture by Virginia Sole-Smith
Bea Wolf written and illustrated by Zach Weinersmith
The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian

Dishonorable Mention:
Fen, Bog and Swamp by Annie Proulx
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

94norabelle414
Jan 7, 9:38 am

That's a wrap on 2023! Please join me on my new thread OVER HERE.