ARC Readathon Pre-Conference Update

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  • Words Without Music, by Philip Glass (left over from previous haul, released April 2015)
  • The Fortunate Ones, by Ellen Umansky (released Feb. 2017) Some elements slightly reminiscent of the film WOMAN IN GOLD, but nowhere near as dramatic. Two parallel stories, both to some degree revolving around absent parents and an obsession with a lost painting. Would recommend.
  • Setting Free the Kites, by Alex George (Released Feb. 21, 2017) Funny, poignant, wise, and naive. Like teenagers are themselves.
  • The Lonely Hearts Hotel, by Heather O’Neill (released Feb. 7, 2017) Somehow simultaneously fantastical and mercilessly realistic. A book you experience rather than merely read.
  • The Tiger in the House, by Jacqueline Sheehan (Released March 2017)
  • The Roanoke Girls, by Amy Engel (Released March 2017) Pretty dark. Not for everyone, but I found it surprisingly gripping.
  • A Crown of Wishes, by Roshani Chokshi (released March 28, 2017)
  • Sins of Empire, by Brian McClellan (released March 7, 2017)
  • The Arrangement, by Sarah Dunn (released March 21, 2017)
  • The Almost Sisters, by Joshilyn Jackson (releases July 2017) Tremendously enjoyable. Three generations of family secrets coming to light, generously sprinkled with Big Nerd Doings. Sign me up!
  • Devastation Road, by Jason Hewitt (releases July 3, 2017) An oddly slippery story, fascinating and compelling and full of unreliable witnesses. Totally worth it.
  • Grace, by Paul Lynch (releases July 11, 2017) An interesting premise, but his writing style seriously bugged me. Did not finish.
  • The Reluctant Queen (Queens of Renthia #2), by Sarah Beth Durst (Releases July 2017) Enjoyed the first, and enjoyed the second in this series. Looking forward to more. If you like fantasy that’s full of strong, complex women, this is for you.
  • The Thing With Feathers, by McCall Hoyle (releases Sept. 5, 2017)

DAYS UNTIL I PICK UP THE NEXT BATCH OF ARCS: 0!

Bibliomania

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In the 19th century, one Dr. Ferriar wrote a poem for his friend Richard Heber, a very distinguished book collector of his day, and in doing so, entered the words “bibliomania” and “bibliophile” into the popular lexicon. He defines the idea using following passage:

What wild desires, what restless torments seize

The hapless man who feels the book-disease.

If niggard Fortune cramp his generous mind,

And Prudence quench the spark by Heaven assign’d!

With wistful glance his aching eyes behold

The Princeps-copy, clad in blue and gold,

Where the tall Book-case, with partition thin

Displays, yet guards, the tempting charms within.

Not thus the few, by happier fortune grac’d

And blest, like you, with talents, wealth, and taste,

Who gather nobly, with judicious hand,

The Muse’s treasures from each letter’d strand.

For you the Monk illum’d his pictur’d page,

For you the press defies the Spoils of age,

Faustus for you infernal tortures bore,

Fore you Erasmus starv’d on Adria’s shores.

The folio-Aldus loads your happy shelves,

And dapper Elzevirs, like fairy elves,

Show their light forms amidst the well-gilt Twelves:

In slender type the Giolitos shine,

And bold Bodoni stamps his Roman line.

For you the Louvre opes its regal doors,

And either Didot lends his brilliant stores:

With fautless types, and costly scriptures bright,

Ibarra’s Quixote charms your ravish’d sight.

I Have a LLAMA Dream

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In a month, I will be the chair of the New Professionals Community of Practice, a part of the Library Leadership and Management Association, which is itself a division of the American Library Association. That’s a mouthful.

It’s not the first time I’ve led things, but it is without a doubt the biggest deal so far. The other things I’ve led have been so new that I felt my job was to lay a strong foundation on which future leaders might build, to channel the initial fizz of enthusiasm into groundwork so that the new group wouldn’t overstretch itself immediately.

New Professionals has been around for three and a half years now, so I think I can and should pay attention to some building, instead of just foundation.. I’ve been involved from the get-go, but didn’t begin in any sort of leadership position. I’m definitely nervous about this, but I’m also kind of excited.

