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JennW in SoCal

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JennW in SoCal last won the day on January 4 2013

JennW in SoCal had the most liked content!

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About JennW in SoCal

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    Hive Mind Queen Bee
  • Birthday August 5

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    violinist, former homeschool mom who graduated 2
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    bird watching, gardening
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  1. Neither. She said in an interview -- well now I can't remember exactly! (Haven't had coffee or breakfast yet!) Glass House is a glimpse into other aspects of these characters, who are minor characters in this book, or perhaps it is just alternate paths. It isn't necessarily a prequel leading into the plague and aftermath.
  2. Those both sound great! I'd add Station Eleven for sure. And Moloka'i, about leprosy.
  3. I actually read The Glass Hotel before Station Eleven, thanks to an advanced reader's copy I was handed at an event. It is good but not as great, and it is still incredibly evocative -- several months later and I still can feel myself in some of the scenes in the story. It would be best to read it after Station Eleven as several characters are in both.
  4. I am very disappointed to learn that Decadent Poetry is not as exciting as the title suggests! I finished my two audiobooks this week. Winter of the Witch was ... fine. Not bad. Better than ok. But it is the third and final book in a series, and I felt that in many ways the 2nd and 3rd books were just rehashes of the first one. I found the first title, Bear and the Nightingale, quite a satisfying fantasy, really a historical fiction with fantastical elements. I really liked it. But, for me at least, there was no real need for the subsequent 2 books. Roadshow: Landscape with Drums was a great travel book written by a fellow introverted, book-loving musician. I will never travel the world on a motorcycle, but it was fun to so vicariously, and I've added a few spots to my travel bucket list. And I loved that a big rock star drummer experiences performances the way I do, that he gets annoyed with himself over slips in focus or dumb mistakes. I read yet another of the Tony Hillerman mysteries, this time the 4th one, People of Darkness, which introduces Jim Chee. It was another solid mystery, but his mysteries certainly improved with each title. A couple of weeks ago I read the 8th book, A Thief of Time, and it is plotted out much better. But the things that make his books so good are there from the first, the way he sets the scene perfectly, bringing the Navajo land and people to life. You really can't go wrong starting anywhere in the series. I'm heading out to the Hawaiian islands for my next book. I've been carrying a copy of Moloka'i by Alan Brennert everywhere I've gone for almost a year now. Seems like I should finally crack it open! So before coming to check in tonight I was reading the thread entitled "Wuhan virus" on the corona virus. I've got to confess that I first heard about the virus in early January as I was finishing Station Eleven, a book about the aftermath of a global pandemic that quickly kills almost everybody, knocking our advanced civilization back a hundred years or more. Thanks to the book, even the earliest news had me thinking of what we need to stock up on here at home. It is a positive book, by the way, with a traveling troupe of musicians and actors performing Beethoven and Shakespeare by firelight. No zombies. Anyway, all this is just the lead up to a tongue in cheek question: Do you have your quarantine book supply lined up?! I've got quite the pile of "to be read" titles here!
  5. The ocean, yes, and the mountains and high desert of my childhood. But I've also got a small piece of nature outside my kitchen window as I have planted my backyard to invite nature, specifically the birds, to come to me. And false spring? Shoot, it's just another February in Southern California, where we're loving the weather but beginning to worry it won't rain again. Over the weekend I finished a really excellent Italian mystery, Bloodcurse: The Springtime of Commissario Ricciardi by Mauricio de Giovanni. It is an Europa edition I picked up on a kindle sale, and an author I will definitely read again. What makes it so excellent? The setting of Naples in the 1930s and the cast of well drawn out characters, especially our hero Commissario Ricciardi. He sees dead people, which instead of being a silly gimmick brings a nice touch of magical realism to the story. The dead don't tell him whodunnit. They leave enigmatic clues. The only problem with the book was the kindle formatting which didn't leave any space between paragraphs about completely different strands of the story. You'd be reading about one character, then the next paragraph it would take a sentence or two to realize that "she" refers to a different person than the one you were just reading about. I'm almost done with Roadshow: Landscape with Drums, which I'm really enjoying. My other audiobook, Winter of the Witch, isn't quite as compelling, though I'll probably finish it while using it as background noise to my day. And I'm impatiently waiting for the next Rivers of London installment which is due out next week. I'm planning on listening to it. I'm stunned over the idea of dropping an audible membership!! I've had mine for, goodness, 15 years? From before it was bought by Amazon. Of course our membership deal is one they don't offer any more: 2 books/month for a fairly cheap monthly membership fee. I've only listened to a couple of the Audible original freebies, but those freebies aren't why I keep our membership. They are an occasional fun perk, but nothing more. I love the huge library we've amassed, and we do re-listen to some of the titles -- we being my dh, ds and I. They do have great sales. And the book I mentioned above, Roadshow: Landscape with Drums was available for free after the author, the drummer Neil Peart from Rush, died.