The original chair of the community (a new designation – we used to be called sections, and I’m trying to get used to the word) used to say that his dream for New Professionals was to reach a place where it was so integrated into the larger LLAMA community that no separate group for New Professionals was necessary. That we would make ourselves obsolete.

Maybe it’s because I never really knew LLAMA before the New Professionals community, but after three and a half years, I’m not sure I agree with that as a goal. I like it, in theory, and I agree that library school students, new professionals, and those taking on new levels of leadership in their career need to be more deeply rooted in LLAMA as a whole, but there’s something to be said for the comfort in being part of a group all at similar stages, professionally.

I believe that LLAMA plays a unique role in the American Library Association. Unlike other divisions, leadership and management cut across ever single library, archives, and information science career. It’s important to remember that one can lead without being a manager, and heaven knows we’re all aware of those who manage without leading. But no matter which of LLAMA’s communities interest you – human resources, assessment, or buildings and equipment, to name a few, I think it is important for the newcomers to have a place of their own, to address their specific issues.

The original section chair wanted the New Professionals to build an association in which they were obsolete as a separate group. What I want is for the new name, that of “community of practice,” to become the reality of what we are. I’ve been working with our social media team for a few weeks now, trying to revitalize it and provide a variety of resources, as well as figuring out exactly who our audience is. What I’d like to see developing is greater back-and-forth interaction. I’d like to see threads and conversations. I’d like to see our Facebook page especially become a place where we can discuss our challenges, share ideas and resources, and ask the “dumb” questions without fear of feeling stupid, because let me tell you, it’s just like in school – if you didn’t get something in class, I can bet you that others had the same question. Someone just has to be brave enough to say they don’t get it. I have those kinds of questions all the time.

Many of us leave library school feeling confident and full of ideas, but with the job market the way it is, you find yourself reading job description after job description with steadily waning confidence in what you actually know. New professionals need a community of people going through similar stretches in their careers. That does mean that as a community, we need to be prepared for a more rapid rate of turnover than other parts of LLAMA. New professionals will launch from us to other areas, as they should, but I hope they’ll remember what it felt like to be starting out, with the learning curves and the frustration and the secretly feeling like you somehow missed something important in library school.

I have a year. I don’t expect huge changes – what I’d like to see New Professionals become is the kind of thing that takes time and wider community engagement. But I’m going to do my part to make it a welcoming place, and I’ll do what I can to both answer and ask the dumb questions.

 

ARC Readathon Monthly Update

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  • Words Without Music, by Philip Glass (left over from previous haul, released April 2015)
  • Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly Intense and thought-provoking. Not the story I was expecting – in a good way. Strongly recommended.
  • On Second Thought, by Kristan Higgins (Released Jan. 31, 2017) Yeah, yeah, it has “chick flick” written all over it. I LOVED IT AND I DON’T CARE WHAT ANYONE SAYS. So there.
  • Huck Out West, by Robert Coover (Released Jan. 2017) Just couldn’t get into it. Didn’t finish.
  • The Patriots, by Sana Krasikov (released Jan. 24, 2017) A surprisingly gripping story about three generations struggling with straddling Soviet/Russian/American identities, but not a particularly agile or lightfooted one. Still worth it, but it’s not a quick read.
  • I See You, by Clare Mackintosh (released Feb. 21, 2017) Psychological thriller. Not my thing. Didn’t finish.
  • The Fortunate Ones, by Ellen Umansky (released Feb. 2017)
  • Setting Free the Kites, by Alex George (Released Feb. 21, 2017)
  • We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour (released Feb. 14, 2017) For a short book, this is a slow burn. Made me tear up.
  • Gilded Cage, by Vic James (released Feb. 14, 2017) A bit more unsettling than I expected, but caught me up by the end. Looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.
  • The Lonely Hearts Hotel, by Heather O’Neill (released Feb. 7, 2017)
  • The Tiger in the House, by Jacqueline Sheehan (Released March 2017)
  • The Roanoke Girls, by Amy Engel (Released March 2017)
  • The Gargoyle Hunters, by John Freeman Gill (released March 2017) An odd story of loneliness, misunderstanding, and architecture in 1970s New York City.
  • A Crown of Wishes, by Roshani Chokshi (released March 28, 2017)
  • Sins of Empire, by Brian McClellan (released March 7, 2017)
  • The Arrangement, by Sarah Dunn (released March 21, 2017)
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman (releases May 9, 2017) Well. That was odd.
  • Standard Deviation, by Katherine Heiny (releases May 2017) Ambivalent about this one, though it’s always odd to find a character who shares my first name. Plausible story but full of characters I found unappealing.
  • The Scribe of Siena, by Melodie Winawer (releases May 2017) Magnificent. One of my favorite books of the last few years.
  • The Original Ginny Moon, by Benjamin Ludwig (releases May 2017) A great look inside the mind of a recently-adopted autistic teenager who is struggling with the break between her old life and her new life.
  • Under a Sardinian Sky, by Sara Alexander (releases Spring 2017) Satisfyingly predictable and full of mouth-watering descriptions of Sardinian food.
  • Chemistry, by Weike Wang (releases May 2017) An interestingly timeline-fluid look at the challenge of figuring out what we want in life.
  • The Ultimatum, by Karen Robards (Releases June 1, 2017) A ripping good yarn. Looking forward to the rest of the series.
  • Lonesome Lies Before Us, by Don Lee (releases June 2017) A “shit happens, people don’t change much, life goes on” kind of book.
  • The Almost Sisters, by Joshilyn Jackson (releases July 2017)
  • Devastation Road, by Jason Hewitt (releases July 3, 2017)
  • Grace, by Paul Lynch (releases July 11, 2017)
  • The Reluctant Queen (Queens of Renthia #2), by Sarah Beth Durst (Releases July 2017)
  • The Thing With Feathers, by McCall Hoyle (releases Sept. 5, 2017)

DAYS UNTIL I PICK UP THE NEXT BATCH OF ARCS: 23

Do you think I’ll finish by then?

WIP Wednesday 

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In case you were wondering (I know you have been dying to know), here’s where things stand with the three giant cross stitch projects: 

 L’Esperance from Heaven and Earth Designs. 5/48 pages of the pattern complete. Stitched 1×1, full cross, on 25ct. 

 Peacock rug by Barbara Hammett. Approximately 30% done. Stitched in Anchor tapestry wool on canvas mesh.  Hopefully. IT WILL NEVER DIE. 

 Ex Libris, from Heaven and Earth Designs. 5/28 pattern pages complete. Stitched 2×1, tent stitch on 25ct. 