  6. I loved Lost City of Z!! It's been a few years since I read it and I'm happy the title still being discovered and enjoyed! Good grief is it really Thursday afternoon already? I haven't even updated my Goodreads acct for the week... I spent the first part of the week recuperating physically and catching up on housework and laundry after a marathon music weekend. It was creatively rewarding but physically exhausting. It was a workshop to rehearse then record and and perform a new musical based loosely on Dicken's Christmas story Cricket on the Hearth. And fittingly, I finished listening to David Copperfield on my commute and during dinner breaks. It's so funny listening to one of these old classics. Every once in a while I'd find myself thinking, "you know, this is some really great writing" as if no one in the world had ever noticed before. I quite liked David Copperfield,and once again have to plug the audio version with Richard Armitage reading -- more like performing. It was brilliantly done. The villains made my skin crawl -- the Murdstones and Uriah Heep, and the just plain twisted characters like Rosa Dartle. But I simply love Betsey Trotwood, David's aunt, who apparently has a a fan club out there on the internets. I'm a huge fan of her, too, and find it interesting that she appears alongside the two young paragons of Victorian womanhood who marry our hero and his best friend late in the book. I wanted to gag over the fawning representation of them as sweet and angelic, working so hard to make a simple life so perfect -- up before everyone else, doing this and that to create perfect domestic bliss. All in all, though, a very satisfying 30+ hours of listening. This week I also read the excellent graphic novel memoir, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. There is a musical theater connection with that as well, as I'm in the midst of a several week run in the pit of the Tony winning show based off the memoir. The artistic director actually bought used copies of the memoir for each of the 6 of us in the pit as opening night gifts -- such a wonderful gesture - a first in all my years of "gigging". The musical is a powerful adaptation of the memoir, but before y'all go out and either read it or take your kids to a production of it, let me give you a heads up. It isn't a happy comedy, but is partly a coming of age story about Alison Bechdel discovering she is gay, but more importantly it the story of her trying to make sense of her family -- her closeted gay dad who commits suicide, and her mother who tried to keep the family glued together for years and years. I also read another Tony Hillerman mystery, Dancehall of the Dead. Isn't that a terrific title? It is another solid title, just the second one he published. And for a complete change of pace, I'm listening to one of the travel books written by the late drummer from the band Rush, Neil Peart. The book is Roadshow: Landscape with Drums. I really like his writer's voice and look forward to traveling the USA and Europe with him over the next 13 hours
  7. I always felt that learning alongside my kids was a good thing as I was demonstrating the joy of discovery, the love of learning and of sharing books. Learning doesn't have to mean a young sponge absorbing everything spewed forth from a font-of-knowledge, kwim? I agree with LoriD -- just talk about what you are reading, what strikes you and why. That alone is more valuable than you realize! My now-adult kids still trade books with me and the family still has lively discussions, mostly about movies, but still. Alright, enough of my educational philosophy and back to the topic of books! Hooray to @aggieamy for finishing a book and having actual Beta-readers. And cheers to @Robin M for the Four Corners theme. I happened to have decided late last week to re-read all the Tony Hillerman mysteries set in the Navajo Nation which straddles the Four Corners region of the southwestern USA. I grew up in Albuquerque and the landscape is imprinted deep upon me, almost at a cellular level! I always loved how well Hillerman captured the area. The first book in the series, The Blessing Way, is good, and he does indeed capture the people and the land. It may not be the best place to start the series, though I'll reserve judgement on that as I continue my reading. Another book that I finished recently, and highly recommend, is Birding Without Borders by Noah Strycker. It is the perfect armchair travel book, with effortless prose that draws you in and a delightful, energetic and intelligent guide who takes all over the world as he finds over 6000 birds in his Big Year quest. @Violet Crown I'm not planning as yet to read any more Dickens this year, but who knows? The Crown family might inspire me! I've still got 8 hours to go in David Copperfield. I know I mentioned it before, but just another big plug to this version read by the actor Richard Armitage. It is just brilliant.