ARC Readathon Monthly Update

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  • Words Without Music, by Philip Glass (left over from previous haul, released April 2015)
  • Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
  • On Second Thought, by Kristan Higgins (Released Jan. 31, 2017)
  • Huck Out West, by Robert Coover (Released Jan. 2017)
  • The Patriots, by Sana Krasikov (released Jan. 24, 2017)
  • I See You, by Clare Mackintosh (released Feb. 21, 2017)
  • The Fortunate Ones, by Ellen Umansky (released Feb. 2017)
  • Setting Free the Kites, by Alex George (Released Feb. 21, 2017)
  • We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour (released Feb. 14, 2017)
  • Gilded Cage, by Vic James (released Feb. 14, 2017)
  • The Lonely Hearts Hotel, by Heather O’Neill (released Feb. 7, 2017)
  • The Wanderers, by Meg Howrey (released March 14, 2017) Postulates a near-future simulation of a three-astronaut Mars mission and how that affects the astronauts, their families, and their handlers. Beautifully-written, with a satisfying ambiguity at the end.
  • Becoming Leonardo: An Exploded View of the Life of Leonardo da Vinci, by Mike Lankford (released March 2017) I’d call this a “speculative biography” – it hits the known points and tries to guess at the rest – moods, personalities, thought processes. An unusual take on the Italian Renaissance.
  • The Tiger in the House, by Jacqueline Sheehan (Released March 2017)
  • The Roanoke Girls, by Amy Engel (Released March 2017)
  • The Gargoyle Hunters, by John Freeman Gill (released March 2017)
  • A Crown of Wishes, by Roshani Chokshi (released March 28, 2017)
  • Sins of Empire, by Brian McClellan (released March 7, 2017)
  • The Arrangement, by Sarah Dunn (released March 21, 2017)
  • The Barrowfields, by Phillip Lewis (released April 2017) Hypnotic and well-written. Definitely a flavor of Southern Gothic to it.
  • Music of the Ghosts, by Vaddey Ratner (released April 2017) Heartachingly beautiful. Former Cambodian refugee returns after about twenty years, hoping to find some clues to what happened to her father during the years of the Khmer Rouge. Stunning.
  • The Women in the Castle, by Jessica Shattuck (released April 4, 2017) Three German “resistance” widows take shelter after the war in a castle, trying to figure out what comes next in their lives. Beautiful and sad and hopeful.
  • Unearthly Things, by Michelle Gagnon (released April 2017) Quite a disappointment. Billed as a modern spin on JANE EYRE, but it seems clear that the author mined Bronte’s work for names and the most basic plot points and jumbled them all together into something that’s only the most superficial tribute to the 19th-century novel. It sticks to “orphan girl in big rich person house where creepy stuff happens in the attic” but loses all sight of the actual substance of JANE EYRE.
  • The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton (released April 4, 2017)  Kept seeming like it was going to go somewhere, but never did. Left me feeling indignant that I’d wasted time reading all 270-something pages of it when I could have been reading something else.
  • Toward a Secret Sky, by Heather Maclean (released April 4, 2017) Fifteen years ago, I’d have been ALL OVER this book and any sequels that might appear. Demons, angels, and a gorgeous guy with a Scottish accent? Sign me up!
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman (releases May 9, 2017)
  • Confessions of a Domestic Failure, by Bunmi Laditan (releases May 2, 2017) This is probably a lot funnier if you have kids. I found the punchline-to-page ratio to be out of whack, and in general it read like Bridget Jones Has An Infant.
  • Standard Deviation, by Katherine Heiny (releases May 2017)
  • The Scribe of Siena, by Melodie Winawer (releases May 2017)
  • The Original Ginny Moon, by Benjamin Ludwig (releases May 2017)
  • Under a Sardinian Sky, by Sara Alexander (releases Spring 2017)
  • Chemistry, by Weike Wang (releases May 2017)
  • The Ultimatum, by Karen Robards (Releases June 1, 2017)
  • Lonesome Lies Before Us, by Don Lee (releases June 2017)
  • The Almost Sisters, by Joshilyn Jackson (releases July 2017)
  • Devastation Road, by Jason Hewitt (releases July 3, 2017)
  • Grace, by Paul Lynch (releases July 11, 2017)
  • The Reluctant Queen (Queens of Renthia #2), by Sarah Beth Durst (Releases July 2017)
  • The Thing With Feathers, by McCall Hoyle (releases Sept. 5, 2017)

DAYS UNTIL I PICK UP THE NEXT BATCH OF ARCS: 54

Do you think I’ll finish by then?

ARC Readathon Monthly Update

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  • Words Without Music, by Philip Glass (left over from previous haul, released April 2015)
  • Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
  • On Second Thought, by Kristan Higgins (Released Jan. 31, 2017)
  • Huck Out West, by Robert Coover (Released Jan. 2017)
  • The Patriots, by Sana Krasikov (released Jan. 24, 2017)
  • Bone Box, by Faye Kellerman (releases Feb. 2017) A tremendously satisfying cold case mystery procedural. One in a long-running series, and I’m inclined to seek out the others.
  • I See You, by Clare Mackintosh (released Feb. 21, 2017)
  • The Fortunate Ones, by Ellen Umansky (released Feb. 2017)
  • Setting Free the Kites, by Alex George (Released Feb. 21, 2017)
  • We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour (released Feb. 14, 2017)
  • Gilded Cage, by Vic James (released Feb. 14, 2017)
  • The Lonely Hearts Hotel, by Heather O’Neill (released Feb. 7, 2017)
  • The Underworld, by Kevin Canty (Releases March 2017) Inspired by real events. At times intensely gripping, other times pretty lackluster. If you’re into gritty “reality,” this might be for you.
  • In the Name of the Family, by Sarah Dunant (releases March 7, 2017) While I enjoyed the inclusion of Niccolo Machiavelli into this novel about the end of the Borgia papacy, I didn’t care for its being written in present tense.
  • Dead Letters, by Caite Dolan-Leach (Released March 2017) Another twisty turny mystery full of some sordid little realities of the world. Takes a VERY unexpected twist at the end. Well played, author, well played.
  • Bleaker House: Chasing My Novel to the End of the World, by Nell Stevens (releases March 14, 2017) Odd little story – half memoir, half drafts of fiction. Works surprisingly well.
  • The Hollywood Daughter, by Kate Alcott (Release March 7, 2017) A sufficiently engrossing read, but at its core bears a striking similarity to her earlier work, A Touch of Stardust.
  • The Wanderers, by Meg Howrey (released March 14, 2017)
  • Becoming Leonardo: An Exploded View of the Life of Leonardo da Vinci, by Mike Lankford (released March 2017)
  • The Family Gene: A Mission to Turn My Deadly Inheritance Into a Hopeful Future, by Joselin Linder (Releases March 2017) Fascinating, in a horrifying kind of way. 
  • The Tiger in the House, by Jacqueline Sheehan (Released March 2017)
  • The Roanoke Girls, by Amy Engel (Released March 2017)
  • The Gargoyle Hunters, by John Freeman Gill (released March 2017)
  • A Crown of Wishes, by Roshani Chokshi (released March 28, 2017)
  • The Ashes of London, by Andrew Taylor (releases March 28, 2017) Gripping but straightforward murder mystery set in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London in 1666. Would make an excellent travel read.
  • Sins of Empire, by Brian McClellan (released March 7, 2017)
  • The Arrangement, by Sarah Dunn (released March 21, 2017)
  • The Barrowfields, by Phillip Lewis (releases April 2017)
  • Music of the Ghosts, by Vaddey Ratner (releases April 2017)
  • The Women in the Castle, by Jessica Shattuck (releases April 4, 2017)
  • Unearthly Things, by Michelle Gagnon (releases April 2017)
  • The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton (releases April 4, 2017)
  • Toward a Secret Sky, by Heather Maclean (releases April 4, 2017)
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman (releases May 9, 2017)
  • Confessions of a Domestic Failure, by Bunmi Laditan (releases May 2, 2017)
  • Standard Deviation, by Katherine Heiny (releases May 2017)
  • The Scribe of Siena, by Melodie Winawer (releases May 2017)
  • The Original Ginny Moon, by Benjamin Ludwig (releases May 2017)
  • Under a Sardinian Sky, by Sara Alexander (releases Spring 2017)
  • Chemistry, by Weike Wang (releases June 2017)
  • The Ultimatum, by Karen Robards (Releases June 1, 2017)
  • Lonesome Lies Before Us, by Don Lee (releases June 2017)
  • The Almost Sisters, by Joshilyn Jackson (releases July 2017)
  • Devastation Road, by Jason Hewitt (releases July 3, 2017)
  • Grace, by Paul Lynch (releases July 11, 2017)
  • The Reluctant Queen (Queens of Renthia #2), by Sarah Beth Durst (Releases July 2017)
  • The Thing With Feathers, by McCall Hoyle (releases Sept. 5, 2017)

DAYS UNTIL I PICK UP THE NEXT BATCH OF ARCS: 84

Do you think I’ll finish by then?