  8. Hooray for Disappearing Earth! I really liked it, but what makes it extra special to me is that my niece's best friend since childhood wrote it! One of the little girls is named for my niece and at least one of the stories in the book is based on something that happened to her. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It is a little different in that it is like a collection of inter-connected short stories. Isn't that a good book? I was lucky enough to get a small taste of the Hebrides last summer on my trip -- we performed at Iona Abbey. Will have to return later to talk about this week's books...
  9. And, @Violet Crown, since I am also reading David Copperfield, I'd love more Kierkegaard inspired commentary on the characters! What about the Murdstones? Or David's twitter-pated love for Dora? I'm listening to the audible version read by the actor Richard Armitage, and part of me wants to create a ring tone or text message alert from a clip of him reading Aunt Betsey Trotwood exclaiming "Janet!! Donkeys!!"
  10. Loved Nancy Drew and still have a few on my shelf. I recall trading them with friends so never owned that many. Oh, and another favorite elementary-age book of mine was Heidi. Before that I read almost every one of the Wizard of Oz books. Never read any of the others y'all are talking about, but in my early teens I found Tolkein and was hooked. (My first book crush was on Aragorn!) Late last year I reread Fellowship and Two Towers, but didn't get to Return of the King. Don't know if I'll fit The Hobbit in during the read-along, but perhaps I'll join in later when you get to Return. Those of you from warmer areas will understand how excited I was to see snow falling from the sky when my dh and I took a trip to the Utah mountains. Snow!! Cold!! Getting to wear wooly hats and mittens! He skied while I sat and read in all sorts of comfortable spots around the lodge/resort. I felt like the only non-skier there. I did go ice skating at an outdoor rink and had a blast -- and didn't fall! I read and thoroughly enjoyed Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It was quite the hot title a few years back, and for good reason. It is beautifully written, and filled with compelling characters who are surviving the post-apocalypse in a traveling music/theater group, performing Shakespeare and Beethoven at different settlements around the Great Lakes. It is a rarity -- a positive, hopeful post-apocalypse novel. While in the mountains I also read a police procedural mystery featuring a strong young woman newly minted as detective in the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department. It's a good mystery -- the initial crime scene might be too much for the more sensitive among you -- but it is otherwise not gruesome. Oh, the title would help! Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg. I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads only because I was disappointed the author didn't do a great job with the setting. Other mystery writers, like Julia Spencer Fleming's, create really evocative settings, which in her case is the bitter cold winters in upstate New York. Lost Hills is set during the dry Santa Ana conditions that mark fire season in Southern California, and the author just sort of mentioned it in passing. I didn't feel the setting the way I do with other writers. I'm making progress in the audio version of David Copperfield. It has some really funny stuff in it, mostly in the form of the offhand ironic commentary on people. And finally, I've started a book I got for Christmas, Birding without Borders, by Noah Strycker. If you are into books about birds and birders, this is for you! The author is a millennial who decided to devote a year to achieving a Big Year -- counting a record number of species around the entire world. The difference in his Big Year quest is that he is concentrating on one area at a time, connecting with locals and getting to know the culture and context of the birds he sees. It is very readable, and fascinating, and keeping me up past bedtime as I read just one more chapter.
  11. *waving hello* Thank you for the nudge, Robin! I aim to check in more frequently here in 2020. Often I can't get to posting til mid week then spend my time reading the thread instead of writing my own, or it is late in the week and I think I should just post once the new thread is back up. I'm really sporadic on Goodreads, too. Last night I cleaned out my "to be read" list and added completed titles to my list of 2019 books, but I see that less than half of what I actually read ever got noted on Goodreads! I do appreciate GR when I'm looking up a book and see that one of you has read it and either likes it or not, so I ought to return the favor for my friends and write some short reviews and keep updating my books! I'm currently listening to David Copperfield, the audible edition read by Richard Armitage. It is a fantastic listen! And I have a small stack of books ready to take with me when we head to the slopes next week. While my dh goes skiing, I'll be in front of the fire with a book!