ARC Readathon

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  • Words Without Music, by Philip Glass (left over from previous haul, released April 2015)
  • She Came from Beyond!, by Nadine Darling (left over from previous haul, released October 2015)
    Weird, but not as weird as I expected.
  • Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
  • On Second Thought, by Kristan Higgins (Releases Jan. 31, 2017)
  • Huck Out West, by Robert Coover (Releases Jan. 2017)
  • The Patriots, by Sana Krasikov (releases Jan. 24, 2017)
  • The Lost Girl of Astor Street, by Stephanie Morrill (Releases Feb. 7, 2017) In spite of the fact that there’s some violence, it’s actually kind of a fluffy little mystery.
  • Shadowbahn, by Steve Erickson (releases Feb. 2017)
    A deeply weird book. Did not like, and did not finish.
  • A Piece of the World, by Christina Baker Kline (Releases Feb. 2017) A quietly gripping story speculating about the life of Christina Olson, the real woman shown in the Wyeth painting “Christina’s World.”
  • Bone Box, by Faye Kellerman (releases Feb. 2017)
  • The Keeper of Lost Things, by Ruth Hogan (Releases Feb. 2017) Loved this. Very much for Elspeths. 
  • I See You, by Clare Mackintosh (releases Feb. 21, 2017)
  • The Fortunate Ones, by Ellen Umansky (releases Feb. 2017)
  • Setting Free the Kites, by Alex George (Releases Feb. 21, 2017)
  • We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour (releases Feb. 14, 2017)
  • Gilded Cage, by Vic James (releases Feb. 14, 2017)
  • The Lonely Hearts Hotel, by Heather O’Neill (releases Feb. 7, 2017)
  • The Underworld, by Kevin Canty (Releases March 2017)
  • In the Name of the Family, by Sarah Dunant (releases March 7, 2017)
  • Dead Letters, by Caite Dolan-Leach (Releases March 2017)
  • Bleaker House: Chasing My Novel to the End of the World, by Nell Stevens (releases March 14, 2017)
  • The Hollywood Daughter, by Kate Alcott (Release March 7, 2017)
  • The Wanderers, by Meg Howrey (releases March 14, 2017)
  • Becoming Leonardo: An Exploded View of the Life of Leonardo da Vinci, by Mike Lankford (releases March 2017)
  • The Family Gene: A Mission to Turn My Deadly Inheritance Into a Hopeful Future, by Joselin Linder (Releases March 2017)
  • The Tiger in the House, by Jacqueline Sheehan (Releases March 2017)
  • The Roanoke Girls, by Amy Engel (Releases March 2017)
  • The Gargoyle Hunters, by John Freeman Gill (releases March 2017)
  • A Crown of Wishes, by Roshani Chokshi (releases March 28, 2017)
  • The Ashes of London, by Andrew Taylor (releases March 28, 2017)
  • Sins of Empire, by Brian McClellan (releases March 7, 2017)
  • The Arrangement, by Sarah Dunn (releases March 21, 2017)
  • The Barrowfields, by Phillip Lewis (releases April 2017)
  • Music of the Ghosts, by Vaddey Ratner (releases April 2017)
  • The Women in the Castle, by Jessica Shattuck (releases April 4, 2017)
  • Unearthly Things, by Michelle Gagnon (releases April 2017)
  • The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton (releases April 4, 2017)
  • Toward a Secret Sky, by Heather Maclean (releases April 4, 2017)
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman (releases May 9, 2017)
  • Confessions of a Domestic Failure, by Bunmi Laditan (releases May 2, 2017)
  • Standard Deviation, by Katherine Heiny (releases May 2017)
  • The Scribe of Siena, by Melodie Winawer (releases May 2017)
  • The Original Ginny Moon, by Benjamin Ludwig (releases May 2017)
  • Under a Sardinian Sky, by Sara Alexander (releases Spring 2017)
  • Chemistry, by Weike Wang (releases June 2017)
  • The Ultimatum, by Karen Robards (Releases June 1, 2017)
  • Lonesome Lies Before Us, by Don Lee (releases June 2017)
  • The Almost Sisters, by Joshilyn Jackson (releases July 2017)
  • Devastation Road, by Jason Hewitt (releases July 3, 2017)
  • Grace, by Paul Lynch (releases July 11, 2017)
  • The Reluctant Queen (Queens of Renthia #2), by Sarah Beth Durst (Releases July 2017)
  • The Thing With Feathers, by McCall Hoyle (releases Sept. 5, 2017)

Five Years On

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POSSIBLY TMI ALERT, but I want to say it.

On Sunday I took a nearly four-mile hike by myself – it was a lovely, responsibility-free day, after a lot of rainy, busy weekends, and I suddenly found myself thinking of the Dish Trail in the foothills by Stanford University. It’s got some steep ups and downs, enough to get the breath panting and the sweat flowing, but not enough to be utterly miserable. Normally I kind of hate hiking, so I really can’t say why this suddenly jumped into my head as a good idea.

But I did it. I took my ipod and had my phone and my car keys in my pocket, and set my own pace. I rested when I wanted to and didn’t care how often other people passed me. It took me an hour and a half, and on some of those final downhill stretches, I felt the shakiness that comes from tired legs on steep downhills. My step count for the day was over 13,000.

Today I did half an hour of biking AND walked nearly 11,000 steps. I’m still sore and stiff from Sunday’s hike, and I know I’ll be stiff and sore tomorrow with today’s exertion on top of it. My normal daily step count these days tends to fall between 6 and 7 thousand, so these two days have been unusual for me.

You might be wondering why I’m bothering to post about this. One of my coworkers asked why I was still marveling over being sore today when the hike was two days ago.

I’ve been thinking about that. And you see, it’s because at some level I’m astonished that I’m able to do this.

Almost exactly five years ago, the pain and blood loss resulting from uterine fibroids smacked into me like a ton of bricks. I’d stuck to a diet for a month at that point. I’d lost twelve pounds. And suddenly even standing long enough to cook a simple meal started the bleeding and the pain again. Forget exercise. I was afraid to move.

Pain led to fear. Fear led to avoidance. Avoidance became habit. It’s been five years, and I’ve had two surgeries to remove fibroids in that time. I don’t think I ever believed that I wouldn’t get past them, but when I was in the middle of it, it was so hard to see when it would end. I got caught up in the final months of the pre-ACA health care system, when even having had a fibroid removed within the past year was grounds for automatic rejection when applying for coverage. I couldn’t figure out how to get the surgery I needed without going several thousands of dollars in debt. I stopped dancing. I started avoiding social events because I was embarrassed about my frequent need for the bathroom and the fact that I had to carry several pads with me whenever I left the house even for a couple hours. I grew lonelier and sank further into depression because of pain, fear, and isolation.

And now here I am. Heavier than I was before this started, yes. As out of shape as I was before, and possibly more so. Still trying to reconstruct a social life. But I’m employed. I’m deeply worried about the ACA, but for now I have health insurance. I’m in therapy and on an antidepressant. Hormonal birth control and regular checkups have stabilized things. I have faith it will never again get as bad as it was in 2012 and 2013.

And this week, on each of two of the heaviest days of this month’s period, I walked over 10,000 steps.

I talk about it because I’m grateful, and because it’s a fact in which I can finally see how far I’ve come.

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ARC Readathon

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I’ve been putting off making my new ARC list because I got so enthusiastic in my ARC acquisition during the recent ALA conference in Atlanta that I had to ship most of them home. Unfortunately, one of the boxes I sent appears to have either gone missing or been lost/stolen. I received a letter from the USPS earlier this week that included the shipping label and both of the places where my address had been written on the box, cut off from the cardboard – quite clearly tampered with. I’m doing what little I can to try and recover it, but I’m not feeling terribly optimistic about it, and I’m quite disappointed by the apparent loss of close to 20 books. Though of course I still have PLENTY to read… So here’s the list as it stands, including those left over from the last batch.