  12. Sending hugs full of the deepest empathy to all of you in Australia. Like many here in California, I've lived through a couple of terrifying fires, but nothing, just nothing compares to the current situation in Australia. I'm just heartsick for all of you. And I'm stunned at the tone deaf behavior of your government officials. A vacation in Hawaii? Holding the Sydney fireworks? I know the big display is over the harbour and makes for stunning photographs that people around the world love to see. But really. Do you in Sydney need more smoke in the air?
  13. Hey there book friends! I haven't posted since probably mid- August, when I left for almost 3 weeks of travel first to New Mexico then to Ireland and Scotland. I came back and went straight into the orchestra pit, then went to NYC, came home and went back into the orchestra pit. Whew! I've lurked here most weeks, start to post, but was daunted at catching up on everything until I had one of those face palm "d'oh" moments. I don't need to do it all at once! I can quickly catch up on books, then will follow Negin's excellent example and just post a picture or two a week from my travels. First, a reading update: Mysteries: Dept. Q series Keepers of Lost Causes and The Absent One. The second title was a bit gruesome and hard to get through, so am waiting a bit before trying #3. Widows of Malabar Hills by Sujata Massey A historical mystery featuring a female Parsi lawyer in 1920s Bombay. Good -- worth finding more in the series The Glass Room by Ann Cleeves A well-crafted locked room mystery in the Vera Stanhope series. Friends, Lovers, Chocolate by Alexander McCall Smith. An Isabel Dalhousie novel because I wanted more Edinburgh in my life! The Long Call by Ann Cleeves, the first in her newest series set in Devonshire. Quite good, with many similar characters to ones in her Shetland series. Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke. East Texas noir. African American Texas Ranger stumbles into murder investigation with racial hatred overtones. Really good. Fiction: The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng. Set in Malaysia during WWII with a mixed race protagonist. It is really well written, evocative but a little unwieldy due to sprawling plot. Whisky Galore by Compton Mackenzie. Oh my goodness this book is so delightful!!! It was first published in 1947 and is about a ship wreck in the Hebrides bringing much needed relief to a pair of small Hebridean Islands that have been without whisky due to war-time shortages. The wrecked ship was full of cases of whisky bound for the US. Sci-fi/Fantasy Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson It is not, as the title suggests, a macho, battle-scene heavy sci-fi novel. It is a story of two princesses caught in the politics of a city in a culture they little understand. I enjoyed it far more than I had anticipated. Murderbot series #1. I know -- I need to find the rest of them and read them! It was a perfect-length novella after finishing something much longer when I still had an hour or two of a flight back home. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. First contact with alien species on an expedition mounted by the Jesuits. Apparently people LOVE this book, but I found it just o.k. " And a reread of Lord of the Rings -- haven't started Return of the King yet... Here's a couple of photos from County Sligo in western Ireland, the spiritual home of WB Yeats. Ben Bulben is in the distance in the first photo, and the second photo is of his gravestone in the church yard of Drumcliff Church where his great-grandfather was rector. The words on his gravestone are taken from his poem,
  14. I had no idea what I was missing in my knitting life! So many needle options. I'm perfectly happy with the bamboo needles bought at JoAnn's. This was a revolutionary find for me as before I used the old metal needles with dull tips I had learned on as a kid.
  15. Is it Friday already?! I can't remember how many of you aside from Mumto2 were reading the Department Q books earlier this year, but am hooked now in spite of only being half way through The Keeper of Lost Causes! My current audio book is also lots of fun. It is an early Brandon Sanderson title, Warbreaker. In spite of that decidedly masculine and militaristic title, it is not laden with testosterone or battle scenes. Instead it has a touch of Goblin Emperor with a young woman unprepared for becoming queen and consort to a god-king, and all sorts of political and court intrigue. And because it is Brandon Sanderson, it has a smart magic system. I am obsessively making packing lists and checking off errands on other lists in preparation for some upcoming travel. My millennial children were appalled that I didn't own a tablet on which to watch movies on long airplane trips, so gifted me with a Kindle Fire for my birthday. Now I can read or watch depending on my mood, though it is a little unwieldly as an e-reader. But I do like being able to prop it up in its stand while reading at lunch. Much better than trying to keep a book open with one hand while eating with the other!
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