  • The Second Mrs. Hockaday, by Susan Rivers (releases 1/10/17) Inspired by some real events, and the sometimes epistolary, sometimes diary or memory format made for an interesting structure.
  • Little Deaths, by Emma Flint (releases 1/17/17) Too bad COLD CASE is off the air. This woulda made a good episode.
  • The Young Widower’s Handbook, by Tom McAllister (releases 2/7/17) A realistic and compelling description of the stunned feeling that comes from a sudden death.
  • The Orphan’s Tale, by Pam Jenoff (releases 2/28/17) A different take on a WWII story, at least, but I’d give it a 3 out of 5.
  • Words Without Music, by Philip Glass (left over from previous haul, released April 2015)
  • She Came from Beyond!, by Nadine Darling (left over from previous haul, released October 2015)
  • The Body in the Wardrobe, by Katherine Hall Page A fun mystery. Part of a long-running series. If at some point I find myself needing something lightweight to read, maybe I’ll seek out more in the series.
  • My Husband’s Wife, by Jane Corry (releases 1/2017) A twisty turny dark story – darker than I expected, and more complicated than I expected as well. All shades of grey. Nobody’s really right and everyone’s kind of wrong.
  • Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee LOVED THIS. Follows multiple generations of a Korean family living under Japanese rule in the 20th century. Deals with different relationships to identity and to being “other.”
  • Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
  • On Second Thought, by Kristan Higgins (Releases Jan. 31, 2017)
  • Huck Out West, by Robert Coover (Releases Jan. 2017)
  • The Patriots, by Sana Krasikov (releases Jan. 24, 2017)
  • The Lost Girl of Astor Street, by Stephanie Morrill (Releases Feb. 7, 2017)
  • Shadowbahn, by Steve Erickson (releases Feb. 2017)
  • A Piece of the World, by Christina Baker Kline (Releases Feb. 2017)
  • Bone Box, by Faye Kellerman (releases Feb. 2017)
  • The Keeper of Lost Things, by Ruth Hogan (Releases Feb. 2017)
  • I See You, by Clare Mackintosh (releases Feb. 21, 2017)
  • The Fortunate Ones, by Ellen Umansky (releases Feb. 2017)
  • Setting Free the Kites, by Alex George (Releases Feb. 21, 2017)
  • We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour (releases Feb. 14, 2017)
  • Gilded Cage, by Vic James (releases Feb. 14, 2017)
  • The Lonely Hearts Hotel, by Heather O’Neill (releases Feb. 7, 2017)
  • The Underworld, by Kevin Canty (Releases March 2017)
  • In the Name of the Family, by Sarah Dunant (releases March 7, 2017)
  • Dead Letters, by Caite Dolan-Leach (Releases March 2017)
  • Bleaker House: Chasing My Novel to the End of the World, by Nell Stevens (releases March 14, 2017)
  • The Hollywood Daughter, by Kate Alcott (Release March 7, 2017)
  • The Wanderers, by Meg Howrey (releases March 14, 2017)
  • Becoming Leonardo: An Exploded View of the Life of Leonardo da Vinci, by Mike Lankford (releases March 2017)
  • The Family Gene: A Mission to Turn My Deadly Inheritance Into a Hopeful Future, by Joselin Linder (Releases March 2017)
  • The Tiger in the House, by Jacqueline Sheehan (Releases March 2017)
  • The Roanoke Girls, by Amy Engel (Releases March 2017)
  • The Gargoyle Hunters, by John Freeman Gill (releases March 2017)
  • A Crown of Wishes, by Roshani Chokshi (releases March 28, 2017)
  • The Ashes of London, by Andrew Taylor (releases March 28, 2017)
  • Sins of Empire, by Brian McClellan (releases March 7, 2017)
  • The Arrangement, by Sarah Dunn (releases March 21, 2017)
  • The Barrowfields, by Phillip Lewis (releases April 2017)
  • Music of the Ghosts, by Vaddey Ratner (releases April 2017)
  • The Women in the Castle, by Jessica Shattuck (releases April 4, 2017)
  • Unearthly Things, by Michelle Gagnon (releases April 2017)
  • The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton (releases April 4, 2017)
  • Toward a Secret Sky, by Heather Maclean (releases April 4, 2017)
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman (releases May 9, 2017)
  • Confessions of a Domestic Failure, by Bunmi Laditan (releases May 2, 2017)
  • Standard Deviation, by Katherine Heiny (releases May 2017)
  • The Scribe of Siena, by Melodie Winawer (releases May 2017)
  • The Original Ginny Moon, by Benjamin Ludwig (releases May 2017)
  • Under a Sardinian Sky, by Sara Alexander (releases Spring 2017)
  • Chemistry, by Weike Wang (releases June 2017)
  • The Ultimatum, by Karen Robards (Releases June 1, 2017)
  • Lonesome Lies Before Us, by Don Lee (releases June 2017)
  • The Almost Sisters, by Joshilyn Jackson (releases July 2017)
  • Devastation Road, by Jason Hewitt (releases July 3, 2017)
  • Grace, by Paul Lynch (releases July 11, 2017)
  • The Reluctant Queen (Queens of Renthia #2), by Sarah Beth Durst (Releases July 2017)
  • The Thing With Feathers, by McCall Hoyle (releases Sept. 5, 2017)